Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Return

There are very few things on this planet as mentally draining as getting back into a daily routine after a vacation. Whether it's the mental "switch" of moving from a very loose, open-ended schedule to a perfectly regimented one, or simply the fatigue of driving more than 30 hours over the course of 6 days, something just doesn't click.

I think everyone can agree with that statement, too. It has nothing to do with how much you love or hate your job, since you guys all know how much I enjoy sports and the passion I try to bring to NBA and MLB analysis on a daily basis. There is just something psychologically confusing (and you all know how I love to break down the mental side of sports) about trying to settle back in, and thanks to the magic of the blogosphere, you guys get to see how my brain works during the brief period I like to call "vacation lag."

By the way, is everyone else as annoyed with the Spurs and Hawks meltdowns the last two days? Sheesh, it's the Playoffs, can't these losers play 48 minutes? In any case, home at last, let's see what we've got!

Sports Wagering: NBA

Cavaliers @ Celtics - Boston by 1 with a total of 191. I know I've been out of town for a week, but if there's one series that can't be dodged, it's this one. Everyone saw the Celtics get out to a quick start in game one, then blow it late, then, when I think most folks thought the Cavs had taken Boston's best shot, Boston came right back with another powerhouse effort in game two, and won in blowout fashion on the road. Very impressive performance from those old goats. Now, tied at 1 game apiece, this series heads to Boston, with Lebron nursing a sore elbow, and the veteran Celts playing the vastly superior series so far. No surprise, then, that this line is basically a Pick situation. We've seen the Celtics shoot the ball very well at home, so that makes this team extremely dangerous. I think most folks are going to gravitate to the Cavaliers, since Lebron is always going to get the attention, and the expectation is that Cleveland will bounce back quickly, but I happen to think Boston is decidedly in "Playoff Mode", and they'll bring the heat again in this one. I don't know if that means they win, and I also don't know if this line is a ton of value on either side, but I just feel like this game is less obvious than folks think. No huge lean on the side, though gun to my head, I think Lebron pulls off the miracle with a final-minute win on the road. On the total of 191, we've seen games hovering right around this number, above and below. The last game featured a pretty high turnover count for both clubs, and a terrible shooting night for Cleveland, but as we've seen before, the longer a series goes, the tougher and scrappier the defense becomes. I think Cleveland knows they need to open things up a little bit, and I think this one squeezes Over, but on the whole, I'm inclined to watch this game and make a move on game four.

Suns @ Spurs - San Antonio by 5.5 with a total of 206. This line is just bellowing "Spurs" at the top of its little line-lungs. After the Spurs played a pretty flawless first 3 quarters in game two in Phoenix, they proceeded to get crushed in the 4th, and are now behind 2-0 in the series. The Suns are playing with a different vigor than in years past, and it's showing in the box scores. Phoenix got outplayed, but found a way to win. I suppose the question is whether the Suns can continue to claw out wins on the road, or if the Spurs can bounce back and get this series to 2-1. It will be interesting to see how the betting world reacts to this line. This isn't a "do-or-die" spot for the Spurs, but it's certainly a line that has been jacked up a tiny bit because of the importance of the game. On top of that, the Suns, who have been able to beat the Spurs handily in each of the first two games, are now catching points on the road. It just doesn't add up right. We saw the Spurs beat the Mavericks in all 3 games in San Antonio, and I happen to think we'll get a better game from George Hill, and maybe some bonus contribution from Richard Jefferson. Tony Parker has been doing his job, and looking back, it's tough to see how the Spurs lost game two, but this veteran club won't go down without a fight, and the Suns seem ripe for a one-game letdown before they come back with a vengeance in game four. Slight lean to San Antonio. On the total, the 206 is the same as the last couple games, despite both contests in Phoenix going over the mark. Both games in Phoenix were pretty clean, both had decent shooting from the field, and both had 44 points at the foul line. The Spurs key to success is clear - they need to keep the game slower, and I think they find a way to change the tempo at least a little, and this one should come in right around 200 combined points. Lean to the Under.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Braves @ Phillies (-138) with a total of 10; D. Lowe vs. J. Moyer;
Matt Diaz is batting over .400 off Moyer in his career with a pair driven in;
Troy Glaus is 19-for-57 with 5 HR off Moyer in his long career;
Chipper Jones is betting just under .400 off Moyer since '05 with a HR and 3 RBI;
Brian McCann is batting .364 off Moyer excluding this year with a HR and 6 RBI;
Martin Prado was 7-for-16 with a HR and 4 RBI off Moyer before 2010;
Chase Utley is batting .391 off Lowe since '05 with 2 HR.
We had this pitching match-up before, and I don't believe my stats page updated the player numbers. Still, Lowe got burned by some awful defense behind him in Atlanta's loss to Moyer and the Phils a few weeks back, and his 6-1 lifetime mark against Philly is pretty impressive. Moyer managed to get line drives hit right at his defense the last time he faced the Braves, and that was when Atlanta wasn't in deep slump. The Braves are the worst in the East, and the Phils are crushing in May. Tough to fade them, but this situation and value might merit it.

