MLB Betting Tip: Road Underdogs Undervalued Early in Season

MLB Betting Tip: Road Underdogs Undervalued Early in Season article feature image

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo (44)

  • The Chicago Cubs have started the season 1-5 and are road underdogs against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday (7:10 p.m. ET).
  • Using the Bet Labs database, we share a profitable moneyline system for exploiting underperforming teams early in the season.

What is wrong with the Cubs? Chicago has lost five straight and is 1-5 for the first time since 2012 — the team lost 101 games that season. Pitching and errors have been an issue to start the 2019 campaign.

Yu Darvish set a career high with seven walks in his first start at Texas on Saturday, Cole Hamels gave up five runs in five innings to the Rangers the following day and Kyle Hendricks surrendered seven runs to the Braves on Monday — the Cubbies also committed six errors in the 8-0 loss to Atlanta.

The starting pitching hasn’t been great but somehow the bullpen has been even worse. The relievers have blown three late-inning leads in five games and the bullpen’s ERA ranks 29th in baseball.

Chicago is already 4.5 games behind the NL Central leading Milwaukee Brewers. Cubs fans are hitting the panic button but it is important to not overreact to a six-game sample when a team plays a 162-game slate.

Fans have a hard time doing this, and so do bettors. Recency bias early in the baseball season creates an edge for gamblers willing to overlook poor performances.

Since 2005, underdogs in March and April have gone 2,361-2,909 (44.8%) straight up (SU) per Bet Labs. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit $8,279 wagering on every dog to start the season despite having a losing record.

Why does this work?

It’s likely because we don’t know as much about teams early in the year as we think. A team’s record impacts the betting behavior of the public but the record might not be indicative of the squads overall talent, as is the case with the Cubs.

We can improve this system by betting road underdogs coming off a loss. Home-field advantage is often overvalued in baseball and a team’s odds will be depressed after losing its previous game.

After a loss, road underdogs early in the season have gone 835-1,010 SU, producing a profit of $9,879 for a $100 bettor. This betting strategy has been profitable in 12 of the past 14 MLB seasons.

The Cubs are a match for this system on Friday. Smart money appears to be taking the North Siders in their game against the Brewers. Though only 32% of moneyline bets are on Chicago, the line has moved from Cubbies +124 to +113.

Chicago isn’t the only match on Friday. Here are three other underdogs that the market is undervaluing:

Friday Matches

  • Cincinnati Reds (+110) at Pittsburgh Pirates (7:05 p.m. ET)
  • Chicago Cubs (+113) at Milwaukee Brewers (7:10 p.m. ET)
  • Toronto Blue Jays (+136) at Cleveland Indians (7:10 p.m. ET)
  • Miami Marlins (+138) at Atlanta Braves (7:20 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

How would you rate this article?