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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, April 21, 2012 at 11:11 AM

Saturday Night’s Major League Baseball schedule features a game with a Vegas total lower six runs. The Philadelphia Phillies-San Diego Padres matchup with Roy Halladay and Cory Luebke is sitting at 5.5 as we write this, with little sentiment from professional wagerers that the seemingly miniscule number is way too low.

Sharps play low totals like this much differently than the general public. Squares (the Vegas term for regular Joe’s) will try to find any excuse to bet the OVER when they see a 5.5, a 6, a 6.5, or even a 7.

*If one of the starters has a bad outing, they figure the game will go Over.

*If the game stays close, there’s a chance that late inning action will drive a game Over. If a low scoring game is tied at 3-3, it has to get to at least seven, and that’s going to win an Over bet at 6.5 or less. And, obviously a 4-3 final pushes at Over 7.

*If one of the teams has a respected offense, the square pictures one of the sluggers hitting a three-run home run, which would get his bet most of the way there in one big swing.

It’s true that some of these low totaled games do go Over. But, sharps know that history points very strongly to pitchers duels staying below seven, and even below six in the pre-steroid and post-steroid eras. Remember all the games that ended 1-0 last year? No chance to get to six or seven. How about 2-1? That’s not uncommon for a pitcher’s duel where high quality starters hand off to the team’s best relievers.

Hey, if one staff throws a shutout, the other team has to score at least seven runs by themselves! How often does that happen in a projected pitcher’s duel.

We mentioned a week ago that sharps will shade their totals betting toward the Unders in the early stages of the season by a ratio of about 3-1 or 4-1. The weather is warming up in places, so that ratio may start drifting more toward Overs. But, when we’re talking about the lowest totals with the best pitchers, it’s usually Under or pass for sharps.

 

Here’s why:

*For a total to be that low, the game has to be in a pitcher’s park to begin with. You won’t see a total of 6.5 in Arlington or Colorado. For the total to be low, you’re already talking about one of the West Coast pitcher’s parks, or a spot like Washington or the NY Mets home stadium where a history of low scoring games with quality pitching has been established.

*For a total to be that low, BOTH starting pitchers have to be respected by the market. When BOTH guys are that good, the chances for big inning that blow up is very low…particularly once everyone has found their regular season form. If two guys typically don’t get into trouble…and they know how to get out of trouble with ground balls or strikeouts, then scoring potential is much more limited than casual fans or bettors realize.

*For a total to be that low, at least one of the offenses has to be weak. We’ve seen a lot of that since the steroid era ended…offenses that have so few big threats that they’re just overpowered by ace caliber pitchers. There’s not an even distribution of hitting talent because there’s no salary cap. Some teams just have no shot to produce against star pitchers. It makes no sense to be Overs when this is in play.

Now, we’re not endorsing the Under in San Diego as a play, or even suggesting that sharps have loaded up on the Under. The fact that they didn’t hit the Over with authority tells you a lot right off the bat. With low totals, it’s either Under or pass for sharps. You’ll have to decide on your own if you want to play Under or pass here. If you take a flyer on the Over…you might get there with a few breaks. But, you’ll be bucking sharp strategies…and that’s going to hurt you over the long haul.

We’re closing in on the NBA Playoffs, and we will be expanding our coverage of “what the sharps are thinking” when the postseason begins. We’ll look at series prices, game pointspreads, and the natural line movement that exists as a series progresses. In recent days, sharps have generally been “betting the news” in terms of players sitting out or players returning, rather than attacking oddsmakers sentiments on overall team quality and win potential. In the playoffs, it will be much more about the latter.

We’ll continue to monitor baseball for you. Yes, sharps are still fond of Miami. The Marlins got early respect Saturday against Washington and Steven Strasburg. Support has generally been connected to individual pitchers rather than teams. Keep an eye this week on the new names in rotations this year who are already getting respect here in the third week of April.

Don’t forget that the best minds in handicapping post their best plays right here at the showcase website in the sports wagering industry. Saturday’s selections are up now. Please check the ads on the home page to see what your favorite legend has on tap for today!

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