Friday, April 23, 2010

Missing George Karl

A postponement! Our first of the year, as the Rockies/Marlins baseball game got rained out, and now we need to decide if the value is still there today, with guys getting rest because of the double-header.

We had 2 NBA plays yesterday, and after mounting a monstrous comeback, the Heat fell victim to a buzzer-beater by Paul Pierce -- and no matter how tight the sphincter clenched (yes, I'm going to keep using that until it catches on), it was no use. I'll be honest, I would not have been averse to a little overtime mojo, but it is what it is. The Heat got beat, they didn't play smart the entire 3rd quarter, and they didn't play smart with a foul to give in the final 10 seconds.

The late game featured a doubly-inflated opening total line of 217. We grabbed it mid-fall at 215, and it didn't end up mattering as the Jazz forced the Nuggets into a bevy of turnovers and cruised to an easy win, and a final total of just 198. "Splitsville" on those NBA plays.

Sports Wagering: NBA

Magic @ Bobcats - Orlando by 2 with a total of 184.5. This is intriguing, I will admit. We've seen Charlotte absolutely dismantled twice by the Magic, never really able to get into any kind of offense before the Magic create havoc, force a ton of outside shots, and then come back and nail a three. Sure, the Bobcats came back and backdoored Orlando in game one, but Orlando controlled game two almost the entire way before Charlotte mounted an insane 11-0 run very late in the game to make the final respectable (and give false hope to those of us foolish enough to back them...whoops). Unfortunately, I'm tempted by those dastardly Bobcats yet again. This line is pretty firm, and should draw a ton of Magic money, given how well they've played and how Orlando has shown their clear desire to stomp on weaker teams. So, I stand at a cross-roads while breaking down this game. The line, pretty low, within a bucket of a Pick, is an awfully strong indicator that the Bobcats play this game tough, but the match-ups, with Orlando firing from all over the court and stifling the Bobcats, clearly favor the more talented Magic. In my mind, I'm seeing images of the beating the Suns laid on the Blazers on Thursday night, but on paper, I'm seeing a line that couldn't possibly look any more attractive for the Magic side. No lean on the side as of yet. As far as the total is concerned, we saw one of the slowest and most painful games in recent memory in the last game, and if there isn't some value on the Over, then I'm not seeing the right game. Does that mean it's going to go Over? Not necessarily, but this line got adjusted down following up that stinker, and I just don't know if the score could be any lower. Lean to Over.

Suns @ Blazers - Phoenix by 1 with a total of 202. Well, this line is right around where the last game sat for the great majority of the day, and again, it's tough to argue with the information contained within just the line. Phoenix went into Portland and absolutely crushed the Blazers in game three. Jason Richardson went, as I recall, 8-of-12 from long range, and Phoenix was up almost 30 points by half-time. That is two straight blowouts, the second of which got Phoenix their home court back. My opinion is that Phoenix has a one-game shooting slump. Richardson isn't going to continue to hit shots like that, and it feels like Portland is going to come out firing after getting positively embarrassed on their home court. Does that mean they're going to win the game, which is what we'd need based on this short line? Maybe, maybe not, but we'll certainly get a better effort from them in game four. Tiny lean to Portland. Also, courtesy of the monster blowout, the second half was played at a snail's pace on both sides, and game three ended with just 197 points despite a 103-point first half. Portland also went just 16-of-28 from the free throw line (57%), so really, these teams left points on the table, and it nearly hit the number despite the poor FT shooting by the Blazers and the blowout-related tempo-change. I have to think this one's got a shot to go Over the total, and I think the Blazers have a nice shooting night.

