Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 7:00 AM
If you’re betting Major League Baseball in Las Vegas, you typically have the option of choosing a “run line” instead of the normal money line. Instead of laying a big price on a favorite, you can lay 1.5 runs at a much more affordable price. Instead of taking a big price on a dog, you can “buy some insurance” and take +1.5 runs at a lower payoff. If your dog loses a heartbreaker by one run, you still win!
WORST TIMES TO LAY 1.5 RUNS WITH FAVORITES
*Don’t ever switch to the run line just because you want to make a powerhouse team more affordable. This is the most common “square” strategy…because the public is always looking for ways to bet on the top teams. What squares have failed to noticed as that the “best” teams often find ways to eke out one-run wins even when they’re not playing well. Saying to yourself “I don’t want to lay -220, I’ll just lay 1.5 runs and -140) is a guarantee that you’re taking the worst of it. The market punishes with its prices, and you’re going to win these a lot less often than you expect.
*In similar fashion, some bettors will do this with the most dominating pitchers. They’re not in love with the big name team…they’re in love with the Cy Young candidate pitcher. Same problem. These guys are often in pitcher’s duels…and you’re going to lose any 3-2 or 4-3 games if you’re laying -1.5 runs.
BEST TIMES TO LAY 1.5 RUNS WITH FAVORITES
*To this point, the market has underestimated “blowout potential” in high scoring environments. The best time to lay -1.5 runs is when pitcher’s duel nailbiters are least likely. If you’re trying to back a strong offense in good hitting conditions against a vulnerable pitcher…that’s when it’s time to consider laying -1.5 runs. If you can do that and turn your favorite into an underdog on the pricing, so much the better. Consider laying -1.5 runs when the OFFENSE dictates it, not the pitching matchup.
*In the second half of the season, when you see that a bad team has thrown in the towel…it can be justified at that time to lay -1.5 runs against them. Teams like this lose by two, three, and four runs on a regular basis…particularly against opponents who are still in a pennant race.
WORST TIMES TO TAKE 1.5 RUNS WITH UNDERDOGS
*When runs come cheap (high scoring situations), you don’t gain much benefit grabbing that +1.5 runs. If the wind is blowing out in Wrigley. If homers are flying out of Arlington…the games are going to end 8-4 or 9-6 one way or the other. There’s no reason to pay a premium for something that has minimal value.
*With bad pitching! If your underdog is starting somebody at the back of their rotation…this extra 1.5 runs isn’t going to turn him into a good pitcher.
BEST TIMES TO TAKE 1.5 RUNS WITH UNDERDOGS
*In pitcher’s parks, when pitching duels are most common. Wherever you see a lot of 2-1, 3-2, or 4-3 type games, that +1.5 runs can be very valuable. The market has adjusted to this to a degree…but not as much as they need to. If your handicapping has isolated a dog in a pitcher’s park, you should strongly consider taking +1.5 runs so you win all one-run decisions.
*With underdogs who have good bullpens. It’s best to wait until May to let the bullpens define their quality for you. Once you’re confident of a team’s middle and late relief, taking that +1.5 runs can be extremely valuable in neutral and favorable pitching environments. Even if the dog falls behind 4-3 early in the game with a shaky starter…the bullpen can slam the door right there. This is a good place to mention that many of the games current innovations are happening in the area of relief pitching. YOU should be looking for ways to take advantage of that in your MLB handicapping.
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