Thursday, April 22, 2010

Big Ticket or Ticket Stub

Big 3-game card yesterday, and hoping for some late success.

The early game was a bit of a flier on the Washington Nationals, who were very large underdogs against Ubaldo Jimenez and the Rockies. We got a great start out of Livan Hernandez who held the Rockies to just 2 solo home runs, but Washington just never got anything going against one of the best pitchers in baseball, and lost 2-0.

Our second baseball play was probably my worst of the season. I know what you're thinking, how can that be the worst? Well, looking back, there was some line movement (or lack thereof) that should have been a tip-off that something wasn't quite right with Derek Lowe, or the Braves ate fast food, or something. Hindsight is 20/20 on ALL bets, but this one should have been avoided using better foresight, and for that, I apologize.

We did manage to squeeze out another 2* NBA Playoff winner late as the Thunder got the benefit of the "Underdog whistle", canned a ton of free throws, and staged an improbable comeback to save our little tushies from a disastrous day, and close the night with just lost juice from the Braves ML-favorite.

Love this NBA card, let's rock!

Sports Wagering: NBA

Celtics @ Heat - Miami by 4 with a total of 182. This is a pretty reasonable line, that's the first thing that strikes me. The Heat were slight dogs on the road, and now, down 0-2, they're small favorites at home. And honestly, this is the game where we get Miami's best effort, there's almost zero doubt about that. The Heat are up against it, now, needing to win this home game, or the Celtics can pretty much walk through game four. If Miami is going to have any shot to turn this series around, they need to do it at home. And, coming off getting absolutely destroyed in Boston, who played that game without Kevin Garnett, a line this low is going to draw plenty of Boston money, which should create some additional value on the Miami side. Of course, Boston has owned the Heat this year, and as we noted in some of the other write-ups, everything Miami does pretty well, Boston does better. They're a more consistent shooting team, they play defense just about the same, and Boston has been through the Playoffs more - they're "battle tested" is the expression folks like to use. So, we have the situationals battling the match-up angles, and we have to try to decide which one weighs more. Based on historical trends, and the strength of the line, I'd have to think Miami gets it done. As far as the total goes, that last game ended within a bucket of the mark again, so why change it? I'd leave this number alone.

Mavericks @ Spurs - San Antonio by 3.5 with a total of 193.5. This series is tied at 1 game apiece after a dominant road showing by the Spurs in game two, where they just made their shots and the Mavs couldn't quite keep up. I happen to think this line is pretty fair, though I also think the Mavs come back and win at least 1 of the 2 games in San Antonio. It took some tremendous efforts from Tim Duncan and Richard Jefferson to get the Spurs to where they needed to be in game two, but can they continue? Duncan probably can, but Jefferson is about as up-and-mostly-down as any player in the NBA this season. My issue is that I'm not 100% positive which game in San Antonio we got the monster Dallas shooting night, because it's coming, that's for darn sure. This line is a little tough to decipher, which means that either the oddsmakers don't really know what to expect, or they do, and they're trying to nail the line exactly. Something tells me this game will be closer, and someone will win it late, which makes me think the Over might have some legs, but as far as the side is concerned, I'd give it a little more time, mull it over. Gun to my head right at this very moment, tiny lean to Dallas.

Nuggets @ Jazz - Utah by 2 with a total of 216. This line is a bit of a curveball, as well, seeing as how Utah dominated the Nuggets in game two, and Denver just looked disinterested despite the importance of the game. So, what's the deal, here? I would think that folks are going to immediately expect Denver to bounce back, but I don't know that Denver has that many more "tricks" they can pull out of their bag. Both teams just shot an absolute ton of free throws, and you know the Jazz were perfectly happy with a more physical game, not letting Denver get out in the open court quite as much. However, the Jazz were also helped by Denver going just 4-for-18 from long range, and that can be an absolute killer for a team like the Nuggets that needs to be able to spread the floor. I think this game is something of a coin flip, and the line confirms that to some degree. The Nuggets are obviously a much better team at home, but I think we know they realize, now, the importance of getting one in Utah and taking home court back. Will it be in game three or game four? I'd rather see how this one goes and react in the next one, on the side. On the total, this number just keeps rising off each ultra-high scoring game in Denver, but something tells me the teams don't combine to shoot 91 free throws, and make 73. The total should squeeze Under now that oddsmakers have adjusted twice.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Dodgers (-135) @ Nationals with a total of 10; C. Haeger vs. L. Atilano;
There are absolutely no historical trends or data of any kind in this one, but I refuse to lay road chalk on an unestablished knuckleballer...I think. Atilano is making his Major League debut, and it will either be brilliant or awful, that's just how it goes with guys making their debut. The Dodgers have been hot, and that's keeping me off the Nats. I need more time on this one.

