Friday, May 21, 2010

Interleague Madness, Day 2

Not a bad start to Interleague Weekend, with the ALL FREE FRIDAY snapping a rather unpleasant skid. We grabbed winners with the underdog Royals and roughly even-money Athletics, and our only loss came on the Angels, who managed to allow the opposing pitcher to hit a grand slam, and you're not going to win many games when that goes down.

In any case, a winning day, and it's amazing what a 2-1 card can do for a man's psyche - let's get something good going, here!

The big news today is that the daily podcast "Today in Sports Betting" is going to a slightly new format, with ONE weekend show that focuses on a broader picture. This weekend's episode, with Mike Hook and Sac Lawson, takes an in-depth look at how to handicap Interleague baseball, as well as the current battle taking place between NBA bettors that like to bet the better team and those that like to bet with the built-in line value. It's a great show, and this entire paragraph is one huge link to the podcast player, so enjoy!

And remember, keep posting links!

Sports Wagering: NBA

Magic @ Celtics - Boston by 1.5 with a total of 188.5. First thing, this line has since moved to Boston -3.5 and 190. I'm not sure what I can write about this game that hasn't been covered 3 or 4 times on podcasts this week. It all boils down to one point, and one point only: if you believe that the line has been adjusted to create enough value that the Magic can finally cover one, you play on Orlando; if you believe that the Magic are simply outclassed, and that the Celtics are just going to finish what they started, you take Boston. That's it. I'm not sure this paragraph can really convince anyone, either way. It seems like everyone is sort of set in one school of thought, and unfortunately, because these Playoffs have been so completely one-sided in terms of which school is winning. For what it's worth, the school that's been winning is probably not the better long-term solution, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't act, and react in handicapping just like in every other endeavor in sports. I don't believe this is going against anything we've been taught, either; I think it's just smart. If we run into a playoff series, or a collection of playoff series where one team completely owns another, we need to be ready for it, and right now, I think we've seen just about everything the Magic seem to have in the tank. They're not shooting well, they're not even getting open looks, and even with a very strong effort from Dwight Howard, Orlando still came up short at home, where they tend to shoot even better. I know it's nuts, but I happen to think the more public side is going to get one more, and I lean slightly to Boston. On the total, the last game appeared destined to go over, and it somehow snuck under - that makes me think the oddsmakers have this one pegged pretty well. I wouldn't get too caught up in it, but if you absolutely must make a play on it, I'd say it sneaks Under again.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Braves (-160) @ Pirates with a total of 9; D. Lowe vs. C. Morton;
Derek Lowe is a lifetime 7-0, 2.89 ERA pitcher against the Pirates, but looking at the current roster, it kind of makes me wonder if he's due for a loss. Ryan Church has a couple hits, Bobby Crosby has a couple, Ryan Doumit has a pair of hits, and Delwyn Young is 2-for-3. None of them has any power numbers against Lowe, and Derek is trending up after a very poor start to the year, but there's no value here, especially against Charlie Morton, owner of a 1-7 record and 9.68 ERA. I suppose this line might be higher if Lowe's season numbers were better, but -160 is too much to lay on the road.

Interleague Play

Marlins @ White Sox (-110) with a total of 8.5; C. Volstad vs. G. Floyd;
This game looks pretty evenly matched, to me. Neither guy has seen much of the other, and the only thing that separates one team from the other is recent numbers. So, let's go to the books. Looking at the numbers, the Nationals are really the only team that Volstad has looked dominant against this year. Otherwise, he's been okay, usually giving up 3-4 runs in roughly 6 innings, sort of bordering on "quality start." Gavin Floyd has been dismal this season, sporting that dubious 7.00 ERA, and he's given up 16 runs in his last 3 starts. I keep thinking the next start is going to be the one when he snaps out of it, and truthfully, if he got some defensive help, he probably should have been able to escape his last start only allowing 2-3 runs instead of 5. In any case, there are better games out there. Pass.

Angels @ Cardinals (-150) with a total of 9; S. Kazmir vs. K. Lohse;
Hideki Matsui is 3-for-3 off Lohse;
Matt Holliday is 3-for-6 with a HR off Kazmir.
I wish I could say this line was inflated, but Kazmir has just been garbage this season. I don't much care for Lohse, who actually pitched better his last time out, but his 4-4 lifetime mark against the Angels and 5.11 season ERA isn't too tempting. Without getting into excruciating detail, picking between two underachieving starters is not interesting to me. Pass.

