Betting on Starting Lineups and Pitchers

This page takes a look at betting more advanced metrics in baseball, including reading the starting lineups, pitchers and more.

To be successful betting on baseball, you have to handicap every area of the game, including betting on starting lineups and pitchers, as well as other important metrics like Home and Away field advantages. This type of baseball betting strategy starts with pitching and hitting. But you have to dig deeper to find value.

Major League Baseball managers get paid a lot of money to set the lineup that gives them the best chance to win. You don’t get to set lineups. But you do need to learn how to evaluate each lineup to determine which team has the best chance to win.

What’s the Normal Lineup?

Baseball is more specialized than ever. Every team has situational relief pitchers, and pinch hitters, and most teams use platoons at some positions. So, teams don’t always have a normal lineup. However, most teams have a fairly normal lineup. You know certain players are going to be in the lineup every day they’re healthy. And you learn which players are likely to play on each side of a platoon.

Why is it important to identify a normal lineup? Not only do you need to handicap individual hitters, but you also need to handicap hitting by team. And establishing a normal lineup for each team helps you because you start with a baseline.

When you learn how to handicap baseball lineups well, you learn which combinations and players have the best opportunity to score runs. You can even learn that the same players batting in a different order can produce different results. What happens when a backup is inserted into the normal lineup? Catchers need days off, so how does the team hit when the starting catcher is resting? What can you expect when a player is injured?

Answering these questions and questions like them is what handicapping baseball batting orders is about.

Home and Road Splits

Baseball teams perform differently at home and on the road. And hitters have home and road tendencies you need to know about. In addition, some parks are better for hitters than others.

Your batting order strategy needs to take all of these things into consideration. Home teams have advantages, but how much is the advantage worth? And is the game day lineup for the visiting team going to overcome the disadvantages?

A batting order strategy starts with each player in the lineup for the game. However, the only past stats you need to consider are the home stats for the home hitters and road stats for the road hitters. You don’t have to make adjustments based on the park for the home hitters. However, you need to consider adjustments based on the park for the road hitters.

Build a comparison of every MLB park to make your comparison as accurate as possible, compare only the hitting statistics for road teams in the park. By only using the road teams, you don’t have data skewed by a strong or weak home team offense.

With a park comparison, you can make adjustments when handicapping hitting for each team. And this helps you when looking at the batting order for the game you’re handicapping.

Left and Right Splits

Some hitters are so good that they bat in the same spot in the order whether the team faces a left or right-handed pitcher. But most managers run out a different batting order against right and left-handed pitchers.

Usually, a right-handed hitter performs better against a left-handed pitcher, and a left-handed hitter performs better against a right-handed pitcher. But never assume this is true for individual hitters. You always have to check the statistics.

Starting and relief pitcher considerations are discussed below, but you have to consider every spot in the batting order against the starting pitcher and the other pitchers who are likely to enter the game.

A perfect lineup has alternating left and right-hand batters. But every team plays their best hitters, so the order rarely works this way. And some hitters are so good that it doesn’t matter if they face a pitcher throwing right or left.

When you’re evaluating the batting order for each team, focus mainly on their split for the starting pitcher. If the starter throws right-handed, look at the batter splits against right-handed pitchers.

Then make adjustments based on the likely relief pitchers. If a team only has two left-handed relievers and one is unavailable today, you know the remaining lefty will only be able to deal with a limited number of batters.

Hot and Cold MLB Players

Past statistics are the foundation of handicapping batting orders. A team that usually kills left-handed pitchers is probably going to continue beating them. And a team that struggles against right-handed power pitchers is likely to continue struggling against them.

But every team has at least a few hitters that get hot or cold. A hot hitter is on a streak of hitting the ball hard and producing stats better than normal. Cold hitters can’t seem to make anything fall.

You have to identify hot and cold hitters when you evaluate batting orders. But it’s tricky because not every hitter has streaks. And you never know what a streaky hitter is going to stop or start a streak.

So, not only do you need to consider the split stats discussed above for each hitter for the season, but you also need to look at the recent games. Looking at the previous three to five games can give you an idea if a hitter is hot or cold.

But don’t forget to consider the park the games were in and the pitchers they faced. What looks like a cold streak might just be facing better pitchers and having a little bad luck. And a hot streak might be facing bad pitchers and having a little luck.

Learning how to identify hot and cold hitters and how to adjust your predictions is one of the best ways to get an edge betting on baseball.

Starting and Relief Pitching Considerations

Starting pitchers used to throw seven or eight innings in most of their starts. Now, it’s rare for a starting pitcher to go longer than six innings, and many teams pull starters after five innings regularly. It’s to the point where relief pitchers are pitching close to half the innings.

Handicapping the betting order against the starting pitcher is fairly simple. But predicting which relief pitchers are going to enter the game is challenging. The first relief pitcher into the game depends on how deep the starter works and the score of the game. You can’t always predict these things accurately.

But you can predict some things. And it starts with knowing which pitchers are available for the game and the tendencies of the manager. In other words, you need to know how each manager uses his bullpen.

Most teams have a closer that comes in the ninth inning with a lead. But which pitchers are likely to enter the game in the sixth or seventh inning? What about if the team is trailing by a run in the seventh? Or what happens when the team is down four runs in the seventh?

When you’re handicapping baseball games and the batting order, you have to try to predict how many runs the team is going to score. And doing this requires estimating runs against the starting pitcher and the bullpen.

The next step is identifying the players on the bench most likely to pinch hit against each relief pitcher. You need to know the players and manager tendencies for every team you bet on almost as well as the managers know what they’re going to do.

Using Batting Order Betting Strategy to Win

Batting order strategy is only one part of your overall baseball handicapping strategy. But it’s an important part that can be the difference between profit and loss. Add a batting order strategy to your handicapping immediately. And when you’re ready to find the best lines and place bets, learn what to do below.

Where to Find the Best Lines

Every successful baseball betting strategy is based on finding betting lines that give value based on your handicapping. And the betting lines aren’t always the same from one sportsbook to another.

Where are the best lines for betting on baseball?

The best baseball betting lines are in online sportsbooks. But not every online sportsbook is the same. You can learn more about the best online sportsbooks for baseball lines here.

Should You Bet at One Sportsbook or Several?

When you only bet at one sportsbook, you can’t take advantage of line variations. The only line you can bet on is the one offered by your book. For this reason alone, you should have accounts at several sportsbooks. The other advantage of having multiple baseball betting accounts is you get bonus bets and deposit bonuses at every sportsbook you sign up with.