Braves (-140) @ Mets with a total of 8.5; K. Kawakami vs. J. Maine;
Chipper Jones is 5-for-11 off John Maine with a HR and 3 RBI;
Martin Prado is 2-for-4 off Maine;
Jason Bay is 2-for-2 with a HR and 2 RBI off Kawakami;
Luis Castillo is 3-for-9, Angel Pagan is 3-for-8, and Jeff Francoeur is 3-for-8 off Kawakami.
Kawakami is a career 1-2, 2.19 ERA hurler against the Mets, and Maine is a career 3-3, 5.06 ERA guy against the Braves. Not to mention Maine is posting a sweet 10.38 ERA this season so far. This is an ugly spot for John Maine, but I just hate to lay -140 on the road against a Mets team that has actually been playing a little bit better.

Padres @ Reds (-120) with a total of 8.5; K. Correia vs. J. Cueto;
Will Venable is a perfect 3-for-3 with a HR and 3 RBI off Cueto;
Scott Rolen is a perfect 3-for-3 off Correia;
Joey Votto is 4-for-12 with a HR off Correia;
Laynce Nix and Ramon Hernandez are each 2-for-4 off Correia;
Correia is 5-1 against the Reds, but his ERA is 4.85, so not that impressive. Cueto is 0-1 against the Padres in his career, and struggled to a 7.36 ERA against them. I don't really much care for either side, since the Reds bats started to wake up against the Dodgers, and while Correia is a model of consistency, I'm not sure there's a ton of value either way. The Padres are streaking, though, so maybe we take a tiny peek in their direction.

Pirates @ Astros (-170) with a total of 7.5; P. Maholm vs. R. Oswalt;
Ronny Cedeno is 3-for-8 off Oswalt;
Andy Laroche is 3-for-5 off Oswalt;
Hunter Pence is 8-for-25 with a HR and 6 RBI off Maholm;
Humberto Quintero is 4-for-11 off Maholm.
Oswalt is 13-7 career against Pittsburgh with an ERA of 2.62. That is long term dominance, and Oswalt, while 1-2 this year, has an ERA of just 2.37. He's off to a very nice start, and the Astros are starting to generate some runs. The return of Lance Berkman has been a nice addition. Maholm is 8-4 against the 'Stros, and really, if this was almost any other starter, I'd say -170 was actually a value on Houston, but I'd rather let this one slide.

Cubs (-125) @ Brewers with a total of 8.5; R. Dempster vs. J. Suppan;
Marlon Byrd is 2-for-6 off Suppan and Mike Fontenot is 4-for-11;
Derrek Lee is batting .405 with 4 HR and 5 RBI off Suppan since '05;
Ryan Theriot is 8-for-24 off Suppan;
Jim Edmonds is 4-for-9 with a HR off Dempster;
Prince Fielder has 2 HR off Dempster, and Casey McGehee is 3-for-7.
Dempster is 12-3 in his career against the Brewers, but man if Milwaukee isn't absolutely crushing offensively, coming off dismantling the Pirates in a 3-game set on the road. Some of that mojo might evaporate while traveling, but I don't think this is a good time to fade Milwaukee. I don't trust Suppan, even with Chicago's offensive issues, but they're probably the better value. Microscopic lean to the Brew Crew.

Marlins (-130) @ Rockies with a total of 9.5; R. Nolasco vs. G. Smith;
Brad Hawpe is 3-for-8 off Nolasco;
Troy Tulowitzki is 2-for-4 with a HR off Nolasco.
The problem with backing even a stud like Nolasco at Coors Field is that the bullpens are ALWAYS important here. Whether they end up throwing 5 innings in this game, the next, the one after, eventually you need a reliable pen. This field is just so huge that guys are inevitably going to get on base, and pitchers aren't going to go as deep as usual. That's why, despite Nolasco being the clear superior starter, the Rockies are more than in this game, and might even be considered a value. Colorado plays great ball at home, and I actually think that if Smith can turn in 5 marginal innings, they've got a shot.

Phillies (-185) @ D'backs with a total of 10; C. Hamels vs. K. Benson;
Ryan Howard is 2-for-4 with a HR off Benson;
Chase Utley is 3-for-8 with a HR off Benson;
Stephen Drew is 3-for-8 off Hamels.
Cole Hamels is 2-0, 1.74 ERA lifetime against the D'backs, which makes me think the Phils have a decent shot. Oh wait, so do the oddsmakers, setting this one at -185 with poor Kris Benson the lucky recipient. I honestly don't care that Benson is 5-0 in his career against the Phils. Most of that happened before Philadelphia was the best team in the NL.

Cardinals @ Giants (-170) with a total of 6.5; J. Garcia vs. T. Lincecum;
Matt Holliday is 9-for-29 off Lincecum;
Albert Pujols is 3-for-8 off Lincecum;
Skip Schumaker is 5-for-12 off Lincecum;
Yes, there are 3 guys in the Cards lineup with mild success against Timmy, but he's 4-0, 1.61 ERA against St. Louis in his career, so those base hits haven't come around the score. Jaime Garcia has been lights out since coming up to the Bigs, and hence the opening total of 6.5. Pass.

