Pitchers' home/road splits hold value

We are coming up on the halfway point of the 2021 baseball season for most teams this weekend, meaning we almost certainly have enough data in the tank to make some sound observations. One of the things that has become abundantly clear is that some starting pitchers have had dramatically different results when pitching at home as compared with on the road. It is to the point that they should practically be backed automatically at one and faded consistently on the other, regardless of the opponent.
It’s not unusual for bettors to see this type of performance dichotomy when analyzing home and road stats for pitchers and hitters, but in my opinion, it is important to recognize them early in order to take advantage. You’ll get 15-20 of these pitchers every season, and the difference can stem from the type of ballpark they pitch in at home to the quality of the lineups they face at home versus on the road. In any case, these types of trends tend to build upon themselves throughout the season, as it almost becomes a mind game for pitchers.
I’m going to share the top 10 pitchers who have significant splits in their home and road performance this season. You’ll see that of the 10 pitchers, six have been far better at home than on the road, and vice versa for the other four. Keep in mind that these stats are only for 2021 and include games played through this past Sunday, June 27. This list of 10 pitchers covers all current starters who have shown a split margin of 8.0 units or more so far.
Blake Snell (San Diego): Home margin + 16.25 units     
Home stats: 7 G, 37.7 IP, 1.43 ERA, 1.035 WHIP, 13.14 Ks/9, Team Record: 6-1, + 4.9 units
Road stats: 8 G, 28.7 IP, 10.36 ERA, 2.232 WHIP, 10.99 Ks/9, Team Record: 0-8, -11.35 units
Steve's analysis: Snell was scratched from a scheduled road start in Cincinnati on Tuesday night due to illness. With Great American Ball Park being known as a hitter’s park, I wasn’t expecting a major rebound from him against the solid Reds lineup if he had pitched. The left-hander was acquired in the offseason after pitching for the Rays in the World Series last fall. His home numbers are sparkling, and his road numbers are brutal. There is a difference of nearly nine on his ERA, and his WHIP is more than double when pitching away from Petco. The Padres have not won a road game started by Snell this season. Bettors might get another chance to fade Snell on the road this week, either in Cincinnati or Philadelphia this weekend before the Padres return home on Monday. 
Trevor Bauer (L.A. Dodgers): Home margin + 12.2 units  
Home stats: 6 G, 39.0 IP, 2.54 ERA, 0.923 WHIP, 11.30 Ks/9, Team Record: 5-1, + 2.4 units
Road stats: 11 G, 68.7 IP, 2.62 ERA, 1.049 WHIP, 11.54 Ks/9, Team Record: 3-8, -9.8 units
Steve's analysis: Bauer led the Dodgers to a key win at home Monday night against the Giants, getting aided by a generous strike zone. The result continued a pattern for the highly coveted free agent who came over from Cincinnati in the offseason, that being winning at home, while being a major disappointment for backers on the road. L.A. has lost nearly 10 units (3-8) in Bauer road starts, although to be fair, his numbers are relatively equal at both locales. This seems more like an overall function of the Dodgers’ struggles to hit for him when away from home, as he has garnered just 22 total runs of support in his last 10 road starts. As tempting as it looks, bettors need to avoid paying the shorter prices to back Bauer in road parks. The next start for the fiery right-hander figures to be Sunday at Washington.
Kyle Gibson (Texas): Home margin + 11.1 units   
Home stats: 8 G, 49.7 IP, 1.09 ERA, 0.906 WHIP, 8.16 Ks/9, Team Record: 8-0, + 9.1 units
Road stats: 7 G, 40.3 IP, 3.12 ERA, 1.141 WHIP, 6.47 Ks/9, Team Record: 2-5, -2 units
Steve's analysis: Kyle Gibson has looked a lot like Cardinals Hall of Famer Bob Gibson when pitching at home this season, leading his team to wins in each of his eight starts in Arlington while compiling impressive ERA, WHIP and strikeout numbers. On the road, Gibson hasn’t been bad, but the margin of performance level has been such that bettors have lost with him. In his last six home starts, Rangers bats have produced 6.0 runs per game, so he is getting adequate support there. Compare that with just 2.6 RPG in his last five road starts. With a 10-27 mark, there isn’t much reason to back Texas anytime away from home, so don’t make matters worse by putting your money on their best pitcher. It isn’t working. The Rangers ace should pitch at Seattle on Friday and then Wednesday at home versus Detroit. You know what the bets should be.
German Marquez (Colorado): Home margin + 10.6 units   
Home stats: 10 G, 55.7 IP, 3.56 ERA, 1.275 WHIP, 8.57 Ks/9, Team Record: 8-2, + 6.6 units
Road stats: 6 G, 34.7 IP, 4.67 ERA, 1.298 WHIP, 9.35 Ks/9, Team Record: 1-5, -4 units
Steve's analysis: Much like the Rockies, German Marquez has been a reliable betting option at home, a near-automatic fade on the road. On Tuesday night he was scheduled to square off with the Pirates in Denver, and bettors were challenged with a -170 moneyline. Ironically, Marquez’s WHIP number on the road is similar to at home, and his strikeouts were actually up, but as most bettors know, posting respectable pitching stats at Coors Field will lead to consistent victories. After the Tuesday start, Marquez figured to get another home opportunity on Sunday against St. Louis.
