Sunday, May 16, 2010

Power vs. Speed

Well, that was a strange first game of the Conference Finals! The Magic just didn't show up. Boston's defense was even better than advertised, holding a team with many, many weapons in check, and honestly, the fact that Howard was unable to get a few easy buckets against Kendrick Perkins was the difference in the game. If Howard exerts himself in any way, the Celtics would have had to adjust their defense, but he did not, the Celtics were able to just play straight up, and the Magic had to work their butts off for everything. It will be interesting to see if Orlando continues to try to get it to their guy in the post, or go straight to pick and roll basketball from the tip.

The good news comes from the bases, as we collected two more winners yesterday on the White Sox/Royals Under and the LA Dodgers ML. Baseball is on a tidy little 7-2 run, and the Orioles 9th inning meltdown is really the only thing keeping us from a really impressive streak. I really feel like my baseball capping is round into shape, and while I admit it's a shame I got off to a bit of a slow start, things are looking up, and consequently, I think it's time to start cashing in.

Sports Wagering: NBA

Suns @ Lakers - Los Angeles by 6.5 with a total of 212. Two teams that have been resting the last week butt heads on this fine Monday evening. Of course, with all the time off, that does give us some pause when breaking this one down. For one, we've been getting reports that Andrew Bynum's knee is actually getting worse every day, rather than better. This is bigger than people realize. Bynum, Gasol, and Odom are the three biggest reasons (pun slightly intended) the Lakers are going to be able to take care of the Suns. Size matters, would be another lame way to put it into words. The Suns are a better shooting team than LA, but the key to the Lakers' success in this series is going to be limiting the Suns easy buckets, and controlling the paint. And, with all 3 of the aforementioned 7-footers healthy, controlling the paint would be a given for LA. Instead, if Bynum is truly slowing more and more by the day, that is going to put a ton of pressure on Gasol to cover a lot of ground on the interior. It also virtually guarantees Gasol will be guarding Amare Stoudemire for the bulk of the game, unless LA decides to let Odom have a go, or maybe even Artest. However, it's pretty clear the Lakers are putting the pieces together at the right time. Kobe is wide awake now, and the Suns don't have anyone that can slow him down, and the Lakers guards off the bench are playing better, as well. I think we may have underestimated the Thunder defense in the first round. The Lakers came back and creamed the Jazz offensively, and while the Suns are better on the defensive end this year than any recent season, they're no match for the Lakers, and they don't have nearly the length of Oklahoma City to disrupt shots. We could go around and around on all the tiny edges here and there, but I think this game, and series, is going to boil down to the Suns ability to hit contested jumpers. If they crush it from outside with a hand in their collective face, they'll cover. If the Lakers defend the three point line well, they'll cover. That's it. Kobe will get his; Pau will dominate the interior; Amare will hit a few jumpers; and Steve Nash will make things happen. But at the end of the day, if Phoenix hits threes, they'll stay in the game. I happen to think the Lakers have a slight edge here in the opener. We've seen the Suns get out to some slow starts and claw their way back into games, but that involved shutting down an opponent for 4-5 minutes, and that just doesn't happen with the Lakers. Slight lean to LA. On the total, this number looks huge, and I'm inclined to think we squeeze Under the mark with LA making sure to keep things at a snail's pace for as long as possible and pounding the ball inside.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Pirates @ Phillies (-215) with a total of 11; C. Morton vs. K. Kendrick;
Ryan Church is 5-for-9 with a HR off Kendrick;
Shane Victorino is 2-for-5 with a HR and 2 RBI off Morton.
This line is awfully expensive for a starter, Kendrick, that sports an ERA near 6. He has pitched well against the Pirates in the few times he's seen them, so that's something. Fact of the matter, though, is that with a wild child on the mound for Pittsburgh, Morton (he's 1-6 with a 9.19 ERA) isn't going to give you any value on the other side. Pass.

D'backs @ Marlins (-155) with a total of 9; E. Jackson vs. C. Volstad;
Chris Snyder has homered in 2 AB off Volstad.
I'm still waiting on some stats on Jackson, who has been a bit of a disappointment so far for the D'backs. On the Marlins side, Volstad at -150 is not a good deal, at all. They're hitting the ball well lately, but Volstad is 1-1 against the D'backs in his career with a 6.35 ERA, so not his favorite team to face, and really has been quite middle of the road this season. Very tiny lean to Arizona, just because Jackson hasn't faced Florida much, but I'm not a fan of fading Florida when those bats are heating up.

