Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 4:00 PM
I wanted to do a baseball report this week because it’s becoming very clear that bullpens are a huge part of the story in the 2015 season…and because it’s not as widely understood as I should be why some teams are having such great success.
I’m about to show you an amazing statistic. Through Wednesday night’s action, the Kansas City Royals bullpen led the Major Leagues with an ERA of 1.61. We’re deep into the season now…so that’s not some sort of one week or one month fluke. And, that’s not the best guy in their bullpen…that’s the entire bullpen!
Imagine if you could bring in Clayton Kershaw to pitch relief every day for however many number of innings was needed. That would be great wouldn’t it? Well, Kansas City’s composite bullpen is better than Clayton Kershaw so far. And, they’re doing that in the American League where opponents get to use a Designated Hitter. The best NL bullpen ERA is St. Louis at 2.09, which is fantastic in its own right. KC is better in the DH league!
There were a lot of handicappers and baseball “experts” who expected Kansas City to fall off the map this season. Even though they reached the World Series last year…that was seen as a fluke by old school and young quant types alike. Well, guess what? It wasn’t a fluke. If you’ve solved the riddle of how to get great production out of your bullpen…you’re well ahead of the game.
Another team I want to mention is the Houston Astros. They ranked second in the American League and third in the majors with a bullpen ERA of 2.20 heading into Thursday’s action. Similar story to KC in that we have a “surprise” off to a great start because its bullpen is NAILS when it comes to protecting leads or keeping a game close in the middle innings. Houston wasn’t even supposed to be a .500 team this season. But, they keep grinding out victories against teams who were supposed to be better.
In the case of the Astros and a few other teams…we come to my second point. Many franchises have embraced the concept of using defensive shifts based on the hitting characteristics of each opposing batter. That strategy has been around forever of course. But, it was usually saved for superstars like Ted Williams. Now, some teams are doing it versus almost everyone…and it’s WORKING. You regular students here in my Advanced College of Sports Betting and Handicapping need to be aware that this goes hand in hand with quality bullpen work.
*We’re now seeing relievers who used to be mediocre turning into stars because of smarter defensive positioning.
*We’re now seeing teams “gamble” with pitchers who don’t get many strikeouts…only to find that’s even better in the era of increased shifting. More double plays! Pitching to contact used to be a problem for relievers. Not any more.
*We’re now seeing aging veterans who would have been out of baseball in prior eras stick around because of better defense behind them. I can’t tell you how many “go against” veterans have cost local Vegas baseball bettors big money this year (and last) when they started pitching to contact in front of better defenses.
*We’re seeing handicappers and bettors who rely on stathead stuff greatly struggle because the game has changed. What used to work very well for predicting pitching performance is now questionable at best on these defensive minded teams.
Add it all up…and you see why a lot of the preseason win estimates were off base for current contenders…and why early season moneylines have misrepresented the current performance level of many pitchers. It’s not exactly a brave new world….but it’s a changed world and handicappers must keep up!
Your homework for this weekend:
*Grab and study team bullpen ERA’s for both leagues
*Research which franchises are aggressively employing defensive shifts
*Look for veteran pitchers who are getting much better results than had been anticipated before the season began.
There are still edges to be exploited if you have an accurate sense of what’s happening NOW in Major League Baseball. Oddsmakers are befuddled. And, more than a few sharps are struggling when they attack the openers.
Luckily for you, KELSO STURGEON always finds a way to win!
If you’d like some help finding the best baseball bets on the board each day, you can purchase those right here at this very website with your major credit card. Questions about extended service can be answered personally by one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155. Call during normal business hours on weekdays or before first pitch on Saturdays and Sundays.
I’ll be back again with you early next week with what will likely be a basketball report. Both Conference Championship series will have gone three games by then. If neither has anything of interest to report…I’ll talk some more baseball. Early June will bring tips on how to handicap the NBA Finals once the finalists have been determined. As I write this, Golden State and Cleveland are prohibitive favorites to square off for the trophy. Maybe that will change by Monday.
Thanks again for your attendance and hard work. Have a great holiday weekend!
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