Hawks @ Bucks - Atlanta by 1 with a total of 187. This is ANOTHER extremely suspect line, especially considering that the Bucks failed to cover each of the first two games, and the fact that the line immediately jumped to Milwaukee by 1 could either be sharps setting up a middle in the standard way, or it could be another strong move towards the team down 2-0. It's just so hard to look at this series and think that the Bucks have a shot, but if we step back for a moment and try to forget how overmatched Milwaukee has looked in the first two games, the Bucks were a strikingly solid home team, and the Hawks were never all that impressive on the road. Without getting into too much detail on the specific match-ups, because the Hawks have an edge at almost every spot on the floor, I happen to believe the Bucks are a proud enough team, and a good enough shooting team at home to snag a win from Atlanta. I know we've gotten into a habit of backing these teams down 2-0, but again, tough to argue with home/road splits and a strong opening line like this one. Slight lean to Milwaukee. As for the total, the two so far have been 194 and 182, and I happen to think the tempo stays about the same, and it really does come down to shooting percentage. No lean on this total.

Lakers @ Thunder - Oklahoma by 1 with a total of 193. This line has moved to 1.5 at most places (and 2 at some), so the initial move is towards the Thunder, but I fear that may be giving these underdogs a little more credit than they deserve, especially since the Thunder covered the 3.5 they were laying in game three, and then this one game out significantly lower under the expectation the Lakers would come back and play a better 4th quarter this time around. What everyone saw in game three was Scott Brooks moving Kevin Durant onto Kobe Bryant, and it did look a little like Durant's length bothered Bryant, who just kept firing up shots from outside and missing. It was almost like the Lakers were content to just shoot and hope for the best, rather than being aggressive late in the game. Pau Gasol played a strong game three, but as expected, just about everyone else was missing in action. This is one of the toughest games to call it the Playoffs so far. If you believe the Lakers have a little of that moxie, then you absolutely believe they win this game. If you believe the Thunder "figured something out", then the play is certainly on the Thunder. I have a tiny lean to LA, since I think Phil Jackson and Kobe head back to the blackboard and put the pieces together on how to attack late in the game. On the total of 193, oddsmakers just left things exactly the same, and that last game just did creep over the total. I think it goes Over again, as the shooting in this series has been atrocious. Surely someone wakes up, right?

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Dodgers (-160) @ Nationals with a total of 9.5; C. Kershaw vs. C. Stammen;
Garret Anderson is 2-for-3 with a HR off Stammen;
Adam Dunn is 3-for-5 with a HR off Kershaw;
Ryan Zimmerman is 3-for-7 with an RBI off Kershaw;
Wil Nieves and Christian Guzman are each 2-for-3 off Kershaw, Guzman with a HR.
Dodgers have not shown any ability to win on the road yet this year, but Kershaw is that one starter that's actually doing his job getting people out. There are a lot of Dodgers I would fade on the road, but Kershaw's not the one, at least not right now. The loss of Manny Ramirez to a calf strain puts a little damper on this powerhouse offense. Pass.

Braves (-145) @ Mets with a total of 8.5; J. Jurrjens vs. J. Niese;
Chipper Jones is 2-for-2 off Niese;
Nate McLouth is 2-for-3 with an RBI off Niese;
David Wright is 6-for-20 with a HR and 3 RBI off Jurrjens;
Luis Castillo is 5-for-16 off Jurrjens.
Jair is off to a very poor start this season, but really, we know how good he is, and he'll get back there, no question. He's 6-1 with a 2.44 ERA lifetime against the Mets, and Niese, a young lefty, is just starting to find his way. The Mets are pitching very well right now, so laying 145 on a struggling star is a little rich for my blood.

Padres @ Reds (-125) with a total of 9; W. LeBlanc vs. J. Cueto;
I'm having issues pulling up the stats on this game. More info coming soon.

Marlins (N/A) @ Rockies with a total of N/A; R. Nolasco vs. G. Smith;
Brad Hawpe is 3-for-8 off Nolasco;
Troy Tulowitzki is 2-for-4 with a HR off Nolasco.
The problem with backing even a stud like Nolasco at Coors Field is that the bullpens are ALWAYS important here. Whether they end up throwing 5 innings in this game, the next, the one after, eventually you need a reliable pen. This field is just so huge that guys are inevitably going to get on base, and pitchers aren't going to go as deep as usual. That's why, despite Nolasco being the clear superior starter, the Rockies are more than in this game, and might even be considered a value. Colorado plays great ball at home, and I actually think that if Smith can turn in 5 marginal innings, they've got a shot.

