MLB Picks and Betting Advice and Tips for Season Stretch Run
by Trevor Whenham - 9/28/2010
We are in the last, dying days of the baseball season. For most teams that means just one thing - counting the days until the misery ends. It’s either that, trying to stay healthy until the playoffs start, or fighting for a spot in those playoffs. For most bettors it comes down to two things at this time - watching the pennant races, and thinking ahead to the playoffs. This last week of action can present a few interesting options, though - situations where bettors can pad their bankroll before the postseason rolls around. Here are six tips and betting advice for help on your MLB picks for the last week of the regular season:
Managers who are doomed - Though no managers have been fired yet, it doesn’t take a degree in rocket science to know that a few are in their final days with their teams. If a team is coming off a particularly frustrating season and they know that they aren’t going to have to deal with the same manager again, then it’s all but impossible to imagine that that team will put forth a strong effort down the stretch. They have nothing to play for, and no one to directly impress for next season, so it’s all about putting in time. That doesn’t mean that they will throw the games or not try at all, but it does mean that they aren’t a likely to hustle down the baseline to beat out a close play, or to make an extra dive for a catch. Those plays can make all the difference in a game, and the absence of them can give bettors an edge.
Teams with impending changes - There are three iconic managers leaving their teams after this season - Bobby Cox is done in Atlanta, Joe Torre is fed up with the Dodgers, and Cito Gaston is going home to polish his two World Series Trophies in Toronto. All three guys have meant a lot to their teams and are popular with their players. It wouldn’t be surprising at all to see those players look to close this season out on a high note for them - especially in the case of Cox and Gaston, where the end of the season marks the end of a successful career.
Teams playing all youngsters - Some teams use the last week - or weeks - of the season to see where they are at with their farm systems and young player development. Those teams are clearly looking towards the future and have little interest in actually winning this year. The young players will be motivated and looking to impress, but they’ll also be tight and inexperienced, and that can cause real problems when they are playing a more experienced team. When a team is starting a significant majority of new blood they are hard to support, but easy to bet against.
Players looking forward to free agency - There is nothing that can force players to check out more completely than knowing that they won’t be playing with their current team next year. Players who are heading into free agency aren’t going to make or break their next contract based on their play in the last week of the season - unless they get hurt. That means that they are going to be mailing it in and doing as little as possible so that they can secure the big payday down the line. Teams with one or more impending free agents in prominent roles - if they are still playing those players - aren’t likely to be at their best.
Teams preparing for playoffs - One of the hardest situations to deal with at this time of year is teams that have already clinched a playoff spot. There is nothing that they can do down the stretch other than wait for the next game that matters. The conventional wisdom is that these teams shouldn’t be touched because they won’t be putting in any effort. I don’t buy into that in all cases. If a team has clinched well in advance of the playoffs then the manager can’t afford to let the team slack off in hopes that they can crank it up again when they need to right when the playoffs start. Smart managers, then, will start to get the ball rolling in the last few games of the season. That allows the players a bit of a mental break after they clinch, but let’s them develop the right mindset for the big games. Teams in that situation get more and more interesting to me as the playoffs near.
Pitchers banged up - The season is very long for all players, but it’s longest for pitchers who aren’t up to the strain and struggle of a long season. There are a lot of pitchers in the league right now who are operating on empty gas tanks. If the team doesn’t have another option then that pitcher is going to have to pitch anyway. If a pitcher has been struggling badly with control or has been particularly hittable down the stretch then their last start of the year might be a good place to capitalize on those struggles.
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