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MLB 1st Five Innings Betting

MLB Betting: First-Half Betting (First Five Innings)

By Loot, MLB Handicapper,

First-half betting is available in most team sports. In baseball, the variation of that is first five innings betting, where the relevant action is boiled down to the first five innings. Surely, we’ve all bet on baseball games where we wish we didn’t have to toil through the last few innings and all the drama that can ensue during that time.

When you look at the way the game has changed, the first five innings is almost like what a bet on the whole game in the past used to be. Pitchers simply don’t go the distance like they used to. Look at the complete games totals and compare them to the past. Even in the 70’s a starter could throw 30 complete games. In the 80’s the league leaders were more in the 15-20 range. But that number has dropped since--to the point where only one starter has registered double-digit complete games since the year 2000.


Without starters you can depend on to go the full route, we are betting into the dark in the last few innings of a game. We handicap the game the best we can, but do we really know what pitcher they’re going to drag out of the bullpen with our bet on the line? When betting on the first five innings, you remove some of that uncertainty. The bottom line is that much of what makes us bet one way or the other on baseball comes down to the starting pitcher. What happens in baseball is the equivalent of betting on the Patriots knowing that midway through the third quarter, Tom Brady is going to get pulled out of the game. First five innings wagers gives you a route to avoid that.

There is certainly going to be some sting associated with losing a first five innings bet when the team you bet winds up coming back late to win the game. Therefore, you want to use these bets more with teams that you think will be ahead after 5 and you just don’t want to sweat the late-game dramatics. That probably means more favorites than underdogs. Then again, there are good spots for each in first five innings betting.

This is a more untapped part of baseball betting and that should kindle your interest. Most baseball bettors bet on entire games. Less action comes in on first five innings wagers, which generally leads to more high-value spots. The nice thing about this type of betting is that the first five innings odds are usually pretty darn close to the odds for the entire game.

In other words, if you have a good observation that would make you fire a bet on a first five innings wager, the odds won’t be stacked against you. That’s somewhat surprising. If you take a team with their ace on the mound, it’s obvious you’re using a first five innings wager to circumvent late-innings drama when the ace won’t be on the mound anymore. Usually in sports betting, you would have to pay through the nose in a case like that, but not so much in first five innings in Major League Baseball betting.

At the same time, we’re not going to be able to outsmart the bookie that easily in executing these bets. If we see things that will bolster our wagers, like if the opposing pitcher starts games slowly or that a team has a top-heavy lineup which means more in a shortened period--the oddsmakers also noticed it.

We still need to do our research, however. A good pitcher, even an ace, might be a guy who gets in trouble early, before settling into a groove. Meanwhile, a pitcher who isn’t considered to be that good or has mediocre stats might be really effective early in games, before melting down around the 6th inning. Try to get a read on how different pitchers and hitters perform early in games as opposed to late. Consider different things, like if the weather will change during a game or if day turns to night late in the game--and apply it to the specific players in the game you are betting.

Again, there will be times where your team won the game officially, but you lose the first five innings bet. Have that happen enough times and you will certainly sour on this type of wager. There is no denying, however, that this is a valuable option for baseball bettors and it should be a part of your repertoire.

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