MLB Bullpen System update: a promising second-half beginning


MLB Bullpen System update: a promising second-half beginning

Since I last updated my MLB Bullpen System records as we reached the All-Star break, the unofficial second half of the season has opened up with some promising results. In fact, all of the angles other than the teams with better bullpens thwarting losing streaks continued to win/lose in their normal patterns.


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Hopefully, you have embraced the idea of not paying exorbitant prices in baseball, as the big favorites continue to lose money for their backers, even with superior bullpens. That said, I still actively embrace the concept that teams with better bullpens are a solid foundational wager. Just don’t pay too much…ever.

In fact, at one point over the last couple of weeks, after a particularly frustrating night by favorites, a reader asked me directly, “What’s the easiest way to use these bullpen ratings?” Well, there may be more profitable ways (by ROI), as shown by the drill-down systems below, but the easiest method is to simply take the teams with the better Steve Makinen Bullpen Ratings that are not favored by -190 or more. Had you been doing that all year, taking the overall season record and subtracting the big favorite losses, you’d be up over 26 units.

I’ll be resuming my weekly tracking of all these numbers for the rest of the season. I’m hoping you have actively been employing these principles. I will continue to stress how much I believe in the foundation of the bullpen systems I have been tracking and how easy they are to utilize.

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

Avoid/fade all better bullpen overpriced favorites of -190 or higher

Highly-priced better bullpen teams were just 15-14 this past ten days and lost a noteworthy -17.8 units. Now, in games this season through Sunday, July 23, in which the team with the Steve Makinen better-rated bullpen was listed as a favorite of -190 or higher, that team now owns a 173-99 record, but for -56.44 units. In my opinion, bullpens prove to be the difference in games that are priced more competitively, and I personally don’t like backing heavy favorites with this high of prices on any single regular season baseball game.

Overpriced better bullpen without a big starting pitcher edge angle

In combining starting pitcher differences in looking at games with -190 favorites or higher, there’s been an opportunity to be selective in fading overpriced favorites. Specifically, when the starting pitcher difference between the better Steve Makinen rated bullpen team is less than 20, these big favorites have gone just 38-45 for -64.75 units! This angle was 6-3 last week but still lost -0.12 units, another week on continued fade opportunity realized. This situation is rare but should be taken advantage of when it arises. Even though the R.O.I. on this system is shrinking steadily, for the season, it remains at -78%!

Better bullpen underdog teams have been strong out of the second-half gate

A frequent and profitable system arises when the team with the better SM Bullpen Ratings is playing as an underdog (or pick ’em). After a 25-25 (+4.51 units) performance over the last week-and-a-half, moneyline underdog teams with better bullpen ratings for the season are now 233-236 for +54.47 units. The R.O.I. of this angle remains a healthy 11.6%!

Worse bullpen teams continue to struggle in extending winning streaks

I have found that fading teams with lesser SM bullpen ratings that are looking to extend winning streaks has been a strong strategy. The strategy of fading these teams over the last 10 days continued to produce the results we’re looking for. On two-game winning streaks, the teams with worse Steve Makinen Bullpen Ratings in a matchup are now 164-157 for -31.59 units, an R.O.I. of -9.8%. After a 9-9 result, worse bullpen teams on 3+ game winning streaks now have a record of 60-76 for -20.11 units. The R.O.I. on that system is -14.8%, the exact same figure our latest set of results netted.

Better bullpen teams are capable of building lengthy winning streaks

In conducting a study of teams with better bullpens on winning streaks, I have not found anything significant on the two-game data. However, when looking at teams with better Steve Makinen Bullpen Ratings looking to extend 3-game winning streaks, I have tracked that these teams have gone 157-94 for +36.95 units, an impressive R.O.I. of 14.7%. These better bullpen teams produced +2.49 units in the last 10 days on a 13-8 performance.

Better bullpen teams thwart losing streaks

After posting losses the last three time periods I’ve tracked, the better bullpen teams thwarting losing streaks are on the verge of being removed from the study. Updating the results since 7/14 of when on two-game losing streaks, the teams with better SM bullpen ratings in a matchup have gone 157-119 for +12.5 units. Better bullpen teams on 3+ game losing streaks have gone 77-48 for +24.47 units. The R.O.I. on this system remains 19.6%, but it was over 50% just a few weeks ago. We’ll see if this turns back around this week.

These simple angles can be qualified each day by utilizing the Makinen Daily Ratings page on

My goal of posting and tracking these angles regularly is to get you to think along the lines of how fundamentally important good bullpens are in handicapping baseball and in being able to realize that no MLB game should ever command such lofty prices. I will continue to stress that I believe the reason for the success of these strategies is that they are foundational systems based upon a key team strength and other situational factors.

The reason these drill-down systems arose is that I wanted VSiN readers to feel more comfortable in betting systems that don’t require wagering on every single game. That said, for the entire season, I have again been tracking the original 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 since. I’ve been using this methodology for the last five or six years to achieve strong profits. It was again slightly negative for the last 10 days, going 78-63 for -5.48 units. I will continue to stress that when combined with avoiding overpriced favorites, the simple strategy of backing better bullpen teams will keep you in the baseball betting game for the long haul.

Back to last week’s results, these were the figures by day:

Friday 7/14: 8-6, -0.55 units

Saturday 7/15: 13-4, +5.83 units

Sunday 7/16: 9-6, -0.6 units

Monday 7/17: 5-5, -0.68 units

Tuesday 7/18: 7-8, -3.82 units

Wednesday 7/19: 6-9, -6.65 units

Thursday 7/20: 5-5, -1.66 units

Friday 7/21: 8-7, -0.98 units

Saturday 7/22: 8-7, +0.4 units

Sunday 7/23: 9-6, +3.23 units

Interestingly, all but two of the last seven days were at least .500 in terms of better bullpens winning games, but the high prices led to losses. Adding these numbers to the overall season records of this methodology, we are now at 815-650 for -30.15 units. Compare that to the average baseball bettor, who, if playing every game so far this season, would be down almost -110 units with average performance.

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, July 23rd, and I do update them on a daily basis.

Key Bullpen Stats (through games of July 23rd)

Top 5 Bullpen ERAs