Listing Pitchers In Baseball Betting: What Is It And Should You Do It?

With the calendar creeping toward summer,  many bettors have turned their attention to baseball. Newer bettors, or those coming over from other sports, may get confused when they see the “listing” mechanic regarding MLB pitchers. Or, they may not see it at all and remain completely ignorant of how it can affect their bets.

So, what is listing pitchers versus the “action” option? How can you use it to your advantage to give yourself the best chance when looking at baseball lines?

What Does Listing Pitchers (Or Action) Mean?

As with any sport, changes to the lineups happen fairly frequently in baseball. But starting pitching changes have a disproportionate effect on the betting market.

Listing pitchers in baseball simply ensures that you don’t fall prey to a pitching change that drastically impacts your bet before the game starts.

Any baseball bettor worth his or her salt knows that handicapping baseball involves a heavy dose of evaluating the quality of the starting pitching. The team with the best offense in the league could be an underdog to the team with the worst offense if a large enough disparity existed in the starting pitching.

When you list with a baseball bet, the bet only stands if both starting pitchers “listed” — written somewhere on the app, website, or board — throw the first pitch of the game for their respective teams. Usually, these pitchers heavily drive the initial line and movement, so if the line changes because of a pitching change, you aren’t beholden to the bet.

By contrast, betting with “action” means your bet stands regardless. Clayton Kershaw got sick and a Triple A player replaced him last minute? Too bad, you still laid -200. Good luck.

When Should You Bet With Listing Pitchers?

The short answer is “most of the time.” Usually, by not listing pitchers, you’re just exposing yourself to unnecessary variance.

On the one hand, in most cases, either pitcher is about equally likely to get scratched. Thus, you’ll probably gain from pitching changes just as often as you lose from them. But, again, it’s just variance you can avoid via listing pitchers.

You’re usually handicapping the games based heavily on the starting pitchers. Thus, in most cases, it makes sense to bet with listing pitchers. This becomes especially true the greater the talent level of the pitcher you’re backing. Going back to the previous example, Clayton Kershaw getting scratched for a Triple A lifer would be a disaster. That’s less of an issue if you are already backing a replacement-level arm, by definition.

When Should You Bet With Action?

In some cases, it does make sense to bet with action instead of listing pitchers.

Unsurprisingly, the opposite case from the above creates some incentive to bet with action. The weaker the pitcher you’ve bet, the less likely you are to get hurt by a pitching change. In fact, in some cases, this may even help. For example, if the team opts for a bullpen game, these frequently produce higher quality innings than those thrown by a replacement-level starter.

Certain teams may also just cause headaches with their starters. A team like the Rays comes to mind. They often feature their main pitcher for the day as a “bulk” reliever, with an opener throwing the first inning or two. Since the opener is fungible, the team won’t think much of moving pieces around, but that could completely scratch your bet for no good reason.

If you are fading a pitcher with a nagging injury or there’s uncertainty around an ace starting against you, it also makes sense to click action.

In one recent example from early in the 2022 season, most sites had Cleveland Guardians ace Shane Bieber listed as the starter on April 20. The opposing White Sox were around +135. Some sources listed Triston McKenzie as the starter the next day, but the White Sox line remained up at some sites. Astute bettors could have made an action play and wound up with the White Sox at a much better price than they reopened with against the less effective McKenzie.

How Do I List Pitchers?

This is going to vary based on the sportsbook you’re using. Let’s run through a few popular legal US sportsbooks to see how you can go about listing pitchers. If you don’t use one of these sportsbooks to bet baseball, it should at least give you an idea of what sort of thing to look for so that you can toggle between listing and action as needed.

Listing Pitchers At BetMGM Sportsbook

It looks like the default moneyline bets at BetMGM Sportsbook reflect action.

If you click on “All Wagers” beneath each game listing, it takes you to a page full of props, derivatives and an assortment of other betting options regarding that game. One of the first markets posted is “Money Line Listed Pitchers (both pitchers must start).” These lines may differ from those posted on the main page of baseball markets, which indicates those default ones are action bets.

Listing Pitchers At DraftKings Sportsbook

Once again, it appears at DraftKings Sportsbook that the default lines reflect action.

Under “Game Lines” next to the default lines, DraftKings has a submenu for “Listed Pitcher.” There, you can find moneylines that list either one pitcher or both. On the day we checked, these were all identical to the lines on the main page.

Listing Pitchers At FanDuel Sportsbook

FanDuel Sportsbook does things a little bit differently. Where its competitors ask you to find a separate market to get your pitchers listed, FanDuel simply posts its default market and then gives a subhead under the bet slip.

For example, you click on the side you like under the main baseball markets. Then, take a look at your bet slip. You’ll see the team name and just below that, the default word “Action.” Click that and a pulldown menu will offer the option to list either pitcher or both. When we selected various options on various games, the prices stayed static.

Key Stats For Evaluating Pitchers In Baseball Betting

Making decisions between listing pitchers and action presumes you have some knowledge of handicapping various starting pitchers. We would certainly recommend that as a starting point if you’re getting into betting baseball.

If you want to go over some key metrics for evaluating baseball pitchers, we’d recommend starting with these:

Use these to help decide on listing pitchers or betting with action.