MLB betting: Pitchers to put money on, fade


Imagine how profitable you would've been fading the Boston Red Sox with Chris Sale on the mound during his tumultuous start to the season, or betting on the arm of Lucas Giolito before he became a full-fledged All-Star candidate? As pitchers' stocks fluctuate, it's important to get ahead of the curve before the market catches up.

Here's which hurlers you should bet on and who you should bet against.

Bet against

Zach Davies - Brewers

We'll give Davies some credit. He has a 34.3 percent hard-hit rate and an 87.4-mph average exit velocity to go along with his 7-1 record. If you're a pitcher like Davies, who averages fewer than 6.0 K/9, you better make up for it by inducing weak contact.

However, we can't help but think Davies will start regressing toward the mean. Not only does he have a substantial discrepancy between his ERA (3.06) and xFIP (5.05), he's also benefited from stranding better than 80 percent of his baserunners this season.

Mike Fiers - Athletics

While we don't think the common bettor is rushing to the window to bet on Fiers every fifth day, we do believe he'll soon start catching some attention. He's now 7-3 entering this week and hasn't lost since May 1. Over that span - a grand total of nine starts - he's allowed three or fewer earned runs in each outing.

There's some concern over how Fiers has flourished this season. He's not a power pitcher - he's posting a 5.9 K/9 - and has been bailed out by a .226 batting average on balls in play (BABIP). The right-hander is also a fly ball pitcher, having allowed more than 60 percent of his batted-ball events to be hit in the air. Meanwhile, he's faced some porous offenses since his winning run started - Detroit, Cincinnati, and Baltimore - and has had five starts during that span at Oakland Coliseum, which is No. 27 in the league for runs created this season.

Jake Odorizzi - Twins

The biggest question for the Twins heading into the season was how well they could pitch. With Jose Berrios as the anchor, Odorizzi has been a solid No. 2, posting double-digit wins and a solid 2.58 ERA heading into this week.

We're not completely sold, however.

The veteran right-hander owns a 4.32 xFIP and somehow only has a 6.3 percent HR/FB rate despite 68.9 percent of his batted-ball events being fly balls, the most of any qualified pitcher in the majors. It's unfathomable he's only allowed six homers this season.

Odorizzi has also been helped out by a recent string of cold bats. He hasn't faced a top 10 offense since May 4. We'd be jumping ship.

Bet on

Zack Wheeler

Wheeler's the kind of pitcher whose peripheral stats look much better than his surface numbers. He won't be up for a Cy Young with a 6-5 record and 4.69 ERA, but his 3.89 xFIP, 24.8 percent strikeout rate, 6.7 walk rate, .306 xwOBA, and 35.4 percent hard-hit rate all point to better outcomes. He's also been fairly unlucky in another way, stranding only 66.1 percent of baserunners, the fourth-lowest of any qualified pitcher. Wheeler's faced some hot bats as of late as well, pitching against six offenses that rank in the top half of the majors in runs per game in his last eight starts.

Tyler Mahle

Bettors might not want anything to do with a pitcher who's 2-7 with a 4.17 ERA, but they should. Mahle has shown promise this season despite his surface numbers.

His 24.8 percent strikeout rate is solid, as is his 5.6 percent walk rate. Mahle isn't a fly ball pitcher - 55.3 percent of his batted-ball events have been fly balls and his average launch angle on batted balls is 8.9 degrees - but he's had some unfortunate luck in the homer department, allowing 1.51 HR/9 and owning a preposterous 18.3 percent HR/FB rate. Mahle's also had no luck with his offense, receiving just 2.79 runs of support per game. He provides fantastic value entering the second half of the campaign.

Aaron Nola - Phillies

Nola doesn't fit your prototypical value candidate, but we don't think he's being treated properly by the market. The Phillies ace has bounced back after being one of the worst pitchers over the first month of the season but he's still somewhere near the bottom of his fair-market price.

He's allowed a 20.6 percent HR/FB rate despite his 47.8 ground ball percentage this season. There's also a clear discrepancy between his ERA (4.55) and xFIP (3.84). Nola's been Jekyll and Hyde all season long, but we think he should be bet on down the stretch, with a ton of room before he reaches his market peak.

Alex Kolodziej is theScore's betting writer. He's a graduate of Eastern Illinois who has been involved in the sports betting industry for 11 years. He can quote every line from "Rounders" and appreciates franchises that regularly wear alternate jerseys. Find him on Twitter @AlexKoIodziej.

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