Baseball Handicapping – Rating Starting Pitchers

by | Last updated May 12, 2023 | mlb

There are many ways to evaluate starting pitching. The easiest way is to look at their earned run average (ERA – See how ERA applies to MLB betting), but this can be a very misleading statistic. With the advent of sabermetrics and the findings that have been discovered, there are many other ways to determine a pitcher’s value. This value can then be used to determine if a baseball wager on a pitcher’s team is of good value.

The stats that I use are derived from some of the pitcher’s peripheral numbers. The stats needed to come up with the calculations I use are strikeouts, walks, home runs allowed, and innings pitched. These are the stats that the pitcher controls. We need to come up with ratios that will help us to determine our ranking.

Ratios I Use

Strikeouts per 9 innings (Dominance) = strikeouts / innings pitched * 9
Strikeout to walk ratio (Control) = strikeouts / walks
Home runs allowed per 9 innings (Home run factor) = home runs allowed / innings pitched * 9
After we get these numbers, then we assign a value to determine how they will affect the ranking. The value that I use comes from the book Baseball Forecaster by Ron Shandler. The calculation for the pitcher ranking is as follows:

Strikeouts/9 innings (Dominance) * 6
Strikeout/walk Ratio (Control) * 21

Home Runs allowed/9 innings (Home run factor) * 30
Pitcher ranking

Let’s look at an example:

Arizona (Brandon Webb) -115
San Diego (Justin Germano) +105


  • Brandon Webb: 134 ks, 53 walks, 9 home runs, 150.67 IP
  • Justin Germano: 41 ks, 20 walks, 9 home runs, 81.33 IP


Brandon Webb
Strikeouts per 9 innings: 134 / 150.67 * 9 = 8.00
Strikeout to walk ratio: 134 / 53 = 2.53
Home runs per 9 innings: 9 / 150.67 * 9 = 0.54
Dominance: 8.00 * 6 = 48.0
Control: 2.53 * 21 = 53.1
HR factor: 0.54 * 30 = 16.1
Total Score: 48 + 53.1 – 16.1 = 85.0

Justin Germano
Strikeouts per 9 innings: 41 / 81.33 * 9 = 4.54
Strikeout to walk ratio: 41 / 20 = 2.05
Home runs per 9 innings: 9 / 81.33 * 9 = 1.00
Dominance: 4.54 * 6 = 27.2
Control: 2.05 * 21 = 43.1
HR factor: 1.00 * 30 = 30.0
Total Score: 27.2 + 43.1 – 30.0 = 40.3

Comparing the scores of each pitcher, you will see that Webb is much more dominant than Germano despite the fact that their ERAs are not that much different. Since the line on this game is only Arizona -115, this would indicate that there may be value on the side of Arizona. Of course, there are many other factors to consider before placing a wager like bullpens, offense, how the teams have been playing, etc., but this can be a good place to start.


There are many ways to evaluate starting pitching. The most important thing is to use a variety of factors to get a complete picture of a pitcher’s value. By using the methods outlined in this article, you can gain an edge in handicapping baseball games.

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