Blue Jays vs. Orioles Betting Pick: Look to the Starters for Value?

Blue Jays vs. Orioles Betting Pick: Look to the Starters for Value? article feature image
Credit:

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: John Means

  • In a battle of two bad teams, bettors often look toward starter ERAs to make their decisions.
  • Tonight, John Means (2.67 ERA) and the Orioles will take on Trent Thornton (4.73) and the Blue Jays.
  • See what history says about backing the better arm in these ugly matchups.

The AL East has some pretty dang good teams. The Rays and Yankees are both already 40-game winners — there’s only three others in the rest of the bigs — and the Red Sox, well, they may be struggling to get off the ground but they’re still made up of the same group that won 108 games and the World Series last year.

Then there’s the birds.

Both the Blue Jays and Orioles are among the bottom three in all of the majors at 23-42 and 20-45, respectively. As you’d expect with those records, there haven’t been a whole lot of bright spots for either club so far this year (you know, other than Vladdy Jr. hitting some really, really hard singles and outs).

On the Baltimore side, the brightest spot would belong to left-hander John Means. After starting the year in the pen, Means has now made 10 starts and is up to 60.2 innings pitched on the season … and he still holds a 2.67 ERA.

He’ll take the mound tonight against the Blue Jays, and in a battle of two crappy teams, the public is looking toward the starting pitchers — and specifically their ERAs — to make a decision.

The Jays are tossing Trent Thornton (4.73 ERA), which makes it a pretty easy call for most bettors following the simple strategy. Sixty-eight percent, to be exact, are backing the O’s despite their inferior record.

If history is any indication, though, that hasn’t been a profitable to approach games featuring two bad teams. In fact, it’s been just the opposite according to Bet Labs.

Since 2005, when a sub-.450 team (through at least 45 games) with a starter boasting a sub-3.00 ERA faces another with a starter ERA over 4.50, backing the better pitcher has resulted in a 56-72 record.

If you had instead faded that arm and taken a chance on the worse starter, you’d have won 24.8 units for a 19.7% return on investment.

That ROI improves when the team is in a contrarian spot, like the Jays are tonight. Of the 128 teams within that record, the 82 that received 40% or fewer bets have gone 46-36, winning 22.1 units for a 27.0% ROI.

To get even more specific to the Blue Jays’ rare spot tonight (and by this point we’re too specific to expect the same win rate to continue), when the team was also a favorite, which has happened just 12 times, it has gone 9-3 for a ridiculous 41.2% ROI.

The pick: Blue Jays -114