Monday, April 26, 2010

Mavericks and the Heimlich

If leans paid, we'd be swimming in a pile of money. Our baseball leans went 3-2, and our NBA leans went 2-0, which means we should have had a solidly winning day, right? Wrong.

Sadly, the one play we decided to make our Premium Selection was a heartbreaking loser, as Toronto battled Boston tooth and nail and came up a buck short, falling 13-12 in a zero-pitching, offensive madhouse series opener in Canada.

Baseball continues to be in a bit of a funk, but I am absolutely inspired by the success of the leans all around, and what that tells me is that the radar is almost calibrated after misfiring badly on a few plays last week. We're right on the cusp of dominating and getting a hot streak going, and something tells me tonight's the night.

Sports Wagering: NBA

Bulls @ Cavaliers - Cleveland by 12 with a total of 199.5. The first thing that jumps out in this game is the monster adjustment on the total. We foolishly rode the under in the last game, near 195, and the game went flying over the mark. The two previous games, oddsmakers left the total mostly the same while the scores just kept piling up, but not this time. They have seen enough of the fast-paced game, and they moved this number up almost 5 full points. That is a colossal adjustment mid-playoff series. How do we react to that? Well, we got murdered on that last under, but let's try to forget that we were on the game, and approach this one with a fresh perspective. Oddsmakers don't want another Over, especially considering how easily each of the last 3 games cleared the mark, so this huge adjustment does, in fact, create value on the Under. I know, it hurts to even think about it, but I just don't think you can keep riding this over-train, at least not when the oddsmakers move the line that far. As far as the side is concerned, this is a pretty standard 6-point line swing from game four in Chicago. It doesn't tell us a great deal, though you have to think the Bulls at least try to play a little defense. They just can't stop Cleveland, and they could just as easily get bounced by 25. Very tough call, miniscule lean to the Bulls.

Heat @ Celtics - Boston by 6 with a total of 188. This is the largest spread the Celtics have laid in the series, so far, which certainly gives the indication that oddsmakers are starting to catch up, and at least partially figure out this series. It seems awfully difficult to see the Heat taking this series back to Miami. They burst out to a quick lead in game four, and probably would have blown it if Dwyane Wade hadn't single-handedly lifted the Heat onto his shoulders and put on one of those 4th quarter shows that folks will talk about for a few days. Can he do it again, on the road? I doubt it. Will Boston dominate this game and cover 6 points? Also not entirely clear. You have to think they'll come out with a little more energy and probably won't turn the ball over 9 times in the first 10 minutes at home. That's going to make life difficult for Miami, a team that has relied on Wade to keep them in the game just about every night. The young guys played decent basketball on their home court, and Miami split the game at home, but we saw how the Boston non-superstars stepped up at home, and we also saw how Miami got whipped the last 5 quarters they played in Boston. Slight lean to Celtics. The total of 188 seems somewhat high, considering that the teams shot 49 and 50% in game four, and the total still hit just 193. Lean Under.

Spurs @ Mavericks - Dallas by 4.5 with a total of 192.5. The Mavericks continue another Playoff meltdown, blowing a monster lead in San Antonio on Sunday with a dismal 3rd quarter, and now trailing in the series 3-1. I know this bet looks like a no-brainer on the Dallas side, but I would offer a few words of caution. First, the Spurs are just the tougher team. Dallas outshot the Spurs at the free throw line by 20 in the first game and since then, the free throws are pretty close to even, with maybe a slight edge to San Antonio. So, once you take away Dallas's edge over every team in the NBA, the "free shot", they're not too impressive. The Spurs have held the Mavs to just 37, 45 and 42% shooting from the field in the 3 straight wins, while at the same time shooting 48, 49, and 45%, themselves. How are the Mavs going to get points? They're still a finesse team, even after adding Haywood and Butler, at least that's what we're seeing in the Playoffs, and I'm not sure I trust them to come through, even at home. It's going to be a desperation effort, which makes me think this might be that game where Dallas finally breaks through with a hot-shooting performance, but if not, they could easily get finished off right here. Almost 50/50 on that. I'd offer a tiny lean to the Mavs, in that regard. I simply don't understand the total on this game. The totals in this series have been 194, 190, 184, 181, and yet, somehow, the posted mark has been bouncing between 193 and 195 all series. Very strange. I'd say that oddsmakers think this one is going to clear the mark, but so far the totals just keep going under. Dallas has to shoot in the high-40's at some point, don't they? Tiny lean to the Over.

