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Major League Baseball - Pitchers You Can Bet On

It’s the start of the MLB season and already some pitchers have come to the forefront. Who looks good and has the support to win a slew of games? You may want to wager on these guys all season long. However, before you decide to drop some money on any pitcher, you’ll need to consider some variables other than that particular hurler’s stats. In putting together this list of four pitchers who have a strong chance of winning every time they take the mound, consideration has been given to each hurler’s earned run average, his club’s ability to generate runs and the team’s bullpen situation. Additionally, the age of the player, physical condition and health and past history have been weighed. For our purposes, we are only interested in betting the money line.

The reason for this is that the money line is a straight bet which does not take into consideration the +/- 1 and1/2 run game spread that the run line does. Betting the run line complicates the attempt to determine a pitcher’s worth in a game, since topnotch mound dwellers are capable of winning many one run games over the course of a season. This is especially true when the team has a great closer. Pitchers backed by top closers may not beat the spread, which makes wagering on the run line extremely risky. Since our point is to determine what pitchers have the best chance of winning whenever they go to the mound and since strong pitching tends to defeat great hitting, we want to bet the game in its purest form - the money line.

Jose Contreras (Chicago White Sox) Contreras starts his fourth Major League season and is coming off his best year ever, where he went 15-7 with a 3.61 ERA for the world champion White Sox. This season the thirty-four year-old right-hander is off to the best start of his career, going 3-0 with a 1.55 ERA. Batters from the left side of the plate are hitting .229 against him, while those from the right are hitting .167. In 4 starts, he’s given up only 19 hits, which makes him one of the toughest pitcher’s in the league. He has three strong pitches - 91- 95 mph fastball, a slider/cut fastball, and an elusive forkball. Contreras had always been seen as having great potential but his mental make-up seemed to get in the way.

That particular problem disappeared last year when, after the All Star break, he became unbeatable. In September he went 6-0 with a 1.99 ERA, and during the entire second-half, he was 11-2 notching a 2.96 ERA. He also had a great post season. The question for this year was would the post-All Star break Contreras show up or the pre-All Star break pitcher (4-5, 4.26 ERA) from last season take the mound? It looks like the new, confident Contreras is present, as the righty continues from where he left off in the World Series. The White Sox are scoring 5.9 runs per game and closer Bobby Jenks, who has given up 2 homers in 9 innings, is 6 for 6 in save opportunities. The home runs might be worrisome, except for the fact that they did not affect a save opportunity and Jenks has a 90-100 mph fastball that more times than not simply mows down hitters.

On many other teams, Contreras would be a number one starter. With such an all-around tough starting pitching staff surrounding him, plenty of offense, and a great bullpen, Contreras appears to be in a comfort zone that will simply give him more and more confidence. He’s a great bet. Greg Maddux (Chicago Cubs) Maddux has started his twenty-first MLB season in amazing fashion with a 4-0 record and a 0.99 ERA. Coming into this year, there was concern over the aging pitcher due to the fact that he had a losing record in 2005 (13-15, 4.24 ERA). The last time Maddux had lost more games than he won was in 1987. Last season, Maddux seemed to lose some of his great stuff. He’s always had fantastic location and movement, while ably working both sides of the plate.

His 82-87 mph fastball has late movement that handcuffs hitters. His three other pitches include a tight curve at 73-75 mph, a tricky slider ranging from 80-84 mph, and a circle change. He usually walks an average of 1 man or less per game. Backing up Maddux is closer Ryan Dempster, who last season saved 33 games in 35 opportunities. It’s now been two years since Dempster, a former starter who the Cubs converted to a closer in 2004, had elbow surgery. Last season’s strong performance gave credence to his recovery. This season he’s sporting a 1.50 ERA while being a perfect 6 for 6 in saves. The Cubs offense has scored an average of 5.


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