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Part 1 of this series dove into advanced hitting stats for bettors. Here in Part 2, we break down all the key pitching metrics you should know before diving into MLB's player futures market.
The Cy Young market is much different than volume-based markets such as strikeout and home run leaders, which revolve around counting stats. Those can be much easier to predict as they're often topped by players who excel in specific areas. The same isn't true of the Cy Young award, which considers a wide range of factors, and is given to a pitcher who excels across the board.
When trying to find value, look for pitchers due for a bounce back - starters with a high ERA compared to a low FIP, or ones plagued by an above league average BABIP. Also look for pitchers with a high strikeout percentage and WAR, as well as low BB percentage and HR/9. You'll want to identify guys who aren't hit hard, meaning they give up a low average exit velocity and hard-hit percentage to opposing hitters. Pitchers who find success in a lot of these categories will often be near the top in terms of Cy Young votes come the end of the season.
Here's a market that typically rewards a high workload, which is mitigated in a shortened season. Over a 162-game campaign, there are few who reach the 200-inning mark for a wide variety of reasons, but those are wiped out in a 60-game season as inning limits and durability concerns are basically non-factors.
So what should we be looking for here? It's not rocket science to say a high strikeout rate is a clear indicator of success, but how do we find the pitchers who are in line to increase those marks? You want to look for pitchers with high spin rates, as well as ones who experienced increases. For example, no starter had a better spin rate on their changeup than 2019 strikeout leader Gerrit Cole, who is also among the top few pitchers in MLB in fastball spin rate. Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger, both high strikeout pitchers, are among the best at generating spin with their breaking balls.
Pitchers with high spin rates will typically get a lot more swings and misses on their pitches, especially on ones outside the zone. The higher the spin rate, the likelier pitchers are to succeed in stat categories like SwStr% and O-Swing%, while maintaining low contact percentage - all areas a strikeout king will excel.
Any great reliever will possess two things - a high strikeout (K/9) rate and low walk (BB/9) rate. Those are two certainties a pitcher must have to find success as a reliever, especially in high-stress, late-inning roles. Five of the last seven MLB saves leaders, as pointed out by my colleague C Jackson Cowart, were coming off seasons in which they pitched at least 50 innings, recorded a minimum of 10 saves, posted a sub-3.00 FIP, a strikeout rate of 25% or higher, a walk rate below 7%, and a HR/9 rate less than 1.0. That's what you're looking for here.
Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.