You had the perfect set up. You bet on your reliable ace and he went seven innings without giving up a run. When he left the game with a three run lead you went to bed feeling great about the bet. You wake up the next day, and Boom, the bullpen blew the game and your bet. Betting five inning totals is a great opportunity to avoid bullpen meltdowns. They also present the chance to back good pitchers on bad teams. Oftentimes you can play on underdogs who have the better pitcher, but worse offense. Five inning moneylines allow you to bet based on a starting pitcher without the variance of bullpen performance and less effect from the pitcher’s offense.
Here are the five worst bullpens by ERA from 2017 per espn.com with their corresponding Offensive WAR per fangraphs.com:
|MLB Rank||Team||ERA||Offensive WAR Rank|
|29||New York Mets||4.82||11|
|24||San Diego Padres||4.49||30|
These stats were from last year and the game of baseball involves a ton of variance year to year. I expect some of these bullpens to perform better than last year. The Washington Nationals acquired some pieces at the trade deadline and the bullpen was much better to close the season. The Braves should see plenty of growth and contributions from their young trio A.J. Minter, Jose Ramirez, and Arodys Vizcaino. Despite a better bullpen, the Braves have a starting pitcher I will be backing on the five inning moneyline. Julio Teheran struggled last year, but if he pitches like 2016 (3.21 ERA) and 2014 (2.89 ERA) there can be a lot of value later in the season if the Braves struggle out of the gate.
However, the Detroit Tigers did not make many changes to their bullpen, but they did add starting pitching by acquiring Francisco Liriano. Between Jordan Zimmerman, Michael Fulmer and Liriano, the Tigers have three starting pitchers I am interested in backing to start the 2018 season. If their bullpen does not improve, a 17-28 record is repeatable. Michael Fulmer is a pitcher I will be backing on five inning moneylines. Additionally, the Tigers hitters ranked 21st in the league in WAR. If their offense is sluggish again, I will be looking to play five inning unders with Fulmer, Zimmerman, and Liriano on the mound.
The New York Mets are the second team I am highlighting. They feature a starting pitching rotation stacked with aces. Last year their offense finished 11th in WAR, but were only 19th in runs. They added some power bats in Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce, and they should see growth from Ahmed Rosario and Dominique Smith. I have high hopes for the Mets this year and expect their offense to be better. That being said, if they struggle to score runs then I will be taking the five inning unders and moneylines, assuming their starting rotation stays healthy.
Following the performance of bullpens and offenses can provide a huge edge in backing aces on these teams. These teams may be viewed as a team that will lose or give up a lot of runs nightly. Finding inflated five inning totals, or undervalued five inning moneylines can provide bettors with profit over the long season. If a bullpen loses a key piece, following the team’s overall performance can allow a bettor to identify opportunities in betting on the results of the first five innings.