Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fear the Deer

REMINDER: This is the LAST BLOG for a WEEK! The Bebe Daily Sports Betting Preview will return NEXT FRIDAY!

However, I want to reiterate that I will continue to handicap EVERY DAY, I just won't be able to take the hours upon hours to put it all in writing. The plays will continue to come rolling out, and if we're indeed starting to get hot, this could be a fun time!

I knew this broom would come in handy, some day!

Yesterday, we opened with a nice Free Premium afternoon MLB Underdog winner on the Chicago White Sox. Gavin Floyd was excellent, allowing just a single earned run, and Paul Konerko went deep twice (he has 10, already!). Bobby Jenks made it a bit of a "clencher" in a non-save situation, but Chicago did finally close it out.

Next, the first of two Paid Plays came in strong with the Spurs covering at home and advancing to the next round of the Playoffs. San Antonio jumped out to a big early lead, Dallas battled back, but George Hill hit some huge shots to keep the Spurs up, and San Antonio cleared the spread by a nice margin.

The final play, our second Paid Play in the 2-for-1 Package, was the Phoenix Suns, who used a truly beefy game from Jason Richardson to hold off a few Blazers runs and eliminate Portland in 6 games, 99-90.

Sports Wagering: NBA

Hawks @ Bucks - Atlanta by 1 with a total of 190. Yowza. The Hawks blow a 9-point lead with 4 minutes to go in game five at home, and now have to head on the road down 3-2 in the series. This is not a pretty spot. The overachieving Milwaukee Bucks just keep on building confidence, playing solid team defense, and doing enough to win. They are really a modern marvel, and I still feel like Scott Skiles has done more with less than any other coach in the League. Scott Brooks of the Thunder was a deserving recipient of the Coach of the Year award, but he has the scoring champ. Scott Skiles has a rookie point guard, a slew of injuries, and a mid-season trade for John Salmons, and his team is one win away from toppling the Hawks, the runaway favorite in this series. This game, though, has put me on the see-saw just a bit. On the one hand, you've got the Bucks, brimming with confidence, making all their free throws down the stretch, and coming home with a chance to wrap things up, but on the other hand, the Bucks are now finally the team that has expectations lumped on them. They were the "nothing to lose" team going into the Playoffs, especially with Bogut going down, but now after stealing a game on the road, the pressure is on Milwaukee to get it done in game 6, since the atmosphere of game 7 in Atlanta would be tough to overcome. Then, on Atlanta's side, you've got a dejected Hawks club that blew a 9-point lead very late at home, and caught on camera yelling at one another in a huddle during a timeout. In the same vein, though, the Hawks are now the team playing with desperation. They are likely to become the aggressor, and their awful play on the road in games 3 and 4 are keeping this line at a pretty marketable price. No leans on the side just yet, but let's keep an eye on TNT coverage and see if we can't learn a bit more about the Hawks mindset. On the total, you have to think the Hawks are going to want to try to really milk that size advantage, but this number is probably pretty close to accurate. You have to think Milwaukee will have some jitters early, so maybe a tiny lean to the Under, but not at all strong enough to make a play on it.

Lakers @ Thunder - Oklahoma City by 2 with a total of 195. The initial move on this line was to come down off the opening number, and I'm seeing the Thunder favored by 1 or 1.5 at most books now, and honestly, I'm a tad surprised. Oklahoma got crushed in LA, but we've seen this story before with the Lakers, getting back in the driver's seat, only to go at 75% on the road and assume they can wrap things up at home. And, unfortunately, that's the ONLY question that needs to get answered in this one. The Lakers will likely leave Kobe Bryant on Russell Westbrook, and force the Thunder into a ton of outside shots again, but will the Thunder use the home crowd to inspire them into actually making a few? If you believe the Lakers go at less than full tilt, this is a play on Thunder. If you believe the Lakers are tired of dealing with all the talk, then you play on Lakers. Very, very tough call, in my opinion. Obviously, the early line drop is a small indicator that someone thinks the Lakers play a solid game, but that doesn't necessarily mean they cover. As a lifelong Lakers fan, I still can't get on board with them actually playing like this is do-or-die until it actually IS do-or-die. Tiny lean to Thunder. On the total, we've now seen three straight games go over the total. I like the Under just based on that fact alone, but I also like the Under as I feel the Lakers will continue to play stifling defense, but they won't score 111 again on the road. First team to 90 points win this one.

Nuggets @ Jazz - Utah by 3.5 with a total of 218. The initial move on this line is up, and I can't say I disagree. The Utah Jazz, even in a losing road effort, still played their butts off, and if not for Denver shooting 9-of-17 from long range and parading to the free throw line 42 times, Utah has a fine shot of winning on the road yet again. Instead, Denver played with desperation, made some huge threes, and as I noted on Thursday's podcast, every time it seemed like Denver was one bad play from falling apart, someone saved them. That won't happen on the road, I don't believe. Utah is simply too strong at home. Their role players will step up and make the big shots, Deron Williams will continue to be the best player in the Playoffs so far, and I despite making a play on Denver to live one more day in game five, this is not a time I'd tough the Nuggets, even getting a few points. Something tells me Jerry Sloan makes his impact in this game. He won't tolerate anything less than max effort, especially not in a home game where his Jazz can advance to the next round of the Playoffs. No one on Utah wants to go back to Denver for game 7. It's going to be a hard-fought game, make no mistake, as Denver will once again lay it on the line, but 1 or 2 of those key shots that stemmed Utah runs in Denver won't drop on the road, and the Jazz will have a few chances to pull away. Lean to the Utah side. This total of 218 is exceptionally high. Given that the last game ended right on this number, and the two previous games in Utah ended on 198 and 223, you have to think we're seeing some bigger numbers here because of the potential for Denver to do some rampant fouling down the stretch. Slight lean to the Over.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

D'backs @ Cubs (-170) with a total of N/A; R. Lopez vs. R. Wells;
Alfonso Soriano is 5-for-16 with a HR and 2 RBI off Lopez.
Rodrigo Lopez hasn't had much run against the Cubbies recently, and the fact that no one other than Soriano has more than 6 AB against Lopez is evidence of that. Randy Wells shut down the D'backs the only time he faced them, and he's 2-0 this season, as well. No real value here.

Mets @ Phillies (-150) with a total of 10.5; J. Niese vs. K. Kendrick;
Jeff Francoeur is 8-for-20 with 2 RBI off Kendrick;
Jose Reyes is 5-for-11 off Kendrick.
The Mets have been downright outstanding since moving Jose Reyes into the 3rd spot in the lineup, manufacturing runs, and Jason Bay is waking up. The biggest note on the Mets, though, is that the pitching staff has been lights out. The Phils struggled on their trip out West, and you have to wonder how they perform in the first game back home, especially with Kendrick taking the hill. Kyle has decent career numbers against the Mets, but I think you have to at least glance at the red-hot road team, here.

Nationals @ Marlins (-235) with a total of 9; C. Stammen vs. R. Nolasco;
Christian Guzman is 3-for-10 off Nolasco;
Adam Kennedy is 2-for-4 with 3 RBI off Nolasco;
Hanley Ramirez is 4-for-5 with a HR and 3 RBI off Stammen;
Chris Coghlan is 3-for-5 off Stammen.
Sorry, Charlie. I'd love to back Nolasco, here, as he's rolling, but at this price, no thanks. I'd also love to say that a team at +200 or better is somehow "live", but they're not, really. Stammen is one of the worst starters on that staff, and his career 10.29 ERA against the Marlins makes this one even uglier. Pass.

Astros @ Braves (N/A) with a total of N/A; B. Myers vs. T. Hanson;
Pedro Feliz is 2-for-3 with an RBI off Hanson, but that was with the Phils;
Matt Diaz is 3-for-4 off Myers with 4 RBI;
Troy Glaus is 3-for-10 with 2 HR and 3 RBI off Myers;
Chipper Jones is 9-for-24 with 2 HR and 5 RBI off Myers since '05;
Brian McCann is batting .364 with 2 HR and 8 RBI off Myers;
Nate McLouth is 3-for-8 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Myers;
Martin Prado is a perfect 3-for-3 off Myers.
I was under the impression we'd see Wandy Rodriguez in this one, but the move to Myers is going to drastically impact the line, and that's unfortunate. Hanson is the real deal, and Myers, while pitching decently this year, is 4-9 in his career against Atlanta. There probably won't be enough value here to warrant a play on the side, though.

Reds @ Cardinals (-210) with a total of 7.5; J. Cueto vs. B. Penny;
Brandon Phillips is 5-for-12 off Penny;
Scott Rolen is 4-for-12 off Penny;
Skip Schumaker is 5-for-11 off Cueto.
Brad Penny just keeps rolling along, and we have officially missed the window where he's a good value. Now, at 3-0, 0.94 ERA this year, and career 7-2 against Cincinnati, there's no reason to get back on Penny other than if you think this bad value is still a winner. I also don't see a ton of reason to back Cueto, at least not until he shows he's back to full strength. Pass.

Brewers @ Padres (-120) with a total of 7.5; D. Bush vs. C. Richard;
Carlos Gomez is a perfect 3-for-3 off Richard;
David Eckstein is 6-for-15 off Bush;
Adrian Gonzalez is 7-for-9 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Bush since '05;
Matt Stairs is 5-for-14 with a HR and 3 RBI off Bush since '05.
Adrian Gonzalez has, as you can see, killed Dave Bush, but doesn't this line feel low? Richard's been decent this year, though I suppose the 0-2 record might keep the line friendly for Padres-backers. Bush pitched well in his last start, and he's getting back near where we'd expect, an ERA in the 4's. Slight lean to Padres, here.

Pirates @ Dodgers (-255) with a total of 8.5; C. Morton vs. C. Billingsley;
Ryan Doumit is 2-for-3 off Billingsley.
Chad Billingsley is a career 3-0 against Pittsburgh, but does post an ERA of 5.23 against them. His ERA this season is 5.40, but Chad is coming off his best start of the young season the last time out. Will he get some momentum going? Will Charlie Morton give up fewer than 5-6 earned runs? No value in this game. Pass.

Rockies @ Giants (-135) with a total of 7.5; A. Cook vs. B. Zito;
Travis Ishikawa is 5-for-6 with 4 RBI off Cook;
Edgar Renteria is 5-for-12 off Cook.
Barry Zito's favorite opponent rolls through AT&T Park. Again, I'm a little surprised this line didn't open in the 140's, since Aaron Cook is a lifetime 7-9 pitcher against San Francisco, and has struggled this year, while Zito is off to his best start in what feels like decades, and his 1.98 ERA against Colorado is his best against just about anyone he sees regularly. Lean to Giants, but this line needs some more inspecting.

