Saturday, April 17, 2010

Kobe versus Durant

Just landed and arrived home well past midnight eastern time, so with an eye on getting a LITTLE sleep, let's power through this bad boy!

We won our first baseball freebie on the Marlins, who put together a strong inning against Jamie Moyer, and road Ricky Nolasco's electric stuff to an easy win.

We lost our other baseball freebie, as the Boston Red Sox committed 2 errors that led to FIVE unearned runs, and they lost 6-5 in a game it seems they should have won 5-1. Oh well.

Our basketball play in the Utah-Denver game was a mess from the get-go. No one played defense, and Denver dictated the frenetic pace. I'm pretty surprised that Utah didn't try to make this thing more of a struggle, but when Melo goes 18-of-25 from the field, not much you can do.

Sports Wagering: NBA

Thunder @ Lakers - Los Angeles by 7.5 with a total of 197. Let the fun begin! The Lakers, somehow UNDERRATED coming off a poor end to the season, against everyone's favorite darling, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Kevin Garnett's new best buddy, Kevin Durant. I may very well come back and add more to these write-ups tomorrow (seeing as it's 1am already), but the main points to take away from this game are that, believe it or not, the Lakers, at least right now, are not the "pay a premium" team that they usually are. Folks saw the Lakers bumble down the stretch, and that's what's fresh in their minds. LA has been here before, and when things tighten up, and those shots don't fall quite as easily as usual, the Lakers know what to do. I think the Thunder will pose decent problems for LA over the course of the series, but something tells me the big dogs handle the pressure of game one better than the underdogs. I like the Lakers to squeeze by with an 8-9 point win. Too close to really make a play, but slightest, tiniest lean to the Lakers. How many times have we seen LA play to the Under in big games? The answer, for those shouting out guesses, is "every time." You could almost back Lakers' Unders in big games blindly this year, and hit about 80%, for real. I'm not sure it's that simple, here, since something tells me the Thunder try to push the pace, especially early, but I think this one ends with a final total in the low/mid 190's. Tiny lean to the Under.

Bobcats @ Magic - Orlando by 10.5 with a total of 187.5. I don't like the fact that the favorites covered yesterday in spades, since these lines are likely to move before the game starts. I also don't like that the Magic probably looked like the best team in the NBA down the stretch, since that, in my opinion, eliminates whatever value we might have had backing this team in the playoff opener. Believe me, I wanted to. But oddsmakers knew they'd have to bring this line out higher than perhaps they would have a few weeks back to split the money. Unless we see some pronounced line movement leading up to the game, I'd avoid this side. You don't have to, you might really like one side or the other, but as it stands, the Bobcats are probably the so-called "value" side, and the Magic are the side that feels more comfortable. On the total, we saw 2 games go under yesterday and 2 go over, and I'm sure oddsmakers are feeling spry about splitting the results, and for all we know, they split the money fairly well, as well. Orlando, like the Lakers, have played to the Under in a lot of big games this year, but courtesy of Charlotte's ultra-slow tempo, this line came out pretty darn low. I don't have any terribly strong feelings about the total.

Spurs @ Mavericks - Dallas by 4.5 with a total of 194.5. The Mavs are still getting disrespected. That's my take on this line. Much like the low lines in the Boston and Denver home games yesterday, the Spurs strong play down the stretch seems to have catapulted the veteran-led club up to just a 1.5-point neutral court dog to the Mavericks. If Dallas plays focused basketball, and Haywood and Butler play some defense, they should be able to cover this number. The Spurs aren't who they used to be, and while Manu Ginobili has the ability to get, basically, whatever he wants, if he's not banging shots through at a 55% clip, the Spurs could hit some scoring droughts that just won't cut it in a road playoff game. I'm inclined to believe the home team sneaks out a cover, here. It's so dangerous, though, with so many of the home teams covering, to continue to back them even as the value drops before our eyes. The total of 194.5 is, interestingly, drawing "under" money from the public, which surprises me given all the big names in this series. I happen to think there's some value on the Over here, as the Spurs just aren't that same defensive lockdown team from years past, and could get into a game decided right around 100 points apiece.

