How to Handicap the MLB Wildcard Round

Posted by Joe Solari on October 3, 2016 in

Placing winning bets in the MLB wild card games is not that different from successful MLB betting wagers in the regular season, as success is determined by usual baseball handicapping factors like starting pitchers, strength of bullpens, and winning vs. losing momentum, among other factors. There are, however, a few differences between playoff and regular-season betting, and if you can find these key differences, your chances of success will be greatly increased in the MLB wild card odds and lines. Below are a few ways pertinent rules and tips for handicapping the MLB wildcard round.

In Depth Analysis On How To Handicap The MLB Wildcard Round



Handicapping Superior vs. Inferior Winning Percentages

Winning more games in the regular season doesn’t always mean that a team with a superior winning percentage is better than its opponent. Factors like strength of schedule, injuries and suspensions, and competitiveness in a division or league have a way of influencing regular-season winning percentages. As a bettor, you must therefore ensure that you put such factors into perspective in your betting, rather than blindly banking on teams with better winning percentage.

Home Field Advantage

During the playoffs, homefield advantage tends to count more than in the regular season, as ballparks are filled and good players are often able feed off the crowd energy. If you can especially find a home-playing wildcard team that was dominant at home during the regular season, your success will be greatly encouraged.

Exploiting Pitching Mismatches

Given that rotations are usually shortened in the playoffs and competing teams usually have their best players in their respective rosters, it’s never easy to find pitching mismatches in the wildcard games, as is often the case in the regular season. That said, there are certain pitchers that standout above their counterparts, either due to experience or good form, and finding such players can be a key difference when it comes to winning and losing a game. In this regard, you should therefore do your research on the pitchers prior to the games, comparing their numbers and trends from the regular season as well the numbers from previous playoffs (if there are any). Additional factors such as performance versus righties or lefties and the ability to go deep into games—like 6 or more innings—can also offer great value here.

The Value of “Weak Teams” from “Strong divisions”

Every team will always claim that its division is the strongest, but we all know that some divisions (like the AL East) tend to be more competitive than others (like the AL Central). As a result, you may find that a team from a weaker division having a better record in the playoffs than the one from a stronger division, which confuses bettors about where the true value is in the MLB wild card odds. When you find yourself in such a scenario, it is advisable to lean on the side of the battle-tested team from a strong division, as MLB betting history has it that such teams tend to succeed more in the playoffs than their counterparts.

The Value of MLB Playoff Experience

In MLB playoffs betting, experience is arguably the single most important element to consider when handicapping games. A team that has the experience of reaching and winning games in the postseason holds clear advantage over the team from the other side, irrespective of where the game is played. This is mainly based on the fact that these experienced teams are often well-aware of how to handle pressure, the mistakes to avoid and playing systems to adopt; something new and ill-experienced playoffs don’t have. Of course, there are instances that inexperienced teams come through as winners in wild card games, but with the experienced squads often winning as high as 60% of their games, it is highly encouraged to be on a serious lookout for these experienced units.

The Value of Momentum

In the later stages of the playoffs, like the divisional round and the league championship round, a good momentum can do wonders to a team. As you all know, winning is infectious and the motivation of one win can have a huge positive impact on the next game, given that you will most likely go into it feeling very confident of your abilities. In the wild card games, motivation from a winning momentum from the regular season rarely has that much of an impact. In fact, you are better off ignoring momentum when handicapping wildcard games. For all you know, maybe the winning momentum at the end of the season came from beating weak teams, or maybe a team had to use its best pitchers down the stretch of the season to secure a chance at the wildcard round. Not to forget, every team tends to approach the wildcard matchups like a final. Resultantly, focusing on momentum will most likely do you very little good when handicapping the MLB wildcard round.