Monday, May 31, 2010

Bebe's Birthday Blog!

June 1st, a glorious day, indeed. Haha!

If anyone is wondering what I wished for when the fiance took me out to dinner last night (we dined a night early, since she was off work), well, I'm a tad ashamed. I probably should have wished for something philanthropic, but that just wasn't the first thing that popped into my head. Nope, your buddy Dan Bebe is a true degenerate. That's as far as I can go, since, if you tell people your wish, it won't come true. Let's just say that, for now, the wish is working.


After picking up the narrow win on Sunday with the Giants, we came right back yesterday with 2 more winners, riding Ubaldo Jimenez's golden arm to a 4-0 win in the afternoon, and then collecting on one of the easiest wins we've had all season, with the Padres pounding the Mets 18-6. So, after a rough Saturday, we've rattled off 3 straight winners, and mosey on into Tuesday feeling confident, and feeling like maybe those birthday candles are working some magic!

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Cubs (-165) @ Pirates with a total of 8.5; T. Lilly vs. J. Karstens;
No sense getting bogged down with player numbers in this one. Lilly has faced Pittsburgh twice already this season, and he really hasn't been that impressive, allowing 4 runs in 6 innings, then 3 over 7 frames. And, he's coming off a lights-out start against the Dodgers that drew ire from normally quiet Casey Blake, who claims that Lilly was setting up a few inches in front of the pitching rubber. The eyes are going to be on Lilly's feet, and to me, that's like asking a golfer if he breathes in or out on his backswing - it messes with a guy's focus, and I'm tempted to say that Lilly doesn't pitch that well. Karstens is an ugly son of a gun, and he's alternated good and bad starts this year, so he's due for a poor one. Probably a pass here, though it's Pittsburgh or nothing if you feel you must play it.

Brewers @ Marlins (-155) with a total of 9; D. Bush vs. R. Nolasco;
Rickie Weeks is 4-for-5 with a HR and 2 RBI off Nolasco;
Dan Uggla is 5-for-13 with a HR and an RBI off Bush.
The career numbers for the pitchers don't really match the career numbers of the batters against these pitchers. Bush is 2-3 with a 5.70 ERA against the Fish lifetime, and Nolasco is 0-1 with a 11.81 ERA against Milwaukee, but truthfully, the two batters listed above (Weeks, Uggla) are the only guys with any true success in this match-up. It's a bit of a head-scratcher. I like Nolasco as a starter, and Bush is a chump, but I can't in good conscience lay -155 on a guy with a career ERA near 12 against this opponent. It's almost like sacrilege for me, a player-matchup guy.

Phillies @ Braves (-144) with a total of 7.5; C. Hamels vs. T. Hudson;
Ryan Howard was 12-for-34 with 5 HR and 10 RBI off Hudson since '05, before this year;
Shane Victorino was 8-for-25 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Hudson before 2010;
Jayson Werth was 4-for-12 with 3 RBI off Hudson before 2010;
Gregor Blanco is 4-for-11 off Hamels;
Melky Cabrera was 3-for-6 off Hamels prior to 2010;
Chipper Jones was 9-for-22 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Hamels before this year;
Brian McCann was 11-for-30 with a HR and 10 RBI off Hamels before 2010.
This isn't a rematch, but both guys have made a start against this opponent. Hudson gave up 2 runs in 6 innings of a 2-0 loss to Halladay, and Hamels allowed 3 runs in 5 innings of a 5-3 win. That being said, Hudson pitched much better than Hamels, and not just in runs and innings. Hudson allowed 6 hits and 2 walks, while Hamels allowed 8 hits and 4 walks, and somehow only gave up 3 runs. Hamels has been better since that very start, so he's trending up, but Hudson's been a wonder this year, and I happen to think this line is pretty fair. The Phils offensive issues make me think I'd take Braves before Phils, but it's not even really on the radar.

Nationals @ Astros (-135) with a total of 8.5; C. Stammen vs. B. Myers;
Christian Guzman is 10-for-25 off Myers;
Josh Willingham is 7-for-20 wih 2 HR and 5 RBI off Myers;
Ryan Zimmerman is 13-for-36 with 2 HR and 14 RBI off Myers.
Believe me when I say that I'd love to back the resurgent Brett Myers in this one, given his solid 3.22 season ERA. I'd also love to fade Craig Stammen, given his 5.60 season mark, but player numbers just don't add up. In fact, they point us the other way. Ryan Zimmerman has pummeled Myers over the years, though Myers has completely neutralized Adam Dunn, so it's a give and take. Stammen is 1-0 with a 2.00 ERA against Houston lifetime, and Washington is coming off yesterday's 14-4 throttling of the Astros, so we know they're hitting alright. Very small lean to Washington.

Reds @ Cardinals (-110) with a total of 7.5; J. Cueto vs. P. Walters;
Once again we'll forgo the player numbers in this one, since we have nothing for Walters against the Reds, and Cueto's already faced the Cards twice this year, so any historical numbers can basically be dumped in favor of this year's matchups. Cueto has gone 5 innings and 6 innings against the Cards, allowing 2 runs in each, so it's tough to say whether he's been good or not. He's been decent enough, I suppose, but not really a huge factor in the game. Walters went 5 shutout innings against the Padres in his only start, so we know he can pitch, and everyone that the Cards bring up usually throws well, at least until teams get a better scouting report. This one is a tough one, though it seems like the Cards are starting to hit better over the last 3-4 games, so I might be inclined to take the cheap price on the home team and bank on Cueto giving up at least 2-3 runs.

Mets (-125) @ Padres with a total of 6.5; M. Pelfrey vs. W. LeBlanc;
Pelfrey continues to be scary-good this year, really only having one true blemish on his 2010 resume, though I suppose you could argue his start against the Nats wasn't too great, either. In any case, he's 7-1 on the year with a 2.54 ERA, and is coming off 7 shutout innings against the Phils. Pelfrey has always been better at home, but Petco is a monster park, much like Citi Field, so there might not be any real difference here. LeBlanc is coming off 2 bad starts, and we've talked before about how young guys usually bounce back after a second rough start, but with LeBlanc, his new approach might be getting a scouting report, and I'm not 100% sure if it's just a rough patch or if teams are just starting to figure out LeBlanc. I'd be careful in this one.

Diamondbacks @ Dodgers (-120) with a total of 8; D. Haren vs. J. Ely;
REMATCH ALERT! Ely and Haren faced off in Arizona just a couple weeks ago, and the Dodgers laid waste to, well, mostly the D'backs pen, but either way, Haren took the loss, and has now faced the Dodgers twice this year, and Arizona has lost both of his starts. Ely continues to do just what the Dodgers need, and that's throw strikes, keep the ball in the yard, and generally go 6+ innings. And with the way the Dodgers pen is throwing right now, it's awfully tough to go my usual route and take the loser of the previous showdown. That would be Haren, here, but Arizona's bats have been lying dormant on their current road trip, and Ely, a guy with outstanding control, can use Arizona's free-wheeling approach against them, shooting for the corners of the plate. Oh, and Andre Ethier destroys Haren, and he's coming back for this series. Lean to Dodgers, despite the rematch angle.

Rockies @ Giants (-145) with a total of 8; J. Hammel vs. B. Zito;
Bengie Molina is 3-for-6 with a HR and 2 RBI off Hammel.
When I saw Barry Zito opposing Colorado, I almost made it an automatic play. Barry has absolutely baffled the Rockies throughout his career, now 5-2 with a 2.00 ERA against the Rockies lifetime. This year, Barry went 8 innings and allowed 2 runs the one time he faced them. Hammel is coming off his best start of 2010, holding the D'backs to just 2 runs, but for the same reason we backed the Rox yesterday, teams beating up on Arizona really doesn't say much. Hammel is still not the same guy he was last year, and while his ERA against SF of 3.52 is decent, I wouldn't be surprised to see him give up 4 runs in 5 or 6 innings, here. My concern with this one is Zito's rough month of May. He started the month with a strong outing against the Marlins, but things just haven't been the same since he stunk it up against the Padres. Still, I don't really see how a player match-up guy can legitimately fade Barry against the Rockies, and the Giants are going to hit much better against anyone not named Ubaldo. Lean to SF.

American League

Orioles @ Yankees (-245) with a total of 10; B. Matusz vs. J. Vazquez;
Corey Patterson is 4-for-12 with 2 RBI off Vazquez;
Ty Wigginton is 6-for-13 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Vazquez.
Matusz has already faced the Yankees twice this year, allowing 3 runs in 6 inning in one effort and 3 runs (only 1 earned) in another 6 frames the next time. Just so happens I was AT that second start on my trip around the Eastern US. Completely unrelated, but figured I'd toss that out there for folks that read the entire blog. In any case, the Orioles are garbage. Matusz has pitched well against the Yankees, but the O's can't hit, the pen isn't reliable, they've lost Matusz's last 7 straight starts, and I just don't know if I can ever feel comfortable backing this team no matter how much value they might grab.

Indians @ Tigers (-155) with a total of 8.5; J. Westbrook vs. J. Bonderman;
Shin-Soo Choo was 3-for-8 off Bonderman with 2 RBI before 2010;
Carlos Guillen is batting .417 in 24 AB off Westbrook with 1 RBI;
Brandon Inge was batting .348 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Westbrook before 2010;
Magglio Ordonez was batting .364 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Westbrook before 2010;
Ramon Santiago was 5-for-7 off Westbrook before 2010.
I hate to lay -155 with Bonderman, but the guy is learning how to pitch, and his ERA of just 3.78 is living proof that he's getting it done without his top velocity. He's probably not worth that level of chalk, especially at just 8-9 lifetime against the Indians, and a 5.68 ERA -- he did give up just a run in 5 innings earlier this season, though. Westbrook has been even worse against the Tigers, allowing 3 runs in just under 6 frames this year, and going 4-8 lifetime against Detroit with a 6 ERA.

Rays (-165) @ Blue Jays with a total of 9; J. Niemann vs. B. Tallet;
Carl Crawford is 7-for-15 off Tallet with 6 RBI;
Gabe Kapler is 3-for-7 with 2 RBI off Tallet;
Evan Longoria is 4-for-9 off Tallet with 3 RBI;
Dioner Navarro is 6-for-15 with 3 RBI off Tallet;
B.J. Upton is 4-for-9 with 2 RBI off Tallet;
Ben Zobrist is 5-for-11 with a HR and 3 RBI off Tallet;
Adam Lind is 4-for-8 off Niemann.
Good lord that's some heavy road chalk on Niemann, but damn if his 5-0 record and 2.37 season ERA doesn't look tempting in this player match-up nightmare for Toronto. Niemann has been rock solid all season long, even tossing a quality start against these very same Jays back in late April. Tallet has a career 6.03 ERA against the Rays, including allowing 5, 5, and 8 runs against them the last 3 times he started against Tampa. You guys know how I feel about Run Lines, but damn if this one isn't courting me.

Athletics @ Red Sox (-145) with a total of 9; G. Gonzalez vs. J. Lackey;
Daric Barton is 6-for-17 with an RBI off Lackey;
Jack Cust is 7-for-23 with 3 HR and 5 RBI off Lackey;
Adrian Beltre is 3-for-7 with an RBI off Gonzalez.
This line is creepy-low, considering the level of competition. Gio Gonzalez is having a nice season, and Lackey has been mostly a wet fart, but he's 16-4 lifetime against the A's with a 2.76 ERA, and Gonzalez hasn't exactly dominated the Red Sox. And on top of that, Boston has been hitting the ball well. I honestly can't quite solve this line, so I'm liable to leave this game alone. The A's are coming off a well-played series in Detroit, and while they struggled on the road previously, I just can't help but wonder if oddsmakers know Oakland is surging. Weird game, trying to match the line with the matchups.

