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A month or so ago the subject of betting baseball on the run line was discussed in some depth. Because baseball uses a money line rather than a point spread as its basic form of wagering a question that often arises concerns when playing the run line should be considered in lieu of making a straight play on the money line.

A number of veteran bettors use the guideline of not laying more than 3 to 2 on a straight play, which equates to -150. A team that is priced at -150 has a theoretical chance of winning of 60 percent.

At prices above -150 those bettors who cannot make a case for the underdog will either pass the game, perhaps play that favorite as part of a two team parlay with another high priced favorite or look to play that favorite on the money line.

Often home favorites in the range of -150 to -200 will be priced at even money to +125 or so laying the run and a half. Road favorites in that price range will often be in a range of even money to perhaps -125 or so.

A look at how those teams have performed thus far this season reveals home favorites of greater than -150 have gone 286-163, winning 63.7 percent of those games. 205 of those 286 wins (71.7 percent) have been by 2 runs or more while 81 (28.3 percent) have been by exactly 1 run.

Road favorites of greater than -150 are 47-27 (63.5 percent) with 37 of the 47 road wins by 2 runs or more (78.7 percent) and 10 by exactly 1 run (21.3 percent).

Of course this is a very small sample of games, especially road favorites, but these results are in line with historical data. And it does serve to at least make a case for laying the run and a half when considering playing on large favorites.

With just over a month to go in the regular season the race to make the playoffs begins to become more intense. And with less than 35 games remaining now is the time when individual games take on great meaning, much more than games played earlier in the season but which count just the same.

The difference is teams play from April through August to get into position to make the playoffs, either by gaining a lead in the standings or facing a deficit that is manageable. Now wins are precious and the games from Labor Day on out are managed differently, often with the degree of intensity and managerial maneuvers that mirror playoff games.

Here’s a look at four series of interest this weekend.

Reds at Pirates: Cincinnati has won 9 of 13 games against the Pirates, but the teams have not met since just before the All Star break. The Reds have struggled on offense since losing both Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips to injury and although Phillips has returned the offense remains below average. The only starters to show profits for their backers this season have been Johnny Cueto and Alfredo Simon.

The Pirates do not have a statistical ace, but several of their starters are having decent enough seasons to keep them in contention. No starter has a WHIP below 1.20 and only Vance Worley, with just 12 starts, as a starter has an ERA below 3.60 (2.99).

Plays: Cincinnati -125 or less with Cueto against any Pittsburgh starter; Cincinnati +120 or more with any starter against any Pittsburgh starter; Pittsburgh +130 or more with any starter against Cueto; Pittsburgh +120 or more with any starter not facing Cueto; UNDER 7.5 or higher in any game not started by Pirates lefty Jeff Locke.

Brewers at Giants: In the only prior series between these teams, Milwaukee took 2 of 3 at home in the first week of August. The Giants have been better offensively in recent weeks, averaging over 5 runs per game over their last 10 games, but for the season they are averaging just 3.6 rpg at home. Milwaukee is averaging 4.4 rpg on the road.

The Giants have the two best starters in this series, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Hudson, although Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo and Kyle Lohse are also having fine seasons, and Mike Fiers has been brilliant since joining the rotation with four straight quality starts.

Plays: Milwaukee +120 or more in starts by Fiers, Gallardo or Lohse against any Giants starter; Giants -140 or less in starts by Bumgarner or Hudson not facing Fiers, Gallardo or Lohse; UNDER 7.5 or higher in any matchup; UNDER 7 or less if Bumgarner or Hudson oppose Fiers, Gallardo or Lohse.

A’s at Angels: Oakland has won 8 of 12 games between the teams this season although the teams have split the six games in Anaheim. This series is extremely important since the team that finishes second in the division will have its season decided by a single Wild Card game.

The Angels suffered a major blow with the season-ending injury to starter Garrett Richards last week. Richards had been the Angels’ best starter this season. Oakland made some key trades for starting pitching in July with both Jon Lester and Jeff Samardzija pitching well.

Plays: The best may be in the final game of this series by playing the team looking to either avoid a sweep or seeking to tie the series 2-2; Either team as +130 underdogs or more in any matchup; UNDER 7 or more in games matching Oakland’s Sonny Gray, Lester or Samardzija against the Halos’ Jered Weaver; OVER 7.5 or lower if only one or none of those pitchers is involved.

Nationals at Mariners: The lone Interleague series of the weekend pits a pair of teams in excellent position to make the playoffs. Both teams have excellent starting pitching and above average bullpens.

Washington has been the more potent team at the plate although Seattle, which plays in a notorious pitchers ballpark, is averaging nearly a run per game more on the road (4.4) than at home (3.6); a most interesting matchup.

Plays: UNDER 7 or less in any matchup; UNDER 6.5 in any matchup with half of the play on the full game and half of the play on UNDER 3.5 for the first 5 innings; Washington +150 or more with any starter against Seattle’s Felix Hernandez or Hisashi Iwakuma; Washington -120 or less in starts by Doug Fister (a former Mariner), Jordan Zimmermann or Tanner Roark; Seattle +125 or more in any matchup.

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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