Things to Look for When Betting MLB in September
As the MLB regular season action enters its final month, it’s time to take a closer look at betting advantages and angles that can appear in these final weeks. Let’s examine some of the ways baseball in September differs from the rest of the year. Keeping these factors in mind can help build your bankroll as you get ready for the postseason.
Start with the Basics
September baseball, for the last time ever, brings the expansion of Major League rosters. Up from 25 eligible players, each team can now call upon any member of their 40-man roster. The most direct impact this has league-wide is on pitching staffs. Rotation members and high usage bullpen arms are supplemented by a combination of veterans trying to play their way into more money, and young players trying to prove their worth to the big club. Most of these pitchers will be highly focused, and their availability greatly increases the flexibility of managers to matchup on a game-by-game and at-bat-by-at-bat basis.
Overall, the increase in roster size leads to more decisions in every single phase of the game. Accordingly, have faith in the managers you’ve identified as being at the top of the game. Likewise, keep an eye on how more inexperienced managers handle the changes. One name to consider is Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli. His team is deep into a pennant race, but it’s his first year on the job. He has already raised a few eyebrows in the Twin Cities, so the Twins are one to keep an eye on, particularly in games that are priced to be close.
There’s Value in the Shadows
This one’s pretty basic too, but September baseball is in a unique position on the sports betting calendar. As the games increase in importance, the industry, sharps, and the public are all paying less attention. The start of NFL and college football are massively important for almost everyone involved in the world of sports handicapping. An incredible amount of time and energy is spent by those on all sides, in order to get off to a profitable start. Baseball creeps into the shadows.
For those who decide not to look away, informational and matchup advantages will appear. These edges can be even greater if you focus your handicapping on teams that are not in contention for playoff spots. That may even mean aggressively fading some of them, but the point is that most eyes will be looking elsewhere. Monitoring the changing rosters, researching which prospects may perform well, and tracking late season bullpen usage, will all lead to betting opportunities.
This is no Dress Rehearsal
We all know that in the MLB postseason, runs are harder to come by. Higher stakes, colder weather, and an all hands-on-deck approach can make it easier to lean under the total. But, there’s no reason to wait until the playoffs start. Instead, highlight September games between teams directly competing with each other for postseason berths. Some upcoming examples are the six games between AL Central leaders Minnesota and Cleveland, four games between Tampa and Boston, and seven to be played in the historic Cubs-Cardinals rivalry. These games will potentially have serious playoff implications and themselves will look a lot like postseason tilts.
For me, the games between the Rays and Red Sox are of particular interest. The Sox are on the fringes of a four-team wild card race and they’ll have to empty the tank against Tampa in this spot. However, since both teams are currently trailing Cleveland and Oakland for the two wild card slots, a split of the four games could easily prevent both teams from missing out. Look for these games to be very tight.
One Small Thing
This season, we’ve been lucky to watch two impressive rookie pitching campaigns, by Atlanta’s Mike Soroka and St. Louis’ Dakota Hudson. Soroka, in particular, has been phenomenal. He ranks second in ERA, 14th in WHIP, and leads the league in fewest home runs per 9 innings. Hudson’s numbers have been more solid than spectacular, but both of these young arms are key cogs in their clubs’ postseason plans. That said, they’ve both thrown a lot of innings for their age and experience. While both pitchers had a good August, keep them in mind. Their clubs may not want to stretch them out, especially as they both figure to be starting potential playoff games.
One thing to look for is a game where either of these two pitchers are scheduled to start, but their bullpens are a bit taxed. Their managers may be hesitant to let these young studs pitch deep into the game, even if they’re throwing reasonably well. Going Over on what will likely be a low total could be a solid play should the opportunity arise.