Thunder @ Lakers - Los Angeles by 6 with a total of 195. I wonder if we're actually getting some value on the Lakers for the first time since game one. The Lakers nipped the spread in the first game of this series, but since, have gone 0-3 ATS while watching the Thunder go 2-1 SU in that same span of time. So, the Hollywood series that has everyone talking is suddenly starting to become much more "even" in the eyes of the fans. I'm sure we'll still see the public come in on Lakers, but I also happen to believe that this spread is exceedingly low for this series, and oddsmakers have no choice, knowing that the Thunder's blowout win in game four is going to move at least some portion of the money over to the Thunder side. But, we've seen the Lakers respond when pushed a number of times, and they're not going to get scared until they're down in the series. Definitely a game the Lakers need to win, though, and I think they will. Lean to LA. The total of 195 has dropped already, so we have some idea where the early money went. The Thunder shot 48 free throws in game four, and that won't happen again. I like that the two games in Oklahoma featured a few more points, but the Lakers will slow things down again in LA, and look for this one to go Under.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Dodgers @ Mets (gm 1); H. Kuroda vs. J. Santana;
Reed Johnson is 8-for-15 with a HR off Santana;
Matt Kemp is 3-for-7 off Santana;
David Wright is 4-for-7 with 3 RBI off Kuroda;
Jose Reyes is 3-for-5 off Kuroda.
For whatever reason, Kuroda has struggled with the Mets, though he's healthy this year, and has really been doing a nice job of keeping the Dodgers big bats in the game. However, Johan has destroyed LA, going 2-0 with a 0.61 ERA against the Dodgers. I don't have a line on this game just yet, but you have to at least take a peek at the Under with the damp field, thick air, and solid starters.

Dodgers @ Mets (gm 2); C. Haeger vs. O. Perez;
Garret Anderson is 3-for-5 with a HR off Perez;
Jamey Carroll is 4-for-5 off Perez;
Matt Kemp is 4-for-11 with a HR and 2 RBI off Perez;
Russ Martin is 5-for-11 off Perez.
Oliver Perez has had a knack for wiggling out of jams against the Dodgers, despite putting plenty of cats on base, and here, the Mets will get to face knuckleballer Haeger, a pitch that's about as tough to catch as it is to handicap. Haeger gives the Dodgers innings, which is about all Torre can ask, though he'd love to see the ERA get under 6, I'm sure, and Perez has been serviceable so far this season. Honestly, though, the best bet is probably to take the team that lost game one.

Padres @ Marlins (-135) with a total of 9; J. Garland vs. A. Sanchez;
Jorge Cantu is 5-for-10 off Garland;
Mike Lamb is 3-for-8 off Garland.
No real experience on the Padres side against Sanchez, which certainly gives an edge to Anibal. That being said, Garland has actually been solid against the Marlins in his career, going 2-1, 2.28 ERA against the Fish. That's a pretty darn low number against a team with a lot of strong bats. The Padres are slightly overvalued right now, but this is a winnable game. Pass.

Reds @ Astros (-115) with a total of 9; A. Harang vs. B. Norris;
Geoff Blum is 8-for-14 with a HR off Harang;
Carlos Lee is batting nearly .400 off Harang with a HR and 8 RBI since '05;
Kaz Matsui is 4-for-11 off Harang, and Berkman has homered 4 times off Harang since '05.
Bud Norris is off and running, a huge success at AAA that's just starting to find a little rhythm in the Bigs. How he handles the Reds should be an interesting situation. Aaron Harang has been awful, going 0-3 this season with a 8.31 ERA. This line is almost fishy, considering how bad Harang has been, but I still can't look past Norris.

