I have shown various baseball handicapping techniques that identify solid wagering opportunities in MLB. This article will do the same, but is a more subjective approach focusing on starting pitching in the second half of the season.
The first half of the MLB season
has provided numerous fan friendly storylines. New York Mets knuckleballer, R.A. Dickey
certainly has to be among the top along with the Pittsburgh Pirates MVP
contender Andrew McCutchin. The Phillies demise to last place trailing the
National League East division leading Washington Nationals by 13 games ranks
among the greatest disappointments. With these stories comes opportunity.
Let’s first look at the list of
starting pitchers and their net money won or lost from the Pitcher’s Midterm report card article published Wednesday. In every season,
there have been some very great individual efforts and even some that are on a
record breaking pace. However, the majority of these players fall prey to the
wall of fatigue from the marathon 162-game schedule. The most evident is on the
catcher’s, whose wear and tear and daily beating take their toll on hitting
stats and RBI production.
Starting pitchers who are not
accustomed to the experiences of a 162-game schedule and making 35 starts are
the next fatigue victims in line behind the catchers. So, at this time of the
season, I identify the youthful starting pitchers that are in the Top-25 and use
that as a starting point for ‘play against’ situations.
R.A. Dickey has posted a 14-3
team record this season and has made 12.90 units per one unit wagered for the
season. The great debate is can Dickey continue to pitch at this extraordinary
level for the remainder fo the season. Can he win 22 or more games for the
Mets? My answer is that I would not look to fade him anytime soon and the only
time I would consider a fade against him is when he is facing one of the top-5
offensive teams in MLB based on team batting average.
What makes Dickey incredibly good
is that he has an 85 MPH fastball that compliments his knuckleball. To my
knowledge, there has not been a knuckleball pitcher that has had such a strong
fastball and this is a dominant reason he has been so hard to hit. He throws the
knuckle 77% of all pitches thrown and 74% of all first pitches thrown in an
at-bat. Batters are hitting .242 on the knuckleball, but when he is ahead in
the count, he can change the pressure points on the baseball and create
significantly more ball movement. He throws knuckle 87% when ahead in the
A.J. Burnett enters in second
place on the net money won list with a 13-2 team record and 12.60 units made
per one unit wagered season. He too, is a fan friendly success story after the
media beating he took in New York while pitching for the Yankees. He is 35
years old and a horse at 6-4, 230 lbs and he is certainly not a candidate to
fade in the second half based on lack of experience and fatigue related
problems. His fastball is below average quite frankly, but he has improved his
changeup and curve where hitters are batting just .203 and .182 respectively. I
believe he will continue to pitch well in the second half benefiting from his
years of MLB experience and also that he is playing for a first place team in a
small media market.
He is third on the list of top
money makers, but is the first on my list to fade over his next several starts.
He is 26-years old and has had four years of MLB service, but now he is
pitching for a contender. The combination of more pressure and fatigue will
create opportunities to play against him. He is bit smaller in stature too at
6-0, and 185 lbs. Pitchers of this smaller size as compared to the bulk of a
C.C. Sabathia, or a Roy halladay, wear down quicker in the second half. I have
nothing against Gio and think he is a great pitcher. however, I do think he
will begin to struggle in the later innings of his upcoming starts.
Other starters worth looking to
fade, especially in home games where the lines will be more inflated are the
Pirates James McDonald and Boston’s Felix Doubront. I feel that scouting
reports will catch up to McDonald and offset his first half success. Doubront
is 24-years young and is just 6-2 and 185 lbs and I strongly believe he will
have some very rough starts in the second half of the season. Use these names
and others from the rankings list as a beginning point for your ‘contrarian’