Starting today we are into the last series of the baseball season. We haven’t been talking baseball much recently, but with the playoffs around the corner we will be ding much more, and this is a good pace to start. The last series is only meaningful for a couple of teams – those trying to make it into the playoffs. The rest are either counting the seconds until their season ends, or trying hard not to get anyone hurt before the playoffs start. Teams that have clinched also spend the series trying to get their rotation into the order they want it to be in for the playoffs. For fans this weekend doesn’t mean much in most of the series either. It’s hard to care, and this is just a chance to catch our breath before the long playoffs.
So, is there any good reason to bet the games this weekend? Probably notfor the most part, but it seems reasonable to think that there could be situations where it could be worth tearing yourself away from football for long enough to make a bet or two. Here are three of those possible scenarios:
1. A definite playoff starter is starting. A playoff team isn’t going to risk anything going wrong with their playoff rotation. They may have to throw a starter out there that they will be using in less than a week in the playoffs, but they won’t keep him out there long. The odds will be set, though, based on the starter starting like he normally would. If he normally pitches for six or seven innings he might be pulled out after four or so in this circumstance. That means that the odds on the game don’t really reflect what you are getting – you are getting more of the bullpen and less of the starter than you paid for. That, in turn, could create more value for the underdog if that is the side you like.
2. A youngster is making a first start. The last weekend is occasionally when a team will give a player they called up a chance to make a first start. The public often doesn’t like inexperienced starters unless they are big name call-ups. In these cases, though, the young starter may be the only person on either team who actually cares about the game. That means that he is facing a softer opponent than he normally would, and he could therefore be more attractive at the price that he is available at.
3. A pitcher is going for a milestone. Pitchers might not be at their best at this time of year – injuries, soreness, and a lack of motivation because of the end of the season. A pitcher can have an extra boost, though, if they are on the verge of realizing a personal milestone. It could be 15 or 20 wins, 250 strikeouts, or one of the other impressive marks. It could also be something less obvious but no less meaningful, like a bonus in their contract. Whatever it is, if a pitcher has extra motivation then he could perform better than expected, and might be worth a look.