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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, September 29, 2014 at 2:00 PM

As promised, I’m back before the start of the Major League Playoffs to resume the discussion we enjoyed all summer about handicapping baseball. We’ll still mostly focus on football moving forward. I will at least have one more baseball class-day right before the World Series. If developments warrant, I’ll have some “read and react” bonus coursework from the baseball postseason.

I have to tell you, I can’t recall an October that felt this wide-open in many a year. Baseball is more at the mercy of luck than other sports when championships are on the line anyway. This year has a mix of teams who look like champions one week then chumps the next. I wouldn’t be surprised if any of the division winners went the distance. Wildcard pitchers could get hot at the right time and throw a monkey wrench into proceedings as well (particularly with Oakland).

In the playoffs, scoring tends to go down because frontline pitchers get the bulk of the innings, because the weather cools off in a way that inhibits scoring, and because managers often “play for one run” rather than gambling that a big inning is on the way. Teams who bunt give away too many outs! With that in mind, you should focus our standard GAMEBREAKERS AND PLAYMAKERS approach on the following:

Starting Pitchers

Set-up Men who pitch the seventh and eighth innings

Closers who pitch the ninth inning

Home Run Hitters on offense

In any given game or series, one team or the other is likely to have a weakness in one of those categories that’s going to come back to haunt them. There just aren’t any “perfect” teams this year that are likely to steamroll through the playoffs. Games and series are going to be LOST by teams who don’t have enough quality in their rotations…don’t have enough overpowering arms in the bullpen…or don’t have enough power that can create scoring with one swing of the bat.

Serious bettors and handicappers should spend the early part of this week writing down the key players for all playoff teams in those areas. Study the key stats of the four starting pitchers most likely to see action (particularly the stars at the front end who may get called back early for emergency duty on short rest). Be CERTAIN you spend time with the bullpens because I’m confident that many bets will be won or lost this month after the starting pitchers are out of the game. And, write down the home run totals for hitters in the heart of every batting order.

This exercise by itself will do most of the work for you. You’ll be focusing on the factors that have historically had the biggest impact in determining October success.

Now, you may hear different things from TV announcers, who are still obsessed with “the little things” that win baseball games. And, there will certainly be a few showdowns that are determined because one team executed at just the right moment in the ninth inning to win a thriller. The problems here are:

*It’s very hard to know in advance which team(s) will pull that off

*Those same teams may lose other games trying to get too cute

*Pitching staffs are so stocked with strikeout pitchers now that “manufacturing” runs is more difficult than ever

If you’re betting a team because you think they’ll figure out a way to get it done, then you should just pass the game. Maybe that can be a kicker if you have other edges you’re confident of on the mound and with your bats.

Remember that it was a pitcher’s season for a variety of reasons (lack of steroids, wider strike zone, more emphasis on defensive talent and positioning). A solo home run looms even larger in games destined to end 2-1 or 3-2. A two-run or three-run homer can be the GAMEBREAKER that determines the winner. Focus on what will determine the winner!

I will have daily selections posted right here at this very website for purchase with your major credit card…for those of you requiring additional assistance. Questions about full postseason packages or combination packages with football can be answered personally by one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155.

Many of you weren’t with us through the past summer, and are just getting back into baseball because the playoffs are starting. I personally love betting baseball because it allows me to win seven days a week. Isn’t it great that we have something to bet on Tuesdays and Wednesday again?!

The Dean of Sports Handicapping will see you again later this week. I currently have a college football coaching discussion planned because my 100-unit winner last week (Texas) saw the loser’s head coach get fired after the game. Charlie Weis is out of work at Kansas. And, Brady Hoke at Michigan might be by the time you read this!

Thanks again for the hard work that YOU put into my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping. I’ll see you again next time.

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