A sure thing in MLB? These pitchers dominate these matchups

June 28, 2022 07:24 PM
USATSI_13130957

In every sport, there are teams, players and coaches that simply fare better against certain opponents. 

In baseball’s most one-sided matchups for starting pitchers versus specific opponents, the reasons for dominance are varied. A pitcher can benefit from his team dominating a certain opponent, from himself dominating a certain lineup, from feeling more comfortable in a certain stadium or from a heightened level of motivation against certain teams and players.

Whatever the underlying factor, the results are the same. Here’s a look at 19 matchups in which a pitcher is on a dominant run against an opposing team, all of which might come into play at some point during the rest of the season. I’ve included dates for potential upcoming matchups, along with key stats and betting numbers. 

All information is from the pitcher’s current run of dominance, not necessarily career numbers against that team. Three pitchers appear twice, so the group of 19 includes 16 different pitchers, all listed in alphabetical order by last name.

Jose Berrios (Toronto) vs. Baltimore  

Team record: 8-0 (100.0%), + 8.1 units, R.O.I.: 101.3%      

Individual record: 6-0          

Key stats: IP: 54, ERA: 2.83, WHIP: 0.963, Ks/9: 8.5         

Potential upcoming matchups: Aug. 8-10 at Baltimore, Aug. 15-17 at home, Sept. 5-7 at Baltimore, Sept. 16-18 at home, Oct. 3-5 at Baltimore        

Details: Although the first seven games of this run came with the Twins, Berrios’ teams have put together an eight-game winning streak in his starts versus the Orioles. His numbers are solid but not overwhelming, and he has been given 5.4 RPG of support during this stretch. The Jays and O’s have 15 more games against each other in 2022.

Shane Bieber (Cleveland) vs. Minnesota

Team record: 10-2 (83.3%), + 7.6 units, R.O.I.: 63.3%        

Individual record: 5-1          

Key stats: IP: 76, ERA: 3.32, WHIP: 1.276, Ks/9: 11.3       

Potential upcoming matchups: June 29-30 at home, Sept. 9-11 at Minnesota, Sept. 16-19 at home       

Details: Twins-Guardians head-to-head matchups could go a long way in determining the AL Central champion this season. The Guardians will surely do their best to get Bieber some starts in the remaining matchups. Both of the losses in this stretch came on the road, as Bieber’s teams are 6-0 in Cleveland, with the Twins mustering just 16 runs in those games.

Walker Buehler (Los Angeles Dodgers) vs. Arizona

Team record: 7-0 (100.0%), + 7 units, R.O.I.: 100.0%         

Individual record: 5-0          

Key stats: IP: 42, ERA: 1.29, WHIP: 0.762, Ks/9: 10.1       

Potential upcoming matchups: Sept. 12-14 at Arizona, Sept. 19-22 at home          

Details: Buehler’s Dodgers are on runs of 7-0 and 10-1 in his recent starts versus the Diamondbacks. In the current seven-game streak, his numbers are dominant. And not all of it has been needed, as he has been given 8.0 RPG of support.

Dylan Cease (Chicago White Sox) vs. Detroit

Team record: 10-1 (90.9%), + 7.55 units, R.O.I.: 68.6%      

Individual record: 10-0        

Key stats: IP: 61.3, ERA: 1.91, WHIP: 1.158, Ks/9: 11       

Potential upcoming matchups: July 7-10 at home, Aug, 12-14 at home, Sept. 16-18 at Detroit, Sept. 23-25 at home  

Details: The Tigers pop up twice in a row on this list. Cease boasts an impressive 11.0 Ks/9 versus the Tigers in 11 career starts, and the White Sox have won 10 of them, all as favorites. He has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of the last 10 meetings.

Aaron Civale (Cleveland) vs. Detroit   

Team record: 8-0 (100.0%), + 8 units, R.O.I.: 100.0%         

Individual record: 7-0          

Key stats: IP: 55.7, ERA: 1.94, WHIP: 0.79, Ks/9: 6.3        

Potential upcoming matchups: July 4-6 at Detroit, July 14-17 at home, Aug. 9-11 at Detroit, Aug. 15-17 at home      

Details: Civale has dominated the Tigers in a different fashion than Cease, averaging just 6.3 Ks/9. His 0.79 WHIP in eight career starts versus the Tigers is noteworthy, although the way things have gone south for Civale overall in 2022, this trend might be tested down the road.

Gerrit Cole (New York Yankees) vs. Los Angeles Angels

Team record: 8-0 (100.0%), + 8 units, R.O.I.: 100.0%         

Individual record: 7-0          

Key stats: IP: 49.3, ERA: 2.19, WHIP: 0.974, Ks/9: 15       

Potential upcoming matchups: Aug. 29-31 at Los Angeles          

Details: Only the most recent two starts for Cole versus the Angels have come as a member of the Yankees, but in those outings he allowed just two earned runs in 12.2 innings — while striking out 24 hitters! His 15 Ks/9 innings over the course of the eight-game winning streak is easily the highest of any matchup on this list.

