MLB: Betting 1st 5 Innings

Major League Baseball betting is a headache enough as it is for bookmakers. Spending time over the Summer starting to prep for NCAA and NFL football sometimes baseball goes to the wayside. A lot of recreational bettors choose to pass up betting baseball because they don’t think they can turn a profit. Big mistake, but even a bigger mistake is passing up the opportunity to bet the 1st 5 innings of a baseball game!

I think the greatest benefit for baseball bettors that oddsmakers did was introducing the 1st 5 inning bet. You get to bet the 1st 5 innings of a baseball game at virtually the same odds you get to bet for a full game. Let me go through some of the major benefits to you about this.

Let’s start off with the biggest one which is starting pitching. Let’s face it this isn’t 1970 when starting pitchers tossed 9 innings on a regular basis. Justin Verlander was the most dominant pitcher in 2011, he started 34 games and only pitched 4 complete games. You’re betting full game odds on Verlander but he only completes a game in 12% of his starts. So now you’re relying on the bullpen to win your bet, something you may not have factored into your handicapping. What many baseball bettors fail to realize is you when oddsmakers create the odds on a baseball game the biggest factor going into it is starting pitching.

The fact of the matter is that even the best pitchers in baseball usually only pitch 2/3 or 3/4 of the game. You paid a price on a pitcher that isn’t going to be pitching the full game. Imagine betting a football game knowing your starting QB is going to be pulled out of the game in the 4th quarter and being asked to lay the same price you would if he played the full game? You probably wouldn’t do it. But in baseball you don’t have that to sacrifice the last 1/3 or 1/4 of a game on a bullpen imploding and blowing your bet. All you have to do is start looking at the first 5 innings of a game.

Everybody is quick to think let me take the better team and pitcher and bet on them for the first 5 innings. It’s simply not that easy guys. In baseball many times you will find a dog leading through first 5 innings only to watch a shoddy bullpen blow the lead and the superior team wins the game. Think about any sport. How many times have we seen a small conference NCAA-FB or NCAA-BB team hang around vs a goliath for the first half only to get blown out in the second half? Same thing with baseball, the longer the game is, and the more at bats for the better line up the better odds of the better team winning. Earlier in the game it is not uncommon to see a dog lead through the 1st 5 innings but blow the game late.

Let’s look at the Chicago Cubs. They are 3-7 straight up on the money line for full games on the season. They are 7-3 straight up on the money line during the 1st 5 innings on the season pulling in a nice profit. Laying basically the same odds but the results are complete opposite.

Why are the Cubs so good first 5 innings and not good for the full game? Probably not a shocker the Cubs have the 28th ranked bullpen in baseball with a 5.47 ERA. You’re getting the Cubs at virtually the same price for the 1st 5 innings giving you a ton of value. They are in the top 10 of runs scored per game in the first 5 innings and blow leads. Great recipe to make money at dog prices with the Cubs for the first 5 innings.

How about the Baltimore Orioles? They are 6-2-1 in the 1st 5 innings this year bringing home a nice profit. They are only 5-4 on the season in full games. Again here is a team with a bullpen that sits in the bottom half of the league. You’re getting virtually the same dog prices betting them first 5 innings as you are betting them the full game. As the season progresses I won’t be shocked to the Orioles have a losing full game record but maintain a profitable 1st 5 inning record. I mean units or money earned and not win %.

How about the Washington Nationals? They are off to a great start with a 7-3 record and in first place of the National League East this year. They are slow starters though, only 4-6 on the money line for the 1st 5 innings of game. The Nationals are only averaging 1.3 runs per first 5 innings while their opponents are putting up 2.3 runs per first 5 innings. The Nationals are closing out games by rallying with their bats and strong bullpen pitching. The Nats pen is the Top 10 of the league.

The Yankees every year are notoriously slow starters in baseball games. They tend to rely on their bats rallying late in games and a strong bullpen. They are only 4-5 in the first 5 innings of games vs a 5-4 record for full games. At virtually the same price you can usually count on the Yankees finishing down more units for the 1st 5 innings of the season vs the full game at the end of the season.

Again it’s really early in the season but as we get more data on all the teams and pitchers I will do in depth updates every month on every team for the first 5 inning stats.

In order to really make money though you need to know your starting pitching inside and out. There are some starters who get stronger as the game goes on, while other hurlers start out strong and fall apart later in the game. You need to do your due dilligence on pitchers first 5 inning history. Books don’t put that much emphasis into first 5 inning lines. If you do a little record keeping you will be the one with the upper hand. If you track both pitchers and team records for the first 5 innings you will have a nice nugget of resource to utilize that many don’t pay attention too.

Think about it the first 5 innings odds are identical to the full game odds but the results of the two are very different. You need to really know the batting order of each team as well. Line ups with an artilerary of hitters from 1-6 usually have a slight edge since the 1-6 batters are likely to bat at least 2 times. You need to factor this into your capping.

What about betting totals? I think they can be very profitable when betting first 5 innings. I’m not a big fan of betting overs for the first 5 innings but I will do so once in a blue. I think due to the lack of talent in today’s bullpens you have a better shot of hitting an over when games fall in to the seventh, eighth , and ninth innings.Today’s relief pitching is about as bad as it’s ever been.

I tend to like to try to spot out unders in the first 5 innings. With the quality of starting pitchers declining in today’s game it even makes this a little trickier.

If i can find two pitchers who are pretty consistent as far as throwing quality starts that’s a game I circle. Of course I have to look deeper at things now. I want to see how the visiting pitcher has fared in this ball park in his past few visits and I want to see how the home pitcher has done over his last few starts when this team comes to town. Of course I factor in umpire, weather, hitting, etc. But if you do your home work you can pick your spots betting 1st 5 innings totals.

Starting in May when we have more data I’m going to update you the best and worst teams by separating teams 1st 5 inning records. We’ll also look to point out teams like the Cubs who are exceeding the 1st 5 inning market but failing to win the full game. And teams like the Nationals and Yankees who start out slow. I’ll also point out pitchers who are struggling and thriving in the 1st 5 innings. So make sure to check back once a month for my 1st 5 inning blog. If you need any help my daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal MLB packages are available right here at the site or by calling me directly at the office at (757) 462-9030.

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