Angels @ Royals (-115) with a total of 9.5; J. Pineiro vs. B. Bannister;
David DeJesus is 7-for-21 with 4 RBI off Pineiro;
Jose Guillen is 5-for-13 with 2 RBI off Pineiro since '05;
Scott Podsednik is 3-for-8 off Pineiro.
This game is perfectly set on the line. Both starters have been consistently middle-of-the-road, and neither has really set himself aside as trending up or down. Bannister has been a little more consistent the last couple weeks, but Pineiro has that track record of imploding in a start or two, then regaining his form. The Angels dominated KC in the series opener, but that didn't tell us much. The Royals are still the best hitting team in baseball, average-wise, over the past few weeks, so they can definitely break out at any point. Probably a pass, here.

Rangers @ White Sox (-125) with a total of 9; R. Harden vs. M. Buerhle;
Vlad Guerrero is 7-for-22 with 4 HR and 6 RBI off Buerhle since '05.
Interestingly, this is the second series this year between these two teams, so we do have some notes to work with from this year, as well. Historically, Buerhle has pitched well against Texas, going 11-4 with a 3.07 lifetime ERA against the Rangers, and this year he pitched not amazingly, but probably well enough to win, giving up 4 runs in 7 decent innings. Harden allowed 3 runs in 6 innings, and despite walking 5, led his team to victory. Well, Texas has been very cold of late, losing 4 straight before yesterday's day off, and Chicago has been alternating wins and losses roughly the last 10 days. The key with Buerhle is whether he's on a lucky or unlucky streak, since he's always going to throw strikes, and right now, it seems like balls are finding his defense. I think Mark pitches the Sox past the slumping Rangers.

Twins @ Mariners (-115) with a total of 7.5; N. Blackburn vs. J. Vargas;
Chone Figgins is 9-for-16 with a HR off Blackburn;
Ichiro is 4-for-9 off Blackburn.
This game should, and I repeat, should be a relatively easy game to handicap, as Blackburn goes out, throws strikes, goes 7 innings, gives up 2-3 runs every time out, and his team has a damn fine shot to win. Especially here, against the anemic Seattle offense. Vargas is an up-and-coming young stud that, and I can't really say " has hit a rough patch", since he's still throwing well, but not as incredibly as he was earlier in the season. I happen to think that marking this game, basically, as a Pick, is pretty accurate. The Twins are the hotter of the two teams, but this one ain't far from a coin-flip in either direction.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

America's Memorial Day Pastime

Happy Memorial Day, all!

Hopefully, everyone has some spectacular, sausage-smokin', dog-devourin', condiment-crushin', beer-and-burger belt-bustin' plans for the day!

I'll be around almost all afternoon to take in the MLB action, but the evening is for relaxing, as tomorrow is my birthday! Yes, the first of June rings in a new year in the life of Bebe, so don't be surprised if the Tuesday blog is running a minute or two late!

Recap: We had just one play yesterday, the San Francisco Giants, and while we 'capped a solid start from Todd Wellemeyer, I don't think we foresaw the heroics San Francisco would need to complete a three-game sweep of Arizona. This Memorial Day I give thanks for the D'backs miserable bullpen, and I think Jeremy Affeldt should do the same. Baseball has been extremely up-and-down, so let's try to keep making small adjustments and finding cheap winners throughout my birthday week!

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Phillies @ Braves (-155) with a total of 8.5; J. Blanton vs. T. Hanson;
Yunel Escobar is 4-for-13 with a HR and 2 RBI off Blanton;
Brian McCann is 6-for-16 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Blanton;
Martin Prado is 5-for-9 off Blanton with 2 HR and 3 RBI.
Blanton faced the Braves earlier this season and gave up 3 runs in 6 innings, really not all that bad, though it's clear his arm still isn't quite at full strength, as Blanton has had all kinds of issues his 3rd time through the batting order. Tommy Hanson went just 4.2 innings against Philly when he faced them a month back, and his 0-2, 5.40 mark against the Phils doesn't exactly inspire confidence. Dan no likey either side, here, though the Braves are inarguably the hotter team. Pass.

Brewers @ Marlins (-130) with a total of 9.5; C. Narveson vs. N. Robertson;
Carlos Gomez is 4-for-12 off Robertson from their time in the AL.
Dare we put money on a guy that has simply been marginal in every single start? I can't say I'm not tempted. Nate Robertson's 4.05 ERA is perfectly indicative of his work with Florida. Never great, never completely wretched, just enough to keep his team in the game. Chris Narveson has been mostly bad, as have his teammates. He's coming off a 4-inning, 4-run effort against the punchless Astros, so Narveson isn't exactly dealing, and his season 5.53 ERA is probably pretty accurate. The Brewers had won 3 in a row before getting throttled Sunday, but they are playing a tad better. The Marlins had lost 4 in a row before getting a 1-0 win over Philadelphia yesterday. Slight, slight lean to Florida, but paying -130 to back Robertson is not my top choice right now.

Cubs @ Pirates with a total of N/A; T. Gorzelanny vs. R. Ohlendorf;

Nationals @ Astros (-180) with a total of 7.5; L. Atilano vs. R. Oswalt;
Adam Dunn is batting .314 with 3 HR and 7 RBI off Oswalt since '05;
Adam Kennedy is 4-for-11 off Oswalt since '05;
Ryan Zimmerman is 3-for-10 off Oswalt with 2 HR and 3 RBI.
Interestingly, Luis Atilano was on the winning side of a Nationals victory over Tim Lincecum in his last start, and improved to 4-1 on the season. Can he topple another ace? Tough to say. Oswalt was brilliant his last time out, tossing 8 shutout innings against the Brewers, and it seems like his desire to get traded has forced him into even a higher gear as he draws more interest from the League. His 9 K's tied a season high, as well. Oswalt is 3-1 against the Nats, lifetime, with a 3.11 ERA, but the numbers on the Nationals side make paying -180 way too steep. Pass.

Rockies @ Giants (-110) with a total of 6; U. Jimenez vs. T. Lincecum;
Todd Helton is 9-for-19 with a HR and 2 RBI off Lincecum;
Chris Iannetta is 6-for-12 with a HR and 4 RBI off Lincecum;
Pablo Sandoval is 6-for-18 with a HR off Jimenez;
Juan Uribe is 3-for-5 with 3 RBI off Jimenez.
This is the true Memorial Day showdown by the Bay, and it's almost a shame it has to start at 4pm. This one has primetime written all over it. Though, admittedly, Lincecum has had to fight his way through a couple unusual starts. Timmy gave up 5 runs in Arizona, and 6 at home to the Nats. You have to think something must be hurting him or the mechanics might be off. And you're going to need every ounce of strength to do battle with Ubaldo, he of the 9-1 record and 0.88 ERA. Both teams are pitching well, the Giants are hitting a little better than the Rox, though a lot of that comes from playing the Nats and D'backs on their current homestand, while the Rockies had to tackle the Dodgers lights out bullpen in their most recent series. Fun game to handicap; fun game to watch - I lean to the Rockies.

Reds @ Cardinals (-145) with a total of 7.5; B. Arroyo vs. J. Garcia;
Bronson Arroyo has already faced the Cardinals twice this year, and Garcia has seen the Reds once, so let's do away with the player numbers, since it's clear that this year is not like all others. Why? Well, Felipe Lopez, Albert Pujols, Colby Rasmus, and Brendan Ryan had all destroyed Arroyo coming into 2010, but if we look at some recent Bronson starts against the Cards, he's been doing all the owning. In fact, after a very bad start against St. Louis back in mid-July of last year, Arroyo has since faced the Cards 3 times, twice this year and once at the tail end of the 2009 season. This year, Arroyo has gone 17 innings and given up 3 runs, beating them twice, and in his final start of 2009, Arroyo went 8.1 innings of 1-run ball against the Cards, as well. I know Garcia is posting a 1.14 ERA this season, but he simply isn't a 1.14 ERA pitcher. You can be good, but it takes some great luck to have these numbers at the end of May, unless you're Ubaldo Jimenez, who throws 100mph. Garcia's spectacular ERA is giving us all kinds of value on the underdog Reds, and I can't help but think Arroyo just has a way with the Cards.

D'backs @ Dodgers (-170) with a total of 8.5; R. Lopez vs. C. Billingsley;
2nd REMATCH ALERT! Maybe I shouldn't have used an exclamation point, since these two guys are actually 1-1 head-to-head so far this year. Lopez has allowed 4 runs in both starts, over 12 combined innings, and the Chad struggled his first time facing the D'backs, allowing 6 runs over 5.2 innings, but bounced back with a slightly better effort in round two, allowing 2 runs in 5.1 frames. Still, he never quite looks comfortable against the D'backs, anymore, and it was clear that Joe Torre was going to have a lightning quick hook with Chad and Arizona. I would jump on Arizona in this one if it weren't for one huge issue. The Dodgers are simply playing far better baseball. Andre Ethier is due to come off the DL for this series, so that's a kick in the pants, and LA's pitching has been incredible, even in Coors Field. The D'backs are hitting the ball with zero authority, as well, so this one might best be left alone.

Mets @ Padres (-110) with a total of 6.5; H. Takahashi vs. K. Correia;
Jeff Francoeur is 3-for-10 off Correia;
David Wright is 8-for-10 with 2 HR and 3 RBI off Correia.
Here's the tale of two stats -- Correia is 0-3 lifetime against the Mets, but has a 1.63 ERA against them. If you want to talk about a tough-luck career against one particular team, that's definitely in the running. The Padres just keep finding ways to win tough ones at home, and you just have to keep giving credit to the bullpen over and over. Takahashi has been lights out in his first few starts for the Metropolitans, and he's yet to give up a run since his move to the starting rotation (12 innings over 2 starts, 0 runs). Petco isn't a bad place to try to keep that streak alive, but I have to admit - with the Mets' struggles on the road, and the Padres almost uncanny clutch play, if we can get San Diego for this cheap of a price, we should look at them, shouldn't we?

American League

Indians @ Yankees (-260) with a total of 9.5; M. Talbot vs. A. Pettitte;
Austin Kearns is 4-for-8 off Pettitte;
Jhonny Peralta is 3-for-10 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Pettitte;
Curtis Granderson is 1-for-1 with a HR and 4 RBI off Talbot.
This line is way out there. I'm not going to bother breaking this one down, since you guys should know by now there's no value in playing New York at this type of price, and Cleveland is about 60 cents away from being an automatic 1/4-unit flier.

Athletics @ Tigers (-165) with a total of 8; T. Cahill vs. J. Verlander;
This number seems kind of low considering Verlander pitched a 1-run complete game against the A's in Oakland just a couple weeks ago, and, on top of that, Cahill is 0-1 against Detroit with a 8.68 ERA. Verlander's studly outing wasn't an aberration, either - he's 4-3 against Oakland over his career, with a 2.72 ERA, and the A's offense has gotten way less homer-happy since those days. Verlander's fastball is almost enough to neutralize this team all by itself, and that makes this short-ish line all that much more confusing. Cahill's pitching well this year so maybe that has something to do with it, having tossed 3 straight quality starts, and the A's have won 4 of his 6 starts on the season. This is a bit of a head-scratcher, the line at least.

Angels @ Royals (-110) with a total of 9; E. Santana vs. L. Hochevar;
Bobby Abreu is 3-for-5 with 3 RBI off Hochevar;
Howie Kendrick is 2-for-2 with an RBI off Hochevar;
Willie Bloomquist is 3-for-8 off Santana;
David DeJesus is 9-for-21 off Santana;
Chris Getz is 4-for-7 off Santana.
This is an interesting match-up in that neither starter has really pitched well against the other team, but both are coming in hot. After a tough start to the year, Santana has turned things around - the Angels have won his last 3 starts, and 6 of his last 8. Hochevar has an ERA against Anaheim of 17.18, though it's in just a single start. Still, KC has won his last 2 outings, and he's gone 17 innings in those 2 starts, so he's been efficient with pitches, too. The Royals are definitely playing better baseball, and we know they can hit. I wonder if the Over isn't a possibility, though I really wish we could have gotten this at 8.5 instead of 9. Something to keep an eye on.