American League

Angels (-125) @ Tigers with a total of 9.5; J. Pineiro vs. R. Porcello;
Magglio Ordonez was 4-for-8 off Pineiro before this season;
Johnny Damon was 5-for-15 off Pineiro before this season.
Porcello is not pitching well in 2010, and you just have to wonder how long the sophomore slump will continue for the big sinkerballer. The Angels have beat him up, so this isn't a good match-up for Rick. Pineiro has pitched very well against Detroit, including 7.1 strong innings 2 weeks back. This line looks fair to me, considering how well Detroit, as a team, is playing. More information needed to make a decision, but there could very well be some value here if Porcello can pull his head out of his you-know-what.

Red Sox (-160) @ Orioles with a total of 9; J. Lackey vs. D. Hernandez;
Kevin Youkilis is 3-for-10 with 2 HR off Hernandez before this year;
Dustin Pedroia has homered 3 times off Hernandez;
Miguel Tejada is batting .333 off Lackey with a HR before this season;
Luke Scott was 2-for-5 off Lackey with 2 HR coming into 2010.
David Hernandez gave up 3 runs in 5 innings against Boston last week, so he pitched alright in a game his team eventually won. Lackey went 7 innings and allowed 3 runs against the O's, a team he's 9-3 against lifetime. I'd love to find a way to back Hernandez, but he doesn't go deep in games even when he's pitching well, and the Sox are starting to hit a little. Pass.

White Sox @ Yankees (-240) with a total of 9; J. Danks vs. A Pettitte;
Andruw Jones is 4-for-12 off Pettitte;
Juan Pierre is 7-for-15 off Pettitte since '05;
A.J. Pierzynski is 4-for-11 off Pettitee since '05;
Alex Rios is batting .308 off Pettitte since '05 with a HR and 5 RBI;
Robinson Cano is 2-for-4 off Danks with a homer;
Jorge Posada is 3-for-6 with a HR off Danks;
Mark Teixeira is 3-for-6 with 2 RBI off Danks.
Danks is 3-0 this year with a 1.55 ERA, so he's dealing, but his lifetime 6.06 ERA against New York is a little disconcerting, especially after traveling from Texas last night. Pettitte is pitching like every game is the World Series. I don't much care for the side in this game, but that total of 9 seems to indicate that no one knows what to expect.

Twins (N/A) @ Indians with a total of N/A; N. Blackburn vs. F. Carmona;
Jason Kubel is batting .385 with 2 HR and 8 RBI off Carmona;
Joe Mauer is 5-for-15 off Carmona;
Delmon Young is 4-for-10 with 2 RBI off Carmona;
Asdrubal Cabrera is batting .348 off Blackburn in 23 AB;
Matt LaPorta is 2-for-6 with a HR and 2 RBI off Blackburn;
Grady Sizemore is 7-for-21 with a HR and 3 RBI off Blackburn;
Luis Valbuena is 4-for-9 with a HR off Blackburn.
Nick Blackburn has 5-3, 2.98 ERA career mark against the Indians, and Carmona has a 3-6, 5.11 ERA mark against the Twins, but Carmona has been renewed this season, and I don't think we can overlook that. This line isn't out yet, but I can already tell there will be some value on the Indians. The Twins started the year with a bang, but Morneau's injury has cut down their offense, and Blackburn is the kind of guy that works in and out of trouble every game, and one big mistake could lead to 3 runs.

Athletics @ Blue Jays (N/A) with a total of N/A; T. Cahill vs. B. Morrow;
Aaron Hill is 2-for-6 with a HR and 4 RBI off Cahill;
Vernon Wells is 3-for-6 off Cahill.
I have no idea what to expect from Cahill. He wasn't strong against the Jays when he faced them last year, and after a nice start, he walked the house, but his stuff has incredible movement, and if he can spot it, he can be very, very good. Morrow throws hard, but he, too, has struggled. Pass.

Royals @ Rays (-205) with a total of 9; B. Bannister vs. J. Niemann;
Evan Longoria is 6-for-11 with 2 RBI off Bannister;
B.J. Upton is 6-for-16 with 3 RBI off Bannister.
Jeff Niemann is 2-0, 0.53 ERA against Kansas City. No more need be said on why this is an awful value. If the Rays were on the road, I might consider a run-line, here, but at home, you just never know what Bannister might pull out of his bag of tricks, so I'm leaving this one alone.

Rangers @ Mariners (-155) with a total of 7; C. Lewis vs. C. Lee;
Josh Hamilton is 4-for-10 off Lee;
Michael Young is 9-for-24 off Lee;
Ian Kinsler, set to return off the DL as well, is 7-for-13 off Lee with 5 RBI;
Franklin Gutierrez is 1-for-1 with a HR off Lewis.
Cliff Lee returns, and Mariners fans everywhere rejoice. We'll need to do some sleuthing on how Lee's rehab assignments have gone. From what I gather, Lee threw strikes, went 6 innings, and pitched alright at AAA-Tacoma. Colby Lewis has sort of come out of nowhere to crush so far this season, going 3-0 so far. He hasn't seen much of these Mariners (and vice versa), and I just wonder if Lee's "nemesis", the Rangers, aren't a solid value with all the fanfare around Lee's return from his abdominal strain?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Two Series Shall End

I almost feel like *I* need to spend some time with an Athletic Trainer after that late Playoff game last night! We prevailed with our 2* play on the Denver Nuggets, but not without losing Nene just before half-time, and watching The Birdman, Kenyon Martin, and J.R. Smith all spend some time getting some bonus treatment from the trainer. I don't know how Denver pulled it off...no, scratch that...Denver shot 42 free throws and made 9-of-17 from long range. Pretty simple formula, but certainly easier said than done.

On the bases, and I know this is "loser-talk," but we pulled out of last week's nosedive and got ourselves a split, winning on the Detroit Tigers and losing on the underdog Oakland Athletics. Once again, MLB leans were much better, and I can definitely tell we're turning a corner!

Nice little positive day there, and that's just the kind of momentum I want to take heading into my little trip this coming weekend/week.

I do want to note, though, that I will CONTINUE to do ALL my usual work handicapping the card. The only differences are that for roughly 5.5 days, there will be no blog and our inimitable CEO RJ Bell will be hosting Today in Sports Betting. So, fear not, friends - much like Marco during his wedding, we'll be focused on picking winners rain, tornado, Derby, or shine!

Sports Wagering: NBA

Mavericks @ Spurs - San Antonio by 3.5 with a total of 191. Now, we're starting to really get into the thick of Playoff basketball, and I couldn't be happier. The Mavs got pushed, pretty hard mind you, fell behind 3-1, and managed to push back with a strong home performance in game five. Now, down 3-2, but with a little more confidence, the Mavs need to win one on the road to keep hope alive. Unfortunately, though, this is probably the end of the road for Dallas. They've played great in spurts in this series, including cruising to that game one win, but Dallas just hasn't shown any resilience on the road. They got out to leads in both games, and blew both, and the difference between playing at home and on the road is that when the opponent makes a run (which the Spurs did to end the first half in game five), at home you can counter. This game is going to be the ultimate test for Dallas, since I definitely believe they can get a lead, but can they sustain it? Can Caron Butler hit those shots on the road, and can Brendan Haywood stay out of foul trouble? This should be a good game. Let's not forget how solid the Mavs were on the road during the regular season, and I think Dallas is finally starting to realize how hard they need to play to win in the Playoffs. Still, the Spurs basically rested their starters the entire 2nd half of game 5, so they're going to be energized and Ginobili, in particular, needs as much rest as possible. Lean to San Antonio to finish off Dallas in a tough one. The total is really continuing to make me scratch my head. We've had, now, 4 straight unders, and the only game that went over, cleared the number by a half point. Yet, this line continues to chill in the 190's. I don't get it. Either books are splitting money right down the middle in every game and they don't care about the string of unders, or they truly believe one of these games is due to go over. I need more time on this one, but something tells me that if Dallas is on the brink of elimination, we're going to get some significant fouling down the stretch for a final score of 194. Slight lean to the Over.

Suns @ Blazers - Portland by 1.5 with a total of 202. I have a bad feeling in my gut about Portland's chances to send this one to a game 7, but it depends largely on how the Suns approach this one. But, given that Phoenix has already lost a home game to the Blazers, I think they don't rely on having the final home game, and I think we get a strong effort from Phoenix. There isn't a ton of value with the Suns, since they're coming off delivering a firm spanking to the Blazers in Arizona, but, to me, when you've got a low line, you're just basically picking a winner. Here's my logic. Yes, this line is fairly strong in support of Portland playing a tough game, but I think after that initial burst of adrenaline wore off, Brandon Roy's knee is absolutely going back to being a little less than 100%. Unfortunately for Portland-backers, though, the line merely accounts for Roy playing, not whether he's 80% or 100%, and if he's closer to 80%, as I believe he is, that actually creates some line value on the Phoenix side. We've seen the Suns win in Portland, too, and without the crazy crowd response to Brandon Roy's miraculous return from injury, and with Phoenix smelling blood, I think we get a nice showing from Nash and company. Also, is Marcus Camby truly healthy? Is Batum truly healthy? Portland's banged-up roster has fought valiantly, but I just have that feeling, and maybe it's not supported by the line or situational analysis, but something just tells me Phoenix gets it done. Slight lean to the Suns. This total of 202 remains pretty low for any game involving the Suns, but we know the Blazers are going to try to keep this one in the 90's. The tempo has been pretty slow since game 2, so it's tough to make a strong argument for the over. No lean on the total as of yet, but trying to find a reason to take the over, for what it's worth.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Braves @ Cardinals (-200) with a total of 7; J. Jurrjens vs. A. Wainwright;
Matt Diaz is 2-for-5 off Wainwright;
Omar Infante is 4-for-6 with 1 RBI off Wainwright;
Chipper Jones is 3-for-8 since '05 off Wainwright;
Matt Holliday is 7-for-13 with 4 RBI off Jurrjens;
Ryan Ludwick is 4-for-10 off Jurrjens.
Jurrjens is a career 2.14 ERA pitcher against the Cards, but Wainwright can do him one better, going a perfect 4-0 against Atlanta with a 1.50 ERA. Wainwright could very well toss a complete game shutout, but can we trust Jurrjens to do his part? He's started 2010 a little behind where he'd like, but the fat that Pujols doesn't hit Jurrjens well could be just what the doctor ordered. I don't like either side, but this one could sneak Under even that low total.

D'backs @ Cubs (-165) with a total of N/A; I. Kennedy vs. T. Lilly;
Kelly Johnson is 3-for-8 off Lilly;
Adam Laroche is 6-for-15 with a HR and 2 RBI off Lilly;
Chris Young is 5-for-12 with a HR and 3 RBI off Lilly.
The Cubs haven't seen Kennedy before, but as you can see, there are a handful of D'backs that have hit Lilly. Still, with Lilly posting an heroic start off the DL, it seems like he's just picking right up where he left off, and going against him is putting us in a tough spot. Chicago's playing better, and the D'backs only play well at home and in Colorado. Pass.

