Spring training has begun and the MLB season props continue to roll out across the market. The most recent bets we’ve been blessed with are pitcher win total over/unders.
Last season, 18 of the 30 win totals posted at the Westgate went under. A handful of these were due to injury, which is a very important factor when making season-long prop bets—especially on pitchers. You probably noticed that the majority of players’ totals are juiced up on the under, including everybody with a total of 14.5 or higher. If you expect someone to get 15+ wins, they better start around 30 games and have some luck on their side.
Here are a few numbers that I believe can be exploited.
Gerrit Cole: Over 13.5 wins
Last season was certainly one to forget for Gerrit Cole. While he wasn’t terrible, the former #1 overall pick had his worst statistical season, highlighted by a 4.26 ERA. However, this is due to regress in my opinion. While home runs were at an all time high, Cole’s HR/FB ratio of nearly 16% was higher than the league average and way higher than his career high of 9.4%. This should go down and in turn, lower his ERA.
That probably isn’t even the most important factor of this equation, though. With Cole now on the Astros, he has an absolutely potent offense to bail him out of mediocre starts. A five-inning start with four earned runs would probably earn him a loss or no decision more often than not in Pittsburgh, but he’ll probably nab a few extra wins in Houston thanks to his offense that scored more than 1.4 runs per game more than Pittsburgh’s did last season.
Clayton Kershaw: Under 17.5 wins
I actually said this same thing last season and was forced to eat crow when Kershaw put up 18 wins in 27 starts.
Nevertheless, I’m going to give it another whirl this season. In his 10 seasons, Kershaw has won 18 games or more just three times. While he is the best pitcher in the game, winning 18 games is a tall task even for him.
There are some signs pointing to him not starting a whole season’s worth of games, too, which should help this bet. In his first five full seasons at the MLB level, he started 30+ games in all five. In his past four, he’s reached 30 starts just once. He’s also turning 30 years old next month and has been dealing with back problems in each of the past two seasons. Old-man Kershaw may be the best, but I’ll be surprised if he wins 18+ games again this year.
Jose Quintana: Over 13.5 wins
Last season, the lowly White Sox tossed Jose Quintana in a yellow taxi, not even an Uber, and shipped him up to Wrigley. He always flew under the radar in the South Side, but now has a chance to be great in his first full season with the Cubbies.
Most people probably don’t know, but over the past five seasons, Quintana has the sixth-highest WAR among pitchers, only behind Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, and David Price (I didn’t know that either, but I assumed he was high enough for me to search it). He’s started 30+ games in all five of his seasons that he spent entirely at the MLB level. Now, he gets to play an entire year with a team expected to win over 90 games. The White Sox never even won 80 with him and Chris Sale in town.
With the Cubs’ elite offense and defense on his side, he should be able to surpass this mark and establish himself as the ace of Wrigleyville.
Top photo: Jose Quintana
Photo via Dennis Wierzbicki – USA TODAY Sports