Rays (-140) @ Blue Jays with a total of 8.5; M. Garza vs. B. Morrow;
Hank Blalock was 4-for-6 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Morrow before 2010;
Aaron Hill was 6-for-18 off Garza before 2010.
Brandon Morrow, for all his faults, has actually been decent against the Rays, allowing just 2 runs over 6 innings the one time he faced them this year. Garza, surprisingly, allowed 5 runs in 5 innings to the Jays. That being said, Garza is 6-4 with a 2.19 ERA against Toronto lifetime, so I have to think that bad start earlier this year was the deviation, not the norm. Garza is too tough, even off a bad start against the Red Sox, to take the dog odds, but the Jays hit enough homers that I'm not sure I would lay the big chalk with the road club, either.

Twins (-115) @ Mariners with a total of 7; F. Liriano vs. D. Fister;
Ichiro is 6-for-17 with an RBI off Liriano.
This is a match-up of upper-tier starters that are both in the process of coming back to their expected numbers. Liriano went 3 starts at the beginning of the season without allowing a run, but then gave up at least 3 runs in 4 straight outings. His last time on the hill, Liriano went 7 strong frames against the Yanks, giving up 2 runs, so perhaps he's finding some confidence, again. Doug Fister, unlike Liriano, hasn't been near-perfect one day, and poor the next. He's been pretty darn good just about every time out, never allowing more than 3 earned runs in any one start. If the Mariners could hit, he'd be in real good shape, but they can't, and that means that backing Seattle is always going to be a crapshoot. Here's the real issue - Minnesota just finished a 3-game set at home with the Rangers, and they're flying 2 time zones West, while Seattle heads North from SoCal after playing an earlier game. Minnesota is going to experience some lag either tonight or tomorrow, and that's another factor that makes this one a tough game to pull the trigger on, for either side.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lakers-Celtics, Round 12

From a pure NBA enjoyment perspective, I'm not sure we could have hoped for a more thrilling Finals. The NBA's 2 biggest franchises meeting in the Finals yet again, the Lakers looking for some sort of redemption after getting pushed around just a few short years ago. It's going to be a bloodbath, and I can't help but think that the Lakers are in for a rude awakening playing a team that really gives max effort on defense, and I also think the Celtics are in for a bit of a surprise playing a team that literally can't be stopped, only slowed.

From a gambling perspective, yesterday was a full-on disaster, so let's just put it in the rear view, break down some MLB action, play conservatively, and end the week right!

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Astros @ Reds (-175) with a total of 8.5; F. Paulino vs. M. Leake;
Jay Bruce is 3-for-8 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Paulino;
Laynce Nix is 5-for-9 with a HR and 4 RBI off Paulino.
Those stats, of course, are from meetings prior to 2010. This year, Paulino went 5 innings against the Reds and allowed 6 runs, though only 2 of them were earned. Leake went 7 innings of 1-run ball against the 'Stros. I will say, though, that this line seems somewhat low considering Paulino's 1-4, 5.51 ERA lifetime against Cincy, and considering Leake is a perfect 4-0 this year with a 2.70 ERA. I think, based on numbers alone, you have to think the Reds win, but I'm not touching this one.

Phillies @ Marlins (-125) with a total of 9.5; J. Moyer vs. A. Sanchez;
Ryan Howard is 5-for-14 with 2 HR and 3 RBI off Sanchez;
Carlos Ruiz was 4-for-10 off Sanchez with 1 RBI;
Chase Utley was 7-for-18 with 3 RBI off Sanchez prior to 2010;
Chris Coghlan is 5-for-10 off Moyer;
Wes Helms is 7-for-19 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Moyer;
Ronny Paulino was 8-for-18 off Moyer before 2010;
Hanley Ramirez was batting .348 with 4 HR and 7 RBI.
There was a long stretch of time where Jamie Moyer owned the Marlins, but those days are gone. We'll give Moyer credit, he's been decent this year, fairly consistent, even. But he did allow 5 runs in 6 innings to Florida, and got knocked around a bit when he faced them towards the end of 2009. Sanchez has struggled with Philadelphia, as he, too, allowed 5 runs in 6 innings, so I'm not sure there's a huge edge here. I'd love to fade Moyer against the Marlins again, but Sanchez is about the last guy I'd want on the other side.

Pirates @ Braves (-175) with a total of 9; P. Maholm vs. K. Kawakami;
Troy Glaus is 4-for-11 with a HR and 3 RBI off Maholm;
David Ross is 6-for-20 with 2 HR and 5 RBI off Maholm.
The Pirates haven't seen much of Kawakami, though I suppose you could argue Kenshin is coming off his two most effective starts of the season. Still, at 0-7, the ERA almost doesn't matter, since it's evident that Kawakami's poor luck and inability to make the big pitch have set him squarely behind the 8-ball. Maholm has been solid, and has a 1.33 ERA against the Braves in his career, and there's certainly some value here with the underdog Pirates. Not sure if it's powerful enough to be a top play, but certainly on the list of longshots.

Mets @ Brewers (-135) with a total of 9; R. Dickey vs. R. Wolf;
Jason Bay is 3-for-6 with a HR and 2 RBI off Wolf;
Angel Pagan is 4-for-6 off Wolf;
Jose Reyes is batting .435 with 2 HR and 3 RBI off Wolf;
David Wright is 8-for-26 with 2 RBI off Wolf;
Joe Inglett is 3-for-5 with 2 RBI off Dickey.
R.A. Dickey has made a nice impression in his 2 starts for the Mets, but of course, the issue with the knuckler is that it can come and go pretty quickly, and it rather largely dependent on humidity, wind, fingernails, and a host of other odd factors that can't always be predicted. Wolf is 12-5 with a 3.29 ERA lifetime against the Mets, though as noted above, there are a few Mets bats that have hit him hard. Tough call on this one, as Wolf is coming off his best start, and Dickey seems ripe for a bad one, but will it be today?

Cardinals (-115) @ Cubs with a total of N/A; A. Wainwright vs. R. Dempster;
Matt Holliday is 3-for-8 off Dempster;
Ryan Ludwick is 8-for-19 with a HR and 3 RBI;
Yadier Molina is batting .318 off Dempster in 22 AB;
Skip Schumaker is batting .419 off Dempster with 3 RBI in 31 AB;
Mike Fontenot is 6-for-17 with 3 RBI off Wainwright;
Xavier Nady is 6-for-16 with 2 RBI off Wainwright;
Aramis Ramirez is 12-for-32 with 1 HR and 4 RBI off Wainwright.
This is another spot where two big-time aces face off against offenses that have had a little more success than you might expect. You can see from the notes above that there are a few batters that have collected some hits, and Wainwright, despite a 2.38 ERA against the League, hsa a 4.38 ERA against the Cubbies, and Dempser, a 3.31 ERA this year, posts a 4.19 ERA against St. Louis. We have to wait on the wind, but there might be some value in an Over, here, if either team could put the bat on the ball.

Dodgers @ Rockies (-110) with a total of 9; C. Kershaw vs. J. Chacin;
Dexter Fowler was 3-for-8 off Kershaw before this year;
Brad Hawpe was 4-for-11 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Kershaw before 2010;
Todd Helton was 4-for-12 off Kershaw before 2010.
This isn't a rematch, but based on the numbers these guys posted in their earlier start against the other guys this one could be scoreless into the 11th inning. Kershaw tossed 8 shutout frames in beating Ubaldo Jimenez in LA, and Chacin tossed 7.1 scoreless frames to beat the Dodgers' Haeger earlier in that same series. Now, back in Coors, oddsmakers are giving Chacin a lot of credit. Since a very bad start against the Brewers, Kershaw has allowed just 2 earned runs in his last 4 outings, so he's hot, right now, and Chacin isn't struggling, but he's giving up a couple runs in most outings as teams learn his stuff and start to force adjustments. I know the line is eerily lo, but I lean slightly to the Dodgers to take this finale.

D'backs @ Giants (-115) with a total of 8.5; I. Kennedy vs. T. Wellemeyer;
Stephen Drew was 6-for-9 with a HR and 3 RBI off Wellemeyer before 2010;
Conor Jackson was 3-for-7 off Wellemeyer before 2010.
REMATCH ALERT! These two guys faced off in Arizona a little under 2 weeks ago, and Kennedy got the best of Wellemeyer, throwing an absolute gem (8 innings, 1 run). Wellemeyer didn't counter all that well, giving up 5 runs in 5 innings. However, that was then, and this is now, and Arizona is in a deep, deep offensive slump, and while the Giants still aren't hitting, they might be able to win this one with 2-3 runs. Kennedy has pitched very well for Arizona, so it's not at all a sure thing, and if the D'backs aren't scoring, they're in big trouble with that godawful bullpen. Lean to Giants.

Nationals @ Padres (-140) with a total of 6.5; L. Hernandez vs. J. Garland;
Josh Willingham is 3-for-6 off Garland;
For whatever reason, I'm having issues pulling up It-Shall-Be Livan's numbers against the Padres, but it almost doesn't matter, as Hernandez has discovered the fountain of youth this year. He did, however, have his worst start his last time out, in San Francisco, and you just have to wonder how long Livan can continue this resurgence before he hits a little wall. It might be happening now. That being said, Petco can make pitchers look good, and the 6.5 total certainly supports that notion. I think the Padres find a way to win this game, but I don't think I'd bet it.

American League

Indians @ Yankees (-290) with a total of 10; J. Masterson vs. A. Burnett;
Robinson Cano is 4-for-7 off Masterson;
Derek Jeter is 3-for-8 with an RBI off Masterson.
These lines are really starting to get out of hand, over -300 yesterday, and this one opening at -290 despite Burnett scuffling a bit, of late. It's just a shame that Masterson is such a huge turd that he can't really be counted on to keep his team in it. Masterson does have half-decent numbers against the Yankees, likely from his time with Boston, and Burnett's 1-4 career record against Cleveland is intriguing, as well. Might as well toss a 1/4-unit on Cleveland, and if they get 1 of the 3 games in New York, we make a nice little chunk.

Athletics @ Tigers with a total of N/A; D. Braden vs. A. Galarraga;
Jack Cust is 4-for-9 with a HR and 3 RBI off Galarraga;
Jake Fox is 3-for-3 with a HR and 3 RBI off Galarraga;
Ryan Sweeney is 6-for-12 off Galarraga with a HR and 2 RBI;
Gerald Laird is 5-for-12 with 2 RBI off Braden;
Magglio Ordonez is 4-for-13 with 2 HR and 5 RBI off Braden;
Ryan Raburn is 6-for-12 with a HR and 4 RBI off Braden.
Dallas Braden faced the Tigers 2 starts back and allowed just 2 runs in 6 innings in a pretty solid effort, though it wasn't enough, as Verlander outpitched him. Tonight, Braden's got himself a little bit weaker competition. That being said, Braden has never been lights out against Detroit. He's 2-3 against the Tigers with a 6.63 ERA, and Detroit is downright dangerous at home. Galarraga has made 2 starts this year, one good and one bad, and I hesitate to back someone that is just not good and has almost no upside. Hm...

