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After a pretty decent day of MLB wagering Sunday, I sat down for dinner and contemplated playing the Sunday night contest between the Braves and the Cubs for the fun of it. Rather than go through my usual in-depth routine of breaking down many facets of the game, I instead turned to Twitter for a quick decision on which team I would back. My attention was quickly grabbed by a tweet from a user who cited how much better the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks has been throughout his career at home as compared to the road. This hit home with me instantly, as I had studied this subject as recently as late last summer. Well, that was enough to convince lazy me to back Chicago. Surely, any of you who bet the game recall that the Braves tagged Hendricks for seven runs in four innings and his team went on to lose 13-4. Needless to say, that was not a ticket-cashin’ moment for me.
After researching the data on the reason I wagered the game, I quickly realized that the trend regarding Hendricks had turned dramatically of late. In fact, Sunday’s loss was the Cubs’ fifth straight at home when he was starting, a streak dating to Sept. 23 of last season. He hadn’t pitched horribly in that span until Sunday, but even so, the fact that Chicago had lost 8.9 units in those five defeats made me sick to my stomach that I had simply wagered the game without looking at current data.
With the thought of the Hendricks loss on my mind, I am focusing specifically on which active starting pitchers have performed dramatically better at home or on the road in recent years. I have calculated these differentials by using the units won or lost in both scenarios and have sorted the top 10 home and road pitchers by the degree of that difference. Some of the names might surprise you.
As a side note, my luck evened out Monday as I pulled this data a little after the early Red Sox-White Sox Patriots Day game had started, and it was too late to cancel my bet on the Red Sox after I realized how much better Lucas Giolito of the White Sox has been on the road than at home. If you missed that contest, Giolito had one of the worst starts of his career, giving up six runs in the first inning. The gambling gods smiled on me.
Start logging these pitchers and their tendencies in your memory bank for future starts. The data I used dates to the start of the 2018 season. Only pitchers who started at least five games home and road were considered.
Pitchers who have performed far better at home
1. Hyun Jin Ryu (Blue Jays): 25.35 units differential
2. Lance Lynn (White Sox): 23.6 units differential
3. Brad Keller (Royals): 22.05 units differential
4. Matthew Boyd (Tigers): 18.7 units differential
5. Zach Eflin (Phillies): 17.55 units differential
6. Aaron Nola (Phillies): 15.5 units differential
7. Antonio Senzatela (Rockies): 15.5 units differential
8. Blake Snell (Padres): 14.8 units differential
9. Madison Bumgarner (Diamondbacks): 13.75 units differential
10. Jose Quintana (Angels): 12.85 units differential
Pitchers who have performed far better on the road
1. Lucas Giolito (White Sox): 36.55 units differential
2. Jacob deGrom (Mets): 26.05 units differential
3. Stephen Strasburg (Nationals): 18.35 units differential
4. Jose Urena (Tigers): 16.85 units differential
5. Max Scherzer (Nationals): 16.3 units differential
6. Mike Foltynewicz (Rangers): 15.2 units differential
7. Dallas Keuchel (White Sox): 15.05 units differential
8. Luke Weaver (Diamondbacks): 13.95 units differential
9. Charlie Morton (Braves): 13.9 units differential
10. J.A. Happ (Twins): 13.15 units differential