The key to baseball betting is with handicapping bullpens. A good bullpen will protect your team’s big leads and give the starting staff good support throughout the season, taking plenty of pressure off their arms. The middle relief is where a lot of close games are won and lost. Teams with a good middle rotation take the heat off their closer as well as the starters because they don’t need to feel they have to throw a near perfect game and go late into the games in order to get a win.

If we take a look back at the 2005 season, the top ten teams in bullpen ERA were the Indians, Cards, White Sox, Twins, A’s, Padres, Angels, Nationals, Mariners and Astros. It’s no surprise that 7 of these top 10 teams lead the league in profits with the Twins, Padres and Mariners being the only losing teams monetarily. Those seven teams won a total of $8,542 in profits. Obviously there is a direct correlation in these numbers.

If we start looking at the bottom five teams in bullpen ERA, only the Red Sox ended up with a winning record and Boston along with Tampa Bay were the only two of these five teams to finish in the black on the money line. The total losses for these teams was a staggering -$3,438 so a bad bullpen can lead to some costly bets.

If we go back a year the story will pretty much be the same. The top five teams in bullpen ERA for 2004 were the Cardinals, Dodgers, Angels, Rangers, and Braves. Four of those teams were the top four teams in profits with only the Angels not included. Those other four teams combined for a total of +$7,745 in profits showing once again that great bullpens will lead you to the pay window.

Overall, the top ten teams in bullpen ERA finished a combined +5,305. Taking a further look at the bottom five teams in bullpen ERA finds only the Reds finished the season in the black as the Tigers, Indians, Blue Jays, and Rockies all lost their backers money. The debt amassed was over -$3,585 which is very close to how the bottom five finished with in 2005.

The guy finishing off the game has a huge role in the outcome, but just how much effect can he have? Four teams finished last season with a blown save percentage of 25 percent or less. Three of those teams, White Sox, Indians and Dodgers were the top moneymakers with the Astros being the only team on the outside but not by far. The four combined to go +6,538 on the money line leading to some hefty profits.

Trying to handicap the bullpens is the toughest part since the pitchers are coming in and out, whether it’s to and from the minors or back and forth from the starting rotation. You don’t know which ones are going to throw each day, but knowing who is back there is extremely important. Look at daily transactions since the bullpen is constantly turning over for most teams. It’s an aspect that is overlooked by most but obviously should not as the analysis can make or break your season.