Maximizing MLB First Five Innings Bets

Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned sharp or brand-new to the world of sports betting, baseball offers a variety of interesting options like First Five Innings bets. Learning how to bet on baseball can be a very interesting and profitable endeavor. One of the big reasons why is because baseball has more games during its regular season than any other major sport. 

Key Points

– First Five Innings bets are graded only on the results of the first five innings of play.

– Pitching is the biggest determinant of First Five Innings bets.

How Do First Five Innings Bets Work?

Betting the First Five in baseball is one of the best ways to find value.  It reduces the amount of variables that can affect the outcome of the game and allows you to more correctly predict possible outcomes. It offers chances to uncover value when the sportsbook hasn’t properly altered its odds. 

Put simply, first five innings bets let you ignore anything that occurs in a baseball game after the fifth inning. At most sportsbooks, you can place the same kinds of bets on the first five innings as you can on the entire game. 

These include straight-up MLB moneyline bets on which team will win, MLB run line bets (point spread), and totals bets on how many runs both teams will score collectively. 

There are fewer elements to take into account when calculating odds for the First Five, often abbreviated F5. It stands to reason that MLB odds are likely to be less advantageous when betting the F5 compared to the entire game. 

Placing a bet on the First Five is often the better move when there are questions about a team’s bullpen. It’s often safer to play just the first half of a MLB game. 


Comparing F5 Bets to Full Game Wagers

First Five Innings bets are pretty straightforward. Let’s use an example. We’ll take a Phillies-Marlins game. Listed first are the odds for a full game. Then, the First Five odds are listed.

Phillies -125 -1.5 (+145) O 7.5 (-105)

Marlins +105 +1.5 (-170) U 7.5 (-115)

Phillies -120 -1.5 (+120) O 7.5 (-105)

Marlins +100 +1.5 (-140) U 7.5 (-115)

The latter innings of a game are often when a team’s advantages become more important. Bettors should see that reflected in properly constructed odds. Favorites will be more heavily favored for complete games than for the first five innings bets. While betting on a complete game will typically result in a better ROI, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best bet. 

The secret to placing a winning wager on any sporting event is to handicap the odds using the information that will most likely affect the result. In the later innings of baseball, lineup adjustments and the weather often have a significant impact. 

When you can gain a competitive edge, you should choose to wager on the first five innings. The question then becomes one of how to find that value. One easy thing to do is use multiple sportsbooks in your quest for value.

First Five Innings Bets Are About Pitching

Despite the fact that baseball is a team sport, the pitcher is actually the player that matters the most on the field. The first five innings of a game are typically easier to handicap than the entire game since you only need to take into account the relative strength of the starting pitchers and not the bullpen. Relief pitchers’ impact on a game is much less predictable. In the end, strong pitching has a significant impact on MLB F5 betting. 

Even the most effective starting pitchers rarely go past the fifth inning. During the 2018 MLB season, for example, the Cleveland Indians were the only team with starters that averaged six innings on the mound. Only 30 starters in the league that year had an IP/GS (innings pitched per start) ratio of six or above. 

The same season, the only team that had starters that collectively averaged fewer than five innings per start was Tampa Bay. It’s pretty reasonable to expect an MLB starter to pitch five innings. That effectively eliminates the bullpen as a factor in first five innings bets.

A smart time to place a F5 wager is when you have great confidence in the relative strength of a starting pitcher but low confidence in the team’s bullpen. 

Watch for Top Heavy Lineups

The most crucial aspect of handicapping baseball bets for the first five innings is unquestionably a head-to-head comparison of the relative strength of each team’s starting pitcher. That’s not all bettors should consider. 

A more in-depth level of analysis would include a comparison of each team’s batting lineup. Bettors would play close attention to where the power hitters are. 

It is advised that bettors look for top-heavy lineups with strong batters in the top three to spots in the batting order. Those hitters are likely to get an extra at-bat before the end of the fifth inning.