MLB Bullpen Systems Settling in for the 2024 Season

The MLB Bullpen Systems I’ve been tracking for VSiN readers in recent seasons are settling in for the 2024 season and are showing similar characteristics to recent seasons. Let’s face it: the MLB season is a grind, and as a bettor, I always try to rely on systematic data rather than poaching random bets on given days to make profits over the season. The latter method is just “gambling” and leaves one immune to streaks of luck, which can go both ways at any time. In any case, I’m here to update the early 2024 season records of the MLB Bullpen Systems I’ve been offering for VSiN readers for recent seasons.

I will be trying to keep up the regular full updates on the bullpen systems for the next six months. However, recognize that you can get the continuously updated and qualified bullpen systems, plus much more on our daily MLB Analytics Reports for the entire season.


Top MLB Resources:

Before we dig into the updated regular season results, however, this is just a reminder. I have always embraced the idea that better bullpen teams are the stronger wager when assessing the options. Oddsmakers just don’t account for them as much as starting pitching, thus giving bettors value in typically at least 1/3 of games or more.

At one point last season, readers asked me, “What’s the easiest way to use these bullpen ratings?” Well, there are more profitable ways (by ROI), as shown by the drill-down systems below, but the easiest method I have now detailed in the very first system below. I have called it fittingly THE EASIEST WAY TO PLAY THE BULLPEN SYSTEM. You will see that by simply taking the better-rated bullpen team on my scale and avoiding those -190 or higher favorites that weren’t at least 19% better in winning percentage than the opponent, you would have netted +45.66 units. That is a pretty nice 2.2% return for a very simple yet very fundamentally sound methodology. The ROI follows recent seasons of similar success levels. If you compare this to the average MLB bettor betting every MLB game, the usual ROI is around -4.4%. Looking at the “easiest way” results since my last bullpen update by day:

Tuesday 4/9: 8-5, +1.86 units
Wednesday 4/10: 8-4, +3.57 units
Thursday 4/11: 3-2, +1.06 units
Friday 4/12: 7-7, -3.39 units
Saturday 4/13: 6-9, -5.07 units
Sunday 4/14: 8-5, +1.89 units

As you can see, plays were 40-32 for -.08 units. While not a “winning week,” it does beat the -4.33 units average for overall baseball bettors when playing every game. This 4.25 units difference, or advantage, will be the difference in winning/losing, or even staying in the game over the course of a long baseball season.

Remember, to fully implement these strategies into your daily baseball betting routine, you only need two things: 1) the details of the systems as noted below and 2) VSiN Pro Access to MAKINEN DAILY POWER RATINGS page under the MLB tab on You can also have the work of qualifying the angles done for you in our latest VSiN feature called the MLB Analytics Report. No serious baseball bettor should be without it.

Now, here is an update of the various system records with results through Sunday 4/14:

The easiest way to play the bullpen system
Better-rated bullpen teams that were not favorites of -190 or higher or were -190 or higher and had a winning percentage of 19% or higher went 1200-916 in the ’23 regular season for +45.66 units, a 2.2% season-long return on investment. So far in 2024, they are 117-101 for -12.79 units. As shown before with the -.08 unit return, results picked up last week as I believe we are starting to settle in for the ’24 season.

Back big favorites (-190 or more) with better bullpen ratings and winning percentage >=19% higher than opponent
A 2023 mid-season bullpen ratings discovery found that big favorites of -190 or higher with better bullpens and a winning percentage of 19% or more than their opponent were 145-61 for +9.08 units in the regular season. Some big favorites proved worthy of backing consistently, regardless of the high prices, because the games are absolute mismatches. The R.O.I. on this angle settled at +4.4%. In the early part of the 2024 season thus far, the record of this angle is negative at 12-9 for -7.88 units.

Fade better bullpen overpriced favorites of -190 or higher when win percentage difference of teams is <19%
In games of the 2023 regular season in which the team with the Steve Makinen better-rated bullpen was listed as a favorite of -190 or higher and had a winning percentage less than 19% higher than the opponent, that team owned a 171-106 record, but for -84.47 units. That represented an R.O.I. of -30.5%! So far in 2024, these teams are off to a better start, 12-4 for +3.94 units and an ROI of 24.6%. However, the ROI drops 14% over the past six days.

Overpriced better bullpen without a big starting pitcher edge angle was the 2023 regular season’s most lucrative system
In combining starting pitcher differences in looking at games with -190 favorites or higher, there’s was a huge opportunity to be selective in fading overpriced favorites. Specifically, when the starting pitcher difference between the better Steve Makinen rated bullpen team was less than 20, those big favorites went just 80-74, but for -87.21 units in the regular season! This angle is so far 10-5 in the two-and-a-half weeks and has lost -0.86 units.

Better bullpen underdog teams were solid wagers all season long
A frequent and profitable system in the 2023 season arose when the team with the better SM Bullpen Ratings played as an underdog (or pick ’em). Money line underdog teams with better bullpen ratings for the season were 341-346 for +72.72 units. The R.O.I. of this angle produced a healthy 10.6%. In the early part of the 2024 season, these teams have produced a 29-34 record, for -0.76 units. This angle did win just shy of a unit last week and seems to be picking up steam as we get deeper into the season.

