When trying to successfully handicap a baseball game, you need to know not only determine the worth of a starting pitcher, but also the bullpen that will finish the game off for him. Oddsmakers who set the lines for professional ballgames have a harder time doing their job too, because of the way the game is played now.

But there’s nothing more frustrating than wagering on a team who’s starting pitcher just dominated as you expected, only to see the bullpen blow up in the late-going to cost you $$$$$. For those of you who would like to narrow it down to handicapping starting pitchers, books offer MLB odds on which to wager which club will be leading going into the 6th inning.

This wager means that you only have to predict which club will be leading after 5 innings. Both starting pitchers are automatically listed. So if one of those starters is scratched, then your bet is returned as no action.

You can list which starters you want, in order to protect yourself, on a money line bet for the outcome of the entire ballgame. But there is no “action” option in first 5 inning wagers. Another difference between wagering on the entire game and 5 innings is that a contest can obviously be tied after 30 outs. In that case, your bet will be returned as a push.

The average pitcher faces around 4.25 batters per 3 outs, so if you carry that math over to the first half of a ballgame you’ll see that everyone in the lineup gets to bat at least twice, and the top 3-4 hitters may each get an additional turn at the plate. If you can handicap which club has more of a top-heavy lineup, that club should have an advantage over their opponent.
It is similar to betting on sports like basketball and football where there are halftime lines. There is a lot of strategy that goes into predicting how a team will start vs how they will play after halftime in those sports.
The best strategy to use in baseball when it comes to “half game” lines is determining which team has the better starting pitcher. Certain starters tend to be dominant early and fall apart in the later-going, while others are slow starters who get stronger as the ballgame goes on. Make sure that if you’re going to place these types of wagers during the season, you check into these pitching stats. Find out what a starter’s ERA is early in ballgames throughout his career.