Orioles @ Blue Jays (-200) with a total of 8; J. Guthrie vs. R. Romero;
Adam Jones is 3-for-10 with a HR off Romero;
Nick Markakis is 4-for-13 with a HR and 4 RBI off Romero;
Ty Wigginton is 3-for-8 off Romero;
Jose Bautista is 4-for-10 with a HR and 2 RBI off Guthrie;
Edwin Encarnacion is 3-for-5 with a HR off Guthrie.
Ricky Romero is 0-2 with a 5.47 ERA against Baltimore, but at the same time, Baltimore stinks. I've made the huge mistake of continually thinking this team could come up with one gosh darn key hit, and they just never do. Guthrie is 2-4 with a 3.56 ERA against Toronto, so on paper, this looks like a huge value play on Baltimore, but I'm not touching the Orioles until they get on any kind of hot streak.

Royals @ Red Sox (-300) with a total of 9; B. Chen vs. J. Lester;
Yuny Betancourt is 4-for-8 with a HR and 3 RBI off Lester;
Adrian Beltre is 6-for-15 with a HR and 3 RBI off Chen;
Jason Varitek is 5-for-14 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Chen;
Kevin Youkilis is 5-for-11 with 3 RBI off Chen.
As you may or may not recall, Bruce Chen actually pitched alright last year, but look at this line. Just silly. Quarter-unit auto-play on Kansas City? Mabye. Lester's been red hot, he's 3-1 with a 1.20 ERA against the Royals, and while Chen's numbers against Boston aren't horrific, this doesn't look good for KC. But, we're tracking those underdogs on games where the fave is over 300, so let's keep an eye on it.

White Sox @ Rays with a total of N/A; J. Peavy vs. J. Shields;
Alexei Ramirez is 3-for-6 with a HR off Shields;
REMATCH ALERT! Peavy gave up 7 runs in his start against Shields in Chicago, and Shields allowed just 2 runs over 7 innings. There are times I think the loser of the first game has a nice shot, but Peavy's been horrible over his last couple starts, and there's no good reason to back a pitcher trending down. Shields just quietly gives up 2 runs every time out and goes deep in games. Pass.

Mariners @ Angels (-165) with a total of 9; I. Snell vs. J. Saunders;
We talked about Snell yesterday before Seattle rearranged the starting pitchers and got King Felix in there. So, you're all aware of Snell's 0-2 and 7.15 mark against the Angels. Going against Saunders has brought the price down a tiny bit from the -200 we saw with Weaver on the hill. Saunders, though, might be an even better bet than Weaver was. Joe is 7-1 with a 3.06 ERA against the Mariners in his career, and has really turned his year around with a better May. The concern remains the "walk" - Saunders walked 5 Mariners in a little over 5 innings of work. He wiggled out of some jams, but if he stops putting guys on base for free, he could be dominating teams. I can't trust Snell, and I can't trust Seattle's offense, but not sure I can lay -165 on a guy that might walk a batter an inning.

Rangers @ Twins (-140) with a total of 8.5; D. Holland vs. S. Baker;
Nelson Cruz is 3-for-6 with 2 HR off Baker.
Derek Holland beat the Twins last year, somehow, despite allowing quite a few base knocks. But the reason he survived that start is the opposite of why he hasn't been perfect this season - the longball. Holland has allowed 4 homers in his 3 starts, and again, with Target Field playing large, this should be a great venue for Holland to continue throwing that heat and hope to keep it in the park. Scott Baker is a nice pitcher, if just because you almost always know what you're getting - he's going to throw strikes, and his opponent will probably score a couple. There's some value with Holland here, but again, if the ball is jumping, the roof (which, coincidentally, is now a metaphor and not a real roof) could cave in quick.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Go Big or Go Home

It's the weekend, so very short intro!

Not a very strong Friday, but just one day, and coming off a great Thursday and a powerhouse week, no reason to fret!

And some of you guys might think this is nuts, but we're going right back with another 3* in the NBA! It's been a nice, nice week, so I'm going to go ahead and deem this one a "Game of the Month." You guys know I don't like those terms, and this is only the SECOND Game of the Month I've made since December, so the bottom line is that I think it's time to cash in with basketball, so don't worry too much about the name, and just know that I really, really like the play. There might be other guys that are firing a Game of the Year every 10 days, but I hope that I've built up the credibility with you guys for you to know that when I make a bigger play it's because the radar is properly calibrated, and there's no sales bullshit getting in the way of a good play.

Sports Wagering: NBA

Lakers @ Suns - Phoenix by 1.5 with a total of 215.5. If there's one thing we've seen definitively, it's that the home team does have an edge in this series. The Lakers are 3-0 at home, though it took some heroics to avoid a complete collapse in game 5, and the Suns are 2-0 at home, never really having a contest in jeopardy in games 3 and 4, getting a monster performance from Amare Stoudemire in one of those games, and an even more impressive showing from the bench in the other. Here are the two points on this game worth exploring: first, we all know the Lakers show up when they're challenged. We saw it in game 6 on the road in round one, and we saw it in game 3 on the road in game 2. Oklahoma and Utah, respectively, brought strong efforts, and the Lakers were able to take those shots and still prevail, though it did take a Pau Gasol tip-in to end that first round series. So, were the Lakers sufficiently challenged in game 5? Sure looked like it, and yet, they let the big lead slip away, still not playing an entire game in convincing fashion. That's a huge concern for Lakers fans and bettors, since a 24-to-30 minute effort in Phoenix is going to mean another road loss. We know Phoenix is going to bring a strong game. They're the underdog, and they've been, to a certain extent, and despite being the #2 seed in the West, playing that underdog card quite a bit. Whether it's calling it a "lack of respect" or "revenge against the Spurs for an entire decade", the Suns have a nice psychological mindset. But, there comes a time when playing with nothing to lose isn't always the best. If the Lakers bring the defensive heat like they did in the first half of game 5, it really shouldn't matter where the game is played. I thought Sasha Vujacic did a pretty good job off the bench of harassing Goran Dragic, and because Dragic isn't lightning quick, Vujacic was able to get under his skin and force the Suns starters to do the bulk of the damage. Steve Nash was up to the task, but he needs rest, and I'm not sure the Suns can win another game without the bench playing a critical role. It's going to come down to that, for me. If the Suns bench can accomplish something, they can win; if the Lakers lay down the law, the series ends here.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Cards @ Cubs (-140) with a total of N/A; A. Ottavino vs. C. Silva;
The Cards have seen little of Silva, and the Cubs have seen even less of the youngster, Ottavino. Silva, somehow, is a perfect 6-0 this season, and a career 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA against St. Louis. At this price, I wouldn't touch this game. I might consider the Cards, who seem to have woken up the last two days, but I'm thinking, and maybe we'll learn different as we work our way through the card, that there are better values out there!

Astros @ Reds (-175) with a total of 9; B. Moehler vs. A. Harang;
Geoff Blum is 8-for-14 with a HR and 3 RBI off Harang;
Carlos Lee is batting .382 with 1 HR and 8 RBI off Harang;
We actually faded Harang against the Astros in Houston, and the Reds won that game 6-2. Have we learned our lesson? Maybe. Harang is 10-9 in his career with a 4.71 ERA against the 'Stros, so it could go either way, but given that the Reds are simply a better team than the Astros, there's a reason this line is somewhat inflated. I really dislike Moehler as a starter - this is desperation time for Houston, and while a volume guy might like the dog, here, I'd pass.

Mets @ Brewers (-125) with a total of 9.5; F. Nieve vs. M. Parra;
It's a weekend blog, so I think you guys will cut me some slack if I just say the following: "I don't trust either starter; I don't trust the Mets on the road; I don't trust the Brewers anywhere." Pass.

Phillies (-125) @ Marlins with a total of 7; R. Halladay vs. J. Johnson;
Ryan Howard is 8-for-24 with 2 HR and 7 RBI off Johnson;
Greg Dobbs is 4-for-8 with a HR and 2 RBI off Johnson.
We already did a Florida team profile against Halladay a month ago, and Roy tossed 8 innings of 2-run ball in a winning effort against the Fish. Johnson hasn't faced the Phils yet this year, so we went ahead and listed two of the Phillies bats that hit him relatively hard. Johnson is 4-2 against Philadelphia lifetime, but that 4.25 ERA is significantly higher than his numbers against a lot of other teams. He's rolling right now, though, and this is hell of a battle of aces. Too close to call, in my opinion.

Pirates @ Braves (-200) with a total of 9; B. Burres vs. K. Medlen;
Medlen has been effective since moving into the starting rotation, and unless there was a real clear reason to play the dog, this one is a pure pass.

Dodgers @ Rockies (-130) with a total of 9.5; H. Kuroda vs. A. Cook;
Casey Blake is 3-for-8 with 3 RBI off Cook;
Blake DeWitt is 4-for-11 off Cook;
Manny Ramirez is 5-for-11 with 2 HR and 3 RBI off Cook.
Again, trying to save space and energy, we've already done a list on Colorado's numbers against Kuroda, and Hiroki has not pitched well against the Rox, at all. This is just one of those teams that has his number, and even though the Dodgers won his last start against Colorado, Kuroda didn't pitch well, and his lifetime 0-2, 6.94 mark against them is warranted. Cook hasn't been great against LA, and hasn't been great this year, but Kuroda's clunker of a career against the Rox makes this line pretty fair.

Nationals @ Padres (-185) with a total of 7; J. Martin vs. M. Latos;
We're staring down the barrel of another huge line, but a warranted one. J.D. Martin is an up-and-coming talent who did actually pitch well against the Padres in the past, but Latos is really coming on strong after being too inefficient with his pitches early. This line is alright, I suppose. Pass.

D'backs @ Giants (-165) with a total of 8.5; B. Buckner vs. J. Sanchez;
Conor Jackson is 9-for-16 off Sanchez with 2 HR and 5 RBI;
Kelly Johnson is 4-for-7 off Sanchez;
Adam LaRoche is 2-for-3 with a HR off Sanchez;
Ryan Roberts, Chris Snyder, Justin Upton and Chris Young are each batting right around .300 off Sanchez, but none is really "crazy" enough to make its own clause;
Pablo Sandoval is 5-for-7 with a HR and 3 RBI off Buckner;
Juan Uribe is 4-for-9 with a HR and 2 RBI off Buckner.
I'm absolutely freaked out by the total number, here. Sanchez has been creamed by the D'backs in his career, going 4-6 with a 5.19 ERA against Arizona, and Buckner, in limited action, has been hit hard by the few Giants that have seen him. I can't help but think this one could go up and Over the total, but the number is so low, and I need to really put the pieces together as to why. If both pitchers are going to throw well, that means there's value with Arizona, but we have more work to do here!

American League

Indians @ Yankees (-320) with a total of 9.5; D. Huff vs. C. Sabathia;
Mark Grudzielanek is 9-for-30 with 4 RBI off Sabathia since '05;
Mike Redmond is 13-for-26 with 6 RBI off Sabathia since '05.
I'm starting to think that playing any +275 or higher underdog for a 1/4 unit might be a good move. In fact, let's start tracking these favorites up and over -300. We can go back and hunt down the ones that have already happened, if we're feeling saucy, but there's absolutely no value in backing a favorite of this size.

Orioles @ Blue Jays (-185) with a total of 9; C. Tillman vs. B. Cecil;
Looks like each of these guys has faced the other team before, but we're going off some very weak data. Tillman makes his first start of 2010 after finishing up '09 in the Bigs. He's 0-1 with a 4.63 ERA against the Jays. Cecil is 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA against the O's, so really, this line is probably about right. You may have heard on the weekend podcast that Sac Lawson really likes Tillman's stuff, and if he breaks in this year with a bang, there might be a tiny bit of value with the dog, but this one is a pure volume bettor special.

