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?

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