Reds @ Astros (-170) with a total of 7.5; B. Arroyo vs. R. Oswalt;
Laynce Nix is 5-for-12 with 2 HR and 2 RBI off Oswalt;
Brandon Phillips is 10-for-31 off Oswalt since '05;
Joey Votto is batting .304 off Oswalt with 3 RBI off Oswalt since '05;
Pedro Feliz is 4-for-11 with a HR and 3 RBI off Arroyo;
Kaz Matsui is 5-for-14 with 2 RBI off Arroyo;
Hunter Pence is 9-for-24 off Arroyo with 3 RBI.
Roy Oswalt is a career 23-1 against the Reds. 'Nuff said, there. Arroyo had a great start to open the season, but has since hit the skids, and while I don't necessarily trust the 'Stros offense, it's tough to argue with 23-1. Hmm...

Brewers @ Padres (-145) with a total of 7.5; D. Davis vs. W. LeBlanc;
Everth Cabrera is 4-for-8 off Davis;
Scott Hairston is 5-for-14 with 2 HR and 3 RBI off Davis;
Chase Headley is 6-for-19 off Davis;
Yorvit Torrealba is 5-for-14 off Davis.
Doug Davis, despite those 4 guys hitting him relatively hard, is 10-3 lifetime against the Padres. Wade LeBlanc has hit the ground running this year, but this price is too high to back a Padres team potentially coming back to Earth after that 8-game winning streak. I'd prefer to take Brewers, but I'm just never sure about putting money behind Davis. Probably a pass.

Pirates @ Dodgers (-240) with a total of 8.5; B. Burres vs. C. Kershaw;
Reed Johnson is 2-for-5 off Burres.
We'll make this one simple - I don't trust the frighteningly cold Dodgers right now, especially not at this price, and I don't trust the always-terrible Pirates, especially not with this Burres kid on the hill. Pass.

American League

Twins (-145) @ Tigers with a total of 9.5; C. Pavano vs. D. Willis;
Orlando Hudson is 4-for-10 with a HR and 4 RBI off Willis;
Justin Morneau is 2-for-4 with a HR and 2 RBI off Willis;
Delmon Young is 3-for-8 with an RBI off Willis;
Johnny Damon is 4-for-11 with an RBI off Pavano;
Brandon Inge is 5-for-14 with 3 RBI off Pavano;
Magglio Ordonez is 5-for-12 with 3 RBI off Pavano.
Carl Pavano is strikingly tough on the Tigers, going 4-1 against them with a 3.00 ERA. Dontrelle has been better this year than I think most expected, but his lifetime 7.94 ERA against the Twinkies means there isn't much value in fading him, nor is there a ton of reason to get behind him. I think it's got to be Twins or nothing, here, but at -145? Not too tempting.

White Sox @ Rangers (-130) with a total of 9.5; G. Floyd vs. S. Feldman;
Alex Rios is 4-for-10 with a HR and 3 RBI off Feldman;
Carlos Quentin is 2-for-5 with a HR off Feldman;
David Murphy is 1-for-1 with a 2-run shot off Floyd.
Scott Feldman is well on his way to coming back to the mean off last year's tremendous season. Unfortunately, Gavin Floyd is well on his way to his worst professional season. I know, it's still early, but 0-2, 8.38 is pretty rough. His 9.35 ERA against Texas isn't too inspiring either. Still, awfully low line considering how badly Floyd is stinking, no?

Yankees (-185) @ Orioles with a total of 8.5; A. Burnett vs. B. Matusz;
Nick Markakis is batting .314 off Burnett with 3 RBI;
Nolan Reimold is 3-for-4 with a HR off Burnett;
Luke Scott is 6-for-15 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Burnett;
Miguel Tejada is 5-for-15 with an RBI off Burnett.
Brian Matusz has a win in his start against the Yankees, and Burnett, despite a 5.23 ERA, somehow is 9-2 against the Orioles, so you have to think he's been a little lucky. This line seems awfully inflated on the Yankees side, and I just wonder if it's too good to be true to back Baltimore here. The overnight move will tell us a great deal on this one.

Athletics @ Blue Jays (-135) with a total of 7.5; J. Duchscherer vs. R. Romero;
Rajai Davis is 2-for-4 off Romero, and Kurt Suzuki is 2-for-5 off Romero;
John Buck is 1-for-2 with a HR off Duchscherer.
This is a battle of some starters off to great beginnings to 2010, and I just wonder if there's any value left on this Under, or if the tremendous early-season numbers have wiped that out. Romero is 2-0, 1.29 ERA against Oakland, and Duch is 1-0, 3.09 ERA against Toronto. Tough call, not a ton of "value" anywhere, though I suppose you could make the case that a close game means value on the dog.

Royals @ Rays (-250) with a total of 8.5; L. Hochevar vs. M. Garza;
Yuny Betancourt is 5-for-10 with an RBI off Garza;
Billy Butler is 6-for-14 off Garza;
David DeJesus is 6-for-18 with 3 RBI off Garza;
Alex Gordon is 4-for-10 off Garza;
Jose Guillen is 4-for-11 off Garza;
Jason Kendall and Alberto Callaspo are each 2-for-3 off Garza;
Carlos Pena is 4-for-7 with 2 RBI off Hochevar;
Evan Longoria is 1-for-3 with a HR and 3 RBI off Hochevar;
Carl Crawford is 3-for-8 off Hochevar;
Willy Aybar and Jason Bartlett are 2-for-4 off Hochevar, and Ben Zobrist is 2-for-5.
A lot of numbers here, but Hochevar has made some huge strides since the last time he faced the Rays. Garza, believe it or not, is 0-4 in his career against the Royals. That doesn't mean his team fails to win every time, though, and that's where this line starts to get a little hairy. I'm starting to wonder if a non-premium 1st-5 wager wouldn't be the best value to keep the Royals pen out of this one.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pyrite

That was my cheap shot at how poorly the Nuggets have played when the big boys started pushing back. We'll get to that in today's blog, below.

We picked up yet another NBA Playoff winner with a 2* selection on the Dallas Mavericks, as the general feeling was that the Mavericks would play with desperation, and they absolutely did. Will that carry over into game six in San Antonio? Tough to say, but they played with abandon, sped up the game, and got some easier buckets.

Baseball continues to just plain stink. This is arguably the coldest I've ever been in baseball, dropping both baseball plays last night (barring a miraculous Phillies comeback), and now falling to 2-9 in our last 11 MLB sides. I had a 7-game baseball losing streak last year, so we're right on par with that, but here's the good news. Despite that cold spell last year, I still turned a profit, and I'm going to do so, again. Baseball is a GRIND, there is a LONG way to go, and we're going to get this ship righted.

As I wrote in last night's blog, though -- thank goodness for NBA staying hot, or I'd be in real trouble!

Sports Wagering: NBA

Bucks @ Hawks - Atlanta by 8.5 with a total of 191. No one is happier with this change of venue than the Hawks, who crushed the Bucks twice at home before going on the road and just getting outplayed for all 96 minutes. This Atlanta team just seems like the same old story, yet again. Very strong at home, and can't win on the road, even against a completely out-classed opponent like Milwaukee. I'm curious to see how the world feels about this series, now. The Bucks dominated the Hawks in those games in Wisconsin, and just shot the heck out of the ball. The question is whether some of that confidence they built rolls over into these road games. I'm inclined to think Atlanta gets the juices going again, and they win this game, but 8.5 is a huge number. The dilemma we face when making a call on this one is whether this line is high because Atlanta is going to really dominate, or if it's high because folks assume Atlanta is going to dominate. Tough call, but I happen to think the Hawks squeak by with a low double-digit win. It won't be an easy cover, but we'll see 10-11 points. The total of 191 is intriguing, if only because the last game hit 215 on a posted mark of 189.5, and only got adjusted by a point and a half. That has to make you think the oddsmakers are expecting a poorer shooting night, and I'll run with that little tip of the hand. Lean to the Under.

Jazz @ Nuggets - Denver by 6.5 with a total of 215. This is another desperation game, and we might get some additional value on whichever side we like after we see how a team like Dallas plays last night in a similar spot. I'm a little surprised at how high this line came out, but a lot of that is because of the desperation spot being factored into the line. Denver has been positively embarrassed in each of the last three straight by the Jazz, and they just showed almost no heart in trying to fight from behind. Honestly, this series is similar to the Dallas series if only because one team is up 3-1. Beyond that, I'm not sure there's all that much in common. Dallas has been IN just about every game, but seemed to hit one cold spell that cost them games. Denver just seems to give up the moment Utah goes on a little run, showing no heart, and now the Nuggets locker room is getting called out by its superstar, Carmelo Anthony. So, can the Nuggets "man up" and get a home win? Well, they certainly shoot the ball better at home, but they're just not playing any defense, so it's tough to see them covering 7 points even if they win. We also know Denver is going to want to bring the fireworks here, since their best shot of winning the game is opening things up. Utah is going to be the team that fights harder, and pushes you around a little bit more, so if Denver can open up the game, make things wild, they can win, and could potentially even cover. If you like Denver, you have to like the Over. If you like Utah, you don't necessarily have to like the Under. Thus, no real lean on the side yet, but slight lean to the Over. Potential notes on these leans could be updated in due time.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Padres @ Marlins (-110) with a total of 9; K. Correia vs. N. Robertson;
David Eckstein is 3-for-5 with a HR and 3 RBI off Robertson;
Hanley Ramirez is 4-for-12 with a HR and 2 RBI off Correia;
Cody Ross is 3-for-8 off Correia.
Correia has been a model of consistency with the Padres, and Robertson has been a nice little breath of fresh air for the Marlins to start the season. However, both have struggled mightily with this opponent. Correia is 1-2, 6.89 ERA against Florida, and Robertson (though it wasn't recent) is 1-0, 7.50 ERA against San Diego. This game is basically a Pick, and it should be.

Dodgers @ Mets (N/A) with a total of N/A; J. Ely vs. J. Maine;
Ronnie Belliard is 9-for-15 with a HR and 3 RBI off Maine;
Rafael Furcal is 6-for-11 with a HR and an RBI off Maine;
Casey Blake is 2-for-4 with a HR off Maine and 3 RBI.
This is an interesting spot, with a Dodgers starter potentially making his Major League Debut (unless LA decides to go a different way between now and first pitch). You can usually get some value on a guy making his debut since no one has faced him, and no one knows what to expect. John Maine has been awful so far this year, and I'm inclined to think the Dodgers have a shot to score a few, and maybe even take this afternoon tilt.