Mariners @ Angels (-200) with a total of 8.5; I. Snell vs. J. Weaver;
Milton Bradley is 3-for-9 with a HR off Weaver;
Franklin Gutierrez is 4-for-11 with 3 RBI off Weaver;
Jose Lopez is 12-for-38 with 2 HR and 5 RBI off Weaver.
Ian Snell is 0-2 with a 7.15 ERA against the Angels, and Weaver, despite the 4.24 ERA against Seattle, is 9-3 against them, and has always been a strong home pitcher. No thanks to this one!

Rangers @ Twins (-125) with a total of 8.5; C. Wilson vs. C. Pavano;
Julio Borbon is 3-for-5 off Pavano;
Ian Kinsley is 5-for-6 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Pavano;
Michael Young is 4-for-8 off Pavano.
Carl Pavano no likey the Rangers. How's that for clever? Yeah, not really. In any case, Pavano is a career 13.09 ERA pitcher against Texas, and while there's been some turnover, Ian Kinsler has "ownage" on Pavano, as you can see. Pavano has not beaten Texas, and while Pavano continues to be an innings-eater, he hasn't been outstanding in his last couple starts. I would love Texas if Wilson wasn't coming off two horrid outings. Young guys usually have 2 bad starts, but 3 is questionable, so we hit a little handicapping impasse. Still, despite Wilson's recent struggles, being a lefty against Mauer, Morneau and Kubel should give him a shot. Lean to Tejas.

Athletics @ Tigers (-125) with a total of 8.5; B. Anderson vs. R. Porcello;
Jack Cust is 3-for-8 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Porcello;
Ryan Sweeney is 4-for-6 off Porcello;
Miguel Cabrera is 3-for-5 off Anderson;
Johnny Damon is 3-for-10 with 2 RBI off Anderson;
Magglio Ordonez is 3-for-4 off Anderson.
Brett Anderson hasn't started in a bit, making his last appearance in late April, but was off to a very strong start in 2010 beforehand. Betting on a pitcher making his return from injury is never a "safe" play, but there's something to be said for this one. Porcello is 1-2 lifetime against Oakland with a 6.32 ERA, but the concern is that he's been pitching better in his last few starts. I think the positives and negatives balance pretty well, here, with Detroit very good at home, and the A's with the apparent match-up edge.

White Sox @ Rays (-130) with a total of 8.5; J. Danks vs. W. Davis;
John Danks is a world class Rays-killer. He's 5-1 against Tampa with a 2.35 ERA, including 8 innings of 1-run ball earlier this season. Wade Davis is 1-0 against the White Sox, going 6 shutout frames in Chicago earlier this season. This could very well be an Under play, if indeed these guys can toss solid follow-ups to that game. The Rays have actually been in a bit of an offensive slump the last 3-4 days, so that might contribute, as well, and if the White Sox continue to rely almost exclusively on Konerko and Rios to get anything on the offensive side, we might see a game decided with 5-6 runs.

Royals @ Red Sox (-135) with a total of 8.5; Z. Greinke vs. C. Buchholz;
J.D. Drew is 3-for-8 off Greinke;
Victor Martinez is 14-for-35 with a HR and 8 RBI off Greinke;
Marco Scutaro is 6-for-13 with 4 RBI off Greinke.
Greinke was 1-3 with a 3.18 ERA off Boston, but most of that was before the Red Sox acquired 2 bats (Martinez and Scutaro) that have had success against Greinke, and that's reason for concern if you're going to back KC. It looks like a nice price on Greinke, but sometimes you have to just tip your cap to bad luck, and Greinke, no matter if he pitches well or poorly, just seems to find a way to not win, if that makes sense. Buchholz is 2-1 with a 3.06 ERA against KC, and we all remember his work against them in '08. I'd be careful grabbing at the dog, here, as I just don't know if I trust the KC pen to keep pitching well with that tiny left field in Fenway.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Will Both Go 7?

Let's celebrate a little first, then get into the meat of the card.

We picked up a 3* NBA Game of the Week winner last night with the Lakers/Suns Under, and though it took a buzzer-beater to avoid OT, the final score was a good 15 points under the posted mark, so it's pretty fair to say that it was very much the right side, and the trend of slowing tempo continued with quarters of 45, 53, 52, and 54. Just something to keep in mind for game 6.

Something else to keep in mind: If anybody wants to add a few more units to their account, a Top Play Package is ready for all those interested, and though I probably don't say it enough, THANK YOU to everyone that has continued to ride with me on these plays and put your trust in my style of handicapping, especially the NBA!

As far as the series go, how many of you guys thought we'd be dealing with BOTH series at 3-2 by the weekend? Just think, 5 days ago Boston was up 3-0 and the Lakers were up 2-0 and everyone had already crowned them Conference Champs. Now, at the end of the week, the Lakers are taking a 3-2 lead into Phoenix, and Boston is literally clinging to their own 3-2 advantage, banged and bruised and desperately trying to close the series at home before the defecate strikes the oscillating air machine.

Sports Wagering: NBA

Magic @ Celtics - Boston by 2.5 with a total of 189. I can only picture the Boston brass sitting back in their coaches' room, and collectively muttering, in trademark Scooby Doo fashion, "ruh roh!" Not long ago, the Celtics were up 3-0 in this series, and things appeared to be completely over, but now, with every passing game, it seems like Boston is getting more and more banged up and tired, and the Magic seem to be getting healthier and more confident. As someone that thought Boston would wrap things up in game 5, I'm left in a bit of a quandary. For one, we learned in game 5 that Rajon Rondo is battling a mostly undisclosed nagging injury, Paul Pierce's back is "sore", Garnett is having personal issues, Kendrick Perkins might get suspended, Glen Davis and Marquis Daniels both suffered concussions (Big Baby staggering about on the court before being escorted to the locker room). And over on the Magic side, Matt Barnes' back is getting better, Dwight Howard is beginning to punish a handful of Celtics on a nightly basis, and the injuries to the Celtics are slowing them down enough on defense that guys like Rashard Lewis are getting just enough space to make a few shots and start trusting in his ability. This is going to be a Cortisone Day for the Celtics - everyone's going to be going full tilt, and you absolutely know Boston's priority is going to be to get out to a better start and try to force the Magic to play from behind, which hasn't been the case in the last 2 games. I'll be frank, I don't like the side, at all. Unless we can get a TRUE barometer of the health of the Celtics, especially Pierce and Rondo, it's a little bit of a crapshoot, and this game should be pretty close. No leans on the side just yet. As far as the total, the last game went sailing Over the mark, largely because the Magic hit both open and contested threes, and Boston's defense was lacking, potentially because of injuries and fatigue. I am absolutely concerned that Boston traveling and only getting 1 day off between games could continue to hurt them on the defensive side. The total is creeping back up near 190, and we might be up a creek here, too. Very slight lean to the Under, since I think Boston is going to go to the cortisone and potentially an IV at halftime if that's what it takes to really play full tilt, and we know that when Boston is right, they're a defense-first club.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Cardinals (-135) @ Cubs with a total of N/A; C. Carpenter vs. R. Wells;
Ryan Ludwick is 2-for-3 with 2 HR and 4 RBI;
Marlon Byrd is 4-for-6 off Carpenter;
Derrek Lee is 10-for-27 with a HR and 5 RBI off Carpenter since '05;
Ryan Theriot is 4-for-9 off Carpenter.
The Cardinals are absolutely pathetic offensively, of late, and I suppose the wind is going to play a role in whether things stay that way. Still, I just can't trust St. Louis as a favorite right now, even with Carpenter's powerhouse career numbers against the Cubbies (9-3, 2.81). Pass.

Astros @ Reds (-130) with a total of 8.5; W. Rodriguez vs. S. LeCure;
Miguel Cairo is 3-for-5 off Rodriguez;
Jonny Gomez is 4-for-11 with 3 RBI off Wandy;
Ramon Hernandez is 5-for-13 off Wandy;
Joey Votto is 7-for-22 off Wandy.
This is Sam LeCure's Major League debut, and this is a polarizing concept. I'm generally a fan of either backing a rookie in his debut, or passing on the game. Fading a guy making his debut is not usually a wise play since you're not usually going to get a ton of value on the other side unless that rookie is of the "once in a lifetime" type prospects. Here, Houston might look interesting with a proven starter as an underdog, but the prudent choice is to Pass.

Phillies @ Marlins (-130) with a total of 9.5; K. Kendrick vs. C. Volstad;
Ryan Howard is 6-for-15 with 4 HR and 5 RBI off Volstad;
Raul Ibanez has homered twice off Volstad in just 8 AB;
Jorge Cantu is 5-for-9 with 2 HR and 5 RBI off Kendrick;
Cody Ross is 3-for-8 off Kendrick;
Dan Uggla is 5-for-14 with a HR and 5 RBI off Kendrick.
My big concern with this game is that number of 9.5. It feels like it could go soaring over, and our job is to determine if that is indeed the case, or if this number came out below 10 because of Volstad's career success against most of the Phillies not named Ryan Howard. I'd say it's a little surprising, in fact, but Volstad is 2-2 with a 3.21 ERA against Philadelphia, and against a clunker of a starter like Kendrick, this line is where it is for a reason. Slight lean to the Marlins, and slight lean to the Over.

Pirates @ Braves (-180) with a total of 8.5; Z. Duke vs. D. Lowe;
These pitchers recently faced this opponent, so we'll go off recent trends and career numbers, though I should note up front that it's too expensive to play Lowe, and way too risky to play Duke. Duke is on one of his better rolls, and he's given up just 1 earned run (2 total) over his last 2 starts, one against the Braves. Lowe gave up 2 runs in 5 innings against these Pirates, a team that he's owned to the tune of an 8-0 career mark. Lowe really hasn't been up to snuff this year, and even though he's 6-4 this year, his 5.30 ERA is a better indicator of his slightly ineffective stuff. I wouldn't touch the Braves in this game.

Mets @ Brewers (-120) with a total of 7; J. Santana vs. Y. Gallardo;
Ryan Braun is 7-for-13 with 5 RBI off Santana;
Prince Fielder is 5-for-13 with a HR off Santana;
Corey Hart is 6-for-13 off Santana;
Rickie Weeks is 4-for-10 with 2 HR off Santana.
Johan has been very, very strong this year, and while his ERA isn't among the League leaders, it certainly could be if you yanked out the 10-run implosion in Philadelphia. Gallardo is walking too many batters, but his stuff is good enough that he's usually able to escape messes, for the most part. Gallardo has been good in his brief work against the Mets, and the Brewers have been able to at least score a couple runs off Santana in his career. The Mets continue to be a great team to back at home, and not so great to back on the road. Slight lean to Milwaukee.

Dodgers @ Rockies (-145) with a total of 9.5; C. Monasterios vs. J. Francis;
Ronnie Belliard is 3-for-8 off Francis;
Rafael Furcal is 8-for-21 off Francis;
Russ Martin is 7-for-21 off Francis.
Jeff Francis has an 0.68 ERA since coming off the DL, and his ability to hit the ground running has been huge for the Rockies, who are starting to play better baseball. The Dodgers remain about one spoke short of a wheel on the road, and without Ethier, and with Manny battling injury, the offense that can make up for any pitching issues on the road just isn't there, and the ability to scratch out runs in low-scoring games is hurting a little, as well. This line is accurate, and while I'd love to back somebody in this Division rivalry game, I think one of the other weekend tilts may hold more value for us.

Nationals @ Padres (-165) with a total of 6.5; J. Lannan vs. C. Richard;
Will Venable is 4-for-11 off Lannan.
Richard is 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA against the Nats, and we've seen how well the Padres pitch at home. Lannan is coming off a nice start but got jobbed of a win when Capps blew the save. He's 0-2 against the Padres, but has a solid 3.12 ERA against them. I can't lay 165 on a game with a total of 6.5. If you're going to lay -165, you have to have the expectation that your team can score more than a couple runs. Pass.

