The baseball season is nearly upon us and I’m excited to start the daily grind of working the MLB odds, anticipating another winning season with my sports picks on the diamond.
But like any MLB baseball handicapper, I’ve been studying the numbers for a month and living in the Phoenix area, I have covered the Cactus League extensively for Sportsbook Review.com and other outlets.
Today’s topic is pitcher win totals and sportsbooks have assigned numbers you can choose that go Over or Under specific numbers. I have four starting pitchers you might want to consider for your MLB picks. I could have gone as high as six with Under’s on Cole Hamels of the Phillies or Johnny Cueto of the Reds, but my concern is they could be dealt to winning teams, which would alter their numbers.
Jordan Zimmermann O/U 14.5 wins
If you have seen the Washington right-hander the past couple years, you know how often he uses his variety of fastballs. Zimmermann pounds the strike zone to both righty and lefty hitters, never giving in, permitting less than two walks per nine innings the past three years for the Nationals. I think Max Scherzer will have a positive effect on Zimmermann and want him to work a little longer into games, which should allow him to edge close to his win total of 2013 (19), compared to last year’s (14). With the bullpen also not as strong as the last couple seasons, manager Matt Williams might be more inclined to let his studs like Zimm win the close games and pull him earlier in blowouts. Take the OVER.
Corey Kluber O/U 14.5 wins
If 2013 was a breakout season for the Indians Kluber, last year was a breakthrough. The right-hander was 18-9, averaged better 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings and had better than a 5 to 1 punch-out to walk ratio and ended up winning the Cy Young which he richly deserved. His slider dives late, inducing weak grounders or lazy fly-balls. Kluber also has two distinct curveballs which have similar speeds, one of the 12-to-6 variety and the other that rolls like a slider and disappears. Add these with a mid-90’s fastball, playing on a team that looks poised to win the AL Central and Kluber could have very similar numbers as last season and should consider an OVER play against the MLB odds.
Andrew Cashner O/U 10.5 wins
The Padres right-hander has won 10 games once in his career which was two years ago. Talent is not the issue for the 6’6 big man, it is durability. Last season he produced dominating one and two hit games leaving scouts gushing between stints on the DL. This season he has teammates which can win games with their bats and gloves and as long he Cashner fulfills his end of the bargain, his ceiling certainly rises. I mentioned having increased competition on the staff above and having a veteran like James Shields will teach Cashner things he had not considered and make him a better overall hurler. Talent mixed with an improved team and maturity should lead to 12 to 14 wins for this big Friar.
Chris Tillman O/U 11.5 wins
The Baltimore Orioles have themselves an ace in Tillman, who is the first Baltimore starter to put back-to-back 200-plus innings seasons together since Mike Mussina. I have two concerns about the O’s ace coming into this campaign. It starts with Baltimore not expected to be nearly as strong a team offensively, which is shown with oddsmakers forecasting 83 wins after reaching 96 last season. The bullpen appears weaker as well which could subtract a couple potential W’s for Tillman. Granted it is only one year, but the 27-year old saw his K’s per nine innings fall from 7.8 to 6.5 last year. Was this a trend or an anomaly? Play UNDER with Tillman’s figure.