MLB Handicapping and Betting: The Bullpen Report
by Aaron Smith - 9/17/2013
If you’ve been betting on baseball all year long, you have probably found out by now that handicapping the bullpens is an absolute must. If you haven’t started handicapping the bullpens, you should start right away.
With starting pitchers not going as deep in the game as they used to, the bullpen is increasingly important to a baseball bettor. The unit pitches three or four innings nearly every game, so they definitely play a major role in the outcome of the game. By handicapping each bullpen, you can allow yourself to be on the right side of the typical bullpen meltdowns far more often than not.
Doc’s Sports is always looking to give you extra information to help you win. This MLB Bullpen Report will allow us to take a look at the best and worst bullpens in the majors so far in 2013. We’ll take a look at the best and worst bullpens every couple weeks this year. Please note that statistics used in this report are for games played between March. 31 and Sept. 16.
Top Five Bullpens (Listed by ERA)
-Atlanta Braves (2.35 ERA) This bullpen is a well-oiled machine. Despite quite a few injuries throughout the course of the season, the Braves bullpen has shut down everyone in sight this year. Craig Kimbrel is without question the best closer in baseball today. Atlanta has all kinds of middle relievers who can step in and do the job whenever called upon. This bullpen makes this team very dangerous in the postseason.
-Kansas City Royals (2.54 ERA) Earlier in the year it looked like no one would even be in the same zip code as the Braves bullpen, but Kansas City’s bullpen has come on very strong. Wondering how the Royals have gotten right into the thick of the AL wild-card race? Look no further than the performance of their bullpen. Greg Holland may be the most underrated closer in baseball.
-Pittsburgh Pirates (2.87 ERA) Pittsburgh has been near the top of this list all season. There is a major warning sign, though, as the team heads toward the playoffs. Pittsburgh’s bullpen has thrown 508 innings this year, which is third most in the majors. You have to wonder if that is going to come back to haunt them at some point since there are bound to be a lot of tired arms in this bullpen as the regular season comes to a close.
-Texas Rangers (3.01 ERA) Texas has been in a slump lately, but don’t blame the bullpen. The most impressive statistic from this bullpen is their 42 converted saves against only eight blown saves. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have a guy like Joe Nathan at the back of the bullpen. Nathan has 39 saves and just two blown saves. He also has a 1.46 ERA on the year. Neal Cotts emergence as a great left-handed specialist has made this bullpen elite.
-Milwaukee Brewers (3.16 ERA) Milwaukee is the only team on this side of the list that has nothing left to play for this season. It’s surprising that this team has been able to consistently perform so well. Brandon Kintzler and Jim Henderson have both been great over the last few months to lead the way for this unit.
Bottom Five Bullpens (Listed by Worst ERA)
-Houston Astros (5.10 ERA) One more loss and the Astros will be at 100 losses for the season. They will likely finish with the worst record in baseball. There isn’t any one unit responsible for the team being awful; rather it is just collectively a really bad team all the way around. Still, the Astros bullpen has been a complete mess all season. Fans of this franchise better hope some help is on the way for next year.
-Seattle Mariners (4.51 ERA) Seattle’s bullpen has blown 20 saves this year. Unlike the teams on the top of this list, the Mariners haven’t been able to find a consistent closer, and that has been a major problem for this team. The Mariners have had a multitude of injuries in the bullpen this year as well.
-Philadelphia Phillies (4.23 ERA) Philadelphia has been on this list all season long, and the bullpen struggles have certainly contributed to the Phillies having a very subpar season overall. The Phillies were World Series champs not long ago, but it seems like this franchise is going to have to start rebuilding soon.
-Colorado Rockies (4.18 ERA) Colorado hasn’t been on this list for the majority of the year, but the Rockies bullpen has fallen apart of late. Opponents are hitting .265 against this unit. The injury to closer Rafael Betancourt sent this bullpen on a spiral downward a couple weeks ago, and I think bettors can expect this group to continue to perform poorly the rest of the season.
-Chicago Cubs (4.13 ERA) Kevin Gregg has actually been much better than expected for the Cubs in the closer role. The problem for this bullpen is no one has been able to do anything right in the middle relief role. If the starters don’t go eight innings, it seems like the Cubs are just about doomed. This is a major weakness that Chicago’s front office needs to address during the offseason.
Read more articles by Aaron Smith
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