Diamondbacks @ Giants (-145) with a total of 7.5; E. Jackson vs. M. Cain;
Stephen Drew is 7-for-18 with 2 HR and 5 RBI off Cain;
Conor Jackson is 6-for-16 with 3 RBI off Cain;
Kelly Johnson is 3-for-7 off Cain.
Call me crazy, but I actually really like what Jackson has been doing lately. He dominated the Marlins, then came back and was cruising against the Jays, up by 7 runs, and may have been left in the game a tad long. Toronto clubbed a pair of homers in the 8th inning, that led to 3 additional runs, and so Jackson's start didn't look outstanding even though he pitched pretty well. Cain remains the guy with no run support, and managed to lose his last start 1-0 to the A's. Well, here he faces a D'backs team that has actually hit him harder than the League average. I think this line is pretty cheap on Cain because Jackson is going to pitch well, and the low total tells us the same. Lean to Arizona.

American League

Indians @ Yankees (-245) with a total of 9; F. Carmona vs. P. Hughes;
Robinson Cano is 5-for-15 with 3 RBI off Carmona;
Derek Jeter is 5-for-14 with 3 RBI off Carmona;
Mark Teixeira is 5-for-14 with a HR and 3 RBI off Carmona.
This line is too high to work with, and not going to waste time. Short version - DON'T BET FAVORITES THIS BIG. And you guys know how I feel about home run lines.

Athletics @ Tigers (-120) with a total of 9; B. Sheets vs. D. Willis;
Adam Everett, amazingly, is 8-for-20 with a HR and 5 RBI off Sheets.
Yeah, not a ton to go off, here. Recent trends would seem to indicate that Sheets is the way to go, though the Tigers are a tough out at home. Sheets has pitched relatively well over his last 4 starts, and Dontrelle is trending down. He's starting to walk too many, again, and as a result just is not going deep in games. Detroit has a great bullpen, so Dontrelle leaving early isn't that huge of an edge, but if indeed Sheets can continue to pitch well, I think the A's could steal this first one in Detroit before the Tigers settle into their normal daily lives at home. Lean to Oakland.

Orioles @ Blue Jays (-180) with a total of 8; K. Millwood vs. S. Marcum;
Adam Jones is 3-for-10 with a HR off Marcum before 2010;
Nick Markakis is 9-for-18 with 5 HR and 6 RBI off Marcum before 2010;
Corey Patterson was 3-for-7 off Marcum;
Miguel Tejada was 6-for-13 with 3 HR and 7 RBI off Marcum before 2010;
John Buck was 7-for-16 with 6 RBI off Millwood;
Aaron Hill is 6-for-19 off Millwood;
Lyle Overbay is 5-for-13 with 2 HR off Millwood.
REMATCH ALERT! Millwood and Marcum went head-to-head earlier this year, and both pitched well enough to win, but some bad defense by the O's led to a handful of unearned runs, and that was the difference in the game. Marcum has had some issues with a few of the current Orioles, though he's crushing the League thus far in 2010, and pitched well against Baltimore, too. Still, you know how I love the rematches, and Millwood is constantly on the wrong end of some tough luck. The value is entirely with Baltimore, here.

White Sox @ Rays (-210) with a total of 8.5; F. Garcia vs. D. Price;
David Price did actually give up 3 runs in just 5 innings earlier this year to the White Sox, so this isn't his favorite team to face. His 0-2 record and 5.73 ERA against the Southsiders is additional evidence of that. Freddy Garcia continues to be consistently mediocre, so if you needed someone to create some value opposite Price, Garcia might not be that guy. Volume bettors, grab the dog. Everyone else, pass!

Royals @ Red Sox (-185) with a total of 9.5; K. Davies vs. T. Wakefield;
Yuny Betancourt is 5-for-13 with a HR off Wakefield;
Jason Kendall is 3-for-10 off Wakefield;
Victor Martinez is 4-for-12 with a HR and 2 RBI off Davies;
Marco Scutaro is 5-for-8 with 2 HR off Davies.
This is that weird starter that, for some reason, just loves facing the Red Sox. I know, Kyle Davies, of all people. He has a career 2.45 ERA against Boston, and it's not over a ton of work, but it's there, and Marco Scutaro is really the only Sox bat that has been consistently good, and I wonder if he struggles now that Davies sees a Boston jersey on him. Wakefield has marginal career numbers against the Royals, and I'd almost be inclined to back KC in this game, if Boston weren't so freaking hot right now. This one makes the list as a very weak lean.

Rangers @ Twins (-120) with a total of 9; C. Lewis vs. K. Slowey;
Jim Thome is a perfect 3-for-3 with a HR and 5 RBI off Lewis since '05.
Surprisingly little background info on the Slowey side, so we'll go on recent trends in this one. The Twins are coming off another rough series with the Yanks (though last night's game has yet to conclude while I type this), but either way the Yanks won another series from Minnesota, and the Twins need to bounce back, somehow. Slowey is coming off a nice outing, but a rather short one against the Milwaukee Brewers, and he remains a consistently back-of-the-rotation talent, giving up a few runs over 5+ innings most times out. Lewis has the higher upside in this match-up, but he's been a little erratic. He's coming off a good start last time out, though it's tough to know if he's coming back out of a slump, or if the Cubs anemic offense just made him look good. Pass.

Mariners (-120) @ Angels with a total of 8; C. Lee vs. S. Kazmir;
Franklin Gutierrez is 6-for-15 with 3 HR and 4 RBI off Kazmir;
Torii Hunter is 6-for-15 with a HR and 5 RBI off Lee;
Juan Rivera is 5-for-12 with 3 HR and 4 RBI off Lee.
There are a lot of guys that don't do squat against these starters, but then there are those 3 names listed that crush the listed pitchers. I have to say, though, it's been about 3 or 4 days since I saw a line that seemed fishy, and Cliff Lee being just a -120 favorite against a struggling do-nothing lefty like Kazmir is just all kinds of crazy. Kazmir's gone 7 innings in each of his last 2 starts, but he's allowed 7 runs, and is still really looking for that shut-down start. Lee is coming off a dismal start against the Padres, but he's so far beyond Kazmir in terms of stuff and execution, I just can't put the pieces together on this thing between so close to a pick. I have to lean Angels based on the screwball line, no question.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Glen "Big Woozy" Davis

A funny thing happened on the way to the gym...

Okay, jokes aside, and weird references aside, as well, but a funny thing did happen yesterday -- this handicapper made the huge mistake of forgetting the start time of one of his picks. For me, that was the Royals-Rangers game. I placed the wager, put the Free Play out, and went about my business, assuming I'd tune in at 8pm and take in some quality Royals baseball. Instead, I got back from a gym trip to an email from "guevones" congratulating the both of us on that winner. I suppose if I'm going to mess up a start time, that's about as well as it could have gone, but I still felt foolish. I hope you guys at least got a laugh out of me being a dummy!

We dropped our MLB Paid Play on the Rays, as we banked on Tampa avoiding getting swept at home, but the Red Sox, well, mostly Adrian Beltre, decided it was time to demolish Matt Garza. Kudos to the Red Sox, who are just rolling right now, and picked up an insanely difficult road sweep in St. Petersburg.

That loss on the Rays was actually our first PAID loser since late last week, so we have really been on a nice run, and with a strong Thursday, we can pick up where we left off just about 36 hours ago!

Sports Wagering: NBA

Suns @ Lakers - Los Angeles by 7.5 with a total of 218.5. I thought maybe we were past this Lakers garbage. It sure seemed like it when they steamrolled through the 2nd round of the Playoffs, jamming on the hapless Jazz in the process. I'll say, Phoenix has some serious heart, but I also think the Lakers just haven't been completely committed to winning on the road in this series. I thought the Lakers would win game 4, definitely not a strong enough lean to make it a play, but I was surprised to see such a weak effort from some of those key guys, especially since they'd had a couple days to prepare for the Phoenix zone. Of course, we saw something similar in, well, almost every Lakers Playoff series against a slightly weaker opponent ever, and if history has taught us anything, it's that the Lakers have a knack for cranking up the intensity in game 5 at home, and that Phil Jackson doesn't lose a playoff series when he wins game 1. This is a pretty hefty line to cover, though, and I have to think this line is high enough that it should split the money relatively well. Some are going to look at the last 2 games and say that the Suns have woken up. Some are going to look at the first 2 games of the series and remark that the Lakers seem to be able to lay a certain smack on the Suns at home, and it's our job to figure out which is true. Based on what we've seen on a nightly basis, I have to think the Lakers get the job done, but this line is going to be pretty accurate. The Lakers are going to make more of those outside shots that weren't falling against the Phoenix zone on the road, and the Suns reserves, who had themselves a case of the epic-fails in LA the first two games, are probably going to go back to struggling, or at least won't perform as well as they did in game 4, where the bench was the difference in the game. And, as we've seen, when a team wins a game in this series, they open up a reasonable lead. It's a tough, one, though, since we can look at game 2, and note that the Suns were right there until a quick burst midway through the 4th quarter put the Lakers up by a sizable number. If not for a very poor 4 minute stretch in that final quarter, that game might have been close, and I suppose there is a certain worry that game 5 could go the same way for the first 40 minutes, and the Suns might make a push at the tail end. Tiny, tiny lean to Lakers, but it isn't going to be easy. And the total came down just a tad, but if we've learned anything, it's that these players will truly go above and beyond to make sure the total goes over every darn time, or at least sets up a middle. But it's just at that moment when no one thinks the game can go Under that a game finally goes Under, and we've seen 2 very fluky games in Phoenix, with, what, 40 combined points in the last 2 minutes of each game? This one ends at 211. Let's put 1/10 of a unit on that to win 7/10 of a unit. Or not. But I do lean Under.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Astros @ Brewers (-135) with a total of 9; B. Myers vs. D. Bush;
Lance Berkman is 11-for-34 with 4 RBI off Bush since '05;
Michael Bourn is 4-for-8 off Bush;
Hunter Pence is 7-for-14 with a HR and 2 RBI off Bush.
This is about the last thing a capper should admit to, and I can't check it because my records don't go back far enough, but I would be willing to offer that there are maybe 2-3 pitchers in the game that I've done a worse job of handicapping than Dave Bush. He just has a knack for throwing a clunker when I think he's ready to crush, and go 8 shutout frames when I think he's about to tumble. Bush is 6-1 lifetime against the Astros, so this is a team he normally succeeds against, and despite his 1-5 record this year, and 5.59 ERA, those numbers against Houston might have something to do with this eerily high line. The Brewers are 1-8 in Bush's 9 starts this year, and he's coming off a start where he went just 0.1 innings, so he's not too attractive. Brett Myers has been pretty consistent, and his 4-1, 1.77 lifetime mark against Milwaukee makes Houston attractive. I don't know how anyone can back Bush, here, but his success against just this one team makes me think passing might be wise, or the Under.

Dodgers @ Cubs (-125) with a total of N/A; J. Ely vs. T. Lilly;
Jamey Carroll is 4-for-13 with a HR and 3 RBI off Lilly since '05;
Matt Kemp is 3-for-7 with 2 HR off Lilly.
Matt Kemp is clearly the dangerous righthanded bat in that Dodgers lineup against Lilly, as he's held Manny in check. The Cubs haven't seen John Ely, but he continues to do a nice job of holding teams to just a couple runs, and an even better job of throwing strikes. He makes teams earn it, and that means the Dodgers have a shot to win every time out. I think we're getting a nice price on LA, here, with the not-quite-full-strength Lilly on the opposite bump, and a relative unknown going for LA. Lilly is 3-1 in his career against the Dodgers, though, and he does seem to be improving in every start. Slight lean to LA, but this is another tread lightly game.

