Updated MLB Bullpen Betting Systems

This past week was a sound one for the MLB Bullpen Systems I’ve been tracking for VSiN readers in recent seasons. Highlighted by winning weeks for better bullpen underdogs and teams on winning streaks, we are starting to see some positive returns. It’s not surprising that things are starting to settle a bit for the 2024 season, as we are learning more and more about the league’s 30 teams each week. In any case, I’m here to update the early 2024 season records of all of the MLB Bullpen Systems.

I will be trying to keep up with 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.


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Before we dig in to the updated results of the regular season however, just a reminder. I have always embraced the idea that better bullpen teams are the stronger wager when assessing the options. They just aren’t accounted for as much as starting pitching by oddsmakers, thus giving bettors value in typically at least 1/3 of games or more.

After numerous inquiries last year on how to use this valuable info, I shared with readers 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:

Monday 4/15: 8-7, -3.49 units
Tuesday 4/16: 8-5, +2.91 units
Wednesday 4/17: 8-6, +0.6 units
Thursday 4/18: 1-2, -1 units
Friday 4/19: 6-4, +1.51 units
Saturday 4/20: 7-8, -3 units
Sunday 4/21: 9-6, +1.34 units

While not a “winning week” at -1.13 units overall, we did again win more days than we lost, just like last week. Also, interestingly, this was the second straight week that the Monday/Saturday numbers really took a hit, while the Tuesday/Wednesday/Sunday results were fruitful. This is a pattern I will be watching.

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 VSiN.com. 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 4/21:

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 2023 regular season for +45.66 units, a 2.2% season-long return on investment. So far in 2024, they are 164-139 for -13.92 units. For the second week in a row, results picked up last week, as I believe we are starting to settle in for the 2024 season. Considering the average MLB bettor playing every game has lost -22.9 units, this system is still providing about a 9-unit advantage even as it is performing below its usual expectations.

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 still negative but improving quickly at 18-10 for -6.28 units.

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 actually off to a better start, 15-6 for +2.66 units and a ROI of 12.7%. However, the ROI dropped 25% over the past 14 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 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 12-7 in the three-and-a-half weeks and has lost -3.14 units, a season-low ROI of -16.5%.

Better bullpen underdog teams were 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. 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 have produced a 43-48 record, for +1.54 units. This angle did win go 14-14 last week for +2.05 units and seems to be picking up steam as we get deeper into the season.

Worse bullpen struggled in extending winning streaks
In 2023, I found that fading teams with a 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 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 two-game teams have gone 29-25 for +7.01 units. The three-game teams are 14-13 for +3.5 units. I don’t expect these to continue for long as the foundation of this system is based on 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 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 2024, better bullpen teams on a three-game winning streak were 21-16 for -1.2 units through Sunday, 4/21, after a great 10-4, +5 units 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 ROI for the season closed at 11.2%! There have been 26 plays on this angle so far in 2024, and these teams are 14-12 for -1.63 units.

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

Here are the updated key bullpen stats that were accumulated in games through Sunday, 4/21:

Key Bullpen Stats (through games of Sunday, 4/21)

Top 5 Bullpen ERAs
1. DETROIT: 1.65
2. CLEVELAND: 2.11
3. SEATTLE: 2.69
4. MINNESOTA: 2.84
5. NY METS: 2.95

Worst 5 Bullpen ERAs
28. HOUSTON: 5.36
27. TAMPA BAY: 5.34
26. MIAMI: 5.3

Top 5 Bullpen WHIPs
2. CLEVELAND: 1.03
3. SEATTLE: 1.04
4. MILWAUKEE: 1.06
5. NY METS: 1.15

Worst 5 Bullpen WHIPs
30. COLORADO: 1.65
28. MIAMI: 1.56
27. TAMPA BAY: 1.53
26. HOUSTON: 1.52

Top 5 Bullpen Ks/9 innings
1. MINNESOTA: 11.59
2. NY METS: 11.19
3. CLEVELAND: 10.58
4. PITTSBURGH: 10.12
5. ST. LOUIS: 10.04

Worst 5 Bullpen Ks/9 innings
30. NY YANKEES: 6.94
29. ARIZONA: 7.13
28. KANSAS CITY: 7.16
27. COLORADO: 7.54
26. SAN DIEGO: 7.91

Top 5 Bullpen Last 7 Games WHIPs
1. SEATTLE: 0.84
2. DETROIT: 0.84
3. NY METS: 0.87
4. ATLANTA: 0.89
5. CLEVELAND: 0.91

Worst 5 Bullpen Last 7 Games WHIPs
29. HOUSTON: 1.92
28. WASHINGTON: 1.66
27. BALTIMORE: 1.63
26. ARIZONA: 1.6

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 4/16

Biggest upward movers (PR points)
1. MILWAUKEE: +8 points
3. SEATTLE: +6
4. NY METS: +5

Biggest downward movers (PR points)
1. ARIZONA: -9 points
2. HOUSTON: -8

Steve’s Current Bullpen Ratings/Ranks (as of 4/22)

Rank – Team – Bullpen PR
2. SEATTLE: 20
4. ATLANTA: 18
6. DETROIT: 15
7. NY METS: 14
11. SAN DIEGO: 10
12. TAMPA BAY: 7
13. ST. LOUIS: 7
16. OAKLAND: 5
18. ARIZONA: 4
19. LA ANGELS: 4
21. HOUSTON: 2
25. TORONTO: -1
26. BOSTON: -4
27. MIAMI: -4
29. TEXAS: -5
30. COLORADO: -12

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

As we head into this week’s games, there are five teams on 3+ game winning streaks (BOS, CLE, PHI, MIL, CIN) and five teams on 3+ game losing skids (CWS, LAA, OAK, PIT, STL):