Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Two Series Shall End

I almost feel like *I* need to spend some time with an Athletic Trainer after that late Playoff game last night! We prevailed with our 2* play on the Denver Nuggets, but not without losing Nene just before half-time, and watching The Birdman, Kenyon Martin, and J.R. Smith all spend some time getting some bonus treatment from the trainer. I don't know how Denver pulled it off...no, scratch that...Denver shot 42 free throws and made 9-of-17 from long range. Pretty simple formula, but certainly easier said than done.

On the bases, and I know this is "loser-talk," but we pulled out of last week's nosedive and got ourselves a split, winning on the Detroit Tigers and losing on the underdog Oakland Athletics. Once again, MLB leans were much better, and I can definitely tell we're turning a corner!

Nice little positive day there, and that's just the kind of momentum I want to take heading into my little trip this coming weekend/week.

I do want to note, though, that I will CONTINUE to do ALL my usual work handicapping the card. The only differences are that for roughly 5.5 days, there will be no blog and our inimitable CEO RJ Bell will be hosting Today in Sports Betting. So, fear not, friends - much like Marco during his wedding, we'll be focused on picking winners rain, tornado, Derby, or shine!

Sports Wagering: NBA

Mavericks @ Spurs - San Antonio by 3.5 with a total of 191. Now, we're starting to really get into the thick of Playoff basketball, and I couldn't be happier. The Mavs got pushed, pretty hard mind you, fell behind 3-1, and managed to push back with a strong home performance in game five. Now, down 3-2, but with a little more confidence, the Mavs need to win one on the road to keep hope alive. Unfortunately, though, this is probably the end of the road for Dallas. They've played great in spurts in this series, including cruising to that game one win, but Dallas just hasn't shown any resilience on the road. They got out to leads in both games, and blew both, and the difference between playing at home and on the road is that when the opponent makes a run (which the Spurs did to end the first half in game five), at home you can counter. This game is going to be the ultimate test for Dallas, since I definitely believe they can get a lead, but can they sustain it? Can Caron Butler hit those shots on the road, and can Brendan Haywood stay out of foul trouble? This should be a good game. Let's not forget how solid the Mavs were on the road during the regular season, and I think Dallas is finally starting to realize how hard they need to play to win in the Playoffs. Still, the Spurs basically rested their starters the entire 2nd half of game 5, so they're going to be energized and Ginobili, in particular, needs as much rest as possible. Lean to San Antonio to finish off Dallas in a tough one. The total is really continuing to make me scratch my head. We've had, now, 4 straight unders, and the only game that went over, cleared the number by a half point. Yet, this line continues to chill in the 190's. I don't get it. Either books are splitting money right down the middle in every game and they don't care about the string of unders, or they truly believe one of these games is due to go over. I need more time on this one, but something tells me that if Dallas is on the brink of elimination, we're going to get some significant fouling down the stretch for a final score of 194. Slight lean to the Over.

