As a baseball bettor there is one thing I dream about – a pitcher who is consistently better than the public realizes he is. Thankfully, that’s not that hard to find. There are so many pitchers in the league that’s it hard for all but the most devoted followers of the sport to keep track of them all, and many good ones can fall through the cracks. Here’s a look at five guys who have been kind to observantbettors so far this year:
Scott Olsen, Washington Nationals – To the surprise of most people, the Nationals have been more than competent so far this year. They are a couple of games above .500, and have beaten some pretty good teams along the way. One of the quiet stars of their nice start has been Olsen. He’s been an underdog in all seven of his starts, and the team is solid 4-3 in those starts. That a recipe for profit. More impressive than that record,though, is the way that Olsen is pitching recently. His first two starts were rough – he allowed 10 earned runs in less than eight innings, including six in just two innings against Colorado. Since then, though, he’s been a whole new guy. He has allowed four earned runs in his last five starts combined – a span of 32 innings. His strikeout-to-walk ratio of 25-to-7 over that stretch is very nice as well. Olsen is coming back from an injury plagued season last year, and he’s never really posted big numbers, so it’s no surprise that he isn’t on the radar of casual bettors. He’s in fine form right now, though, so he’s certainly useful.
Nick Blackburn, Minnesota Twins – The Twins are playing with a lot of confidence right now as they top the standings in the AL Central. Blackburn is a big part of that. His ERA of 4.63 isn’t great, and he has just one more strikeout than walk, but the only stat that matters is where he really shines – the Twins are 6-1 in Blackburn’s seven starts. This is Blackburn’s third year as a full-time starter. What we learned in his first two seasons is that he is the kind of pitchers that settles into extended streaks – either good or bad. When he’s out of form he’s a guy to avoid, but in form hes a reliable guy to bet on and to profit. He’s in solid form right now, and it’s worth keeping an eye on him right now until he shows that he’s not any more.
Mike Leake, Cincinnati Reds – This rookie didn’t get a lot of attention this year – few pitchers other then Stephen Strasburg have. The Reds aren’t exactly in the media spotlight, either. Few people may be paying much attention to Leake, but they sure should be. He has a respectable 3.09 ERA and a 4-0 record, and the team is 6-1 when he starts. That’s especially impressive when you consider that the team is just 15-15 when he isn’t on the mound. Pitchers are often particularly useful on their first time through the league, but one thing stands out when you look at what Leake has done – he has faced the Cubs twice and was effective against them both times. That’s a sign that Leake could have some staying power, and is going to be worth a good look going forward.
Mitch Talbot, Cleveland Indians – It’s hard to find things to like about the Indians right now, but Talbot is definitely one of them. The team is 5-2 when he starts, and 10-18 when he doesn’t. The two games he has lost were acceptable as well – they were against the Tigers and the Jays, which are both teams that can score some runs. Talbot has allowed two or fewer earned runs in four of his seven start. What’s particularly attractive is that three of those four low scoring starts have come on the road. A pitcher for a team that no one cares about who is effective on the road where the prices are higher is a very valuable asset to have in your toolbox.
Ricky Romero, Toronto Blue Jays – I have been on the Romero bandwagon since early in his rookie season last year. The lefty has Cy Young ability once he gets a couple more years of experience, and he’s already the best pitcher the surprisingly solid Jays have. The Jays are 6-2 when Romero starts, and they have won his last four outings. He hits the mound with a swagger, and that confidence rubs off on his teammates. What really stands out is his K-to-BB ratio of 59-to-21. He can really confuse hitters when his slider is working. It’s just a matter of time until people really start to notice how good this guy can be, but until that happens he’s very useful at the betting window.