MLB Handicapping: Five Pitchers Burning Bankrolls
by Aaron Smith - 5/24/2012
Baseball handicappers don’t have to be told how important starting pitching is to their wager. There are some pitchers who are dominant nearly every time out. There are also some pitchers who seem to get shelled nearly every outing. Today, I wanted to take a look at the pitchers who are burning bankrolls the most so far in 2012. You’ll likely be surprised at some of the guys on this list.
Can these pitchers turn it around, or are they bound to keep burning money for those who wager on them? I’ll look at these pitchers on a case-by-case basis. Keep in mind that the statistics shown are for moneyline wagers to win $100. The record shown is the team’s record in games pitched by that particular starter.
1. Dan Haren (Los Angeles Angels) – 1 Win, 8 Losses, -$1,230
When it comes to burning money, no pitcher can compete with Dan Haren so far this season. It’s a little strange to see Haren doing so poorly, because he generally starts the season well. In his career, Haren has a 3.47 ERA during the first half of the season. His ERA jumps to 4.05 in the second half of the season.
It’s only fair to point out that Haren does have five quality starts in nine appearances this year. Still, Haren has a disappointing 4.37 ERA on the season. Part of the reason Haren has burned money so badly this year is the Angels have been the most overrated team in the majors to this point. Moneyline bettors are down $1,541 if they have bet on the Angels in every game this year.
I expect the Angels team to improve some as the season moves along, but I don’t think there will be any value on Haren. Remember, this is a guy that generally struggles in the second half of the season.
2. Shaun Marcum (Milwaukee Brewers) – 2 Wins, 7 Losses, -$691
The Angels have burned money quicker than any other team in baseball, but the Brewers are right on their heels. Milwaukee has lost moneyline bettors $1,477 this year. Marcum had a terrific 13-7 year in 2011, and his peripheral numbers actually aren’t too much worse. He has a solid 3.93 ERA.
Marcum has a 3.43 ERA in his career during the first half of the season. His ERA jumps to 4.20 in the second half of the season. He is a very rare case who has consistently pitched better on the road than he has at home. Marcum’s value through the rest of the year largely depends on whether the Brewers start giving him some run support. If oddsmakers get too low on Marcum, bettors may be able to find some value when he is pitching on the road later this year.
3. Ervin Santana (Los Angeles Angels) – 2 Wins, 7 Losses, -$685
It should come as no real surprise to see a second Angels pitcher on this list. Santana started the season slowly, but he has actually been pitching very well of late. He has five straight quality starts. He has a 4.22 ERA for the year, but his ERA sits at 1.71 over his last three starts.
It’s pretty evident that the Angels don’t score much at all when Santana is pitching. In fact, the ‘under’ is a stunning 22-4-4 in Santana’s last 30 starts. Unlike the first two on the list, Santana pitches his best late in the season. His career ERA is half a run lower in the second half of the season compared to the first. If the Angels get on a bit of a roll, betting on Santana could have some value.
4. Cliff Lee (Philadelphia Phillies) – 1 Win, 5 Losses, -$676
Cliff Lee simply does not belong on this list. That might seem like a strong statement, but look at his numbers and you’ll see it is true. Lee has a 2.66 ERA and opposing batters have a terrible on-base-percentage of .238 against him. Even with his best efforts, the Phillies haven’t been able to win with him on the mound. Lee pitched 10 innings of shutout baseball against the Giants last month, but the Phillies lost 1-0 in 11 innings.
Oddsmakers aren’t going to be underrating Lee anytime soon, because they know he is still very good. Still, I advise bettors to be cautious betting against Lee, especially once the Phillies offense gets healthy.
5. Tim Lincecum (San Francisco Giants) – 2 Wins, 7 Losses, -$620
Lincecum has the worst numbers of anyone on this list by a large amount. He has a miserable 6.04 ERA in 2012 thus far. He has only pitched into the seventh inning twice this year. Lincecum has allowed four or more earned runs in five of his nine starts this year.
Lincecum’s velocity is down a ton this season, and I definitely think that is cause for concern. He is throwing a 91-miles per hour fastball, on average, right now, and that is a big difference from his previous 96-MPH heater. I don’t expect there to be value on Lincecum this season, because the public will still be eager to jump on him because of his past success.
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