During the -Steroids Era - besides the scoring effects and home runs that were taking place, other elements were in play for baseball handicappers to consider against the betting odds.
While we didn't learn right away when all these different players were juicing, we saw nightly on Sports Center on balls flying over the fence, one after another and it seemed to resemble a slow pitch game more than actual baseball.
All these poor pitchers were no match for these sluggers and while most players did not sample steroids, the hurlers looked almost defenseless to stop for all the bashers.
Towards the end of this era, as word started to leak out it was more than vitamins, weight-lifting and good nutrition, teams changed the way they started to look at pitchers to combat this onslaught of runs. A prototypical physical size and shape was determined and this helped usher in a new era, as the old was being ushered out of the game.
Scouts were instructed to locate guys who stood close to 6'5 and could drop and drive a fastball in the mid-90's or higher and had a build which appeared to be able to hold up and throw 200 innings for 10 years.
All the sudden, if a guy looked like Hall of Famers Tom Glavine or Greg Maddux, they would have to have a diverse arsenal of pitches with command and still had to be in the low 90's.
This brought about tremendous change as we made our MLB picks and how sportsbooks altered their MLB odds.
Speed Counts but it's not Everything
I was recently sent an article from BarstoolSports that showed as of early August, radar guns had picked up the young New York Mets pitching staff having tossed over 3,300 fastballs which reached 95 MPH or more. Compare that to the second-best team which was Cleveland, who was at 1,900 of these hitters.
The writer also found on Twitter that that in three of the past four World Series, the hardest throwing team made the Fall Classic in three of those years. (Kansas City -2014, St. Louis -2013 and Texas - 2011)
There is no doubt hard throwing pitchers have change the nature of baseball, but they have also been helped by what I would call a terrible approach to hitting by too many batters and teams. The approach the last several years has been swing hard if you hit a home run great and a strikeout is just an out like any other. However, when a ball is put in play, there are so many other positive variables which can never happen when guys swing and miss three times.
Besides throwing hard, today's pitchers have movement with two or four seam tosses, different finger pressure points which affects movement and the most dynamic difference thanks to Mariano Rivera, the cut fastball, which spins like a heater but breaks late. Just throwing hard is not enough, you also have to movement.
What Does this Mean for Sports Picks?
Being able to have a pitching staff that can throw heat on the black on either side of the plate or up in the zone when a batter has two strikes is important. A look at the Top 7 teams in terms of percentage of 95+ MPH fastballs after the Mets and Indians, are in order: Kansas City, N.Y. Yankees, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Washington.
If you are placing MLB picks, that is four division leaders and two serious wild card contenders out of seven staffs. Whether you use Heritagesports as a wagering outlet or not, if you subtract the Nationals from the six, that is +60.2 units of profit (thru Aug. 8th) or even if you include all seven fire-balling clubs, that is still a super +38.6 units.
Bottom line, if pitchers can bring the heat, mix in a few more pitchers and have a bullpen full of flame-throwers, those teams can win a lot of games and you can make serious coin.