MLB Daily Betting Model, 3/30: Backing Cleveland as a Favorite
Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer
- Sean Zerillo's MLB model helps to find edges in betting moneylines and over/unders for the full game and first five innings.
- He analyzes the March 30 slate of baseball games with his model below.
- Plug in your odds to the spreadsheet at the bottom of this article to see where you might have an edge.
After Lorenzo Cain saved Opening Day in Milwaukee, Paul Goldschmidt put a stamp on Game 2, hitting five batted balls over 104.9 MPH with three home runs to left field:
The division race in the National League Central should be one of the best in baseball all season long. All five teams are projected by Vegas totals to win 78 games or more.
The division has imported lots of prestige talent from around the league since last season’s trading deadline (Goldschmidt, Chris Archer, Cole Hamels and Yasiel Puig, among others), and there is no guarantee that the division runner-up will even capture a wildcard spot in a competitive National League.
Thus explains the playoff atmosphere that you see up in Milwaukee for March baseball games. In a division race with the narrowest of margins, every single game matters.
Recapping Yesterday’s Model
After showing positive Closing Line Value (CLV) on all five opening day selections, the results were more mixed on yesterday.
I was 2-3 cents in the black with the Oakland moneyline and the Diamondbacks/Dodgers over. The Detroit first five innings (F5) moneyline moved fifteen cents (+110 to -105) in my favor.
Matt Boyd got seven of his first nine outs via strikeout for the Tigers before coming undone in the fourth inning.
Oakland was up 2-0 in the top of the 8th following a Khris Davis home run, with an 88% win probability, before we saw our first true bullpen meltdown of the season courtesy of Joakim Soria and Ryan Buchter.
But I was clearly on the wrong side of the Giants game. The moneyline moved from +135 to +148 before seeing professional resistance, while the F5 over moved from -110 to +105.
That total ultimately pushed and would have gone over had Ian Kinsler not been thrown out at the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning, but it was the wrong wager at the wrong time regardless of the result.
The Tampa Bay Rays (+125) gained 1.3% in win probability after lineups were released. They also made my best bets 3-0 on the season, as the Astros decided to start Tony Kemp, perhaps as a parting gesture to Charlie Morton.
On Deck for Today
We can start referring to Baltimore and Miami as the usual suspects.
Unless they are playing against one another, you will probably see those two teams listed as recommended edge plays. Their odds are inflated every day because nobody in their right mind would bet on them.
They can be profitable, but only if you choose your spots wisely. I won’t be playing either one today.
Instead of looking for a big underdog, we’re playing our first favorite of the season here, Cleveland (-120) on the moneyline. I also like the Indians (up to -135) in the first five innings.
There’s over a 3.5% edge on either play, and I’ll gladly lay the short price on one of the most unhittable pitchers in the game, Trevor Bauer:
Bauer finally had his breakout season in 2018, striking out 11.3 batters per nine innings with a 2.21 ERA.
Perhaps the public is hesitant to buy into the full-blown ace breakout (his ERA in prior seasons was 4.19, 4.26, 4.55 and 4.18), but Bauer obsesses over his craft like few others, and he seemingly figured out a pitch mix that worked for him in 2018.
He increased his slider usage by 10% last season, which bumped his overall swinging strike rate from 9.2% to 13.3%. The slider joins the curve, cutter and changeup in a full arsenal of swing-and-miss stuff (each over 15% swinging strike rate).
Bauer can adapt to different situations too, generating weak contact in the air with both his fastball (28% GB) and cutter (32% GB) or by trying to roll up potential double plays and changing speeds with either the curve (61% GB) or changeup (78% GB).
Bauer went 2-1 against the Twins last season, striking out 25 batters in 18 innings.
My Bets & Potential Picks for March 30
- Cleveland (-120) ML and/or Cleveland (-135) F5 ML
- Texas (+135) ML
Detroit is the other team that I’m going to take a look at. I see slightly more value in the Tigers’ first five-inning moneyline than the game moneyline if I’m going to play them.
The two totals that I see potential value in are Mets-Nationals F5 over 3.5 and Royals-White Sox F5 over 4.5.
The Mets-Nats F5 total is more interesting. Noah Syndergaard and Stephen Strasburg aren’t quite at the level of Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, but they seem to get the same line treatment. Over 3.5 looks like a solid contrarian play here. I project 4.4 runs.
Zerillo’s Full MLB Model, 3/30: Moneylines & Over/Unders
Download the Excel doc with my projections to input odds from your sportsbook. These projections cover full game and First 5 moneylines and over/unders. A sample of one of the sheets is below.