Kyle Hendricks (Chicago Cubs) vs. St. Louis      

Team record: 16-3 (84.2%), + 13.2 units, R.O.I.: 69.5%      

Individual record: 13-1        

Key stats: IP: 125.7, ERA: 2.29, WHIP: 1.026, Ks/9: 6.09  

Potential upcoming matchups: Aug. 2-4 at St. Louis, Aug. 22-25 at home, Sept. 2-4 at St. Louis  

Details: This has to be the most astonishing one-sided matchup of any on the list, not only because the Cardinals have been a quality team for the entire period dating to 2016, but also because Hendricks has never seemed capable of dominating teams. Including a win Saturday in St. Louis, Hendricks’ Cubs have now won 16 of his last 19 starts versus their rivals.

Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers) vs. Los Angeles Angels

Team record: 9-0 (100.0%), + 9 units, R.O.I.: 100.0%         

Individual record: 6-0          

Key stats: IP: 59.7, ERA: 1.51, WHIP: 0.854, Ks/9: 10.1    

Potential upcoming matchups: July 15-16 at Los Angeles Angels

Details: Kershaw seems to be motivated by the rivalry with the crosstown Angels. His Dodgers have won his last nine starts in the series, and he has put up some pretty impressive numbers (although he has also gotten 6.7 RPG of support). Only one of the last six matchups has been decided by fewer than three runs.

Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers) vs. Washington

Team record: 13-2 (86.7%), + 9.9 units, R.O.I.: 66.0%        

Individual record: 11-2        

Key stats: IP: 101.3, ERA: 2.22, WHIP: 0.879, Ks/9: 10.7  

Potential upcoming matchups: July 25-27 at home          

Details: Interestingly, neither of Kershaw’s dominant stretches on this list has come against a divisional opponent. His record against the Nationals includes a 6-0 mark on the road.

Corey Kluber (Tampa Bay) vs. Texas 

Team record: 7-0 (100.0%), + 7.0 units, R.O.I.: 100.0%      

Individual record: 5-0          

Key stats: IP: 46.3, ERA: 2.72, WHIP: 0.842, Ks/9: 9.3      

Potential upcoming matchups: Sept. 16-18 at home        

Details: During Kluber’s seven-game winning streak versus the Rangers for three different teams, the average run differential has been 4.6 with none of the games decided by fewer than two runs. Talk about decisive.

Eric Lauer (Brewers) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers   

Team record: 7-2 (77.8%), + 9.6 units, R.O.I.: 106.7%        

Individual record: 6-0          

Key stats: IP: 52.7, ERA: 2.56, WHIP: 1.101, Ks/9: 8.4      

Potential upcoming matchups: Aug. 15-18 at home, Aug. 22-24 at Los Angeles   

Details: I have proclaimed Lauer the Dodger-killer, although seven of the games in this impressive nine-game stretch came with the Padres. The Brewers and Dodgers play what could be two key series in August, and you’d have to think Brewers manager Craig Counsell will try to get Lauer a start in each. The left-hander has produced better than a 106% R.O.I. in his nine starts versus the Dodgers.

German Marquez (Colorado) vs. San Diego

Team record: 8-1 (88.9%), + 9.55 units, R.O.I.: 106.1%      

Individual record: 7-1          

Key stats: IP: 56.7, ERA: 4.44, WHIP: 1.323, Ks/9: 10.2    

Potential upcoming matchups: July 11-14 at home, Aug. 1-4 at San Diego, Sept. 23-25 at home       

Details: This is another eye-opening matchup that has produced in excess of 106% R.O.I. over the last nine meetings. Marquez hasn’t exactly been brilliant versus the Padres, owning a 4.44 ERA in this trend, but he has won a lot, with the last five outings coming in an underdog role. Strangely, being a pitcher who has thrived more at home than on the road, Marquez has won his last four starts in San Diego, all with lines of + 125 or higher.

Stephen Strasburg (Washington) vs. Miami

Team record: 15-1 (93.8%), + 14 units, R.O.I.: 87.5%         

Individual record: 12-1        

Key stats: IP: 104, ERA: 2.08, WHIP: 0.942, Ks/9: 11        

Potential upcoming matchups: July 1-3 at home, Sept. 16-18 at home, Sept. 23-25 at Miami  

Details: It’s been another injury-plagued season for Strasburg, but if he returns to health and form, he’ll have this trend — and the next one — backing him. He has dominated two divisional opponents, although in his first outing versus the Marlins since 2019, his 15-game series winning streak was snapped (seven runs in 4.2 innings on June 9). There’s a good chance this former ace’s best days are behind him, so it’s TBD whether this trend — and the next one — hold.

