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Through 30 games, or nearly a fifth of the season, from a wagering perspective there have been far more money burners than earners, especially in terms of magnitude.

A look at the biggest winners and losers at the betting windows does not reveal too many surprises. Teams expected to fare well but which have struggled early – specifically Toronto and the two Los Angeles teams – have been costly to their backers.

The same is true of the teams expected to do poorly that have lived down to expectations. Three teams are already down over a dozen units. Toronto has been the costliest, losing 13.27 units through just 32 games. Right behind are the Angels (down 12.85) and Houston (down 12.50).

Also showing losses of more than 7 units are the Chicago Cubs and the LA Dodgers. Interestingly, no team is showing more than 9 units of profit. Kansas City (up 8.21 units) and Boston (up 8.05) lead the way. St. Louis ranks third at +7.75 of profit.

Last week we pointed out that laying the run and a half is a way to very often convert a straight money line favorite into an underdog by requiring the favored team to win by at least two runs.

Conversely, taking 1½ with an underdog often converts that team into a betting favorite when the ability to cash a ticket on a club that loses outright but only by one run is factored in.

The prices will vary according to several factors, including the relative quality of the opposing starting pitchers. But there is a general relationship between the straight game price and money line with one sharp exception. The run line price on a -125 favorite (or underdog for that matter) will be vastly different depending on the site of the game.

Because the road team is assured of batting in all nine innings whereas the home team will only bat in the bottom of the ninth if the home team is tied or behind, home favorites of -125 will have a greater adjustment to their run line price than will road favorites.

A -125 road team on the straight betting line might be +130 laying a run and a half. A -125 home favorite might be +140 to 145 laying the 1½.

There are several factors that can help you decide when laying or taking the 1½ is appropriate. From time to time in this column individual team results will be highlighted to show teams that have a proclivity for winning or losing close games and ones more often involved in games decided by 2 runs or greater.

There are divided points of view as to whether it is more beneficial to lay or take the 1½. Support can be found in statistics and other data as well as in one’s psychological makeup and the size of one’s bankroll and style of play. The preference in this camp is laying the 1½ that usually results in converting a favorite into an underdog.

From a game result standpoint, keep in mind that the only situation which helps a bettor taking the 1½ is when his team loses by exactly one run. The bettor laying the 1½ is only hurt when his team wins by exactly one run.

The reasoning behind those last two statements will be discussed next week. Here’s a look at four series of interest this weekend.

ROCKIES at CARDS: The Cards are one of only four teams allowing fewer than 4 runs per game both at home and on the road. All five of St. Louis’ starting pitchers have an ERA below 3.00 and each is also averaging between 6.0 and 7.1 innings per start. Colorado’s lone effective starting pitcher, Jhollys Chacin, got rocked on Sunday in his first start since a stint on the DL and might not be fully healed.

Recommended plays: St. Louis -140 against any Colorado starter; Rockies +160 or more not facing Adam Wainwright; UNDER 8 or higher in any matchup.

BRAVES at GIANTS: This four game series starts Thursday with both starting the week leading their respective divisions. Madison Bumgarner has been the Giants’ only consistently reliable starter. Atlanta has gotten solid starting pitching with four of the five starters having ERAs under 4.00 and WHIPs below 1.40. The Braves are thought to have the better offense but the Giants have been ever so slightly more productive in scoring runs.

Recommended plays: Atlanta +150 or more against Bumgarner or +125 against other Giants’ starters; Giants -150 or less in a Bumgarner start against any Atlanta starter; UNDER 7½ or higher in most matchups; OVER 8 or lower if Atlanta’s Julio Teheran doesn’t face Bumgarner or Matt Cain.

INDIANS at TIGERS: Detroit started 19-11 but is only a half game ahead of pesky Kansas City in the AL Central. Cleveland began 14-14. Detroit’s starting rotation has a trio of pitchers with ERAs below 3.00 and WHIPs of 1.15 or less. The offense is averaging an MLB best 6.1 runs per game at home. Cleveland’s pitching has been ordinary at best. The Tribe has scored double digit runs four times and all have come on the road.

Recommended plays: Detroit -150 or less except in a start by Rick Porcello; Cleveland as underdogs of any price against Porcello; OVER 9 or lower with any starter against Porcello; OVER 8 or lower against any Detroit starter other than Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez or Doug Fister.

YANKEES at ROYALS: The Yankees continue to overcome seemingly a new injury on almost a daily basis and start the week 18-12. The Royals have gotten outstanding starting pitching from Jeremy Guthrie and a pair of newcomers, Ervin Santana and James Shields. Their bullpen has been strong. The Yankees have gotten solid starting pitching from Phil Hughes, CC Sabathia and especially Hiroki Kuroda. Closer Mariano Rivera has been perfect in his 11 save opportunities. Both offenses have been rather average.

Recommended plays: Kansas City as underdogs of any price not facing Sabathia, Hughes or Kuroda; Yankees -125 or less in a start by Kuroda against any KC starter or as -115 favorites or less in starts by Sabathia or Hughes not facing Guthrie, Santana or Shields; Royals -125 or less or as underdogs not facing Sabathia, Kuroda or Hughes; UNDER 8 or higher if Shields, Guthrie or Santana oppose Sabathia, Kuroda or Hughes; OVER 8½ or lower if Wade Davis, Will Smith or Luis Mendoza start for KC and don’t face Kuroda.

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]

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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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