2012 MLB Odds: Season Pitching Props and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 3/8/2012
We are now less than three weeks from the first regular-season baseball game of the year –Opening Day is Thursday, April 5, but the Mariners and A’s play two official games in Japan starting March 28 – so it’s time to really roll out the MLB props stories in between all of the March Madness stuff heading your way. Today, I will look at various pitching totals props for the season, with odds provided by Sportsbook.com.
First off, the ‘over/under’ total for the MLB wins leader this season is 21.5, with the under a -125 favorite. Remember when 20 wins used to be a nice benchmark but somewhat expected for the top hurlers in baseball? As recently as 1998, MLB had four 20-game winners – David Cone, Rick Helling (Rick Helling?), Tom Glavine and Roger Clemens that year if you are wondering. Since then, however, there has not been a season where there have been more than two. The last was in 2010 when the Yankees’ CC Sabathia and Phillies’ Roy Halladay each had 21.
The specialized bullpens have made it harder for a pitcher to rack up those wins. That’s what made Tigers hurler Justin Verlander’s 24 wins a season ago even more extraordinary. Those were the most Ws since Arizona’s Randy Johnson had 24 in 2002. Tigers manager Jim Leyland simply lets Verlander go deep into games and Verlander hasn’t ever shown arm troubles to make Leyland stop. As for the 21.5 number, the MLB leader has gone over that total six times since the turn of the century. But since 2006, it has only happened twice. Thus, I like the under here.
The site also has some over/under wins totals for some of MLB’s top pitchers. Verlander is at 17.5, with the under a -130 favorite. That shocks me. He has gone over that total in each of the past three years and the Detroit offense should be even better this season with the addition of Prince Fielder. Take the over! Another interesting one is Texas’ Yu Darvish at 14.5, with both over/under at -115. I love the under here – Darvish no doubt has great stuff but there is a lot to adjust to in the States. The total for reigning NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw is at 15.5 (both at -115). He broke out with 21 wins a year ago, but I’m not that high on the Dodgers offense this season. Matt Kemp likely will come somewhat back to Earth, for example. Kershaw is a stud, no doubt, but I would take the under.
The over/under for most losses this year is 17, with the under a -125 favorite. That 17 was the total of the two MLB “leaders” from a season ago, Atlanta’s Derek Lowe and Baltimore’s Jeremy Guthrie – both of whom were traded this offseason, with Lowe going to Cleveland and Guthrie to Colorado. No pitcher has exceeded 17 losses in the past four seasons – although at least one did in the previous nine years -- and I don’t think any manager will send his guy out there enough to go over this year, either. Take the under.
The over/under for the MLB strikeouts leader this season is 248.5 (both at -115). The leader has gone over this total in three of the past four seasons, with Verlander leading baseball a year ago with 250. I would take the under here as I don’t see Verlander throwing quite so many innings this season because I expect the Tigers to blow a lot of people out and have a big lead in the AL Central. The Giants’ Tim Lincecum won the NL strikeout title from 2008-2010 (Kershaw won it last year with 248) and went over the 248.5 total twice in that stretch. But he seems to be pitching slightly more for contact now, dropping to 220 Ks a year ago.
The over/under complete games total is 8.5, with the over a -135 favorite. The MLB leader has gone over that total each of the past four seasons, with a high of 11 by Tampa Bay’s James Shields a season ago. Double-digit complete games are otherwise a thing of the past. And 8.5 complete games is essentially 25 percent of a pitcher’s starts for a season. I like the under despite the recent numbers.
Finally, the total for the saves leader is 47.5, with the over a -135 favorite. Last year Detroit’s Jose Valverde led MLB with 49 and a closer has gone over the 47.5 number in each of the past four seasons, with a high of 62 (the record) by then-Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez in 2008. Closers rarely work more than an inning now and save percentages usually are over 90, so I would take the over here.
There are also some over/under totals for various big-name closers. Jose Valverde is at only 37.5 (both -115), which is rather stunning. He also went way over that total in 2007 with Arizona and 2008 with Houston. Love the over there on a good Tigers team. Also love the over 36.5 saves for new Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon. He struggled a bit in Boston last year with only 31 saves, but now he goes to a league where the vast majority of batters won’t know his stuff. Pap went over that 36.5 total from 2007-2010 with the Red Sox and I expect him to get at least 40 on a Phillies team that will have plenty of ninth-inning leads.
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