I’ve gotten a few DMs from people recently about how I go about betting baseball on a daily basis- from a mental perspective, research perspective, what to look for when looking at a million different numbers and trends, and more topics like that. Instead of replying to all those DMs individually I figured this would be a good team to write up some tips and strategies when it comes to the daily MLB grind and hopefully it will help people whether you’re looking to do your own research, are just curious about how I do mine, or to reference at the start of next baseball season.
Betting the MLB is unlike any other sport. There are 272 regular season NFL games a year, 1,230 regular season NBA games a year, 1,312 regular season NHL games a year, and 2,430 MLB games a season. There are literally ONE THOUSAND more MLB games a season than any other major sport, which makes it incredibly unique from a betting perspective. A couple of bad Sundays betting the NFL can kill your record for the entire season, while two days of the MLB season are a drop in a gigantic bucket. An 0-3 day can feel like the end of the world during a long baseball season but it shouldn’t change anything if you trust your long term strategy.
In a 16 (now 17) game NFL season, barring any serious injuries (which you know about days in advance), you know you are getting the best players on the field a team has to offer and maximum effort from every player and coach to do anything possible to win. In a 162 game MLB season there is so much variance. You will see days where a team puts out a sub-par lineup to give key guys rest, you’ll see bad relievers come in when a team is down 4-1 because the manager doesn’t want to burn certain arms, and an elite team might roll out a starter they just called up for a myriad of reasons that all the sudden makes them… not elite for that day.
My point is, barring something bizarre happening in-game (serious injury to a key player, horrible coaching decision, etc.) if you lose a bet on a football game you were probably just on the wrong side, straight up. In baseball however, you will lose A LOT, and I mean A LOT, of bets throughout the season where the variance just didn’t go in your favor. It’s all about sticking with your plan and what works for you and just making minor adjustments throughout the season based on what you see on the field and in the numbers.
All that being said, let’s talk about the process. I am going to lay out some tips later on in the blog, but let’s talk straight daily process from someone (me) that does this every single day. The night before, I’ll take a first glance at the next day’s matchups and projected pitchers. Most of the time that is just to get a baseline of who is gonna be going the next day so when I look in the morning I can just jump straight into handicapping. However, there are some nights that something is so automatic (because of a certain pitcher matchup) that I will just bet it there and then (more on that later).
Then the next morning, I will go to covers.com to look at all the matchups for the day, L10 trends, and more basic info. By this point in the season I have a pretty good feel for pitchers and teams I want to bet and want to avoid, so it’s more about identifying if I have a real edge with any of those teams/pitchers I like. Meaning, after this first glance I can usually eliminate at least half of the games that day as something I have no interest in betting (this only comes with time). This allows me to not waste any time diving deep into games I would never even end up betting.
So then, taking the handful of games I do have interest in, I take a deeper dive. The resources I use to do so are Covers for that initial glance, teamrankings.com to see how teams have performed in certain situations that correlate (home/road splits, off a win/loss, etc.), baseballreference.com to look at starting pitchers’ recent game logs, if they’ve faced the team before, etc., and finally fangraphs.com to look at how offenses have performed against righties/lefties and a deeper analytical look into certain offenses and pitchers.
After all of that research I am usually pretty comfortable finalizing a card for the day and firing those bets off. Then it’s all about watching as much as you can, checking box scores for games you can’t watch, and then repeating it all again the next day. You have to trust in this process so that when the losing days happen, you know water will find its level and you will end up with a nice big positive number at the end of the long, grueling season. With that basic strategy outlined, here are some more specific tips on how to succeed betting baseball.
Tip #1: Pay attention to baseball every day, whether you place a bet or not.
I have no clue how people seriously bet baseball that don’t follow it every single day. In a league with so much variance, it is so important to key in on recent trends and identifying hot offenses and hot pitchers. For example, on the SpreadInvestorMLB page yesterday I gave out the Reds F5 ML in a parlay with Luis Castillo on the mound for the Reds. If you are someone who doesn’t follow baseball that closely, you would probably just google Luis Castillo’s ERA this season and you would see that it’s an unimpressive 4.09 and not get why I would make that bet. However, if you’re paying attention to baseball every day you would know that Luis Castillo now has an ERA of 1.69 over his last six starts and just had a dreadful start to the season. So many people only pay attention to their bets or only bet on weekends when they have free time and that just makes it impossible to win long term in this sport. You have to keep up with the whole landscape of the game every day whether you are betting that day or not, otherwise you’ll get lost.
Tip #2: It is a starting pitcher’s league
It’s important to remember, 50% of the game is determined by 9 batters while the other 50% is decided by just one starting pitcher (of course defense matters but there isn’t THAT much defensive variance in this league). You could roll out an All-Star team lineup that a pitcher like Jacob deGrom could still shut down. Whereas a bottom-tier offense could still rack up runs if they face a garbage starting pitcher. My point being, dive into the starting pitchers first- prioritizing their recent form and past matchups against the team they are facing. Great pitching will always beat great hitting- for example a couple of weeks ago we saw a series between two of the best offensive teams in baseball with the Dodgers and Giants where one night Walker Buehler shutout the Giants and the next night Johnny Cueto shutout the Dodgers. When betting over a long season, find pitchers you like early like I did with Flexen, Cueto, Mahle, Tai Walker, and others and look to target them a large majority of their starts and long term you should make a good profit.
Tip #3: Have a short memory
This obviously applies to all sports betting but I think it is even more important in baseball. During football season, if you have a really bad Sunday, you have a couple days to look back at where you went wrong, take some time off, then dive back in to a brand new slate. However, like I said earlier, you can’t really afford to take days off during baseball season and expect to keep up. So even after a rough day betting baseball, you just have to get right back to it the next day. You can lower or increase your volume based on your feel for the league at the moment but you can’t just step away and expect to stay in tune with the game. #TrustTheProcess
Tip #4: Don’t be afraid to bet no games one day and five games the next day
This is a topic I have been asked about a lot and it all comes down to… trusting the process. Today (the day this article comes out) I am not betting any baseball. Not because I’m busy or didn’t feel like researching, but because there just isn’t a spot I like and that’s totally fine. I have actually been on a hot streak the past few days so it’s not like I’m struggling seeing the board, just not going to press when there’s nothing great there. I personally don’t believe in a strategy like “betting 2-4 games a day” or “needing to get picks out because #content.” I can give out valuable content on the Spread Investor MLB page without giving out picks. All that being said, that doesn’t mean I won’t check the board tomorrow and end up firing on 5 different spots. Again… it all comes down to trusting your teams and your pitchers. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t like the board and don’t be afraid if there’s a few spots you like. Don’t limit yourself because you think it’s square to bet a bunch of games in one day- strike while the iron is hot. You will never see me bet more than 3u on a regular season MLB game because the variance is just too great (in fact I haven’t bet more than 2u on a game all season). I would much rather bet 5 separate 1 unit plays than risk it all on one big spot.
That’s it for now! That was probably way too many words already but hopefully everyone can find some useful information in there that explains how my process works and can help you do your own research (which I will always advise). If you have any specific questions I still haven’t answered feel free to DM me @BlakeyLocks or tweet at me at Blakey Locks or @SpreadInvestMLB and I can write a follow up to this answering those questions!
As always, best of luck and…