Marlins (-128) @ Nationals with a total of 9.5; C. Volstad vs. C. Stammen;
Chris Coghlan is 3-for-5 off Stammen before this year;
Hanley Ramirez was 4-for-5 off Stammen going into 2010 with a HR and 3 RBI;
Adam Dunn is 5-for-8 off Volstad with an RBI;
Ryan Zimmerman is 4-for-8 with a HR and 2 RBI off Volstad.
Florida wins with offense, Washington is trying to win with starting pitching and some tape and glue, so this should be an interesting series. I'm not sure there's enough info floating around to warrant a play in this game, as Volstad has been pretty consistently "okay" this year, and Stammen has been pretty bad. Not enough plus-money value to take the home dog, not enough reason to take the road team with no bullpen laying chalk.

Cardinals (-235) @ Pirates with a total of 8; C. Carpenter vs. Z. Duke;
Matt Holliday is 6-for-13 with a HR and 4 RBI off Duke;
Ryan Ludwick is 6-for-18 with a HR off Duke;
Albert Pujols is batting .471 in 34 AB off Duke with 3 HR and 4 RBI since '05;
Ryan Doumit is 5-for-16 with 2 HR off Carpenter.
Chris Carpenter is 11-1 lifetime against the Bucs, so there's no reason to fade him. I know Duke has pitched pretty well against the Redbirds in his own career, but after a nice start to 2010, Duke has fallen back where we all figured he would. Pass.

Cubs (-120) @ Reds with a total of 9; C. Silva vs. H. Bailey;
Alfonso Soriano is a perfect 3-for-3 with a HR and 3 RBI off Bailey;
Orlando Cabrera is batting .409 in 22 AB with a HR and 2 RBI.
Homer Bailey was one of baseball's best pitchers last September, but the offseason seems to have set him back a few months. Carlos Silva has been one of the brightest spots in early 2010. His 2.90 ERA is about 3 full runs lower than what I expected, to be honest. I'd like to back the home dog, here, but I don't trust Bailey, and Silva's been far better than I think anyone would have expected. Likely a pass.

Giants @ Mets (-118) with a total of 7; J. Sanchez vs. M. Pelfrey;
Henry Blanco is 2-for-2 off Sanchez with both hits leaving the park.
Considering Sanchez has faced the Mets a few times there isn't much of note, here. Pelfrey finally had a regression-style start against the Phils, serving up a handful of runs. I wonder if this won't be a follow-up dud for Pelfrey, who was rolling along with all the confidence in the world, but clearly had his stuff shaken the last time out. Psychologically, this game screams Giants. The line sort of says the same thing.

Padres (-131) @ Astros with a total of 9; M. Latos vs. B. Norris;
This is the battle of two pitchers that can't throw enough pitches to satisfy themselves. Obviously, I kid, but Latos and Norris both have solid stuff, but neither can seem to have a 10-pitch inning, well, ever. It makes the bullpens far too important, and it makes those first 3-4 innings far too volatile. This is far too much road chalk for an unproven rookie, and even though the Astros are terrible, and Norris has only pitched well against the Cards, this isn't a good deal.

Brewers (-150) @ D'backs with a total of 9.5; Y. Gallardo vs. E. Jackson;
Joe Inglett is 5-for-11 off Edwin Jackson;
Adam LaRoche is 5-for-15 with a HR off Gallardo.
Edwin Jackson's 8.07 ERA has been a bit of a wet blanket on an otherwise decent start this year for Arizona. They're not beating down, and the pitching staff needs serious help, but the D'backs can flat-out rake at the dish, and that's been carrying them to a poor/mediocre start, but not a terrible one. The Brewers are fully feast-or-famine, but Gallardo has never allowed an earned run to Arizona, so it's tough to fade that. Milwaukee and the chalk or nothing - so, most likely, nothing.

Rockies @ Dodgers (-175) with a total of 8.5; E. Rogers vs. H. Kuroda;
Ian Stewart is 3-for-5 with 3 RBI off Kuroda.
To be completely frank, I have no idea how Kuroda has a 0-2, 7.00 ERA against the Rockies, when the current crop of Rox has barely faced him. I've also been pretty excited about getting back from vacationing and noting that I did play by play for quite a few games against Esmil Rogers, since the Rockies have a club in the California League. This kid has good stuff, but he might be a tad young to be a full time Big League starter. This side is super-inflated, but Kuroda is the one Dodger I don't think there's much purpose in fading. Pass.

