According to most gambling experts, baseball is one of the most challenging sports to handicap accurately. The unpredictability of player’s performances combined with the longest regular-season amongst major sports proves to be too much for some gamblers to handle.
While it is undoubtedly true that betting on baseball can be more challenging than other sports, it’s still possible to be profitable.
Several things are working in your favor as a gambler when it comes to betting on baseball.
An ace is hard to come by in the league. However, gambling novices can overlook pitching matchups when deciding which side to wager on at the MLB betting sites.
Not only is the starting pitcher crucial to your chances of success, but the team’s bullpens are also an integral part of any smart bet on baseball.
Here are six reasons why pitching is king when it comes to betting on baseball.
1. It’s the Most Important Part of the Game
If you consider yourself a big baseball fan, the likelihood of one of your favorite players of all time being a pitcher is probably high. I still have signed baseballs of several of my favorite pitchers growing up.
I find myself combing through YouTube searching for career highlights. The most popular and marketable players in today’s league are mostly position players, but the pitcher’s power cannot be overstated.
Teams live and die by their pitching staff. Typically, the last team standing after the World Series is among the top 10 in terms of their pitching staff’s ERA. This is why teams also pay bonafide aces a ridiculous amount during free agency.
In the age of sabermetrics and advanced analytics, the gambling public is privy to a fair amount of information to monitor pitching performance and how it affects gambling lines.
There’s no excuse for gamblers to place bets based on a pitcher’s name alone blindly. Baseball players are known to go through slumps, and even baseball’s best aren’t immune to rough patches.
2. Starting Pitchers Give You a Good Indication of a Team’s Chances
When initially scouting a bet, you should check the starters for each team in the game you’re considering betting on. Starting pitchers are, in my opinion, the most critical facet of a baseball game and, as a byproduct, the most significant influencer on oddsmakers.
Say the Los Angeles Dodgers send Clayton Kershaw to the mound against a team’s fourth or fifth man in the rotation. Even if the potential ROI is low, and the odds heavily favor the Dodgers, I would still consider that a good bet.
It’s worth mentioning once again that every baseball player has their bad days at the office, even the best pitchers in the league. Sometimes, a team’s ace will take the mound and only last an inning or two before turning it over to the bullpen.
This happens, but facts and statistics show that these outings are few and far between for the best pitchers in baseball.
3. Pitching Is Consistent Most of the Time
Speaking of sticking to stats and fact-based information, gamblers should take advantage of the plethora of information that is out there about player’s performances. Regardless of which database you use, most of the better ones around the internet offer up-to-the-minute stats that you can peruse before deciding on a bet.
When analyzing lines and odds, it’s essential to focus on a pitcher’s recent trends. Gamblers should pay close attention to a pitcher’s performance on the road versus how they pitch on the road, as well as their quality of pitching against particular teams.
While some argue that a 162-game season can be detrimental to baseball player’s long-term success throughout the year, I argue that this shouldn’t apply to starting pitchers.
As you should know, pitchers typically have nearly a week off in between starts, save for the postseason, which provides them more than enough time to prepare for upcoming matchups and rest.
4. Bullpens Are Predictable
Even if a team’s starter struggles in the early going of a matchup and they have to turn the ball over to the bullpen, that doesn’t mean your bet is dead in the water. While it’s never optimal for a player you staked a bet to perform poorly, bullpen management and performance is something gamblers can track.
Baseball teams are somewhat consistent when deciding who their long reliever is and the order of relievers out of the ‘pen. Specific teams have a designated 7th and 8th inning reliever and a closer.
This is especially true given the number of double-headers teams are forced to play.
Before placing a bet, I suggest taking a quick look at recent box scores to see which relievers are active and fresh for that day’s game. While overall bullpen ERA provides some clarity, it’s always important to note which relievers are most likely going to be active.
5. They Heavily Influence the Over/Under
Regardless of what type of bet you prefer when it comes to baseball, the pitcher has a significant impact on the odds and lines. Run lines, moneylines, and over/unders are set based mainly on which pitchers are lined up to pitch.
One of the most entertaining types of bet is the over/under. If you plan to wager on how many runs are scored in a given game, it all comes down to pitching.
It’s also worth noting that whenever two aces are on the mound, the betting public might hammer the under, resulting in the line moving at the online sportsbooks.
It’s vital to monitor line movement as you get closer to the first pitch so you can get the most value on your bet.
6. Pitching Stats Are Easy to Understand
For the most part, baseball statistics are relatively straightforward. If you get tripped up by some of the new-age pitching statistics, there are a few stats that you should focus on.
The two most important statistics for pitchers, especially starters:
- Earned run average (ERA)
- Walks plus hits per innings pitched (WHIP)
Specific pitching stats are a bit outdated yet still popular and might make it harder for you to pick out the better pitcher.
It’s easy to get turned around in the multitude baseball statistics, mostly because casual baseball fans are conditioned to focus on certain statistics that aren’t nearly as telling as others. When it comes to pitching, focus on a staff’s ERA and WHIP instead of getting blinded by their win-loss record.
For those of you who are considering starting to bet on baseball, welcome aboard. While the game is increasingly challenging to handicap, the satisfaction you’ll reap from your wins makes it all worth it.
Profitable betting will come to those gamblers who create a system that works for them and engage in constant, diligent attention to statistics and results.
The player who has the most influence on the outcome of a game is the starting pitcher. If a starting pitcher goes deep into a game while surrendering little to no runs, a team’s likelihood of winning increases dramatically.
Similarly, if a pitcher fails to perform and has to turn the ball over to the bullpen, it can make for a long night for his team.
Starting pitchers occasionally deviate from the norm, sometimes meaning aces struggle, and the worst player in a rotation is lights out. But for the most part, statistics and past performances give you a solid indication of how a pitcher or a bullpen will perform in your matchup.