Expert MLB Wagering Advice: Big-Name Pitchers Struggling at Betting Window
One of the challenges for more casual baseball bettors is that it is easy to get lazy and just trust a pitcher's name and reputation when deciding who to bet on. When a big-name pitcher is delivering much less than big name performances, then, it can really be costly. Here are five pitchers with strong, well-earned reputations who are just putting bettors' money in piles and burning it with regularity this year:
Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals (-13.8 units): It's not like Scherzer is far removed from his glory days. He won his third Cy Young in 2017 and was an all-star and the NL leader in strikeouts last year. He's only 34, so he should still be, well, Scherzer. But in 13 starts this year, the Nationals have won just twice. It's a remarkable decline - last year the team was 22-11 when he was on the mound. No pitcher is going to make any money when they are struggling as much as Scherzer is. But when the pitcher is one of the best out there, expectations are going to ensure massive losses. And Scherzer leads all players in terms of money burnt this year. In his last start against Cincinnati, Scherzer looked, for the first time all year, like Scherzer. It's only Cincinnati, though. We need to see more before we can be sure that he has really turned a corner. Even if he is classic Scherzer the rest of the way, though, he is really going to struggle to come even close to breaking even.
Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox (-12.9 units): Sale is much like Scherzer, except he lacks the Cy Young Awards - he's a dominating ace we have just grown to assume will dominate. But this year his decline has been even more striking than Scherzer's. He's just a shell of his former self. There are so many striking stats to illustrate his woes. For example, last year he allowed 34 RBIs against in 27 games. This year he is at 33 in 12 games. That has obviously led to some really ugly numbers - both relative to his past and just overall. The only reason that he finds himself behind Scherzer on this list is that, as I write, he has had one fewer start. The Sox have won just three times in his 12 starts, and that has led to some obvious and significant betting losses.
Jacob deGrom, New York Mets (-8.6 units): deGrom seems to be discovering that it is easier to win a Cy Young Award than it is to defend the title. The team is just 4-8 in his starts, and two of those wins were in his first two outings, so he has really struggled for much of the season. His ERA is more than twice what it was last year, and he has allowed just one fewer home run than he did all of last season, so it isn't just piling on the lowly Mets to say that he is not what he was last year. He only turns 31 later this month, so it is easier to shake off the questions about what this means long term for him than for others. But right now, things sure aren't great.
Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue Jays (-6.7 units): I am far less concerned about Stroman being here than the first three on this list. He is actually pitching well and has recovered nicely from a pretty regrettable year last year. But he is just on a terrible team, and the Jays are only getting worse. They offer shockingly little run support most of the time, so Stroman is too often hung out to dry. Six times this year he has allowed three or fewer earned runs and lost the decision - including two innings with no earned runs. His attitude hasn't been great - who could be excited about where that team is? But he's just biding his time until the inevitable trade in the coming weeks. If he lands on a good contender, you can be sure that the return on investment for his backers will improve dramatically.
Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays (-5.8 units): Am I the only one who noticed, and thinks it is incredibly, eerily cool, that four of the five pitchers on this list have last names starting with S? The challenge for Snell, also defending a Cy Young title like deGrom, is that last year was such an impossible outlier for him. If you compare where he is at now compared to 2017, he's mostly treading water and making some progress in some spots. But he blew up into the stratosphere last year and hasn't been able to sustain it. The team is 5-6 in his starts, so it isn't disastrous, but it also isn't near what it was last year. The team is 3-2 in his last five starts, though. While that hasn't been good enough to turn a profit over that stretch, it has been better.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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