Suns @ Blazers - Portland by 1.5 with a total of 202. I have a bad feeling in my gut about Portland's chances to send this one to a game 7, but it depends largely on how the Suns approach this one. But, given that Phoenix has already lost a home game to the Blazers, I think they don't rely on having the final home game, and I think we get a strong effort from Phoenix. There isn't a ton of value with the Suns, since they're coming off delivering a firm spanking to the Blazers in Arizona, but, to me, when you've got a low line, you're just basically picking a winner. Here's my logic. Yes, this line is fairly strong in support of Portland playing a tough game, but I think after that initial burst of adrenaline wore off, Brandon Roy's knee is absolutely going back to being a little less than 100%. Unfortunately for Portland-backers, though, the line merely accounts for Roy playing, not whether he's 80% or 100%, and if he's closer to 80%, as I believe he is, that actually creates some line value on the Phoenix side. We've seen the Suns win in Portland, too, and without the crazy crowd response to Brandon Roy's miraculous return from injury, and with Phoenix smelling blood, I think we get a nice showing from Nash and company. Also, is Marcus Camby truly healthy? Is Batum truly healthy? Portland's banged-up roster has fought valiantly, but I just have that feeling, and maybe it's not supported by the line or situational analysis, but something just tells me Phoenix gets it done. Slight lean to the Suns. This total of 202 remains pretty low for any game involving the Suns, but we know the Blazers are going to try to keep this one in the 90's. The tempo has been pretty slow since game 2, so it's tough to make a strong argument for the over. No lean on the total as of yet, but trying to find a reason to take the over, for what it's worth.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Braves @ Cardinals (-200) with a total of 7; J. Jurrjens vs. A. Wainwright;
Matt Diaz is 2-for-5 off Wainwright;
Omar Infante is 4-for-6 with 1 RBI off Wainwright;
Chipper Jones is 3-for-8 since '05 off Wainwright;
Matt Holliday is 7-for-13 with 4 RBI off Jurrjens;
Ryan Ludwick is 4-for-10 off Jurrjens.
Jurrjens is a career 2.14 ERA pitcher against the Cards, but Wainwright can do him one better, going a perfect 4-0 against Atlanta with a 1.50 ERA. Wainwright could very well toss a complete game shutout, but can we trust Jurrjens to do his part? He's started 2010 a little behind where he'd like, but the fat that Pujols doesn't hit Jurrjens well could be just what the doctor ordered. I don't like either side, but this one could sneak Under even that low total.

D'backs @ Cubs (-165) with a total of N/A; I. Kennedy vs. T. Lilly;
Kelly Johnson is 3-for-8 off Lilly;
Adam Laroche is 6-for-15 with a HR and 2 RBI off Lilly;
Chris Young is 5-for-12 with a HR and 3 RBI off Lilly.
The Cubs haven't seen Kennedy before, but as you can see, there are a handful of D'backs that have hit Lilly. Still, with Lilly posting an heroic start off the DL, it seems like he's just picking right up where he left off, and going against him is putting us in a tough spot. Chicago's playing better, and the D'backs only play well at home and in Colorado. Pass.

Reds @ Astros (-170) with a total of 7.5; B. Arroyo vs. R. Oswalt;
Laynce Nix is 5-for-12 with 2 HR and 2 RBI off Oswalt;
Brandon Phillips is 10-for-31 off Oswalt since '05;
Joey Votto is batting .304 off Oswalt with 3 RBI off Oswalt since '05;
Pedro Feliz is 4-for-11 with a HR and 3 RBI off Arroyo;
Kaz Matsui is 5-for-14 with 2 RBI off Arroyo;
Hunter Pence is 9-for-24 off Arroyo with 3 RBI.
Roy Oswalt is a career 23-1 against the Reds. 'Nuff said, there. Arroyo had a great start to open the season, but has since hit the skids, and while I don't necessarily trust the 'Stros offense, it's tough to argue with 23-1. Hmm...

Brewers @ Padres (-145) with a total of 7.5; D. Davis vs. W. LeBlanc;
Everth Cabrera is 4-for-8 off Davis;
Scott Hairston is 5-for-14 with 2 HR and 3 RBI off Davis;
Chase Headley is 6-for-19 off Davis;
Yorvit Torrealba is 5-for-14 off Davis.
Doug Davis, despite those 4 guys hitting him relatively hard, is 10-3 lifetime against the Padres. Wade LeBlanc has hit the ground running this year, but this price is too high to back a Padres team potentially coming back to Earth after that 8-game winning streak. I'd prefer to take Brewers, but I'm just never sure about putting money behind Davis. Probably a pass.

Pirates @ Dodgers (-240) with a total of 8.5; B. Burres vs. C. Kershaw;
Reed Johnson is 2-for-5 off Burres.
We'll make this one simple - I don't trust the frighteningly cold Dodgers right now, especially not at this price, and I don't trust the always-terrible Pirates, especially not with this Burres kid on the hill. Pass.

