Many people look at an MLB rotation on a given day and look for teams to bet “on” that are perceived to simply be the better team. In a way, that’s the public way of thinking and what the bookmakers practically count on. In the continuing theme of both trying to educate and get people to look at things differently, let’s look at FADING teams and players.
Probably more than half the bets I make are betting against teams and pitchers rather than on them. It’s also where you’ll generally find the best prices/value.
The most simple one is fading a starter that’s had great numbers but a very high pitch count game. A great example right now is Wade Miley this week. He had the best WHIP in baseball not long ago and because of his great start, still is for some bettors. However, last week he threw 119 pitches against Washington. Miley hadn’t thrown that many since a game in August of 2015, and the following game was one of his worst of the season.
What’s even more interesting is that two years ago the team that shelled him after the exhausting game was the Tigers, and this week he’s pitching against – – the Tigers. So, in that game it won’t matter for me who Detroit throws out there, we’ll be on the Tigers. If the Tigers are throwing out someone that Baltimore may have some success on we may be on the over as well, all revolving around fading Wade Miley.
Fading bullpens that have been used is a another great example. We can look and see whose bullpens are performing well from a numbers standpoint, but we can also see clearly which bullpens have been used. In this age of specialization many of these relievers are “unavailable” after pitching two straight days. And if you’re following games, often times they warm up but don’t get into the game. That’s often times just as taxing
And example here would be the White Sox. Their pen has been very good most of the season, but look at the usage the last three games:
They don’t have anyone that’s truly rested, and Robertson (their closer) has thrown a lot of pitches in two of the last three games. If nothing else, you would potentially use this game in an “over”, especially if the White Sox starter is one that might be in a bad spot, or one that might not typically give his team a quality start, hence bringing in the bullpen sooner rather than later. At the very least, it would be a situation where we (I) would not take Chicago, unless it were a first-five inning bet. You’ve got to do your best to eliminate way you can lose a bet, just as you find ways to win a bet.
And of course the converse is true that you can bet ON bullpens that are over-performing and rested. The Yankees in this case would be on that list. Over the last week their bullpen ERA is UP over what it has been, and they’ve had a blown save. As we know they’ve got perhaps the best 8th/9th inning duo in the league with Betances and Chapman, but on top of that they’re ALL rested.
As you can see, not one Yankee reliever threw a pitch yesterday. They’ve also got two rested left-handed pitchers before they’d get to Chapman. The point here is that we would bet ON the Yankees here, or ON their bullpen, given the appropriate starter. Even a starter that might not typically pitch deep like Montgomery, who hasn’t pitched more than six innings in a game this season.
This example is even more magnified on a day like today (the 14th) because they’re playing a double-header, which is yet one more variable. So, while we’re at it, another thing to consider is double-headers. Rarely would you want to bet the second game first, regardless of the pitching match up. That’s true not only because of bullpens, but you just can’t assume what the starting lineups will be.
Now that we’ve gotten off the original track, let me come full circle. Sometimes when we’re handicapping the path of least resistance is not the best one. In fact, it rarely is. Try looking for teams and situations to bet AGAINST. A team playing their first home game after a long road trip is always a good fade spot. They’ve been gone from families, too, and they’ve got the same things to deal with after being gone ten days as most of us would.
We’ve got more situations, and we’ll look at them in the neat future. For now, try looking at things differently, but remember to track them. Having a reference a reference point and/or a baseline is the only way. And if you don’t know we’re you’ve been you won’t know where you’re going.
Dave Essler is a handicapper at Pregame, featured on ESPN, Fox Sports, CNN and others.