Slow starts equal early MLB profits

Slow starts equal early MLB profits

Slow starts equal early MLB profits
By Matt Fargo

Slow starts in baseball happen to every team at some point as roster turnover, injuries, new coaching and schedules can all factor in to how a team jumps out of the gates in April.

For some teams, this is an annual problem and it is hard to put a finger on exactly why it happens. The Yankees are a classic example of this. They have gone 47-56 in April over the last four years and with the highest payroll over that span, it is mind boggling how that can happen.

Fading the Yankees has been a moneymaker the last four April’s but you have to think that New York is bound to turn that around at some point.

With the highest payroll again and a revamped starting rotation, this could be the year that Yankee fans are not grumbling heading into May. The Yankees are overpriced almost every game so I am not recommending turning the tide and play on them, but be weary. Especially if they start hot right from the start.

Heading the list of the worst April teams over the last three years are Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Washington who are a combined 112-200 and that certainly comes as no surprise.

You aren’t going to be making any money fading teams such as these because you would have to lay some big chalk moneylines and we are not going to be recommending that. We need to look for the value and a notoriously slow starter that could once again make us some money in April.

The Houston Astros have had a losing April record in three of the last four seasons with 2006 being the only winning month at 16-9. Overall, the Astros have gone 49-53 and have dropped -610 over that span. That may not seem horrible but remember that one good year made up a lot of the losses from the other three. Houston remains a solid go against because it is a team that is backed by the public largely in part to playoff runs from years past including the World Series back in 2005.

Houston dropped -5.3 units in April from that National League Championship season but did bounce back the following April by picking up +5.1 units in profit. The last two seasons have seen losses of -5.2 units and -1.1 units and we should see this trend continue into 2009.

The National League Central is weak after the Cubs and Brewers and third through sixth place in the division is anyone’s guess. The Astros are picked by most to finish in the bottom half but I will bet they will be overpriced once again.

The Astros won 86 games last season but their over/under win total for 2009 is 73.5 wins and that drop certainly says something. While the offense will be good once again, the injury issues of Lance Berkman are big concerns. If he is out of the lineup, the entire offense will feel it. The pitching staff could be one of worst in the NL. After Roy Oswalt, there is absolutely nothing. Even Oswalt, who had his worst ERA ever last season, could be on the decline being in his early thirties.

Houston will play 19 of its 22 games in April against division opponents so that is going to tell us a lot about this team. The three hardest series this month, Chicago, Milwaukee and Los Angeles are all at home and while that could mean more wins, more importantly it will give us more opportunities to fade since the line prices will be on our side. Thirteen of the 22 April games are at home so if anything, we will get some nice fade value.

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