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.

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