MLB head-to-head trends pay off

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We’re almost halfway through the baseball season, and our betting knowledge of each team’s strengths and weaknesses grows with each passing week. We know the Diamondbacks are just plain bad. We know the Rockies are a solid wager at home but an automatic fade on the road. We know the Yankees’ bats are underperforming. We know the Cubs’ bullpen is way better than anyone thought. I could make plenty of other obvious observations, but the trouble is, these things are so glaring that oddsmakers have accounted for them in their daily game lines. 

As bettors, we need to find key handicapping nuggets that might be under the radar. To do this, you sometimes have to go past the here and now and expand beyond the current season for running trends that continue to produce. One of the best things you can do is to look at teams’ recent head-to-head history. When you do this, it becomes clear that certain teams just match up with certain opponents better than others. Furthermore, certain teams just play better or worse at specific ballparks. In many cases, these trends simply can’t be ignored and should be ridden hard until you see signs of changing.

Several series trends I’ll disclose might be common knowledge, but others took me by surprise. Mark the dates of the remaining games between the teams on your betting calendars so you don’t miss what have been easy profit-making opportunities.

Top 10 overall head-to-head series trends

— Los Angeles Dodgers have won 13 straight games against Pittsburgh (+ 13.2 units, 101.5% ROI)

Upcoming games: Aug. 16-18 at Los Angeles

Analysis: This is arguably a series of the best team in the National League against the worst over the last several years, so it’s no surprise that the Dodgers have fared well against Pittsburgh. They have won 13 straight and were underdogs just once during that streak, clobbering the Pirates’ pitching staff for 7.4 runs per game. Rest assured Los Angeles will be a heavy favorite in all three August games at home.

— St. Louis is on a nine-game winning streak against Pittsburgh (+ 9 units, 100% ROI)

Upcoming games: June 24-27 at St. Louis, Aug. 10-12 at Pittsburgh, Aug. 20-22 at St. Louis, Aug. 26-29 at Pittsburgh

Analysis: Another trend going against Pittsburgh, though this is rather short-lived, dating to Sept. 18 of last season. The Cardinals snapped a four-game losing streak to the Bucs that day and have built a nine-game winning streak since, outscoring their divisional rivals 6.1-3 on average. St. Louis’ postseason hopes could hinge on its ability to continue dominating this series, as 14 head-to-head games remain.

— San Francisco has won nine straight games against Arizona (+ 9 units, 100% ROI)

Upcoming games: July 1-4 at Arizona, Aug. 2-5 at Arizona, Aug. 10-11 at San Francisco, Sept. 28-30 at San Francisco

Analysis: Another nine-game winning streak is in play in the NL West between the Giants and Diamondbacks. Nearly every team has beaten up on Arizona in 2021, and San Francisco is no exception, boasting a 6-0 record in head-to-head play. The current division leaders have put up an amazing 50 runs in those six games. This rivalry has just begun, however, as 13 games remain on the slate, starting July 4 weekend in Arizona.

— Oakland is on a 12-3 surge against Cleveland (+ 13.65 units, 91% ROI)

Upcoming games: July 16-18 at Oakland, Aug. 10-12 at Cleveland

Analysis: In terms of overall recent success, the A’s and Indians are relatively even, so it’s unusual that head-to-head play would be so one-sided. Yet Oakland has dominated Cleveland lately, going 12-3 in the last 15 despite being favored only four times in that span. The teams have yet to meet in 2021, so we’ll see how they match up, but this trend dates to 2017, so I wouldn’t expect the tide to suddenly shift.

— Cleveland is on a 10-1 surge against the Los Angeles Angels (+ 9.05 units, 82.3% ROI)

Upcoming games: Aug. 20-22 at Cleveland

Analysis: While the Indians have struggled with the A’s out of the West Division, it has been a different story with the Angels, as Cleveland has won 10 of the last 11 head-to-head games. The pitching has stifled the Angels’ hitters, holding them to just 2.6 runs per game during the 11-game stretch. Just last month, the Indians rode an eight-game head-to-head winning streak into Los Angeles and won twice, despite being underdogs in all three games.

— Oakland has won 22 of its last 23 head-to-head games against Detroit (+ 18.75 units, 81.25% ROI)

Upcoming games: Aug. 31-Sept. 2 at Detroit

Analysis: In terms of wins and losses, this series is baseball’s most lopsided in recent years, with Oakland having zero trouble with Detroit. I bet this matchup twice in the three games played in Oakland in April, as the A’s were moderately priced despite the recent series data. The A’s swept that three-game set, holding the Tigers to a total of two runs. Mark your calendars for late August/early September.