Stephen Strasburg (Washington) vs. Philadelphia

Team record: 9-0 (100.0%), + 9.45 units, R.O.I.: 105.0%    

Individual record: 6-0          

Key stats: IP: 53.7, ERA: 2.85, WHIP: 1.155, Ks/9: 10.2    

Potential upcoming matchups: July 5-7 at Philadelphia, Aug. 4-6 at Philadelphia, Sept. 9-11 at Philadelphia, Sept. 30-Oct. 2 at home  

Details: In addition to his nine-game team winning streak versus the Phillies, Strasburg is on a nine-game decision winning streak in this series (13-1 team). The last four games of the series have been decided by a combined 15 runs, although the last time Strasburg faced the Phillies was in 2019.

Michael Wacha (Boston) vs. Cincinnati       

Team record: 13-2 (86.7%), + 10.6 units, R.O.I.: 70.7%      

Individual record: 9-2          

Key stats: IP: 88, ERA: 2.45, WHIP: 1.102, Ks/9: 6.3         

Potential upcoming matchups: Sept. 20-21 at Cincinnati 

Details: After struggling the last three seasons for three different teams, Wacha is having an unexpectedly strong season for the Red Sox. Unfortunately the number of chances to take advantage of this trend versus the Reds are limited because of his move to the American League, but hopefully Red Sox manager Alex Cora lines up Wacha for one of the two games at Cincinnati in September. 

Adam Wainwright (St. Louis) vs. Pittsburgh

Team record: 10-0 (100.0%), + 10 units, R.O.I.: 100.0%     

Individual record: 10-0        

Key stats: IP: 67, ERA: 1.21, WHIP: 0.821, Ks/9: 7.9         

Potential upcoming matchups: Sept. 9-11 at Pittsburgh, Sept. 30-Oct. 2 at home, Oct. 3-5 at Pittsburgh           

Details: Dating to 2013, Wainwright’s Cardinals boast a 24-6 record in his 30 starts versus the Pirates (he has won his last 12 decisions in the series). The trend I chose to highlight is the Cardinals’ 10 straight wins versus the Pirates in Wainwright starts, as that is the cutoff for a 100% return on this investment. He has been favored in every one of the 10 wins, but his 1.21 ERA and 0.821 WHIP are clearly worthy of consideration in September and October.

Alex Wood (San Francisco) vs. Arizona

Team record: 9-1 (90.0%), + 8.05 units, R.O.I.: 80.5%        

Individual record: 4-1          

Key stats: IP: 56, ERA: 3.21, WHIP: 1.125, Ks/9: 10          

Potential upcoming matchups: July 4-6 at Arizona, July 11-13 at home, July 25-27 at Arizona, Aug. 15-18 at home, Sept. 23-25 at Arizona, Sept. 30-Oct. 2 at home      

Details: It’s no surprise Wood decided to stay in the NL West when he left the Dodgers after the 2020 season, as this trend and the next one show just how well he has fared against some of the other divisional teams. The stats in this 10-game stretch versus the Diamondbacks are particularly impressive, with 10.0 Ks/9 (his overall career Ks/9 is 8.5). This could be a lucrative find with the Giants and Diamondbacks squaring off in six different series over the next three months.

Alex Wood (San Francisco) vs. Colorado

Team record: 9-1 (90.0%), + 7.5 units, R.O.I.: 75.0%          

Individual record: 3-0          

Key stats: IP: 47, ERA: 4.40, WHIP: 1.43, Ks/9: 8.8           

Potential upcoming matchups: Aug. 19-21 at Colorado, Sept. 19-22 at Colorado, Sept. 27-29 at home

Details: Although his team’s records are the same over his last 10 starts versus the Diamondbacks and Rockies, Wood’s numbers versus the Rockies are skewed by the results at Coors Field. In fact, in the five games of this 10-game data set played in Colorado, the Rockies have scored 29 runs. Fortunately, Wood’s teams have answered with 45 of their own.

Brandon Woodruff (Milwaukee) vs. Pittsburgh    

Team record: 8-1 (88.9%), + 5.4 units, R.O.I.: 60.0%          

Individual record: 5-1          

Key stats: IP: 48, ERA: 3.75, WHIP: 1, Ks/9: 11.4  

Potential upcoming matchups: June 30-July 3 at Pittsburgh, July 8-10 at home, Aug. 2-4 at Pittsburgh, Aug. 29-31 at home     

Details: Interestingly, Woodruff’s ERA in this trend is 0.52 higher than his career number. His WHIP and Ks/9 innings numbers are better, but the Brewers scoring 7.0 RPG in his nine starts versus the Pirates has certainly helped. According to ESPN’s projected starters, bettors will have a chance to back this trend on July 3 and July 9.

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