Trailblazers @ Suns - Phoenix by 7.5 (now 8) with a total of 204. This game intrigues me, maybe more than the others, because of the Brandon Roy injury. I feel like the general consensus is that Phoenix is going to just run over the Blazers, but I don't know if that's true. I happen to think Portland has an athletic team, and I think they rally together to at least compete. It'll be, to some degree, like the Lakers-Rockets series when Yao went down and those other guys came out on a mission, and it took the Lakers absolute best effort to keep those whippersnappers from pulling off the insane upset. I'm not saying the Suns get toppled, as I actually happen to think Phoenix could represent the West in the Finals if the shots are falling, but I do think that this series isn't going to be as easy as everyone writes. Small lean to Portland to find a way to lose this game by 4-5. On the total of 204, well, we've seen some mixed results in totals so far. We know Portland would prefer a slower game, especially with Roy out, and if we think they have a chance, I think we have to at least look at the Under. Phoenix's offense gets all the attention, too, though their defense has improved dramatically. They could very easily end up winning this game 103-98, but if the free throws start one possession too early, they could win 105-101. Tough call, but a lean to the Under by just a hair.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Reds (-140) @ Pirates with a total of 7.5; B. Arroyo vs. P. Maholm;
Brandon Phillips is batting .412 off Maholm since 2005 with 4 HR and 9 RBI;
Scott Rolen is 4-for-12 off Maholm;
Ryan Church is 4-for-10 off Arroyo with 4 RBI;
Lastings Milledge is 2-for-6 with a HR off Bronson.
Surprisingly even, statistically speaking. Arroyo has started the year fairly well, and Maholm hasn't, really. I'm surprised to see the Reds as a -140 road favorite. They're not exactly a dominant team, and they blew a win last night in the 9th inning. Pittsburgh is going to surprise a few people at home this year, and there might be some value with the Pirates in a game that could be decided late. Fairly even bullpens, fairly even starters, got to look at the home dog.

Rockies @ Braves (-150) with a total of 8.5; G. Smith vs. J. Jurrjens;
Dexter Fowler is 3-for-4 off Jurrjens;
Todd Helton is 5-for-11 off Jurrjens;
Troy Tulowitzki is 4-for-11 with a HR off Jurrjens.
No real data on the Braves' side against Greg Smith, who has pitched relatively well in his first 2 starts for the Rockies, but how do you follow-up a No-no? This line is strikingly low considering the pitching matchup, and you simply have to take a peek at Atlanta, undervalued because of getting no-hit, and undervalued because Jurrjens got creamed in his last start.

Marlins @ Phillies (-205) with a total of 10; N. Robertson vs. C. Hamels;
Chris Coghlan is 6-for-9 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Hamels;
Ronny Paulino is 3-for-8 off Hamels;
Cody Ross has 4 HR and 6 RBI against Hamels, and is batting .296;
Ross Gload (hah, I know) is 4-for-8 off Robertson.
Considering this one is up over 200 on the Phils side, that offense has apparently left its mark on the oddsmakers. The Marlins shut down the Phils last night, and they should probably be happy with that. Nate Robertson doesn't have the stuff to keep the Phils quiet, but his job is going to be to get through 5-6 innings and only give up 4 runs, or so. Hamels is 2-6 in his career against the Fish, so there's no chance we touch the Phils, here. It's Fish, Fish on the RL, or my personal favorite, nada.

Brewers (-130) @ Nationals with a total of 10; D. Davis vs. J. Marquis;
Ryan Braun is batting .429 against Jason Marquis;
Corey Hart is 7-for-17 off Marquis with a HR and 3 RBI.
This pains me, but Doug Davis has actually shut down just about everyone on the Nats current roster. At 0-1, 12.27 ERA on the season, there is no pitcher I'd rather avoid than Doug Davis, but all the numbers point to the Brewers grabbing a win against one of the other few starters in the Bigs with an ERA over 12. Tiny lean to the road favorites, who got shut out 8-0 by Livan Hernandez last night.

