Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mercifully, Friday

I grow weary of opening paragraphs recapping a clunker, so instead, I'll just announce that today's card will be 100% gratis! And the crowd goes wild!

IMPORTANT CHANGE: Some of you saw me talk about this in a few posts yesterday, and that's the inclusion of LINKS in my blog when we talk about something outside the cozy confines of the blog page. A few of you guys even did a nice job yesterday of starting the process!

Moving forward, let's keep it up! If you start a thread in the Pregame forums, LINK to it so we can all see your plays and your write-ups! If you see a sweet article at ESPN or Yahoo or CBS or whatever sites you visit, LINK to it! And, if you feel so inclined, link back to the blog in your own thread, if it makes sense; if not, don't bother. The end result should be a one-stop-shop, the blog, where we can all just start our day, see what everyone else is doing, check out some cool articles, youtube videos, contests, and whatever else piques our interest!

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Braves (-173) @ Pirates with a total of 8.5; T. Hudson vs. R. Ohlendorf;
Yunel Escobar and Chipper Jones are each 2-for-3 off Ohlendorf;
Ryan Church is 7-for-22 with 1 RBI off Hudson.
Tim Hudson is 4-3 lifetime against the Pirates with a 2.82 ERA, and Lastings Milledge is career 0-for-12 off Hudson, so he's rolling. Ohlendorf, though, has been good enough to give his team a chance to win just about every time out. He might actually be the most reliable Pirates starter, though I suppose Maholm and Duke are battling for that "easiest 1st place honor", as well. I think if you're a volume bettor, the Pirates are a no-brainer, since any time you can get a +150 dog in a 50/50 close game, you want that, but as more selective folks, we have to like a game more than 45-50% to make it a top play. Tiny lean to Pirates, but likely not going to make the final cut.

Interleague Play

Orioles @ Nationals (-165) with a total of 9; D. Hernandez vs. S. Olsen;
Garrett Atkins is 6-for-13 with a HR and 4 RBI off Olsen;
Adam Kennedy is 2-for-4 with a HR off Hernandez.
Ah, the start of Interleague play, and what match-up would we want to break down more than Orioles-Nats. Someone can fill in the details here (is this considered the "Battle of I-94", "Battle by the Potomac", "Stinkfest, USA"?) on whether this series means anything, but certainly it's an opportunity for Washington to try to rack up a few wins against weaker competition. It's also a spot, maybe not tonight, but in general, where a team like Baltimore can show that they'd be competitive in a division that doesn't contain the Sox, Yanks, Rays, and Jays. Scott Olsen has been solid this year, 2-1, 3.15 ERA, and Hernandez is still looking for his first win. This line is drastically inflated, and again, a volume guy would like Hernandez, but a selective guy might want to look for something with a better percentage chance of winning.

Red Sox @ Phillies (-134) with a total of 9; J. Lackey vs. C. Hamels;
Dustin Pedroia is 3-for-4 with a HR off Hamels;
Ben Francisco is 3-for-6 off Lackey;
Raul Ibanez is batting nearly .400 off Lackey on 33 AB since 2005.
Considering we have two top offenses going head-to-head here in a heck of an Interleague match-up, I actually somewhat like the Under. I know, that's asking for trouble, since neither Hamels nor Lackey has been able to keep his ERA under 4 runs (Lackey at 4.86, Hamels at 4.29), but both pitchers are 1-0 against the other team, and aside from Ibanez having seen a ton of Lackey in the AL West, there's truly minimal experience on both sides. Lackey is 1-0 against the Phils with a 1.42 ERA, and Hamels is 1-0 against Boston with a 2.57 ERA. If the bullpens can function better than what we saw in the Boston-NY series, this one could end at 7-8 runs.

Reds (-127) @ Indians with a total of 9; B. Arroyo vs. J. Westbrook;
Scott Rolen is 2-for-3 with a HR off Westbrook;
Travis Hafner is 6-for-10 off Arroyo with a HR and 2 RBI;
Austin Kearns is 3-for-7 off Arroyo, with 2 HR and 5 RBI.
Alright, finally got some numbers, here, and they're intriguing. This line looks awfully low, considering the level of competition, but when you see that the current Reds have literally done nothing off Westbrook, I suppose you can make sense of it. Cincinnati is also coming off a brutal loss in Atlanta, and you have to think they're equilibrating just a tad off the hot streak. Still, if I had to make a play, I'd lean to the better starter, and that's Arroyo. Most likely, a pass.

