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It's post time for your Preakness handicapping advice

By Newsletter staff
VSiN.com

Time for you to pick the Preakness.

We close out the week in VSiN City with comprehensive analysis from across the country to help you finalize your big-race strategy.

Preakness: Andy Serling and the team from NYRA discuss lessons learned in the Kentucky Derby and prior races
As promised, race handicapper Andy Serling of NYRA is back with an informative video discussing betting strategy for Saturday’s Preakness. He shows you key footage from the Kentucky Derby, the Arkansas Derby, and the Gotham Stakes…and explains how fading the “dramatic underlay” Always Dreaming provides your best opportunity to make money.

For a lengthier look at the contenders, be sure to watch this watch this bonus video from Maggie Wolfendale and Richard Migliore that takes you turn by turn though the Kentucky Derby with an eye on Preakness threats. You also see additional footage from the Wood Memorial and Illinois Derby.

 

Informed horse racing bettors pick winners with their brains and their eyes. We’re certain you’ll find these video reviews very helpful as you try to isolate the best investments. 

Preakness: VSiN interviews
Brent Musburger and Ron Flatter talked with Andy Serling Thursday on “My Guys in the Desert.” If you didn’t catch it on the live stream or on SiriusXM Channel 204, please click here to watch a video replay

Earlier Thursday, fabled track reporter “Hammerin’” Hank Goldberg talked to guest host Matt Youmans on “A Numbers Game.” So many respected voices are honing in on the same horses! You can watch that video by clicking here.

Friday, Mitch and Pauly on “Follow the Money” will catch up with Rachel McLaughlin and Emily Gaskin, racing commentators for Indiana Grand and Hoosier Park. You’ll recall Rachel and Emily visited VSiN the day before the Kentucky Derby. Great to have them back! Mitch and Pauly’s fast-paced show airs weekdays from 2 p.m. ET (11 a.m. here in Las Vegas) to 4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. Pacific). 

Bonus Reading
This Preakness article from CBS Sports online also features a video with Hank Goldberg
SB Nation looks for Saturday sleepers in the second jewel
The Washington Post with an “everything you need to know” article from its “fancy stats” analytics group.

Additionally, though not related to the Preakness, Ron Flatter reported Thursday on an important federal court case this week that determined “Derby Wars” online competitions were illegal. 

Now…off to the races!

NHL: Ducks blow 2-0 lead late, rebound in overtime to even series with Predators
From Pimlico to a Pekka low, as Nashville goaltender Pekka Renne was beaten three times in an overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks that evened their Western Conference finals at two games apiece.

Anaheim (plus 120) 3, Nashville 2 (in overtime)

  • Shots: Anaheim 37, Nashville 34

You’ll recall that Nashville had been dominating shot count through the first three games of this series. Anaheim won the category 14-2 in the first period! The Ducks weren’t demoralized after losing Game 3 late. They made it clear very early that they were ready to fight. 

Then they fell apart! Over the last 10 minutes of regulation, a 2-0 lead vanished thanks to boneheaded penalties and an overall loss of composure. Nashville once again controlled the flow of play (28-17 shot count over periods two and three). Could the Ducks bounce back again?

Yes, they could. Anaheim won shot count 6-3 in overtime, grabbing the service break that puts home ice back in their favor in what is now a best-two-out-of-three-series for a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. 

Through 4 games

  • Total Goals: Nashville 10, Anaheim 11
  • Total Shots: Nashville 153, Anaheim 113

If Nashville can’t outscore Anaheim with THAT many more shots, what’s going to happen if Anaheim can stay relatively close in shot count the rest of the way? Game Five is Saturday in California. 

Friday’s moneyline (Ottawa leads series 2-1)

  • Pittsburgh (-115, total of 5--Over -115) at Ottawa; 8 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network

The NBA returns to the floor Friday after taking Thursday off. Cleveland started the day -5.5 with a total of 220 in Game 2 of its Eastern Conference Finals battle with Boston. The moneyline is Cleveland -240, Boston 200. 

MLB: In Interleague, AL continues to be an ATM machine
Another winning night for the Americans vs. the Nationals as we seem destined for one more dominating year in Interleague action. 

Thursday’s AL Winners

  • Texas (-140) beat Philadelphia 8-4
  • Toronto (-115) beat Atlanta 9-0
  • Minnesota (-145) beat Colorado 2-0 (game 2 of DH)

Thursday’s NL Winner

  • Colorado ( 110) beat Minnesota 5-1 (game 1 of DH)
  • Interleague records (through Thursday) 

American League 44, National League 26

  • Adjusted for money lines: American League plus 15.3 units
  • American League at home: 23-11 (plus 9.8 units)
  • American League on the road: 21-15 (plus 5.5 units)

There’s still A LOT of baseball to be played. But what’s clear so far is that the National League has more really bad teams than the American League. And we already knew coming in that the AL was “probably” going to be superior because they’ve been superior for so long. This isn’t a surprise. This is what grinding out an edge nightly looks like.