Nationals @ Cubs (-160) with a total of N/A; L. Hernandez vs. T. Gorzelanny;
Adam Dunn and Christian Guzman are each 2-for-5 off Gorzelanny;
Ryan Zimmerman is 3-for-4 off Gorzelanny;
Willy Taveras is 3-for-10 off Gorzelanny;
Jeff Baker is 3-for-7 off Hernandez;
Marlon Byrd is 2-for-5 off Hernandez;
Xavier Nady is 4-for-9 with a HR and 2 RBI off Hernandez;
Aramis Ramirez is 5-for-14 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Hernandez since '05.
Hernandez and Gorzelanny are both pitching better than expected to start 2010, but this ultra-high line for the Cubbies is a little odd. I know the Nats are still considered bottom-feeders, but they're playing decent ball, and if Hernandez can keep the ball in the yard, this could easily be another low-scoring tilt. Nats or nothin'.

Pirates @ Brewers (-240) with a total of 9; J. Karstens vs. R. Wolf;
As we saw last week, the Pirates have had virtually no success against Randy Wolf throughout his career, and the Brew Crew proceeded to dominate Pittsburgh by about 100 runs in 3 games. Okay, slight exaggeration, but you get the idea. This one is way too expensive to play on Wolf, and there's no real edge in playing the underdog. Pass.

Braves @ Cardinals (-185) with a total of 7.5; D. Lowe vs. C. Carpenter;
Yunel Escobar is 2-for-3 off Carpenter with 2 RBI;
Chipper Jones is 2-for-3 off Carpenter;
Matt Holliday is batting .586 off Lowe since '05 with a HR and 9 RBI;
Ryan Ludwick is 6-for-10 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Lowe;
Yadier Molina is 5-for-15 off Lowe;
Albert Pujols is 7-for-20 off Lowe with a HR and 8 RBI since '05.
Derek Lowe has been crushed by the Cardinals throughout his career, going 1-6 with a 6.69 ERA against them. I never advocate playing a home team on the run line, and I rarely advocate playing a home favorite of this much chalk, but damn if this doesn't look like a game that should be up over -200, which means that we are, in fact, getting some small value. I know it's nuts, but the Cardinals are cheap at -185.

D'backs @ Rockies (-205) with a total of 8.5; E. Jackson vs. U. Jimenez;
Stephen Drew is 6-for-20 off Jimenez;
Adam Laroche is 4-for-8 with 2 RBI off Jimenez;
Miguel Olivo is 3-for-6 with 2 HR and 5 RBI off Jackson;
Jason Giambi is 5-for-16 with a HR and 5 RBI off Jackson.
Edwin Jackson got rocked by Colorado the few times he's seen them. Jimenez might be the best pitcher not named Halladay, and we learned our lesson going against him the last time out. There isn't much value here, even though Arizona tends to play relatively tough at Coors. Pass.

Phillies (-115) @ Giants with a total of 9.5; J. Moyer vs. T. Wellemeyer;
Ross Gload is 2-for-4 with 2 HR and 3 RBI off Wellemeyer;
Ryan Howard is 4-for-7 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Wellemeyer;
Placido Polanco is 3-for-8 off Wellemeyer;
Chase Utley is 7-for-11 with 3 HR and 6 RBI off Wellemeyer;
Shane Victorino is 3-for-6 off Wellemeyer;
Mark DeRosa is 5-for-13 with a HR and 2 RBI off Moyer;
Bengie Molina is 7-for-20 with 3 HR and 6 RBI off Moyer since '05.
Todd Wellemeyer has been downright awful so far this season, so I almost expected Moyer to open up as a bigger favorite, even on the road. I'm torn, just a bit. We saw Moyer settle in in his last start and actually perform relatively well, but something smells funny, here. Still, given Wellemeyer's issues with Philadelphia, I have to look in their direction, first.

American League

Twins @ Tigers (-115) with a total of 8; F. Liriano vs. J. Verlander;
Jason Kubel is 9-for-25 with 7 RBI off Verlander;
Joe Mauer is batting .378 with 3 HR and 9 RBI off Verlander since '05;
Justin Morneau is 6-for-20 off Verlander with 2 HR and 4 RBI since '05;
Denard Span is 9-for-20 off Verlander;
Miguel Cabrera is 3-for-9 with a HR off Liriano;
Magglio Ordonez is 8-for-21 with 2 HR and 9 RBI off Liriano.
Verlander has never been able to fully solve the Twins, and while in the midst of a bit of an early-season struggle, this is probably not who he wanted to see. Liriano is dominating to start 2010, and again, maybe I haven't been keeping up with the Tigers well enough, but this is a pretty cheap price on the Twinkies.