Brewers @ Reds with a total of N/A; Y. Gallardo vs. J. Cueto;
Prince Fielder is 6-for-14 with 2 HR and 5 RBI off Cueto;
Corey Hart is 4-for-13 with 2 HR off Cueto;
Jay Bruce is 2-for-4 with a HR and 3 RBI off Gallardo;
Scott Rolen is a perfect 3-for-3 with a HR and 2 RBI off Gallardo;
Brandon Phillips is 4-for-13 with a HR off Gallardo.
I'm not seeing a line on this one tonight, for whatever reason. But I'm willing to go on the record without a line and say that I can't trust the Brewers right now. They're slumping severely, and the Reds are rolling. If you don't like the Reds at first glance, you're a mad man. Both pitchers have been decent against this opponent, but I think you have to lean to the hot team without even thinking twice.

Mets @ Braves (-130) with a total of 8.5; M. Pelfrey vs. D. Lowe;
Luis Castillo is 8-for-15 with 4 RBI off Lowe since '05;
David Wright is 7-for-16 with 3 RBI off Lowe since '05;
Chipper Jones is 6-for-18 with 2 HR and 3 RBI off Pelfrey;
Brian McCann is 12-for-27 with a HR and 7 RBI off Pelfrey;
Martin Prado is 4-for-9 with a HR off Pelfrey.
This is a matchup of two guys that have struggled mightily against this particular opponent. I guess my concern is why this number is only 8.5, and that won't be allayed until the morning, at the very earliest. Pelfrey is a lifetime 3-5, 5.58 ERA guy against Atlanta, and Lowe has a career ERA near 7.50 against the Mets, and hasn't pitched all that well this season. We'll check out some more of their recent starts for confirmation, but this Over looks good AT FIRST GLANCE.

Rockies @ Cubs (-155) with a total of N/A; A. Cook vs. R. Wells;
Todd Helton is 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI off Wells;
Mike Fontenot is 3-for-10 with 2 RBI off Cook;
Derrek Lee is 4-for-11 off Cook.
Randy Wells struggled the one time he faced the Rockies, but you can't overstate the impact of venue. Aaron Cook has a nice history against the Cubs, going 3-1 with a 3.62 ERA, though his work in 2010 leaves a little something to be desired. The Cubs are clearly struggling like crazy right now, but can we trust Cook to get the job done? He's been allowing 3-5 runs pretty consistently in almost every one of his starts. Tough call, here.

Nationals @ Cardinals (-155) with a total of 9; C. Stammen vs. K. Lohse;
Adam Kennedy is 7-for-13 with 4 RBI off Lohse since '05;
Pudge is 8-for-24 with 3 RBI off Lohse since '05;
Matt Holliday is 1-for-2 with a HR off Stammen.
Lohse continues to struggle, and the Cardinals continue to have issues with the bats. I'm a little concerned here, since Stammen isn't exactly mister consistency, but there's no arguing that the Cardinals are a nice fade right now.

Giants (-135) @ Padres with a total of 6.5; M. Cain vs. C. Richard;
Forget the player stats, this one is all about the fact that these two guys are going to be squaring off for the third time already, and we're only in May! So far, Richard has won both meetings, or his team has, at least. Cain hasn't pitched well against the Padres, either, especially in his most recent effort, walking 6 men, allowing 5 runs, and really not putting his weak-hitting team in a position to win. Richard has pitched very well against the Giants this year after not doing much against them in 2009, but these 3rd-time-around situations are really scary for the side that won the first two. I have to lean to Cain, despite the inflated number.

Astros @ Dodgers (-175) with a total of 8; W. Rodriguez vs. J. Ely;
Wandy has been lights out against the Dodgers, posting a 2.70 ERA against them in his career, and there's really no one on the current Dodgers roster with any marked success against Rodriguez. The 'Stros are awful, there's no question, and Wandy is not quite himself so far this year; the Dodgers are hot, winning 7 straight, and posting 2 straight sweeps, and we're getting a decent price with Ely compared to some of the other guys, but I just can't pay this kind of price when Wandy could very well hold them to a low, low score. The Dodgers hit righties much better than lefties, too, so another point of concern, here.

American League

Red Sox @ Yankees (-215) with a total of 9.5; D. Matsuzaka vs. P. Hughes;
Mike Lowell was 2-for-5 with a HR off Hughes before 2010;
Derek Jeter is 6-for-14 with 2 HR and 3 RBI off Matsuzaka;
Jorge Posada is 6-for-12 with 2 RBI off Matsuzaka;
Nick Swisher is 3-for-10 off Matsuzaka.
Who figured the Yankees would be laying 215 to the Red Sox in mid-May? Not I. Phil Hughes has been a man possessed so far this year, and Daisuke was horrible to start the year before storming back in his last start. Does that mean he's going to lock it down against New York? Potentially. As far as value plays go, if indeed Daisuke is turning a corner, this is the best value we'll get - it's just a shame it has to come in a game the Sox don't have a great shot of winning. Slight, tiny, itty bitty lean to Boston.

