Baseball bettors always hear about the importance of evaluating matchups – how a starting pitcher stacks up against an opposing offense. But what does that actually mean? Here are seven factors to consider when evaluating starting pitcher matchups:
How well is the team hitting recently? – Bettors can be blinded by how a team is hitting on the year and what their reputation is. That can lead them to entirely ignore how they are performing in the short term. Even the most impressive offensive team is going to have times during the year when they fall into slumps and don’t produce at their typical level of production. If you are aware that the opponent is currently matching their potential then there is a good chance that you can find some nice value if your pitcher is performing well and the public will overestimate the opposing offense.
How consistent are the opposing hitters? – As important as the current form of the opposing hitters is their consistency. If the opposing offense is generally consistent then you can focus on how well they match up with the pitcher. If there is a real lack of consistency, though, then you first have to make the best guess you can of how the offense might perform before you can determine how well the pitcher matches up to that offense.
How does the team hit against similar pitchers? – The more of a sense of how the team fares against similar opponents you can get the better off you can be. The more creative you can be in determining which pitchers are similar, the bigger edge you have. The most obvious source of similarity is whether the pitcher is left-handed or right-handed. Some teams are better at hitting one type of pitcher than the other. Beyond that, you could look at whether the starter throws more ground balls or fly balls, and how that matches the offense. Or whether the pitcher is more of a power pitcher or a finesse thrower. Or if he throws a lot of strikes. There is almost no limit to what you could find out in the stat sheets, and how a comparison of those tendencies could be useful.
What is the pitcher’s recent form? – Just as bettors can be blinded by the reputation of the opposing offense and their performance on the season at the expense of their recent form, they can also be blinded to recent struggles of a very strong pitcher, or the recent strength of a typically underwhelming pitcher. If you can spot situations where the pitcher recently hasn’t matched his long term expectations then you have a very good chance at finding value in their matchup.
How consistent is the pitcher? – A lack of consistency in a pitcher can cause real headaches for bettors. There are some pitchers who tend to have their accuracy and their velocity almost every time out, while other guys have it some days and don’t on others. The less consistency a pitcher has the harder it is to assess how well he matches up to his opponent. Before you can focus on that matchup you have to determine what type of performance he is most likely to have, and how likely he is to have that type of performance. It adds another level of intricacy to your calculations, and makes it much more important that you are sure of your value before you make a bet.
How does the setting of the game suit the pitcher? – There are some situations in which a pitcher is more likely to shine than in others. You need to look at things like the time of day in which the game starts, the weather forecast during the game, the type of ballpark, whether the game is on the road or at home, the amount of rest the pitcher is coming off of, and so on. The more aspects you look at the better the chances that you will find one that has a big effect on how well the pitcher performs. That can be very profitable.
What will the public think? – As with anything else in sports betting you need to look at how the public will view a pitching matchup. If it is a strong pitcher against an offense that isn’t respected then the public is quite possibly going to give the pitcher too much credit. That could provide value on the underdog. On the other hand, if the pitcher is better than the public will likely think and the offense isn’t as strong as the perception then you could find value betting on the pitcher.