Baseball Pitcher Form ReversalBaseball betting is a game of numbers, which is one reason it ranks well behind football and basketball in popularity among the public. There are so many statistics for baseball bettors to decipher, given enough time, it's likely that a case could be made for each and every team on any particular day.
Starting pitchers get most of the attention from a bettor's standpoint, which makes sense, as that is the one person who is most likely to single-handedly win or lose a ballgame. But as baseball bettors know all too well, starting pitchers don't always live up to their form every time they take the mound. If they did, baseball betting would be the easiest sport to handicap and bettors would make a fortune.
One of the most key components for baseball bettors is to try and predict when a pitcher is going to live up to his statistics, as all starting pitchers will have good games and bad ones. A starter with an ERA of 4.00 isn't going to allow four runs every time he takes the mound.
One statistic that is readily available in many newspapers and websites is what a pitcher has done in his last three starts. Many baseball bettors make the mistake of wanting to back the hot pitcher, when in fact that pitcher is the one most likely to have a setback. A pitcher with a season ERA of 4.78, but an ERA of 2.68 in his last three starts may appear to be a solid bet, but there's a reason the pitcher has such a high ERA to begin with.
This little method of predicting a pitcher's form reversal was first introduced to me by Jim Barnes, one of my favorite sports betting authors of all-time. If you happen to come across his Journal of Handicapping books, snatch them up, as there is plenty of great advice contained in those pages. The great thing about Barnes was that he threw out plenty of ideas and let readers determine their value.
What Barnes suggested when looking a starting pitcher and their recent form was to take the pitcher's season ERA and double it. Then subtract the pitcher's ERA from the last three games to get an estimate of their expected performance. Using the example above, by taking the pitcher's season ERA of 4.78 and doubling it, we would get a total of 9.56. Subtract the three-game ERA of 2.68 and our expected ERA of the pitcher becomes a whopping 6.88, and this is when most bettors will be backing this pitcher on the assumption that he has a hot hand.
On the other side of the equation, if a pitcher has a season ERA of 3.86 and a three-game ERA of 5.00, we can expect a better performance today, as his expected ERA becomes 2.72 for today's game.
The key concept behind this method is that starting pitchers will perform at their expected level over the course of the season. A good pitcher with several bad starts in a row should be expected to revert back to the form that established them as a good pitcher. While a bad pitcher with several strong starts should be expected to show why he is a bad pitcher over time.
As an added bonus, baseball bettors using this method are more likely to receive a little added value on their wagers, as many times they will be bucking the public, who loves to hop aboard or hop off of the bandwagon.
This little technique isn't going to be the key to untold riches, but like any article written about sports gambling, is something the bettor should be aware of and determine its merit in their own handicapping technique.