With Major League Baseball’s regular season approaching the first pitch, it’s time to start thinking about bankrolls and the betting approach you’ll take for the season.
Aside from the daily handicapping process of analyzing pitching matchups, there are generally three age-old betting systems I like to follow throughout a season, as they produce great value and with one of them, can certainly maximize your profits in a short span. By staying disciplined with your baseball wagers, it just may become your favorite investment when it comes to sports betting.
Remember, this is not basketball and football, and we are not dealing with point spreads. In baseball, every game has a price posted on it, mainly influenced by the starting pitchers. In most cases, the favored pitcher controls the flow of wagers. Depending on how bettors see the favored starter, we will see radical changes right up until first pitch.
Over the next three weeks, I will introduce you to my favorite systems — one by one — starting with what I like to call the “Virgin Victory.” It’s a system involving major league starting pitchers making their pro debut. These are hurlers who haven’t pitched one inning whatsoever at the major-league level and are coming in fresh.
You might think the play is against them; on the contrary, we’re making a move on the rookie.
As mentioned earlier, starting pitchers have an impact on the prices oddsmakers attach to the teams. Obviously, the better the pitcher, the higher the price, especially when considering the opposing pitcher. So, imagine getting a rookie on the hill against a guy like Clayton Kershaw in Dodger Stadium. You’re darn right I’m going to play that rookie at somewhere in the neighborhood of +250. For instance, Atlanta Braves rookie Mike Soroka caught +180 against New York Mets veteran Noah Syndergaard and won. Miami Marlins rookie Pablo Lopez took a price of +150 and beat Mets’ starter Jacob DeGrom.
Don’t get me wrong, we’ll be on the wrong side of a Cy Young candidate, like last season, when Yefry Ramirez was a +280 underdog to Boston’s Chris Sale. That was the biggest underdog of the year in this system, but you have to follow the system.
Over the long haul, with the prices you’re going to get with the rookies — who come through a lot in May and June — it’s a profitable system even when you dip below 50 percent with the overall record. Remember, this is a season-long system, so the idea is to gauge it in its entirety.
As long as you’re starting with a bankroll, and you figure out how much you’re going to invest in a baseball season, and what percentage of that bankroll you’re comfortable in playing on every game coming from your handicapping system(s), I believe you will make money. And as your bankroll grows, your wagers will increase based on the percentage of your overall figure. With plus-prices on the virgin pitchers, you’ll see fantastic value.
So, let’s talk about the first-time starting pitcher, which is similar to a maiden horse shooting out of the starting gate for the first time. You just don’t know what you’re going to get, right? Pitchers spend so much time in the minors working on specific pitches, or the rotation of the ball they’re delivering, or their windup, or their release location — you just don’t know how they’re going to perform until they arrive.
Bottom line, they’re impossible to handicap. They’re also impossible to scout. So, while a hitting coach preparing his lineup for strength of pitches, or out-pitches — which pitchers use with two strikes on, or to induce easy outs — he’s not going to know what a virgin pitcher can do conceivably until the third time through the lineup. A pitcher must show a pattern.
The only coach, or scout, who knows the true potential of a virgin pitcher is the guy suggesting to the manager he should be pitching. So, if someone in the San Diego Padres organization says virgin Vic should be pitching at Dodger Stadium against Kershaw on a Saturday night, there just may be something special about that kid.
Remember, there are certain moments in a baseball players life he cherishes. That afternoon phone call, with his parents standing next to him, telling him he’s been drafted. The first time he stepped on a minor-league field. His first home run or strikeout. And, that first game in the bigs. For a pitcher, can you imagine how much more adrenaline will be flowing through those veins?
On the flipside, can you imagine guys like Kershaw, stepping to the hill overconfident, figuring he will overpower his counterpart, thinking he has the game in hand? Then the kid’s teammates come to bat for him, and get him some early runs, give him a lead, and ramp up that adrenaline. That transitions to an overzealous lineup thinking they’re going to power pitches into the bleachers, and the virgin catches them with filthy off-speed junk to build even more adrenaline, and confidence, which carries him to the sixth or seventh inning, making room for the veteran closer.
In 2018, there were 160 pitching debuts — starters and relievers combined — with 36 of the pitchers making their first-ever starts, per baseball-reference.com.
A $100 bettor betting this system alone, not following anything else, would have finished 17-19, with a $45 profit. That is taking in consideration favorites $1.50 or higher played on the run line. Now, when you factor in losing pitchers who did not get a decision — meaning the bullpen took over and blew the game for the rookie — a $100 bettor would have profited $465.
These are not big numbers. I get it. But you have to remember you’re working a system into your overall handicapping, not to mention a bankroll that would have you increasing your wager as the overall bank continues to grow with other handicapping methods and systems.
You can never tell when relievers won’t come through and can’t go back on your wager. But later in the season, which is when the system might take earlier profits, you can start to handicap bullpens and see which ones you’ll have with you when wagering on youngsters.
Overall, the Virgin Victory is never a bad system to look at, as Major League pitchers making their debut will always carry some value their first time out.
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