Astros @ Cubs (-170) with a total of N/A; W. Rodriguez vs. R. Dempster;
Michael Bourn is 6-for-15 off Dempster;
Jeff Keppinger is 9-for-18 off Dempster;
Carlos Lee is 8-for-24 with a HR and 5 RBI against Dempster since 2005;
Hunter Pence is batting .348 against Dempster with 2 HR and 5 RBI;
Derrek Lee is batting .483 with 3 HR and 9 RBI off Wandy since 2005;
Ryan Theriot is 10-for-24 with a HR off Wandy.
A lot of offensive numbers against two pretty solid pitchers. I'm nervous about Wandy's poor start to 2010, as he's 0-2, with a 6.10 ERA, but as this huge of an underdog, and with his 'Stros quietly starting to win every few days, could Houston get another? This might be too big of a longshot, but if Wandy can avoid serving up a meatball to Derrek Lee, it seems like Houston has 4 guys (see above) that can get on base against Dempster, and maybe scratch 2-3 runs across.

Diamondbacks @ Padres (-130) with a total of 8; I. Kennedy vs. W. Leblanc;
Adam Laroche is 1-for-2 with a HR off LeBlanc;
Chris Young is 2-for-5 off LeBlanc.
This is one of those games where it's just tough to know which team steps up against the pitcher they rarely see, or basically never see. I still don't trust LeBlanc, as I saw the kid's outstanding changeup in the Minors, and it hasn't truly translated to Big League success. Ian Kennedy is another project. This game is best avoided, in my opinion.

Giants @ Dodgers (-150) with a total of 8; B. Zito vs. C. Kershaw;
Ronnie Belliard is 9-for-21 off Zito with 1 HR and 6 RBI;
Jamey Carroll is 8-for-21 off Zito;
Rafael Furcal is 8-for-22 with 1 HR and 2 RBI;
Matt Kemp is 15-for-32 off Zito with 3 RBI.
Considering Barry Zito is a perfect 2-0 with an ERA of 2.25 this year, to be a large underdog was a little surprising, but hey, we're dealing with Clayton Kershaw on the other side. This line is pretty fair, I believe, as the Dodgers are going to come out swinging off the dominant show by Tim Lincecum yesterday. I happen to think this is going to be a pretty good game, and I lean Dodgers, but they might just be too expensive.

Mets @ Cardinals (-265) with a total of 8; J. Maine vs. A. Wainwright;
Jason Bay is 6-for-17 off Wainwright;
Jeff Francoeur is 3-for-8 off Wainwright;
Mike Jacbs is 3-for-10 with a HR;
Matt Holliday is 4-for-7 off Maine;
Yadier Molina is 3-for-9;
Albert Pujols is 5-for-11 with 2 HR and 11 RBI off Maine.
This one is a bit of a wash off the 20-inning affair last night. I think most folks are trying to decipher if this game is going over because of pitcher fatigue, or staying under because of all-around fatigue. My take is that the position players aren't really going to take the game seriously until the middle innings, and the best bet might be Mets +0.5 in the first 5 innings. That way, if things just roll along tied at 0 or 1, we don't have to worry about the late frames. I'm not playing it, though.

American League

White Sox @ Indians (-115) with a total of 7.5; G. Floyd vs. F. Carmona;
Paul Konerko and Mark Kotsay are each 3-for-7 lifetime off Carmona, Konerko with a HR;
A.J. Pierzynski is 6-for-16 off Carmona;
Mark Teahen is 10-for-27 off Fausto;
Asdrubal Cabrera is 2-for-5 off Floyd, and Shin-Soo Choo is 4-for-10 with 4 RBI;
Jhonny Peralta is 7-for-17 off Floyd with 2 HR and 6 RBI.
I feel like the Indians are due to have a poorly pitched game, but that's a terrible and silly reason to make a play on the White Sox. We saw how Carmona's sinker was moving in his last day start, and I just don't know if it's worth it, especially with this game so close to a pick. Pass.