Trevor Williams (Chicago Cubs): Home margin + 8.85 units  
Home stats: 5 G, 24.7 IP, 3.28 ERA, 1.257 WHIP, 9.85 Ks/9, Team Record: 5-0, + 5 units   
Road stats: 5 G, 19.0 IP, 8.05 ERA, 2.053 WHIP, 10.42 Ks/9, Team Record: 1-4, -3.85 units
Steve's analysis: You’ll see that many of these individual pitcher trends closely resemble the performance of their teams. So far in 2021, the Cubs have been a far better team at home than on the road. So has starter Trevor Williams, whose team is 5-0 in his starts at Wrigley, compared with 1-4 away. The ERA difference is noteworthy (3.28 to 8.05) as is the WHIP (1.257 to 2.053). Clearly the “Friendly Confines” have been just that for Williams. The Cubs right-hander has been on the IL since the beginning of June with appendicitis. As scary as that can be for a person, he might have caught a break for his performance stats, as after wrapping up their three-game set in Milwaukee on Wednesday, the Cubs would have played 18 road games in June. They were still awaiting Williams’ return as of Tuesday.
Zach Eflin (Philadelphia): Home margin + 8.5 units
Home stats: 6 G, 38.0 IP, 2.13 ERA, 1.158 WHIP, 8.76 Ks/9, Team Record: 4-2, + 1.6 units
Road stats: 9 G, 52.0 IP, 5.71 ERA, 1.327 WHIP, 8.65 Ks/9, Team Record: 1-8, -6.9 units
Steve's analysis: As of Tuesday, Philadelphia was seven games over .500 at home and 11 games under .500 on the road. The performance of players like pitcher Zach Eflin has a lot to do with that. Eflin boasts some scintillating numbers in Philly, including a 2.13 ERA. However, on the road, where he has gotten nine of his 15 starts, his ERA is just 5.71 and his team just 1-8. His next start should come at home on Thursday against Miami, and with Pablo Lopez expected to be the opposing starter, I’m speculating that the price will be relatively short and of good value. After that, Eflin’s next two starts before the All-Star break could come at the Cubs and Red Sox.
Steven Matz (Toronto): Road margin + 9.3 units
Home stats: 5 G, 25.0 IP, 5.76 ERA, 1.920 WHIP, 7.92 Ks/9, Team Record: 1-4, -4.5 units
Road stats: 8 G, 44.7 IP, 3.43 ERA, 1.030 WHIP, 10.68 Ks/9, Team Record: 6-2, + 4.8 units
Steve's analysis: Steven Matz heads our short list of four pitchers that have actually accumulated far better numbers on the road than at home. That is unusual on the surface, but considering that the Blue Jays have spent their home season so far between Florida and Buffalo, both hitter-friendly environments, the numbers for Matz are explainable. There is a significant difference, however, as Matz keeps far more runners off the basepaths and strikes out a higher percentage of hitters as well on the road. Manager Charlie Montoyo seems to have a good handle on the situation, too, having called on Matz eight times on the road as compared with five at home. The schedule shows the left-hander slated to start Wednesday in Seattle, so get in early.
Drew Smyly (Atlanta): Road margin + 9.15 units  
Home stats: 5 G, 25.0 IP, 5.76 ERA, 1.320 WHIP, 9.00 Ks/9, Team Record: 1-4, -6.4 units
Road stats: 8 G, 42.7 IP, 4.22 ERA, 1.313 WHIP, 6.75 Ks/9, Team Record: 5-3, + 2.75 units
Steve's analysis: Drew Smyly shows the same home/road number of starts breakdown as Steven Matz, with similar moneyline unit splits, but this left-hander seems to be more of a victim of Atlanta’s overall disappointing performance at home than anything else. The Braves are just 1-4 in his five home starts, and considering that bettors have lost 6.4 units in those games, you know the hosts were playing as sizable favorites. Smyly has received an average of just 3.0 runs of support in those five home starts as compared with 5.3 in his road outings. He figures to get two more starts before the All-Star break, starting Thursday at home versus the Mets, then Tuesday at Pittsburgh.
Tyler Mahle (Cincinnati): Road margin + 9.07 units   
Home stats: 6 G, 30.7 IP, 6.75 ERA, 1.337 WHIP, 11.15 Ks/9, Team Record: 3-3, -1.5 units
Road stats: 10 G, 53.7 IP, 2.01 ERA, 1.025 WHIP, 11.24 Ks/9, Team Record: 8-2, + 7.57 units
Steve's analysis: The Reds boast a respectable 20-20 road record, with Tyler Mahle having taken the hill in eight of those 20 wins. His ERA in 10 road starts is an impressive 2.01 and he’s striking out 11.24 hitters per nine innings. The home ERA is an ugly 6.75, which is hard to explain even at hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park. His next start figures to come at home Friday against the road-challenged Cubs, so something will have to give.
Mike Minor (Kansas City): Road margin + 8.4 units   
Home stats: 9 G, 53.3 IP, 5.57 ERA, 1.237 WHIP, 8.44 Ks/9, Team Record: 3-6, -4.05 units  
Road stats: 7 G, 38.0 IP, 4.50 ERA, 1.289 WHIP, 10.42 Ks/9, Team Record: 5-2, + 4.35 units
Steve's analysis: Mike Minor’s overall numbers for WHIP and run support are relatively similar, he’s just not timing it well at home as compared with on the road. In fact, with a WHIP of 1.237, he is just 3-6 at home. This is in contrast to 1.289 WHIP and 5-2 on the road, a head-scratcher. That said, he seems to have much better command away from home and is striking out 10.42 hitters per nine innings in those starts. Solid numbers for a pitcher who has been an underdog in five of those seven outings. Look for Minor to get three more starts before the All-Star break, with two on the road, starting Wednesday in Boston.
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