Diamondbacks (-120) @ Rockies with a total of 9.5; D. Haren vs. J. Hammel;
REMATCH ALERT! As you guys know, I generally forgo the player stats, since there's no point in retyping old notes when the real key to this game is deciding whether or not we have value in backing the loser of round 1. Interestingly, this game has just about the same line as the first meeting, which was also in Colorado, and was 100% dominated by Haren, who went 8 innings and allowed just 2 runs. Hammel went just 3 innings, gave up 5, and fell to 2-1 against the D'backs with a 4.87 ERA. Haren is 6-4 lifetime against the Rox with a 3.08 ERA, so he's been decent against Colorado most of the time. Still, not his best season, and the reason has been, quite obviously, the dinger. Haren is still fanning plenty, and he's not walking many, but he's given up 12 homers already, 1 to these Rockies. I don't think the rematch angle is "in play" on this one, since Hammel still stinks a month later, and Haren is still getting a little unlucky. I lean to a second beating at the hands of the Snakes.

Nationals @ Giants (-175) with a total of 8; C. Stammen vs. B. Zito;
Willie Harris is 3-for-5 with a HR off Zito.
Not a ton to work with on the Stammen side of things, as he is 0-0 against the Giants with a 6.00 ERA. Zito is 2-2 against Washington lifetime with a 4.33 ERA, but of course, he's been excellent this year. Sorry Craig Stammen, you're not very good, and I'm not sure you ever will be. No leans here, Giants too expensive thanks to offensive woes, and Washington putting a guy on the mound that could give up 4 runs before the seats are warm. Pass.

Cardinals @ Padres (-125) with a total of 7; P. Walters vs. W. LeBlanc;
Wow, this seems like an awfully cheap price for Wade LeBlanc against a guy that really hasn't done anything. I'll be honest - I don't know a ton about P.J. Walters, so no real leans as of yet, but based on the eerily low line, I'd have to say the Cardinals might sneak a win, here. Padres just look too easy, don't they? More info to come, more thoughts to come, no plays for now.

Braves @ Marlins (-110) with a total of 8; T. Hudson vs. R. Nolasco;
Yunel Escobar is 9-for-22 with a HR and 3 RBI off Nolasco;
Chipper Jones is 11-for-26 with 4 HR and 8 RBI off Nolasco;
Brian McCann is 10-for-31 with 4 HR and 11 RBI off Nolasco;
Jorge Cantu is 5-for-11 with 3 RBI off Hudson;
Dan Uggla is 11-for-33 with a HR and 4 RBI off Hudson.
Tim Hudson fears no fish. 8-2 lifetime against Florida with a 2.92 ERA, and he's been better than that this season against the League, at 5-1 with a 2.09 ERA. He's been outstanding in every start this year, so you certainly know what you're going to get. Nolasco, 3-4, with a 4.43 ERA against Atlanta, has been both very good and very bad this year, and against the Braves, in general. Ricky is coming off a start in Chicago where he allowed 8 runs to the weak-hitting White Sox, and I just wonder if this is a bounceback spot, or if Nolasco is in a tiny rut. I can't help but lean to the Braves, here, with Hudson's strong numbers.

Phillies (-130) @ Mets with a total of 8; C. Hamels vs. M. Pelfrey;
Greg Dobbs is 7-for-13 with a HR and 3 RBI off Pelfrey before 2010;
Ryan Howard is 10-for-23 with a HR and 3 RBI off Pelfrey before 2010;
Chase Utley was 7-for-23 with 4 HR and 8 RBI off Pelfrey before 2010;
Luis Castillo was 5-for-11 off Hamels with 2 RBI;
David Wright is 8-for-23 with a HR and 3 RBI off Hamels.
Hamels didn't face the Mets when these teams squared off in Philadelphia earlier this year, but Pelfrey wasn't so lucky. He got creamed by the Phils in a game that the Mets eventually lost 10-0. Pelfrey is now 4-3 against Philadelphia with a 5.43 ERA, and as you can see, there are a handful of Phils that do hit him hard. Hamels is just 2-4 with a 4.12 ERA against the Mets, but has pitched very well in May, and you have to wonder if he's turning the corner. Still, Pelfrey is good at home, and the Mets are good at home, and because we have decent situational angles for both sides, this puppy is a pass.

Pirates @ Reds (-200) with a total of 8.5; C. Morton vs. J. Cueto;
This is another spot where I'm not too overly concerned with the player numbers, since Cueto has faced the Pirates twice already this year, giving up 3 runs in 5 innings in April, then throwing a complete game shutout a month later. He's 7-2 with a 3.30 ERA against the Pirates, so this is a very difficult game to truly find value in. Bad grammar alert, there. In any case, Morton is 1-8 with an 8.71 ERA, so there isn't going to be any good value in fading him, not with those numbers, and Cueto, who is pitching well, is going to cause the line to stay relatively inflated, too. Pass.

American League

Athletics (-120) @ Orioles with a total of 9; G. Gonzalez vs. B. Bergesen;
Minimal data to work with in this one. Gio is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA against Baltimore, but how much does that tell us? Not much. Bergesen has been pretty bad in just about every start other than 2 good ones in early May. If you're going to play a game where we don't know a ton about the starters, you have to like the upward trend that Gonzalez is on, and you have to dislike the fact that Bergesen has allowed 10 runs (9 earned) in his last 2 starts, both Baltimore losses. Not sure there's a ton of value laying road chalk with Gonzalez, but Oakland should win this one. Slight lean to A's.

White Sox @ Rays (-175) with a total of 8.5; G. Floyd vs. J. Niemann;
Gordon Beckham is 3-for-3 off Niemann with an RBI;
A.J. Pierzynski is 5-for-8 off Niemann;
Ben Zobrist is 2-for-6 with 2 HR and 3 RBI off Floyd.
If I had any confidence in Gavin Floyd, this would be a nice value. He's 2-0 with a 3.21 ERA against the Rays lifetime, and Niemann, despite his 4-0, 2.54 ERA this season, is 1-2 with a 4.67 ERA against the White Sox. Floyd's numbers for 2010 make this line nice and hefty, and for a volume guy, I think you're looking at a Sox play, but for those of us trying to isolate value and winners on a daily basis, we can leave this one for those who play 9 games a night. If we backed Floyd, we'd be hoping for a lot of things to go right, and I'm just not that confident. Pass.

Royals @ Red Sox (-175) with a total of 10; B. Bannister vs. D. Matsuzaka;
David DeJesus is 3-for-7 with a HR off Matsuzaka;
Jose Guillen is 6-for-15 with 5 RBI off Daisuke;
Adrian Beltre is 5-for-11 with 2 RBI off Bannister;
J.D. Drew is 4-for-12 with a HR and 4 RBI off Bannister;
Jacoby Ellsbury is 3-for-6 off Bannister;
Bill Hall is 3-for-8 with a HR and 2 RBI off Bannister;
Jeremy Hermida is 3-for-7 with a HR and 2 RBI off Bannister.
I almost included Dustin Pedroia in there, too, as Bannister is a miserable 0-4 with a 5.87 ERA against the BoSox in his career, and despite pitching well against the League most days, just can't solve Boston. Daisuke looks like he's starting to find a form, and the Royals are a nice opponent for him, as he's 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA against Kansas City. Too expensive of a line to go with anything in particular.

Yankees (-120) @ Twins with a total of 10; J. Vazquez vs. N. Blackburn;
Derek Jeter was 3-for-7 off Blackburn with a HR and 3 RBI before 2010;
Mark Teixeira, prior to this year, was a perfect 6-for-6 off Blackburn with a HR and 5 RBI;
Michael Cuddyer is 11-for-32 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Vazquez since '05;
Justin Morneau is 12-for-34 with 4 HR and 11 RBI off Vazquez since '05;
Delmon Young is 7-for-16 off Vazquez.
Blackburn's start was the one game the Twins finally took from the Yankees since, um, a long time ago. He's just 1-1 against NY lifetime with a 5.33 ERA, so he's not exactly a beacon of hope, but he has been the guy that, when he takes the hill, seems to mean a Twins win is en route. Vazquez has pitched much better in his last 2 starts, so all those inflated numbers aren't fully relevant. That being said, he's been downright mediocre against the Twinkies in his career, posting a 6-6 record and 5.11 ERA. If the Twins can get one more from New York, this low line would be the one. Lean to Twinkles.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Zen Master Loves Fouling

I'm actually still too flabbergasted to write a clever intro, still completely unable to comprehend what happened in the final 45 seconds of last night's Lakers-Suns game. Inexplicably, down 9 points, the Lakers started fouling. We appeared to have plenty of breathing room with roughly a dozen points to spare between the current number (209) and the posted total, and yet, that wasn't enough. I'm not going to get into the reasons why the teams would try so hard to get the total between 219 and 222, but let's just say something fishy went down, and for many of us, that turned what appeared to be a comfortable winner into either a Push (if you got it at the number in the morning and early afternoon) or a loser (if you bet it later).

I know the Push doesn't adversely effect my record on the Pregame Pro page, but knowing that folks got screwed makes me very, very angry for everyone involved.

With that in mind, and with our 1* loss on the Cardinals, yesterday was a 0-1-1 day that snapped a 6-game winning streak. We are STILL 8-2-1 in our last 11 plays, and 6-1-1 in the last 8 plays, so there's no reason to think anything is coming between us and the ultimate prize: the mighty victory dollar! It's time to move to Wednesday's card, because, while the insanity of that Push is mind-boggling, it is just one game, and if that's what it takes to steal a winner away from us, we're still seeing things just fine!

Sports Wagering: NBA

Celtics @ Magic - Orlando by 4 with a total of 186. This game is going to be a point of contention among bettors from all circles - sharp, square, recreational, serious, situational, line move, player name it, they're probably disagreeing about something. Obviously, there's going to be some overlap, since there are really only 4 stances you can take on any one Playoff game, but I think you guys that read every day catch my drift. The sharps are going to take the team with the line value, the squares are going to take the team that has looked better, the situational handicapper is going to like the team with nothing to lose, the line move expert is going to say that this number opened relatively high for a reason, and the player match-up guy is sitting on the notion that one team has an edge on 80% of the floor. Well, let's break a few down. I consider myself something of a player match-up guy, so from that standpoint, you still have to like Boston. The Celtics got some clunkers in game 4 from the two guys that have been the key to their resurgence, Pierce and Rondo, so you have to think that those guys, who continue to hold a huge clutch edge on their direction competition (Vince Carter, Jameer Nelson) will pull it together for game 5. The Celtics are stronger at shooting guard with Ray Allen over Matt Barnes, and are stronger at PF with Garnett over Lewis. So, other than in the middle, Boston still holds a massive player edge, and I find it somewhat remarkable they were able to take Orlando to OT without significant contributions from their two most important players. That doesn't bode well for Orlando, especially since the odds that both Pierce and Rondo suffer through another poor game is pretty low. From a situational standpoint, the Magic are still the team playing with nothing to lose, and now Boston is the team that might have a shred of doubt in the back of their minds. I'm not buying into this theory. The line move side is the one notion that does put a few holes in the Boston side. This one opening at Orlando -4 is telling, since books could have likely opened this thing closer to Magic -2.5 and still gotten plenty of public money on the Boston side, so it seems that there are some larger bets coming in on the Magic side. I don't like to argue with a strong opening number, but at the same time, Boston has been absolutely crushing it on the road. They won 2 games in Cleveland, 2 more in Orlando, and could have won 3 in Cleveland if not for a game one meltdown. Hopefully, that's enough coverage to get us all started, and personally, I lean to Boston to wrap things up on the road - it almost seems fitting for this team to knock off the 2 best teams in the East and leave those fans depressed and unsatisfied. As for the total, we got an Over winner on Monday with the help of overtime, but without the extra time, it wouldn't have been close. I learned my lesson with this series, and without all the free throws, it would have taken 2-OT to get there. Lean to the Under.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Braves (-140) @ Marlins with a total of 8.5; T. Hanson vs. N. Robertson;
Troy Glaus is 4-for-13 with 2 HR off Robertson since '05;
Cameron Maybin is 2-for-2 off Hanson.
Big Tommy is coming off his worst start of the year, arguably since turning Pro, as he allowed 8 runs in just 1.2 innings to the Reds in a game the Braves came back and won in dramatic fashion with more than a handful in the 9th. Robertson has been about as consistently marginal as you can, allowing, generally, between 3-5 runs every time out, and generally going 5 or 6 innings. If you're betting trends, Hanson is definitely trending down, and this line is pretty short for Hanson, but I'm not sure I can get behind either side. Pass.