Rangers @ Yankees (-175) with a total of 9.5; R. Harden vs. A. Pettitte;
Vlad Guerrero is 6-for-17 off Pettitte;
Josh Hamilton is 3-for-6 with a HR;
David Murphy is 4-for-8 with a HR and 3 RBI off Pettitte;
Curtis Granderson is 3-for-9 with a HR off Harden;
Derek Jeter is 4-for-9, and Alex Rodriguez is 5-for-11 with a hR.
Seems like there's some mild offensive success on both sides, but the Rangers just haven't impressed me thus far this season, and this is a true longshot. Harden won't go deep with his high pitch counts and the Yankees' patience at the dish, and Pettitte has started the year like it's the Playoffs. Pass.

Angels @ Blue Jays (-150) with a total of 9; E. Santana vs. R. Romero;
In extremely limited exposure, Kendry Morales is 2-for-2 off Romero;
Vernon Wells is 5-for-14 off Santana;
Adam Lind is 2-for-3 with a HR and 3 RBI off Ervin Santana.
Another game with surprisingly limited exposure, even for the veteran pitcher among the two. Romero has gotten off to a lightning quick start in 2010, but -150 was too high a price. I'm not confident enough in Ervin to get the job done, but there is value on the Angels side. Just sayin'.

Rays @ Red Sox (-140) with a total of 8.5; M. Garza vs. J. Lester;
Jason Bartlett is batting .391 off Lester, but no real production numbers;
Evan Longoria is 6-for-20 with a HR and 4 RBI;
Jacoby Ellsbury is batting .313 off Garza;
Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre are each batting .300 off Garza.
With such prolific lineups, you'd think that there may be some offensive fireworks, but I'm not so sure. It's tough to back an "under" in Fenway - I mean, really tough - but this one has some potential. Lester is 6-2 in his career against the Rays, Garza is 5-2 in his career against the Sox, so two pitchers with strong track records going head-to-head should make for some entertaining baseball. Going to be tough to sweep the Sox, though, so be careful.

Royals @ Twins (-200) with a total of 9.5; L. Hochevar vs. C. Pavano;
Billy Butler is 9-for-21 off Pavano with 2 HR and 6 RBI;
Alberto Callaspo is 8-for-18 off Pavano with 1 HR and 5 RBI;
David DeJesus is 7-for-18 off Pavano;
Jose Guillen is 3-for-5 with a HR and 3 RBI;
Yuny Betancourt and Jason Kendall are both batting .333 off Carl;
Jason Kubel is 4-for-10 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Hochevar;
Joe Mauer is 3-for-9, Orlando Hudson is 3-for-4, and Alexi Casilla is 2-for-4 off Hochevar.
Equally frightening numbers for both pitchers, here. I do happen to think that Pavano is getting slightly too much credit at -200 odds, and this number is likely coming down. Does that mean the Royals win the game? Absolutely not, but if they win 45% of the time, and you buy Kansas City at +180, that's a value. Something to think about, if Hochevar can continue to pitch well to start 2010.

Orioles @ Athletics (-175) with a total of 7.5; B. Matusz vs. B. Anderson;
There are really no historical results to go off, here. Bottom line, the A's are too pricey to back, and the O's couldn't beat a AA team right now. Pass.

Tigers (-130) @ Mariners with a total of 8.5; M. Scherzer vs. I. Snell;
Miguel Cabrera is 4-for-11 off Snell with a HR and 4 RBI;
Carlos Guillen is 2-for-5 with 2 HR and 3 RBI;
Magglio Ordonez is 4-for-7 off Snell.
Seattle hasn't seen much of Scherzer, and that first (and maybe second) time through the order, Max should have an edge over the Mariners. The question is, can he go deep in the game, and can the Tigers get runners home when they have the chance. Detroit was awful on the road last year, and they're not looking strong away from home again this season. I think this one is too close to call.

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