MLB Bullpen Betting Trends

MLB Bullpen Betting Trends: Worst ’Pens To Fade

Every baseball fan and bettor knows the feeling. When the manager walks out onto the grass and raises an arm — the dreaded call to the bullpen. For some teams, a late-game lead means the contest is already won. But for the league’s worst bullpens, that call for a reliever often spells disaster.

Bad MLB bullpens are hard to watch. But here at Odds Shark, we’re making them profitable. Below, we’ve broken down the best and worst bullpens in baseball and how you can capitalize on them to make some betting profit.

Right now, we’ve got 2022 end of season data below. But we’ll update this page throughout the year, so check back for fresh 2023 data up until the World Series.

2023 MLB Worst Bullpen Betting Trends

Baseball’s Worst Bullpens In 2022
Team7-9th Inning Team ERA7-9th ERA When Winning7-9th ERA Up 1 Run
Pittsburgh Pirates5.264.975.13
Cincinnati Reds5.225.432.57
Kansas City Royals5.175.095.29
Los Angeles Angels4.755.723.65
Colorado Rockies4.724.413.30

Data courtesy of Odds Shark’s database for the 2022 season

There weren’t really any surprises at the bottom of the bullpen rankings from a year ago, but that doesn’t mean this info can’t help you win bets. If the Pirates get up in a game and you see their odds at juicy plus money, don’t be tempted. The Pirates may have some intriguing ’pen names like David Bednar, but a 5.26 late-game ERA is really bad and a leading reason Pittsburgh was one of the worst teams in baseball last year. 

One bad bullpen that was a bit more surprising was the Los Angeles Angels. LA went heavy on relief last winter, investing in contracts to Aaron Loup, Raisel Iglesias and Ryan Tepera. By now, you know that didn’t work out in the win column, but it didn’t even help key situations according to their 5.17 late-game ERA. This year, the Angels went back to the bullpen investment, giving out contracts to Carlos Estevez and Matt Moore. We’ll see if it works out for them in 2023.

2023 MLB Best Bullpen Betting Trends

Baseball’s Best Bullpens In 2022
Team7-9th Inning Team ERA7-9th ERA When Winning7-9th ERA Up 1 Run
Houston Astros3.313.973.00
Baltimore Orioles3.333.003.00
Atlanta Braves3.373.693.41
Cleveland Guardians3.404.032.14
New York Yankees3.413.824.25

Data courtesy of Odds Shark’s database for the 2022 season

There are certainly some surprises at the top of this best bullpen list, and none is higher than the Baltimore bullpen dominance.

The Orioles’ bullpen was one of the reasons they had such a surprisingly strong season in 2022, alongside the emergence of young position players. Even after Baltimore shipped out closer Jorge Lopez at the trade deadline last year, Felix Bautista stepped right into the role and Baltimores bullpen stayed strong down the stretch. Relief pitching can be fickle on a year-to-year basis, but guys like Bautista, Cionel Perez and Bryan Baker should form the core of another strong Os bullpen this year.

Check below for some tips on how to use this bullpen data to inform your bets, but one of the main things to note with these best bullpens is to not expect a comeback if you’re betting against them.

If you’re looking for more MLB betting resources, check out Odds Shark’s MLB Betting Hub as well as our MLB computer picks page.

How To Profit Off Bad Bullpens

The best way to profit off these shaky bullpens is by tracking games and keeping an eye out for live-betting situations.

If these bad late-game pitching squads have a one- or two-run lead heading into the final few frames, it’s worth sprinkling some cash on the opposition for a hefty underdog payout! All of the top baseball books have live-betting options, so sign up and watch out for a leaky bullpen getting the lead.

Bad Bullpen? Bet The OVER

Another way to capitalize on bad bullpens and shaky late-game pitching is by betting the OVER.

The Diamondbacks, who were the second-worst ’pen in baseball in 2021 per 7-9th inning ERA, hit the OVER at 57.4 percent that year, tops in the league. While OVER/UNDER betting in baseball often bakes in opponent offenses and starting pitching matchups, the late-game pitching is often forgotten. 

How To Bet On MLB Baseball

There are three main ways to bet on MLB, in the form of moneyline betting, runline betting or total runs. Moneyline betting is simple, where you just choose the winner of a game. Total runs betting is where you bet on whether the total runs scored in a game will go OVER or UNDER a preset total.

Like most spread bets, for an MLB runline you’re betting that the favorite (denoted by a minus sign) will win by a set number of runs (usually 1.5), or that the underdog (denoted by a plus) will win outright or lose by less than a set number of runs. At any sportsbook, you’ll notice MLB runline spread odds are listed like this:

  • Toronto Blue Jays -1.5
  • Minnesota Twins +1.5

In this example, the Blue Jays are 1.5-run favorites. If you believe that the Jays will win by more than 1.5 runs, you can bet on them to win. If you think the Twins will win, or lose by less than 1.5 runs, you should bet on them!

Check out our odds calculator to see how much you’d win based on the odds and amount wagered, as well as the implied probability of all odds.