Marlins @ Rockies (-150) with a total of 10; N. Robertson vs. A. Cook;
Chris Coghlan is 2-for-5 with a HR and 3 RBI off Cook;
Hanley Ramirez is 6-for-12 with a HR and 2 RBI;
Cody Ross is 4-for-9 with a HR and 4 RBI off Cook;
Wes Helms is 2-for-3, Mike Lamb is 3-for-6, Ronny Paulino is 2-for-3, and Dan Uggla is 2-for-6 with 2 RBI off Cook;
Jason Giambi is 5-for-11 with a HR off Robertson since '05.
As much as I liked the Rockies against the overvalued Nolasco yesterday, I actually kind of like Robertson against the overvalued Cook today. Cook is a miserable 2-3, 6.83 ERA lifetime against the Marlins, and Florida can definitely hit. Can they hold the Rockies to 4-5 runs? That's what it'll likely take.

Pirates @ Astros...; C. Jakubauskus vs. W. Rodriguez;
Thanks to player turnover, the current Pirates are not the same Pirates that have given Wandy fits in his brief career. I would love nothing more than to get some monster value going against Wandy, but the Pirates are struggling, and Houston is just finally starting to get some life. Big value or no big value, we're not volume bettors, so this one is off the board.

Cubs (-120) @ Brewers with a total of 9; T. Lilly vs. D. Davis;
Marlon Byrd is 4-for-12 off Davis with 3 RBI;
Xavier Nady is 6-for-19 with a HR and 4 RBI off Davis;
Ryan Theriot is 5-for-16, and Aramis Ramirez has 2 HR off Davis since '05;
Ryan Braun is 7-for-16 with 2 HR and 2 RBI off Lilly;
Prince Fielder is 8-for-18 with a HR and 2 RBI off Lilly;
Carlos Gomez and Casey McGehee are each 2-for-3 off Lilly.
In his first game off the DL, Lilly is favored on the road? That's a little suspect. Doug Davis is off to a horrendous start this year, but he's been okay against the Cubs throughout his career. Lean to Milwaukee.

Phillies (-120) @ D'backs with a total of 11; N. Figueroa vs. I. Kennedy;
Ross Gload is 2-for-4 off Kennedy;
Mark Reynolds is 2-for-2 off Figueroa with 2 HR and 3 RBI;
Gerardo Parra is 2-for-2 off Figueroa.
Look at that total. Yikes. Nelson Figueroa, a career 0-2, 8.68 ERA against the D'backs, and filling in for the injured J.A. Happ, and Ian Kennedy's underachieving on the other side. I don't know if I can trust Kennedy to keep the D'backs in it, but when this many runs are expected, you can usually take the dog and hope for the best. Teeny, tiny lean to D'backs, but we're talking awfully small.

Cardinals (-155) @ Giants with a total of 7; A. Wainwright vs. B. Zito;
Felipe Lopez is 4-for-13 with a HR off Zito;
Ryan Ludwick is 4-for-11 with 2 RBI off Zito;
Albert Pujols is 4-for-8 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Zito since '05;
Brendan Ryan is 6-for-10 off Zito;
Skip Schumaker is 5-for-9 off Zito with 2 RBI;
Edgar Renteria is 4-for-12 off Wainwright.
This might seem like a steep price to pay on the road against a Zito that has been pitching very, very well this season, but I wonder if there's a reason for it. Zito has never had any success against the Cardinals, and off facing Lincecum last night, the Cardinals might be happy to look at anything else on the hill.

American League

Indians @ Athletics (-150) with a total of 8; F. Carmona vs. B. Anderson;
Russell Branyan is 2-for-5 with a HR and an RBI off Anderson;
Daric Barton is 2-for-5 with 3 RBI off Carmona;
Rajai Davis is 2-for-4 with an RBI off Carmona;
Gabe Gross is 3-for-5 with 3 RBI off Carmona;
Kurt Suzuki is 2-for-6 with a HR and 3 RBI off Carmona.
This line is probably about right, as Anderson is going to be a force in this League for a while, and while Carmona has made huge strides, the quick A's should give him some trouble, at least a little. In actuality, the under might not be an insane wager, here, if indeed Carmona can use the spacious ballpark to his advantage.

