Handicapping Starting Pitchers Using Team Records

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Tracking the success of a starting pitcher is a key stat that many handicappers like to use when making their MLB picks.  But because so few starting pitchers last more than seven innings on a consistent basis, just looking at the overall record of a starting pitcher could get you into trouble.

Just about every day you will see a starting pitcher leave the game with a lead after throwing 6-7 strong innings only to see the bullpen come in and blow the lead and the game. While the starting pitcher doesn’t suffer a loss on his record, the team does, and so does the person who placed a bet on that starting pitcher to deliver his team a win.

By taking a few extra minutes to see how a team has performed when a particular starter takes the mound, you can avoid some tough losses and cash in on some great value. While most starting pitchers will have a win-loss record that resembles the team’s win-loss record when they are on the mound, each year there are starters who have a big difference in their record compared to their team’s record.

For example, say you have a starting pitcher who is 12-8 on the season with a team record of 13-13 when he pitches going up against a starter who is 8-10 with a team record of 13-12 when he pitches  If you were to simply look at the pitcher’s record (many people do), you would instantly think that starting pitcher with a 12-8 record has the clear advantage. By looking at the team’s record of each starter, you would see that there isn’t a real advantage for either team.

Oddsmakers know that the key thing that people look for is which team has the edge in starting pitching, and they also understand that few people will make that extra effort to check the team’s overall record. In the above example, it would come as no surprise to see the team with the 12-8 starter listed at -135, while the team with the 8-10 starter listed at +125. There is no question that the team with the 12-8 starter is completely overvalued in this situation. While the team with the 12-8 starter might end up winning the game,  more times than not this scenario will leave the amateur bettor wondering how the team with the 8-10 starter just pulled off the upset.

I’m not implying that you should only make your picks based off a starting pitcher’s team record instead of his personal record, but it is something you need to take seriously if you want to make profits in the long run. In the above example, there is clearly value on taking the underdog, as you can hit a much lower percentage over the course of a season and still show a profit. If anything,  these are games where you want to avoid laying the extra juice on the favorite.

I hope by reading this article you now understand the importance of avoiding the common mistake of only looking at a pitcher’s record and not the team’s record when he starts as well.

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