London series overly challenging for oddsmakers

By Jeff Fogle  ( 

June 30, 2019 10:33 PM

Sometimes “special events” do live up to their hype. This past weekend’s “London Series” featuring the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees made history and had plenty of fireworks. 

You probably watched. Let’s recap from a betting market perspective:

Saturday: The opening money line for Masahiro Tanaka vs. Rick Porcello was the Yanks -125 (risk $125 to win $100 on the Yankees, or anything in that ratio). Sharp (professional) and square (public) bettors hit the Yankees hard. The money line would rise to -140 or -145 depending on the store, with little buyback on the Sox. Oddsmakers underestimated interest on the Yankees, and overrated Boston’s chances with an innings muncher vs. a top-of-the-rotation pitcher for New York. 

Betting markets were obviously challenged when it came to posting an Over/Under. It was expected in advance that London Stadium would be a good hitting environment. The opening total of 11 was bet up to 11.5. That’s higher than we’d see at either Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium for a Tanaka-Porcello matchup. (it was the highest Sox/Yankees market total ever, until Sunday.)

You know the game went Over in the first inning. It was 6-6 after one frame, with neither starter able to get three outs. But if you threw that first inning out, the rest of the game still flew Over 11.5 in a 30-run explosion. 

Sunday: This opener was on the board soon after Saturday’s marathon ended. This game was scheduled to start at 7 a.m. Sunday Las Vegas time, so Nevada sports books wanted to get as much action as they could Saturday night. New York, with rookie, Stephen Tarpley opened in the -115 to -120 range against Eduardo Rodriguez. That was very respectful for the Yanks, who were using a youngster making his MLB debut. Sharps and the public bet Boston in the bounce-back spot with the superior arm, bringing the money line back to pick-em. Some stores closed with the Red Sox as a slight favorite.

First sports books to post a Sunday total lifted their numbers to 14 or 14.5 off Saturday’s scoring explosion. Bettors jumped in hard on the Over, causing a rise all the way to 16.5 Saturday night. The number had dropped back to 15 by first pitch. Some of that late money came from sharps who believed that playing in daylight might reduce hitting visibility due to glare from the sun, awkward reflections and shadows across the field.

What does all of this mean for future meetings? The Yanks will be perceived as the superior team with relatively even pitchers going. Both offenses will continue to get market respect in high-run environments. 

Both teams are off Monday to recover from their flights back to the U.S. Boston starts a three-game series in Toronto Tuesday night. The Yankees renew their subway series with a two-game set against the Mets Tuesday and Wednesday.


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