In our quest to become better MLB live betting fans, today we look at the sharp rise in blown saves this season in the major leagues. While there is no live betting prop for blow saves, they are the direct result of poor performances by relief pitchers late in games.
The uptick in blow saves lines up with the new pitch clock rules created to speed up the game. When the season started, much of the attention was on starting pitchers and how they would react to being on the clock for each pitch. As it turns out, relief pitchers have issues when forced to pitch at a higher pace than they are accustomed.
We’re now a quarter of the way through the season, and it’s becoming clear that the early numbers are no fluke. Blown saves are on the rise, which is something in-play MLB betting fans have to account for.
What the Numbers Say
The stats don’t lie, and through the first quarter of the 2023 MLB season, it’s clear that saves are becoming increasingly scarce. Relievers are bearing the brunt of the negative results, with save conversions dropping more than six percent – from 67.8% last season to 61.4% in the first quarter of this year. At the quarter-season mark, 307 saves were recorded in 500 chances — the most opportunities in a decade but also the lowest conversion rate.
An average MLB season would see a save conversion rate of around 65%, while the lowest we’ve seen in a long time was 61% in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. We can dismiss that fluky season from the conversation because many highs and lows were set due to the wonky schedule.
Pitchers have much to say about the decline in saves, including Toronto Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano and Kenley Jansen of the Boston Red Sox.
Romano points out that relievers are already coming into highly stressful situations, and the new pitch clock only adds to the stress that closers feel. Jansen takes it even further and criticizes MLB for “playing with somebody’s career” due to arms getting worn out and injuries rising.
We can cover pitcher injuries this season in another article, but make no mistake: There was a significant uptick early in the season.
MLB in April:
Fastball velocity was at its highest ever before May: 92.8 mph
There were 270 injured list stints through April, the most in 40 yrs.
The increase was all with pitchers, 180 compared to 143 last yr. The Mets led the way with 12 injured list stints by P
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) May 1, 2023
Savvy bettors can use the increase in blown saves and poor bullpen play to make better MLB picks when live-betting games. Higher bullpen ERAs lead to a higher frequency of Over bets winning, more team totals going higher and player props for hitters skyrocketing.
While it helps to know this is happening, we must highlight a few teams and players to watch when surfing live MLB odds.
Players & Teams Most Impacted
Blown and total saves are related stats, but less than you might think. While the Oakland Athletics have just four saves on the season, it’s not only because they blow saves, which they absolutely do. Instead, it has more to do with the A’s being awful and not having to save situations all that often.
Conversely, teams like the Cleveland Guardians, Minnesota Twins and Baltimore Orioles are good teams. Yet, the trio leads the MLB in blown saves, with the Guardians having 12 and the latter two with 11 each.
What’s interesting about these teams is all three have decently low bullpen ERAs. The Orioles and Guardians even rank in the top 10. This tells me that while their relief pitching overall is good, their closers have been getting abysmal results. We must be careful when they fade these teams in the latter innings and only when certain pitchers are on the bump.
2023 – Through 44 Games
Blown Saves: 5
2022 – Entire Season
Blown Saves: 4pic.twitter.com/HtpKpZs3r3
— Cleveland Stats (@CLE_STATS) May 20, 2023
For the Guardians, it’s clear that Emmanuel Clase is a guy we want to bet online against when he takes the mound late in games. With five blown saves, he leads the majors and sports a low save percentage of 76.2 percent in 21 attempts. He also has a 1-4 won/loss record. It’s a mystery why the Guardians continue to use him, but while they do.
Bet against Cleveland when Clase takes the bump.