Handicapping Pitchers in MLB Baseball Betting
Oddsmakers take into a number of considerations when they release their betting odds for any sporting event, but when it comes to wagering on MLB games the starting pitcher for each side is at the top of their list when setting the moneyline and total.
The main reason why the starting pitcher is such an important factor in helping to decide the eventual outcome of a game is the fact that they actually control the game when their team takes the field. If a legitimate MLB starter is on that day, it is hard for any opponent to score runs no matter how powerful their lineup may be. If both starters in the game are bringing their best stuff, that contest will most likely turn into a pitchers' duel that could easily last through the seventh inning or eighth inning.
This is why it is so important to spend the time handicapping each starter in terms of their current form over their last few outings, recent performance against the team they are facing and their overall statistics on the year. By combining all three of these areas you can get a pretty good idea of how they should do in a given matchup.
The first step to evaluating a pitcher for an upcoming start is to see how they have pitched in their last five starts. This is enough of a time frame to see if they are trending up towards producing another quality start or struggling to find the strike zone. While you should always focus on their ERA ( earned runs average) and WHIP (walks plus hits per inning) over the course of these five starts as these are two of those most important statistics for any MLB pitcher, you also want to take note of how many innings did they last in each of those five starts. The longer a starter lasts the more control he has over the outcome of a game. Even if a starter is pitching well they may only go into the seventh inning. The rule of thumb is the longer the better especially if they doing a good job at keeping opposing batters of the bases with strikeouts.
Recent performances against the team they are facing is another important factor in evaluating a team's starter for a particular game. Some of the better pitchers in the league simply have another team's number regardless of whatever else is going on around them at that moment in time. While there are no guarantees that they will post another strong outing this time around, you can still hedge that they will. Batters are very much creatures of habit. They are also well aware how they have performed in the past against certain pitchers and if it is in their head that they have struggled before, they are more likely to struggle again.
Current form and past performance against a particular team are the top two factors you want to take into consideration when handicapping a starting pitcher for a MLB matchup, but their overall stats are important to. If a starter has a lifetime ERA below 3.0 he is always a threat to pitch a great game even if his current form is not that great. You should always take note of their overall record at home verse their record on the road. These are trends that have been built over the years and history does tend to repeat itself from time to time.
The final really important aspect of pitching when betting on MLB games is the team's ERA for its bullpen. Starters today do not throw nearly as many complete games as they did years ago, so there is a strong possibility that the bullpen is going to have to get involved at some point in almost every game that is played. One last thing is to make sure you are aware of the current form with each team's closer as they can have as much impact on the outcome of a game in just one inning of work as a starter has in six or seven.