Yankees (-165) @ Orioles with a total of 8.5; P. Hughes vs. K. Millwood;
Robinson Cano is 6-for-18 with a HR and 3 RBI off Millwood since '05;
Derek Jeter is 6-for-18 off Millwood since '05;
Alex Rodriguez is also 6-for-18 off Millwood with a HR and 2 RBI since '05;
Randy Winn is 9-for-15 with 2 HR and 5 RBI off Millwood;
Nick Swisher is 10-for-29 with 3 HR and 7 RBI off Millwood;
Adam Jones is 4-for-8 with a HR and 3 RBI off Hughes;
Nick Markakis is 6-for-14 off Hughes with 3 RBI;
Luke Scott is 4-for-7 off Hughes.
A ton of offensive numbers, and despite both pitchers starting the year strong, we might be able to get this one to squeeze up and over the total. I'm not sure I can back the Orioles, though their offense is starting to wake up just a little bit. Not tonight, at least.

Red Sox (-120) @ Blue Jays with a total of 8.5; C. Buccholz vs. S. Marcum;
Adrian Beltre is 6-for-13 with 2 HR and 5 RBI off Marcum;
Mike Lowell is 5-for-13 with 3 RBI off Marcum;
Victor Martinez is 4-for-8 off Marcum with a HR and 2 RBI;
Jason Varitek is 4-for-10 off Marcum;
Adam Lind is 5-for-14 with 2 HR and 3 RBI off Buccholz;
Lyle Overbay is 6-for-14 off Buccholz.
As we know, Boston doesn't play all that well in Toronto, and here we're seeing a line that reflects that. Marcum has had trouble with a few of the new Red Sox, which might change how he pitches against them, but we're seeing Boston really struggle to put all the pieces together, as well. I want to back Toronto, here, but Buccholz is basically the only Red Sox starter with nice numbers against the Jays. Probably a pass, looking at Toronto for something to make me take them.

Athletics @ Rays (-170) with a total of 8.5; B. Sheets vs. W. Davis;
Pat Burrell is 4-for-12 with 2 HR off Sheets.
That's actually it. No one else has faced the other, at least not in the last 5 years, and I'm thinking probably not before that, either. Ben Sheets has pitched very well so far for Oakland, but Tampa is the hottest team in the Majors, and Davis is a big piece of the puzzle for them, looking ahead. This line is probably accurate. Pass.

White Sox @ Rangers (-133) with a total of 8.5; M. Buerhle vs. C. Wilson;
Carlos Quentin is 1-for-3 with a HR off Wilson;
Ryan Garko is 12-for-25 off Buerhle with a HR and 5 RBI since '05;
Vlad Guerrero has 4 HR off Buerhle since '05, and is batting .318;
Mark Buerhle is a career 11-3 pitcher against the Rangers, and even though he's struggled in his last couple starts, I'm not sure this is the right time to fade him. Maybe it is, though, considering Wilson's success so far this year. Texas is coming off a tough series with Detroit, so I'm inclined to think the hot Sox keep the momentum going, and for me, it's Buerhle or nothin'. Probably nothin'.

Mariners @ Royals (-180) with a total of 8; I. Snell vs. Z. Greinke;
Ichiro is 5-for-13 off Greinke;
Scott Podsednik is 3-for-4 off Snell.
Zack Greinke is a perfect 3-0 with a 2.14 ERA against the Mariners in his career, and I know his current 0-2 record isn't all that mind-boggling, this steep price is on the nose for this one. Ian Snell can't be trusted, so there's no real value in the dog, here, despite the Royals pen. If the Mariners aren't patient, Greinke could go 9.

Indians @ Angels (-160) with a total of 9; M. Talbot vs. J. Saunders;
Jhonny Peralta is 6-for-15 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Saunders;
Shin-Soo Choo is 2-for-2 off Saunders.
Anaheim hasn't seen Talbot, who continues to impress more each time out to the hill. Saunders is a lifetime 2.84 ERA pitcher against Cleveland, but given his struggles so far this season, I'm not sure he deserves to be a -160 favorite against anyone. I would at least take a peek at the Indians, but the Angels can really hit, and I worry Talbot's overdue for one more bad start.

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