White Sox @ Tigers (-145) with a total of 9; F. Garcia vs. R. Porcello;
Gordon Beckham, struggling this year, homered the only time he's seen Porcello;
Paul Konerko is 2-for-3 with a HR and 2 RBI off Porcello;
Mark Teahen is just 2-for-8 off Porcello, but both hits have left the yard;
Miguel Cabrera is 5-for-11 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Garcia since '05;
Magglio Ordonez is 10-for-27 off Garcia since '05.
For those unaware, every time the White Sox head to Detroit, they seem to crank things up just a tad. That being said, the Tigers are playing great baseball right now. They took 3 of 4 from the Yanks, 2 of 3 from the Red Sox, and now take aim at a significantly weaker club. I'm a little concerned about this one, as Garcia has been pretty reliable this year, and Porcello is JUST starting to show signs of breaking out of his early season sophomore slump. The price just feels a little high on a guy with a 6.08 ERA.

Royals @ Orioles (-140) with a total of 9; K. Davies vs. B. Bergesen;
David DeJesus is 2-for-4 off Bergesen.
Kyle Davies has poor numbers against Baltimore, lifetime, at 1-1, 7.94, but those don't appear to be logged against the current Orioles. Anyone with more than 6 AB against Davies has an average of .250 or lower. The 9th inning collapse of Baltimore seemed to sting a bit, and they looked bad in the finale against the Indians. I just can't be convinced to lay -140 with Bergesen, a 5.76 ERA starter, against anyone, especially with the Royals playing a little harder off the managerial change. No thanks.

Twins (-125) @ Blue Jays with a total of 9.5; K. Slowey vs. D. Eveland;
Aaron Hill is 4-for-8 off Slowey;
Adam Lind is 5-for-8 off Slowey;
Lyle Overbay is 4-for-8 with a HR and 4 RBI off Slowey;
Travis Snider is 4-for-5 with 2 HR and 3 RBI off Slowey;
Vernon Wells is 3-for-8 with a HR and 4 RBI off Slowey.
Dana Eveland continues to pitch well against everyone besides the Boston Red Sox, and Kevin Slowey continues to be the weak link in the Twins rotation. This price almost seems too tasty for the Jays, but then I have to remember that we're talking about the Jays. Slowey has an ERA of 6.23 and an 0-2 record against Toronto, so this seems like as good a time as any to fade the Twinkies.

Indians @ Rays (-200) with a total of 8.5; F. Carmona vs. J. Niemann;
Asdrubal Cabrera is 2-for-2 off Niemann.
It's a little bit of a wonder how Carmona has a 7.64 ERA against the Rays, as the current Tampa Bay lineup hasn't done much of anything against him. Leadoff man Jason Bartlett is 0-for-15! Still, Carmona has been slowing a little after an outstanding start, and Niemann is quietly one of the best in the AL. The Indians are playing a little better lately, but not quite well enough to warrant this big of a longshot.

Angels @ Rangers (-145) with a total of 9; S. Kazmir vs. D. Holland;
Erick Aybar is 5-for-11 with a HR off Holland;
Hideki Matsui is 4-for-7 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Holland;
Vlad Guerrero is 4-for-11 off Kazmir since '05.
Holland was lights out in the Minors, so Texas yanked him back up to the Bigs, and he pitched shutout ball in his first start of 2010. He did have some issues in 2009 with the Angels, going 2-2 with a 5.26 ERA, but it seems like he's ironed out a few things between seasons, and has a ton of confidence. Kazmir has a lifetime 6-1 record against Texas, but his 6.82 ERA this year makes me think those career numbers don't mean a whole lot. I'd love to back the Angels here, but unless Kazmir brings his "A" game, that's a stressful side to like.

Mariners @ Athletics (-145) with a total of 8; R. Rowland-Smith vs. G. Gonzalez;
Jose Lopez is 5-for-10 with a HR and 4 RBI off Gonzalez;
Ichiro is 3-for-9 off Gonzalez with 1 RBI;
Kurt Suzuki is 6-for-15 off Rowland-Smith;
Gabe Gross is 2-for-3 with a HR off R-Smith.
Neither of these guys has done much against the other this year, as Rowland-Smith faced Oakland twice in April, and the Mariners lost both of those games. He pitched, let's say, "okay", but not good at all. Gonzalez only went 4.2 innings when he faced the Mariners - he allowed just 2 runs, but that's not a long enough start. The problem here is that Rowland-Smith has a high ERA, so the line is going to be inflated on the A's, even if they're a good side. Microscopic lean to the A's just because I think they win this game, but not sure about laying that -145.

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