Welcome to my first biweekly column on baseball for Gaming Today. Now, biweekly is a strange word, in that it can mean two very different things: either it’s something that occurs every other week; or it’s something you do twice a week (like blow a save if you’re the Mets bullpen).
In this case, my ambitions are to produce two of these columns every week. If I don’t, let’s agree that we decided that biweekly means “every other week.”
In this column, I will focus on topical baseball developments and things that may assist you in making your baseball bets or dominating the knuckleheads in your Fantasy Baseball League. You want to win that silly trophy, don’t you?
The Year Of The Pitcher; Can’t Anyone Here Hit A Baseball?
If you and your friends are playing a drinking game where you slam a shot every time your team gets a base hit, so far this season, you’ve stayed pretty sober. That’s because 2021 is:
The Year Of The Pitcher!
So far this season, batters are failing to get hits at an alarming rate. Heck, they’re swinging and missing at record-setting rates. And if there’s one thing for sure, you can’t get a base hit if you don’t connect with the baseball. That’s just science, people.
In April we saw two no-hitters, less than a week apart. Then in May, two days apart we had two more no-hitters. That was four no-nos in the first five weeks of the season. Just like Kanye West turning down a chance to speak into a microphone: that’s never happened before.
The record for most no-hitters in a season is seven, which has happened four times: in 1990, 1991, 2012, and 2015. Already in 2021, we’re more than halfway to breaking that mark. You’re almost as likely to see a no-hitter at the ballpark this year as you are seeing a batter get five hits (which has happened six times so far).
The pitchers adding themselves to the No-Hit Roll Call are not iconic names either: we’re talking Joe Musgrove (losing career record); John Means (his no-hitter was the first time he had ever thrown a shutout or complete game); the Louisiana Lefty, Wade Miley, who after his no-no has a 89-88 career record; and someone named Carlos Rodón, who sounds like every fifth starter that every team now carries on their 13-man pitching staff.
Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax, and Justin Verlander these guys are not.
How You Should Bet In The Year Of The Pitcher
With all these hitless at-bats going on, how should you approach a betting strategy if you’re laying down wagers on baseball?
Look for special betting opportunities to capitalize on the low-scoring environment. It’s wise to look at strikeouts, which are on a record pace this season. Most sportsbooks offer over/under bets such as Blake Snell to record 8.5 strikeouts, and so on. You can also get odds on number of hits and runs allowed by your starting pitcher. For example, FanDuel Sportsbook has Snell at +160 to record over 8.5 K’s in his upcoming start against the Rockies, a free-swinging team.
Look for lineups that are struggling to make contact (the Tigers, Rays, Phillies, Rangers, and Brewers are the worst currently) and focus on matchups that are unfavorable for them. But it’s not just the top pitchers who are dominating the strike zone in ’21, so dive into the K-per-9 innings rate states to see which hurlers are getting the most swings-and-misses.
If you enjoy betting baseball, and you haven’t started using Statcast over at MLB.com, do so. Statcast gives you access to real-time data that shows which players are performing the best. Want to know who is making the best contact so you can make a bet on them to get X number of hits? Want to know which pitcher will get 10 K’s in a game? Want to know who the fastest baserunners are? Statcast is gathering all that data from the ballparks and letting you see it, for free. You like free stuff, don’t you?
Top Pitchers To Place Your Money On For High-Strikeout Games
Thus far in ’21, there have been 74 games where a pitcher has recorded at last 10 K’s. Yes, starters are pitching fewer innings these days, but their K/IP ratios are starting to look ridiculous. Future Hall of Famer Jacob deGrom is averaging nearly 15 strikeouts per nine innings.
Here are the best options for high-strikeout games right now in MLB:
- Tyler Glasnow, Rays
- Corbin Burnes, Brewers
- Gerrit Cole, Yankees
- Jacob deGrom, Mets
- Shane Bieber, Indians
Crazy Stat Alert
Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes has yet to walk a batter in 2021 in six starts. He has a 58-to-0 strikeout to walk ratio.
Your Special Baseball Moment This Week
The Cubs hosted the Nationals at Wrigley Field last weekend and that meant that former Cub Kyle Schwarber was back in town to face his old teammates. Schwarber was one of the core “fun bunch” guys who made up a colorful clubhouse back when the Cubs won the 2016 World Series. He has a special relationship with many who are still wearing a Cubs jersey.
On Monday, Chicago’s Kris Bryant, a Schwarber buddy, placed a Twix candy bar in left field for his former teammate between innings. Schwarbs admitted to eating it, and later homered in the game, which the Cubs won.
“Yeah, I ate it,” Schwarber said, “I scarfed it standing out there [between pitches]. I went deep too, so maybe it brought me luck.”
A Name For This Column
Let me get some readers first, before we start slapping a name and a logo on this. Slow down, expectations.