Sunday, April 18, 2010

Can the Bulls Counter

Nice to not be arriving at midnight on a flight back to Wayne County. And honestly, the results of yesterday are unrelated to that fact - it's just good to be home.

A quick recap of yesterday saw us post one of our largest winning days since turning Pro, as we collected on our 3* Game of the Week with the Portland Trailblazers +9, who won the game by 5 for a nice 14-point cover. Portland succeeded in slowing the game down, and in what was something of a perfect storm of misconceptions about Portland's inability to play without Roy, 6 of 7 favorites covering previously over the weekend, and the talking heads hyping up the Suns, we were able to get all kinds of value, and it worked out.

We also had a 1-unit Free MLB play on the LA Dodgers, which was rescued by some late-game heroics from Manny Ramirez. Two of my favorite posters had a brief "disagreement" in the blog yesterday about whether it was a "great call" or not. Here's my take. The winner was great - I will never argue with putting cash in my pocket. The call might not have been so great. Sure, the play won, but laying -165 to hit a 2-1 sphincter-clencher will age us very quickly, and probably isn't a long term winning proposition.

So, with that in mind, let's try to find a couple easy ones. Or hell, if it's a tough one, someone just let me know ahead of time, so I only watch the last 30 seconds!

Sports Wagering: NBA

Bulls @ Cavaliers - Cleveland by 11 with a total of 191. This side is interesting, as the last meeting was hovering around 12, and the Cavs covered by a point. Yet, here we are, with this one opening up lower. I have to believe oddsmakers are adjusting for the fact that Chicago won't be so "nervous" in the first few minutes of a road playoff game. The total came down a couple points, and that makes sense, as the last game concluded at 179, so a slight adjustment was to be expected. Unfortunately, I was on a flight, so I didn't get to watch and see how that game was played, but it would seem that Cleveland got up by a relatively hefty margin, and tried to slow the game to a crawl in the second half. If Cleveland doesn't get up big, does the game remain on pace to get near 195? Potentially. I don't much care for the total in this one, though I think there's some interest in the Bulls to try to come back and fight their butts off to steal one on the road. I doubt they will, but a loss by 7-10 is not at all out of the question. Slight lean to Chicago, and no lean on the total.

Jazz @ Nuggets - Denver by 7 with a total of 213. Pretty standard adjustments to this line, after Denver went nuts in the last game and pulled away for an easy victory with a 4th quarter where they simply could not miss. I'm curious what sort of adjustments the Jazz make between games. They lost Mehmet Okur for the season because of an Achilles injury, so if Carlos Boozer isn't getting healthy, this series might not go as far as many of us previously thought. What we know is that Denver can play. When they're hitting shots, they're impossible to stop, especially with Carmelo hanging around. This line jump up to 7 makes me think the Nuggets powerful effort in game one is going to create some value on the Jazz. That game was extremely fast-paced, and both teams shot the ball extraordinarily well. We know Utah would prefer a game that comes down to execution, since they have a half-court offense that is extremely clever and rather unique. I'm honestly a little surprised Jerry Sloan let his team get into a shooting match, since that's really the way Denver would prefer to play. They've got all the electric scorers, and Utah has the tough guys that can push people around a little bit. I lean slightly to Utah, since this line at 7 is a fair amount of value on the dogs. On the total, I can't see these teams playing into the 230's, but 213 is pretty reachable. Will Carmelo shoot 18-for-25 again? Probably not. But the real question is how much success the Nuggets will have speeding things up again. Tiny lean to the Under, but I'd probably avoid this total.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Rockies (-170) @ Nationals with a total of 10; A. Cook vs. C. Stammen;
Willie Harris is 4-for-10 off Aaron Cook;
Clint Barmes is 2-for-5 and Brad Hawpe has homered off Stammen.
Fairly quietly, the Nationals are playing better baseball, though a 10-run first inning for the Brewers sort of doomed their hopes of a series sweep. This isn't going to be an easy one, though, with Colorado coming to town. I'm curious to see how long lines like this one keep getting put out there when the Nats really aren't as bad as they looked against the Phils to start the season. I'm not saying I'd play on Mr. Stammen, but I certainly wouldn't lay 170 on the road with a guy who gives up plenty of hits and makes a living working out of jams.

Cubs (-140) @ Mets with a total of 8.5; R. Wells vs. J. Niese;
There is absolutely no data to work off of, here, since these batters on both sides have about a grand total of 15 ABs against the opposition. Randy Wells is a solid young starter, and Jon Niese we've been hearing about for about 2-3 years, but he just hasn't done anything to impress at the Big League level. It's tough to lay the road chalk with a team that isn't playing all that well in Chicago, but it's tougher to play on the Mets to actually win a game that doesn't go 20 innings. Pass.