Pirates @ Brewers (-160) with a total of 9.5; P. Maholm vs. C. Narveson;
Ryan Braun is batting .381 off Maholm with a HR and 8 RBI before this season;
Corey Hart is 11-for-34 with a HR and 3 RBI off Maholm.
Interestingly, Prince Fielder is batting near .100 against Maholm, so that's the only reason the Brewers didn't score 30 (yeah, I know). Chris Narveson gets the start for Milwaukee, and he's a -160 home favorite against an established starter. That just goes to show the type of full-on ownage the Brewers have over Pittsburgh. I can't go against this level of complete beatdown, but I also don't think I can lay 160 with this Narveson joker.

Nationals @ Cubs (-200) with a total of N/A; L. Atilano vs. R. Dempster;
Adam Dunn is 3-for-10 with a HR off Dempster since '05;
Ryan Zimmerman (if he plays) is 5-for-10 off Dempster.
Luis Atilano had a typical debut with a strong 6 innings against the Dodgers, and again those scouting reports (or lack thereof) can really go a long way. Now, he gets to face the Cubbies, who have a little information on him, though still not much. Dempster is a perfect 6-0 against the Nats throughout his career, with an ERA around 3, so I'm not sure fading him is wise, but if the wind is blowing in, maybe an Under might be worth a look?

D'backs @ Rockies (-150) with a total of 10.5; K. Benson vs. G. Smith;
Jason Giambi is 4-for-11 off Benson with 2 HR and 4 RBI since '05.
There isn't much experience in this game, either, which makes that 10.5 total look exceptionally high. Still, the difference between these guys and Atilano in the game above is that there's plenty of scouting on both of these pitchers. Greg Smith has been in the League long enough to give guys some prep material, and Kris Benson has been out of the League almost as long as he'd been in it. Pass you very much.

Phillies @ Giants (-175) with a total of 7; C. Hamels vs. T. Lincecum;
Ryan Howard has homered twice off Lincecum;
Jayson Werth is 3-for-6 with a HR off Lincecum.
The current Giants have done absolutely nothing against Hamels, despite his struggles. Edgar Renteria bats under .200, as does Mark DeRosa and Eugenio Velez. Lincecum is destroying teams so far this season, and it seems like he could do it again with Philly. If he keeps Howard in the yard, and pitches carefully to Werth, Lincecum could get win #5. Probably a pass, as I just can't trust Hamels to keep his team in it, even against a club that he's beaten 4 of 5 times.

Reds @ Astros (-125) with a total of 9; M. Leake vs. F. Paulino;
Jay Bruce is 3-for-8 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Paulino;
Laynce Nix is 5-for-9 with a HR and 4 RBI off Paulino.
Mike Leake came back to Earth in his last start, getting ripped apart pretty good by the hot-hitting Dodgers. I don't think that means his time is up. The kid has good stuff, and the Reds still feel he's strong enough to stay in the Bigs. Here, as an underdog to one of the worst starting pitchers in the Majors over the past 2 seasons, I think you have to at least take a look at Cincinnati to score some runs. Paulino is 1-3 against Cincy, ERA of 5.86. Lean to the Li'l Red Machine.

Braves @ Cardinals (-165) with a total of 8; K. Kawakami vs. J. Garcia;
Between the two teams, there is a grand total of 1 AB against these pitchers, and surprisingly, it's Nate McLouth against Garcia. Go figure. In any case, we're going off momentum here, and barring a big upset (as I'm typing this before Tuesday's game), the Braves have none. The Cardinals have consistently strong pitching, and Kawakami, like many Japanese pitchers, has that battler mentality, but the Braves just continue to play ugly baseball, and that will lose you games every single time. This is too steep a price for me to pay for Garcia, who isn't really established, but unless the Braves start cleaning up their act, it's a definite pass.

American League

Mariners (-115) @ Royals with a total of 9.5; R. Rowland-Smith vs. G. Meche;
Chone Figgins is 9-for-27 off Meche;
Jose Lopez is 6-for-17 with 3 RBI off Meche;
Ichiro is 9-for-14 with a HR and 4 RBI off Meche since '05;
Billy Butler is 4-for-8 off Smith;
David DeJesus is 3-for-9 with 4 RBI off Smith.
Gil Meche shouldn't be close to a Pick against any Major League pitcher right now. His ERA of 11.37 is actually pretty accurate, since he's not getting anyone out, and his career 5.77 ERA against the Mariners means he hasn't really "dealt" against them, either. Rowland-Smith hasn't been great so far this year, but he hasn't been awful, either, and I think people still have no idea who this guy is. Lean to Mariners.

Indians @ Angels (-175) with a total of 9; J. Westbrook vs. E. Santana;
Mark Grudzielanek is 4-for-9 with an RBI off Santana;
Andy Marte is 3-for-5 with a HR and 2 RBI off Santana;
Hideki Matsui is 3-for-5 off Westbrook.
Jake Westbrook has had surprising success against the Halos in his career, firing a 3.11 ERA against them (though bad teams have led to a 3-5 record). Santana hates Cleveland, going 0-6, 6.03 ERA lifetime against the Indians. The current crop hasn't seen a ton of him, but this is a heck of a value on a guy that has never...I repeat...never pitched well against Cleveland.

Twins @ Tigers (-115) with a total of 8.5; S. Baker vs. M. Scherzer;
Miguel Cabrera is 7-for-21 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Baker;
Johnny Damon is 3-for-8 off Baker;
Magglio Ordonez is 19-for-42 with 2 HR and 7 RBI off Baker since '05;
Ramon Santiago is 6-for-17 with 2 RBI off Baker.
Max Scherzer is extremely hit-or-miss, and he throws a ton of pitches, but when he's on, his stuff is as devastating as almost anyone in the Bigs. Scott Baker is the classic Twins starter, throwing strikes, hoping the defense comes through, and needing at least 2-3 line drives hit AT people to have a great game, and maybe 1-2 for a good one. I think the Tigers take care of business here, as Detroit can hit Baker.

Yankees (-215) @ Orioles with a total of 8.5; C. Sabathia vs. J. Guthrie;
Curtis Granderson is 4-for-11 with a HR and 2 RBI off Guthrie;
Derek Jeter is batting .306 off Guthrie since '05, but no real power numbers to speak of;
Nick Swisher is 9-for-19 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Guthrie;
Adam Jones is 4-for-9 off Sabathia;
Nolan Reimold is 4-for-8 off Sabathia;
Ty Wigginton is 7-for-19 with a HR off Sabathia since '05.
C.C. is a career 9-1, 2.55 ERA pitcher against the Orioles, so while Guthrie has actually been notably "okay" against the Yanks in his career, I can't bring myself to fade C.C. anywhere other than Oakland. The Yankees are the better team, with the better starter, the better offense and better pen. This is a monster price to lay with a road favorite, but Baltimore isn't a live dog. Pass.

Red Sox (-160) @ Blue Jays with a total of 9; J. Lester vs. B. Cecil;
J.D. Drew is 2-for-2 with 2 HR and 3 RBI off Cecil - yikes;
Mike Lowell is 2-for-5 with a HR off Cecil;
Jason Varitek is 2-for-2 off Cecil, also with 2 HR;
Jose Molina is 5-for-11 off Lester.
Jon Lester has owned the Jays, but he's started 2010 very slowly. Cecil has an ERA of 12.00 against the Sox, and his one start this year was, well, alright, I guess. This is a steep price to pay for a struggling starter on an underachieving team, but if indeed the bats come out for Boston, as they have been over the last week or so, this might be our first candidate for a RL. If they win, Boston would seemingly win by a handful.

Athletics @ Rays (-165) with a total of 8.5; D. Braden vs. J. Shields;
Ryan Sweeney is 3-for-10 off Shields;
Gabe Kapler is 3-for-7 with 2 RBI off Braden;
Ben Zobrist is 4-for-6 off Braden.
Braden has pitched well against Tampa, and Shields has pitched well against the A's. I suppose if Shields continues to give up "a couple" runs just about every time out, the A's would actually be a live dog, here. I'm not saying it would be an easy one, but if Braden continues to pitch as well as he has been, and if the A's pen continues to pitch to their current level of mild success, this one could be decided late, and that means we've got a 50/50 shot. At this price, that's a deal. The Under is also a possibility.

White Sox @ Rangers (-120) with a total of 9; J. Peavy vs. R. Harden;
Matt Treanor is 3-for-8 with 3 RBI off Peavy;
Josh Hamilton is 2-for-4 off Peavy.
Not much exposure in this one, so we're working off trends. Rich Harden continues to throw way too many pitches to get through 4 innings, and should probably be an overpaid setup man at this point, or maybe a closer. Peavy seems to continue to fight to get back to health (or maybe there's a psychological issue), so you have to think Texas will get at least a couple runs. This low spread, to me, seems to say that folks don't really know who's going to pitch well. I'm inclined to go with the hotter team, and that was, arguably the Sox. I don't want to back Peavy, so add those factors up, and you get to a Pass.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mavericks and the Heimlich

If leans paid, we'd be swimming in a pile of money. Our baseball leans went 3-2, and our NBA leans went 2-0, which means we should have had a solidly winning day, right? Wrong.

Sadly, the one play we decided to make our Premium Selection was a heartbreaking loser, as Toronto battled Boston tooth and nail and came up a buck short, falling 13-12 in a zero-pitching, offensive madhouse series opener in Canada.

Baseball continues to be in a bit of a funk, but I am absolutely inspired by the success of the leans all around, and what that tells me is that the radar is almost calibrated after misfiring badly on a few plays last week. We're right on the cusp of dominating and getting a hot streak going, and something tells me tonight's the night.

Sports Wagering: NBA

Bulls @ Cavaliers - Cleveland by 12 with a total of 199.5. The first thing that jumps out in this game is the monster adjustment on the total. We foolishly rode the under in the last game, near 195, and the game went flying over the mark. The two previous games, oddsmakers left the total mostly the same while the scores just kept piling up, but not this time. They have seen enough of the fast-paced game, and they moved this number up almost 5 full points. That is a colossal adjustment mid-playoff series. How do we react to that? Well, we got murdered on that last under, but let's try to forget that we were on the game, and approach this one with a fresh perspective. Oddsmakers don't want another Over, especially considering how easily each of the last 3 games cleared the mark, so this huge adjustment does, in fact, create value on the Under. I know, it hurts to even think about it, but I just don't think you can keep riding this over-train, at least not when the oddsmakers move the line that far. As far as the side is concerned, this is a pretty standard 6-point line swing from game four in Chicago. It doesn't tell us a great deal, though you have to think the Bulls at least try to play a little defense. They just can't stop Cleveland, and they could just as easily get bounced by 25. Very tough call, miniscule lean to the Bulls.

