MLB Bullpen System update: Removing overpriced favorites saves profits

July 3, 2023 02:00 PM

Having just passed the MLB season’s first-half cutoff, this past week produced a varying level of success with my MLB Bullpen Systems, dependent largely upon whether you were able to shy away from the overpriced favorites and instead opt for underdogs with better bullpen ratings or those teams streaking positively. If you’ve been reading these weekly articles and following along, I’m confident you have employed those principles. Those are two of the pillar strategies I have been sharing, and this past week they paid off big-time for bettors. 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.

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 the Makinen Daily Power Ratings page under the MLB tab on

As I just indicated, overpriced favorites had a rough week, regardless of whether or not that team had a better bullpen rating, following the pattern that has continued to thrive this season (and past seasons). I will start off my drill-down MLB Bullpen Systems with those updated results and share all the rest just afterward.

Avoid/fade better bullpen overpriced favorites

Highly-priced better bullpen teams were 7-8 this past seven days but still lost -12.4 units. Now, in games this season through Sunday 7/2 in which the team with the Steve Makinen better-rated bullpen was listed as a favorite of -190 or more, that team is 142-78, but for –38.84 units. I have said this on numerous occasions this year (and in past seasons), but 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. Earlier I indicated that avoiding overpriced teams in baseball is a strategy must. Hopefully, some of you have embraced the concept that backing the underdogs in these games is a profitable endeavor.

Overpriced better bullpen without big starting pitcher edge angle

In combining starting pitcher differences in looking at these games with -190 favorites or higher, there’s been an opportunity to be more 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 26-40 for -63.73 units! This angle was 1-3 last week for -6.26 units, another very promising set of results. This situation is rare but should be taken advantage of when it arises. The R.O.I. on this has been -96.6%!

Better bullpen underdog teams remain solid wagers

A frequent and profitable system arises when the team with the better SM Bullpen Ratings plays as an underdog (or pick em’). After a 22-21 (+6.61 units) week, money line underdog teams with better bullpen ratings for the season are now 202-198 for +56.25 units, an R.O.I. of 14.1%!

Worse bullpen teams struggle to extend winning streaks

I have found that fading teams with a lesser bullpen rating that are looking to extend winning streaks has been a strong strategy. This angle was virtually even last week in terms of units won/lost. On 2-game winning streaks, the teams with worse Steve Makinen Bullpen Ratings in a matchup are now 136-126 for -26.26 units, an R.O.I. of -10%. Worse bullpen teams on 3+ game-winning streaks now have a record of 45-61 for -17.88 units. The R.O.I. on that system is -16.9%.

Better bullpen teams are capable of building lengthy winning streaks

In conducting a study of teams with better bullpens on winning streaks, I found nothing significant in the two-game data. However, when looking at teams with better Steve Makinen Bullpen Ratings looking to extend 3-game winning streaks, I found that these teams have gone 135-78 for +37.16 units, an impressive R.O.I. of 17.5%. These better bullpen teams enjoyed another solid week of 9-4 for +4.16 units!

Better bullpen teams thwart losing streaks

After posting losses last week and updating the results of when on two-game losing streaks, the teams with better bullpen ratings in a matchup have gone 132-88 for +27.18 units. Better bullpen teams on 3+ game losing streaks have gone 63-30 for +35.4 units. The R.O.I. on this system is 38.1%! These teams posted a rare losing week, but I don’t figure that trend will last long.

These simple angles can be qualified each day by utilizing the Makinen​ Daily Ratings page on

If you’ve been blindly following these systems for this season or even just recently, I would assume you are pleased with the results. However, 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 for 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 achieve strong profits. It was again VERY negative last week because of the numerous -190 or higher favorites that lost, going 45-48 for -17.24 units. If you avoided the overpriced teams like I have been screaming about all season long, you would have still lost about 5 units overall, but this was the first time that happened in over two months. That said, the simple strategy of backing better bullpen teams will keep you in the baseball betting game for the long haul.

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

Monday 6/26: 5-1, +5.31 units

Tuesday 6/27: 5-10, -7.14 units

Wednesday 6/28: 6-9, -6.96 units

Thursday 6/29: 7-5, +1.33 units

Friday 6/30: 7-7, -1.95 units

Saturday 7/1: 9-7, -1.31 units

Sunday 7/2: 6-9, -6.52 units

Adding these numbers to the overall season records of this methodology, we are now at 685-544 for -15.2 units. Compare that to the average baseball bettor, who if playing every game so far this season, would be down about 85 units with average performance.

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, June 25th and I do update them daily.

Key Bullpen Stats (through games of July 3rd)

Top 5 Bullpen ERAs

  1. New York Yankees: 2.87
  2. Cleveland: 3.13
  3. Atlanta: 3.49
  4. Minnesota: 3.53
  5. Houston: 3.57

Worst 5 Bullpen ERAs

  1. Oakland: 5.76
  2. Washington: 5.06
  3. Colorado: 5.03
  4. Kansas City: 4.93
  5. Chicago White Sox: 4.69

Top 5 Bullpen WHIPs

  1. Cleveland: 1.16
  2. NY Yankees: 1.18
  3. Atlanta: 1.19
  4. Minnesota, San Diego: 1.22

Worst 5 Bullpen WHIPs

  1. Oakland: 1.56
  2. Colorado: 1.52
  3. Kansas City: 1.47
  4. Washington: 1.46
  5. Pittsburgh: 1.41

Top 5 Bullpen Ks/9 innings

  1. Houston: 10.82
  2. Baltimore: 10.45
  3. Kansas City: 10.09
  4. Philadelphia: 10.02
  5. Toronto: 9.99

Worst 5 Bullpen Ks/9 innings

  1. Washington: 7.51
  2. Tampa Bay: 7.98
  3. Oakland: 8.06
  4. Boston: 8.19
  5. San Diego: 8.46

Top 5 Bullpen Last 7 Games WHIPs

  1. Philadelphia: 0.61
  2. Houston: 0.70
  3. Minnesota: 0.79
  4. Baltimore: 0.92
  5. Chicago Cubs: 0.93

Worst 5 Bullpen Last 7 Games WHIPs

  1. Cincinnati: 1.85
  2. St Louis: 1.72
  3. Oakland: 1.69
  4. Detroit: 1.68
  5. Washington: 1.63

I use a manual process of analyzing daily box scores to build my Bullpen Power Ratings. In most cases, the end number reflects 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 the 26th of June:

Biggest upward movers (PR points)

  1. Philadelphia: +9 points
  2. Pittsburgh: +7
  3. Chicago Cubs: +6
  4. Arizona, Atlanta: +5

Biggest downward movers (PR points)

  1. San Diego: -11 points
  2. Chicago White Sox, Detroit, Cincinnati: -6
  3. St Louis: -5

Steve’s Current Bullpen Ratings/Ranks

Rank - Team - Bullpen PR

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

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