When handicapping baseball, most bettors start the process with starting pitching.
A great starting pitcher can completely take over a game and leave opposing offenses stymied. While a pitcher can do his part on the mound to hold back the opposing team's offense, there isn't much that he can do to get his own team's offense going.
For this reason, bettors must factor run support into their decision-making process. There are plenty of great pitchers who don't make great bets because they consistently fail to get much run support.
In many cases, these pitchers play for teams that don't produce much offense for any of their pitchers. In other cases, it is just a case of bad luck.
Jeff Samardzija was the poster boy of good pitchers who made for losing trips to the sportsbook window when playing for the Chicago Cubs earlier this season. Samardzija pitched like an ace through 17 starts with the Cubs, accumulating a 2.83 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP while striking out 103 batters in 108 innings.
But due to a dismal 2.41 runs per game on offense in Samardzija's starts, the Cubs were 3-14 on the MLB moneyline. Since being traded to the A's, Samardzija's run support is up to 3.67 runs per game and his record on the moneyline is 2-1.
The San Diego Padres own the worst offense in baseball by a considerable margin, scoring only 2.98 runs per game. As a result, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that two of their best pitchers see many of their strong efforts wasted due to poor run support.
Ian Kennedy has 137 strikeouts in 129.1 innings pitched with a 3.62 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP, but the Padres score only 2.86 runs per game in his starts and are 9-12 on the moneyline. Tyson Ross has been even better with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP, but the Padres have a 9-12 record in his 21 starts as well.
Atlanta's Alex Wood has a tidy 3.07 ERA in his 11 games as a starter this season, but with only 2.45 runs per game of support, the Braves are 4-7 on the moneyline in those 11 starts. For Julio Teheran, the Braves score 3.5 runs per game, and that extra run of support has translated to a 13-7 record on the moneyline.
Kansas City's Danny Duffy may be one of the league's unluckiest pitchers. Duffy is enjoying a career year with a sparkling 2.66 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. But despite playing for a team that averages 4.04 runs per game, Duffy has received only 2.86 runs per game in his 14 starts, resulting in a 5-9 moneyline record over that stretch.
Don't be too quick to get money down on aces Andrew Cashner (2.36 ERA) and Michael Wacha (2.79 ERA) when they return from the disabled list. San Diego is 6-6 in Cashner's 12 starts, giving him a meager 2.17 runs per game of support. St. Louis scores only 3.0 runs per game for Wacha and is 6-9 in games he started.