Even though “chicks dig the long ball” and offense is what attracts people to baseball, you need very good pitching to get anywhere in the major leagues. In particular, starting pitching. Here is a look at the top four No. 1 in baseball. Although they’re all from the National League, they’re all great for MLB betting purposes:
Matt Harvey, New York Mets
Harvey has been absolutely spectacular in his first full year as a starter, going 7-1 with a 2.05 ERA, which is second in the majors and also fourth in strikeouts. His starts are now becoming “must-watch” events every five days and he is easily the only reason to watch the Mets, the hosts of next month’s All-Star Game. He is a solid bet to be named the starter for that game if he continues his form as it would be a real treat for the fans to see one of their own in such a position. Now, Harvey will have to make the adjustment as teams are starting to get more tape on him, learning his tendencies.
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
However, he’ll have to fight off Kershaw, the 2011 Cy Young winner and two-time All-Star. Even though Kershaw is just 6-5, he doesn’t get any run support from his teammates (3.00 runs, good for 90th of 98in that category), he leads the majors in innings, ranks fifth in strikeouts and fourth in ERA. It is tough knowing that you can only give up two runs a game to give your team a genuine chance to win, and 90% of the time, Kershaw does that. At 25, he is blossoming into the next “best pitcher in baseball”; he is top-three in either league already.
Stephen Strasburg, Washington
This is going to be a controversial choice, but just look at a few things besides his 4-6 record. Strasburg is dead last in the majors among qualified pitchers in regards to run support (2.60), his bullpen has blown a couple of games for him and even though his ERA is 2.41, it is still good for 10th in all of MLB. Make no mistake about it, Strasburg is still Washington’s ace and even though he was slowed by a trip to the disabled list, he doesn’t seem to be having any arm troubles. Look for the preseason Cy Young choice to have a big second half for the Nationals if they can help him out.
Adam Wainwright, St. Louis
Wainwright has a 10-5 mark while ranking third in the majors in innings pitched, eighth in ERA and ninth in strikeouts, but those numbers don’t even tell the whole story. The soon-to-be 32-year-old is now all the way back from elbow problems that caused him to miss all of 2011, and he is the ace he has to be because the Cardinals have had injury problems in their rotation, so they count on Wainwright to be there every five days. This guy is a horse and should be a lock on the betting lines for (surprisingly, only) his second All-Star nod.