The Major League Baseball regular season is definitely unique compared to the rest of the pro sports leagues.
Not only does the MLB schedule span 162 games, but it is the only league in which teams play their games in a series format. Every other sport seems to leave the series format to the playoffs. Not baseball.
This creates a betting opportunity exclusive to MLB bettors. Most sportsbooks will offer series odds before the start of a new set of games. The team that wins the best-of-three will be the team that wins the series.
When it comes to those dreaded four-game series, odds will still be posted, but those bets will only be graded on the first three games.
Series betting requires bettors to look into the future a little bit. You have to try to project out the lines for the games and then see if you have an edge.
How to bet MLB series
Let’s say that the series odds for the Yankees vs. Red Sox at Fenway Park has the Red Sox as a -150 favorite, which implies a 60 percent chance that the Red Sox take two of the three games.
- If Chris Sale is pitching in the first game of the series and the Red Sox are a -200 favorite, it seems likely that they will get the first game and then only need to win one of the next two games to cash that series ticket.
- If the Yankees avoid Chris Sale in that series, things become a lot tougher at that point with the drop-off behind Sale.
Projecting MLB Series Odds
Modelers have an advantage over more traditional bettors when it comes to series betting because they can calculate odds in advance based on the pitching matchup and the expected lineups.
Casual bettors may have to guesstimate a little bit more to see if there is going to be value later in the series.
Odds don’t appear out of nowhere in this business. A base number is created from probability and then bettors move the numbers around based on how they believe the game will play out.
You can do the same with your lines or with your projected lines and then play them out with a probability formula to see if you have an edge relative to the series price on either the underdog or the favorite.
Final Thoughts on Betting MLB Series
Keep in mind that some series prices will force you to pay a lot of juice on the favorite, so it may not be the best approach for your bankroll.
Similarly, it may be a better option for you to simply bet the underdog in the game(s) where you believe that they have the best chance instead of playing the plus money odds on winning the series.
For example, an underdog might be +125 to win the series, but +150 in one of those games where you thought that they had a good chance of the upset. It might make more sense to bet the +150 on its own.
Like all betting options, just because series odds are listed doesn’t mean that you need to bet them, but a primary component of being a successful handicapper is being able to find value whenever present.
Sometimes that will be on a straight wager, a money line parlay, or a series price, but you want to keep an open mind and a diverse portfolio if you want to be a successful MLB handicapper.