MLB Handicapping Trends: First Game of a Series
by Dave Schwab - 6/18/2012
There are many important factors that go into properly handicapping a MLB matchup such as starting pitchers, weather and field conditions, current form, home-plate umpires etc., but another important and sometimes-overlooked factor is betting trends. A trend is a look at past results that can help provide the necessary insight towards predicting a future outcome.
Turning to this Tuesday’ slate of games, there are six new series getting underway. The betting trend we want to focus on here is a team’s recent performance in the first game of a new series.
The first series on the slate is a three-game Interleague matchup between the Minnesota Twins and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Twins are mired in the basement of the AL Central with an overall record of 26-39 while the Pirates are in the thick of the NL Central race at 34-31. The overall advantage here goes to Pittsburgh, but it also helps that it is 6-2 in Game 1 of its last eight series as compared to Minnesota’s 13-31 record in Game 1 of its last 44 series.
The next game of interest pits the St. Louis Cardinals on the road against the Detroit Tigers. Both teams have really struggled recently in the first game of a new series with the Cardinals going 0-5 in their last five and the Tigers going 0-6 in their last six. The play here could be on the ‘over’ on the total line. The total has gone over in the first game of 11 of St. Louis’ last 16 series and in 13 of Detroit’s last 18 series.
Wins have been hard to come by for both the Colorado Rockies and Philadelphia Phillies these past few weeks with a combined 4-16 record in their last 20 games. The Rockies come into this series with a 5-2 record in Game 1 of their last seven series while the Phillies are a woeful 3-12 in their last 15 games overall. The great equalizer in this matchup could be Cole Hamels on the mound for Philadelphia in what has been one ray of hope in what has become a very disappointing season for the reining NL East champs. The Phillies are 12-4 in Hamels’ last 16 starts in Game 1 of a series.
The Miami Marlins kick off a three-game series against Boston at Fenway this Tuesday night. Miami is just 2-8 in its last 10 games and fading fast in the NL East race after a solid start. It is now 1-4 in the first game of its last five series. The Red Sox are struggling as well with an overall record of 33-33 and a 0-4 record in the first game of their last four series. The edge in this game could be that Boston is expected to go with Clay Buchholz as its starter. The Red Sox are 22-7 in his last 29 starts in the first game of a series.
The final matchup of interest sets up as a possible parlay. The Tampa Bay Rays head to our Nation’s capital to take on the Washington Nationals starting this Tuesday night. Tampa Bay has listed David Price as its starter for this game, which could result in a low-scoring affair. The total has stayed ‘under’ in 15 of his last 20 starts in the first game of the series. Overall, the Nationals have had some solid success in the first game with a record of 35-17 in their last 52 series pointing the way towards Washington and the under as the play.