American League

Orioles @ Red Sox (-215) with a total of 8.5; J. Guthrie vs. J. Lester;
Miguel Tejada is 4-for-9 off Lester;
Matt Wieters is 5-for-9 with 2 RBI off Lester;
Ty Wigginton is 6-for-13 with a HR off Lester;
J.D. Drew is 6-for-20 with a HR off Guthrie;
Dustin Pedroia is 9-for-28 off Guthrie.
This is all kinds of ugly, though to Guthrie's credit, his ERA is just 3.15 so far this season. Lester is a career 10-0 against Baltimore, so I don't see any real advantage to fading him, even if his year is off to a rocky start. Best bet here is no bet.

Blue Jays @ Rays (-235) with a total of 8.5; B. Cecil vs. M. Garza;
John Buck is 3-for-7 off Garza;
Pat Burrell is 2-for-5 off Cecil, and Evan Longoria is 2-for-4;
Carlos Pena is 2-for-5 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Cecil.
Another ugly, ugly line on a game with a very strong Rays team going to a pitcher off to a raucous start. Garza is 3-0, 0.75 ERA this year so far, and Cecil has been, let's say, marginal against the Rays in his career. No real value on a dog with such a small shot to win, and no real value with a team laying over 200. Pass.

Tigers @ Rangers (-125) with a total of 9; M. Scherzer vs. S. Feldman;
Miguel Cabrera is 2-for-5 off Feldman;
Adam Everett is 3-for-8 off Feldman;
Carlos Guillen is 3-for-6 off Feldman.
Scherzer has been, very much, either devastatingly good, or outrageously erratic. Here, Feldman has been "okay" so far this year, but the Tigers' struggles on the road are fairly well-documented. Detroit does play well against the Rangers, though. It's somewhat inexplicable, though much more pronounced at home than on the road. Is this line low to get more Texas money? Let's keep an eye on it.

Twins (-165) @ Royals with a total of 9.5; C. Pavano vs. G. Meche;
Michael Cuddyer is 7-for-16 with a HR and 3 RBI since '05 off Meche;
Joe Mauer is 7-for-20 with 2 HR and 10 RBI since '05;
Justin Morneau is batting .313 with 2 HR and 8 RBI since '05 off Meche;
Billy Butler is 9-for-21 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Pavano;
Alberto Callaspo is 8-for-18 with a HR and 5 RBI off Pavano;
David DeJesus is 7-for-18 with 2 RBI off Pavano;
Jose Guillen is 3-for-5 with a HR and 3 RBI off Pavano since '05.
There are a ton of offensive numbers, here, and honestly, if Meche looked even half-decent, I'd jump on the Royals at this number. As it is, Pavano's 7.84 lifetime ERA against the Royals makes me want to look at both the Royals and the Over. However, I need some sort of indication that Meche isn't going to give up 6 runs in 4 innings and get yanked.

Mariners @ White Sox (-125) with a total of 8.5; R. Rowland-Smith vs. G. Floyd;
Ichiro is 7-for-15 off Floyd;
Jose Lopez is 7-for-16 off Floyd;
Ken Griffey is 3-for-7 off Floyd with 4 RBI;
Milton Bradley is a perfect 2-for-2 off Floyd;
Andruw Jones is 2-for-2 off Smith..
Rowland-Smith is 1-0 against the White Sox in his brief work, working a 1.08 ERA. Floyd, on the other hand, is 1-4, 7.47 ERA against the Mariners, sort of his weak spot, and he has looked shaky thus far in 2010. I like that low price on the White Sox, since the weak line makes me think the Mariners have a better-than-average shot of stealing one on the road. Lean to Seattle.

Indians @ Athletic (-165) with a total of 8; J. Westbrook vs. J. Duchscherer;
Mark Grudzielanek is 1-for-3 with a HR off Duchscherer;
Daric Barton is 1-for-3 with a HR off Westbrook.
Westbrook is coming off a nice outing, as are most of the Indians starting pitchers, but Duchscherer, a wizard with about 6 pitches, has looked good coming off his injury and battle with depression. This one is Indians or nothing, but traveling a good distance and heading into a pitchers' park in Oakland might take a little adjustment. Pass.

Yankees (-140) @ Angels with a total of 9.5; A. Burnett vs. E. Santana;
Derek Jeter is batting over .430 against Santana since '05 with 2 HR and 2 RBI;
Howie Kendrick is 4-for-11 with 3 RBI off Burnett;
Mike Napoli is 4-for-11 with 2 HR off Burnett.
These teams are getting familiar with one another early in 2010, and I do find it a tad interesting that the somewhat volatile Burnett is a -140 road favorite. A lot of that is Ervin Santana, who has been a disappointment in just about every start over the last 2 seasons, except his most recent. We have to try to remember how good this kid can be when he's healthy and confident, and while he has a career 5.50 ERA against the Yanks, he's 5-3 against them, mostly because he has tended to keep the Halos in the game against the juggernauts from the Bronx.

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