Expert MLB Betting Advice: Disappointing Marquee Pitchers
Baseball is a game of pitchers, and the biggest names always get the most attention. For the most part they deserve it - a top ace can deliver serious profits for bettors and lift their team to the postseason and beyond. But when those big-name pitchers don't perform up to the level that people expect, or when their team can't win behind them, it can be a real problem for bettors. As we head into the summer portion of the baseball season, here are six big-name pitchers that have been serious disappointments from a betting perspective:
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: Things are getting concerning on the Kershaw front. He suffered a back injury in 2016. It flared up again last year. And now that back has him on the sidelines again this year. The difference, though, was that he was pitching at a Cy Young level the last two years before he was injured, but this year he was pretty awful before he went to the injured ranks. His last four appearances before going down at the end of May were losses for the team, and the Dodgers have gone just 2-6 with him at the helm. Not surprisingly, he has been a strong favorite in every outing. A couple of the losses have been particularly painful - he was -360 against Miami and -297 against San Francisco and lost both. Add it all up and you have the second worst performer in baseball for bettors - only Kyle Hendricks has burned more bettor money. And what's the future for Kershaw? Who knows. He could bounce back quickly and be what he is - the best pitcher in baseball - or this could be the kind of injury that robs a superstar of his future.
Chris Sale, Red Sox: Sale is the most dangerous kind of pitcher for bettors. The Red Sox are rolling along, leading the American League East and running away from everyone in baseball not named the Yankees, and Sale is the clear and obvious ace of the squad. But despite the team success, Sale has been surprisingly flat this year. The Red Sox are just 8-7 when their ace has started, and that has put him in the Bottom 10 of the league in terms of profitability. So many bettors would make decisions based on his reputation and the strength of his team, and it has proven costly this year.
Jacob deGrom, Mets: deGrom is a very talented pitcher, and it seemed like he was going to have a breakthrough this year - at least in the eyes of many. And he has indeed been pitching very well. But the Mets have been disastrous after a strong start, and deGrom has been just a disaster of late as well - at least for bettors. The team has lost seven of his last eight starts, and they were favored in five of the seven losses. His microscopic 1.55 ERA and decent 4-2 record hide just how poorly his team is performing when he is on the mound. He has lasted at least seven innings in his last six starts and has allowed one of fewer earned runs in five of those starts, but the team is just 1-5 in that stretch. You can only imagine how frustrated he must be right now.
Stephen Strasburg, Nationals: Strasburg is just not pitching great this year, and it is costing bettors. There is nothing really hidden here - he has a 6-6 record, and the team is 6-7 in his starts. His 3.46 ERA is indicative of most of his stats - not horrible, but a long way from what is expected of him. It has led to significant losses for bettors, and it is hard to shake the feeling that this reality could continue all year.
Dallas Keuchel, Astros: Houston has allowed by far the fewest runs in baseball, and their pitching staff is almost embarrassingly strong. But all of that success has come despite a really rough season from this former Cy Young winner. Keuchel has an ugly 3-8 record and a 4.45 ERA. The team sits at 6-8 in his starts, so the betting performance isn't as bad as it could be, but it still isn't ideal. When he is at his best there are few on Keuchel's level, but 2016 was a disastrous season for him, and this year is shaping up to be more of the same.
Aaron Sanchez, Toronto: You could pick a number of Toronto pitchers - most notably Marcus Stroman - who could also be here. But Sanchez led the league in ERA two years ago. And after recovering from blister issues that cost him most of last season, it seemed like he could be sitting on a big year. The Jays have been awful since the end of April, though. And while Sanchez doesn't get all the blame for that by any means, he hasn't exceeded expectations by any means. The team is 5-8 in his starts, and his 4.33 ERA certainly isn't threatening to lead the league again.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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