When is laying -1.5 runs a viable option?

May 21, 2019 09:05 PM

It’s becoming clear that New York Yankees backers are going to be looking at the “run line” on almost a daily basis through the rest of the 2019 season.

Basic money lines are going to be so expensive vs. mediocrities and virtual tankers that fans will be risking more than they’re comfortable with. Rooting for your bets is fun…but less fun if you’re laying -200 ($20 to win $10, or anything in that ratio), -250, -300, or more. One surprising loss, and it takes awhile just to get back to even.

Sports books offer the option of laying -1.5 runs at more affordable prices. As we’ve discussed in the past, that’s a different form of vigorish where bettors are basically “selling a run” in hopes of winning handily. It’s not a great deal (particularly in home games where the host may not even get nine full offensive innings). VSiN doesn’t not suggest you try this except in ideal conditions. But, if you’re just betting for fun, you can try to pick some spots.

Let’s take this past Monday night’s series opener in the Baltimore series as an example. The Yanks closed at -190 at William Hill. Because you’re laying $19 to win $10, the break even point is 65.5% (19 divided by 29). To see that as a profitable bet, you’d have to believe New York would win that game 67% of the time or more. 

The closing run line price was Yankees -1.5 runs at -125. You still have to lay some vigorish. But, the break even at -125 is only 55.6%. To see that as a profitable bet, you’d have to believe New York would win that game by two runs or more 56% of the time or more. 

Entering the series, the Yankees had won 62.2% of their games (with a reasonable expectation that they could win more than that vs. the horrible Orioles)…and they had won 48.9% of their games by two runs or more (with all six prior victories over the O’s coming by more than a run). 

It was certainly a spot where betting the run line is defensible. Ultimately, the Yanks would give all backers an ulcer in the opener before rallying for a 10-7 victory. 

When is laying -1.5 runs a viable option?

  • When you have the road team and you’re locked into nine offensive innings. 
  • When your offense is capable of scoring a bunch of runs off a lousy starting pitcher or poor bullpen.
  • When the game is in a good hitter’s park, or being played in good hitting conditions that create more potential for skewed scoring totals. (Giving up a run is better when runs could be plentiful). 
  • When the opposing offense is likely to struggle because of a bad lineup, a shorthanded lineup, or a matchup weakness against your starting pitcher. 

And if you like betting other teams, this theme will be true for all American League contenders this season against the league’s many doormats. 

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