World Series to Open With Run-Fest Despite Big-Name Aces

Rainman M.

Monday, October 22, 2018 12:57 PM UTC

Monday, Oct. 22, 2018 12:57 PM UTC

The World Series begins on Tuesday night, with both Los Angeles and host Boston sending their best pitcher to the mound for Game 1. Oddsmakers are ready to come out with a betting total that is too low.

World Series Game 1: Los Angeles Dodgers at BostonTuesday, 8:09 p.m. ET (FOX)Free MLB Pick: 'Over'Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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A key mistake that bettors make is to use what they know about the players as their only deciding criteria. It might seem like common sense to want to go "under" when L.A.’s Clayton Kershaw (9-5, 2.73 ERA) and Boston’s Chris Sale (12-4, 2.11 ERA) start Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday because both have extremely low ERAs. However, oddsmakers are one step ahead and they publish a total that is too low. Oddsmakers get away with this sneaky maneuver because most bettors don’t understand when a total is too low. They simply bet on the name of the pitcher, although doing so would have cost them a lot of money in the cases of Kershaw and Sale. The "over" hit in 53 percent of Kershaw’s regular-season starts and in 55 percent of Sale’s regular-season starts.

Not only will MLB oddsmakers attach a total that is too low for Kershaw, he has cultivated a reputation for being significantly worse in the playoffs than in the regular season. In other words, oddsmakers will respect Kershaw as an elite pitcher even though, in the playoffs, he is a notoriously bad pitcher. His career postseason ERA is 4.09. Plus, Kershaw is not the pitcher he used to be. He used to boast a strong fastball in his repertoire. This year, however, opponents are hitting .292 against Kershaw’s fastball, higher than in any other year. It lacks the glove-side motion, the vertical drop, and the velocity it used to possess. Because his fastball has always been a fundamental component of his pitching arsenal, he still relies heavily on it. This year, he throws it with 40 percent frequency.

Dating to the regular season, the "over" has hit in Boston’s last seven home games against a southpaw. Slugger J.D. Martinez has already seen Kershaw plenty because he played for a division rival of the Dodgers. Martinez is 3-for-8 (.375) with a double and a homer against him. Overall, the Red Sox have been hot, despite facing Houston top-ranked pitching stuff. They produced at least seven runs in three of their past four games. Besides Martinez, watch out for Rafael Devers and Brock Holt, each of whom is hitting over .300 and slugging at least .500 in the postseason.

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Sale suffered in his last outing, surrendering two runs in only four innings. He wasn’t sharp, producing almost as many walks as strikeouts. By the end of September, Sale was struggling with his velocity. This velocity drop could have derived from his ongoing shoulder inflammation or from mechanical issues. Either way, on October 13, Sale’s struggles repeated themselves. Plus, he’s reportedly dealing with a stomach illness. Sale’s poor form creates the same scenario that Kershaw is confronting. Oddsmakers will treat him like an elite pitcher even though he isn’t in elite form.

For argument’s sake, let’s pretend that Sale is totally healthy and in his usual form for Game 1. The problem remains that Kershaw is going to give up some runs. Scoring tends to breed more scoring because pitchers are naturally inclined to relax and let their quality suffer a bit when they have a lead. They don’t like to waste the added effort of throwing with extra velocity when that probably won’t be necessary. Sale’s career ERA rises significantly when he gets more run support. When his lineup produces runs, so will L.A.’s. Still, this game could be a runaway in favor of Boston, in which scenario, like Game 6 against Milwaukee, L.A. won’t employ its best relievers and more runs will be scored.

When Shakespeare asked, "What’s in a name?" he was offering solid advice for bettors. With your MLB picks, expect both lineups to contribute to the "over" despite facing two very famous starting pitchers.

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