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Avila has struggled following what looked like a breakout 2011 season, hitting just .229 with a .705 OPS in 342 games since then, and multiple concussions have put his future behind the plate in some question.
However, hes still just 28 years and, underwhelming as his recent production has been compared to his big 2011 campaign, his .705 OPS from 2012-2014 is still above average for MLB catchers.
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MLB: Yankees start west trip in Arizona
Owners of baseball’s best record, the New York Yankees theoretically shouldn’t have much trouble beating the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks, still whether or not bettors are willing to lay the -160 at Sportsbook.com with a Yankees’ team due for a potential letdown after a big series win over the Mets and having traveled cross-country is another question altogether. Let’s take a look at Monday’s contest. For more on this game, click over to the GAME MATCHUP.
With New York’s 4-0 win over the Mets on Sunday coupled with Tampa Bay’s loss to Florida, the Yankees (43-26) moved into sole possession of first place in the AL East for the first time since April 21. The Yankees, who have 16 more victories than the Diamondbacks (27-43), wrapped up a nine-game interleague homestand with six wins, and play their next six games at NL parks.
The absence of a DH poses some problems for New York, as manager Joe Girardi has been using both Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada at that position as they work their way back from injuries. “We’ll go day by day just to see how each one of them goes,” Girardi told the Yankees’ official website.
The Yankees start A.J. Burnett (6-5, 4.33 ERA), who allowed six runs, six hits and four walks in a season-low 3 1-3 innings of Wednesday’s 6-3 loss to Philadelphia. The right-hander has recorded a 9.00 ERA in losing his three June starts. He has also given up six homers over 16 innings during his losing skid after allowing four in his first 11 starts.
This could be trouble against an Arizona team that is fifth in the majors with 82 homers, and 15-3 when hitting at least two in one game. Also, with the DBack hitting just .253 for the season, StatFox cites a potential strong angle suggesting to fade Burnett:
· BURNETT is 13-27 (-19.8 Units) against the money line vs. an NL team with a team batting average of .255 or worse since 1997. (Team's Record) The average score was BURNETT 3.6, OPPONENT 4.5 - (Rating = 1*)
Burnett, who hasn’t faced the Diamondbacks since 2005, is 3-2 with a 3.67 ERA in five career starts against them.
Like Burnett, Arizona’s Rodrigo Lopez (2-6, 4.70) has also struggled of late, going 0-4 with a 5.14 ERA in his last five starts. However, the right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA in his last three starts against the Yankees, but hasn’t faced them since 2007. Of course, these teams haven’t met since the Yankees swept a three-game series in New York in 2007.
Arizona is returning home after going 1-5 on an interleague trip. Their bullpen continues to struggle and is the worst in baseball in several categories, including WHIP and ERA. That could prove to be the most important factor in handicapping tonight’s game, as it often is. Take a look at the powerful FoxSheets Super Situation being offered up:
· Play On - Road teams (NY YANKEES) - AL team with a high on-base percentage (>=.350) against a team with a bad bullpen (WHIP >=1.550), playing on Monday. (56-30 since 1997.) (65.1%, +27.4 units. Rating = 2*)
The StatFox Game Estimator calls for a relatively easy 6.5-4.2 win by the Yankees in this game and ARIZONA is 12-31 (-14.5 Units) against the money line as an underdog of +100 or higher this season. In that sense, perhaps the emotional letdown and travel issues just aren’t enough to overcome what figures to be a mismatch in talent in this series.
The first pitch for Monday’s game is set for 9:40 PM ET.
MLB Series Betting- N.Y. Yankees at Boston
With two World Series championship rings in the past five years, the Boston Red Sox don’t play baseball games hoping to make the postseason; they play for division titles and settle for the wild card if that is last option. With roughly a quarter of the season to be played, Boston knows this is their best chance to close the six game differential in the loss column with New York, with just three games remaining between these two rivals. "There's [42 games] of our season left," Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek said. "We have too many good characters on this team. We won't quit." (Don’t neglect to review the latest info for all MLB contests by visiting the LIVE ODDS, BETTING TRENDS, and TEAM STATISTICS pages.)
Boston (69-51, +3.3 units) feels they are gathering momentum, having won seven of last 10, including sweeping Toronto on the road. The Red Sox return home where they are 38-18 and could tie the Yankees for the best home record in baseball with a sweep. Terry Francona’s club is third in baseball in runs scored on home turf at 5.7 per contest and hopes to improve on that figure tonight. Besides all the obvious aspects that are in front of the BoSox, being bludgeoned 25-8 at Yankees Stadium two weeks ago in a four-game sweep adds incentive.
How good have the Yankees (76-45, +6.9 units) been since the All-Star break? The Bronx Bombers are 25-8 and have won nine of 10 series, including the last five in a row. "The one thing that I've been really proud about [with] this club is that there's a sense of urgency every night," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "This club knows how to continue to push, and that's a good feeling.”
In the opener, Brad Penny (7-7, 5.22 ERA) will take the ball and he been awful of late with 0-3 record and a 7.54 ERA over his last four starts. New York will counter with Andy Pettitte (9-6, 4.09), whose been particularly sharp in allowing two or fewer runs in his last four starts. Only a lack of run support has kept him at 1-0 mark in these assignments. Sportsbook.com has New York as -110 money road favorites, with total Ov10.5. The Yankees are 4-15 on the road when the total is 10 to 10.5, while Boston is 37-10 at home when the total is 10 or higher over the last two seasons.
Game 1 Edge: Boston
As expected, Saturday’s contest will be a Fox Sports afternoon affair and New York will be a decided favorite. The pitching mismatch is the top reason; with A. J. Burnett (10-6, 3.69) facing Junichi Tazawa (1-2, 5.40). The Japanese right-hander came to this country noted for low-90’s fastball, splitter and change, but right-hand hitters are batting .542 in his 11.2 innings of work. The Yanks entered this series without a win in Bean-Town in 2009, nevertheless are 16-2 after six or more consecutive road games this year. Conversely, the Red Sox have really floundered against the better teams and are 4-12 playing against a club with a winning record in the second half of this season.
Game 2 Edge: Yankees
The final contest is night-time conflict on ESPN and should be a beauty. Two big time pitchers will be paired in C.C. Sabathia (14-7, 3.58) versus Josh Beckett (14-4, 3.58). The Yankees came into the weekend with a stellar 50-27 record in night games. The New York front office paid Sabathia a Hudson River barge of money and with crunch time now here, the big lefty is 4-0 this month, with 2.35 ERA and opposing batters hitting a feeble .185 against him. Boston also plays a decent brand of baseball under the lights at 50-34. Beckett has allowed three or fewer runs in 15 of his last 18 starts, with the Red Sox 14-4. He’s been especially effective at Fenway Park with 8-0 mark and the team winning 10 of 11 starts. Beckett and the BoSox are 17-5 as favorites.
Game 3 Edge: Boston
The Yankees are the better team and have the more favorable pitching matchups in two of the three games with the last contest arguably a push. Nonetheless, the Red Sox will want to flush the unsavory taste of being swept in the Bronx and have the confidence of winning seven straight at Fenway over New York. Thus, I’ll make a slightly wavering choice of Boston for this weekend.
Sportsbook.com series odds: N.Y. Yankees -135, Boston +105
StatFox Edge Pick: Boston
2009 Record – 7-9 (4 straight wins)