Yankees (-166) @ Mets with a total of 9; J. Vazquez vs. H. Takahashi;
Luis Castillo is 11-for-33 with a HR off Vazquez since '05;
Gary Matthews is 5-for-8 with a HR off Vazquez;
David Wright is 3-for-8 with a HR off Vazquez.
The Mets have seen plenty of Vazquez from his time with the Braves, and while there's a handful of Mets regulars that have success against him, Javy is still 9-7 with a 3.22 ERA against the Mets. Our best course of action here is to check out how Vazquez pitched against the Mets most recently, and go from there, though I'm not sure Takahashi is ready to start against the Bombers. The Mets are decent at home, and yes, the line is always a little inflated with the Yanks, but can we really trust Takahashi?

Cubs @ Rangers (-145) with a total of 9; T. Lilly vs. C. Lewis;
We're going to be seeing quite a few games over the next few days that don't really have any historical data to handle. I suppose Michael Young has faced Lilly enough times to get a feel, but that's about it. Lilly is 4-4 in his career against the Rangers, but those were different teams, so we're going blind. The best tool to use, then, is recent play from both teams and recent starts for the pitchers. Lilly has been slowly working into midseason form, and while he's doing deeper into games, he's still giving up hits and runs in every start. The Cubs as a team had won 4 straight before falling 5-4 to Philadelphia yesterday afternoon, so they're starting to put a few pieces together. For Texas, they had won 3 straight, pending the outcome of an evening game with Baltimore, but Lewis hasn't been the reason. Texas has lost his last 3 starts, as he's walking more batters, striking out fewer, and has allowed 11 runs in roughly 19 innings this month, and 3 homers. There might be some value with the Cubs, though the Rangers being "warm" as a team makes it tough to pick a side.

Rays (-175) @ Astros with a total of 7.5; M. Garza vs. B. Myers;
Yeah, another game without a good selection of data. So, back to the recent trends for some answers. Tampa Bay had won 5 straight, again pending the outcome of their game in NY, so they're rolling, and they're the best road team in the Majors. This will be Garza's 9th start of the season, and he's been near dominant in 6 of the previous 8 starts. This is a dangerous team - they run the bases well, they're aggressive, they can pitch, and the pen has really come through so far this year. Houston, as we all know, stinks. They can't hit a lick, so no matter how well the pitchers throw, they struggle to win. They're 13-3 when they score 4 runs, but as you can see, it doesn't happen nearly enough. Myers, along with Oswalt, has been consistently decent this year, but that's not going to be enough against a team like Tampa, the true elite.

Rockies (-120) @ Royals with a total of 9.5; J. Hammel vs. B. Bannister;
Jason Giambi is 3-for-7 with a HR and 6 RBI off Bannister;
Jason Kendall is 3-for-4 with an RBI off Hammel.
Well, at least most of the batters have seen the other pitcher in this one, if still not much of them. I also just noticed that of the 4 players named in this game note, 3 are named Jason. Irrelevant, but interesting. In any case, I actually happen to think there's some legs on the KC side. Bannister has held the bulk of the Rockies in check the few times they've faced off, and we're getting a good price on him because of his season 5.09 ERA and awful bullpen. But the Royals are playing a little better under new managed Ned Yost, and I wouldn't write them off. The AL teams have a big edge playing at home, since NL teams don't really have a good hitter to deploy as the DH, and with Hammel "doinking" his way through the season's first 7 weeks, the Royals have a nice shot to put up 4-5 runs off the starter, and get a win in their Interleague opener.

Marlins (-115) @ White Sox with a total of 8; R. Nolasco vs. M. Buerhle;
Mark Kotsay is 2-for-2 off Nolasco.
I'm not surprised the Sox haven't seen Nolasco, really. I am surprised the Marlins haven't seen Buerhle. Mark has seemingly faced everyone a few times, though I guess the age of the Marlins lineup plays a role. In any case, Buerhle has been bad this year, there's no sugar-coating it. He had a nice start to open the year, and he's been fully mediocre since then. He's always given up hits, but he's always been able to throw strikes, get some defensive help behind him, and get out of jams, but not so far this year. I suppose mixed in there are a few 7-8 inning starts where Buerhle gave up 3-4 runs, but that just won't get it done with the Sox "all-Konerko" offense. I can't help but think the Marlins can beat this Sox club.

Brewers @ Twins (-155) with a total of 10; D. Bush vs. N. Blackburn;
Ryan Braun is 4-for-7 off Blackburn;
Michael Cuddyer is 6-for-14 with a HR off Bush;
Joe Mauer is 5-for-13 with a HR off Bush.
The first thing I notice when I look at this game is that high total of 10. Oddsmakers are definitely tipping their hand on this one, since they could have easily brought this one out at 9.5 and gotten plenty more money on that Over, but they know what's up. The funny thing is that Bush hasn't really been that bad, but Milwaukee finds a way to give up 5-6 runs nightly no matter who starts the game. Trevor Hoffman's wrinkly ass is definitely playing a part in that. On the other side, Blackburn is one of the Twins 7-man-deep rotation of strike throwers. He doesn't have great numbers against Milwaukee in brief exposure, but he's gotten excellent run support this year that has led to his 4-1 record. This line is high, and it might stay under, but I believe there's a reason it opened at such a beefy value.