American League

Twins (-145) @ Tigers with a total of 9.5; C. Pavano vs. D. Willis;
Orlando Hudson is 4-for-10 with a HR and 4 RBI off Willis;
Justin Morneau is 2-for-4 with a HR and 2 RBI off Willis;
Delmon Young is 3-for-8 with an RBI off Willis;
Johnny Damon is 4-for-11 with an RBI off Pavano;
Brandon Inge is 5-for-14 with 3 RBI off Pavano;
Magglio Ordonez is 5-for-12 with 3 RBI off Pavano.
Carl Pavano is strikingly tough on the Tigers, going 4-1 against them with a 3.00 ERA. Dontrelle has been better this year than I think most expected, but his lifetime 7.94 ERA against the Twinkies means there isn't much value in fading him, nor is there a ton of reason to get behind him. I think it's got to be Twins or nothing, here, but at -145? Not too tempting.

White Sox @ Rangers (-130) with a total of 9.5; G. Floyd vs. S. Feldman;
Alex Rios is 4-for-10 with a HR and 3 RBI off Feldman;
Carlos Quentin is 2-for-5 with a HR off Feldman;
David Murphy is 1-for-1 with a 2-run shot off Floyd.
Scott Feldman is well on his way to coming back to the mean off last year's tremendous season. Unfortunately, Gavin Floyd is well on his way to his worst professional season. I know, it's still early, but 0-2, 8.38 is pretty rough. His 9.35 ERA against Texas isn't too inspiring either. Still, awfully low line considering how badly Floyd is stinking, no?

Yankees (-185) @ Orioles with a total of 8.5; A. Burnett vs. B. Matusz;
Nick Markakis is batting .314 off Burnett with 3 RBI;
Nolan Reimold is 3-for-4 with a HR off Burnett;
Luke Scott is 6-for-15 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Burnett;
Miguel Tejada is 5-for-15 with an RBI off Burnett.
Brian Matusz has a win in his start against the Yankees, and Burnett, despite a 5.23 ERA, somehow is 9-2 against the Orioles, so you have to think he's been a little lucky. This line seems awfully inflated on the Yankees side, and I just wonder if it's too good to be true to back Baltimore here. The overnight move will tell us a great deal on this one.

Athletics @ Blue Jays (-135) with a total of 7.5; J. Duchscherer vs. R. Romero;
Rajai Davis is 2-for-4 off Romero, and Kurt Suzuki is 2-for-5 off Romero;
John Buck is 1-for-2 with a HR off Duchscherer.
This is a battle of some starters off to great beginnings to 2010, and I just wonder if there's any value left on this Under, or if the tremendous early-season numbers have wiped that out. Romero is 2-0, 1.29 ERA against Oakland, and Duch is 1-0, 3.09 ERA against Toronto. Tough call, not a ton of "value" anywhere, though I suppose you could make the case that a close game means value on the dog.

Royals @ Rays (-250) with a total of 8.5; L. Hochevar vs. M. Garza;
Yuny Betancourt is 5-for-10 with an RBI off Garza;
Billy Butler is 6-for-14 off Garza;
David DeJesus is 6-for-18 with 3 RBI off Garza;
Alex Gordon is 4-for-10 off Garza;
Jose Guillen is 4-for-11 off Garza;
Jason Kendall and Alberto Callaspo are each 2-for-3 off Garza;
Carlos Pena is 4-for-7 with 2 RBI off Hochevar;
Evan Longoria is 1-for-3 with a HR and 3 RBI off Hochevar;
Carl Crawford is 3-for-8 off Hochevar;
Willy Aybar and Jason Bartlett are 2-for-4 off Hochevar, and Ben Zobrist is 2-for-5.
A lot of numbers here, but Hochevar has made some huge strides since the last time he faced the Rays. Garza, believe it or not, is 0-4 in his career against the Royals. That doesn't mean his team fails to win every time, though, and that's where this line starts to get a little hairy. I'm starting to wonder if a non-premium 1st-5 wager wouldn't be the best value to keep the Royals pen out of this one.

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