As the season progresses in baseball it is a sure thing that starting pitchers are going to get hurt and be forced to miss a start or more. For baseball handicappers, any change to the rotation can cause a headache because it introduces more uncertainty to the handicapping process. It’s not as simple as viewing an injury and the disruption that it causes as a bad thing because sometimes teams can handle the situation very well. Here are seven issues to consider when trying to determine how much of an impact there will be on a team when an injury occurs to a starter:
Do they have a logical fill-in? – It’s much easier for a team to deal with an injury if they have an easy and logical replacement to take his place. Do they have someone in the bullpen who is a starter who has just been waiting for his chance? Do they have someone in the minors who has been waiting for a situation just like this? If either of those situations are the case then the stress of the situation is minimal. If a team doesn’t have someone ready to go, though, then they can be forced to scramble and find anyone they can – even if they have to rob other team’s farm systems to do so – so it could cause a much bigger issue.
Is rest being affected? – In the short term an injury can force pitchers to work at less than ideal risk. A starter could have to move his start up a day to fill the gap. A guy could have to come out of the bullpen to start just a couple of days after his last appearance. A guy could have his work schedule disrupted when he is called up. There are a whole lot of pitchers who don’t handle the stress of short rest well, so that can create a real opportunity.
How long will the situation likely last? – If a starter’s injury is minor – just causing him to delay a start a couple of days or to miss a single start – then it isn’t likely to be particularly disruptive to the team in the long term and betting opportunities might be limited. If the starter is out for a while, though, then the team will have to find more permanent solutions, and that can lead to problems for them and opportunities for you.
How good is the starter? – This is perhaps the biggest question. If the pitcher who is hurt is an ace and a star then the team could suffer because of the big drop off between the starter and the replacement. If the starter isn’t particularly strong, though, then the change likely won’t have a major impact. There is also the public reaction to consider here. The public is likely to overreact if the hurt pitcher is a star or one with a big name, and they aren’t likely to look at who the replacement is and what the impact really is. Overreaction by the public can lead to opportunities for bettors.
How much have they dealt with injuries in the past? – Some teams have been hit hard by the injury bug in the past so they respond positively to the situation and can rely on their experience to keep them going. Other teams are more fragile and less experienced, so the injury can have a more profound effect.
How is the bullpen affected? – As important as the impact to the team in the change in starters is what impact it has on the bullpen. Is the fill-in starter coming from the bullpen? What impact does that have on bullpen depth and versatility? Is the new starter likely to eat as many innings as the guy he is replacing, or is the bullpen going to get more work? Is that a good thing for the team or a big problem?
How much notice do they have to come up with a solution? – The worst nightmare for a team is when a starter is injured on the day of his start and is unable to make his scheduled start. That means they have to scramble to find a solution, and that solution will inevitably have consequences going forward. The more time they have to find a solution, the better the chances that they can find a good solution that won’t cause problems – and unfortunately won’t offer as many betting opportunities. If, for example, a starter is injured during a game then the team could have as many as five days to come up with a plan that works.