Giants @ Athletics (-110) with a total of 7; M. Cain vs. G. Gonzalez;
The current Giants are 8-for-17 off Gonzalez with 2 HR and 7 RBI;
Jack Cust is 4-for-10 with 2 HR and 5 RBI off Cain;
Adam Rosales is 3-for-7 with a HR and 2 RBI off Cain.
This line is a head-scratcher. I would have at least expected Cain to open as a slight favorite, and maybe see where the line moved from there, but to see both teams open at standard juice considering the numbers, is intriguing. Cain is just 2-4 against the A's, but has a 2.89 lifetime ERA against them. He's the poster boy for never getting run support. Gonzalez is 0-1 with a 9.82 ERA against the Giants, and though he's been better this year, and I know rivalry games lead to odd games, but still. This one needs more exploration.

Orioles @ Nationals (-140) with a total of 9.5; B. Bergesen vs. C. Stammen;
This game is 100% about how the pitchers have been trending, and what we find might intrigue you. Brad Bergesen, whose name comes out wrong every time I try to type it, has actually been getting better progressively. He started the year by allowing 5, 8, 7, and 4 runs, but has given up just 0, 1, and 4 in his most recent 3 starts. Stammen has been consistently mediocre all season, allowing 3 or 4 runs just about every time out. If we think Bergesen can hold the Nats to 2-3 runs, this is a nice value on Baltimore; if not, then it isn't. Probably 50/50, so slight lean to Baltimore.

Rockies (-135) @ Royals with a total of 9; J. Francis vs. K. Davies;
Todd Helton is 4-for-6 off Davies;
Troy Tulowitzki is 3-for-5 with 4 RBI off Davies;
David DeJesus is 3-for-10 off Francis;
Jose Guillen is 3-for-5 with a HR and 3 RBI off Francis.
I'd love to back the Royals in this one if the starter was just about anyone other than Kyle Davies. Why? Well, I think this is the ultimate spot to fade a guy coming off a long, long layoff. Jeff Francis powered his way through his first start, but most pitchers suffer a dead-arm in these spots, and take a small step back before surging back towards full health again later. But, unfortunately for us, Davies happens to be 0-2 with an 11.25 ERA against the Rockies lifetime. That ain't good.

Brewers @ Twins (-120) with a total of 9; Y. Gallardo vs. K. Slowey;
This is kind of hard to believe, but of all the teams in baseball, I'm not sure there's one that Slowey would like to face more than the Brewers. Slowey, for all his 4.70 ERA glory against the League, is 3-0 lifetime against the Brew Crew with a 2.43 ERA. And looking up and down the current Brewers' roster, Slowey has owned them. Braun is 2-for-13, Prince is 2-for-11, Corey Hart is 3-for-14, Rickie Weeks is 0-for-4, the list goes on like this. This is probably one of the better prices we could get Gallardo at, but I believe there's a reason for that, and that reason is that Milwaukee stinks. The Twins are superior in almost every aspect of the game, and if indeed Slowey cracks off a nice start, the Twins can close the gap in the one spot where Milwaukee might have an edge tonight. Lean to Minnesota.

Reds @ Indians (-110) with a total of 8.5; J. Cueto vs. F. Carmona;
Orlando Cabrera is 4-for-9 with a HR off Carmona;
Travis Hafner homered in his only AB off Cueto;
Austin Kearns is 3-for-6 off Cueto.
This game is intriguing, if mostly because it's the type of game that reminds us why we have to be so careful with Interleague games. The Indians stink, there's no question about that. They lost another one Friday night, and that answered a question about how the Reds would bounce back from that heartbreaking loss to the Braves the day before. That also scares me away from backing the Indians. Carmona is having a strong year, and he has an 0.96 ERA against the Reds, but his team just isn't hitting. Cueto is having a nice bounceback 2010, and he's been good enough against Cleveland. Where do you go? Maybe the Under?

Rays (-160) @ Astros with a total of 8; J. Niemann vs. W. Rodriguez;
Let's start by talking about Niemann. The Astros have never seen the giant righthander, and that's bad news for the light-hitting club from Houston. Somehow, they beat the Rays last night, but did so by holding the Rays to only 1 run. Can they do that again today, against the best road team in baseball? I'm not all that excited to get behind Wandy Rodriguez, who just isn't having his kind of year. No thanks on this one, side or total. Pass.

