The changes to look out for in postseason


The MLB postseason began Tuesday and the pressure-packed games provide a lot of drama for fans and bettors. The playoff games also provide a much different handicap than you are accustomed to seeing.

Managers across the board are much more aggressive when it comes to in-game situations during the postseason. Every game is magnified so much in importance that there are several changes to how the games are handled. Bettors have to be aware of these changes because this is nothing like a regular-season game in April, July or even September.

Let’s look at a few of them:

The most notable change is that starting pitchers have much shorter leashes. Teams seem to pay a lot more attention to what I call the 3TTO, or the Third Time Through the Order penalty. A “slash line” is batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage and those stats illustrate what happens as a starting pitcher faces batters multiple times throughout a game.

  •  First Time Through: .238/.305/.403
  • Second Time Through: .253/.318/.429
  • Third Time Through: .262/.327/.453

The overall league slash line against starting pitchers was .248/.314/.422. As you can see, the pitchers typically have the clear advantage the first time through. The second time through swings slightly to hitters, but is pretty neutral overall. The third time through swings wildly to hitters, who are able to make adjustments and also face a more fatigued pitcher.

As a general rule, the teams that are in the playoffs are some of the savviest from an analytical standpoint, so they will be more than aware of the 3TTO penalty. Starters do not work as deep into games in the playoffs because it is a proven fact that a fresh reliever is a better option than an exposed starter.

The Cardinals celebrate their wild-card berth.
The Cardinals celebrate their wild-card berth.
Getty Images

The second change is that bullpens greatly increase in importance. While relievers are always important, that part of the team is asked to do more in the postseason, whether that means getting more outs or seeing more multi-inning relief appearances from the best guys.

The longer a series goes, the more stress relievers have to endure, especially the good ones who will be used a lot. You’ll see relief pitchers pushed to 40+ pitches. You’ll see guys appear four out of five days or more. Those guys will get used and abused and some who go on deep postseason runs will never be the same afterwards (Cody Allen of my Indians as one example).

Lastly, I find live betting opportunities to increase in frequency. With all the pitching changes and additional elements of strategy, there are great chances to get in the game based on the situation and the setting. If it’s the fifth inning and the starter is going to stay out to face the middle of the order in high stress, I’ll likely look to make a play on that spot.

If I don’t like a reliever matchup or know that the opposing manager is going to pinch hit to a more favorable matchup, I’ll check for a live betting opportunity.

The drama of the playoffs is unrivaled and everybody is under additional pressure and stress, not just the batter or the pitcher, but the fielders and the managers as well.

Look for good pregame positions if you find something that you like, but live betting the playoffs has been my preferred approach.


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