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.

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