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MLB betting: AL and NL are playing two different sports

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The MLB playoffs are in full swing as we reach pivotal elimination games of the Divisional Series. The Tampa Bay Rays had the best record in the American League, but they're already on the golf course courtesy of the Boston Red Sox. The three other series are coming down to the wire with all three in action on Tuesday. 

Through the first week and a half of these playoffs, there's been a stark difference between the American League and the National League. Is it just a coincidence, or are these trends worth investigating?

Totals

When including the wild-card games, games in the AL playoffs are averaging 11.5 runs per game. Games in the NL playoffs are averaging just 4.1 runs per game. 

As a result, over bettors have a 6-2 record in the American League playoffs and a 1-6 record in the National League playoffs. 

Los Angeles, CA - October 11: Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Max Scherzer, left, looks back after allowing a solo home run to San Francisco Giants' Evan Longoria during the fifth inning in game three of the 2021 National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021 in Los Angeles, CA.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Max Scherzer allowed just one run on Monday, but was the losing pitcher. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

It doesn't seem like oddsmakers are over-reacting to this trend. The Braves-Brewers series has seen a total of 9 runs scored through three games, but Tuesday's total is set at 8 runs.

On the other hand, the Astros-White Sox series is averaging nearly 13 runs per game, but that total sits at just 8.5 runs for Tuesday.

Starting pitching

MLB playoffs are famous for being a parade to the bullpen. With every game so important, starters are given a shorter leash and teams try and find lanes for their relievers out of the bullpen. 

Starting pitchers in the American League are going just 3.1 innings per start. Sixteen pitchers have made a start, and 8 of them haven't made it longer than three innings. Only two starting pitchers have recorded more than 15 outs. 

The opposite is true in the National League. Starting pitchers are going on average 5.2 innings per start. Only 3 of 14 starting pitchers failed to complete 5 innings. 

This makes the NL playoffs much less volatile and easier to bet through the prop market. Relief pitching is volatile and it's hard to project who will face which batters making it harder to gain an edge in the prop market. If you think a batter will fare well against a starting pitcher, but he only faces him once, you lose your edge. 

Game excitement

In the National League playoffs, the team that scored the first run has held on and won the game in every situation except the wild-card game. This creates a lack of opportunity in the live betting market. If you're betting teams to make comebacks after they fall behind, you're losing your bets in the National League.

The opposite is true in the American League. Five of the eight games have been back-and-forth affairs where a team has either come back to tie or take the lead after falling behind. We've seen the Red Sox and White Sox erase huge deficits on their ways to a win. If you took a shot while live betting, you could be cashing out some juicy odds in these seesaw games.