This article is part of our MLB Picks series.
Toeing the Line: Wednesday Picks
When it comes to betting on MLB, there are a few types of games that tend to produce a solid ROI. Betting underdogs in games with higher over/under totals, for instance, can generate solid returns, and there's always the old "fade the public" contrarian standby. Aside from looking at overall betting trends, however, there are also some statistical guidelines that could produce strong betting opportunities, and that's what this column will focus on.
The moneylines listed will be from the night before, so a big disparity before game time means there's been some significant action on one side or a major last-minute lineup change (such as a switch in starting pitcher).
Let's take a look at the lines that spark some interest for Wednesday, April 20.
Colorado (Chad Bettis) at Cincinnati (Raisel Iglesias), 12:35 pm ET: +127/-137
It's always worth considering a fade against a weak team, especially when the Reds don't even know who their closer is at the moment. Iglesias is their nominal ace, however, and his 4.15 ERA in 2015 hid a 3.26 SIERA. The Rockies on the road are always a dicey proposition anyway given how cold their bats can get. Also, the o/u of 8 leaves this game just shy of the optimal spot for betting an underdog. After getting burned a couple of times last week chasing games without the necessary volatility (o/u of 8.5 or greater), let's dial it back just a bit.
Recommendation: None, despite my gut telling me the Rox are a good play
LA Angels (Garrett Richards) at Chicago White Sox (Chris Sale), 2:10 pm ET: +135/-145
This one screams pure 'fade the public' play, if you're so inclined. Moneyline betting is running 75 percent on Sale and the White Sox, causing a lot of line movement towards Anaheim, and the under (with the line at 7) is also seeing heavy action as people anticipate a pitching duel. Sale (3.41 ERA last year vs. 2.52 SIERA) isn't someone you'd usually want to bet against, though, and Mike Trout is the only Angel with any kind of remotely useful track record against him (.231/.375/.538 with three hits and one home run in 13 at-bats). The Angels were also 26th in OPS and 24th in wOBA last year against lefties. If the line weren't climbing so steeply, I'd actually consider backing the favorite here.
Recommendation: None, as there's nothing to recommend this one other than a contrarian impulse
Here's a game where the o/u is trending down, as betting has been hitting the under pretty heavily on an opening line of 7.5. Walker is a tempting play, as his 4.56 ERA in 2015 masked a 3.69 SIERA, but he's had a good start to the season so that potential improvement is probably already priced in. With betting split fairly evenly between the two teams and the moneyline shrinking towards even, stay away.
Recommendation: None, as there aren't enough positive indicators here
Oh, here we go. Home underdog? Check. A perceived (admittedly, it's probably an accurate perception) gap in talent between the two teams? Check. Volatile game? The o/u opened at 8 but has crept to 8.5 at most books, so check. Heavy action on the favorite? The Mets are pulling 69 percent of the moneyline betting as I write this. Check! As an added little bonus, Colon's 2.13 ERA so far this season probably boosts his stock despite that fact he won't be able to sustain it, while Hellickson's 2015 numbers (4.62 ERA vs. 4.14 SIERA) weren't quite as bad as they seemed.
Recommendation: Back the Phillies (two units) at +135
The big line makes this game worth a look, and while the A's are on the road it also fits the necessary volatility requirement for backing the dog with an o/u of 8.5. There are some warning signs here, though. Graveman (4.05 ERA vs. 4.43 SIERA last year, 2.38 vs. 3.69 so far in 2016) is the kind of pitcher you usually want to fade, whereas Eovaldi (4.20 ERA vs. 3.99 SIERA last year, 6.94 vs. 2.66 thus far in 2016) is the opposite. The public is firmly on board with the Yankees with 68 percent of moneyline bets going their way -- so there are enough positive indicators here to make it worth some action – but I'm not really feeling this one.
Recommendation: Back the A's (one unit) at +150
There's some uncertainly surrounding Teheran's availability, which has caused some oddness in the lines. He was a late scratch Tuesday due to illness, and the Braves haven't confirmed yet that he'll be ready to go Wednesday. Despite that, and the fact that the action has leaned towards the Dodgers so far, the moneyline has actually come down, sitting in the -140/+125 range at most books. Chasing a home dog is always tempting, and Stripling could be due for a correction (2.03 ERA vs 4.36 SIERA after his first couple of big league starts) but this feels like a pass, at least until the Braves confirm their starter.
Recommendation: None, without a better feel for who Atlanta will be sending to the mound and what shape he'll be in.
YTD performance: 1-3, minus 1.25 units, ROI minus 31.25%