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Tired Bullpen: Baseball Handicapping

The role of the pitcher in baseball has evolved dramatically in recent decades. Starting pitchers once exclusively held the key to success for championship teams, often pitching eight or more innings in a game, and 250-plus innings in a season.

However, the bullpen has quickly become crucially important to a team’s World Series aspirations, and to a baseball bettor’s bankroll-building strategy.

Starters NOt going distance

Probable starters are most important when evaluating five-inning game betting lines. However, it has become somewhat of a rarity for a major league starter to go the distance on a regular basis, with only one pitcher recording more than 10 complete games in a single season since 1998.

Bullpen hurlers have consistently seen their number of innings pitched increase substantially during that same stretch, making bullpen evaluation a major part of any successful handicapping strategy.

Many factors come into play when assessing bullpens, and it’s not as simple as collective ERA. Bullpen composition is more important than bullpen ERA, while bullpen fatigue can quickly diminish a team’s value on a given night.

Doing Your Bullpen Analysis

Understanding the overall situation within a team’s bullpen is critical, including knowing which arms are fresh and ready to pitch on a given night.

A club could have a great bullpen ERA with a money closer and solid setup relievers, but if the reliable middle relief arms have worn down from overuse, or have been getting rocked early, the setup man and closer may never take the mound.

A particular game situation to consider is where a No. 5 starter is taking the mound ahead of a tired bullpen. In such a scenario, the starter may stay in the game longer than usual, giving the bullpen a rest, especially if it’s a getaway game and the team is looking ahead to a key series.

A chance for an OVER wager?

Such circumstances may represent a chance to play the OVER in totals betting, or take a hard look at the opposing team’s moneyline odds, regardless of how long they may appear.

Also, the OddsShark in-depth MLB game matchup reports can provide you with key background info on how a team’s starters have fared in recent games, while the site’s Pitcher Money Won/Lost analysis can provide details on how much money that No. 5 starter has produced for his team.

Building your MLB betting bankroll requires an understanding of the strengths of often unheralded hurlers who work out of the bullpen, but who are often responsible for the strong win/loss records of today’s best starters.