MLB Handicapping: Getaway Day
by Robert Ferringo - 05/01/2009
One of the unique betting situations that you find in Major League Baseball is Getaway Day. Yet, where there is conflict there is opportunity, and Getaway Day offers an interesting one for players.
Getaway Day refers to the last game of any series because the road team is going to "get away", or leave, after the game is over. So if the New York Mets head out to Arizona for a three-game, Tuesday-through-Thursday set then the last game of the series, played on Thursday, would be Getaway Day for the Mets. In many of these situations the games are played in the afternoon - and day games after a night game are a whole different conundrum in and of itself - and the team that is on its way out of down often plays with one foot out the door.
Sunday is the main Getaway Day. Wednesdays and Thursdays are also common for weekday series.
The main issue with Getaway Day is that a lot of teams choose this final day of the series to rest their starters. But there are also other issues to worry about. For instance, you have to consider the motivation of the teams. If a club won the first two games they might relax for Game 3. But if it's a Cubs-Cardinals or Dodgers-Giants series that is tied 1-1 heading into Game 3 you know that both clubs are going full speed in order to win the series. Further, look-ahead situations, length of a road trip, and the quality of starters are other things to be considered as well.
Here are some tips for betting teams on Getaway Day:
1. Know the lineups, but don't overreact to them
One of the benefits that you, as a gambler, have over me, a handicapper, is the fact that you can wait until the last possible minute to make your play. I have to post my picks in the morning so a lot of times I have to speculate on who is actually playing. However, if you go to MLB.com or Yahoo Sports about 20-30 minutes before first pitch you can find out the lineups for each squad. This is especially important on Getaway Day.
This is important if you find a team that is resting its key players - like if St. Louis is sitting Albert Pujols or San Diego is playing without Adrian Gonzalez - up against a team that is going with its full lineup of starters. Again, this should be a strong consideration. But it shouldn't be the end-all, be-all for your play. And if both teams are resting their starters don't get too hung up on the lineups if you have zeroed in on a game because of the pitchers. Bump it down, sure, but don't' always throw it out.
2. Know who is desperate and who has something to play for
If a home team lost the first two games of a series you can probably bet that they are going to be more inclined to play their starters and give that extra push in the final game of the series. Sometimes "want" cannot replace a talent disparity and that team is going to get swept anyway. But the fact of the matter is that if a team has motivation or has something definitive to play for (mostly playing against getting embarrassed by a sweep) then that is the team that is going to win a lot of the time.
3. Know who your teams are playing tomorrow
A perfect example of this occurred on Wednesday when Tampa Bay got whitewashed in Minnesota. The Rays had their nemesis, Boston, on the docket on Friday and I think that they were looking ahead a little bit. Hey, some games are bigger than others. There are definitely rivalry situations or star-pitcher-with-new-team-coming-home situations or other big spots (you know, like Carlos Ruiz Bobblehead Night) where teams can get caught either looking ahead, or a manager can be in a spot where he wants to rest or set his bullpen for a more important game or series coming up next.
4. Know where and when they are getting away from
I have written a detailed article for Doc's about a phenomenon that I've been tracking lately. Consider it the Ultimate Getaway Day: teams in the final game of a three-city road trip that has spanned at least eight games went just 42-64 last year. And if you eliminate the N.L. West's bizarre 11-4 record in those contests the rest of the league was a pathetic 31-60. Basically, teams at the back end of a long road trip don't really care about their last game on the road and just want a night in their own beds. Keep this in mind and this concept trumps pitching matchups.
5. This is when great pitchers are really, really great
Guys like Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Josh Beckett and Brandon Webb are always great bets. But when they are facing a lineup full of backups and retreads they are going to absolutely dominate and there is nothing that their opponents can do about it. Teams don't "mail in" games. But if it's the Sunday after a three-city, 10-day road trip and you're staring down Halladay in a 12:30 p.m. start after a grueling night game, you can't hold it against a club if they roll over for Doc and the Jays.
The value on marquee pitchers on Getaway Day is, in my opinion, elevated. However, refer to Tip No. 1. Make sure that the Mets are backing Johan Santana with at least some of the starters before you go ahead and make a big money line play.
6. Be wary of making big moves on Sunday
I've said before that if a sport isn't football than players don't give a damn on Sunday. Everyone - from coaches, to players, to fans - handle Sunday games differently and you simply can't expect clubs to play as hard or respond to adversity as well on this day. There could be a lot of reasons for this, and I'm not going to speculate as to what they are, but just trust me on this one: it's always different on Sunday.
For more information on Ferringo's baseball picks, check out his Insider's Page here.