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Home / Articles / How to Effectively Handicap MLB Starting Pitchers

How to Effectively Handicap MLB Starting Pitchers

By: Jeff Hochman     Date: Jun 19, 2023
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When evaluating the effectiveness of a starting pitcher, many people rely solely on a pitcher’s Earned Run Average (ERA) to make their judgement. This can be a mistake, as ERA does not accurately portray the performance of a pitcher. A more reliable measure of a pitcher’s effectiveness is his Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP).

FIP is an estimation of what a pitcher’s ERA should have been, based on his results in three key areas; strikeouts, walks, and home runs allowed. It allows us to get an accurate assessment of a pitcher's performance by excluding any external factors from the analysis, such as weather conditions, wind speed, altitude, park size, and any other environmental influences that are beyond their control.

Look for pitchers with a FIP that has at least 1 run lower than his ERA, as this indicates that they have had some bad luck and could be undervalued going forward. A starting pitcher with a Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) score lower than his ERA suggests that his performance has been affected by other factors such as the quality of defense behind him, or the number of unearned runs he has allowed. This could be a strong indication that the pitcher's abilities exceed the confines of their ERA, as it's only one metric used to evaluate a pitcher's performance.

Although ERA itself can be a useful statistic, it does not always paint an accurate picture of an individual player's skill level and should be considered along with other indicators such as batting average against, WHIP (walks + hits per inning pitched), hard-hit rate, strikeout-to-walk ratio, and number of pitches in last start.

As the season progresses and temperatures become increasingly warm, it is important to keep an eye out for starting pitchers who have recently completed 110+ pitch performances and now have the standard four days of rest before their next outing. For example, Pitcher X was given the start on Monday and then again on Saturday. This system won't work if Pitcher X starts on Sunday with an extra day of rest. Here's why.

Pitcher X's potential success or lack thereof on Saturday is dependent on the amount of rest they receive leading up to the start. If they have additional rest, such as an extra day of rest before taking the mound, then this system may not be effective in predicting their performance. Utilizing data and analytics can help determine if Pitcher X should receive an extra day of rest in order to succeed. Most teams will give Pitcher X an extra day to recover after throwing 110+ pitches; when this happens, it’s a no-play.

By carefully analyzing the physical condition of pitchers and utilizing this information to make educated bets against those with ailing arms, we can gain an edge at the betting window that can potentially lead to sustained success over a longer period of time. This strategy requires careful consideration and research as it's not just about looking for pitchers with visible injuries, but also those who are simply fatigued from too many innings (pitches) which can be harder to spot, yet still provide an opportunity for savvy bettors. It's easy to look up Pitcher X's total number of pitches in his last few starts, focusing on his last performance.

Odds-makers know what they're doing, so it's important to make informed decisions when betting. Research and analyze the probability of winning before making any bets to ensure your decisions are well thought out and your chances of success are maximized. These days, the opportunity to make a profit by betting on "tired" pitchers is not as frequent as it used to be. However, when it does happen, sports betting enthusiasts can take advantage of their edge and make significant profits.

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Jeff has achieved remarkable results in handicapping, having accumulated a number of titles as well as consistently placing in the top 10 across all sports. It's easy to see why he's so successful; a quick look at The Sports Monitor of Oklahoma (thesportsmonitor.com) reveals an impressive performance record.


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Winning Streaks
- Doug Knudson: NCAAF 41-19-1 (69% for +$22800)
- Damian Sosh: MLB 30-17-1 (64% for +$12460)
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