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.

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