The popularity of betting on MLB 1st 5 innings lines has been on the rise for the last few seasons. Gamblers like the 1st 5 odds because it allows them to wager on the starting pitchers with little worry that a team’s bullpen will be involved in the game. In that spirit, here are the most profitable MLB 1st 5 innings pitchers.
Note: Our data goes back to 2009 and this includes regular season and postseason games. These are the most profitable active pitchers.
At the top of the list is Baltimore’s Chris Tillman. He has been profitable on the 1st 5 innings in each of the last five years. Tillman was an All-Star in 2013, he went 20-7, +11.48 units on 1st 5 that season.
Dallas Keuchel is second on the list but among underdogs he is the best. As a dog on 1st 5 innings bets the Astros’ ace has gone 30-24, +20.18 units. Unfortunately, he has only been a dog six times since 2015 (3-1 straight-up, there are ties on these bets).
Where is the best pitcher in baseball? Clayton Kershaw has gone 128-73 (63.7%) straight-up on 1st 5 innings bets, a better win rate than Tillman or Keuchel. However, he is just +2.02 units. Why? The three-time Cy Young winner has been favored in over 90% of his games and more than 65% of the time he is a favorite of -150 or greater.
Jeff Samardzija is a good pitcher. In the last 5 years he is 21st overall in WAR among starters. However, in that time frame he is still the second least profitable starter in 1st 5 innings bets.
Joe Blanton hasn’t been a starter since 2015. He did most of his damage to bettors from 2011-2013 when he went 18-32, -16.45 units.
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