(Welcome to the latest edition of a new weekly feature for Fox Valley Magazine, Jeff’s Sports Bets. Local punter Jeff gives his methodology and picks each Friday for MLB games If you’re unfamiliar with betting, check out the introductory article, where Jeff begins by defining terms and discussing his process. Enjoy!)
We had another reasonable week coming out $99.06 ahead. But I apologize for failing to mention that, as a result of past successes, we increased our basic betting amount to $35 which was reflected in last week’s potential winning totals.
So, let’s take a look at those games:
Rockies (Gomber) mline vs. Nationals (H) (A. Sanchez) – Over 9
This one was called due to bad weather.
Postponed = $0.00
Yankees (Taillon) mline vs. Rays (H) (Springs) – Over 7.5
Two of the most powerful lineups in Major League Baseball scored two run between them? Yes they did and we lost the bet.
Yankees 2 – Rays 0 = -$35.00
Mets (Carasco) mline vs. Phillies (H) (Falter) – Over 8
This one worked out quite nicely!
Mets 8 – Phillies 6 = $76.37
Guardians (Bieber) rline vs. Tigers (H) (Faedo) – Under 7.5
This one was called, too.
Postponed = $0.00
Red Sox (H) (Whitlock) rline vs. Orioles (Bradish) – Over 9.5
It’s hard to bet on or against the Orioles this year. One game they look like contenders and the next they look as bad as they did last year.
Orioles 12 – Red Sox 8 = -$35.00
Braves (H) (I. Anderson) mline vs. Marlins (Rogers) – Over 9
As previously stipulated, the Braves crush lefthanded pitching and they certainly did so here.
Braves 6 – Marlins 4 = $82.14
Twins (H) (Ober) rline vs. Royals (Keller) – Over 8.5
This one also worked out quite nicely!
Twins 10 – Royals 7 = $105.08
Brewers (Woodruff) mline vs. Cardinals (Hudson) – Over 7
This one did not work out nicely because we lost both ends of the bet.
Brewers 4 – Cardinals 2 = -$35.00
Blue Jays (Manoah) mline vs. Angels (Silseth) – Over 8
Blue Jays 4 – Angel 3 = -$35.00
Astros (Verlander) rline vs. Mariners (Flexen) – Over 7
This one wasn’t as easy as we thought because the great Justin Verlander proved he can have a bad day.
Mariners 6 – Astros 1 = -$35.00
Pirates (Quintana) mline vs. Padres (H) (Manaea) – Over 7
It was close, but the Padres pulled it out in the end.
Padres 4 – Pirates 3 = -$35.00
Rangers (J. Gray) mline vs. A’s (H) (Irvin) – Over 7
The Rangers continue their march to .500 baseball with another victory.
Rangers 8 – A’s 5 = $ 80.50
Dodgers (Pepiot) rline vs. D’backs (H) (Bumgarner) – Under 10
The success that had MadBum lookin’ like he was a cinch for Comeback Player of Year suddenly seems to be eluding him.
Dodgers 6 – Pirates 4 = -$35.00
The bottom line is that any day we win $100 or more is a good day.
Meanwhile, this week’s new concept is “regression to the mean” which is a fancy way of saying when things are bad they can only get better and vice versa. The fascinating thing about this concept is it persistently baffles the bookmakers who tend to “panic” when a team or player suddenly plays well above or well below expectations.
Put more simply, when a player has a career year, typically right before free agency, what are the odds they’ll reach the Mike Trout/Gerrit Cole stratosphere or retreat to some semblance of “normalcy?” And that’s particularly true of players in their 30’whose production will naturally decline with age.
The Cubs’ front office fully understood this phenomenon when, much to their fans’ dismay, they traded Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez away last year. But not only was this trio bound for a big free agency payday, the odds of their improvement, or even remaining at the same level, weren’t nearly as great as the odd of their stats falling off. And that’s exactly what happened.
Bryant has never lived up to his 2016 MVP year and now he’s back on the DL (again) having played just 17 games for the Rockies. When he does play he’s batting a mediocre .274 with no homeruns and just four RBIs.
Rizzo was already in a steep decline, but even the Yankees star studded lineup hasn’t stopped him from sliding to a barely-above-the-Mendoza-line .213 batting average with a remarkably poor .321 on base percentage. Baez is even worse with a .197 average and just three homeruns in 40 games.
Fully comprehending these regression to the mean possibilities, the Cubs did exactly the right thing by getting something for these players while they still could.
The flipside of that RttM coin is the 2005 world champion White Sox who signed B-grade free agents like Scott Podsednik who still had room to improve and that’s exactly what they did. I continue to be stunned that no other GM has truly tried to replicate that success.
But please don’t make the RttM mistake of thinking that, just because the quarter you’re flipping came up with five straight heads, you’re now “due” for a tails. Nope! Regardless of any past history, the next toss is still a 50 – 50 probability. But when it comes to those eminently streaky baseball teams and players, for every Mike Trout and Justin Verlander there are ten Dallas Keuchels and Patrick Corbins.
The Cubs certainly didn’t repeat, did they? All we’re talking about with RttM is determining the odds that something will get better or worse. Does a team or player have more room to improve or get worse?
So, how can bettors take advantage of the RttM? Much like stocks are regularly under or overvalued in the short term, having beaten the Dodgers three games in a row, the Pirates are going to be vastly overpriced until they inevitably return to their losing ways. So, we’ll look forward to the “premiums” that will come with betting against Pittsburgh in the short term.
Let’s move on to today’s games:
Cardinals (Mikolas) mline vs. Cubs (H) (Stroman) – Over 8
This bet looked a bit tough until you realize that Mikolas boasts a 1.52 lifetime ERA against the Cubs and Stroman’s Wrigley Field ERA is a terrifying 6.28. Add a heated rivalry to two questionable bullpens and we’ll take the over.
