I have long advocated that handicapping and betting involves both science and art.
By science I mean the use of statistics, analytics, power ratings and the like. The art comes in the interpretation and implementation of those ‘scientific’ factors with the addition of what could best be referred to as intangible factors such as trends, scheduling dynamics and current form.
This past weekend, the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees played a two-game series in London, the first time MLB had played games in Europe. The Yankees won a pair of high-scoring games,defeating the Sox 17-13 on Saturday and 12-8 on Sunday. As many Yankees-Red Sox games have done over the years when played in the States, the two games took quite some time to be played. Saturday’s contest lasted four hours and 42 minutes and Sunday’s was only slightly shorter at 4:24.
Both teams had last played on Wednesday before departing for London and were idle both Thursday and Friday. Saturday’s game started in the early evening London time and Sunday’s in mid afternoon. Following Sunday’s game the teams headed back to the States for an off day on Monday before resuming play Tuesday with Boston at Toronto and the Yankees at the Mets.
I made plays against both the Yankees and Boston on Tuesday for a couple of key reasons.
In the London games the Yankees used a total of seven relievers on Saturday and six on Sunday with four pitching in both games, including eighth-inning specialist Zack Britton and closer Aroldis Chapman. Those 13 relievers pitched a total of 16 1/3 innings, throwing 299 total pitches.
Boston also used 13 relievers, five of whom pitched in both games. Boston’s bakers’ dozen pitched a total of 12 1/3 innings and threw 289 total pitches.
On Tuesday both teams will have been back in the States for maybe 36 hours and will have to adjust to jet lag for the second time in less than a week. Just as their bodies were getting used to London time they headed back to the Eastern time zone and had to readjust once again.
You may recall that earlier this season Oakland and Seattle played a two game series in Japan before returning to the U.S. Those teams had a full week off prior to resuming their seasons although they did play a few exhibition games during that week.
Although the above reasoning makes sense it may not work out. Often the theory may be sound but the perceived edges do not always translate into success. But these are the kind of “hidden” edges we strive to find when going beyond the numbers in sports betting.
Although the sample size for this theory will be just two games that will have been played by time you are reading this article, keep the results in mind for next year as St. Louis and the Chicago Cubs are scheduled to play a two-game series in London.
Home Run Derby
Baseball takes a break following this Sunday’s games for its annual All-Star festivities which this season will be held in Cleveland. The highlights will be the Home Run Derby on Monday and the All-Star Game itself on Tuesday.
Although well received as a novelty when it was first introduced in 1985 the Home Run Derby has lost much of its luster and appeal in recent years as many of the game’s biggest sluggers have declined invitations to participate and the format itself has undergone numerous changes.
But there appears to be renewed pre-Derby enthusiasm this season with some young new players committed to participate including the youngest player ever to take part.
The eight participants this season will be officially revealed on Wednesday but as of Tuesday morning it appears the field will include Cleveland’s Carlos Santana, Vladimir Guerrerro Jr., Milwaukee’s Christian Yellich, the Mets’ Pete Alonso, Pittsburgh’s Josh Bell and Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr. Guerrero Jr., son of the Hall of Famer, will be the youngest participant in the history of the Derby, about three months younger than Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. was in 1990’s Derby.
I rarely get involved in ‘exhibitions’ be they games or events but I might just make a wager on Alonso if his odds are 5-1 or higher. He’s expressed how thrilled he is
to have been named to participate, indicating its been a lifelong dream. With 28 homers entering play Tuesday he’s already set the Mets’ franchise records for homers by a rookie, breaking the mark of Darryl Strawberry (26) and doing so in less than half a season. Strawberry, by the way, is the only Met to have won a Home Run Derby, doing so in 1986.
There’s been little to cheer for in Flushing this season and it’s not likely that an Alonso win will have any impact on turning around the Mets’ misfortunes.
But as a native New Yorker who remembers as a child rooting for the woeful 1962 Mets (40-120) in their first season of existence it would be nice for Mets fans have something positive to remember about the 2019 season.
Here are thoughts on three weekend series that will close out the figurative first half of the 2019 regular season.
Brewers at Pirates: First-place Milwaukee has just a five- game lead over fourth-place Pittsburgh in the NL Central. Milwaukee has won eight of 10 meetings this season including winning two of three in Pittsburgh this past weekend.
Of the 10 games, only four have gone over the total with six staying under including each of the last five. Last weekend’s series was especially low scoring with the Brewers winning 3-1 and 2-1 and the Pirates’ lone win was by a 3-2 score. The Pirates’ Josh Bell has been hot in leading the offense.
Last season’s NL MVP, Christian Yellich, leads the Brewers and is having every bit as good a season this season as last. And in contrast to their past meetings offense may decide this series. Neither team has what could be considered an ace. Milwaukee’s Brandon Woodruff and the Pirates’ Trevor Williams have been the best statistically but neither would rate higher than a No. 3 or possibly a No. 2 starter on more talented teams.
My preference will be to look Over on totals of 8.5 or less in any matchup although Over 9 is also playable.
Yankees at Rays: These AL East rivals meet for their fourth series of the season – all played since May 10 – and it’s a four- game series starting Thursday.
Beginning play Tuesday the Yankees had a burgeoning 6.5-game lead over the second-place Rays, giving the hosts a chance to cut into that lead or for the visitors to extend it. The Yankees have won seven of nine games between the teams, including two of three on this field. The prior nine games have produced four overs, four unders and one push. The Yanks and Rays have averaged 8.6 total runs per game in those meetings.
Any jet lag experienced by the Yankees should have worn off by the time this series starts. The Yankees have the edge on offense and in the bullpen although Tampa’s starters have been much more consistent. Charlie Morton has been solid all season while defending AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell is showing signs of returning to last season’s form after struggling much of this season. Both Morton and Snell can be played as underdogs of any price whereas the Yankees can be played if made underdogs against any other Tampa starter.
Cubs at White Sox: In a scheduling quirk these rivals end pre- All-Star play with a two-game weekend series with both idle on Friday. This is a fairly quick rematch of a two-game series played at Wrigley Field in mid-June that was split.
The White Sox are showing signs of progress and are a respectable 39-42 through Monday as they seek their first winning season since 2012. Lucas Giolito has been a big reason for their success and despite losing in his prior start against the Cubs he can be backed if he starts in either of the games here, even if favored, but by -120 or less.
The Sox can also be backed as underdogs against the Cubs’ Yu Darvish. The Cubs can be backed as favorites of -150 or less in a matchup of Kyle Hendricks or Cole Hamels against Ivan Nova or Reynaldo Lopez. Other Cubs’ starters can be backed against Nova or Lopez if laying no more than -125.
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