MLB Bullpen System

This week’s MLB Bullpen Systems update wraps up what was a very volatile seven-day period, one in which four days wound up producing at least 2.82 units of profit each, and a Saturday that gave back 8.74 units. In the end, we came away with 2.07 units in profit employing what has been called the “easiest way” to use this time-tested methodology.

For the season, we are still -1.6% ROI, but as I have been explaining regularly, even in negative territory, it still provides a tremendous advantage over simply randomly stabbing at games. In fact, the average baseball bettor performs at -3.1% ROI over the course of a season. As I have stressed before, and will continue to stress, this line of thinking is foundational and gives bettors a consistent advantage. Now, the true secret is being able to utilize further discernment to narrow and sharpen the eventual plays, and that is what I do and have been tracking with the more detailed bullpen systems.


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Looking back at last summer, some VSiN readers who were perhaps looking for a shortcut asked what would take time out of the process. That led to THE EASIEST WAY TO PLAY THE MLB 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 in 2023. That is a pretty nice 2.2% return for a very simple yet very fundamentally sound methodology. The ROI for this year is -1.6% after a prolonged period of up & down results. Looking at the “easiest way” results since my last bullpen update by day:

Monday 6/10: 4-1, +2.82 units
Tuesday 6/11: 10-4, +6.39 units
Wednesday 6/12: 6-7, -2.67 units
Thursday 6/13: 4-5, -2.01 units
Friday 6/14: 9-4, +4.24 units
Saturday 6/15: 3-9, -8.74 units
Sunday 6/16: 9-5, +3.04 units

Overall, the last seven days produced a record of 44-35 for +2.07 units, leaving us at –16.08 units for the season. VSiN readers who have followed me for years know that I preach persistence when it comes to this method of wagering. It is a foundational belief that drives this system, and peaks and valleys are part of it, but long-term winning is the goal. When you consider that the average MLB bettor playing every game for the season would be approximately -98.6 units down with average performance, being only 16.08 units down for this system has still provided a tremendous advantage. Narrowing down the plays and using greater discernment in your baseball wagering can provide an even bigger edge. This is one of the main reasons we produce such a multi-faceted Analytics Report each day.

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 the 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.

As I indicated earlier, I do narrow the plays with what I believe are more sharpened systems employing various situations. Here is an update of the various system records with results through Sunday 6/16:

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 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 532-444 for -16.08 units. This is still well below usual standards. Perhaps “easiest” isn’t always best. Hence the reason for the following angles:

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 do prove worthy of backing consistently, regardless of the high prices, because the games are absolute mismatches. The ROI on this angle settled at +4.4%. In the early part of the 2024 season thus far, the record of this angle is back to positive at 60-23 for +3.13 units. That ROI of 3.8% is on pace to match the 2023 results.

FADE better bullpen overpriced favorites of -190 or higher when the 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 ROI of -30.5%! So far in 2024, these teams are again losing money, 48-30 for -16.48 units and an ROI of -21.1%.

Fading 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 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 33-21 since opening day 2024 and has lost -12.65 units, a season long ROI of -23.4%.

Better bullpen underdog teams are typically solid wagers all season long
A frequent and profitable system in the 2023 season, and prior to that as well, arose when the team with the better SM Bullpen Ratings played as an underdog (or pick ’em). Moneyline underdog teams with better bullpen ratings for the season were 341-346 for +72.72 units. The ROI of this angle produced a healthy 10.6%. In the early part of the 2024 season, these teams produced a 156-191 record for -11.79 units (ROI -3.4%). This angle has endured one of its worst 2-week stints ever though, 17-35 for -16.45 units.

Better bullpen underdog teams in -110 to +144 range have won nicely
Digging in deeper to the better bullpen underdog system above, when limiting the plays to those better bullpen underdogs (or pick ’em) in the -110 to +144 range, these teams have produced a 140-146 record, for +7.38 units (ROI 2.6%). I believe this angle has a bit more merit than the overall bullpen underdog system in that the better bullpens figure to be the difference in games that are expected to be highly competitive.

