The Boston Red Sox are a home underdog against the New York Yankees in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card game at Fenway Park.
New York opened as a -120 favorite with a run total of 8.5 and we’ve already seen the market move to New York -125 and O/U 8. So, the initial betting push came on the Yankees and the “Under.”
Home teams are usually favored in a do-or-die baseball game, but the Yankees are a different monster when it comes to postseason wagering. The Bronx Bombers bring out tons of betting handle and most of the bigger bets around the country will be placed on Aaron Boone’s club.
When setting a line for a game of this stature, bookmakers must think about where they’ll write their first bets. If the Red Sox opened as a small favorite, most bettors would race to the window to bet Gerrit Cole and the Yankees at plus-money in an elimination game.
If the game opened -110/-110 each way, the Yankee money would push the line to New York -120 or -125. If you get ahead of the blitz and open New York -120 — where the market actually opened — the early money still shows for the Yankees, then big bettors who come in later have to lay -125 or -130.
It’s simple bookmaking strategy. If the public is going to bet the Yankees no matter what, make them pay a premium.
“It’s a 50/50 baseball game that will have a 70/30 ticket split,” longtime Las Vegas oddsmaker Dave Sharapan told NESN. “It’s literally a coin flip, but everybody will be on the Yankees. Sharps, squares, parallelograms, rhombuses, all of ’em. There are even some Red Sox fans who don’t think they can beat the big, bad Yankees.
“Even if Chris Sale was starting, Boston is still a dog. It’s crazy.”
Perception is crucial to guys like Sharapan. Bookmakers must understand the pulse of the room and bake it into the betting line.
“Think of it as a Family Feud question,” Sharapan said. “One hundred people surveyed. Who are you betting tonight? The number one answer is the Yankees by a lot. The only bookies that won’t be rooting for the Sox today are the corner guys from the 617. And even some of those guys will.”
Red Sox moneyline prices vs. Yankees
+110 DraftKings ($100 wins $110)
+110 FOX Bet
+115 Circa Sports
+116 Westgate SuperBook
+117 South Point ($100 wins $117)
I would expect the market to keep tilting towards New York as we get closer to first pitch. As sportsbooks see their Yankee liabilities continue to build, you could very easily see Yankees -130 or -135 on the moneyline.
Getting Boston around +120 or higher in a coin flip game ain’t too shabby.
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