Pitching is one of the main things people like to base their MLB picks off of, and one stat that a lot of people really look into is how a pitcher has performed over his last three starts. While it’s a good idea to get a feel for how a pitcher has been throwing of late, a common mistake that a lot of people make is putting too much emphasis on how a starter has done in his last three outings.
If you simply bet the pitcher who has performed better over his last three starts, you are ignoring their complete body of work and putting yourself in some bad betting situations. A starter who has a 4.04 ERA on the season, but a 2.45 ERA over his last three starts, is actually more likely to struggle in his next start than continue to dominate opposing hitters.
Just like with hitters, pitchers can be very streaky over the course of a season. A starter can go a handful of starts where he looks nearly unstoppable, and then struggle to get anyone out over his next string of starts. That is why there’s a better chance that someone who has a low ERA over his last three starts and a high ERA on the season will not live up to expectations if you only base your pick on how he has done of late. The opposite tends to hold true for starters who have a high ERA over their last three starts, but a low ERA on the year. It’s more likely they come out and pitch well in their next start.
One thing you want to be careful of is trying to beat the odds early in the season. At the beginning of the year, there just isn’t a big enough body of work to get a true idea of a pitcher’s ERA. One bad start or one great start has a much bigger impact on a starters overall ERA than it would later in the year. The later you get into the season, the more likely a pitcher will revert back to his overall ERA.
So while you might think it’s in your best interest to go with a starter who has been pitching well of late, you always want to take a look at how they have done over the entire season. It’s also a good idea to look at what teams the starter has faced in his last three outings. If a particular starter has an ERA of 3.04 in his last three starts, but those starts all came against teams who don’t score a lot of runs or came into the game struggling to produce, the chances of that starter struggling in his next start are even greater.
Oddsmakers know that the public likes to jump on the starters who have performed the best over their last three starts. They will create a moneyline that is way overpriced for the actual talent of that starter. Being able to spot when starters are primed for a letdown or set to get back on track will not only give you some great value on the moneyline, it will help you end the year with a larger profit.