MLB Bullpen System update: beware overpricing

June 12, 2023 04:14 PM

For the last couple of weeks, I have focused my Bullpen System updates on the streak data that I uncovered and have been tracking. While the results for both the winning- and losing-streak data were modest over the last six days, the angles that thrived most this week were in using caution against overpriced games, even if the better bullpen team was the heavy favorite. I have always believed that there are very few baseball games each season that warrant backing favorites of -190 or higher. I simply don’t feel that a 162-game schedule merits the motivation to be profitable as such huge favorites. In 2023, my theory remains true and powerful. This past week, favorites of this magnitude that had better Steve Makinen Bullpen Ratings were 9-5 but lost 3.6 units. When the starting pitcher PR difference was less than 20, these heavy favorites were 1-2 for -3.75 units. It’s a reminder that big favorites are not automatic and rarely warrant the price being paid over the long haul.

Before getting into this week’s updates, a reminder that these numbers can of course be found on the Makinen Daily Power Ratings page on for easy usage. Keep this article handy when analyzing each of the daily matchups.

Better bullpen but overpriced angle

Highly-priced better bullpen teams were 9-5 this past six days and lost -3.6 units. Now, in games this season through Sunday 6/11 in which the team with the Steve Makinen better-rated bullpen was listed as a favorite of -190 or more, that team is now 114-55, but for –11.44 units.

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 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 19-32 for -53.2 units! This angle was 1-2 last week for -3.75 units, with the only win coming in the Strider-Verlander game in the Braves-Mets series. This situation is rare but should be taken advantage of when it arises. In my opinion, there has to be a massive starting pitcher strength difference between the teams even to consider paying these prices. The R.O.I. on this has been -104.3%.

These are updates to the other specific Bullpen Betting Systems I have been tracking:

Worse bullpen teams struggle to extend winning streaks

I have fading teams with a lesser bullpen rating that are looking to extend winning streaks has been a strong strategy. In fact, on two-game winning streaks, the teams with worse Steve Makinen Bullpen Ratings in a matchup have gone just 106-96 for -29.86 units, an R.O.I. of -14.8%. Worse bullpen teams on 3+ game-winning streaks have a record of 27-46 for -23.98 units. The R.O.I. on that magnificent system is -32.8%!

Better bullpen teams are capable of building lengthy winning streaks

In conducting the same study of teams with better bullpens on winning streaks, I didn’t find anything significant in the two-game data. However, when looking at teams with better Steve Makinen Bullpen Ratings looking to extend three-game winning streaks, I found that these teams have gone 101-65 for +17.88 units, an impressive R.O.I. of 10.8%.

Better bullpen teams thwart losing streaks

After a modest 8-8 week, updating the results when on twp-game losing streaks, the teams with better bullpen ratings in a matchup have gone 102-67 for +22 units. Better bullpen teams on 3+ game losing streaks have gone 53-18 for +33.91 units. The R.O.I. on this system is 47.8%!

Better bullpen underdog teams are solid wagers

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 for the season are now 152-147 for +46.56 units, an R.O.I. of 15.6%! This is an INSANELY simple angle that can be easily be determined each day by utilizing the MAKINEN DAILY RATINGS page on

The systems continue to maintain their profitability with some week-to-week wavering as one would expect. It is my belief 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 and vice versa.

For the entire season, I have tracked the 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 it since. However, I’ve been using this methodology for the last five or six years. It was slightly positive last week, going 48-35 for +1.18 units. These were the results by day:

Tuesday 6/6: 7-8, -3.08 units

Wednesday 6/7: 9-4, +4.76 units

Thursday 6/8: 7-4, +2.4 units

Friday 6/9: 10-4, +3.68 units

Saturday 6/10: 7-8, -3.41 units

Sunday 6/11: 8-7, -3.17 units

Adding these numbers to the overall season records of this methodology, we are now at 536-420 for +0.22 units. The full-season profit and R.O.I. numbers are positive again, and they have been every year for me since 2017. However, although the profitability is very small at this point, when you still consider the advantage of backing better bullpen teams over blindly playing any other angle at an 8% juice level, the difference is still almost +70 units. With none of the other drill-down systems considered, the simple strategy of backing better bullpen teams will keep you in the baseball betting game for the long haul.

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 11th and I do update them on a daily basis.

Key Bullpen Stats (through games of June 11th)

Top 5 Bullpen ERAs

  1. New York Yankees: 2.76
  2. Cleveland: 3.01
  3. Houston: 3.20
  4. Baltimore: 3.31
  5. San Diego: 3.37

Worst 5 Bullpen ERAs

  1. Oakland: 6.00
  2. Kansas City: 5.01
  3. Los Angeles Dodgers: 4.76
  4. Washington, Chicago White Sox: 4.75

Top 5 Bullpen WHIPs

  1. San Diego: 1.16
  2. Cleveland: 1.17
  3. New York Yankees, Atlanta: 1.18
  4. Toronto: 1.20

Worst 5 Bullpen WHIPs

  1. Oakland: 1.59
  2. Kansas City: 1.48
  3. Colorado: 1.45
  4. Washington: 1.44
  5. Chicago Cubs: 1.41

Top 5 Bullpen Ks/9 innings

  1. Baltimore: 10.69
  2. Houston: 10.55
  3. Toronto: 10.48
  4. Seattle: 10.28
  5. St. Louis: 10.25

Worst 5 Bullpen Ks/9 innings

  1. Washington: 7.43
  2. Tampa Bay: 7.58
  3. Oakland, Boston: 7.95
  4. Detroit: 8.37

Top 5 Bullpen Last 7 Games WHIPs

  1. Atlanta: 0.73
  2. New York Yankees: 0.90
  3. San Francisco: 0.96
  4. Los Angeles Angels: 0.99
  5. Minnesota: 1.03

Worst 5 Bullpen Last 7 Games WHIPs

  1. Chicago Cubs: 2.07
  2. Pittsburgh: 1.80
  3. Washington: 1.73
  4. Kansas City: 1.69
  5. Los Angeles Dodgers: 1.66

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 Tuesday the 6th of June:

Biggest upward movers (PR points)

  1. Oakland: +7 points
  2. Los Angeles Angels, Atlanta: +6
  3. Baltimore: +5
  4. Arizona, San Francisco, Texas: +4

Biggest downward movers (PR points)

  1. Pittsburgh: -9 points
  2. San Diego, New York Mets: -6
  3. Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia, Chicago Cubs: -5

Steve’s Current Bullpen Ratings/Ranks

Rank - Team - Bullpen PR

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

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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