And that’s important for you relative newcomers to sports betting to remember. Professional wagerers don’t make their living by hitting a fantastic win percentage thanks to enormous edges over the oddsmakers. They aim for 53 to 54% success (or less if they emphasize baseball underdogs). Football sharps aren’t expecting to bet three games per day and win them all. They’re satisfied with 5-4 every nine picks. Betting the AL over the NL may not be exciting. To this point in the season, it’s been worth your while. 

We’ll continue to monitor this through the season. We’re here to help you find edges before the market adjusts! 

MLB: Michael Lambourne’s umpire ratings
Speaking of finding edges for you, “A Numbers Game” producer Michael Lambourne sent us a link to his umpire ratings. You may have heard M-L-B discuss that with Matt Youmans on Thursday’s show. 

Michael’s group evaluates umpires based on the following:

  • Percentage impact on scoring (under the heading QERA)
  • Percentage impact on strikeouts (higher is better for pitchers)
  • Percentage impact on walks (higher is worse for pitchers)

When looking over the chart, use a base of 100 as a standard. Here are some quick examples to help you visualize what the data means.

  • Alfonzo Marquez rates at 109.3 in scoring impact, meaning he lifts scoring by about 9%
  • Bill Miller rates at 89.0, meaning he reduces scoring by 11%
  • Bill Miller rates at 109.7 in strikeout impact, meaning he lifts K’s by almost 10%
  • Alfonzo Marquez rates at 91.4 in strikeout impact, meaning he reduces K’s by 9%
  • Alfonzo Marquez rates at 108.6 in walk impact, meaning he lifts BB’s by almost 9%
  • Bill Miller rates at 85.1 in walk impact, meaning he reduces BB’s by 15%

Now don’t get the idea that most MLB umpires are that extreme! Most are fairly close to the chest guard. A reduction or a gain of 2-3% may not seem like much for an Over/Under of 8-9 runs. But, those K and BB numbers can really be important in spot situations. Wild pitchers are in real trouble throwing toward umpires who have a small strike zone. Aces who get a lot of K’s become almost un-hittable in front of umpires with expansive strike zones. 

As we’ve told you before here in VSiN City, advanced handicapping focuses on skill sets and game conditions. Umpire tendencies are part of the game conditions that pitchers (and offenses) have to deal with. Michael has opened a door for your access to hard-to-find information on umpires. Jump in this weekend to see if the ratings help you understand what’s happening on the field more clearly. 

If you’re not familiar with umpire rotations day-to-day, we’ll briefly outline the process. It can be hard to know the home plate umpire in the first game of a series because of travel. That information is announced soon before the game. But then it’s a set rotation the rest of the series. Umpires move clockwise day-by-day. Tonight’s first base umpire will be tomorrow’s home plate umpire. Tonight’s second-base umpire will be the home plate umpire in two days. So if you have the boxscore for Friday’s games, you can then deduce who will be behind home plate at each stadium Saturday and Sunday. 

Have fun with the data…and be sure to thank Michael!

MLB: Tricky pitching stats in Indians/Astros weekend showcase 
Baseball fans are looking forward to this weekend’s series between the 2016 American League champion Cleveland Indians, and the current 2017 American League favorite Houston Astros. It should have a playoff feel…because Houston’s playing great and Cleveland’s overdue to return to top form. 

Handicapping the pitchers could prove very tricky. If you been enjoying the baseball handicapping discussions on “A Numbers Game” this season, you know that Gill Alexander and Michael Lambourne prefer xFIP (fielding independent pitching) to ERA. Analytics has found that xFIP (designed to run along the same scale as ERA) is a more accurate predictor of future performances than ERA. 

With that in mind, check this out for this weekend’s probable pitchers…

Friday

  • Bauer (Cleveland): 6.92 ERA, but a respectable 3.62 xFIP
  • Morton (Houston): 3.97 ERA, with an even better 3.33 xFIP

Saturday

  • Clevinger (Cleveland): 2.61 ERA, but a disappointing 4.67 xFIP
  • Fiers (Houston): 5.75 ERA, but a better 4.38 xFIP

Sunday

  • Salazar (Cleveland): 5.66 ERA, but a sterling 3.19 xFIP
  • Musgrave (Houston): 4.57 ERA, with a similar 4.46 xFIP

Friday’s game might be a pitcher’s duel even though Morton’s ERA is much better. Saturday, Clevinger has the better ERA, but Fiers the better xFIP. Sunday, Musgrave has the better ERA, but Salazar the better xFIP.

Handicapping baseball is hard enough without so much in a series being upside down! How about this, so far in 2017, Minute Maid Park has reduced overall scoring by 22%, but its bandbox dimensions have increased home runs by 22%. 

Be sure you monitor the moneylines this weekend to see how oddsmakers and first-acting sharps are handling this set of analytical challenges in a potential playoff preview. 

If you have any comments or questions about content or baseball analytics, please drop us a note. If you’d like to start receiving VSiN City in your weekday inbox via email, you can subscribe by clicking here. Programming surprises often happen over the weekend, so be sure you’re following us on twitter.

Best of luck in the Preakness and enjoy this big sports weekend!

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