Heat @ Celtics - Boston by 6 with a total of 188. This is the largest spread the Celtics have laid in the series, so far, which certainly gives the indication that oddsmakers are starting to catch up, and at least partially figure out this series. It seems awfully difficult to see the Heat taking this series back to Miami. They burst out to a quick lead in game four, and probably would have blown it if Dwyane Wade hadn't single-handedly lifted the Heat onto his shoulders and put on one of those 4th quarter shows that folks will talk about for a few days. Can he do it again, on the road? I doubt it. Will Boston dominate this game and cover 6 points? Also not entirely clear. You have to think they'll come out with a little more energy and probably won't turn the ball over 9 times in the first 10 minutes at home. That's going to make life difficult for Miami, a team that has relied on Wade to keep them in the game just about every night. The young guys played decent basketball on their home court, and Miami split the game at home, but we saw how the Boston non-superstars stepped up at home, and we also saw how Miami got whipped the last 5 quarters they played in Boston. Slight lean to Celtics. The total of 188 seems somewhat high, considering that the teams shot 49 and 50% in game four, and the total still hit just 193. Lean Under.

Spurs @ Mavericks - Dallas by 4.5 with a total of 192.5. The Mavericks continue another Playoff meltdown, blowing a monster lead in San Antonio on Sunday with a dismal 3rd quarter, and now trailing in the series 3-1. I know this bet looks like a no-brainer on the Dallas side, but I would offer a few words of caution. First, the Spurs are just the tougher team. Dallas outshot the Spurs at the free throw line by 20 in the first game and since then, the free throws are pretty close to even, with maybe a slight edge to San Antonio. So, once you take away Dallas's edge over every team in the NBA, the "free shot", they're not too impressive. The Spurs have held the Mavs to just 37, 45 and 42% shooting from the field in the 3 straight wins, while at the same time shooting 48, 49, and 45%, themselves. How are the Mavs going to get points? They're still a finesse team, even after adding Haywood and Butler, at least that's what we're seeing in the Playoffs, and I'm not sure I trust them to come through, even at home. It's going to be a desperation effort, which makes me think this might be that game where Dallas finally breaks through with a hot-shooting performance, but if not, they could easily get finished off right here. Almost 50/50 on that. I'd offer a tiny lean to the Mavs, in that regard. I simply don't understand the total on this game. The totals in this series have been 194, 190, 184, 181, and yet, somehow, the posted mark has been bouncing between 193 and 195 all series. Very strange. I'd say that oddsmakers think this one is going to clear the mark, but so far the totals just keep going under. Dallas has to shoot in the high-40's at some point, don't they? Tiny lean to the Over.

Thunder @ Lakers - Los Angeles by 6 with a total of 195. I wonder if we're actually getting some value on the Lakers for the first time since game one. The Lakers nipped the spread in the first game of this series, but since, have gone 0-3 ATS while watching the Thunder go 2-1 SU in that same span of time. So, the Hollywood series that has everyone talking is suddenly starting to become much more "even" in the eyes of the fans. I'm sure we'll still see the public come in on Lakers, but I also happen to believe that this spread is exceedingly low for this series, and oddsmakers have no choice, knowing that the Thunder's blowout win in game four is going to move at least some portion of the money over to the Thunder side. But, we've seen the Lakers respond when pushed a number of times, and they're not going to get scared until they're down in the series. Definitely a game the Lakers need to win, though, and I think they will. Lean to LA. The total of 195 has dropped already, so we have some idea where the early money went. The Thunder shot 48 free throws in game four, and that won't happen again. I like that the two games in Oklahoma featured a few more points, but the Lakers will slow things down again in LA, and look for this one to go Under.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Dodgers @ Mets (gm 1); H. Kuroda vs. J. Santana;
Reed Johnson is 8-for-15 with a HR off Santana;
Matt Kemp is 3-for-7 off Santana;
David Wright is 4-for-7 with 3 RBI off Kuroda;
Jose Reyes is 3-for-5 off Kuroda.
For whatever reason, Kuroda has struggled with the Mets, though he's healthy this year, and has really been doing a nice job of keeping the Dodgers big bats in the game. However, Johan has destroyed LA, going 2-0 with a 0.61 ERA against the Dodgers. I don't have a line on this game just yet, but you have to at least take a peek at the Under with the damp field, thick air, and solid starters.

Dodgers @ Mets (gm 2); C. Haeger vs. O. Perez;
Garret Anderson is 3-for-5 with a HR off Perez;
Jamey Carroll is 4-for-5 off Perez;
Matt Kemp is 4-for-11 with a HR and 2 RBI off Perez;
Russ Martin is 5-for-11 off Perez.
Oliver Perez has had a knack for wiggling out of jams against the Dodgers, despite putting plenty of cats on base, and here, the Mets will get to face knuckleballer Haeger, a pitch that's about as tough to catch as it is to handicap. Haeger gives the Dodgers innings, which is about all Torre can ask, though he'd love to see the ERA get under 6, I'm sure, and Perez has been serviceable so far this season. Honestly, though, the best bet is probably to take the team that lost game one.

Padres @ Marlins (-135) with a total of 9; J. Garland vs. A. Sanchez;
Jorge Cantu is 5-for-10 off Garland;
Mike Lamb is 3-for-8 off Garland.
No real experience on the Padres side against Sanchez, which certainly gives an edge to Anibal. That being said, Garland has actually been solid against the Marlins in his career, going 2-1, 2.28 ERA against the Fish. That's a pretty darn low number against a team with a lot of strong bats. The Padres are slightly overvalued right now, but this is a winnable game. Pass.

Reds @ Astros (-115) with a total of 9; A. Harang vs. B. Norris;
Geoff Blum is 8-for-14 with a HR off Harang;
Carlos Lee is batting nearly .400 off Harang with a HR and 8 RBI since '05;
Kaz Matsui is 4-for-11 off Harang, and Berkman has homered 4 times off Harang since '05.
Bud Norris is off and running, a huge success at AAA that's just starting to find a little rhythm in the Bigs. How he handles the Reds should be an interesting situation. Aaron Harang has been awful, going 0-3 this season with a 8.31 ERA. This line is almost fishy, considering how bad Harang has been, but I still can't look past Norris.

Nationals @ Cubs (-160) with a total of N/A; L. Hernandez vs. T. Gorzelanny;
Adam Dunn and Christian Guzman are each 2-for-5 off Gorzelanny;
Ryan Zimmerman is 3-for-4 off Gorzelanny;
Willy Taveras is 3-for-10 off Gorzelanny;
Jeff Baker is 3-for-7 off Hernandez;
Marlon Byrd is 2-for-5 off Hernandez;
Xavier Nady is 4-for-9 with a HR and 2 RBI off Hernandez;
Aramis Ramirez is 5-for-14 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Hernandez since '05.
Hernandez and Gorzelanny are both pitching better than expected to start 2010, but this ultra-high line for the Cubbies is a little odd. I know the Nats are still considered bottom-feeders, but they're playing decent ball, and if Hernandez can keep the ball in the yard, this could easily be another low-scoring tilt. Nats or nothin'.

Pirates @ Brewers (-240) with a total of 9; J. Karstens vs. R. Wolf;
As we saw last week, the Pirates have had virtually no success against Randy Wolf throughout his career, and the Brew Crew proceeded to dominate Pittsburgh by about 100 runs in 3 games. Okay, slight exaggeration, but you get the idea. This one is way too expensive to play on Wolf, and there's no real edge in playing the underdog. Pass.

Braves @ Cardinals (-185) with a total of 7.5; D. Lowe vs. C. Carpenter;
Yunel Escobar is 2-for-3 off Carpenter with 2 RBI;
Chipper Jones is 2-for-3 off Carpenter;
Matt Holliday is batting .586 off Lowe since '05 with a HR and 9 RBI;
Ryan Ludwick is 6-for-10 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Lowe;
Yadier Molina is 5-for-15 off Lowe;
Albert Pujols is 7-for-20 off Lowe with a HR and 8 RBI since '05.
Derek Lowe has been crushed by the Cardinals throughout his career, going 1-6 with a 6.69 ERA against them. I never advocate playing a home team on the run line, and I rarely advocate playing a home favorite of this much chalk, but damn if this doesn't look like a game that should be up over -200, which means that we are, in fact, getting some small value. I know it's nuts, but the Cardinals are cheap at -185.

D'backs @ Rockies (-205) with a total of 8.5; E. Jackson vs. U. Jimenez;
Stephen Drew is 6-for-20 off Jimenez;
Adam Laroche is 4-for-8 with 2 RBI off Jimenez;
Miguel Olivo is 3-for-6 with 2 HR and 5 RBI off Jackson;
Jason Giambi is 5-for-16 with a HR and 5 RBI off Jackson.
Edwin Jackson got rocked by Colorado the few times he's seen them. Jimenez might be the best pitcher not named Halladay, and we learned our lesson going against him the last time out. There isn't much value here, even though Arizona tends to play relatively tough at Coors. Pass.

Phillies (-115) @ Giants with a total of 9.5; J. Moyer vs. T. Wellemeyer;
Ross Gload is 2-for-4 with 2 HR and 3 RBI off Wellemeyer;
Ryan Howard is 4-for-7 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Wellemeyer;
Placido Polanco is 3-for-8 off Wellemeyer;
Chase Utley is 7-for-11 with 3 HR and 6 RBI off Wellemeyer;
Shane Victorino is 3-for-6 off Wellemeyer;
Mark DeRosa is 5-for-13 with a HR and 2 RBI off Moyer;
Bengie Molina is 7-for-20 with 3 HR and 6 RBI off Moyer since '05.
Todd Wellemeyer has been downright awful so far this season, so I almost expected Moyer to open up as a bigger favorite, even on the road. I'm torn, just a bit. We saw Moyer settle in in his last start and actually perform relatively well, but something smells funny, here. Still, given Wellemeyer's issues with Philadelphia, I have to look in their direction, first.

American League

Twins @ Tigers (-115) with a total of 8; F. Liriano vs. J. Verlander;
Jason Kubel is 9-for-25 with 7 RBI off Verlander;
Joe Mauer is batting .378 with 3 HR and 9 RBI off Verlander since '05;
Justin Morneau is 6-for-20 off Verlander with 2 HR and 4 RBI since '05;
Denard Span is 9-for-20 off Verlander;
Miguel Cabrera is 3-for-9 with a HR off Liriano;
Magglio Ordonez is 8-for-21 with 2 HR and 9 RBI off Liriano.
Verlander has never been able to fully solve the Twins, and while in the midst of a bit of an early-season struggle, this is probably not who he wanted to see. Liriano is dominating to start 2010, and again, maybe I haven't been keeping up with the Tigers well enough, but this is a pretty cheap price on the Twinkies.

Yankees (-165) @ Orioles with a total of 8.5; P. Hughes vs. K. Millwood;
Robinson Cano is 6-for-18 with a HR and 3 RBI off Millwood since '05;
Derek Jeter is 6-for-18 off Millwood since '05;
Alex Rodriguez is also 6-for-18 off Millwood with a HR and 2 RBI since '05;
Randy Winn is 9-for-15 with 2 HR and 5 RBI off Millwood;
Nick Swisher is 10-for-29 with 3 HR and 7 RBI off Millwood;
Adam Jones is 4-for-8 with a HR and 3 RBI off Hughes;
Nick Markakis is 6-for-14 off Hughes with 3 RBI;
Luke Scott is 4-for-7 off Hughes.
A ton of offensive numbers, and despite both pitchers starting the year strong, we might be able to get this one to squeeze up and over the total. I'm not sure I can back the Orioles, though their offense is starting to wake up just a little bit. Not tonight, at least.

