6 Things to Consider When Betting on the MLB Playoffs

In just about every major professional sport, the postseason has an entirely different atmosphere. It’s not just the desperation of knowing that the season could be over in a week, but it’s also the fact that a month of high-performance can erase a season of mediocrity.

If you’re a sports gambler, there’s also a playoff mindset that must be adopted. The basics are the same, but the strategy is a little different than it was for the first 162.

In this article, I’ll lay out 6 things that you should consider when betting on the MLB playoffs.

1 – Pitching and Rest

In the regular season, pitchers typically have five days of rest before stepping back on the mound. This gives them plenty of time to complete a full recovery routine and reset mentally. In the playoffs, the luxury of time and rest is all but erased.

If you’re making a futures bet on which team will win the series, it’s crucial to take a look at each team’s top two or three pitchers. In the regular season, a rotation goes five-deep, but in the playoffs, this can often get shrunk down to three (or four in some cases). One team may have had an advantage when you evaluate the rotation as a whole, but the fourth and fifth starts are all but irrelevant in the playoffs.

Another pitching factor to consider revolves around rest. Historically, some pitchers have been much better on a short rest than others. If a team has two such pitchers on their staff, this can be a big advantage in a five or seven game series.

Do some research to find out which pitchers thrive without the full five-day rest cycle, and learn which ones need the time to recover. If the two are matched up against one another, this could help you find a clear advantage.

2 – Look at the Run Totals

If you’re looking for high-scoring games with each team scoring in double-digits, I’m sorry, but the MLB playoffs is not for you.

In the post-steroid era, postseason scores have been lower than ever. If I had to guess the reasons why, I would say it’s due to more advanced scouting, metrics, and defensive positioning.

What does that mean for bettors?

It pays to take the under.

Generally speaking, the public has a tendency to bet the over. This can mean that the over/under line gets inflated, presenting an opportunity to cash in.

Obviously, betting on totals needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but remember that the playoff numbers are going to look different than they did in the regular season. What I’m saying is, don’t go playing every ‘over’ you see – there’s a reason that the number looks so easily-reachable.

3 – Take Note of Past Performances

Legacies are established by how you perform in the playoffs. Unfortunately for some, that means a permanent mark on an otherwise admirable career.

Before betting on a game and banking on a player performing, make sure their postseason track record justifies your confidence. If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that there are endless of examples of average players who become legends in the MLB postseason, and unfortunately, vice versa.

This isn’t to say that every player varies wildly in their performance from regular season to postseason, but it happens frequently enough that it should at least be looked at before putting your money down.

4 – Experience Matters

It’s exciting when a team full of promising young players makes its first playoff run. However, if they run into a team full of veterans who have been there many times before, the advantage is going to go to the team with experience.

With the added pressure that comes with playing in the postseason, younger players still haven’t fully matured mentally can fall into a spontaneous slump or at best, become a slightly diminished version of what they were before.

If you’re a baseball fan, it’s likely that you won’t have to do a deep dive in terms of figuring the experience of each team’s roster. However, if you’re tuning in for the first time in a few years, a little roster check might be in order.

5 – It’s All About the Odds

Baseball is unique in that the majority of bettors don’t use the spread, whereas that is commonplace in sports like football and basketball. Though some may scoff at that fact, baseball gambling purists know that there is tremendous value to be found in baseball.

Before doing any research on a game, the first thing you need to do is look at the odds. In baseball, the majority of the action comes in on the moneyline. That means instead of choosing a team to cover a spread, you’re simply looking to pick the winner.

The reason baseball moneylines are highly regarded amongst those who bet the sport frequently is because you almost always have the opportunity to win more money than you have to risk (if you pick the underdog). On the other side, however, if you believe the favorite is going to win, you’re going to have to risk more than you stand to win.

At the end of the day, it does come down to who you think is going to win the game, but it’s not necessarily that simple. If you have to risk $200 to win $100, the value just isn’t there and it would be best to hold off on making that play.

Luckily, there are some other betting options that gamblers can take advantage of if they aren’t afraid to get creative.

6 – Run Lines (and Additional Betting Options)

To be clear – just because the majority of baseball betting action falls on the moneyline does not mean that there aren’t other options.

As I mentioned in the previous section, sometimes the risk of betting on a favorite’s moneyline is just too high. If you want to create value where there wasn’t any previously, take a look at run lines.

Run lines function like a point spread. In fact, aside from the name, it is a point spread. What’s interesting about these spreads in baseball is how significantly they shift the odds.

For Example:

Say you wanted to bet on the Reds to win against the Brewers, but the Reds had moneyline odds at -210. For most value-conscious bettors, that’s just a little too much of a risk. You can change your Reds moneyline bet (which requires them to simply win), and make a run line bet.

In the above example, if you take the Reds run-line bet at -1.5, you can get that original moneyline of around -210 to a much more favorable in the neighborhood of -120 (or sometimes even end up in the plus money).

If you’re feeling even more confident in the Reds, you could push the run line in the above scenario to -2.5, meaning the Reds would have to win by 3 or more, and find yourself around +200.

In addition to these moves that allow you to change the odds in your favor (in return for taking on more risk of course), there are plenty of other bets you can utilize.

The three and five inning lines are very popular among baseball bettors. These simply break the game down into smaller fragments – the bet is just on who will be winning (or if the game will be tied), when these innings are reached.

If you’re a fan of prop bets, you’re in luck as well. Identify a player who you think will hit a homerun that game and you’ll be adding a huge boost to your bankroll if the bet hits.


Betting real money on baseball is one of the most overlooked opportunities in all of sports gambling. When it comes playoff time, things get turned up and a traditionally-slow sport gets a shot of energy.

Take the things I’ve laid out in this article into consideration, and you might be able to build up your bankroll for, of course, the rest of the NFL season.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016.

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