MLB Bullpen System update: Streak, starting pitcher angles excel

MLB Bullpen System update: Streak, starting pitcher angles excel

This past week was another highlight laden one for the bullpen systems, with the angles focusing on winning and losing streaks, as well as the one focused on fading overpriced teams with small starting pitcher edges producing big numbers. We seem to be in a pattern of one or more of the angles booming each week of late, but overall, for the year, they all seem to be consistently building profit. That is the essence of successful systems, they might not win every week, but if foundational, they should produce respectable numbers over the long haul.

In this week’s update, I’ll dig into the individual systems a little bit later, talk about the overall numbers, which dipped a bit over the past seven days, and share all the updated key bullpen stats, ranks, and streaks to watch for.

Before we dig in, however, just a reminder. Hopefully, you have continued to embrace the idea that better bullpen teams are the stronger wager when assessing the options. They just aren’t accounted for as much as starting pitching by oddsmakers, thus giving bettors value in typically at least 1/3 of games. I also hope the continuous tracking is convincing you that paying exorbitant prices in baseball makes little sense, as the big favorites continue to lose money for their backers, even with superior bullpens.

What’s the easiest way to use these bullpen ratings? Well, there may be more profitable ways (by ROI) as shown by the drill-down systems below, but the easiest method is to simply take the teams with the better Steve Makinen Bullpen Ratings that aren't favored by -190 or more. Had you been doing that all year, taking the overall season record and subtracting the big favorite losses, you’d still be up almost +20 units. However, easiest is rarely best, and I will explain several other ways to use the methodology more effectively.

I’ll be continuing my weekly tracking of all these numbers for the rest of the season, and I’m hoping you have actively been employing these principles. I will continue to stress how much I believe in the foundation of the bullpen systems I have been tracking and how easy they are to utilize.

Hopefully, you have been using our new VSiN Analytics feature called the Daily MLB Report, as you can get all of these bullpen systems qualified for you each day as well.

Remember, to fully implement these strategies into your daily baseball betting routine, you only need two things: 1) the details of the systems as noted below and 2) VSiN Pro Access to MAKINEN DAILY POWER RATINGS page under the MLB tab on

AVOID/FADE all better bullpen overpriced favorites of -190 or higher

Highly-priced better bullpen teams had a rare positive week, going 18-7 for +2.03. Now, in games this season through Sunday 8/13 in which the team with the Steve Makinen better-rated bullpen was listed as a favorite of -190 or higher, that team now owns a 213-120 record, but for -62.52 units. This is an R.O.I. of -18.8%! In my opinion, bullpens prove to be the difference in games that are priced more competitively, and I personally don’t like backing heavy favorites with this high of prices on any single regular season baseball game. Hopefully, if you’ve picked up anything from this bullpen system series this year, it’s that concept.

Overpriced better bullpen without a big starting pitcher edge angle loses big last week

In combining starting pitcher differences in looking at games with -190 favorites or higher, there’s been an opportunity to be selective in fading overpriced favorites. Specifically, when the starting pitcher difference between the better Steve Makinen rated bullpen team is less than 20, these big favorites have gone just 48-54 for -72.94 units! This angle was 3-5 last week and lost -7.12 units! This situation is rare but should be taken advantage of when it arises. The R.O.I. on this amazing angle for the season has steadied and is now at -71.5%!

Better bullpen underdog teams remain solid wagers despite losses last week

A frequent and profitable system arises when the team with the better SM Bullpen Ratings is playing as an underdog (or pick ‘em). After a rare off week of 5-9 (-2.84 units) performance over the last week, moneyline underdog teams with better bullpen ratings for the season are now 269-269 for +64.52 units. The R.O.I. of this angle remains a healthy 12%!

Worse bullpen teams continue to struggle in extending winning streaks

I have found that fading teams with lesser SM bullpen ratings that are looking to extend winning streaks has been a strong strategy. That strategy fared well again last week. After a 4-9 (-4.4 units) week, on 2-game winning streaks, the teams with worse Steve Makinen Bullpen Ratings in a matchup are now 182-183 for -35.48 units, an R.O.I. of -9.7%. After a 0-3 result (-3.18 units), worse bullpen teams on 3+ game winning streaks now have a record of 69-87 for -20.69 units. The R.O.I. on that system continues to produce at -13.3%.

Better bullpen teams are capable of building lengthy winning streaks

In conducting a study of teams with better bullpens on winning streaks, I have not found anything significant on the two-game data, although these did do OK last week. However, when looking at teams with better Steve Makinen Bullpen Ratings looking to extend 3-game winning streaks, I have tracked that these teams have gone 183-120 for +26.97 units, an impressive R.O.I. of 8.9%. These better bullpen teams had a negative week though, -1.53 units on a 13-10 performance.

Better bullpen teams thwart losing streaks

Updating the results since 8/7, when on two-game losing streaks, the teams with better SM bullpen ratings in a matchup have gone 184-137 for +12.86 units. Better bullpen teams on 3+ game losing streaks had a big 6-1 week and have now gone 90-57 for +23.23 units. The R.O.I. for the season jumped back up to 15.8% after that surge this past seven days

These simple angles can be qualified each day by utilizing the MAKINEN DAILY RATINGS page on

My goal of posting and tracking these angles regularly is to get you to think along the lines of how fundamentally important good bullpens are in handicapping baseball and in being able to realize that no MLB game should ever command such lofty prices. I will continue to stress that I believe the reason for the success of these strategies is that they are foundational systems based upon a key team strength and other situational factors.

