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What to Know Before Betting on Rookie Pitchers

Every year at the start of the major league baseball season there are many rookie pitchers making their major league debut. In the next couple of months many more guys who weren’t quite ready to start the year get their chance. For bettors those pitchers can create interesting betting opportunities. If the bettors aren’t careful, though, then it can be very easy to make mistakes that can prove to be costly. Here are five big mistakes that bettors make when betting on games featuring rookie pitchers:

Buying into the hype – Heading into each season there are several young players who the media seem to have a crush on. they will be talked about widely as future stars in the league. Some of those players will go on to reach their potential and shine in the majors. At least as many, though, encounter problems that limit their full potential. It’s far too easy to be swept up by the excitement of new talent, but for bettors that can be costly. You can’t make betting decisions based on what a pitcher could possibly do. You need to focus on just what he is likely to do.

Assuming Triple-A form will translate – If a young pitcher is talented then it’s likely that he put up very impressive numbers in his last stint in the minor leagues. It’s dangerous to take anything from that at all, though. The step up from the minors to the major leagues is an absolutely massive one. The hitters are dramatically better, and the pressure of playing in front of big crowds is much more intense. There is no reason to believe that a pitcher will be a success as a rookie because he was very successful in the minor leagues – regardless of how gaudy his numbers were.

Trusting spring training performance – Spring training performance is even more meaningless than triple-A performance. In spring training the opposing lineups are not always going to be the best a team can offer, and even if they are the hitters aren’t going to be at their best and the games are far from full intensity. Teams that are bringing a young pitcher along are going to protect him as well as they possibly can, so they will find the best situations for him in the spring that they can. They aren’t going to throw him to the wolves, in other words. In short, nothing that we see in the spring can be assumed to be the same as we will see in the regular season because the circumstances of those starts will be different.

Getting too excited about first trip through the league – Many times we will see a young pitcher get off to a strong start. He’ll be throwing well, and opposing teams will struggle to catch up to him. Almost as often as we see that, though, we see it end. When a pitcher is a rookie opposing batters have never seen him in person, and they don’t have video of him performing against major league hitters. When he faces a team for the second time, though, then hitters know what to expect, and aren’t going to get caught off guard. Even a team that is facing him for the first time will have more of an advantage once he has played several games because they have been able to see his tendencies and how best to face him. When it comes to forming an opinion about a young pitcher it is important to be patient.

Betting too heavily – The best bets a bettor can make – the ones that most strongly contribute to the chances for a long term profit – are ones where the uncertainty is minimized. The less uncertainty there is, the more risk there is in making a bet, and the less likely you are to make a long term profit. In short, the more uncertainty there is the more you are essentially guessing about how the pitcher will perform. Guessing is not a profitable activity. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t bet on rookie pitchers, or that they can’t be profitable. I’m just suggesting that you would be best served to be sure of what a pitcher has to offer on the major league level before you bet heavily on – or against – him.

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