Tigers Have Been One of Best Bets For Short-Game Betting in 2021

Even if your team is not going to the playoffs, the final weeks of the season can be interesting. The Detroit Tigers will miss the playoffs for a seventh straight season this year, but they are showing promise (finally).

But close observers of the team may also notice that A.J. Hinch’s team is playing a lot more close games and pressuring the opposition. As a result the Tigers have been one of the more scrappy teams in baseball, keeping themselves in contests later than in recent years when fans suffered through too many blowouts.

Only two teams in the league have played more one-run games than Detroit this season. The Tigers are 23-19 in those games, and only one team has played more extra-inning contests. This year, the Tigers have kept games close, and that means they often find themselves ahead or tied through the first half of the game.

So far this year, only one team in baseball has been better at delivering wins for bettors in what’s known as “short-game betting.”

What is Short-Game Betting?

Sometimes called “5-Inning Betting,” a short-game bet is when you wager on the outcome of the first five innings of an MLB game. Most sportsbooks will give you odds on the score of first five innings.

Why would you want to bet on just five innings? There are several reasons:

  1. It can eliminate the strength or weakness of a team’s bullpen.
  2. It accentuates the importance of a starting pitcher
  3. It allows for more interesting bets on teams that may not be competitive

Let’s look at an example of a short-game or five-inning MLB bet.

In the game scheduled for today in Detroit between the Tigers and White Sox, the BetMGM sportsbook is offering these odds for the first five innings of the Sep. 22 game:

White Sox -0.5 (-120) OVER 5 (-110) -165
Tigers +0.5 (-105) UNDER 5 (-115) +135

In this example, the White Sox are favored by 1/2 run through five innings (all 5-inning bets have a 1/2 run margin). Chicago is also favored on the moneyline. You would need to wager $165 to win $100 on the White Sox, for example, because the BetMGM odds are at -165 for the first five innings.

You’d have to only wager $105 to win $100 for the Tigers leading after 5 innings. Similarly, you can win if the two teams combine for over or under five runs through the fifth inning.

It’s important to note that if the two teams are tied at the conclusion of five innings, all bets are a push, and any money wagered is refunded.

Why The Tigers Have Been Good Bets in Five-Inning Betting

According to BetMGM, through games played on September 20, the Tigers rank second in baseball on the moneyline for five innings. In other words, if a gambler had bet $100 on every game this season for the Tigers to win the 5-inning moneyline bet, they would be in the plus column more than $1,700. Only the Giants have done better.

Why have the Tigers been solid for their five-inning performance? There are probably three primary reasons:

  1. Detroit has had solid contributions from their starting pitchers. While they have a losing record, the team has had a lot of games that have been tied entering the later innings, or they have seen their bullpen falter.
  2. The Tigers have played far better defense in 2021 than their opponents, which keeps games low-scoring and close. Defensive Efficiency rates the percentage at which a team turns a batted ball into an out. In ’21, the Tigers rank sixth in that category. Some of this success can likely be attributed to their increased reliance on the shift this season.
  3. The Tigers have many young pitchers who do not go deep into games, and thus they have had more 3-4 inning starts. This allows them to get a fresh arm into the game earlier, strengthening their chances at being tied or ahead through five innings.
About the Author

Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes has written three books about sports. He previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball. He enjoys writing, running, and lemon bars. He lives near Lake Michigan with his daughters and usually has an orange cream soda nearby.