How to Understand What Line Moves Mean

Brandon Woodruff #53 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws a pitch in the first inning. John Fisher/Getty Images/AFP

As we barrel towards the last third of this baseball season, we thought we would look back and ahead if you are new or newer to betting baseball.

Moneyline wagering is the most popular kind of baseball betting. It is the most simplistic, having to just choose who you think will win.

For those not familiar, the average home teams will automatically cost you more, priced at -120 to -130 on the moneyline, largely because they get the last at-bat, which always gives them a chance to come from behind when trailing. Also built-in that price is the fact teams generally play better at home because of the home crowd support and having the familiarity of home.

The next variable is the starting pitchers, who have a direct impact on the potential outcome. If you have the ace pitching for one club and a number five starter for another, that could cause a noticeable separation between the two teams involved. In this case, the ace starting pitcher will likely be the favorite. His team could be a two-to-one or higher favorite (-200 in this case) against a supposedly inferior opponent.

What bettors ask about all the time is what drives line movement at places like OddsTrader and how should you as a bettor interpret it and possibly use it to your advantage? Below you can see an example of how the line moved for an MLB game.

Reasons for Line Moves

Wise or sharp bettors check the moneylines in baseball the afternoon before the games are played the next day. Because they are studying the numbers on a daily basis, they are comparing what they believe is accurate (their opinion) versus what online betting sites release and might want to jump on a faulty or weak number. This is one way MLB odds move on moneylines (ML hereafter).

Because sportsbooks are more hesitant than ever to release odds if they don’t know exactly who the starting pitcher(s) would be, there is an increasingly larger amount of games with – no lines – until the day of the games.

The morning is often when the numbers are altered the most, with a mixture of sharp action and public betting driving the marketplace. Here you could see an ML move 10 cents to 30 cents (example, -120 to -130 or -150) if those in the betting masses like a particular game for one reason or another.

Other things that driveline moves are teams releasing information on players being hurt or given a day off. And if this is a star hitter or maybe two starters in the everyday lineup sitting, an ML could change 7 to 15 cents.

Of course, pitching changes matter and which way the wind is blowing. The wind aspect affects totals more and with a place like Wrigley Field so close to Lake Michigan, the conditions are ever-changing which is why Cubs’ totals are almost always the day of the game only.

Finding the Best Value in Line Movement

When OddsTrader or any other place that shows baseball odds and the line moves 10 to 15 cents or more and no big public team is involved (Both New York clubs, the Dodgers, Red Sox or the hottest or coldest teams at the moment), that’s where you start digging for answers.

Maybe an underdog has been hot with the bats and is scoring six runs a game over a week and is facing a mid-level starting pitcher with an ERA of 3.75.  In his last three outings, his ERA is 6.00 and he’s walking a lot of batters. That’s a play on a dog going from +130 to +115.

Another example, this time of year could be they have their opponent’s number this year. Say Milwaukee is 10-2 against Cincinnati coming into a series in August. The starting pitcher matchup appears even and bullpens are nearly identical, yet the Brewers keep finding ways to beat the Reds and their line goes from -130 to -150. Yes, you are losing value in paying a higher price in backing the Brew Crew, but if you are convinced they have the edge, especially at home, Milwaukee is worth a look.

There are many more scenarios, which you will find, some are good opportunities, while others have “Pass” written all over them.

Again, the beauty of moneylines, as opposed to spreads, is you just have to pick the winner. If the lines move, whether you are a fresh baseball bettor or have years of experience, you have to do the research to understand line moves and if you do, your bankroll will grow.

OddsTrader.com is your sports betting command center. Read featured betting strategy compiled from a panel of leading sports betting experts.

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