Last week I pleased the fans of hard-throwing bullpen arms when I broke down the best late-inning strikeout artists in Major League baseball.
Today I will explore the opposite side of the coin – bullpen walks. It is no secret that pitchers who limit the base on balls tend to have better success.
Use the following information to help you learn which MLB bullpens can be counted upon to nail down the Ws and which are disasters waiting to happen. This will increase your over/under and live betting game significantly! Let’s dig in!
Walks Per Nine Innings – BB/9
As coaches of each level instruct their young pitchers, do not walk batters. Walks set innings up for disaster and can be impossible for even the best pitchers to overcome.
A walk-aided run in the early innings can be overcome. A walk-aided run in the 9th inning might just end the game.
Bullpens that limit walks keep themselves out of trouble more often than not. Here are the top-5 bullpens ranked by the fewest BB/9.
Bullpen pitchers will always have one of two goals depending on the situation: keep your team close or preserve the lead. ERA and losses, respectively, will tell us which bullpens do the best in these areas.
A low ERA proves that you limit runs while having few losses proves you hold leads well.
To demonstrate how significant a low BB/9 rate is, I will now list the top-10 MLB bullpens in both ERA and losses (lower being good for each, of course). Note how the 5 teams above appear high on both lists.
2019 Top-10 Bullpen ERAs
2019 Top-10 Bullpen Losses
The Cleveland Indians’ bullpen has been dynamite in 2019. Cleveland sports the lowest bullpen ERA and the second-fewest bullpen losses in the majors. We now know why this is possible – because the Indians’ pen walks the fewest batters in the majors. Lack of walks is the foundation of this success.
Pouring Gas on the Fire
Bullpen pitchers are analogous to firefighters – entering the game in a pinch and getting their team out of trouble. When pitchers self destruct, they act as the opposite of a firefighter – gasoline.
The following bullpens are full of pitchers that have been self destructing quite often this season. This is a list no one wants to be on – the 5 MLB bullpens with the most walks per nine innings.
Surprisingly, the Cubs’ bullpen is walking the most batters in the MLB and yet Chicago finds themselves with a winning record and in first place atop the NL Central.
This is very atypical. The other 4 teams are examples of what is supposed to happen when your bullpen cannot throw strikes. The Mariners are 16 games under .500 and in last place. The Pirates are just one game under .500 but are in 4th place and plagued with inconsistency.
The Orioles are the MLB’s worst team in 2019. The Mets are 10 games under and in 4th place.
Monitor those walk numbers closely. If you see a team that is normally good at throwing strikes hit a rough patch, don’t be afraid to bet some overs or late-inning prop bets. Likewise, don’t be afraid to stand behind a low under bet if you trust the bullpens of the teams playing.
Handicappers put so much focus on the starting pitcher, but they are throwing fewer and fewer innings each year. To take your game to the next level, start paying attention to what the bullpens are doing.
See you on top!