The reason these drill-down systems arose is that I wanted VSiN readers to feel more comfortable in betting systems that don’t require wagering on every single game. That said, for the entire season I have again been tracking the original general bullpen system, which took into account the overall record for backing the better bullpen rated team in every game on the schedule. This is how the analysis started, and I have expanded since. I’ve been using this methodology for the last five or six years to strong profits. It was a negative week overall, with the total record for all bullpen edges this past seven days being 52-43 for -7.75 units.

Back to last week’s results, these were the figures by day:

Monday 8/7: 8-3, +2.52 units

Tuesday 8/8: 12-2, -3.32 units

Wednesday 8/9: 7-8, -4.59 units

Thursday 8/10: 4-4, -3.18 units

Friday 8/11: 10-5, +4.32 units

Saturday 8/12: 8-7, -0.92 units

Sunday 8/13: 7-8, -3.58 units

Adding these numbers to the overall season records of this methodology, we are now at 968-769 for -43.04 units. Even though these are showing losses for the year overall, compare that to the average baseball bettor, who if playing every game so far this season, would be down -138.9 units with average performance. We are nearly up to a 100-unit difference, or what should be referred to as a strategic edge.

Here are the updated key bullpen stats that have been accumulated so far this season, as well as my current Bullpen Power Ratings as we head into this week’s games. Note, ratings were as of games through Sunday, August 13th and I do update them on a daily basis.

Key Bullpen Stats (through games of August 13th)

Top 5 Bullpen ERAs

  1. New York Yankees: 3.23
  2. Seattle: 3.45
  3. Atlanta: 3.49
  4. Toronto: 3.60
  5. San Francisco: 3.61

Worst 5 Bullpen ERAs

  1. Oakland: 5.50
  2. Kansas City: 5.25
  3. Washington: 5.02
  4. Colorado: 4.91
  5. Chicago White Sox: 4.60

Top 5 Bullpen WHIPs

  1. New York Yankees: 1.20
  2. San Francisco: 1.20
  3. Atlanta: 1.21
  4. Toronto: 1.21
  5. Tampa Bay: 1.22

Worst 5 Bullpen WHIPs

  1. Oakland: 1.53
  2. Kansas City: 1.48
  3. Colorado: 1.48
  4. Washington: 1.44
  5. Los Angeles Angels: 1.43

Top 5 Bullpen Ks/9 innings

  1. Houston: 10.33
  2. Seattle: 10.20
  3. Baltimore: 10.19
  4. Miami: 9.95
  5. Atlanta: 9.69

Worst 5 Bullpen Ks/9 innings

  1. Washington: 7.78
  2. Oakland: 8.37
  3. Tampa Bay: 8.37
  4. Colorado: 8.38
  5. Boston: 8.55

Top 5 Bullpen Last 7 Games WHIPs

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers: 0.73
  2. Texas: 0.84
  3. Toronto: 0.93
  4. Boston: 1.01
  5. Washington: 1.01

Worst 5 Bullpen Last 7 Games WHIPs

  1. Minnesota: 1.92
  2. Los Angeles Angels: 1.89
  3. New York Mets: 1.60
  4. Cleveland: 1.55
  5. Oakland: 1.53

I use a manual process of analyzing daily box scores to build my Bullpen Power Ratings. In most cases, the end number is a reflection of the stats listed above with great consideration also given to overall talent, injuries, and momentum.

Biggest Movers in SM Bullpen Power Ratings since last week Monday, August 7th:

Biggest upward movers (PR points)

  1. Boston: +7 points
  2. Detroit, Toronto, Los Angeles Dodgers: +6
  3. Houston, Washington: +4

Biggest downward movers (PR points)

  1. Tampa Bay: -9 points
  2. Pittsburgh, Minnesota: -8
  3. Chicago Cubs: -6
  4. Cleveland: -5

Steve’s Current Bullpen Ratings/Ranks

Rank - Team - Bullpen PR

  1. Baltimore: 18
  2. Houston: 17
  3. New York Yankees: 17
  4. Seattle: 15
  5. Toronto: 15
  6. Los Angeles Dodgers: 14
  7. Atlanta: 13
  8. San Francisco: 13
  9. Milwaukee: 12
  10. Chicago Cubs: 8
  11. Philadelphia: 7
  12. Tampa Bay: 6
  13. Boston: 5
  14. San Diego: 5
  15. Detroit: 4
  16. Minnesota: 3
  17. Texas: 2
  18. Cincinnati: 1
  19. Cleveland: 0
  20. Pittsburgh: -2
  21. Miami: -2
  22. Washington: -5
  23. St. Louis: -8
  24. Los Angeles Angels: -10
  25. Arizona: -10
  26. Chicago White Sox: -12
  27. New York Mets: -17
  28. Colorado: -22
  29. Oakland: -30
  30. Kansas City: -32

These are sorted first by bullpen ranking, and then by overall team power rating. Remember to continue being selective using the drill-down systems I have shared.

As we head into this week’s games, there are three teams on 3+ game winning streaks and three teams on 3+ game losing skids:

Active 3+ game winning streaks (as of 8/14)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Milwaukee
  • Washington

Active 3+ game losing streaks (as of 8/14)

  • Chicago White Sox
  • Colorado
  • Oakland