Yankees (-115) @ Angels with a total of 9; A. Pettitte vs. J. Pineiro;
Robinson Cano was 3-for-7 off Pineiro before this season;
Mark Teixeira was 6-for-18 with a HR and 6 RBI off Pineiro before this year;
Erick Aybar was 7-for-16 off Pettitte with 2 RBI;
Mike Napoli was 5-for-9 off Pettitte.
Andy Pettitte is rolling so far in 2010, posting a 2-0 record and 1.35 ERA, and already pitched well against the Halos once this year. Pineiro has been a nice sign for the Angels so far, going 2-1, 1.77 ERA so far this year. That total of 9 seems to be looking for money on the under, and I happen to think this should be a good game, so let's keep our eye on the numbers here.

Mariners @ White Sox (-110) with a total of 8.5; D. Fister vs. F. Garcia;
Eric Byrnes is 4-for-11 with a HR off Garcia;
Ken Griffey is 3-for-8 with a HR off Garcia since '05;
Ichiro is 6-for-18 with a HR and 2 RBI off Garcia since '05;
Mike Sweeney is 7-for-18 with 2 HR and 6 RBI since '05.
Doug Fister is off to a very fine start this year, but can his success continue in Chicago? Considering Freddy Garcia's dismal numbers against the Mariners over his career, you have to at least take a peek at Seattle. I guess the concern is that Garcia has not only been bad against Seattle, but bad this year, so there isn't a ton of value taking the Mariners at close to standard juice.

Blue Jays @ Rays (-135) with a total of 8.5; R. Romero vs. J. Niemann;
Adam Lind is 4-for-8 off Niemann;
Ben Zobrist is 3-for-5 off Romero.
Considering the success of both of these pitchers against one another (though Niemann had slightly more trouble with Toronto), I'm surprised to see this line so low for the highly valued Rays. This line is either a tremendous value on a strong Tampa team, or a little fishy. I love what Romero's brought to the table so far, and it's up to us to decide if he's getting the right amount of credit, or too much.

Orioles @ Red Sox (-200) with a total of 9; B. Matusz vs. J. Lackey;
Julio Lugo is 4-for-6 off Lackey;
Miguel Tejada is 6-for-18 off Lackey since '05;
Luke Scott is 2-for-5 with a pair of HR off Lackey;
Marco Scutaro is 1-for-2 with a HR off Matusz.
Not much information on that Boston side, since most folks are really getting their first taste of Matusz. I'm not going to advocate backing a +190 underdog, and Lackey's 8-3 career mark against Baltimore makes me think that most of those numbers against him have led to runners left on base. Pass.

Twins (-130) @ Royals with a total of 9.5; N. Blackburn vs. L. Hochevar;
Orlando Hudson was 3-for-4 off Hochevar before this season;
Jason Kubel went 4-for-10 off Hochevar before this year with 2 HR and 6 RBI;
Alberto Callaspo had some success off Blackburn in the past, going 5-for-12 with a HR;
David DeJesus was 7-for-15 in the past with a HR off Blackburn.
Each pitcher started a game that their team won, the last time these two clubs met. Hochevar beat Carl Pavano with 6 innings of solid work, and Blackburn escaped with a 6-5 win for his team, facing Gil Meche in this one. Head-to-head, Hochevar had the better start, but does that repeat itself? This ultra-low line makes me think that yes, it does. Slight lean to Royals to ride Hochevar's solid start.

Tigers @ Rangers (N/A) with a total of N/A; D. Willis vs. S. Feldman;
Miguel Cabrera is 2-for-5 off Feldman;
Adam Everett is 3-for-8 off Feldman;
Ryan Garko is 3-for-6 with a HR and 6 RBI off Dontrelle.
If the Tigers were any good at all on the road, I'd say there's some value in fading Feldman here, since he's really on track to have his "down" year after last year's monster success. Let's wait and find a better time. Pass. Side note: it's good to see the D-Train having some marginal success and getting some of his pitches over the dish.

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