Makinen: Better MLB bullpens on three-game losing streaks remain gems

May 24, 2023 04:10 PM

In what was an uneventful week using my systems, the better bullpen on a three-game losing skid angle continues to thrive. More on that below as well as updates on the overall record, the drill-down systems, and my updated bullpen stats and rankings.

As a reminder of the methodology behind my bullpen systems, over the course of the last 5+ years while with VSiN, I’ve employed a generic system of tracking the results of teams that have a bullpen rating edge on my scale. I offer updated team bullpen ranking on the daily matchups page on, and I track the results. It has done consistently well long term, producing profits each season in that span. However, I’ve always felt it was something I could improve on by narrowing the scope of what should actually be wagered. I’ve done that by breaking down the bullpen edges by line ranges and other various game situations. I will detail those shortly.

For now, the general bullpen system was slightly negative last week, going 45-45 for -4.48 units. These were the results by day:

Monday 5/15: 8-4, +3.66 units

Tuesday 5/16: 6-8, -4.97 units

Wednesday 5/17: 6-8, -4.71 units

Thursday 5/18: 4-2, +2.22 units

Friday 5/19: 6-9, -2.6 units

Saturday 5/20: 7-7, -0.23 units

Sunday 5/21: 8-7, +2.15 units

Adding these numbers to the overall season records of this methodology, we are now at 388-295 for +8.8 units, an R.O.I. of 1.3%. The profit and R.O.I. numbers are a bit lower than they have been for the past five seasons, but it stands to reason that you’ll find more fluctuating of the bullpen ratings earlier in the season as teams stabilize their relief staffs.

If you have read the last few bullpen updates, you’ll recall that I released four different bullpen advantage angles that have proven more definitive than the overall system. They allow discerning bettors to focus on a more specific set of games each night. Keep in mind that they are based upon the all-important philosophy that betting teams with better bullpens makes foundational sense. These are those systems and the updated records for the season based on what happened last week. I will continue to update these throughout the season:

Better bullpen but overpriced angle

-  Highly-priced better bullpen teams were 7-4 this past seven days but lost -1.88 units. Now, in games this season through Sunday 5/21 in which the team with the Steve Makinen better-rated bullpen was listed as a favorite of -190 or more, that team is now 84-42, but for -9.74 units. Considering that the overall profit for the season has been +8.8 units, had bettors exercised the discipline to avoid these “overpriced teams,” they would have more than doubled their profits with the bullpen edges.

Overpriced better bullpen without a big starting pitcher edge angle

-  In combining starting pitcher differences in looking at these games with -190 favorites or higher, there’s been an even better opportunity to avoid games. Specifically, when the starting pitcher difference between the better Steve Makinen-rated bullpen team is less than 20, these big favorites have gone just 14-27 for -46.6 units! This angle was 1-1 last week for –0.98 units as just two different mediocre starting pitchers of -190 or higher were listed in games. Obviously, this situation is rare and seems to be getting more so as the season wears on. In my opinion, there has to be a massive starting pitcher strength difference between the teams to even consider paying these prices. The R.O.I. on this has been -114%, and if you would have taken these games out of the entire MLB Bullpen system, the profits would be up to over 55 units!

Better bullpen underdog teams remain solid

-  An easily more frequent and profitable system arises when the team with the better SM Bullpen Ratings plays as an underdog. Money line underdog teams with better bullpen ratings were nearly dead even last week in terms of units won/lost, going 16-22 for -0.13 units. For the season, these gems are now 101-93 for +39.23 units, an R.O.I. of 20.2%!

Better bullpen teams thwart losing streaks

-  I have also discovered that backing better bullpen teams on losing streaks has proven fruitful. After updating the results from this past week of games, when on two-game losing streaks, the teams with better bullpen ratings in a matchup have gone 68-44 for +13.27 units. Better bullpen teams on 3+ game losing streaks have gone 39-9 for +29.95 units, including 6-3 last week! The R.O.I. on that magnificent system is 62.4%!

The systems continue to maintain their profitability with some week-to-week wavering as one would expect. I firmly believe that these are foundational systems and allow bettors to turn profits without investing in every game. From my own standpoint, I am never comfortable paying very high prices for any single baseball game in a regular season, and solid underdogs with good bullpens are always of great value. Likewise, teams with good bullpens don’t tend to get stuck in lengthy losing skids.

Now, let’s take an updated look at some of the 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, May 21st and I do update them on a daily basis.

Key Bullpen Stats (through games of May 21st)

Top 5 Bullpen ERAs

  1. New York Yankees: 2.87
  2. Houston: 3.01
  3. Baltimore: 3.03
  4. Seattle: 3.08
  5. San Diego: 3.27

Worst 5 Bullpen ERAs

  1. Oakland: 6.49
  2. Chicago White Sox: 5.41
  3. San Francisco: 5.22
  4. Kansas City: 4.77
  5. Los Angeles Dodgers: 4.7

Top 5 Bullpen WHIPs

  1. Houston: 1.17
  2. San Diego: 1.17
  3. Detroit: 1.19
  4. Atlanta: 1.21
  5. New York Mets: 1.21

Worst 5 Bullpen WHIPs

  1. Oakland: 1.7
  2. Chicago White Sox: 1.52
  3. San Francisco: 1.45
  4. Kansas City: 1.45
  5. Colorado: 1.42

Top 5 Bullpen Ks/9 innings

  1. Baltimore: 10.77
  2. Kansas City: 10.64
  3. Houston: 10.47
  4. Philadelphia: 10.38
  5. St Louis: 10.26

Worst 5 Bullpen Ks/9 innings

  1. Tampa Bay: 7.07
  2. Washington: 7.18
  3. Oakland: 7.58
  4. Boston: 7.6
  5. Milwaukee: 8.24

Top 5 Bullpen Last 7 Games WHIPs

  1. Chicago White Sox: 0.62
  2. San Diego: 0.74
  3. Houston: 0.97
  4. San Francisco: 1.07
  5. New York Yankees: 1.13

Worst 5 Bullpen Last 7 Games WHIPs

  1. Chicago Cubs: 2.20
  2. Seattle: 1.78
  3. Colorado: 1.75
  4. Oakland: 1.61
  5. New York Mets: 1.61

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  Monday, the 15th of May:

Biggest upward movers (PR points)

  1. Chicago White Sox: +10 points
  2. San Francisco, San Diego: +9
  3. Oakland: +8
  4. New York Yankees: +7

Biggest downward movers (PR points)

  1. Texas: -9 points
  2. Chicago Cubs, Colorado: -8
  3. Los Angeles Dodgers, Toronto: -7

Steve’s Current Bullpen Ratings/Ranks

Rank - Team - Bullpen PR

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

These are sorted first by bullpen ranking and then by overall team power rating. Remember to be selective using the drill-down systems I shared above. Good luck with your baseball wagering this week

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