Road warriors: Pitchers to bet on away from home

Aug 7, 2008 |

The water cooler banter surrounding major league pitching splits usually focuses on those dominating at home. 

In my opinion, that’s a little misleading. Most hurlers feel more comfortable and pitch better in their own backyard, but the high prices on home teams can lead you down the Holyfield homeownership path.

That’s why I prefer to ride the road warriors whose home failures lead to favorable Vegas rates.
 
Jamie Moyer, Philadelphia Phillies (3.05 road, 4.70 home)

Moyer is trying a little reverse psychology as the home run house in Philadelphia has forced the soft-tossing lefty to change up his game. As a result, opponents have not left the yard as often, but are hitting almost 60 points higher (.298) when Moyer toes the rubber at Citizens Bank. 

On the road, Moyer acts like he’s back in Seattle, letting the fielders do their work and collecting an 8-4 record in that situation. Playing in a pennant race in front of the fans who booed Santa Claus, I expect the ageless wonder to continue to look forward to every road trip.

John Lannan, Washington Nationals (2.57 road, 5.29 home)

While it is common to chalk up a youngster’s struggles at home to pressure from fans, don’t forget we’re talking about the Nats here!  Maybe Lannan needs a date with Alyssa Milano or maybe it’s a political stance, but whatever the case, it’s not easy for anyone to pitch in a hitter’s park like Nationals Park. Sure Lannan has lost plenty of games on the road (even with the ridiculous ERA) but as Miss Cleo told me, watch the young Nats catch some teams napping while your catching +180.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boston Red Sox (2.20 road, 3.65 home)

It’s amazing that Dice-K has an ERA as high as 2.20 when opponents are hitting just .158 in their own ballpark, compared to .243 in Boston. Since he’s been dynamic just about everywhere, no reason to risk -220 or above when he’s pitching in front of the Green Monster.

Armando Galarraga, Detroit Tigers (2.72 road, 4.24 home)

Usually with a pitcher in a home run ballpark we see a large run differential between the home/road splits, while batting averages stay somewhat close in proximity. Not in my homeboy Armando’s case. Opponents are whiffing around like they attended Bob Uecker’s hitting school when Galarraga is on the road (.195), while treating him like an average hurler at home (.242).  Obviously the pen has killed some of his more impressive outings, but sporting a 7-2 record on the road for a team under .500 proves he’s holding up his end of the bargain.

Chien-Ming Wang, New York Yankees (2.12 road, 5.96 home)

Too bad we won’t be able to take advantage of this guy’s Cy Young-like road performances until late September when he returns from the DL because Wang is the classic example of a talented pitcher who crumbles under the pressure in the Big Apple. The proof can be seen in the free passes he gives out in Yankee Stadium (4.3 walk/9 at home vs. 2.3 walks/9 road).

Chris Sampson, Houston Astros (3.17 road, 6.34 home)

While Sampson has since moved to the bullpen, I have feeling once the Astros finally admit they are out of it, they will shut down their big guns and we’ll see this righty make same late August/September starts. The less-than-generous gaps in Minute Maid Park have been disastrous for the contact pitcher (not to mention his psyche) so keep your eyes peeled if he’s penciled in on the road because he’s a better pitcher than his overall numbers indicate.

Other Notables: 

Jorge Campillo, Braves  (1.48 road – 3.49 home)
Joe Saunders, Angels  (2.46 road – 3.80 home)
John Danks, White Sox  ( 2.63 road – 4.04 home)
Todd Wellemeyer, Cardinals  (3.28 road – 4.66 home)

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