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How To Handicap Baseball Using Starting Pitchers Stats
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One of the most important factors to take into consideration when handicapping a baseball game is the starting pitching. Most people know that the starters are important but don't know how to use the stats from these starters to be more effective in their handicapping. There are a number of things I like to look at when I go over the starters for a particular game.

The first thing I consider is the amount of innings he has pitched & especially how many innings and pitches he's thrown recently. There is a reason that pitchers are given 4 or 5 days off in between games. Their arms go through a lot during the innings they pitch. If I see a guy that's pitched a lot of innings or thrown a lot of pitches in his last few starts I have to take that into consideration, especially if this is not the norm for him. On the other hand, you might have a guy that was chased early in his last start due to a bad first inning or two. If he only threw in the neighborhood of less than 60 pitches that game he might be a lot more fresh this time around and ready for a rebound.

Another stat to consider is obviously the WHIP. WHIP is walks & hits divided by innings pitched. If you can find a guy with something under 1.20 he's got great command of his pitches. He's not putting many guys on base with walks and not giving up a lot of base hits. I think WHIP is more important than ERA because I'd rather bet on the guy that's not even putting the runners on base as opposed to the one that's pitching out of jams. I consider this the most important stat when I handicap games.

There are a few categories that don't mean much to me at all when I'm placing my wagers. One of the biggest ones is strikeouts. A guy could strikeout 15 batters in one game and still lose because he gave up 5 homeruns. Don't get me wrong, I'd like to have my pitchers with good WHIP to have a high strikeout total too, but it's not a deal breaker. Justin Masterson is a perfect example of this. He doesn't strike out many batters at all. Last time I checked it was 2-3 a game. He doesn't walk people either which helps lead to less runs given up.

Another category I don't put much stock into is ERA. It's important, but I think too many people put too much into it. This is a baseball stat that I never understood. If a guy puts a runner on 2nd base and the reliever that takes over allows him to score, that run is charged to the guy in the dugout. I get it, but things like this are why I don't like using ERA. Sometimes the stat goes much deeper than what we can see at first glance. Don't weigh ERA too heavily when making your picks.

Win - Loss record is the biggest one that I hate. The offense plays a part in what a pitcher's wins and losses look like for the year. Sometimes pitchers get so much run support that their constant lackluster performances are overshadowed. I think it was two years ago I saw Phil Hughes for the Yankees win around 18 games with an ERA in the high 4s!! It's not hard to win a lot of games when your offense is scoring 10 runs every time you take the mound. There's a flip side to this one too. Some pitchers go out and pitch a gem only to lose a lot of games with scores like 2-1 or 3-2 because their offense never seems to show up when they take the mound.

This is pretty much all you need when it comes to the starters. When you're looking at a matchup try to envision how the game will play out from a pitching perspective. Does the opposing team draw a lot of walks or have hitters with a high batting average? If so, is the pitcher's command good enough to keep them off base? Will a struggling offense benefit from a guy that walks a lot of batters?

It's not an exact science, but try to use these ideas to your advantage when handicapping your baseball games.


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