Angels @ Cardinals (-160) with a total of 8; J. Pineiro vs. B. Penny;
Torii Hunter is 3-for-9 with 4 RBI off Penny;
Mike Napoli is 3-for-7 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Penny;
Matt Holliday is 3-for-5 off Pineiro with 2 RBI.
I bet Pineiro didn't think he'd be seeing his old team this quickly, considering he switched Leagues, but here we are. Pineiro is 1-1, 1.13 ERA against the Cardinals in his career, but it's been a while since he faced them, and the complete lack of ABs for the current Cards shows that. Penny has seen plenty of the Angels, playing in the Freeway Series with the Dodgers, and briefly with the Red Sox in the AL, and he hasn't been great against them. This line looks too high to me, as the Cards have been in an offensive slump, and Penny seems to get more and more hittable with every start. Looking for a guy trending down with a very good season ERA is always a nice value spot, so give a peek to the Angels.

Blue Jays @ D'backs (-185) with a total of 9.5; B. Morrow vs. D. Haren;
Aaron Hill is 5-for-11 off Haren;
Fred Lewis is 8-for-19 with an RBI off Haren;
Lyle Overbay is 3-for-9 off Haren with 3 RBI;
Vernon Wells is 6-for-17 with 2 HR and 5 RBI off Haren since '05.
Danny Haren might be 4-1 lifetime against the Jays, but that 5.77 ERA is downright "fugly." The only problem? Brandon Morrow is one of the wildest pitchers in the Majors, posting a sickening 1.68 WHIP on the season. But he did show signs of progress his last time out, only walking 1 against the Rangers and allowing 2 runs over 6 innings. Can we trust him in this longshot spot? It's an iffy proposition. I will note the rather high total for a game involving Haren, the highest this year for Haren outside of the wind-blown "11" we saw at Wrigley. Oddsmakers think there will be some runs, and so do I. Tiny lean to Toronto, slightly larger lean to the Over.

Giants (-130) @ Athletics with a total of 7.5; B. Zito vs. T. Cahill;
Travis Ishikawa has homered in 2 AB off Cahill;
Eric Chavez is 4-for-7 off Zito.
The player numbers might not show it, but Barry Zito has had a severe case of "the Sabathias" when he faces the A's. I don't know if it's because it's his former team, or bad timing or what, but Zito is 0-3 with a 9.22 ERA against the A's in his career. He's a better pitcher this year, make no mistake, but the Giants can't score no matter how well he throws, and Zito has allowed 3 runs in 2 straight starts for the first time this season. Cahill shut the Giants down the one time he faced them, and in the pitcher-friendly park in the East Bay, there's little reason to think this one features many runs. Lean to Oaktown.

Tigers @ Dodgers (-185) with a total of 8.5; D. Willis vs. C. Billingsley;
Jamey Carroll is 5-for-11 off the D-Train;
Ronnie Belliard is 3-for-9 off Dontrelle;
Russ Martin is 4-for-8 with a HR off Willis.
This line is wildly inflated, and I want no part of either side. Here's the part where I talk us out of both sides. I don't want the Dodgers because, yes, Billingsley is trending up, which is good, but the team is a big public name, and especially when they're fresh off a long win streak, they're a terrible value. One interesting note is that Miguel Cabrera is 0-for-9 lifetime off Chad, but that's not enough. I don't like the Tigers, either, as Dontrelle is 1-5 with a 6.93 ERA against the Dodgers in his career, and that includes when he was decent. Pass!

Padres @ Mariners (-180) with a total of 6.5; W. LeBlanc vs. C. Lee;
The current Mariners are 4-for-5 off LeBlanc with a HR, and 4 RBI;
San Diego saw Lee briefly last year, and Lee got a no-decision in a very low-scoring game. He allowed just a run to the Pads, so he did pitch well. Something funny about this game, though. Seattle at -180? They're just not that great of a team - they can't hit, which means LeBlanc is likely to at least have a good start, if not a great one, so is this game going to come down to a battle of the bullpens? That's a ton of value on the underdog, especially since oddsmakers are telling us there aren't going to be many runs. Slight "volume play"-type lean to the Padres to potentially squeak out a close one.

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