High-value pitchers on bad teams


At this point on the calendar, most bettors are inundated with football handicapping or simply concentrating on high-stakes games that will impact baseball’s playoff picture. A few series like that will be played this week, notably featuring the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Giants and Dodgers. However, these bettors are missing out on a tremendous amount of potential value with teams that have been eliminated. Most of the time, these teams are heavily discounted by oddsmakers, becoming value targets for savvy pros.

One situation I like to look for late in the season involves teams that have been eliminated but are still playing with obvious signs of heart and grit. In particular, I like to find under-the-radar pitchers who are putting up strong performances for these teams. These emerging studs aspire to become building blocks for their franchises, so they have something to prove. As usual, 2021 has presented that opportunity, and I have focused on 12 pitchers you’ll want to note for the last week of the regular season and in your preparation for next season.

These starting pitchers have become bright spots for their teams in otherwise dismal campaigns. Note that I’ve targeted their potential final starts of the season so you can advantage.

Bailey Ober (Minnesota)

Ober has started 20 times this season, and while his won-lost record is just 3-3, the Twins have gone 12-8 for + 5.4 units of profit in those games. He boasts a highly respectable WHIP of 1.202 and has struck out 96 hitters in 92 innings. Ober has been extra special on the road, with the Twins going 7-3 in games he has pitched. Minnesota is arguably the biggest disappointment in the AL this season, but this young right-hander’s emergence has been a bright spot.

Final start: Scheduled to go Friday at Kansas City

Joe Ryan (Minnesota)

Ryan is another Twins pitcher who has come on strong after being called up. Though he has received only four starts and the Twins are just 2-2 in those games, his numbers have been sparkling. Ryan boasts a WHIP of 0.591 in 22 innings, and he has struck out 25 hitters while walking just three. In his most recent outing, he struck out 11 Cubs in five innings. Minnesota has scored only nine runs in his starts, a microcosm of what has gone wrong for them in 2021.

Final start: Scheduled to go Thursday vs. Detroit

Chris Ellis (Baltimore)

The Orioles acquired Ellis from the Rays this season, and though he had just five innings of big-league experience, their desperate need for quality starters presented an opportunity for him to emerge right away. He has done that and much more in his six starts. Having produced 9.3 units of profit, Ellis is among the league’s best in ROI in 2021. His WHIP of 1.193 and ERA of 2.15 give some hope to Baltimore fans starved for a winner heading into next season. He has a chance to have an impact on the wild-card race as well in his final start.

Final start: Scheduled to go Friday at Toronto

Adrian Sampson (Chicago Cubs)

In a word, the Cubs’ starting pitching has been dreadful. But one recent potential ray of hope has been Adrian Sampson. Since mid-August, he has received four spot starts, and you’d have to figure the franchise wishes it would have called on him earlier and more often. In his four outings, Sampson has worked 20 innings and posted a WHIP of 1.05. He has never been a power pitcher, but he is getting 46.3 percent of hitters on ground balls this year. Sampson has one more chance to prove he can be a regular piece in the Chicago rotation next season.

Final start: Scheduled to go Saturday at St. Louis

Cal Quantrill (Cleveland)

The Indians’ rotation was in shambles for most of the season, with ace Shane Bieber as well as Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac spending more than their fair share of time on the injured list. However, that has allowed Quantrill to emerge as a new potential staff anchor. The former Padre, acquired before the 2020 season, had spent most of his career coming out of the bullpen. But in 21 starts, Quantrill has a record of 7-2 with an ERA of 2.82 and a WHIP of 1.183. He has also eased the stress on his former bullpen mates by going deep in many starts. In fact, in his last 12 outings, this stud right-hander has worked six innings or more 11 times. He has also allowed two earned runs or fewer all but twice in that stretch. Quantrill, who beat Kansas City on Monday, is a consistent performer who might have transformed into a starter over the last couple of months.

Final start: Scheduled to go in season finale Sunday at Texas

Trevor Rogers (Miami)

After a horrendous 2020 season, Rogers has emerged this season and has staked his claim as one of the building blocks for the rotation. The left-hander has been remarkably consistent and dominant this season. In 24 starts over 128 innings, Rogers has struck out 151 hitters while compiling a WHIP of 1.172. In no start did Rogers allow more than four runs. He is a big guy, too, boasting a frame of 6-foot-5 and 217 pounds. As a lefty, he figures to be a solid starter for the Marlins or a very enticing trade prospect. 

Final start: Scheduled to go in season finale Sunday vs. Philadelphia

Ranger Suarez (Philadelphia)

While the Phillies aren’t a losing team, it will take an incredible last week for them to overcome the Braves and win the NL East. You certainly can’t blame Suarez if they come up short. Pressed into the rotation after injuries and struggles by others, Suarez has been a godsend for manager Joe Girardi. His 11 starts have produced an excellent 1.69 ERA and 1.091 WHIP. For a guy used to pitching an inning or less in relief for the first four months of the season, Suarez has stretched out to where his last seven starts have covered 44 innings. In his most recent start Saturday, he threw a complete game and shut out the Pirates. But the Phillies haven’t always hit, and Suarez has been aided by just 3.1 runs of support during that stretch. With Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Kyle Gibson and now Suarez, the Phils have a solid rotation to bring back in 2021 — assuming their season ends Sunday.

Final start: Scheduled to go Friday at Miami

Carlos Hernandez (Kansas City)

Like many names on this list, Hernandez spent the early part of the season in the bullpen and came on (and thrived) only when pressed into a starting role because of injuries and ineptitude. The Royals are 8-3 in Hernandez’s 11 starts since joining the rotation after the All-Star break. That has produced 7.1 units of profit for bettors. Three starts have really negatively impacted his stats. Take away those three outings, in which he allowed 15 earned runs in 12 2/3 innings, and he boasts a WHIP of 1.007 and an ERA of 1.38 in 45 2/3 innings. That is nothing short of dominant. You probably have one more chance to ride Hernandez this season, and if he produces another outing at that level, you’ll almost certainly be rewarded. 

Final start: Scheduled to go Thursday vs. Cleveland or Friday vs. Minnesota

Wily Peralta/Tarik Skubal/Tyler Alexander/Casey Mize (Detroit)

The Tigers have been nice profit producers late in recent seasons and have done the same thing in 2021. They have performed like the gritty teams I like to back. Furthermore, they’ve built the makings of a competitive rotation heading into next season. All four of these starters have solidified what had been an underperforming unit for much of the early season. Only Mize and Skubal were starters in April, so it’s refreshing to see a couple of contributors holding their own. These were the WHIP numbers for the four as starters: Peralta (1.289), Skubal (1.240), Alexander (1.304) and Mize (1.134). All four were also in positive territory in units of profit won for bettors this season, led by Alexander’s + 11.45 units in 13 starts. Though 2021 figures to go down as another sub-.500 season for the Tigers, they certainly have a lot to build on — and in potentially building your bankroll the rest of this week.

Final starts: Enticing underdog lines should be in play in three-game sets at Minnesota and the Chicago White Sox

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