There are some pitchers out there who are consistently good at going under the posted total, and others who have never met a total that they can’t go over. Some of that is related to their ERA and the way they are pitching – bad pitcher are going to allow a lot of runs and make t easier to go over, while great pitchers are stingy with runs and go deep in games, and it is hard to go over. There is more to it than just that, though. The pitchers have a big impact on the total that the oddsmakers set, so it only makes sense that both the performance and the public perception of those pitchers factors heavily into the line as it is set. A pitcher that performs at a higher level than the public perceives him to, then, could be a useful pitcher to play on the over/under. Here’s a look at 10 guys who have been particularly useful against the total so far this year:
Dan Haren, Arizona (8-1) – This one isn’t much of a surprise – the Diamondbacks have been wildly profitable on the over all year. They are 25-13 against the total on the season – the most overs of any team in the league. His games have averaged 11.6 runs per, so it’s not hard to go over with that statistic.
Josh Johnson, Florida (7-1) – Johnson’s stats are pretty solid this year – he’s pitching like the ace that he is for the most part. So why is he so consistently going over. A few reasons spring to mind. His ace status leads to lower than average numbers, and his team plays with confidence in front of him – they have scored seven or more runs in five of his nine starts, and the total n his games has never been higher than 8.5. Add that to a pretty average bullpen and you have a recipe for going over.
Randy Wolf, Milwaukee (7-1) – Wolf toils for another team that loves to go over – they have done it just one fewer times than Arizona, and have gone under one fewer time as well. Combine tat with some unimpressive stats from Wolf – a 4.66 ERA and 1.53 WHIP – and you have a good likelihood of going over.
Scott Feldman, Texas (6-1) – The public perceives Feldman as an ace after such an impressive, unexpected year last year. Despite the general success of the Rangers this year, though, Feldman has pitched nothing like an ace. His 5.89 ERA and 1.66 WHIP, when combined with a very competent offense, makes it easy to go over.
Luke Hochevar, Kansas City (6-1) – Let’s not spend much time on this one – he’s a pitcher with a familiar name for the public who has put up pretty lousy stats for a really lousy team.
Roy Oswalt, Houston (0-7) – Houston really can’t score runs. At all. They have crossed the plate just 115 times. The horrifically struggling Mariners are second worst with 130, and the Yankees lead the way with 225. It’s not a wonder that the under has been nicely profitable on the Astros all year. Combine that with the fact that Oswalt has been good – 2.62 ERA and 1.07 WHIP – and it’s no surprise that he’s been the best under bet in the league.
Jaime Garcia, St. Louis (0-7) – If you asked casual baseball fans to characterize the Cardinals’ offensive production most people would assume that it is much better than it is – they are just 18th in runs scored. That’s a big reason why the team is 13-26 on totals this year – the most profitable of any team. Add that to a guy with a microscopic 1.42 ERA and of course he goes under a lot.
Livan Hernandez, Washington (0-6) – Hernandez has been plain good. Great, really – 1.46 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. His team is in a five game losing streak, but is still at .500, and still much better than people expected them to be. A good pitcher on an under-appreciated team will never struggle to go under.
C.J. Wilson, Texas (1-7) – It’s interesting that you have both Feldman and Wilson discussed here on opposite sides of the equation. While Feldman’s issues have largely been that he hasn’t been as good as expected, the opposite can be said here – Wilson is much better than anticipated. He hasn’t started games since 2005, and seemed like a desperation stop-gap when he was named to the rotation, but his 2.55 ERA, two complete games, and 1.15 WHIP are all signs that this guy has some talent, and that he’s in good form.
Barry Zito, San Francisco (1-6) – This seems like a case where the public hasn’t changed their perceptions quickly enough. The struggles of Zito have been well covered in recent years, so it’s an easy assumption to think that he’d give up a lot of runs and likely go over. There are just two problems with that. First, he’s pitching extremely well this year. Second, the over was never a good bet for him – the under was nicely profitable last year for him, and just better than break even the year before.