High Value MLB Pitchers
by Trevor Whenham - 08/23/2006
A bettor's ultimate dream is a sure thing - the horse that can't lose, the team that's a lock, the fighter that will knock his opponent out in the first three rounds. That's a nice dream, but unfortunately it's a pipe dream. Some MLB pitchers, however, are close to being a sure thing.
These guys put their teams on their backs and practically refuse to lose. Regardless of how their teams are doing, some pitchers just make their team better every fifth day. Here's a look at five pitchers who have been money in the bank all season and are still worth a safe, if not overly lucrative, investment:
Roy Halladay, Blue Jays - Halladay doesn't get the hype of many other pitchers in the league, but he has a Cy Young on his shelf and he is quietly working his way towards another one this year. The 29-year-old righty is 16-3, but his numbers are even better for bettors. The team is 21-5 when he starts, which is better than 80 percent. A $100 bettor would be up almost $1,200 just by betting on Halladay straight up all season.
Unlike some other pitchers out there, he hasn't faded down the stretch. The team is 10-2 in his last 12 starts. That's especially impressive considering that the team has been a mess lately, with manager John Gibbons trying to fight every player on the team. Halladay has the amazing ability to get his team back on track. Since the beginning of last season the Jays are an eye-popping 21-5 when Halladay pitches the day after a Jays' loss. The Jays are underachieving this season, but it sure isn't Halladay's fault.
Johan Santana, Minnesota Twins - Santana has been the most consistently scary pitcher in baseball the last four seasons. His stuff is incredibly nasty, and batters haven't been able to figure it out. A flat $100 bet on Santana every time out is the most profitable single bet in baseball this year, yielding a profit of more than $1,550. He's 15-5 so far this year, but the most incredible stat is that his team has won all seven of his no decisions. That's the kind of support that Roger Clemens could only dream about.
Like Halladay, Santana is only getting better down the stretch. The Twins have won his last eight starts, dating back more than a month to July 15. He's allowed one run in his last 15 innings, so his arm isn't facing the same problems as his freakish young teammate Francisco Liriano. Sure, there's no such thing as a sure thing, but Santana has been the next best thing.
Jered Weaver, Anaheim Angels - It seems amazing that one family can have an older brother, Jeff, who is such an indescribably bad pitcher, and a younger brother, Jered, who appears to be the next coming of Superman. The younger Weaver is 9-0, the best start ever for a rookie pitcher. His team is 10-2 when he is on the mound, and flat $100 bets on his 12 starts would have you up $828.
The biggest strength Weaver has shown so far in his short, impressive career is his ability to keep it together on the road. The fluke of the Angels schedule has meant that eight of his 12 starts have been away from home. The team is 7-1 in those starts. A cynic could argue that Weaver has beat up on several weak teams in his streak - Seattle twice, Kansas City twice and Tampa Bay. That's true, and it would be much more of a concern if he hadn't totally shut the Yankees down two starts back. Besides, barring a major change, his next three starts are against freefalling Boston, the pathetic Mariners and a terrible Baltimore team. Cha-ching.
Miguel Batista, Arizona Diamondbacks - Batista -- and his 4.52 ERA -- certainly won't be mistaken for a great pitcher. The 35-year-old boasts a fairly pedestrian 10-5 record, and his team is just 18-8 when he pitches (a 69 percent clip - far below everyone else on this list), but he has been hugely profitable all season - second best only to Santana. A series of $100 bets on his starts would have turned into a profit of $1,339. The last 10 games haven't had a huge impact on his own record -- he's 3-0 with seven no decisions - but the team has gone 8-2 in the same stretch. Most importantly, five of those wins were as underdogs, and the other three were all as slim favorites. In other words, when Batista pitches and you back him, you get paid for it.
Kenny Rogers, Detroit Tigers - If you had forced me to bet on anything involving the 41-year-old Rogers before the season started I'd have said that he would end the season in jail. The nut job still might, but he's made us a pile of money on the way there. He's 13-6 this year, and his team is 6-1 in his no decisions. He'd have made you more than $1,100 by betting on him consistently. In his last ten games the team is 7-3.
He lost three of four starts starting at the end of July, which made me think the wheels might be falling off, but back-to-back solid wins against Texas and the White Sox, including seven scoreless innings against Chicago last start, gives me more confidence in his ability to keep the train on the tracks. He's 6-1 at home and just 7-5 on the road, so you can feel even better betting on the Roaster in Detroit.