American League

Tigers (-120) @ Indians with a total of 9; J. Bonderman vs. D. Huff;
Shin-Soo Choo is 3-for-8 off Bonderman with 2 RBI.
Most of the damage the Indians have done came way back before he missed a bunch of time with injury. He has a very poor career record against Cleveland, but we have to remember that the Indians are a largely young team, now, and not the same quality club Bonderman had to face repeatedly back in, say, 2006, for example. David Huff is one of the more unlucky pitchers in baseball, but more than the pitchers here, these two teams are both coming off getting swept. No need to waste our time trying to grab the lesser of two evils.

Yankees @ Red Sox (-110) with a total of 9; P. Hughes vs. J. Beckett;
Robinson Cano hits near .340 off Beckett with 3 HR and 10 RBI since '05;
Derek Jeter is batting .314 off Becket with 2 HR and 4 RBI since '05;
Jorge Posada is batting .323 off Beckett since '05;
Mike Lowell is 2-for-5 with a HR off Hughes.
Phil Hughes looks pretty comfortable as a starter, doesn't he? 3-0, 1.44 ERA so far this season, and looking to exorcise some demons, as he's 0-2 against the Sox in his career with an ERA over 7. Beckett is 9-5 against the Yanks, but that 5.51 career ERA against them means he's been getting some help. Beckett's offense seems to bail him out quite often, and I wonder if the Yankees don't put the wood to Beckett's poorly located stuff one more time.

Royals @ Rangers (-125) with a total of 8; Z. Greinke vs. C. Wilson;
Jose Guillen is 3-for-6 with a HR and 2 RBI off C.J. Wilson;
Ryan Garko is 5-for-14 off Greinke.
Poor Zack Greinke. 2.27 ERA should be good for one win a month, right? Nope. 0-3 this year, still mowing down fools, and still with nothing to show for it. 3-4 in his career against the Rangers, so he must struggle against them, right? Nope. 2.68 lifetime ERA against Texas. C.J. Wilson is 2-1 to start 2010 with an ERA in the 1's, but you just have to know a regression to the mean is coming at some point. This is a heck of a deal to get on Greinke, and I think we have to at least take a short peek at dog prices on one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Orioles @ Twins (-250) with a total of 8.5; K. Millwood vs. F. Liriano;
Michael Cuddyer is batting .435 with a HR off Millwood since '05;
Orlando Hudson is 6-for-8 off Millwood;
Jason Kubel is 5-for-15 with a HR off Millwood;
Justin Morneau is 7-for-19 with 3 HR and 10 RBI off Millwood since '05;
Nick Punto is 10-for-21 off Millwood;
Jim Thome is 5-for-8 off Millwood with 3 HR since '05.
This might be that rare game where you actually look at the home RL. Fact is, the Twins have killed Millwood (who is 0-7 against them in his career), and Liriano is dominating to begin 2010. It's not a great value, clearly, but a winner's a winner. This one needs a ton more thought, though, so let's not get crazy.

Blue Jays (-115) @ White Sox with a total of 8.5; S. Marcum vs. M. Buerhle;
Alex Gonzalez is 4-for-6 off Buerhle;
Vernon Wells is 10-for-20 off Buerhle since '05;
Juan Pierre is 3-for-6 off Marcum.
Shaun Marcum has outstanding numbers against the White Sox, going 3-0, 2.16 in his career, and the Jays are still playing decent baseball. Mark Buerhle is better at home than on the road, and is a solid 5-3 in his career against Toronto (2.68 ERA), but he has struggled after a solid 2 starts to open this season. I think this line is pretty accurate, and if we can maintain some value on Marcum and his nice change-up, we might want to give a peek to Toronto.

Rays (-163) @ Athletics with a total of 7.5; D. Price vs. G. Gonzalez;
Jason Bartlett is a perfect 4-for-4 off Gonzalez.
David Price is really starting to figure things out. He's certainly got a ways to go, but at 3-1, 2.34 ERA, it's tough to argue with numbers. Gio Gonzalez is a nice young prospect, too, and the A's are getting nice home dog value, here, but Gonzalez needed big-time run support to beat the Rays previously, and I'm not sure it's going to come against one of the best young lefties in baseball. Pass, most likely.

Angels @ Mariners (-150) with a total of 7; J. Weaver vs. F. Hernandez;
Bobby Abreu is 7-for-20 with 4 RBI off Hernandez since '05;
Torii Hunter is 10-for-30 off Hernandez since '05;
Kendry Morales is batting .357 with a HR and 5 RBI off Hernandez;
Franklin Gutierrez is 4-for-11 with 3 RBI off Weaver;
Jose Lopez is batting .316 with 2 HR and 5 RBI off Weaver.
Interestingly, neither Weaver nor Hernandez has completely dominated the other team despite being some of the stronger right-handers out there. Weaver is indeed 8-3 against Seattle, but has an ERA of 4.61. King Felix has a 4-5 lifetime record against the Halos and a 4.20 ERA. Dare we explore the Over?

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