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Baseball Betting: Putting the Pieces Together

   by Bryan Leonard - 05/11/2007

Finding live underdogs and solid betting wagers in baseball requires the trained eye of a detective and the skilled hands of a tradesman. It is essential to identify the important facets of information, then, like a surgeon, place those pieces together. Just as important is the ability to sift through and throw out pieces that are less important for a particular game. One area to do this is to examine how teams and pitchers have fared against each other.

For instance, the two top hitting teams in the National League met recently at Shea stadium, as the Marlins visited the Mets. I wrote, “The Mets offense may be getting a lot of attention for being talented, but no one's talking about the Marlins. Florida is right behind the Mets in batting average, and has scored more runs, leading the majors. Florida goes with lefty Scott Olsen, who has outstanding stuff. After struggling to start the year with his control, Olsen is off a brilliant performance, with 1 walk, 10 Ks, 3 hits in a 4-3 win over Atlanta. NY is just 3-4 its last 7 home games while Florida is on a roll, winning 5 of 7. An excellent spot for the big road dog with the unheralded young pitcher.â€쳌

You can see that more than once factor went into backing the live dog. There were the offensive numbers, the fact that the overvalued Mets were just 3-4 at home, the visitors were playing well and the Florida pitcher wasn’t well known but had great stuff. The underdog Marlins ended up winning the game, 9-6. That’s a good example of how to find live dogs: It’s not one thing that stands out, but a whole range of factors that provide support for the dog.

Another area to examine with dogs is how certain pitchers fare against the same team. Teams can dominate certain pitchers over the years. Part of it can be what that pitcher is throwing, or that they see the pitcher often. Or it could be that one team is loaded with lefty hitters and pitchers like Bronson Arroyo and El Duque Hernandez have historically been tough on righties with their hard sliders, but weak against lefty hitters.

This came up in a game I examined last season when the Angels hosted the White Sox. Chicago starter Jose Contreras had been terrific over the previous 9 months. He had pitched 21 games and the Sox had won 18 of them, including 10 straight wins on the road. Contreras faced the Angels four times and had a quality start every time out.

His opponent was Kelvim Escobar, who was 0-7 in his career versus the White Sox with a 6.04 era! He had faced Chicago eight times in his career and his teams were a perfect 0-9 against this opponent! Those were stark numbers, with dominance by one team and one pitcher, and a terrible record by the opponent. Contreras threw 103 pitches in 8 1-3 innings in the 2-1 win, allowing five hits and one run with one walk. It's not luck or guesswork. Examining recent history and match-ups like this can assist you to turn a profit at the betting window.

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