Free MLB Futures Betting Picks: Pitcher Win Totals
Baseball is all about starting pitching. Winning teams have it and losing teams don't. We can judge a whole lot from the quality of a staff entering a season. It can be tougher, though, to judge individual pitchers - and tougher still to figure out how their performance will turn into wins because so much of a win-loss record is beyond the control of the pitcher. Difficulty is what makes things fun for bettors, though, which is why these pitcher season win totals from BetOnline are so much fun to look at. Here are nine that stood out as particularly interesting.
Chris Sale, Red Sox ("Over/Under" 15.5): Sale has won 17 each of the last two years, and he'll only be 29 when the season starts. He's a very strong pitcher in his prime on a strong team. I like the over quite a bit.
David Price, Red Sox (o/u 14.5): Easy under. I don't trust his health - elbow problems scare the heck out of me. And I really don't trust his mental game right now. I don't expect a full bounce back, so 15 wins would far exceed my expectations.
Justin Verlander, Astros (o/u 15.5.): I'm fascinated by thinking about this case, and I have no idea what the right call is. A couple of years ago it seemed like Verlander was washed up. He'd lost his fastball, his control wasn't great, and he looked as excited to be pitching as I am to go to the dentist. But then he found a fountain of youth. He was robbed of a Cy Young, then he was traded to a World Series winner. Now he gets a full season on a team that could win 100 games. But he's 35 and presumably a little fragile. I'm cautiously optimistic - I love the Astros this year, and nothing could keep you young better than Kate Upton - but I don't see a lot of value here.
Madison Bumgarner (o/u 15.5): Bumgarner, one of the all-time great postseason pitchers, had a lost season last year - 4-9 in just 17 career starts - after injuries derailed much of his season. Hopefully he isn't stupid enough to get hurt unnecessarily again. This number is a fair one if he does stay healthy. In his six full seasons as a starter he has had seasons of 18, 18 and 16 wins to go over this number, and he came close again with 15. The Giants were a hot mess last year but should be more competent this year - and a healthier Bumgarner would certainly help on that front. I like the over here, but there are more attractive numbers.
Noah Syndergaard (o/u 13.5): Syndergaard is a freak and should go over this number if he stays healthy. That is a big, big, big if, though. The Mets were horrifically, almost impossibly bad at keeping pitchers healthy last year, and Syndergaard pitched only 30 innings. I get nervous when a young power pitcher has health issues, but if he can shake it off then he should be able to exceed this number - he had 14 wins in just 31 starts in 2016. But so much about this pitcher and his team make me nervous that I would lean under.
Shohei Ohtani (o/u 10.5): He's reportedly a freak but surrounded by mystery. After he arrived we heard about elbow issues and about his decision to go the injection route as opposed to surgery. A guy avoiding Tommy John surgery while adapting to a new country and a better league than he has ever seen - and trying to hit like Babe Ruth at the same time - makes me really nervous. I'd almost certainly stay away from this one, but if I had to take a stand I'd go under.
Sonny Gray, Yankees (o/u 13.5): I'm bullish on Gray this year. He should feel a real boost from a full year on a real team with real fans and real run support after toiling in lonely anonymity for so long. He has nice stuff, and I expect a strong year from him. He has twice won 14 games on bad teams, and he is only 28 so he's in his prime. I like the over here as much as I like any bet on this page.
Yu Darvish, Cubs (o/u 13.5): Darvish had a mediocre season for two teams last year - and a rough playoff run. He pitched a full season, though, which is more than could be said about him since 2013. I don't really trust his health, and haven't been thrilled with his play recently, and the only time he went over this number was in his rookie year in 2012. However, the Cubs are a legitimate team, and he is being paid a lot to perform. I guess I lean over but certainly not with any enthusiasm.
Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks (o/u 14.5): I've always been a big Greinke fan - he's my kind of crazy. But he's really not getting any younger, his fastball is in clear decline, and after a stellar first half last year he clearly ran into a wall. It pains me to say it because I want him to live forever, but the under is the right play.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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