Red Sox @ Phillies (-125) with a total of 10; D. Matsuzaka vs. K. Kendrick;
J.D. Drew is 2-for-3 with a HR and 3 RBI off Kendrick;
Jeremy Hermida is 4-for-13 with a HR off Kendrick;
Mike Lowell is 2-for-3 with a HR and 2 RBI off Kendrick.
This line is nuts. I apologize for going back to non-matchup capping, but the fact that Kyle Kendrick is a -125 favorite to a good team, and the line appears to be rising off the opening number is just bad news for Matsuzaka. I don't trust either starter, here, but reading that line and the line move can tell you plenty, and here, I think that means we're going to get some runs. Boston got held to just 1 run by Cole Hamels, but not tonight. Similarly, the Phils are going to score off Daisuke, who had one good start, then reverted to terrible form his last time out. Plus, that line move definitely makes you think he's going to get shelled. I'd look at the Over, even though the number is pretty high, already.

Cubs @ Rangers (-145) with a total of 9.5; R. Wells vs. D. Holland;
Zero historical data, that's always fun. To the books, we go. Randy Wells started the year strong, clunked his way through the end of April/beginning of May, but looked good again his last time out against the Rockies. Though, Colorado is being exposed lately as a poor-hitting team. Derek Holland threw 6 shutout innings in his season debut, then came back with 5.1 innings, and a bit of a struggle, against the Halos. He only allowed 3 runs, but he labored, and as a young fireballer, that will happen from time to time. As a team, the Rangers have won 5 games in a row after picking up a narrow 2-1 victory last night, and the Cubs have lost 2 straight after a 4-game win streak. Rangers are dangerous right now, and I wouldn't back the Cubs, here. I might consider Texas, but -145 is teetering on too expensive.

Tigers @ Dodgers (-145) with a total of 8; A. Galarraga vs. J. Ely;
You don't think the Dodgers wish they had Andre Ethier for this game? Armando Galarraga has been destroyed by lefthanded bats throughout his career, and the Dodgers are markedly short on power lefties with Ethier and Furcal both sidelined (Raffy is a switch hitter, for the record). So, what does LA have left? Manny, Kemp, Russ Martin, Blake, and the one lefty, Loney. And while the Dodgers have hit righties very, very well this year, Ethier has played a huge role in that, and the stage is set for Galarraga to have a decent start. Of course, with Ely, you have a solid youngster that is succeeding because teams don't have a scouting report on him. That worries me. The Tigers have a few veteran bats in the middle of that order that can really do some damage. As a Dodger fan, I don't like this game at all; as a handicapper, the Tigers jump out as intriguing, but only enough to make the middle of my lean list.

Yankees (-170) @ Mets with a total of 8; P. Hughes vs. M. Pelfrey;
Mark Teixeira is 4-for-13 with 2 RBI off Pelfrey;
Ramiro Pena is 2-for-2 off Pelfrey.
The Subway Series is 1-0 Yanks right now, and this one doesn't look all too pretty. Pelfrey has always been better at home than on the road, but these are, after all, the Yankees. Phil Hughes is overvalued right now, so for the volume guy, this is a Mets play, since backing a pitcher that's 5-0 is rarely a good value move, especially when he's on the Yankees. That being said, we're trying to stay selective and absolutely getting back to the basics, and this game with this line does not fall into any of those categories, at least not for a Premium play. Pass.

Blue Jays @ D'backs (-125) with a total of 10.5; D. Eveland vs. E. Jackson;
John McDonald is 4-for-12 off Jackson.
Okay, this game illustrates a great handicapping crossroads. On the one hand, we have historical data to work with in the case of Edwin Jackson, and he's been decent in his career against the Jays (2-3, 3.82 ERA). On the other, Edwin doesn't have that "never before seen" edge that a lot of guys do in Interleague play. Opposite him is Dana Eveland, who got off to a nice start this year, but seems to be struggling with control a bit of late, and getting hit hard. But he, unlike Jackson, does indeed have the "never before seen" advantage. Which way do we go? Personally, I err towards Arizona. I like that Jackson is coming off his best start of the year, and Eveland is trending down. Lean to Arizona, here.

Padres (-125) @ Mariners with a total of 7.5; C. Richard vs. I. Snell;
David Eckstein is 7-for-21 with a HR off Snell;
Nick Hundley is 2-for-4 with a HR and 2 RBI off Snell.
This line tells me oddsmakers don't expect a great deal from Snell, just as yesterday's sort of indicated that LeBlanc was going to have some issues. This Mariners team woke up in a big way, but now it seems like the Padres are back to getting the books' attention. I'm not really sure either team is a strong favorite or dog. Until last night, they both had all kinds of offensive issues, and for Seattle, Snell hasn't started since back on April 27th. Clayton Richard hasn't allowed more than 3 runs all season long, but how will he handle the DH? Hopefully not like LeBlanc. I think you have to lean to Padres just because Snell is, well, Snell, but this isn't that strong of a choice.

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