Baseball’s Best Series Openers and Closers



When handicapping baseball games, we often dig deep into splits such as home/road records and how teams perform vs right- and left-handed pitching, but something you should add to your list is how teams perform in series openers and in the last game of a series. For whatever reason — they’re just damn good, they’re motivated to start or finish strong, or they mentally check out when a series is coming to an end — a handful of teams stand out as excellent or awful bets at different spots in a series.

It’s no shock that the Astros are the best in the league in series openers (15-3) and series close-out games (14-5), but there’s a few surprise teams in the top and bottom five in each situation. The Mariners, for example, are 12-6 in the last game of a series. Those 12 wins account for 41.3% of their wins this season. On the other hand, we have the defending American League champion Indians, who are a brutal 6-12 in series openers. The 12 losses make up 44.4% of their losses on the season, making them an obvious fade candidate when playing in a series-opening game — depending, of course, on the pitching matchup.

So, when you’re crunching your numbers before you place your bet for a game in this situation, remember to see how the teams have been performing in that spot. 

Here’s the best and worst teams when opening and closing a series:

Team records when opening a series

best
  • 1. Astros 15-3 (83.3%)
  • 2. Rockies 13-5 (72.2%)
  • 2. Nationals 13-5 (72.2%)
  • 2. Diamondbacks 13-5 (72.2%)
  • 5. Orioles 12-6 (66.7%)
worst
  • 1. Cardinals 4-14 (22.2%)
  • 2. Marlins 5-13 (27.8%)
  • 3. Athletics 6-12 (33.3%)
  • 3. Indians 6-12 (33.3%)
  • 3. Phillies 6-12 (33.3%)
  • 3. White Sox 6-12 (33.3%)

Team records in last game of a series

best
  • 1. Astros 14-5 (73.7%)
  • 2. Red Sox 12-6 (66.7%)
  • 2. Mariners 12-6 (66.7%)
  • 4. Nationals 12-7 (63.2%)
  • 4. Dodgers 12-7 (63.2%)
  • 4. Brewers 12-7 (63.2%) 
worst
  • 1. Braves 4-15 (21.1%)
  • 2. Mets 5-13 (27.8%)
  • 3. Giants 6-13 (31.6%)
  • 4. Athletics 7-12 (36.8%)
  • 4. Royals 7-12 (36.8%)



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