By Phil Simon
Much like the game of baseball and its players has evolved over the years, so have ways to bet on the Major Leagues. Gone are the days of placing a wager on a team to win or on the total then sitting back and watching what happens. Well actually those days are still here, but there are other ways to bet baseball. MLB is full of opportunities and it doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned pro or beginning bettor. One unique way to find value is through the first five innings betting. What that does is limit variables that come into play in the later innings like a strong bullpen and deep bench. Let’s dive into how you can win some coin by betting the first five innings as opposed to a complete nine inning MLB matchup.
What is First Five Innings Betting?
It’s pretty much exactly what it says. If you’re familiar with basketball or football you know those games have a break in the middle of the contest. Oddsmakers created betting lines for the first half in those sports. Think of five innings as being the midway point in a baseball game. It’s the same concept, you’re betting on what happens during the first five innings and ignoring anything that happens after the fifth.
Most sportsbooks allow gamblers to place similar bets on the first five innings that you can for an entire game. Those would include straight moneyline bets on a winner, taking a shot at the over/under for combined runs and betting the run line for how much a team will win by. The drawback is that the odds are less favorable over the first five innings. And the reality is that the first five is a much safer bet since things start to get tricky in the later frames when managers tend to micro-manage.
Showing an example and explaining it are the best ways to understand how the first five innings work. Let’s take a look at a game between the Braves and Mets with full game odds and first five innings odds.
Braves +1.5 (-150) +140 o9.5 -105
Mets -1.5 (+130) -155 u9.5 -115
FIRST FIVE INNINGS
Braves +1.5 (-110) +130 o5 -115
Mets -1.5 (-110) -150 u5 -115
The run line rarely changes and it doesn’t in the full game and five innings model. You can see the Braves are getting 1.5 runs at a heavy -150 for the full game. In the shorter model the price is -110 meaning you’d have to wager that amount to win $100. There is a slight change on the moneyline odds as represented in the middle column. The biggest difference is in the total. You can see a full game line has the total at 9.5 runs while the five inning model is at five runs. For an obvious reason there is a big difference, that being the length of the game. In both game scenarios there’s a negative return.
First Five Innings Strategy
Baseball plays until a winner emerges so there are no ties on the moneyline. In the five inning bet you could easily see a tie game. When that happens there are no winners and the bet is a push, or a tie, and the original amount wagered is returned. The same holds true for the total if that is a full number.
The game is all about pitching and it can be overwhelming to compare stats of every player on a team’s roster. All you really need to consider when betting the first five innings is the starter and leave the rest of the staff alone. That’s because starting pitchers have to complete five innings in order to get a win on their record. You don’t have to factor in the bullpen just consider the strength of the starting pitchers. This makes the game easier to handicap since we’re not dealing with the less predictable.