MLB Playoff Betting: Rest or Rust?

Every year in the MLB playoffs, a team will quickly win their series and then have to wait around to see who their opponent will be. Immediately, the topic on TV, radio, and newspapers online becomes “Rest or Rust?”.

Some will argue that the team has lost their momentum and will look flat to open the series. Others will argue that the days off allows for players to heal and the team to line up their pitching rotation.

The Dodgers were able to finish off the Braves on Monday, and have now had 3 days off waiting for the Cardinals to finish their series. Does history tell us anything about how the Dodgers will fare? Nope. Not at all. Below is a table of all playoff teams since 2004:

 
Games
Wins
Losses
Units Won/Lost
2 days off 62 31 31 -1.33
3 days off 24 13 11 0.15
4 days off 13 7 6 0.85
5 days off 4 2 2 -1.28
6 days off 3 2 1 0.75

As you can see, there is no discernible edge either way. It’s pretty much a toss-up. When looking at a team that had more rest than its opponent, those teams won 54.8% of their games but still managed to lose 1.4 units.

The most recent game will determine the narrative one way or the other, but the numbers are clear. The whole “Rest or Rust” argument works because neither is true.

 

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