In recent weeks, Major League Baseball has been a tale of opposites with teams Death Valley-hot and running off extensive winning streaks or Siberia-cold and losing every night in new and creative ways. For bettors, this can be an irresistible temptation.
Dimers.com contributor Paul Lebowitz takes a look at current trends and gives pointers on how to identify value in hot and cold streaks.
The Braves, Phillies, Yankees have had extended winning streaks. The Cubs, Angels and Nationals have done nothing but lose.
It can be difficult to assess teams that have everything going right and teams that have everything going wrong, particularly when their talent level suggests they are better than they’re showing.
MLB Betting: 5 Key Things to Consider
- Is the team better than its record?
- Are there extenuating circumstances?
- Does their schedule get easier?
- Are they likely to be sellers, buyers or hold steady as the trade deadline approaches?
- Are there solvable issues that could lead to players underperforming?
Even die-hard Yankees supporters were unsure of what to make of the team’s construction prior to the season. Beyond Gerrit Cole, the starting rotation was a worry given that they were returning from various injuries and that they stood pat.
But that was answered with a superlative performance through the first three months, clearly due in large part to the improved defense behind the plate with the departure of mercurial Gary Sanchez and how the Jose Trevino/Kyle Higashioka combination has handled the pitching staff.
Their hot streak is clearly legitimate.
Like 2021, the Braves stumbled out of the gate, but a weak schedule in which they played the Rockies, Athletics, Pirates and Nationals allowed them to right their ship and get within striking distance of the first-place Mets.
They have seamlessly moved on from Freddie Freeman and not just on the field. Some of the young players – specifically Ronald Acuna Jr. – have all but said they’re glad Freeman is gone. Their winning streak was predominantly a byproduct of the schedule, but the reigning World Series champions are in the race for the duration helped by GM Alex Anthopoulos’s aggressiveness in making improvements at the deadline.
The Phillies won 15 of 18 in the immediate aftermath of manager Joe Girardi’s (pictured) firing. There’s a limit to how far changing a manager goes. What else could have accounted for their surge?
A team with the Phillies’ high-powered offense was eventually going to start slugging and the schedule benefited them. Still, as the season moves along, a shaky bullpen and porous defense indicates that the streakiness will be ongoing for the duration no matter who they’re playing.
For plummeting teams, the factors can be similar despite opposite results.
At one point, the Angels were 11 games over .500. A 14-game losing streak not only destroyed that early season good will, but it cost manager Joe Maddon his job. For a team with Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani to have such a fall is difficult to explain, but looking at the underlying concerns that have plagued the Angels for a decade, it shouldn’t come as a shock.
Their plan is flexible — in a bad way — and depends on owner Arte Moreno’s mood. Signing aging veterans, looking for free agent bargains, hiring different general managers and managers with different philosophies – they have not been cohesive and organized during most of Moreno’s tenure.
Will that suddenly change?
The Cubs lost 10 in a row. In analyzing their roster, however, they’re not this bad. Three veteran starters – Marcus Stroman, Wade Miley and Drew Smyly are injured; Kyle Henrdicks has underperformed.
Theo Epstein is leaving Chicago 2 years after leaving the Cubs. Here’s how he spent his final weekend in the city. https://t.co/JvV6vgvZlW #Cubsessed #iamCubsessed #ChicagoCubs pic.twitter.com/29oSBAuChI— Cubsessed (@CubsessedCubFan) June 20, 2022
Will they turn the entire season around when they get healthy? Probably not. Will they keep losing day after day? That, too, is unlikely though they should be viewed as guaranteed trade deadline sellers when marketable assets like Hendricks, David Robertson and Mychal Givens will be in demand.
The Nationals are non-competitive. Their primary offseason acquisition, Nelson Cruz, will 99.9% be traded to a contender at the deadline.
Pending free agent Josh Bell will also be on the move. The apparent recurrence of Stephen Strasburg’s thoracic outlet injury ends his season and any delusional aspirations that the Nationals will be anything more than a punching bag.
Before diving into a trend, it is imperative to know why it’s happening and whether it’s likely to continue in either direction.
For bettors, it is important to go beyond the snowball effect and formulate evenhanded assessments considering myriad factors as to where these teams are headed. This can present possibilities that less deliberative bettors might not exploit to the maximum.