— Tampa Bay is on a 12-1 run against Baltimore (+ 10.55 units, 81.2% ROI)

Upcoming games: July 19-21 at Tampa Bay, Aug. 6-8 at Baltimore, Aug. 16-19 at Tampa Bay, Aug. 27-29 at Baltimore

Analysis: Most AL East teams have had their way with the Orioles in recent years, and Tampa Bay is at the front of the line, going 12-1 in head-to-head play dating to Aug. 25 of last season. The Rays are 6-0 against Baltimore already in 2021, scoring a whopping eight runs per contest. Again in contention for the divisional title, Tampa Bay’s hopes could hinge on 13 more games against the O’s.

— Arizona boasts a 14-2 record in its last 16 games against Pittsburgh (+ 11.45 units, 71.6% ROI)

Upcoming games: July 19-21 at Arizona, Aug. 23-25 at Pittsburgh

Analysis: In light of its 2-37 skid heading into Monday night’s game against Milwaukee, you probably aren’t looking for chances to back the Diamondbacks. But if you can stomach that option, perhaps the six games remaining with the Pirates could build your bankroll. The teams have yet to meet this year, but Arizona has a recent history of crushing Pirates pitching, averaging 6.5 runs per game during this 16-game stretch dating to 2017.

— New York Yankees are on a 18-4 burst against Seattle (+ 12.85 units, 58.4% ROI)

Upcoming games: July 6-8 at Seattle, Aug. 5-8 at New York

Analysis: The Yankees are on a lengthy and highly profitable 18-4 run against the Mariners. They have been almost equally proficient at home (8-2) as on the road (10-2), so this just appears to be a solid matchup for New York. The Yankees have outscored the M’s 5.0-2.7 on average, so pitching has been dominant. Of the 22 games, the Yankees are 12-1 in this series when playing as favorites of -140 or more and 6-1 in games with lines of + 100 to -115. Both have proven to be nearly automatic line-range scenarios.

— Los Angeles Dodgers have won 16 of their last 18 against Arizona (+ 12.4 units, 68.9% ROI)

Upcoming games: July 9-11 at Los Angeles, July 30-Aug. 1 at Arizona, Sept. 13-15 at Los Angeles, Sept. 24-26 at Arizona

Analysis: If the Dodgers don’t win the NL West, it probably won’t be due to the 12 games they have yet to play against the Diamondbacks. L.A. has dominated Arizona recently, and this year’s D’backs are the worst team in baseball, so it’s difficult to see that changing. Of those recent 16 wins, Dodgers pitching has held Arizona’s lineup to three or fewer runs 13 times.

Top five home head-to-head series trends

— Seattle has won 12 straight games at home against Texas (+ 12 units, 100% ROI)

Upcoming games: July 2-4, Aug. 10-12

— Oakland is on a 9-1 run when hosting the New York Yankees (+ 9.4 units, 94% ROI)

Upcoming games: Aug. 26-29

— New York Yankees have won 12 of their last 13 at home against Minnesota (+ 10.8 units, 83.1% ROI)

Upcoming games: Aug. 23-25

— Chicago Cubs are on a 14-2 surge against Pittsburgh at Wrigley Field (+ 12.2 units, 76.3% ROI)

Upcoming games: Sept. 2-5

— Houston has won 19 of its last 21 at home against Seattle (+ 14.8 units, 70.5% ROI)

Upcoming games: Aug. 20-22, Sept. 6-8

Top five road head-to-head series trends

— San Francisco is a very profitable 6-3 in its last nine games at the Los Angeles Dodgers (+ 10 units, 111.1% ROI)

Upcoming games: Aug. 16-19

— Arizona has won 10 straight games at Pittsburgh (+ 10.55 units, 105.5% ROI)

Upcoming games: Aug. 23-25

— Minnesota is 7-0 in its last seven road games against Toronto (+ 7 units, 100% ROI)

Upcoming games: Sept. 17-19

— Houston is on a 7-0 run at Kansas City (+ 7 units, 100% ROI)

Upcoming games: Aug. 16-19

— Tampa Bay is on an amazing 13-1 surge at division rival Boston (+ 13.75 units, 98.2% ROI)

Upcoming games: Aug. 10-12, Sept. 6-8

Top combined-location head-to-head series trend

— Home teams are on an incredible 21-3 burst in the Texas-Houston AL West rivalry (+ 17.05 units, 71% ROI)

Upcoming games: July 23-25 at Houston, Aug. 27-29 at Texas, Sept. 13-16 at Texas

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