Cubs-Pirates Betting Preview: Oddsmakers Taking Advantage of Public Perception

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Willson Contreras (40) tags Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Corey Dickerson

  • It's not surprising that the Cubs are being backed by the public against the Pirates tonight.
  • Even though Chicago is getting the majority of the bets, the Pirates' odds have shortened by 20 cents.

Betting Odds: Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates

  • Cubs (Jon Lester): -104
  • Pirates (Jameson Tallion): -106
  • Over/under: 7.5
  • First pitch: 7:05 p.m. ET

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There’s a lot to unpack here so bear with me.

Let’s start with the obvious. The Cubs have a better record than the Pirates, and this line is essentially a pick’em. Right off the bat, that should indicate that oddsmakers are attempting to take advantage of public perception.

On a similar note, the Cubs made the playoffs last season; the Pirates didn’t. Public bettors have that ingrained in their minds, and oddsmakers know it. They’re going to shade lines to account for it.

The Pirates are also the home side in this one. That’s the type of factor that the public tends to consider only when it benefits them — at least in baseball — which means they’re completely overlooking any edge the Pirates might have from playing in Pittsburgh tonight.

As for the betting market, the Pirates are getting fewer than 40% of bets, and have seen considerable line movement in their direction going from +114 to -106 at Pinnacle. That’s especially noteworthy considering the range in which this moneyline stands. It’s a 20-cent line move, but it corresponds to a win probability change of 5% (that’s a lot).

And finally, this game is on pace to be the most heavily bet game tonight, so you can be sure that oddsmakers care about this outcome. They’re well-aware that the public will love the Cubs in this case and they’re happy about that.

Why? Well, putting all the above filters together creates a system that’s gone 42-14 since 2005, winning 26.4 units for a 47% return on investment.

The pick: Pirates (-106)

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