Starting pitchers are the most important factor when the best online sportsbooks set lines and gamblers bet on baseball games. So much so, that these starting pitchers are becoming overrated from a handicapping standpoint, as many players base their handicapping solely on these two players.

While almost everyone agrees that starting pitching should be the starting point for handicapping baseball games, what exactly does that mean? What pitching stats do you look for and how do you compare them? We’ll break down some of the key stats and betting angles pertaining to starting pitching in this article.

Whether you are a daily MLB player, casual player, or someone involved in the gambling industry, the first step to dissecting a pitching matchup is to find the appropriate data. ERA, WHIP, record, team start record, recent results, and history vs. opponent can all be used to gauge how a pitcher will perform.

A pitcher’s record and ERA are the two most commonly known stats, but aren’t necessarily the most useful. A pitcher’s WHIP (hits and walks per inning pitched) is often times more useful than his ERA, as it shows the number of baserunners that will reach on average. A pitcher with a low WHIP against a poor hitting team or a pitcher with a high WHIP against a patient team that will look for walks is a great start to handicapping the game.
Instead of a pitcher’s win/loss record, you can instead look for the pitcher’s team start record which is the record of the team when that pitcher makes a start. This is different than the pitcher’s win/loss record, who only gets the win or loss on his record if he is involved in the decision. This is important, as the amount of innings pitched and strength of the bullpen are factored in to this statistic.

Recent results can be used to gauge if a pitcher has been pitching better or worse than his average numbers, and if so, these pitchers tend to come back to their normal stat lines. A bad pitcher that has been pitching well of late will be due for a bad outing. An elite pitcher that hit a rough stretch is due to regain their form. Often times we can get good line value in this spot, as the best online sportsbooks tend to base their lines on recent results.

Finally, history vs. opponents is often overlooked as a handicapping tool. Case in point, David Price of the Detroit Tigers faces the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday, and Price has dominated Cleveland in his career with an 8-1 record, 9-2 team start record, 2.11 ERA, and 1.170 WHIP in 11 career starts. That is the type of stat line that gives Price confidence on the mound and the statistical reasoning that is sound when backing a pitcher.

We’ll be back next time with another approach to handicapping MLB games.