Red Sox (-120) @ Blue Jays with a total of 8.5; C. Buccholz vs. S. Marcum;
Adrian Beltre is 6-for-13 with 2 HR and 5 RBI off Marcum;
Mike Lowell is 5-for-13 with 3 RBI off Marcum;
Victor Martinez is 4-for-8 off Marcum with a HR and 2 RBI;
Jason Varitek is 4-for-10 off Marcum;
Adam Lind is 5-for-14 with 2 HR and 3 RBI off Buccholz;
Lyle Overbay is 6-for-14 off Buccholz.
As we know, Boston doesn't play all that well in Toronto, and here we're seeing a line that reflects that. Marcum has had trouble with a few of the new Red Sox, which might change how he pitches against them, but we're seeing Boston really struggle to put all the pieces together, as well. I want to back Toronto, here, but Buccholz is basically the only Red Sox starter with nice numbers against the Jays. Probably a pass, looking at Toronto for something to make me take them.

Athletics @ Rays (-170) with a total of 8.5; B. Sheets vs. W. Davis;
Pat Burrell is 4-for-12 with 2 HR off Sheets.
That's actually it. No one else has faced the other, at least not in the last 5 years, and I'm thinking probably not before that, either. Ben Sheets has pitched very well so far for Oakland, but Tampa is the hottest team in the Majors, and Davis is a big piece of the puzzle for them, looking ahead. This line is probably accurate. Pass.

White Sox @ Rangers (-133) with a total of 8.5; M. Buerhle vs. C. Wilson;
Carlos Quentin is 1-for-3 with a HR off Wilson;
Ryan Garko is 12-for-25 off Buerhle with a HR and 5 RBI since '05;
Vlad Guerrero has 4 HR off Buerhle since '05, and is batting .318;
Mark Buerhle is a career 11-3 pitcher against the Rangers, and even though he's struggled in his last couple starts, I'm not sure this is the right time to fade him. Maybe it is, though, considering Wilson's success so far this year. Texas is coming off a tough series with Detroit, so I'm inclined to think the hot Sox keep the momentum going, and for me, it's Buerhle or nothin'. Probably nothin'.

Mariners @ Royals (-180) with a total of 8; I. Snell vs. Z. Greinke;
Ichiro is 5-for-13 off Greinke;
Scott Podsednik is 3-for-4 off Snell.
Zack Greinke is a perfect 3-0 with a 2.14 ERA against the Mariners in his career, and I know his current 0-2 record isn't all that mind-boggling, this steep price is on the nose for this one. Ian Snell can't be trusted, so there's no real value in the dog, here, despite the Royals pen. If the Mariners aren't patient, Greinke could go 9.

Indians @ Angels (-160) with a total of 9; M. Talbot vs. J. Saunders;
Jhonny Peralta is 6-for-15 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Saunders;
Shin-Soo Choo is 2-for-2 off Saunders.
Anaheim hasn't seen Talbot, who continues to impress more each time out to the hill. Saunders is a lifetime 2.84 ERA pitcher against Cleveland, but given his struggles so far this season, I'm not sure he deserves to be a -160 favorite against anyone. I would at least take a peek at the Indians, but the Angels can really hit, and I worry Talbot's overdue for one more bad start.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dwight Howard's Magic Swiffer

Antawn Jamison was heard saying that he saw a look in Lebron's eyes yesterday he'd never seen before. For future reference, that look means, "We're putting 120 on your sorry asses."

Three quick plays to recap as we head into a new week, the first of which was a totally decrepit "Under" on the Bulls-Cavs game, which actually went even higher than the previous two games, which were also fairly high-scoring affairs. Just a flat-out incorrect call, and we dropped a 1* there.

We bounced back in the late afternoon with an underdog 1* winner on the Angels of Anaheim, basically putting us back at even for the day. The Halos pushed around a struggling Javier Vazquez, added 3 insurance runs late, and ran away with an easy 8-4 win.

The night was decided on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, with hyper-talented rookie Tommy Hanson going against a surging Mike Pelfrey. As of this moment, that game is in a rain delay with our Braves trailing 1-0 on an unearned 1st-inning run. The game could very well get called, in which case we'll get the short end of the stick. Expect a forlorn Bebe if we get burned by a rain-shortened game!

Sports Wagering: NBA

Magic @ Bobcats - Orlando by 4 with a total of 182.5. This actually looks like a pretty reasonable road spread for a team going for the 4-game sweep. After seeing how the Heat woke up, I wonder if a lot of people are going to think Charlotte will do the same. I would offer a word of caution: the Bobcats don't have Dwyane Wade. They don't have anyone like him, that can rattle off 45+ points, and literally win a game singlehandedly. The Magic are on a mission, the Bobcats had their chance in game three (courtesy of some friendly whistles), and they missed that chance. I happen to think Orlando closes this thing out, as they saw what happened to Boston yesterday, as well, and the Magic are just too deep and too strong to let that occur against a team without a superstar. This line shift is typical for the game three to game four move, and it doesn't really tell us much about what oddsmakers expect from the game, though it certainly doesn't indicate a strong preference for the home team. Slight lean to Orlando. On the total, well, this CURRENT number of 184 is actually higher than the closing mark of game three (183) despite that game ending at just 176 combined points. So far in the series we've seen totals of 187, 169 and 176, so it's a bit intriguing to me that this number would move up a point. Slight lean to the Over, courtesy of the early move letting us know they expect the teams to shoot a little better and turn the ball over a couple times less.

Hawks @ Bucks - Atlanta by 1.5 with a total of 190. This line is pretty similar to the last game, which featured the classic favorite-flip, when Milwaukee was a 1-point favorite for a while, and Atlanta was, as well. We also got exactly what we expected, and that was an apathetic road effort from the Hawks, and a strong home effort from the Bucks. These two teams are exceptional examples of home/road splits, and the Hawks were just embarrassed in game three. It's rarely a good idea to bank on a team getting crushed two times in a row (though we saw it with Phoenix over Portland), but this series definitely has a shot at getting tied up. The Bucks are far from ready to roll over, and while they don't have home court, and would have to win a road game to take any kind of control, they know that as long as they hold court at home, they've got a shot. It took a heck of a shooting night to get the job done in game three, and that's what concerns me. Can the Bucks really air it out from the perimeter again, and go another 10-for-23 from long range (and 51% on all FG tries)? The Hawks are likely to play a bit better, as well, which means this one could be a close one. I still think the Bucks squeak it out, but barely. The total of 190 is probably pretty accurate. The Bucks won't score 107, but the Hawks won't score 89, either. This one is fairly devoid of value, though I suppose gun to my head, tiny Over lean.

Blazers @ Suns - Phoenix by 6.5 with a total of 202. Series tied 2-2; how about that? Incredibly gutsy performance by Porland in game four, inspired by the return of their formerly ailing superstar, Brandon Roy, who we can only assume will be a tiny bit healthier here in game five, but also a little lacking in adrenaline, since that nutty crowd up in Portland won't be there to light the fire. I have to say, this series is a giant question mark. We've seen blowouts by the Suns, or outright underdog wins for the Blazers, so the spread has meant nothing. Pick a winner of the game, and you'll pick a winner against the spread, too. Will that continue? Can Portland slow down Phoenix on the road? I know that with Roy back, the Blazers can try to slow things down even more, knowing they have a guy that can create a shot at the end of the shot-clock, but how healthy is Roy, really? I happen to believe Phoenix gets the win at home, but I'm not completely sold on another blowout. If the Suns win this one, they're going to have to fight for it. That makes me think the side is a bad value, but the total might very well go under again. Portland just isn't going to get caught up in the madness, though if Phoenix can get some easy buckets and hit those quick spurts, it might not matter. Ultra-small leans to both the Suns to cover by probably a point, and the Under, also by probably a bucket. This line is spot on.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Dodgers (-140) @ Mets with a total of 8.5; H. Kuroda vs. O. Perez;
Garret Anderson is 3-for-5 off Perez with a HR;
Jamey Carroll is 4-for-5 off Perez;
Matt Kemp is 4-for-11 off Perez with a HR and 2 RBI;
Russ Martin is 5-for-11 with an RBI off Perez;
Jose Reyes is 3-for-5 off Kuroda with an RBI;
David Wright is 4-for-7 with 3 RBI off Kuroda.
Strangely, Kuroda is 0-2, 10.45 ERA against the Mets, but looking up and down the current Mets roster, David Wright is the only one with more than 2 runs batted in, and the only one with more than 6 AB, so I think we can throw out some of Kuroda's numbers. Oliver Perez is 6-5 against LA, walking a ton of batters, but generally finding a way to wiggle out of trouble. If Kuroda weren't so predictably "tough", I'd fade LA, but as it is, probably a pass.

Padres @ Marlins (-155) with a total of 8; M. Latos vs. J. Johnson;
John Baker and Cody Ross are each 1-for-2 with 2 RBI off Latos.
Mat Latos has just a 3.57 ERA on the season, but he hasn't been economical with his pitches. The Padres solid pen has been able to sort of stomach his short outings, but now, coming off having their 8-game win-streak snapped, I wonder if this isn't that game where the Padres come apart at the seams just a bit. Josh Johnson is starting to get his 2010 on track, and hasn't allowed an earned run against the Padres (in extremely limited action). This line is probably correct.

Nationals @ Cubs (-170) with a total of N/A; J. Lannan vs. C. Silva;
Christian Guzman is 2-for-3, and Adam Kennedy is 3-for-5 off Silva;
Derrek Lee is 4-for-8 with 2 HR off Lannan.
Lannan has pitched pretty well against the Cubbies in his short career, and he definitely has the stuff to throw a good game, but Chicago is suddenly hitting the ball much better. Carlos Silva, despite a career ERA near 8 against the Nats, is 2-0 this year with an ERA under 1 run. The value is on Washington, but this line is high because of Silva's success and because the Cubs are rolling. Pass.

Pirates @ Brewers (-215) with a total of 8.5; Z. Duke vs. Y. Gallardo;
Ronny Cedeno has homered off Gallardo;
Delwyn Young was 3-for-6 off Gallardo before their meeting last week;
Prince Fielder was 9-for-27 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Duke;
Ryan Braun was 3-for-10 off Duke before last week with a HR.
We've seen what the Brewers offense can do to the Pirates pitching staff in Pittsburgh. Will it carry over to home games? -215 is way too high a price to pay, and you guys know my feelings about home run lines. Pass.

