Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Thursday, October 8, 2015 at 12:00 PM
I’m going to add in the baseball playoffs this week since the Divisional Round schedule falls so nicely into our Thursday/Friday segment. Here’s a look at how sharps (professional wagerers) are betting all the big attractions on the two-day card. Additional reports are coming Friday for Saturday’s marquee college games and the rest of the NFL schedule.
TEXAS AT TORONTO (3:35 p.m. ET on FOX SPORTS1): Toronto opened at a pricey -220, and was bet UP by sharps to -240. It’s David Price vs. Yovani Gallardo, which is a clear pitching advantage for the Jays. Plus, Toronto was a real juggernaut down the stretch of the regular season. Many sharps like the Jays in this series even with a line around -250 to advance. Texas may only get betting interest in the game(s) Cole Hamels pitches. Old school dog lovers might get involved if the public drives the number to the stratosphere. The opening total of 7.5 was bet up to -8 because of Toronto’s explosive offense.
HOUSTON AT KANSAS CITY (7:35 p.m. on FOX SPORTS 1): Slight interest on the Royals out of the gate, as an opener in the low 130’s has been bet up to the high 130’s. It’s Yordano Ventura vs. Collin McHugh. To the degree lines are driven by starting pitching, Kansas City is often disrespected because they don’t have elite starters. That keeps their lines in check…and helps their backers clean up when things are going well. Will that happen for a second year in a row? Total holding firm at 7.5.
INDIANAPOLIS AT HOUSTON (on CBS): This one has been tricky because it looks like Andrew Luck won’t be able to play for the Colts. As I write this up for you, the market is treating him as “out” even if it hasn’t been announced yet. Houston is -4 and the total is 41. We would have been looking at the Colts as a favorite with an Over/Under about a field goal higher if Luck were healthy and able to go. Within the midweek developments…sharps and the public hit Houston pretty hard at -3, and money kept coming in at -3.5. Watch the line during the day to see if there’s a buy back on the Colts.
SMU AT HOUSTON (on ESPN2): Houston opened at -22 and has been bet all the way up to -26. SMU did have some decent early performances…but then wasn’t impressive against James Madison. Houston would be expected to beat James Madison by a margin in this range. Don’t forget that Houston’s now coached by Ohio State’s former offensive coordinator. They’re getting results, and Ohio State’s offense has fallen off the map! The Over/Under is up from 71 to 72.
WASHINGTON AT USC (on ESPN): Looks like a tug-of-war developing on USC -16.5 and Washington +17. That’s a key number in terms of double digit spreads. Dog lovers are happy to get the +17 when they see it. Squares and a few sharp quants lay the -16.5 because of the Trojans explosiveness. Nothing happening on the opening total of 56.
TEXAS AT TORONTO (12:45 p.m. ET on the MLB NETWORK): The market won’t post a line until Game One is in the books (just in case there’s a major injury or some other important development). Young Marcus Stroman of Toronto will take on Hamels.
HOUSTON AT KANSAS CITY (3:45 p.m. ET on FOXSPORTS1): Same story here with Scott Kazmir vs. Johnny Cueto. Note that Cueto’s been a disappointment since coming over to the Royals from Cincinnati. There’s still a meaningful difference between the NL and the AL in terms of talent depth. Cueto’s struggled in the A.L. Jake Arrieta went the other direction and is suddenly a superstar. Max Scherzer pitched two no-hitters in the NL this year. Sharps are aware of Cueto’s vulnerability. Will they invest in Kazmir?
CHICAGO CUBS AT ST. LOUIS (6:45 p.m. on TBS): This one’s only been up for a few hours as I write this because the Cubs qualified by beating Pittsburgh Wednesday evening. We’re basically looking at pick-em with a total of 6.5 for Jon Lester vs. John Lackey. No sharp indicators yet…though the fact that the Cubs are pick-em on the ROAD tells you how much respect the team is now getting in the marketplace. Oddsmakers tried to guard against that sharp respect by opening so low.
NY METS AT LA DODGERS (9:45 p.m. ET on TBS): LA opened at -190 and has been bet up to -200 with Clayton Kershaw vs. Jacob deGrom. The opening total is a very low 5.5. We saw that number in Cubs/Pirates and the game ended 4-0. Sharps love high strikeout pitchers like Kershaw because he is able to control his own destiny more than others as opponents can’t make contact. They’ll really ONLY lay high prices with high K pitchers.
SOUTHERN MISS AT MARSHALL (on CBS SPORTS NETWORK): Sharps have really soured on Marshall. The opening like of Marshall -6.5 has been bet down to -5 or -4.5. There is some respect for Southern Miss in there as well. So…it’s a mix of sentiment regarding both teams against the oddsmakers’ initial read of the game. Very telling that an opener just a half point under a key number was pulled way down below that key number. Wise Guys figured there was no shot the seven would come up and a feeding frenzy began. The total has dropped sharply from 60 down to 56.5. Again…quants hate this Marshall offense.
NC STATE AT VIRGINIA TECH (on ESPN): Virginia Tech opened at -3. Sharps hit NC State hard at that price because of uncertainty about Tech’s quarterback situation and general sentiment about the two teams. We’re now seeing Tech by only -1.5 on its home field in a big TV game. It takes respected money to take a game off the three, even in the colleges. And, it’s telling that the game didn’t move back toward the key number after the drop. The total of 53 has plummeted down to 46.5. Quants are reacting to a low scoring season (so many Unders last week) much more quickly than oddsmakers are.
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Thanks for reading. Back with you Friday with separate reports on college and pro football.
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