Oddsmakers Torn in IL Matchups

With Oddsmaker Nick Bogdanovich


During this past weekend, I strongly encouraged you to monitor the moneyline performance of each league during Interleague action. I believed we'd get early evidence about the relative strength of one league over the other...or early evidence that the leagues were about even and you could just handicap every game as it comes.

Well, as you know, the American League CRUSHED the National League over the weekend, then posted another winning night on Monday when new series began. This led oddsmakers to make an adjustment of about 10 cents per game or so to account for the AL's probable advantages. But, that 10 cents per game is an average, not an automatic.

  • If an AL power is playing at HOME against an NL team, the adjustment is going to be a lot more than 10 cents.
  • If an AL non-power is throwing a lesser pitcher, oddsmakers really don't know what to do. It's very tough to give pricing respect to a no-name or struggling pitcher, no matter what other circumstances are in play.

Here are some examples from Tuesday where AL teams were underdogs in spite of the huge weekend the league had just enjoyed:

Seattle +110 at Washington (despite winning 2 of 3 vs. Philly)
Cleveland +115 vs. Colorado (despite 6-1 start to IL play)
NY Yankees +120 at Cincinnati (Gordon not respected)
Oakland +120 at NY Mets (despite sweeping the Giants)
Tampa Bay +120 at Milwaukee (despite hot team vs. cold team)
Minnesota +135 at San Francisco (despite recent tear)

If you're only looking at the recent form of those teams (or team Power Ratings), those lines are inexplicable. But, it every case, the AL team was seen as having the less effective pitcher. In a few, a MUCH weaker pitcher. The lines made sense if you're only handicapping the pitchers. And, arguably, they would have been HIGHER for the NL favorites if not for this past weekend's results.

By the time you read this, you'll know what happened in those games and can use the results as an additional indicator. This past weekend showed weaker AL pitchers holding their own. But, it's always dangerous to draw conclusions off a small sample size.

Of course the most important factor right now in determining lines is how the sharps bet. Professional wagerers really scare sportsbooks during baseball because the public doesn't bet much. It's oddsmakers vs. sharps on a game-by-game basis. If the sharps bet a team like Toronto or Minnesota, oddsmakers will remember that the next time those teams take the field and make an adjustment. If sharps are leaving games alone that involve, say, Baltimore or Oakland, the lines aren't going to adjust with those teams.

I will tell you this. Oddsmakers AND sharps were very surprised by the level of dominance the AL showed this past weekend. Even those who thought the AL was stronger weren't expecting an almost series-by-series slaughter. And, some of the old school guys who always want to believe the NL plays the "truer" style of baseball took some big losses. They thought the AL teams would have trouble in NL parks when they lost their DH. Toronto, Texas, the Chicago White Sox, the LA Angels, and the NY Yankees all won road series 2-1 despite having to use their pitchers in the batting order.

Be sure you stay on top of developments these next two weeks. Early returns suggest:

  • The AL is better
  • The best AL pitchers will do well
  • The AL will be very dangerous at home

Maybe the NL powers will turn the tide once they get some home games (Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and San Francisco all started out on the road). Maybe they won't! What remains to be seen, and what we'll learn more about this week is whether or not the lesser AL pitchers can offer value at underdog prices. Oddsmakers (and sharps) are hard-wired not to give respect to generic or struggling pitchers. They may have to re-think that if the AL keeps running roughshod through the schedule.

Sports analysis is always interesting when you're sitting smack dab in the middle of the legal betting markets. Interleague play is one of my favorite challenges as an oddsmaker, handicapper, and big bettor because there are so many ways to go about finding value. I've had success in past years, and will continue to earn profits for my clients because I've got all the angles covered. You can purchase my BEST BETS here at the website with your credit card. Or, call 1-877-822-2276 to sign up for the rest of the season.

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