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by Scott Spreitzer - 05/08/2006
I'm always amazed when talking with a few of the baseball wagerers here in Las Vegas about how little they sometimes know about pitching.
They'll see a guy that's got a 4-0 won-loss record and they figure he's a can't miss play as a dog. They see a guy with a great ERA and don't make any adjustment if he's moving from a pitcher's park to a hitter's park. Last year they thought all Colorado pitchers were horrible, and all Washington pitchers were great.
Today I wanted to give you some examples of situations that are in play every night of the week that you may be missing out on.
*A fly ball pitcher may be great when the wind is blowing in, but awful when the wind is blowing out. Many folks laying down their hard-earned money on a side don't know who the fly ball pitchers are, and don't check the weather.
*A pitcher may be great on his home field, but inconsistent in other ballparks. His full season numbers won't be telling you that you should be taking him at home but going against him on the road.
*A pitcher may be great the first time he sees a lineup, but mortal the next time. With the unbalanced schedules in divisional play, this is very important to know because offenses will see the same starting pitchers over and over again.
*Some pitchers have mastered certain opposing lineups within their divisions. They had great numbers against them last year, and have already started off strong this year. If a guy pitches 1.00 to 1.50 runs lower than his normal ERA against teams he sees all the time, you should know about it!
*A pitcher may have been dealing with mechanical problems in his most recent starts, then figured things out in a bullpen session. You'll be going against him based on his recent numbers just as he's ready to start mowing people down. You've got to read the newswires and watch a lot of game telecasts to catch information like this.
*A pitcher may be dealing with an injury that's keeping him from pitching to past levels. You often see guys post some very poor outings just before they go on the disabled list. Do your best to monitor reports or rumors about injuries. They often lead to great "go against" situations.
*Some offenses have big troubles versus lefthanded starters, while others light them up. In these situations it doesn't really matter what the pitcher's past or recent numbers are. Even mediocre lefthanders will shut down teams who can't hit southpaws. Even great lefties have been known to get rocked by power teams who kill lefties. Be sure you find stat sites on the internet that have lefty/righty breakdowns for offenses.
*Some offenses strike out a lot, and therefore get completely shut down by high strikeout pitchers. Nolan Ryan was always a no-hit or one-hit threat against teams like that because they just couldn't touch him. Nothing's changed now. The top strikeout pitchers are ideal to take against offenses who strike out a lot.
*Some offenses are patient and draw a lot of walks. They match up very well against young pitchers who are still trying to learn how to control their stuff. Those offenses get guys on base, and force the starter to reach his pitch limit early in the game. I'm stunned by how many bettors don't pay attention to bases on balls from both the pitching and hitting perspectives.
*Early in the season, one bad outing can really mess up the ERA in the "last 3 starts" category and overall. When handicapping, look at the full listing of appearances to see how common quality starts are. A guy with an ERA of 6.50 the last three starts and 5.00 for the season could actually be about 67% to throw a quality start. Going against him is only right a third of the time despite what his ERA may be suggesting.
If all of this stuff is news to you, then you've been handicapping blindfolded! If you want to make money in baseball, you've either got to study this information or find a handicapper who does and invest in his plays. You can't possibly beat the Vegas numbers by relying on the basics that are in your daily newspaper. But you can make BIG MONEY by taking advantage of soft spots in the lines that haven't accounted for the situations listed above.
Plenty of winners are out there waiting for you to find them, if you're willing to invest the work!