Cardinals (-145) @ D'backs with a total of 9.5; B. Penny vs. R. Lopez;
Conor Jackson is 9-for-19 with 3 RBI off Penny;
Adam Laroche is 4-for-12 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Penny;
Mark Reynolds is 4-for-9 off Penny with a HR and 4 RBI off Penny;
Felipe Lopez is 3-for-5 off Rodrigo Lopez with 2 HR and 2 RBI (what's in a name?).
Is Dave Duncan REALLY this good? I mean, we've seen what he's done with guys with talent left, but has he truly turned Brad Penny into the best pitcher on the team just by changing his grip on the 2-seam fastball? Penny is 9-3 against Arizona in his career, and with his start to the 2010 campaign, I'm not touching this game with 10-foot pole, since I happen to loathe Penny, and I'm not betting on him until we see what he's truly going to do this season.

Giants (-150) @ Padres with a total of 7; M. Cain vs. C. Richard;
Adrian Gonzalez is batting .341 off Cain since 2005 with 2 HR and 8 RBI;
Yorvit Torrealba is 8-for-24 with a HR and 3 RBI since '05;
Clayton Richard is 0-1, 13.50 ERA against SF.
I'm honestly a tad surprised this line is only -150 for Cain. I know his ERA to start the year is up at 4.26, but he has a career 2.91 ERA against the Padres, and while his record is just 4-6, we all remember how Cain was probably the unluckiest pitcher in the Bigs for about 2 full seasons, in terms of run support. How can you not lean to Cain at this price? Richard has done nothing to inspire confidence in me, and I know the Padres can be a real pain in the butt at home, Cain could potentially go 9 strong.

American League

Rays @ Red Sox (-165) with a total of 9; J. Niemann vs. J. Lackey;
Willy Aybar is 2-for-4 with a HR and 3 RBI off Lackey;
Carlos Pena is 5-for-15 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Lackey.
The current Red Sox haven't done much against Niemann, though his career numbers against them are 0-1 with an ERA of 15. Something about that screams "this isn't the whole story." John Lackey has been, basically, the one Red Sox pitcher that has been consistent thus far. The Sox have looked, for lack of a better word, a little old so far, not playing very good defense, and just trying to outslug other teams. They've become the Yankees of a few years ago. At -165, the Red Sox aren't much of a deal, but as the Rays are on the brink of sweeping a 4-game series in Fenway, it might be worth it to toss a half-unit on Boston just because we know the pride factor comes into play.

Royals @ Blue Jays (-120) with a total of 9.5; B. Bannister vs. B. Morrow;
David DeJesus is 3-for-7 with 2 HR and 3 RBI off Morrow.
Look at that. That's about as close to a road pick as the Royals will get when the name Greinke isn't in the listed pitchers section. The Royals can hit, let's get that straight. Billy Butler is a solid offensive player, and Callaspo, DeJesus, and Podsednik have all been doing a decent job, but that bullpen is just such a clusterf*** that I can't bring myself to back them even when I know the situation is right. It's truly Royals or nothing in this one, but I'm currently leaning hard at the "nothing" option.

Tigers @ Angels (-170) with a total of 9.5; D. Willis vs. J. Pineiro;
Johnny Damon is 5-for-15 off Pineiro since 2005;
Carlos Guillen is 3-for-7 off him with 2 RBI;
Magglio Ordonez is 4-for-8 off Pineiro over the last 5 seasons.
The Angels haven't seen the D-Train, so that's a slight advantage for the erratic lefty. You just have to root for Dontrelle to get his deal straightened out, and in his first couple starts, he's been okay. Didn't pitch all that well in the second start, but was let off the hook by a Royals bullpen implosion. And one thing you can say for Dontrelle is that when he's been able to get the ball over the plate, he's been effective. Walks hurt him a great deal, so I suppose the hope is that he can limit the free passes. On the other side, Pineiro has been outstanding in his first 2 starts for the Halos, but -170? The Angels are coming home from Toronto, and coming home off a road sweep, so the value is hugely with the Tigers, and jetlag can be a disastrous thing if those legs start to tire at all.

Orioles @ Mariners (-165) with a total of 8; Brad Bergesen vs. D. Fister;
Franklin Gutierrez is 4-for-8 off Bergesen;
Ichiro is 4-for-11 off Bergesen.
Believe it or not, Bergesen, sporting a 11.74 ERA on the season, is 1-1 against Seattle with a 2.14 ERA in his short career. Seattle feels like they've upgraded offensively since last year, but with the Orioles playing a nice offensive game yesterday in Oakland, maybe they're waking up. If so, this is a great spot to start riding the Orioles. Even if they only play .500 baseball, you're making money on those big underdog lines. Slight lean to O's.

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