Please note that we’re getting the Cards at a bargain basement -102 line because the Cubs’ are overvalued as a result of their three-game winning streak.
Fanduel +250 = $87.51
Giants (Cobb) mline vs. Marlins (H) (Hernandez) – Over 8
Neither pitcher is having what could be called a stellar year, but Cobb’s 2.04 XERA tells you his 5.73 ERA is due to some really bad luck. Add his 2.65 lifetime ERA against the Marlins and we have a bet. Miami’s MLB worst bullpen over the last two weeks means the over is the way to go.
Draftkings +218 = 76.36
Reds (H) (Minor) mline vs. Nationals (Gray) – Under 10
The 34-year-old Mike Minor makes his 2022 Major League return for the Reds this evening, and given how poorly the Nationals do against southpaws, he’s the reason to put money on the Reds. Josiah Gray’s 5.75 May ERA doesn’t instill confidence in the Nat’s chances, either. A Coors Field-like 10 run over/under? The Reds haven’t exceeded that number since they beat the Cubs 20 – 5 on May 26, so we’ll take the under.
Draftkings +230 =80.76
Pirates (H) (Brubaker) mline vs. D’Backs (Kelly) – Over 7.5
We talked about betting against the Pirates earlier, but it will not be this game! After a great April Merrill Kelly has been terrible while Brubaker quietly put together a 2.63 ERA May. And 7.5 runs is absurdly low for what Pittsburgh has been pulling off lately. Both bullpens are nothing to write home about, either.
Draftkings +257 = $90.27
Yankee (H) (Cole) rline vs. Tigers (Rodriquez) – Over 8
Considering the absurd moneyline whenever Gerrit Cole pitches we almost skipped this one. But Cole is likely to give up at least two runs and Rodriguez’ 6.17 ERA says it all. The Yankees’ bullpen hasn’t been doing too well lately to seal the over deal.
Draftkings +233 = $81.66
Guardians (Bieber) mline vs. Orioles (Zimmermann) – Under 8
This was another tough one because Bieber ain’t the pitcher he used to be and the Guardians can’t hit lefties. But Bieber’s solid enough to put money on Cleveland, and with two top ten bullpens and the wind blowing in, we’ll take the under.
Fanduel +240 = $84.33
Blue Jays (H) (Kikuchi) rline vs. Twins (Gonazlez) – Over 9.5
I watched the Jays dismantle the White Sox yesterday and all I can say is the Yankees better not get complacent. Toronto has won nine straight, their 10-day OPS is number one by almost a full point, their bullpen ranks in the top ten, Kikuchi is having a banner year, and the Twins have lost three straight – to the likes of the Tigers. Add that to this being Gonzalez 2022 MLB debut and we’ll take the over.
Draftkings +272 = $95.45
Rays (H) (McClanahan) rline vs. White Sox (Velasquez) – Over 7
With Tampa Bay sitting in the two-week OPS last place, this game screams regression to the mean. The Rays have won two in a row while the Sox have lost three and they and their bullpen looked totally lost yesterday. Considering Velasquez’ 6.00 May ERA and Rasmussen will likely give up two to three runs, I don’t get this low total, so let’s take advantage of it.
Fanduel +268 = $93.95
Mariners (Gilbert) mline vs. Rangers (H) (Dunning) – Over 8
This was another tough one, but with both teams hitting equally well the deciding factor was Gilbert’s 2.29 ERA. Regardless of the pitching, when we’re talking about the number three and five OPS teams the over is the way to go.
Fanduel +256 = $89.93
Astros (Urquidy) mline vs. Royals (H) (Singer) – Under 9
Another tough one, particularly with former first round draft pick Brady Singer suddenly rediscovering his form. But Houston’s won four straight while the Royals have dropped the same number. The Astros are one of the best road teams while Kansas City is one of the worst, and nine runs? Though Brady might experience some regression to the mean that’s a tall order for two teams that aren’t hitting very well.
Fanduel +275 = $96.37
Brewers (H) (Burnes) mline vs. Padres (Musgrove) – Over 6.5
It’s always fun to watch two of the game’s best pitchers square off, but it certainly doesn’t make betting any easier. In the end, Milwaukee is home and they’ve won four while the Padres have lost four. The Brewers have gone under 6.5 runs only once in their last seven games which means the over is the better bet.
Draftkings +201 = $70.56
Braves (Fried) rline vs. Rockies (H) (Kuhl) – Over 11
Colorado clobbers lefties, but Fried has held his own against them throughout his six-year career and Kuhl’s 5.18 May ERA isn’t the stuff of legend. The Rockies going 6 – 12 in the last 18 games says something, too. When you add the number two (Braves) and four OPS teams to Coor’s Field, it’s gotta be the over.
Draftkings +245 = $84.96
Red Sox (Eovaldi) rline vs. A’s (H) (Kaprielian) – Over 7
Boston is clearly the better team and all the stats back it up, but a 7 run over/under? I understand that Eovaldi’s historically done well against the A’s, but he’s not having the best year and Kaprielian’s 5.93 ERA means the Red Sox could cover the over on their own.
Draftkings +283 = $99.14
Mets (Bassitt) mline vs. Dodgers (H) (Anderson) – Over 8
This is another one of those better bet games because, despite these two teams being evenly matched, the Dodgers are heavily favored. With the Mets going over in eight of their last ten and two reasonable, but not top-tier pitchers on the mound, the over is the best bet.
Draftkings +348 = $122.02
As is almost always the case, we didn’t bet on the Angels Phillies game because Philadelphia has yet to announce their starting pitcher.
Aside from one really bad day, we’re having a pretty good MLB run here, so let’s hope that that streak continues. Until next week…