A season full of unknowns

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The beginning of every baseball season always has its difficulties for those of us who handicap and bet games.

Big-name acquisitions trying to mesh with their new teams, injuries, pitchers who have switched leagues and have to face an entire league which they are not familiar with, holdouts who aren’t in game shape, rule changes, and inflated prices by the oddsmakers. But knowing this as we enter a new campaign we can make allowances.

It seems that the biggest problem we have to deal with this season isn’t any of the aforementioned, but it is having to deal with COVID-19 and all the issues surrounding it.

This past week, like every week throughout the year, I spent some time in several Las Vegas sportsbooks. Let’s be honest, a sportsbook is no stranger to having its customers frustrated. If all the customers were happy and won all the time, there would be no sportsbooks.

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Sports bettors have always had to deal with losing. This is nothing new. But it is the ways and the reasons why they seem to be losing in 2020. The current health issue across the nation has brought about many changes. We don’t know most starting pitchers until very late in the day, therefore not having lines available until shortly before game time. Obviously for many, like myself, who look at value in the line, are having to make very quick, late decisions on the games they choose to bet. Just about daily, we do see starting pitchers and big-name players getting scratched very late.

The amount of games being postponed is frustrating for all of us. As a matter of fact, I ran into a well-known Vegas sports bettor that came down to the book to bet two games. One was postponed and the other had a pitcher scratched late. He was unable to bet either game.

Certain teams not being able to play their home games in their home stadiums is an issue. Yes, they are professionals but not being accustomed to the gaps and even playing the different outfields has brought some problems.

Another big situation as far as handicapping games is the new rule about doubleheaders only being seven innings. It makes a big difference to those teams with a better bullpen and especially to the guys who like totals.

How about those individual and multiple players on teams that have broken protocol and must be tested twice in 72 hours, with negative results before they are allowed back?

One more thing to deal with are the players themselves. The toll of this pandemic has without a doubt added to the friction between teams on the field. Players are on edge and it has affected some performances and has even resulted in some bench-clearing brawls.

It is a lot to take into consideration. So tread lightly and stay within your means, and everything thing will be fantastic. Speaking of fantastic, here are this week’s Best Bets (all records, stats, and trends are as of Tuesday and may change as can starting pitchers):

Thursday

Brewers at Cubs: The Cubs return home after playing on the road against the Royals and Indians. If Chicago has a true strength, it’s playing at Wrigley Field where they are 7-1 this season. Yu Darvish is scheduled to start. The right-hander is off to a solid campaign, donning a 2-1 record with a 2.12 ERA, striking out 16 batters in 17.0 IP.

As of Tuesday, the Brewers have no starter named. However, they are accounting for a mere 3.86 RPG. They’re going to need a lot more runs than that to compete with Chicago in this matchup. Even if Darvish gets scratched, we will still go with the Cubs here. If the line rises too high, don’t be afraid to play the run line. CUBS.

Friday

Red Sox at Yankees: After bursting out of the gate as one of the hottest teams in baseball (9-2), New York has since cooled off, dropping four of its last five outings. But having Boston visit the Bronx is just what the doctor ordered to remedy this. The Yankees have dominated the Red Sox, including a three-game sweep already in the 2020 season. Jordan Montgomery, Masahiro Tanaka, and Jams Paxton have all turned in solid starts in the rivalry. By the way, New York outscored Boston in the first series, 19-10. Same rivalry, same location, same outcome. YANKEES RUN LINE.

Athletics at Giants: Oakland is red-hot, winning nine of its last 10 contests to put themselves atop the AL West with a five-game cushion. San Francisco just can’t gain any traction, not being able to string together too many wins (won two in a row just twice) and sits in last place in the NL West.

The Giants’ biggest issue is the pitching staff, which ranks 25th with a Team ERA of 5.05. Pitching has not a problem at all for the A’s, who rank third with a Team ERA of 3.10. No scheduled starters have been named just yet, but it won’t matter who takes the mound for either side as Oakland, without question, has the superior staff. ATHLETICS

Last week: 1-2

Season: 3-4

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