A look back at MLB’s most (and least) profitable starting pitchers in 2015

The 2016 Major League Baseball season is upon us so, naturally, it’s a great opportunity to look back on the top (and bottom) earners of the 2015 season and discuss the possibility of a repeat performance.

The most important person on the baseball field when considering your baseball wagers is, of course, the starting pitcher.

There are many different factors that go into an individual becoming a “top money starter” in the world of baseball betting. Skills/stats are obviously important, playing on a successful team is certainly something to take into consideration, previous track record is a valid concern when it comes to the betting lines the individuals will be up against, and a whole lot of luck (which is difficult to predict but a legitimate concern when it comes to pitching performance).

That being said, let’s take a look at the MLB’s top 10 money earning starting pitchers from 2015:

It goes without saying that Jake Arrieta had an incredible 2015 season on the mound for the Chicago Cubs. Just three years ago he was one of the worst pitchers, statistically speaking, in all of baseball and now he’s coming off a Cy Young Award and is the ace of the World Series favorites heading into 2016. Can he repeat these lofty earning numbers this season? Arrieta is primed have another solid year, but in 2015 everything went perfectly for him in the regular season (the playoffs were a different story) and a repeat performance is highly unlikely. Also, the Cubbies’ lines are going to be inflated all summer due to the hype surrounding the North Siders, so Arrieta’s earning potential will be lower in 2016 than it was in 2015.

There are a couple of pitchers in the top 10 from 2015 who switched teams in the offseason; Zack Greinke has shifted from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Wandy Rodriguez returned to the Houston Astros on a minor league deal.

Greinke should be able to win plenty of games with Arizona and is consistently one of the top pitchers in the game so expect him to remain in a similar position in 2016 (ranked 5-10 in earnings).

If you’re looking at who from the list could rise higher in 2016, look no further than the pair of Astros’ hurlers, Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh. Also, don’t look past Carlos Rodon of the Chicago White Sox, despite struggling in spring training, he will see plenty of more starts in 2016 and has a revamped offense behind him – we could very well see Rodon at the top of this list after the 2016 season is officially in the books.

Now let’s take a look at which starting pitchers cost bettors the most in 2015:

There’s plenty of player movement in this group, as you might expect. Jesse Chavez is now in the Toronto Blue Jays’ bullpen, Shelby Miller is the no. 2 guy with the Diamondbacks, Johnny Cueto is now with the San Francisco Giants, Kyle Lohse remains a free agent, and Roenis Alias is now a member of the Boston Red Sox organization.

The important aspect of highlighting the bottom 10 earners of 2015 is trying to pin-point who will still be in this spot for the coming season – who to avoid like the plague whenever you see them listed as the starter on the Covers matchup pages.

Some guys will earn better simply based on their improved situation; Miller, Cueto, Chris Sale, and Alex Colome have all either moved to a better team, moved to a more pitcher-friendly atmosphere, or have seen their offenses improve in the offseason. Others will likely not be starters in 2016 and won’t have the opportunity to lose as much money as last year; Chavez, Lohse, and Elias all fall into that category. That leaves Corey Kluber, Lance McCullers, and Andrew Cashner as our group of potential returnees to the bottom 10.

The man to avoid appears to be Andrew Cashner of the San Diego Padres. Cashner is the no. 3 guy in the Padres rotation behind Tyson Ross and James Shields so he’s the guy that opposing teams are relieved to see during a series. He will also have a bad team behind him in 2016. The Pads had a window of a couple of seasons to be successful in the National League West – well, that window has closed. The Padres will be lucky to win 70 games this year and they should be avoided every time you see Andrew Cashner’s name on the probable pitchers list.

In addition to riding the guys at the top of the money list and fading the guys at the bottom of the list, it’s always a good idea to find some dark-horses in the middle of the pack. Knowing which “average” pitchers to back on any given day will offer better betting value – and pad your account at a much faster rate.

The starting pitcher pool is vast, but a few names to consider backing who aren’t no. 1 or no. 2 in their team’s rotations are: San Diego’s Brandon Morrow (will start the season on the DL but he has pitched in spring training and will just need some more conditioning), Cleveland’s Josh Tomlin (earned the no. 5 spot in the Indians’ rotation and Cleveland was 8-2 in his 10 starts last season), Miami’s Adam Conley (been announced as Marlins’ no. 3 starter for a team who went 8-3 in the first 11 starts of his young career), and St. Louis’ Mike Leake (the Cardinals have a knack for getting the most out of their pitchers and Leake will have much less pressure, and better moneylines, as a no. 3 or no. 4 starter).


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