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Be Careful Betting Against Struggling Pitchers

MLB Betting: Be Careful Betting Against Struggling Pitchers

By Loot, MLB Handicapper,

There will be times when we make a wager with the main reason being the opposing pitcher's awful form. It's not even so much about the other team or who they have on the mound. We just see a pitcher who is getting shelled and we figure the other team is going to do what everyone else has done. It's not always as easy as it looks.

Our antennas will perk up when we see a pitcher who is winless in his last 5 starts with an ERA in double-digits. Or it could be a pitcher who opens the season winless in 7 starts with a big ERA like 8.79. We take the other team, figuring the pattern will continue and we will notch an easy win.

There is almost a force that sometimes prevents this from going according to plan. For some bizarre reason, the moment you decide to bet against that pitcher, he turns it around. There are reasons for that, but it's odd how it works. On one hand, we should be looking for pitchers who are getting their butts handed to them in every game. Then again, there is a reason these guys are in the majors and even though they're struggling, they have enough talent to turn it around. Not too many guys are just gonna straight-up stink out the joint every single game.

By the time you notice a pitcher is really spiraling down the drain, a sense of urgency has set in with that guy. Starting pitchers aren't given endless leash. This is especially true with pitchers whose spots in the rotation are not totally solidified. It's one thing if the Cy Young Award winner is slumping. It's quite another if the player in question is a journeyman, a rookie, a guy coming off a big injury, or a pitcher at the end of his career.

Those guys really have a lot on the line and the game you bet just might be the moment where they are able to take it to another level. Desperation might set in and a pitcher knows he has no margin for error. At some point, you can identify a game where a pitcher is probably playing for his spot in the starting rotation. And if he fouls up, he might end up in the bullpen, go down to the minors, or maybe be given his walking papers.

A pitcher could also just open a season badly. For whatever reason, he just wasn't ready to hit the ground running once the season began. For the first month or two, he's still trying to get his engine revved. A lot of pitchers who ended up having good seasons and being great contributors to their team began the season in atrocious form.

Be careful to look at how a pitcher got such a ridiculously-high ERA. Maybe there were a few games where he gave up 6 runs in 3 innings. In his other games, he was actually quite good. You see an ERA like 9.00 and it's natural to assume he's getting his brains beat in night after night. There could be a story behind the numbers and not doing the proper research to determine how that number came to be could paint an inaccurate picture. Just because a guy has a high ERA doesn't mean he hasn't been successful in certain one-game windows.


When we over-obsess on a pitcher's woes on the mound and bet based solely on that, we are not really handicapping the game properly. That's pretty obvious. When you're not even looking at the team you're betting on and only focused on the other team's starting pitcher, we're forgetting to go over a lot of other stuff. What about the starting pitcher we're backing? When glazed over by the bad stats of the other guy, we might neglect to notice some distressing information about the pitcher we're betting.

Winning at baseball betting is not an easy thing to do. One of the reasons for that is that the overly-obvious never seems to pan out like you would think. If winning on MLB wagering came down to things like always betting against the pitcher who is struggling badly, everyone would be doing it.

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