Pitching is one of the single most important things to cap when it comes to baseball. You’re going to feel a lot more confident backing the Boston Red Sox when Chris Sale starts as opposed to Steven Wright. However, sometimes a pitcher who looks terrible on paper becomes a consistent money play for bettors.
After a little over a month, I feel it’s time that we take a look at the worst pitchers that have made the best bets. Keep in mind, each pitcher’s profit is based on a $100 wager on each of his starts.
Ubaldo Jimenez: 5 Starts, +$335
Despite showing next to zero control on the mound, Ubaldo Jimenez has been a boon for bettors. The Baltimore Orioles pitcher has a 7.44 ERA and a 16/15 K/BB ratio through his first five starts. Take out a stellar performance against a middling Cincinnati Reds team and Ubaldo’s ERA jumps up to 11.15 ERA.
There is a very real chance that Jimenez finds himself in the bullpen just like in 2014 and 2016. However, he has gotten plenty of run support with the Orioles averaging 6.0 runs in his starts. He also has the luxury of pitching behind a bullpen that features some of the better long relief pitchers in baseball.
All that being said, proceed with caution. Jimenez heading to the bullpen will almost certainly happen with one more poor start and the Orioles have averaged 1.6 runs more with him on the mound compared to their season average. That number will likely return to the median and Jimenez could be out the needed run support.
Phil Hughes: 5 Starts, +$363
Phil Hughes has been dreadful early on in games and has routinely dug himself a hole he can’t get out of. Hughes has a 5.40 ERA and has given up 64.7 percent of his runs allowed in the first three innings. After that, he has been slightly better, which tends to give the Twins a bit of a chance to climb back into games.
However, much like Jimenez, the Twins have continually bailed out Hughes by averaging 5.6 runs of support. Conversely, the Twins’ other four starters have an average combined run support of 4.0.
The struggles for Hughes aren’t likely to change, as he underwent treatment for thoracic outlet syndrome this offseason, which meant removing his uppermost rib. He has resorted to throwing his changeup more this season, a pitch he rarely threw in previous years, and the velocity of his fastball has decreased noticeably. There may be some growing pains with the increased use of the changeup, but the Twins have proven they will go to bat for Hughes.
Wily Peralta: 5 Starts, +$340
Wily Peralta has survived his starts this season, which is really a good indication of his play. The righty has not gone into the seventh inning once this season and has not come out for the sixth in three of his five starts.
Peralta has been getting banged up with 46 percent of hits against him going for extra bases. On top of that, the Milwaukee Brewers have turned just two of a possible 24 double plays with Peralta on the mound. The mixture of Peralta getting dinged up by hitters and his defense doing little to help when they can is the reason he has a 5.19 ERA on the year.
Peralta is lucky that he pitches for the Brewers, who have been mashing the ball this season. Milwaukee is third in the MLB in runs scored and second in slugging percentage. The trio of Eric Thames, Travis Shaw and Ryan Braun have amassed 23 home runs and 55 RBIs on the season.
If any of these bad pitchers are going to continue to make bettors money moving forward, it’s Peralta. The Brewers bats are for real and go out there trying to outscore their opponents and not much else.