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Handicapping Rookies Pitchers

Handicapping Rookie Pitchers

By Loot, MLB Handicapper,

Every season, there is new blood on the pitching mound. Bettors who are familiar with veteran pitchers now need to account for this new talent and it can be quite a challenge. With pitchers, regardless of hype or their level of promise, we really don’t know what he have until we see them in extended action. As rookie pitchers are phased into action during the long baseball season, we will be looking for certain things.

The first thing we need to do is exercise caution. If we were interested in betting on things where we have minimal knowledge, we wouldn’t be betting baseball in the first place. We depend on knowledge and insight to generate winning wagers. With rookie pitchers, we obviously don’t really know what we’re getting into. Or at least not nearly as much as when we bet on established Major League talent.

We might think we know, but until they actually do it, all those thoughts fall under the category of speculation. There is no telltale way to determine if a pitcher will be successful. Sure, there are some major prospects you can pretty much figure will be productive Major Leaguers, but those guys won’t be a well-kept secret, as everyone in the sport will be aware of that guy. It’s the other 99% we need to worry about when placing MLB wagers.


There can be some false signs suggesting a rookie pitcher will be good. Sometimes, a pitcher will dominate in the minors. His stats are off-the-wall. You figure he’s a sure-shot for MLB stardom. He might be. Then again, you could fill a book with the names of guys who ripped apart the competition in the minors, only to hit a wall when facing Major League talent. Sure, destroying opposing hitters in the minors is a good sign. It’s just not a guarantee.

When a pitcher rises through the ranks, we need to remember how big of a leap Major League Baseball truly is. Some of us might tend to think it’s an equally-spaced jump as all the other levels they were able to jump. But the jump from A to AA to AAA ball, while significant, is nothing compared to the Evel Knievel-sized jump that it takes to thrive in the Major Leagues.

We will often times see a pitcher join the Major League team and have some initial success. As he faces different teams for the first time, he shows good signs. He’s getting the job done. Before you lock in this perception of him being a stud, let him play those teams again and see if some things don’t change. A rookie pitcher can often times see initial success. His adrenaline is pumping, maybe giving a few extra mph on his fastball. The newness of this pitcher leaves opposing lineups a bit flummoxed at first.

The most telling sign isn’t in the first go-around. It’s when a pitcher settles in and starts facing the same teams again. A rookie pitcher who found initial success often times gets figured out and his subsequent performances deteriorate with each passing outing. Initial success is no guarantee for future stardom in this business.

A lot of things can happen after a rookie pitcher gets off to a good start. A lot of great pitchers started this way and kept it going for most of the rest of their careers. Others cool down before perhaps assuming a role in the bullpen. Others flame out so badly that they’re out of the league in a few years. Some pitchers struggle to find their bearing early on, only to later develop into top-notch pitchers. In other words, there are any number of directions it can go.

We can be steered in the wrong direction by the element of hype. A heavily-hyped rookie pitcher might in fact be the goods. But the hype might suck all the value out of a bet. So not only do we need an unproven pitcher to shine at a level he has never been in, but we’re likely going to be betting it at low-value, due to all the people jumping onboard.

The key is to stick with what we know. Rookie pitchers should be treated with kid gloves at first, until we develop the requisite base of knowledge needed to guide thoughtful wagers. There are enough games to bet on that we don’t need to go crazy betting on things where there is an over-abundance of the element of the unknown.

For more articles that will help educate you to become a "better bettor", check out our baseball betting articles page.

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