Handicapping Starting Pitchers for MLB Bets

Every major team sport has a key player position where performance can make the difference between winning or losing a game. In hockey there is no position more important than goalie, while in football teams live and die based on the strength of their quarterback.

And in baseball, no single position impacts the game more than the pitcher.

Past focus was on starting pitchers

In the past, the focus was almost exclusively on starting pitchers, who, in the days before the rise in importance of pitch counts, would routinely pitch eight or more innings in a game and then enjoy just three days off before their next start.

However, with younger pitchers making their MLB debuts on strict pitch counts, and hurlers in the bullpen specializing in middle relief, setup, and closing, starters are pitching fewer innings per game than ever before, in turn making baseball betting even more challenging.

Shorter appearances by starters has also increased the popularity of five-inning game betting lines, where MLB moneylines, totals, and runlines are set based on the first five innings of a contest, when a starter is most likely to be on the mound.

Pitching Resources at OddsShark

Often, novice sports bettors will look to a starter's overall stats as a guide to betting on the games. But to fully understand what a starter brings to the mound, it is important to understand the pitcher's recent performance, home/road and stadium splits, historical trends versus their opponent, and wild cards such as injuries, streaks and the weather.

A number of online resources are available to help you with your research on today's probable starters.

OddsShark provides betting previews on all aspects of each game, including recent head-to-head matchups between teams, details on each team's probable pitcher's last three starts, as well as details on each probable pitcher's recent starts versus that day's opponent.

For baseball bettors that want to dig even deeper, OddsShark also offers comprehensive Pitcher Logs covering every starter in baseball, including their stats from each start, the OVER/UNDER in each game pitched, and the pitcher's money performance.

The OddsShark Pitcher Run Support database analyzes the average number of runs scored by a pitcher's team over each start, as well as each pitcher's win/loss record and ERA on the season, while the Pitcher Money Won/Lost database tracks how much money a pitcher generates on the MLB moneyline, regardless of their win/loss record.

What about the intangibles?

While such analysis is beneficial, a sense of the intangibles is also critical.

Sometimes, a team has a pitcher's number, or pitching in a certain stadium inexplicably spells trouble for an individual hurler.

Either way, successful baseball betting requires in-depth knowledge of starting pitchers and bullpens, including insight that often only comes from watching the games.