How to Bet Early Season MLB

A baseball with MLB logo. Mitchell Leff/Getty Images/AFP.

Major League Baseball opens this week, and it will be a near-daily companion until the World Series ends in late October or early November.

The season is a marathon, and both teams and players change dramatically as the day-to-day grind wears on for six-plus months. For gambling, that’s important to know. Betting early-season games can be very different from mid and late-season contests.

Here are some factors to weigh when doing MLB betting in April.

Everyone’s a Contender

There are some terrible teams in MLB, many of which are built to be that way—looking at you, Baltimore Orioles.

But regardless of whether a team plans to tank or not, even the most undermanned rosters have a shot in the spring. April baseball is full of hope and opportunity, and teams often come out of the gate fast. If you’re going to bet underdogs, this is the time to do it, before the reality of the season and the dog days have set in.

Pitching Ahead of Hitting

The old adage says that pitching is ahead of hitting early in the season and the bats heat up with the weather. There is certainly a degree of truth to that.

Pitchers will need some time to get their arms into shape, but that usually means reducing their pitch count and leaving games quicker in April. While they’re in there, they’re still throwing just as fast.

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For batters, however, it takes a while to get back into the swing (no pun intended) of facing live pitching. Furthermore, cold April weather in the Northeast can lead to struggles at the plate. Look for lower-scoring games and higher strikeout totals early on.

The Old Veteran

Similar to the overmatched and tanking teams, spring gives hope and energy to older players who might wear down as the season goes on.

Think of guys like Albert Pujols. There’s a good chance he’ll be on the bench in July and may even be off the roster by September, but in April, he’ll get at bats and could even produce.

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Take a chance on the grizzled veterans in April, especially when facing unproven pitching new to the big leagues.

Days Off

Another often overlooked aspect of April baseball is it’s not quite day-to-day yet. There are usually extra days off worked into the schedule early, to make sure that everyone gets attention for their home opener.

There’s also a bigger chance of bad weather—rain or even snow—in April. Often opening games get a day off immediately after to give insurance for an opening-day rainout, plus there’s the unscheduled days off for bad weather.

Usually, teams don’t need a fifth starter until May, at the earliest, which means a bigger workload for the top pitchers on staff.