Phillies (-115) @ Mets with a total of 8.5; J. Blanton vs. H. Takahashi;
Luis Castillo is 9-for-16 off Blanton since '05;
Jeff Francoeur is 4-for-9 off Blanton, with 4 RBI.
The best part about Joe Blanton is that he is getting a tiny bit better every time out, and it's tough to argue otherwise. His stamina is starting to work its way to 100%, and if not for serving up 5 homers in just 4 starts, his numbers would look much better. Problem is, when Blanton tires, he starts to get the ball up in the zone, and guys hit it out. Citi Field might very well remedy that, with spacious dimensions and tall outfield walls. The Mets don't hit for a ton of power, either, though they do seem to score well at home. Blanton's 2-0 record against the Mets is a nice starting point, and the one key factor keeping this from being a top level lean is that Takahashi is a bit of an unknown. He pitched well against the Yanks, but is really more of a long reliever, and it's tough to say how long before teams figure him out.

Pirates @ Reds (-175) with a total of 9; R. Ohlendorf vs. B. Arroyo;
Being that Ohlendorf has faced Cincy recently, and Arroyo is already facing Pittsburgh for the third time this year, we won't get too caught up in player numbers. Feel free to dig up the last blog for some of those. More important is that Arroyo pitched 7 innings of 1-run ball in one start against Pittsburgh, and allowed 5 runs in 6 innings in the other. A pitcher with almost no rhyme or reason is a pitcher that I don't want to back, and a pitcher that makes it very tough to truly handicap his performance. Ohlendorf is coming off a bad start, too, and we all know how streaky the Pirates can be. Pass.

Dodgers @ Cubs (-119) with a total of N/A; C. Billingsley vs. T. Gorzelanny;
Ryan Theriot is 4-for-8 off Billingsley, with 1 RBI.
Not a ton to work with on either side, though Billingsley has done a nice job of shutting down the key names in the Cubs lineup. Aramis Ramirez is just 2-for-10, and Derrek Lee is 1-for-12 off Chad, so his career 1-3 record against the Cubs belies his decent work against them. Gorzelanny is 1-0 against the Dodgers, but posted a 5.30 ERA, and while he's pitched well this year, it seems like the roof could come in at any moment. I'm very tempted to back the Dodgers, a team that has been red hot, but they just haven't hit lefties all that well this year, and that makes me hesitate. I certainly wouldn't take the Cubs, not with as inconsistent as they've been. Likely a pass, but going to dig a bit deeper before making any final calls.

Astros @ Brewers (-119) with a total of 8.5; R. Oswalt vs. C. Narveson;
Lance Berkman is 2-for-5 with a HR and 2 RBI off Narveson;
Ryan Braun is 7-for-14 with 3 HR and 6 RBI off Oswalt;
Corey Hart is 8-for-16 with a HR and 3 RBI off Oswalt since '05.
Other than Braun and Hart, Oswalt has really silenced the Brewers. Prince Fielder is batting just .147 against him, and Rickie Weeks just .105. Oswalt's career 13-8, 3.75 mark against Milwaukee is intriguing, to say the least. That being said, the man just requested a trade away from Houston, so you just have to wonder how that's going to impact the already microscopic run support his team has given him, and how it's going to effect his performance on the mound. Chris Narveson is nothing special, but it's dangerous to back a team with turmoil, and that's just what you're getting with Oswalt.

D'backs @ Rockies (-260) with a total of 9; R. Lopez vs. U. Jimenez;
Again, I'm not concerned with player numbers, here, as Jimenez is absolutely on a completely different level than any other pitcher in baseball. He's throwing 98 mph with little effort, and when he throws strikes, he's virtually unhittable. He already pitched 6 shutout innings against the D'backs this year, and that was, compared to his other work, a bad start. Lopez as a monster dog is not at all intriguing. Why? Well, Jimenez has the fastball to win at Coors Field, and most guys just don't. Pass.

Cardinals (-125) @ Padres with a total of 6.5; J. Garcia vs. K. Correia;
Matt Holliday is 7-for-23 with a HR and 6 RBI off Correia;
Albert Pujols is 3-for-9 off Correia;
Skip Schumaker is 3-for-7 with 1 RBI off Correia.
I really wanted to try to find a way to back the Padres in this one, but I'm not sure the situation is quite right. Better to play it safe, as Garcia still hasn't shown signs of regressing to the mean, and I think it's in our best interest to wait until we see a chink in his armor, and then fade away. He's not going all that deep in games, which still means this is a very winnable game for San Diego and the Padres' amazing bullpen, but with Correia struggling since his brother's death, I want no part of the turmoil. Yep, again, I suggest avoiding the situation where we'd have to handicap emotion.

Nationals @ Giants (-260) with a total of 7.5; L. Atilano vs. T. Lincecum;
The Giants have never seen Atilano, and the Nats might as well have never seen Lincecum, since, like most teams, they've struggled to score runs against The Freak. Timmy is 1-0 with a 1.77 ERA against Washington. Volume bettors might like the Washington side, but we're not in that business, and this line is too expensive to back the favorite, but the Nats just simply aren't good enough to warrant taking a shot against Tim at home. Passeroo.

American League

White Sox (-120) @ Indians with a total of 8.5; M. Buerhle vs. J. Westbrook;
Let's work off the meetings this year, once again. Both of these pitchers has faced the other team twice already this season, and both pitched well once and poorly the other time. So, what do we expect in round three? Well, Jake Westbrook isn't very good, so I would imagine he probably won't pitch that well. It's a lame form of handicapping, but Westbrook is who he is, and that's a 5-ERA, fill-in starter that's seeing more innings because he's on a terrible team. He's 8-12 lifetime against the White Sox, though the current ones don't hit him as hard as previous groups. Buerhle is almost as bad against the Indians, though the reason I like Mark in this match-up is because he's coming off a very strong start against the Marlins, and we all know how Buerhle can rattle off 24 scoreless innings in a row when he gets hot. Slight lean to Chitown's South Siders.

Rangers (-112) @ Royals with a total of 10; S. Feldman vs. L. Hochevar;
Michael Young was 3-for-3 with a HR off Hochevar before 2010;
David DeJesus is 5-for-7 with a HR and 3 RBI off Feldman before 2010.
Rematch time! You guys know how I feel about those. These starters faced off near the beginning of May, and both stunk, but Texas stunk a little less over the course of the game and prevailed. Scott Feldman somehow still has a 3.27 ERA against the Royals, but most of that success came last year. He still hasn't quite found that form, and seems to allow at least 4 runs every time out. The Royals got beat twice over the weekend by the Rockies, but in general, they're competing better, and not suffering the same type of full-time collapses that got them off to such a bad start. Hochevar, too, has made big strides this season, but remains a work in progress. Based on what I like about rematches, I have a lean to Hochevar at the eerily not-generous price.

Tigers @ Mariners (-110) with a total of 7.5; J. Bonderman vs. J. Vargas;
Chone Figgins is 5-for-11 off Bonderman;
Ichiro is 8-for-22 off Bonderman.
I'm a little taken aback by this price, so I'm going to dig further. At first glance, this seems like a heck of a deal on Vargas, one of the fine young starters on this Mariners staff. Bonderman has been pretty strong in the month of May, so I'm inclined to pass just based on his upward trend, and on the fact that the Tigers are so far ahead of the Mariners, offensively. Even without Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers have plenty of guys that can hit. The Mariners are good for about 2 runs a night most evenings (or days), then explode for 10 every once in a while. Pass.

Athletics @ Orioles (-116) with a total of 8.5; T. Cahill vs. B. Matusz;
Nick Markakis is 4-for-6 off Cahill.
This line is probably pretty fair. Cahill pitched extremely well against the Giants, but those were the Giants. He went 1-1 against the O's with a 3.46 ERA in the past, so we know he can pitch well against them, it's just a matter of will he? Matusz is coming off an horrific start against the Rangers, so now we see if he's in bounce-back form or trending down. If there was a little more value, I might be inclined to back the A's, but I don't really trust this team to beat a club that can put more than a handful of runners on base, and even though Baltimore is pretty weak, offensively, they're better than San Fran.

Blue Jays @ Angels (-141) with a total of 9; B. Morrow vs. J. Pineiro;
Fred Lewis is 3-for-8 off Pineiro;
Lyle Overbay is 4-for-5 with a HR off Pineiro;
Kendry Morales is 3-for-6 with a HR and 3 RBI off Morrow;
Torii Hunter is 3-for-4 off Morrow.
Too expensive to play the Angels here, I reckon. Pineiro is coming off one of those complete implosion outings, and it seems like most pitchers have at least 2 bad starts when they have one. Of course, Morrow is as bad as they come, this year. He's a walk machine, his ERA is still up around 7, and he's 0-2 lifetime against the Angels. I'm actually a little surprised he's still taking his turn every 5 days. I'd like to say the Over has some legs, but I have a feeling I'm not going to be the only one who thinks so, so this one is likely a pass, as well. Tougher card, today, moving through the games, here!

Red Sox @ Rays (-160) with a total of 8.5; J. Lackey vs. M. Garza;
Adrian Beltre was 3-for-10 off Garza before 2010;
Jacoby Ellsbury was 10-for-32 off Garza before 2010;
Victor Martinez was 6-for-20 off Garza before 2010;
Hank Blalock has hit .354 with 2 HR and 7 RBI off Lackey since '05;
Carlos Pena was 5-for-15 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Lackey since '05.
There are a few more guys on Tampa with averages near .300 off Lackey, but more importantly, let's look at the start earlier this year, and career numbers. Lackey has been facing Tampa since they stunk, so his numbers against them are skewed towards the 5-6 years he faced the Rays when they couldn't win a game to save their lives. This year, Lackey gave up 8 runs to Tampa in a truly miserable start. Garza, only in the League for a couple years, is 6-2 with a 2.92 ERA against the Red Sox, including 8 shutout frames earlier this year. There's a reason oddsmakers are offering +140 on the Red Sox, and it's because they're going to lose. I lean Tampa, even at this higher price.

Yankees @ Twins (-110) with a total of 9; A. Pettitte vs. F. Liriano;
Marcus Thames is 4-for-9 with 3 HR off Liriano before 2010;
Michael Cuddyer was 4-for-9 off Pettitte with a HR since '05;
Brendan Harris is 8-for-17 off Pettitte;
Joe Mauer was 4-for-10 with a HR off Pettitte;
Justin Morneau is 4-for-10 off Pettitte before 2010.
Rematch, round two on today's card (barring, of course, I missed one). Pettitte won round one, throwing 6 shutout frames in a game the Yanks won 7-1. Liriano continues to struggle after his brilliant start to the year, now seemingly unable to stop bleeding, giving up 16 runs in May after just allowing 3 throughout the entirety of April. I love to back the loser in a rematch, but Pettitte has just been able to consistently find a way to destroy the Twins, so it's Yanks or nothing for me on this one.
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