Braves @ Cardinals (-130) with a total of 8; T. Hudson vs. K. Lohse;
Yunel Escobar is 4-for-10 off Lohse;
Eric Hinske is 5-for-12 off Lohse with an RBI;
Chipper Jones is 5-for-10 with a HR and 3 RBI off Lohse since '05;
Albert Pujols is 6-for-16 with a HR and 3 RBI off Hudson since '05;
Colby Rasmus is 2-for-3 and Brendan Ryan is 3-for-4 off Hudson.
Hudson has a career ERA near 5 against the Cards, but looking at that lineup now, Pujols is really the only consistent threat. Lohse is struggling to start 2010 as teams seem to be adjusting to the sinker he developed last year. He is 2-1 career against Atlanta, but the Braves as a road dog are a decent value here with the Cardinals coming home from San Francisco, and the Braves just making the shorter flight from the East Coast.

D'backs @ Rockies (-115) with a total of 8.5; D. Haren vs. J. Hammel;
Kelly Johnson is 3-for-3 off Hammel;
Ryan Spilborghs is 10-for-25 off Haren.
Incredibly, Haren is holding Todd Helton, Carlos Gonzalez, Clint Barmes, Jason Giambi and Troy Tulowitzki to career numbers of .214 or lower, which lends itself to his ERA of around 3 against the Rox. Jason Hammel shut the D'backs down in his few appearances against them, going 2-0, 3.12 ERA against Arizona. This total is inflated from Coors field, but I might consider the "under" if Haren can get his act together for a start. Tough call, here.

Phillies (-165) @ Giants with a total of 6.5; R. Halladay vs. J. Sanchez;
Placido Polanco is 2-for-4 off Sanchez;
Chase Utley is 3-for-8 with a HR off Sanchez.
Roy Halladay actually has poor career numbers against the Giants, but that was a different team, so we can throw that out. This year, Halladay is a perfect 4-0, with an ERA of just 0.82. He has been downright disgusting to his opponents. Sanchez is pitching well this season, too, posting a 1.86 ERA, and has been decent against the Phils, too. This should be another low-scoring game, which means we need to be careful. I'm not sure I have the stones to fade Halladay, but his team has to lose a start of his sometime, don't they?

American League

Red Sox (-145) @ Blue Jays with a total of 8.5; J. Beckett vs. D. Eveland;
Adrian Beltre is 4-for-11 off Eveland;
J.D. Drew is 4-for-7 off Eveland;
Mike Lowell is 4-for-5 off Eveland with 2 RBI;
Jason Varitek is 2-for-4 with 2 RBI off Eveland;
Kevin Youkilis is 3-for-6 with a HR and 3 RBI off Eveland;
Aaron Hill is 12-for-30 with a HR and 7 RBI off Beckett;
Adam Lind is 5-for-11 with a HR and 4 RBI off Beckett;
Lyle Overbay is batting .323 off Beckett since '05 with 4 RBI;
Vernon Wells has 5 homers off Beckett since '05 and 8 RBI.
A lot of offensive numbers here, but that low total of 8.5 gives me pause. Beckett hasn't pitched well to start 2010, but Eveland has, and I'm fighting an internal struggle to determine if this total is set low because of Eveland's strong start and Beckett's name, or if it's low because all those offensive numbers are going to get dumped in favor of a bunch of zeroes. Slight lean to the Over, and slight lean to the Jays.

Tigers @ Rangers (-150) with a total of 9.5; J. Bonderman vs. M. Harrison;
Johnny Damon and Adam Everett are each 3-or-5 off Harrison;
Brandon Inge is 2-for-4 with a HR off Harrison;
Ryan Raburn and Magglio Ordonez are a combined 3-for-3 off Harrison;
Michael Young is 6-for-12 with a HR and 2 RBI off Bonderman.
This series has had some offense, that's for sure, and I'm not convinced that's going to stop here. Bonderman isn't quite back to full strength, mentally, and his 7.20 ERA shows that. Harrison is decent, but he's 0-2 against Detroit. There might be a reason to take the Tigers if Bonderman didn't stink somethin' fierce. That high total takes some of the value out of betting on fireworks. Pass.

Mariners (-180) @ Royals with a total of 7.5; F. Hernandez vs. K. Davies;
Franklin Gutierrez is 6-for-13 off Davis with 4 RBI;
Ichiro is 3-for-9 off Davies;
David DeJesus is 6-for-16 with a HR and 4 RBI off Hernandez.
Neither of these pitchers has run into too much trouble with this particular opponent, as evidenced by the middle-of-the-road offensive numbers leading to just 3 notes in this paragraph. Obviously, the giant price on Hernandez is out of the question, but what about the Royals and the total? I don't like the total because of that pen, and I don't much care for the Royals for the same reason, though the Mariners are fresh off getting worked in Chicago, so do they continue to struggle, or does Felix play stopper?

Indians @ Angels (-180) with a total of 8.5; D. Huff vs. J. Weaver;
Shin-Soo Choo is 7-for-16 off Weaver;
Mark Grudzielanek is 6-for-11 off Weaver;
Jhonny Peralta is 6-for-17 with a HR and 4 RBI off Weaver;
Grady Sizemore is 6-for-20 with 2 HR off Weaver;
Luis Valbuena is 4-for-10 off Weaver;
Erick Aybar is 2-for-4 off Huff.
Considering Weaver has a career ERA of just 4.17 against Cleveland, it seems like there are a fair number of guys that have hit him hard. Just makes you wonder if he's been getting out of trouble, or what? Grudzielanek is the only real "addition" to that list above, but the real difference is that David Huff has been decent this year, and his rough outing against LA from last year can probably be thrown out. There's some small value on Cleveland, here, if they can get another strong start.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Lebron Needs Help

My strongest feeling about yesterday is relief. We avoided our lean on the Lakers, and dodged that debacle, and we avoided our MLB leans on the Rockies in game one of their double-header, as well as the Royals. So, while we did go 1-2, and dropped juice (lost two 1* plays - Brewers, Bobcats - and won a 2* on Bucks), that is just about as well as yesterday could have gone.

And I know what you're thinking -it could have gone a heck of a lot better if we just played the one winner! And you're right. There's absolutely no reason to be pleased with holding mostly steady, but I firmly believe that days when we can look back and cite a number of bad plays that we avoided is a small moral victory that paves the way for the upcoming beefy winning days that are right around the corner.

Difficult NBA card today, and no reason to toss units around haphazardly, so what we're going to do is make today our 1* Discounted Top Play Package, and just try to keep the positive NBA Playoff momentum going. As always, MLB Free Plays will be posted at the Pro Page and tweeted.

Sports Wagering: NBA

Celtics @ Heat - Miami by 1 with a total of 185. This is a pretty hefty line move, given Boston came in and beat the Heat as a 4.5 point underdog. A three point swing just because Boston won that game? Not likely. This line is moving because the Heat are expected to roll over and call it a series, and honestly, they probably will. No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in the NBA Playoffs, and the Heat, completely overmatched in two games in Boston and then dealing with that backbreaking loss in game three, just don't really seem to have a chance. I believe Dwyane Wade's issue was a cramp, though I'm not entirely sure, and the only real motivation the Heat are going to have in this one is to play hard enough to try to show Dwyane Wade that there's some sort of a future in Miami. But, let's be honest, the only thing that's going to keep Wade in Miami is another star, and I'm not talking about an aging veteran that disappears come Playoff time (Jermaine, we're looking at you). I'm talking about a significant addition - someone like a Chris Bosh would do nicely. So, why should the Heat play hard? I think they'll come out and hang with the Celtics for a quarter, but this Boston team is packed with veterans that know how to close out a series. Lean to Boston to win this game and send the Heat fishin'. The total of 185 is an adjustment off the 198 points we saw scored in the last game, but if indeed this one gets a little less intense as the game progresses, it could potentially go over again. Still, that number feels about right for a final score. No lean on the total, yet.

Cavaliers @ Bulls - Cleveland by 6 with a total of 194. Okay, so, wait a minute. We just saw the line in the Boston game come down 2.5 points off a Boston road win, and we established at least SOME of that move was the motivational factor. But this one moved 2 points off a Chicago outright win as a 3.5-point underdog. An opposite direction line move is a pretty strong statement by the oddsmakers that the Cavs come out and play this one tougher. It almost seemed like Cleveland was trying to figure out just how hard they had to play to beat the Bulls in game two at home, then brought that same effort on the road and got leveled in the first half. Cleveland came back to make a game of it, but Chicago held on for a huge win to cut their deficit in the series down to just 2-1. This line feels inflated, but considering Chicago won a a 3.5-point underdog, it also feels like it's a "high for a reason" situation. I would be very careful before jumping on Chicago, here, figuring that if they can win one, and now they're getting more points, then surely they can cover this one. Still, people are invariably going to bet on Lebron no matter the spread, so it's tough to say that one side is the "value" play, here. Slight lean to Cleveland to exert some dominance, though winning by 5.5 on the road in the Playoffs isn't going to be easy. The total of 194 is interesting, as the last two games in this series have hit 214. After game two, oddsmakers adjusted the total up a couple points, but after game three, the total remained, basically, the same. Oddsmakers don't like games to keep hitting the same result, so to me, this line is an indicator that they feel this one slows down a bit. Slight lean to the Under.

Mavericks @ Spurs - San Antonio by 2.5 with a total of 193. Another side coming down despite the home team winning, and covering, at a higher number. This one is the smallest adjustment we've seen so far, which tells me oddsmakers were pretty pleased with how the last one went. The Spurs were 3 or 3.5-point favorites, and won by 4. Nicely done by the books, yet again. So, assuming the Mavericks try to steal back home court, this side is lower by a point. Will the Mavs pull it off? Tough to say. The Spurs have pushed them around a little bit the last two games, and the veterans of San Antonio are really hitting their stride. I think that the short adjustment on the line might actually mean there's a tiny bit of value on the Mavs side (since we saw pretty standard 2-point moves - or more - in the other game fours above). The Spurs could just as easily win this game by double digits, though I think Dallas fights like crazy to keep this thing close. I didn't see anything in game three, though, to make me think that Dallas had solved San Antonio. Absolutely the world's smallest lean to Dallas, and this could change. The total of 193 is only a half point lower than the total in game three, which ended with a final score of 184, so the money must have been split, and oddsmakers didn't have to move it, much. If Dallas is going to get this one, they're going to need to speed things up a little bit and hit some shots. If I have the world's tiniest lean to Dallas, I should pair that with the world's second-tiniest lean to the Over.

