Welcome to September, when some already have their cleats dug into college football, others are ready to dig theirs into a brand new NFL campaign, and diehard baseball fans are excited about teams that that expanded their rosters to 40 players and are making their final push for the playoffs.
For me, I’m boring. The first week of this month generally means I’m humming Earth, Wind & Fire’s hit from 1978 while doing cardio:
“Ba de ya, say do you remember,
“Ba de ya, dancing in September.”
For you baseball bettors, what this month should mean is buyer beware when it comes to underdogs. Remember, teams vying for a spot in the playoffs — particularly a wild-card — will be laying cheaper prices than teams that are assumedly locked into the postseason. The rest of the league is basically going through the motions.
Discplined baseball bettors who follow systems will cash their profits and call it quits at this point, since it’s not worth paying $2, $3 or $4 for certain teams.
When division leaders are playing one another, or playoff contending teams take a four-game set into a weekend, you can find decent value, and lines aren’t necessarily out of whack. But these are the times you have to dig in and do your research.
Study the starting pitchers, look at offensive numbers, cross-reference them with how certain pitching staffs have done the previous 30 days, and most importantly, be prepared to lay run lines and/or prices, rather than investing in the underdogs you’re used to playing.
Take a look at the numbers from last season once the NFL kicked off on Sept. 6, 2018:
Over the first seven days of the NFL campaign, favorites went 55-33.
Over the final 25 days of the MLB regular season, in total, favorites were a whopping 191-141, including an impressive 36-18 over the last four days.
The NFL is here, and baseball is becoming limited with its value. So who are the best teams to consider watching this month? They happen to be my three choices to play this week:
Nationals at Braves: The Nats have a tough series this weekend with the National League East-leading Atlanta Braves, and they entered September as the hottest hitting National League team from August. Washington led the senior circuit with a .292 batting average and 180 runs scored last month – second and third overall in baseball, respectively.
As long as they aggressively pursue the Braves, they won’t relinquish their lead in the N.L. wild-card race. NATIONALS
White Sox at Indians: The Tribe is mediocre at best with its offense, but that pitching staff is what has kept it relevant in the American League Central hunt.
The Indians entered September with the third-best ERA (3.69) in baseball, thanks to an American League-best and league second-best ERA of 3.37 in August. Cleveland is in the same boat as Washington, chasing the division leaders, in this case, the Minnesota Twins, while in position to nab a wild-card spot in the A.L. INDIANS
Angels at Athletics: After opening the season 14-18, the A’s have enjoyed winning records in May (15-10), June (17-11), July (15-9) and August (17-9). They might have entered this month 10 games back of the American League West-leading Houston Astros, but you can’t help but respect the fact they’ve been right there in the thick of the wild-card race all along.
Last month the A’s ranked in the top 10 in both batting average in ERA after posting a 17-9 mark. ATHLETICS
Last week: 0-3