For years I’ve always searched for trends with certain teams in how they played individual games of series with hopes of finding something to stack on top of my betting sandwich.
What circumstances present the best opportunities for teams at the beginning, middle and end of a series? Did they perform better in the second game after winning the first one? Do teams playing below .500 seem to want to get out of town quicker when it’s the last game of a road trip?
They never really amount to any sustained relevance, but it is fun to at least discuss and have it placed in the back of your mind as maybe a deciding factor of a game you might see value in.
For instance, the Twins are +585 in the first game of a road series with a mere 6-4 record. While I still believe the Twins aren’t very good as evidenced by their 19-33 record, that doesn’t really matter here.
For whatever reason, the scrapping Twins get excited about their first game of a road series and at the same time their opponent looks at their record and maybe takes them lightly. It’s something that can’t be ignored considering the massive amount of underdog plus-money they get in any ball park they visit.
The Dodgers have come back to earth a little bit lately and are only 12-12 on the road compared to being 21-9 at home. Part of the reason they have maintained their lead in the NL West has been due to not having any substantial losing streaks on the road. They’ve managed to go 7-1 in the second game of all their road trips this season raking in a profit margin of +688.
The Dodgers ended a five game slide that started at home by winning Saturday -- the second game at Colorado, which were sandwiched in between two losses. By the way, The Dodgers are now an amazing 9-0 in all Saturday games.
Despite Baltimore’s stretch of losing seven of their past eight games through Sunday, their one win came in the second game of a series at Tampa Bay. For the season Baltimore is +677 on the road in the second game of a series and +1037 when including home games.
The amazing Mets are a combined +985 home and away in the second game of a series and the first-place White Sox are +709 on the road showing that perhaps it’s just about winning teams doing well in that second game.
The jury is still out on how good the Cardinals really are, but in their second game on the road they are -692. The best team to bet against in the second game of a series this year has been the Cubs who are -900 on the road and -1221 when including home games.
The beauty of baseball is that there are so many angles to play with an endless supply of numbers to sort through. In this sampling of numbers the best advice is to value good teams in their second game of a series and give large underdogs a chance in the first game of a road series.
No Place Like Texas
Roy Oswalt pitched two scoreless innings Saturday in a minor league start for triple-A Round Rock as he tries to get into playing shape after signing with the Texas Rangers. Who knows how effective Oswalt will be eventually gets called up to the majors, but the interesting part is that the Rangers became the most attractive suitor for the free-agent.
In years past a prized pitcher like Oswalt would have been most likely signed with the rich franchises of the Yankees or Red Sox. Oswalt is at the end of his career and wants to win a World Series and the fact that he chose Texas says a lot about what the Rangers organization. Not only have they been to the last two World Series, but they also have Nolan Ryan making all the right moves in the front office.
During the offseason it was the Rangers who landed Yu Darvish, a type of bidding war that the Yankees and Red Sox always won. Perhaps being burned by Hideki Irabu and Daisuke Matsuzaka in past bidding wars altered their approach in taking another high priced Japanese pitcher, but again, it says a lot about the Rangers organization.
With a 7-3 record in 11 starts, Darvish is proving to be the best pitching import ever.
Felix Doubront - Boston: Doubront leads the Red Sox in wins (6-2), ERA (3.75) and strikeouts (66). Although tied for last in the tough AL East at 28-26, it has been Doubront that has given the team some stability and a chance to at least hang around and see if the other starters can finally kick it into a level we’ve been accustomed to seeing over the last few seasons. In Doubront’s 11 starts, Boston is 8-3.
R.A. Dickey - NY Mets: Through Sunday, the Mets are tied atop the NL East and the biggest difference from being a .500 team to where they are now is the performance of Dickey who leads baseball with an 8-1 record. Dickey has a career record of 49-51 without any real consistency over his career, but he is in the midst of a consistency run rarely seen from a knuckleball pitcher.
In 11 starts the Mets are 9-2 with Dickey on the mound. On Saturday he pitched a complete game shutout over the Cardinals, one day after Johan Santana no-hit the league’s top hitting team.
Yanks are coming
While Baltimore is floundering with Tampa Bay holding a slim lead in the AL East, it almost seems inevitable that the Yankees are about to make a run and take control of the division. With a steady dose of bad pitching and inconsistent hitting, the Yankees are still only 1 ½ games out of first after taking two of three at Detroit, including beating Justin Verlander for the fourth straight time on Sunday.
The best news for Yankees fans was seeing Philip Hughes (5-5) with a strong performance against Verlander. Hughes not only tossed his first complete game while wearing the pinstripes, but it also marked the first complete game of his professional career.
The Yankees could find themselves in first place this week as they welcome the Rays in for a three game set beginning Tuesday. Over the weekend they’ll get a visit from the Mets in a great subway series that could have both teams in first-place when they meet.
The LVH Superbook currently has the Yankees at 10-to-1 to win the World Series while the Mets are 60-1.