The worse bullpen struggled to extend winning streaks
In 2023, it was found that fading teams with lesser SM bullpen ratings that were looking to extend winning streaks was also a strong strategy. On two-game winning streaks, the teams with worse Steve Makinen Bullpen Ratings in a matchup were 240-249 for -28.51 units, an R.O.I. of -5.8%. Worse bullpen teams on 3+ game winning streaks finished the regular season with a record of 99-119 for -16.61 units. The R.O.I. on that system finished at -7.6%. For 2024 so far, these two-game teams have gone 19-16 for +4.48 units after a 6-10 for -3.96 units week. The 3-game teams are 10-8 for +3.25 units. I don’t expect these to continue for long as the foundation of this system is based in the fact that these teams don’t win over the long term.

Better bullpen teams were capable of building lengthy winning streaks
In conducting a study of teams with better bullpens on winning streaks last season, when looking at teams with better Steve Makinen Bullpen Ratings looking to extend 3-game winning streaks, I tracked that those teams that went 241-168 for +11.33 units, a respectable R.O.I. of 2.7%, a slight improvement on the overall record of the “easiest way system”. For 2024, better bullpen teams on a 3-game winning streak were 11-12 for -6.2 units through Sunday, 4/15, after a rough 1-5 week.

Better bullpen teams thwarted potentially lengthy losing streaks
Better bullpen teams on 3+ game losing streaks went 119-79 for +22.2 units in the 2023 regular season. The R.O.I. for the season closed at 11.2%! There have been 16 plays on this angle so far in 2024, and these teams went 9-7 for -0.81 units after a strong 5-2 +3.41 units performance last week.

These simple angles can be qualified each day by utilizing the MAKINEN DAILY RATINGS page on or easily found on the MLB Analytics Report.

Here are the updated key bullpen stats that were accumulated in games through Sunday, 4/15:

Key Bullpen Stats (through games of Sunday, 4/15)

Top 5 Bullpen ERAs
1. DETROIT: 1.86
2. CLEVELAND: 1.88
3. MINNESOTA: 2.13
4. NY YANKEES: 2.49
5. OAKLAND: 2.73

Worst 5 Bullpen ERAs
30. TAMPA BAY: 6.23
29. COLORADO: 5.97
28. MIAMI: 5.88
27. HOUSTON: 5.32

Top 5 Bullpen WHIPs
1. BALTIMORE: 1.06
2. DETROIT: 1.07
3. CLEVELAND: 1.07
4. SEATTLE: 1.08
5. MINNESOTA: 1.09

Worst 5 Bullpen WHIPs
30. COLORADO: 1.83
29. TAMPA BAY: 1.69
28. KANSAS CITY: 1.68
27. MIAMI: 1.59

Top 5 Bullpen Ks/9 innings
1. MINNESOTA: 11.61
2. ST LOUIS: 10.94
3. NY METS: 10.63
5. CHICAGO CUBS: 10.27

Worst 5 Bullpen Ks/9 innings
30. NY YANKEES: 6.63
29. COLORADO: 7.06
28. KANSAS CITY: 7.08
27. LA ANGELS: 7.23
26. ARIZONA: 7.42

Top 5 Bullpen Last 7 Games WHIPs
1. NY YANKEES: 0.83
2. SEATTLE: 0.88
3. SAN DIEGO: 0.94
4. OAKLAND: 0.96

Worst 5 Bullpen Last 7 Games WHIPs
30. TAMPA BAY: 1.73
29. ATLANTA: 1.71
28. TEXAS: 1.66
27. KANSAS CITY: 1.64
26. COLORADO: 1.5

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 4/9:

Biggest upward movers (PR points)
1. SAN DIEGO: +9 points
2. LA ANGELS: +6
2. ARIZONA: +6
5. TAMPA BAY: +5

Biggest downward movers (PR points)
1. TEXAS: -6 points
2. TORONTO: -5
3. BOSTON -4
4. ATLANTA: -3

Steve’s Current Bullpen Ratings/Ranks (as of 4/15)

Rank – Team – Bullpen PR
2. ATLANTA: 19
7. SEATTLE: 14
8. ARIZONA: 13
9. DETROIT: 12
11. HOUSTON: 10
13. NY METS: 9
14. ST. LOUIS: 8
16. SAN DIEGO: 6
18. TAMPA BAY: 5
20. LA ANGELS: 4
21. OAKLAND: 3
22. BOSTON: 1
23. TORONTO: -1
27. MIAMI: -4
29. TEXAS: -7
30. COLORADO: -16

These are sorted first by bullpen ranking and then by overall team power rating.

As we head into this week’s games, there is only one team on a 3+ game winning streak (CINCINNATI) and one team on a 4+ game losing skid (CHICAGO WHITE SOX):