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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, June 29, 2012 at 1:16 PM

As I was looking over the Friday Night pitching matchups, it struck me how many mediocre, generic arms were on the mound. It might be true that the sport is trending toward quality young pitchers now in the wake of the steroid era. There certainly are some young phenoms who have made me a lot of money. But, given that there are about 200 different pitchers who will make major league starts this year, Advanced Handicappers must make a point of finding vulnerable pitchers and POUNDING them.

Make money on the phenoms…but make even MORE money by using my power vs. weakness approach to exploit weaknesses every night in both leagues.

Let me lay out the numbers for you. There are 30 Major League teams. Each has a five-man rotation (well, Colorado is temporarily experimenting with a four-man rotation featuring four poor pitchers!). That’s about 150 different starting pitchers right there. Injuries necessitate the use of additional arms to make spot starts or take over a position permanently in the case of serious setback. Even in a pitching era, there just aren’t enough quality arms to go around.

Matt Cain and Justin Verlander are on the mound Friday Night. So are Jason Marquis and Jeff Francis. So are a handful of guys who have made between zero and two starts this season. Handicapping baseball as June turns to July in 2012 will mean knowing how to find the most vulnerable starting pitchers on the schedule, and fade them when they’re most likely to do poorly.

Here are the general characteristics you should look for when trying to find vulnerable pitchers to fade:

 

*Righthanders

*IP per start of 5.9 or less

*ERA of 4.00 or more

*WHIP of 1.35 or more

*Strikeout Rate of 6.5 per 9 innings or less

*Poor Road Numbers if their home games are in a pitcher’s park

*Home Run prone

There are some lefthanders out there too worth fading. But, there’s almost no such thing as a “generic” lefthander. Managers are so afraid of using lefties (because so many sluggers bat righty) that lefties who get a chance usually have something going for them. There are a lot of generic righthanders who fall into the categories I’ve outlined up above.

It’s the nature of mid-summer baseball that you’ll run into some minor-league call-ups who get spot starts here and there. For the most part, you can fade these guys at reasonable prices and come out okay. But, you need to be on the lookout for certain types of pitchers who can beat you. I know too many locals who have lost big bets because they loaded up on a guy they never heard of, only to find out he’s a budding star that a team was holding until midseason for contract reasons or to help him build some confidence in the minors first.

 

No-Names to Fade:

*Those who have no media hype from the minors or college baseball

*Those with mediocre or worse minor league stats

*Those pitching for bad teams, because bad teams would have brought them up from the minors already if they were any good.

 

No-Names to Take:

*Those with high K-rates in the minors who have the media buzzing

*Lefthanders who have been getting people out, particularly if they’re playing for a good team that will give them some run support

The final pieces to the puzzle I want to talk about today are OFFENSE and BALLPARKS.

It’s not enough to have a vulnerable pitcher to fade. If his opponent that night has a bad offense, he can still get the victory. If the game is being played in one of the West Coast pitchers parks or in a dome (particularly if he’s facing a bad team like Houston with the roof shut), he can still get the victory. You’re trying to match POWER against WEAKNESS.

*Make a list of the best offenses in each league, focusing mostly on slugging percentage (because home run totals go up when it’s hot) and on-base percentage (because you score more runs when walks precede homers!).

*Look for run scoring right now in ANY outdoor stadium except for the West Coast pitching parks (San Diego, LAD, San Francisco, Oakland, and Seattle). You’ve already seen many explosions in the best hitter’s parks of late (Colorado, Texas, Boston). Those are going to continue until the weather cools later in the season.

Now you’re set. Back POWER offenses vs. WEAK pitching in the best scoring parks in hot weather. And if you have a game where both offenses are in position to play well, play the OVER at your favorite Las Vegas sportsbook.

There’s nothing oddsmakers can do about it when big edges pop up. A lot of teams should be -200 on the board but sportsbooks will only go that high with Cy Young type pitchers. A lot of totals should be 13 or 14 at this time of year in the high scoring parks when shaky pitchers are on the mound. Vegas just won’t go that high. Advanced Handicapping punishes oddsmaker timidity!

Hopefully I’ve convinced you that attacking baseball right now is in your best interests. If you’d like some help finding the best plays on the board every day, you can sign up for my personal service right here at the website. Try things out this weekend and see what you think.

My next lecture in my College of Advanced Handicapping will be Tuesday. I’m not certain yet whether that will be another baseball report, or my first summer football report to get you ready for the coming season. I like to read and react to the headlines to make sure the coursework has immediate real world impact for you. See you on Tuesday.

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