Capping little league might be as challenging as MLB
August 29, 2018 3:00 AM
by Ramon Scott
If betting the Little League World Series isn’t your fancy, then maybe you prefer trying your luck on betting the major leagues after Sept. 1.
While offshore books have long allowed novelty betting on 12-13-year-olds playing on national television, gambling cynics are apt to scold or question your insight on handicapping teams from as far away as Spain, South Korea and Grandview, Iowa.
Well, handicapping youth teams might only slightly prove more difficult than prognosticating MLB games after the late-season roster expansion call-ups dot the landscape with up to 40 players per team. Some teams – including several in the National League – are still in a tightly-contested playoff battle, while others have time to experiment and learn about their prospective future players.
After all, a dominant pubescent is easier to spot than the next big league phenom. That’s not to say money can’t be made. Staying on top of starting lineups, especially on football-laden Saturday and Sunday, can still provide you with the insight you need to confirm your handicap.
Bullpens, especially those of the non-contenders, can be a more difficult handicap. However, arms are in plentiful supply. Public perception, already geared to betting the over, has even a stronger lean, as run totals go up.
Since the break, the line on big favorites has risen dramatically, but that has resulted in mostly steady profits for those willing to still take inflated prices. While not a blind process, consider determining whether a two-dollar-plus ‘dog on a non-cellar dweller team is going up against what you might consider a less-than-elite pitcher.
Underdog players may have had it a bit rough early in this season, but have closed the gap dramatically the past month, a likely continuing trend.
High-profile games that still grab the public’s pigskin-distracted attention down the stretch are often those played with a playoff-like intensity with bearing on the postseason. The first look should often be on betting the under, especially when top-line starters are involved.
Sudden or dramatic line movement is very critical in September, so make sure you are getting full value for your wager. If you’ve missed out on a non-injury or non-rest related line movement, then consider yourself late to the party and take a pass.
MIA MARLINS (+200, 9.5) at RED SOX (Wed., 3:35): Marlins have been profitable against LH starters, but Red Sox lefty David Price is up 12 units this season after winning his third-straight last out as he is in peak form even if Sox aren’t necessarily in overdrive. Miami’s Trevor Richards is up over six units over seven starts in road day contests. BOS, 4-3
DIAMONDBACKS (-105, 8) at GIANTS (Wed., 4:15): Dereck Rodriguez showed no worse for wear in his return following a short DL sting. He went six innings for a no-decision in a Giants’ loss on Friday and still has a season ERA of 2.30 with a whit of one. Zack Godley, of the D’backs, is off a couple of poor outings and his ERA is now over 4.50. SF, 4-3
BREWERS (-150, 9.5u20) at REDS (Thu., 9:35): Wade Miley, of the Brewers, is sure-fire five innings-plus so far and hasn’t been knocked around at all since becoming a part of Milwaukee’s plans. Luis Castillo has an ERA over five this season for the Reds but it should be noted he is slightly-above a break-even pitcher this season. MIL, 5-4
PIT PIRATES (+125, 8.5) at CARDINALS (Thu., 4:15): Cards’ John Gant, despite five walks in Coors Field on Saturday, may have put together his biggest effort, going seven innings in getting a no-decision in a St. Louis loss. Bucs’ Joe Musgrove allowed four earned runs in four innings last out at Milwaukee but is usually good for six-plus innings. STL, 4-3
COL ROCKIES (-120, 9o15) at PADRES (Thu., 7:10): Padres’ Clayton Richard hasn’t won in two months after getting shelled again on Friday at the Dodgers, though he sports an ERA under four at home. The Rockies Antonio Senzatela allowed seven earned runs in four innings last time out against St. Louis and has an ERA close to 5.50 on the road. SD, 5-4
MARINERS (+140, 7.5) at ATHLETICS (Fri., 7:10): Oakland’s Mike Fiers has won three straight starts and has been a huge part of Oakland’s push into the playoffs, as he’s allowed three earned runs or less in every start over the last two months. M’s go with Wade LeBlanc, who’s been good enough for nearly 9-plus units. OAK, 5-3
TIGERS (+170, 9) at YANKEES (Sat., 1:05): Tigers’ Jordan Zimmermann is up over six units in road day starts despite a 4.81 ERA in the setting. Masahiro Tanaka has been very sharp since the All-Star break and has a 1.12 WHIP on the season. He’s down a couple of units despite Yanks going 13-8 in his starts. NYY, 5-3
CUBS (-108, 9) at PHILLIES (Sun., 10:35): Jon Lester is coming off strong starts since getting rocked for eight runs against the Nats. The vet lefty is up nearly 11 units this season. The Phillies’ Zach Eflin is up over four units at home but he’s hit a bit of a wall of late. CUBS, 5-4
ANGELS (NL) at ASTROS (Sun., 5:05): Another undecided window on the weekly national TV feature, but we know it’s not the steady rotation of the Astros with unknown pitching plans a week out. The Astros will go with Charlie Morton, who has a 13-3 overall record but is still slightly below break-even. No pick