Betting odds: Houston Astros vs. Seattle Mariners
- Houston Astros Moneyline: -180 (Gerrit Cole)
- Seattle Mariners Moneyline: +162 (Felix Hernandez)
- Over/Under: 8
- First pitch: 10:10 p.m. ET
One of the best things about betting on a game is that it makes even the most mundane sporting event interesting.
Whether it’s the NFL, or baseball or arena football, or Chinese basketball at 3 a.m. on a Wednesday, if you have a couple of bucks on it, you’ll be locked in.
Looking back on my MLB posts over the past few months, I have managed to pick some of the least interesting baseball games possible.
Marlins-Mets? I mean … are you kidding me?
I wrote about Blue Jays-Rays without falling asleep at my keyboard somehow.
So let me just say it’s kind of fun to write about finding value in a game the average sports fan cares about this evening: Astros-Mariners in Seattle.
The Astros never seem to actually be “reeling” because they’ve been so dominant this season, but they did just lose two of three to Oakland, they’ve lost seven of nine overall and they hold a tenuous one-game lead over the A’s in the division.
Based on early betting action, it’s clear fans expect Houston to bounce back tonight in Seattle — 77% of the bets and 72% of the money were on the Astros ML at 10:30 a.m. ET (see live data here).
When modeling the first five innings of this game, it was important to note the projected starting pitchers (Gerrit Cole and Felix Hernandez) and who’s NOT playing.
Houston’s Jose Altuve is currently on a rehab assignment and expected to rejoin the team today, but news as of this morning is that he most likely won’t play until Tuesday.
I have modeled the Astros lineup without him, and I left Jean Segura out for Seattle, as he’s on paternity leave.
It’s important to note that if Altuve plays — especially if he plays AND Segura doesn’t — the value on the Mariners goes down, but still stays in a range where I would have a smaller bet on Seattle (as opposed to making it no bet at all).
It’s easy to see why bettors would be eager to take Houston in this matchup considering the overall form of the starting pitchers.
Cole had one of the best Aprils in history, and has followed that up with a very productive season. He was dominant his last time out against Colorado, striking out 12 in six innings.
But it is worth noting that four of Seattle’s projected batters tonight have hit better than .300 against him in nine or more ABs, and Seattle has seen Cole A LOT this season.
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In contrast to Cole, Hernandez has slipped significantly from his average career form, posting a 7.77 ERA since the All-Star break.
His ERA is almost double on the road this season, and opponents are hitting FIFTY points better against him away from Safeco Field.
It’s safe to say I’m happy to be getting Hernandez at home tonight.
I have a secret to share about these types of contrarian bets: It really isn’t about just being on the opposite side of what everyone thinks. It’s more about finding opportunities where the general public is way overestimating a team’s chances.
Yes, Houston will still win the first five innings of this game a lot (just under 60% of the time according to my model).
But the difference between how often I think the Astros win and how often the market does is where the value lies.
And that means sometimes you have to hold your nose, ignore your emotions and play a guy with a 7+ ERA against Cole.