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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 great in both categories — 18-10 in series openers and 22-6 in series close-out games for the season. When looking at some smaller sample sizes, however, there’s some teams in both spots that are jumping off the page. 

trending when opening a series
  • Dodgers: 8-1 in last nine
  • Red Sox: 8-2 in last 10
  • Padres: 7-2 in last nine
  • Rays: 5-0 in last five
  • Phillies: 5-14 in last 19
  • Orioles: 1-9 in last 10
  • Blue Jays: 2-9 in last 11
Trending when Closing out a series
  • Blue Jays: 14-5 in last 19
  • Brewers: 7-1 in last eight
  • Astros: 6-0 in last six
  • Indians: 7-2 in last nine
  • Dodgers: 6-1 in last seven
  • Angels: 7-3 in last 10
  • Diamondbacks: 7-3 in last 10
  • Yankees: 0-8 in last eight
  • Nationals: 3-7 in last 10
  • Red Sox: 3-7 in last 10
  • Rockies: 1-5 in last six

So, when you’re crunching those 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 for the entire season:

Team records when opening a series

best
  • Rockies 20-8 (71.4%)
  • Dodgers 18-10 (64.3%)
  • Diamondbacks 18-10 (64.3%)
  • Astros 18-10 (64.3%)
  • Nationals 18-11 (62.1%)
worst
  • Pirates 10-19 (34.5%)
  • Phillies 10-18 (35.7%)
  • White Sox 10-18 (35.7%)
  • Angels 11-17 (39.3%)
  • Athletics 11-17 (39.3%)
  • Marlins 11-17 (39.3%)

Team records in last game of a series

best
  • Astros 22-6 (78.6%)
  • Dodgers 20-8 (71.4%)
  • Indians 18-10 (64.3%)
  • Brewers 18-10 (64.3%)
  • Mariners 16-12 (57.1%)
  • Diamondbacks 16-12 (57.1%)
worst
  • Athletics 9-19 (32.1%)
  • Braves 9-19 (32.1%)
  • Giants 10-18 (35.7%)
  • Mets 11-17 (39.3%)
  • Padres 11-17 (39.3%)

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