Nuggets @ Jazz - Utah by 2 with a total of 212. Just about the same number as in game three on the side, and a couple points lower on the total. No surprise, really, considering, as noted, we've seen most of these sides drop by roughly 2 points if the game was relatively close. This one wasn't. The Jazz just kept applying pressure until the Nuggets missed shots, and Utah absolutely ran away with it. After watching game three, it's tough to see the Nuggets coming back to grab home court. They looked lost, and every time Utah made a shot, it seemed like they fell farther and farther out of focus. And for that reason, I would say that this game is best avoided. When one team looks that horrible, that team is going to have some value in the next one, but only if you actually believe they can win, and I'm not sure I do. No lean on the side. The total of 212 is lower by a fair amount compared to the last game, but does Denver play that poorly again? The game slowed down considerably in game three, and if the teams shoot their normal percentage, we probably see a final score around 208-210. This one might be too close to call, though if Denver shoots a little better and Utah a little worse, it could stay under again. This is my avoid game on both side and total, at least for now.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Padres (-120) @ Reds with a total of 9; C. Richard vs. H. Bailey;
Everth Cabrera is 1-for-3 with a HR off Bailey;
Adrian Gonzalez is 3-for-6 with a HR and 2 RBI off Bailey;
Scott Hairston is 2-for-4 with a HR off Bailey;
Jonny Gones is 1-for-2 with a HR and 2 RBI off Richard.
The Padres have won 8 in a row. Ride the wave if you want, I won't stop you.

Dodgers (-155) @ Nationals with a total of 9.5; C. Billingsley vs. S. Olsen;
Ronnie Belliard is 8-for-22 off Olsen with 2 HR and 5 RBI;
Rafael Furcal is 3-for-8 off Olsen;
Matt Kemp is 3-for-4 with 2 RBI off Olsen;
Russ Martin is 3-for-3 with 2 HR and 3 RBI off Olsen.
If this was any year but 2010, I'd advocate a play on Billingsley, but he's lost. A 7.07 ERA thus far this year, and despite his dominance of the Nationals, there is just no way I lay that price on a guy struggling like Chad. Scott Olsen will give up some runs, too, so someone will probably win this with an offensive outburst from the 6th inning on.

Pirates @ Astros (-185) with a total of 9.5; C. Morton vs. B. Myers;
Lastings Milledge is 5-for-14 off Brett Myers;
Lance Berkman is 4-for-5 with a HR and 4 RBI off Morton;
Michael Bourn and Carlos Lee are each 3-for-9 off Morton;
Kaz Matsui is 3-for-5 off Morton.
I learned my lesson in betting on Charlie Morton last time out. This kid is all over the place, now 0-3 on the year with a 16.55 ERA! Brett Myers is a 2.64 ERA pitcher against Pittsburgh in his career. The large ML means I won't take Astros, and Charlie Morton means I won't take Pirates. Pass.

Cubs @ Brewers (-125) with a total of 8.5; R. Wells vs. D. Bush;
Kosuke Fukudome is 8-for-17 with a HR and 3 RBI off Bush;
Aramis Ramirez is 9-for-30 with 3 HR and 11 RBI off Bush since '05;
Alfonso Soriano is batting .308 off Bush since '05 with a HR and 4 RBI;
Ryan Braun is 4-for-9 off Wells;
Jody Gerut is 3-for-5 with a HR and 4 RBI.
The Brewers have been run over in each of the first two games of this series, and now suddenly Dave Bush is a -125 favorite? Something doesn't quite add up, especially since he's a 2-8 lifetime pitcher against the Cubs, and Randy Wells is looking solid so far this year. Fishy line, for sure. I'm giving this one a twice over.

Cardinals @ Giants (-125) with a total of 7.5; B. Penny vs. M. Cain;
Albert Pujols is 5-for-9 with a HR and 4 RBI off Cain since '05;
Mark DeRosa is 5-for-8 with a HR and 2 RBI off Penny since '05;
Bengie Molina is 9-for-20 with 2 RBI off Penny since '05;
Edgar Renteria is 6-for-10 with 2 RBI off Penny since '05.
The Giants remain a very, very strong home team, but Cain is actually just 1-1 with a 4.94 ERA against St. Louis in his career. Somewhat interesting considering Pujols is really the only Cardinal with any success against him. The resurgent Brad Penny is 2-0 this season with a 1.29 ERA, and that big lug is just rolling along. This one could be decided with very few runs, so thanks, but no thanks. Pass.

Phillies (-120) @ D'backs with a total of 11; K. Kendrick vs. R. Lopez;
Juan Castro is 3-for-8 off Lopez;
Ryan Howard is 3-for-5 with a HR off Lopez;
Raul Ibanez is 7-for-17 off Lopez;
Brian Schneider is 4-for-7 off Lopez;
Kelly Johnson is 5-for-16 off Kendrick.
That total of 11 is just insane. Another slugfest in the Valley of the Sun, so how do we really decide which team has the edge? I'd argue neither really does. No edge, no particularly large ML values, means no bet. Pass.

Marlins @ Rockies (-175) with a total of 9.5; C. Volstad vs. J. De La Rosa;
Jorge Cantu is 3-for-7 off De La Rosa with a HR and 2 RBI;
Ronny Paulino is 3-for-7 off De La Rosa;
Hanley Ramirez is 5-for-11 with 2 RBI off De La Rosa;
Dan Uggla is 4-for-10 with 3 RBI off De La Rosa;
Cody Ross is 3-for-8 off the Rockies' starter;
Carlos Gonzalez is 2-for-3 off Volstad with a HR;
Troy Tulowitzki is 4-for-8 off Volstad with a HR.
Volstad, interestingly, is 2-2 with a 3.50 ERA against the Rox, and De La Rosa's weak spot appears to be the Marlins, as he's 2-4 against Florida with a 7.03 career ERA, and as you can see from the notes above, these guys hit him hard. We know he's gotten better, and he deals with Coors better now than ever before, but at this huge underdog price, I might look at the Marlins.

Braves (-120) @ Mets with a total of 7.5; T. Hanson vs. M. Pelfrey;
Chipper Jones is 6-for-18 with a 2 HR and 3 RBI off Pelfrey;
Brian McCann is 12-for-27 with a HR and 7 RBI off Pelfrey;
Martin Prado is 4-for-9 with a HR off Pelfrey.
Tommy Hanson is a perfect 1-0 against Atlanta, not allowing a run against them. Pelfrey, despite his electric start to the season at 3-0, 0.86 ERA, has struggled with Atlanta in his career, posting a 2-5 mark and 6.09 ERA. This is the Sunday Night Baseball game on ESPN, so the spotlight is going to be on, and I worry the Mets might not be able to score any runs. This one needs more analysis, but slight early lean to Atlanta.

American League

Orioles @ Red Sox (-160) with a total of 10; D. Hernandez vs. T. Wakefield;
Luke Scott is 2-for-4 off Wakefield;
Miguel Tejada is 12-for-27 off Wakefield since '05, with a HR and 4 RBI;
Kevin Youkilis is 3-for-10 with 2 HR and 2 RBI off Hernandez;
Adrian Beltre and Mike Lowell are each 2-for-3 off Hernandez;
Dustin Pedroia is just 3-for-11 but all 3 hits are homers off Hernandez.
This line feels about right, considering how awful the Orioles have been, and how unpredictable Wakefield has been. Is there a reason to really lean in either direction? I suppose you could argue this is a cheap price on Boston at home against a terrible opponent, so maybe weather patterns are telling oddsmakers the knuckler isn't going to knuckle? Pass.

Blue Jays @ Rays (-230) with a total of 9; B. Morrow vs. D. Price;
Jose Bautista is 2-for-6 with a HR off Price;
Aaron Hill was 3-for-7 with a HR off Price;
Adam Lind is 3-for-7 off Price;
Vernon Wells is 3-for-8 off Price.
Brandon Morrow has pitched very poorly so far this season, but is actually solid against the Rays in his career, with a 1.86 ERA against Tampa overall. Still, Price is really starting to come into his own, and the Rays are dangerous, especially at home. Too much risk on the fave, not enough reward on the dog. Pass.

Mariners @ White Sox (-160) with a total of 7.5; J. Vargas vs. J. Danks;
Milton Bradley is 3-for-8 off Danks with a HR;
Jose Lopez is 7-for-16 off Danks.
Not much data for the Sox against Vargas, though he's been alright so far this year. Can the Mariners finally close the deal against the Sox, though? Danks is just 1-4 against Seattle in his career, though you can see Jose Lopez is really the only current Mariner with "big" numbers against him. This line is probably about right.

Twins (-142) @ Royals with a total of 9.5; K. Slowey vs. B. Bannister;
Alexi Casilla is 4-for-13 off Bannister;
Michael Cuddyer is 8-for-19 with 2 HR and 5 RBI off Bannister before this year;
Justin Morneau was 9-for-25 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Bannister prior to this season;
Denard Span was 6-for-17 off Bannister;
Jim Thome is 8-for-24 off Bannister with 3 HR and 4 RBI;
Alberto Callaspo is 3-for-8 off Slowey;
David DeJesus is 5-for-14 with a HR and 7 RBI off Slowey;
Jose Guillen is 4-for-13 with 2 RBI off Slowey.
A lot of offensive numbers here, but Slowey, when push comes to shove, is a perfect 4-0, 3.30 ERA against the Royals, and the Twins just beat KC in extra innings last night, which bodes very poorly for the Royals pen today. No real value on the Royals, considering the Twins, though the price is a little high for road chalk.

Tigers @ Rangers (-130) with a total of 9; R. Porcello vs. C. Lewis;
No one has really seen anyone else, here, in this starting pitching match-up, but what we've seen the last couple nights is that the Tigers are more comfortable hitting against the Rangers than most other teams. Rick Porcello is off to a rough start, while his counterpart, Colby Lewis, is pitching well. I'd probably leave this one alone.

Yankees (-135) @ Angels with a total of 10; J. Vazquez vs. S. Kazmir;
Jorge Posada was 10-for-23 off Kazmir since '05 with a HR and 4 RBI;
Mark Teixeira was 7-for-11 with 3 RBI off Kazmir before their meeting a couple weeks back;
Bobby Abreu was 4-for-11 with all 4 hits HRs, and 7 RBI off Vazquez.
Neither of these two hurlers pitched well against this particular opponent the last chance they got, with Kazmir getting bopped by New York, then Vazquez by the Angels on a different day. However, Kazmir altered his delivery in his last start, and pitched pretty well against the Tigers, easily his best start of the season so far. Vazquez admits to still struggling with the mechanics on his fastball, and if that continues, the Angels could very well tag him for a few more runs. Lean to LA.

Indians @ Athletics (-115) with a total of 8.5; J. Masterson vs. G. Gonzalez;
Gabe Gross is 4-for-7 with a HR and 2 RBI off Masterson;
This is a strikingly low price on a home team, the A's, that hasn't been playing all that poorly, especially against the Indians, who are just starting to get a little respect. In any case, to me, this line is fishy. The A's had beat the Indians 6 straight times before yesterday's loss, and moved the A's to just 12-3 against Cleveland over their last 15 meetings. So, we have all that going against Cleveland, yet this line opens near a Pick? Indians or nothing, I would think.
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