Worse bullpens struggle 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, a ROI 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 ROI on that system finished at -7.6%. For 2024 so far, these 2-game teams have gone 88-100 for -8.48 units. The 3-game teams are 43-46 for -1.41 units.

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 three-game winning streaks, I tracked that those teams that went 241-168 for +11.33 units, a respectable ROI of 2.7%, a slight improvement on the overall record of the “easiest way system”. For ’24, better bullpen teams on a 3-game winning streak are 99-82 for +1.98 units (1.1% ROI) thru Sunday 6/16.

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 ROI for the season closed at 11.2%! There have been 81 plays on this angle so far in 2024 through 6/16 and these teams are 45-44 for -4.65 units. This angle seems to be stuck in neutral this season.

These simple angles that 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 6/16:

Key MLB Bullpen Stats (through games of Sunday, 6/16)

Top 5 MLB Bullpen ERAs
1. CLEVELAND: 2.33
2. LA DODGERS: 3.04
4. MILWAUKEE: 3.23
5. NY YANKEES: 3.31

Worst 5 MLB Bullpen ERAs
30. COLORADO: 5.7
29. LA ANGELS: 5.5
27. TORONTO: 4.69
26. TEXAS: 4.67

Top 5 MLB Bullpen WHIPs
1. CLEVELAND: 0.97
2. LA DODGERS: 1.07
3. BALTIMORE: 1.12
4. SEATTLE: 1.16
5. MILWAUKEE: 1.18

Worst 5 MLB Bullpen WHIPs
30. COLORADO: 1.62
28. ARIZONA: 1.43
27. LA ANGELS: 1.41
26. KANSAS CITY: 1.4

Top 5 MLB Bullpen Ks/9 innings
1. NY METS: 10.53
3. CLEVELAND: 9.84
4. TEXAS: 9.54


Worst 5 MLB Bullpen Ks/9 innings
30. KANSAS CITY: 7.05
29. ARIZONA: 7.23
28. COLORADO: 7.29
27. TORONTO: 7.68
26. DETROIT: 8.05

Top 5 MLB Bullpen Last 7 Games WHIPs
1. NY METS: 0.72
2. CLEVELAND: 0.86
3. BALTIMORE: 0.91
4. DETROIT: 0.97

Worst 5 MLB Bullpen Last 7 Games WHIPs
30. LA ANGELS: 2.29
29. NY YANKEES: 1.98
28. COLORADO: 1.94
27. MIAMI: 1.52
26. HOUSTON: 1.52

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 MLB Bullpen Power Ratings since 6/10:

Biggest upward movers (PR points)
1. NY METS: +11 points
2. TORONTO: +9
3. SEATTLE: +5
4. BOSTON: +4

Biggest downward movers (PR points)
1. COLORADO: -13 points
2. LA ANGELS: -10
3. OAKLAND: -8
T-5. SAN DIEGO: -5
T-5. DETROIT: -5

Steve’s Current Bullpen Ratings/Ranks (as of 6/17)

Rank – Team – MLB Bullpen PR
7. BOSTON: 15
8. HOUSTON: 14
11. ATLANTA: 7
12. SEATTLE: 7
13. ST LOUIS: 7
14. TEXAS: 6
16. SAN DIEGO: 5
17. NY METS: 5
20. TAMPA BAY: 1
21. MIAMI: -2
22. DETROIT: -3
23. OAKLAND: -3
24. TORONTO: -4
26. ARIZONA: -10
28. KANSAS CITY: -13
29. LA ANGELS: -21
30. COLORADO: -32

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

As we head into this week’s games, there are four teams on 3+ game winning streak (MIN, SEA, WAS, NYM) and four teams on a 3+ game losing skids (TEX, OAK, MIA, SD).