Before 1997, teams from the American League and National League would only play against each other if they met in spring training or the World Series. There are some that think interleague play is great for the game, and others who don’t like it at all.
In the American League, each team used to play 18 interleague games a year, but because the National League had two more teams than the American, only four NL teams would play a full 18-game interleague schedule. The remaining 12 teams in the NL only played 15 interleague games.
On April 1, 2013, for the first time in major league baseball history, an interleague game was played on Opening Day. On September 29, 2013, for the first time in major league baseball history, an interleague game was also played on the last day of the regular season.
As of 2012, every major league team has had at least one interleague series with each team in the opposing league. Additionally, every major league team has at least one victory over each team in the opposing league.
Starting in 2013, the Houston Astros joined the American League, which gave each league 15 teams. That has allowed teams to play interleague games on opening day and during key division races at the end of the season. Currently, all teams in the majors play 20 interleague games. There have been proposals to increase interleague play to 30 games.
Since 2013, there have been 20 interleague games played in eight series. Each team plays one three-game series against four teams from one division in the other league, and two two-game series against the remaining teams in that division. This has been on a rotating basis since 2002. The remaining four games are played against a team’s “natural rival” in two back-to-back two-game series.
There will be one or three interleague games each day throughout the season with an average number of interleague games per day standing at 1.68. To calculate that, you take the 20 interleague games per teams times 30 teams, and then divide that by 179 total days in the baseball season, and divide that number by 2 teams per game.
While betting on interleague play is no different than betting on any other regular season game, there are some key things you want to keep in mind when making your MLB picks. Here’s a look at some of the things I have found to be profitable over the years during interleague play.
When National League teams play on the road in interleague play, they get to play with a DH. No longer do these teams have to give up an out at the pitcher’s spot in the order. It’s no secret that having a DH instead of pitcher in the batting order greatly increases a team’s probability of scoring more runs. What I like to look for is National League teams who are having no trouble scoring runs with the pitcher in the lineup and betting the OVER whenever they play on the road against AL teams.
This goes right along with the above system. American League teams no longer get to use the DH when playing on the road. So many American League teams rely on their DH to hit in the middle of the lineup and produce runs. While there are some DHs that can take over at one of the position spots, more times than not, American League teams are going to lose a big bat as a result of this rule. Not only do they suffer offensively, but many times they take a hit defensively as well. Most players who hit in the DH spot are there because they aren’t good in the field.
Teams who come into interleague play struggling to put runs on the board will more than likely continue to see their offense fail to produce. The big reason for this is most teams aren’t familiar with the pitchers from the opposite league. The less a hitter has seen of a pitcher, the less likely they are going to succeed against that pitcher. What I like to look for are strong pitchers (ERA under 4.00) going up against teams who are averaging 2 or fewer runs over their last four games. If this situation happens to hold for both teams, I would avoid making a wager on the moneyline and consider playing the UNDER instead.
Because the majority of pitchers are right-handed, hitters tend to struggle when a left-handed pitcher takes the mound, especially when they haven’t had many at-bats against that particular starter. Betting the UNDER when you have two left-handed starters on the mound continues to be profitable in interleague play. I really like to load up on this system when both left-handed starters have an ERA under 4.00, the National League is the home team, and both teams have a losing records against left-handed starters on the season.