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Rays Betting Series: Zooming out

We’re going to mix this up a little

MLB: Houston Astros-Workouts Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the 2019 season, and with the expansion of legal sports betting in the United States, we will check in on some Rays-centric betting tips for upcoming games and series, and look at bigger trends in the sports betting world, writ large.

I must emphasize that this column is most meant for fun. I am by no means an expert, and if you know anyone who has a gambling problem, please contact Gamblers Anonymous. Never bet more than you can afford, and sports betting isn’t for everyone.

However, for those who are excited to sports bet responsibly, hopefully we’ll give you some good tips and tricks every couple weeks. Here’s the introduction to the series, and here are some key terms to help you along the way.

Well, we successfully reverse-jinxed the Rays into a victory last time we were here, so let’s see what good we can do today.

We’re going to mix the format up a little bit, mostly because in this edition, the Wide Lens Trend, Gambling Best Practices, and Bet of the Day sections are all so intertwined that we’re just going to combine them all into one big, main section.

Wide Lens Trend/Gambling Best Practices/Bet of the Day Week: Rays under’s each day, 8/27-8/31

One of the trickier parts of sports gambling is weighing when you actually have an advantage, and when it is just a perceived advantage. And very much vice versa. What I mean by that is: It’s easy to simply catch a hot streak when first trying out a new methodology (i.e. team success versus pitch type) and believe that you’ve really figured something out. In reality, however, it may just be a lucky streak that just so happens to align with when you started this new method.

On the flip side of that, sometimes you may give a new methodology a test run (using Visual Memory Index and weather patterns), and see it fail immediately. But in reality, you simply didn’t give it enough to show its true colors. Making enough bets to solidify a sample size can be a dangerous game, so you really have to have confidence in your methodology to ride out those inevitable cold streaks.

The beauty of betting on baseball is that there are so many numbers, you can parse the data almost any way possible. Of course, that’s also the inherent issue with betting on baseball.

Sometimes it helps to just zoom out. So that’s what we’re doing this week.

The Rays offense lost Brandon Lowe on July 2, Yandy Diaz on July 22, and the offense as a whole has been rather paltry over the past three weeks, with a wRC+ of 81 since August 5.

On the flip side of things, the Rays have to face the baseball equivalent of The Avengers in Houston starting on Tuesday, with Justin Verlander (15-5, 4.4 fWAR, 2.77/3.60/3.32 ERA/FIP/xFIP), Gerrit Cole (15-5, 5.0, 2.75/2.98/2.77), and Zack Greinke (14-4, 4.3, 2.83/3.31/3.94) set for the series. Yes, that is in fact three of the top ten pitchers in all of baseball by fWAR back-to-back-to-back against Tampa.

And don’t you worry, things don’t get much either in the weekend series at the Trop against Cleveland. Cleveland will likely lead the series off with Mike Clevinger (9-2, 2.9, 3.00/2.40/2.67) and Shane Bieber (12-6, 4.4, 3.23/3.41/3.20). So yes, that’s now four starters in the top ten in all of baseball in fWAR, plus a pitcher who actually has a lower FIP and xFIP than all of them...

Meanwhile, despite all our rumblings, the Rays pitching in 2019 has been elite. The staff, as a whole, leads all of baseball in fWAR, with the second-best ERA, to go along with the best FIP and xFIP. That run prevention has slipped a bit with Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell being traded in for Austin Pruitt and Jalen Beeks (that’s oversimplifying a bit, I know), but even in the five weeks since Snell hit the I.L., the Rays have the second-best xFIP in baseball.

Adding even more fire to this line of betting, the only team with a lower xFIP over that stretch: Houston. Cleveland has been middle of the pack by xFIP but third-best by ERA over that same three-week stretch.

Blindly advising the reader to bet the under in five games for which there is not even a line set is a bit silly. I’m obviously going to check these figures before they come out, especially for a matchup like Tuesday’s Verlander-Morton showdown which I could easily see coming in at something like over/under 6.5 runs.

But honestly, I think I might still take that under. Five games is hardly a big enough sample, but the point in this week’s advice column is to look for wide-lens trends. It’s easy to get into the nitty gritty of the numbers, and a lot of good can come out of that, but baseball is all about big samples. Let’s try to use that to our advantage this week.

Series Tracker

End-of-season win bet (91.5), updated projections:

FanGraphs: 93

Baseball Prospectus: 94

Baseball Reference: 93

Rays Betting Series Tracker

Date Bet Odds Bet Amount Potential Payout Result Net
Date Bet Odds Bet Amount Potential Payout Result Net
6/7/2019 Rays to win first inning +270 $1.00 $3.70 Loss -$1.00
6/18/2019 Under 10 -112 $1.00 $1.89 Win $0.89
7/2/2019 Over 8 -109 $1.00 $1.92 Win $0.92
7/12/2019 Rays season win total over 91.5 -110 $1.00 $1.91 TBD TBD
8/12/2019 Padres to win -130 $1.00 $1.77 Loss -$1.00
8/27/2019 Rays under ??? ??? $1.00 ??? TBD TBD
8/28/2019 Rays under ??? ??? $1.00 ??? TBD TBD
8/29/2019 Rays under ??? ??? $1.00 ??? TBD TBD
8/30/2019 Rays under ??? ??? $1.00 ??? TBD TBD
8/31/2019 Rays under ??? ??? $1.00 ??? TBD TBD
Total XX XX $5.00 $11.19 XX -$0.19