Mariners brass needs to hit Mark on deal

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Although the trading frenzy generally does not begin until just after the All Star break the first in-season trade of significance during the 2015 season took place last week and it might result in the dismissal of a manager if short term results are not positive.

The Seattle Mariners, considered by most observers to be legitimate contenders for not just the AL West title but also to win the American League pennant acquired slugger Mark Trumbo from the Arizona Diamondbacks to bolster what has been one of the more anemic offenses in all of baseball to date. Through Sunday only Philadelphia, with 186 runs, had scored fewer than Seattle’s 196.

Trumbo returns to the American League after just a season and a third as a National Leaguer where, in 134 games, hit 23 home runs. That projects to a pace of 28 home runs over the course of a full 162 game season.

In three full seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, from 2011 through 2013, Trumbo slugged 95 home runs, increasing slightly each season from 29 to 32 to 34, driving in between 87 and 100 runs.

At 25-31 only Oakland has a poorer record in the AL. And over their last 25 games the Athletics have one more win than the Mariners (11 vs 10).

Manager Lloyd McClendon must be feeling the heat and his job security may have dropped a bit following last week’s meltdown in the third inning of what turned out to be a 5-3, 11-inning home loss to the New York Yankees.

After being tossed for arguing a called ball four on a walk to Alex Rodriguez, McClendon proceeded to confront each of the 4 umpires to criticize their performance. His meltdown brought to mind the incident a number of years ago when McClendon, then skippering Pittsburgh, protested a close call at first base that went against him. He pulled the first base bag out of the ground, taking it with him back to the dugout and depositing it at the entrance to the tunnel. He exited the playing field after being ejected.

Entertaining video, to be sure, but not the best way to display to ownership that you are under control despite the disappointments of the unfolding season.

As we get deeper into the 2015 season we have more current data that handicappers and bettors can use in evaluating upcoming games. The landscape of sports betting has changed dramatically just in the last 5 to 10 years.

As the marketplace has expanded globally sports betting has taken on more of a financial markets look with hedge fund and arbitrage techniques accounting for a much larger percentage of the betting handle. Small percentages of return over increasingly larger volume has replaced the trying to win individual games.

More and more large groups are involved, spreading their risks over virtually the entire card of games played on a given day, trying to exploit perceived market inefficiencies to grind out a profit. This is especially true in baseball where the Money Line is the currency of the wager, rather than the point spread as it is in football and basketball.

The Money Line (which is utilized in both basketball and football but to a lesser extent than the point spread) is nothing more than the conversion into odds of a team’s perceived chances of winning a game. A team considered to have 60% chance of winning would be fairly priced as a -150 favorite. A team priced at -200 is given a 67% chance of winning its game.

For many years there was very little movement in baseball lines once they opened and no pitching changes or major pre-game injuries occurred. A major move might be perhaps 15 cents. In recent years we have seen huge line movements that include moves of 40 to 50 cents.

More often than not there is little to no buy back on the other side such as there is when we see significant point spread moves (in which a line moves, say from -7 to -9 but which is then bought back by underdog players and closes at, say, -7.5).

Totals also showed very little movement and rarely from the opening listing. Any movement would be in adjusting the ‘vig’ attached to the OVER or the UNDER. Today we routinely see moves of a half run (say from 8.5 to 9). In 2015, we are seeing an unprecedented number of games in which the closing total is a full run (or in a few games 1½) from the opener!

The changing environment can best be described by the change in the meaning of the “O” word. In the past, “O” stood for “Opinion” when the major players in the marketplace were betting their opinions on the games as to the right and wrong side. Nowadays, “O” stands for “Opportunities” as the major players look to exploit opportunities for profit on a wide scale basis, whether those opportunities are manufactured or occur as a result of normal betting activity. The phrase in use today is that the professional bettors bet numbers, not teams.

It’s an exciting time as sports wagering slowly becomes mainstream, if not in the actual practice of widespread legalization but in being part of everyday discussion. It’s only a matter of time before sports betting becomes commonplace in the United States as it is in many countries around the world.

To the disdain or delight of many baseball fans full interleague play gets the spotlight next week as every game between next Monday and next Thursday will be an interleague matchup.

Here’s a look at three interesting series to be played this weekend.

Dodgers at Padres: This is already the fourth series this season between these AL West rivals. The Dodgers have taken 2 of 3 in each of the three prior series. With low Totals involved the teams have played 5 OVERs and 4 UNDERs, averaging a combined 8.3 runs per game The Dodgers have not played well on the road, going 10-15 away from Chavez Ravine where they are 22-10. The Padres have actually been hurt by their pitching which has not performed as well as expected. San Diego is allowing 4.7 runs per game at home and have been one of baseball’s strongest OVER teams this season overall at 35-21-2.

PLAYS: San Diego as underdogs of any price in a start by James Shields against any Dodgers starter; San Diego +150 or more with any other starter against Clayton Kershaw or Zack Greinke; Dodgers -120 or less with any starter against other than James Shields; OVER 6.5 or less in games not involving Shields, Kershaw or Greinke.

Mariners at Astros: These AL West rivals meet for their third series of the season. Houston has been a major surprise thus far while Seattle may be baseball’s biggest disappointment. The Astros have won 6 of their 7 games against the Mariners, including a four game series sweep on this field in early May. Houston has actually been much more productive on the road, averaging 5.0 runs per game vs 3.6 rpg at home. Seattle has been weak both at home (3.2 rpg) and on the road (3.8 rpg). The fundamentals still suggest this will be a low scoring series with both teams’ current starting rotations pitching well.

PLAYS: UNDER 7 or higher in any matchup not involving Houston’s Roberto Hernandez or Brett Oberholtzer; Seattle -125 or less in a start by Felix Hernandez against any Houston starter; Houston -130 or less in starts by Dallas Keuchel or Lance McCullers Jr not facing Hernandez.

Royals at Cardinals: A rematch of the interleague series played in Kansas City in late May. The Royals took the first two games of that series before the Cardinals won the finale. It was a low scoring series with just 17 runs scored Kansas City has slumped of late, going just 3-8 since winning that series finale over the Cards. The starting pitching has not pitched deep into games. The Royals’ home/road split is significant as they are allowing just 3.0 runs per game at home compared to allowing 4.4 rpg on the road. St Louis has been a strong UNDER team at home and is allowing just 2.9 rpg at home, best in the majors.

PLAYS: UNDER 7.5 in any matchup; Cardinals -125 or less in any matchup; Royals +140 or more in starts by Volquez or Chris Young against any Cardinals starter.

Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected]

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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