Our MLB handicapper looks at the best performing starting pitchers for bettors thus far and decides which to blindly back and which to fade as we enter the home stretch of the 2016 season.
We all like backing a proven winner, but in baseball because of the moneyline not all wins are paid the same. There are a few pitchers in the MLB though that have proven to provide great value in 2016, and are worthy of an ‘autobet' as we come down the stretch and into the postseason. Not all of these pitchers come from teams with outstanding win-loss records either, so they should continue to provide public-fading value in regards to the line offered by the books. Here are the top 5 pitchers when looking at units won value as of August 22nd. Records are indicated as the team's final result in the game the pitcher started.
Chris Tillman, Baltimore Orioles: 20-6 SU Team Record, + 14.17 Units
In the midst of a few bad stretches in June and now August, Chris Tillman has been dominant this season in route to his 15-5 win-loss record, 3.76 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and .240 batting average allowed. A 3.76 ERA is going to get the job done when you are getting an average of 4.54 runs per game in runs support, a number that is not in the top 40 in the league.
Tillman has some injury concerns going for him as of late, with his last start pushed back a few days due to shoulder soreness. He got blasted in that pushed back to start when he couldn't find the strike zone. I'd give Tillman a start or two before blindly backing him as your MLB pick for the rest of September.
Michael Fulmer, Detroit Tigers: 16-4 SU Team Record, + 13.95 Units
Gathered by Detroit in return for Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline in 2015, Michael Fulmer found a changeup this year which has made him one of the best pitchers in the league. On the season, Fulmer has posted a 2.58 ERA, 104/33 K/BB rate, 1.06 WHIP, and .216 batting average allowed. Pair that with his sky-high run support of 5.35 runs per game and you have a winning formula for sports bettors.
Much of Fulmer's value is that he has seemingly come out of nowhere, so the public isn't blindly backing him just yet which increases his units won mark. I'd say it is ok to do so as his monthly splits give no indication that he is suffering the fatigue that some rookies do at this point in the season.
Danny Duffy, Kansas City Royals: 16-3 SU Team Record, +13.77 Units
While pitching for the Royals will ensure that you don't have gaudy run support numbers, it doesn't seem to matter for Danny Duffy this season as he carries a 2.66 ERA. The converted reliever has excelled as a starter this season and has posted an 11-1 win-loss record over his 19 starts.
A fireballer, Duffy was able to keep his reliever velocity over his first few months of starting, but that velocity has started to decline now – his fastball is down from an average of 95.4 to 94. As of yet, this decline in velocity has yet to bite him, but as bettors start to pile on I worry that his success will eventually hit a wall right when he is overvalued the most by the public, and as expected it can be shown on his MLB odds. I'd say it is time to fade Duffy using the run line on the other team, as he should be favored heavily on the moneyline from this point out.
J.A. Happ, Toronto Blue Jays: 19-5 SU Team Record, +12.79 Units
When you are getting run support at a 6.42 per game clip you have a chance to put up some decent returns for investors. That is exactly the case here with J.A. Happ, who has used the offense backing him to compile a 17-3 win-loss record. Although it isn't all on the Blue Jay offense, as Happ would have had a lot of runs anyway with his 3.05 ERA. With the run support and ERA discrepancies, it is no surprise then that in addition to the SU success the Blue Jays have had with Happ on the mound, he has also been pitching in a lot of blowouts. Of the 19 SU wins with Happ on the mound, 18 of those games would have been run line wins as well. That is dominance worth backing as we close out the season.
Dan Straily, Cincinnati Reds: 15-8 SU Team Record, +12.31 Units
Dan Straily is another pitcher with great run support at 5.22 runs per game but has used a solid 2nd half of the season to bump up the units he has won investors. His ERA in the first half of the season was 4.35, as compared to a 2.25 REA since the All-Star Break.
With Cincinnati having an awful season so far from a record perspective, I'm looking for a little extra juice for those willing to favor the Reds. They've played better as of late, taking 6 out of 10, and are close to being .500 at home (as opposed to just 22-39 on the road). Backing Straily has paid off lately, and with the Reds home record, I'd be looking to back him as an underdog on the run line going forward.
2016 YTD MLB: 50-33-4, +15.28 Units