Thursday, May 27, 2010

Will Both Go 7?

Let's celebrate a little first, then get into the meat of the card.

We picked up a 3* NBA Game of the Week winner last night with the Lakers/Suns Under, and though it took a buzzer-beater to avoid OT, the final score was a good 15 points under the posted mark, so it's pretty fair to say that it was very much the right side, and the trend of slowing tempo continued with quarters of 45, 53, 52, and 54. Just something to keep in mind for game 6.

Something else to keep in mind: If anybody wants to add a few more units to their account, a Top Play Package is ready for all those interested, and though I probably don't say it enough, THANK YOU to everyone that has continued to ride with me on these plays and put your trust in my style of handicapping, especially the NBA!

As far as the series go, how many of you guys thought we'd be dealing with BOTH series at 3-2 by the weekend? Just think, 5 days ago Boston was up 3-0 and the Lakers were up 2-0 and everyone had already crowned them Conference Champs. Now, at the end of the week, the Lakers are taking a 3-2 lead into Phoenix, and Boston is literally clinging to their own 3-2 advantage, banged and bruised and desperately trying to close the series at home before the defecate strikes the oscillating air machine.

Sports Wagering: NBA

Magic @ Celtics - Boston by 2.5 with a total of 189. I can only picture the Boston brass sitting back in their coaches' room, and collectively muttering, in trademark Scooby Doo fashion, "ruh roh!" Not long ago, the Celtics were up 3-0 in this series, and things appeared to be completely over, but now, with every passing game, it seems like Boston is getting more and more banged up and tired, and the Magic seem to be getting healthier and more confident. As someone that thought Boston would wrap things up in game 5, I'm left in a bit of a quandary. For one, we learned in game 5 that Rajon Rondo is battling a mostly undisclosed nagging injury, Paul Pierce's back is "sore", Garnett is having personal issues, Kendrick Perkins might get suspended, Glen Davis and Marquis Daniels both suffered concussions (Big Baby staggering about on the court before being escorted to the locker room). And over on the Magic side, Matt Barnes' back is getting better, Dwight Howard is beginning to punish a handful of Celtics on a nightly basis, and the injuries to the Celtics are slowing them down enough on defense that guys like Rashard Lewis are getting just enough space to make a few shots and start trusting in his ability. This is going to be a Cortisone Day for the Celtics - everyone's going to be going full tilt, and you absolutely know Boston's priority is going to be to get out to a better start and try to force the Magic to play from behind, which hasn't been the case in the last 2 games. I'll be frank, I don't like the side, at all. Unless we can get a TRUE barometer of the health of the Celtics, especially Pierce and Rondo, it's a little bit of a crapshoot, and this game should be pretty close. No leans on the side just yet. As far as the total, the last game went sailing Over the mark, largely because the Magic hit both open and contested threes, and Boston's defense was lacking, potentially because of injuries and fatigue. I am absolutely concerned that Boston traveling and only getting 1 day off between games could continue to hurt them on the defensive side. The total is creeping back up near 190, and we might be up a creek here, too. Very slight lean to the Under, since I think Boston is going to go to the cortisone and potentially an IV at halftime if that's what it takes to really play full tilt, and we know that when Boston is right, they're a defense-first club.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Cardinals (-135) @ Cubs with a total of N/A; C. Carpenter vs. R. Wells;
Ryan Ludwick is 2-for-3 with 2 HR and 4 RBI;
Marlon Byrd is 4-for-6 off Carpenter;
Derrek Lee is 10-for-27 with a HR and 5 RBI off Carpenter since '05;
Ryan Theriot is 4-for-9 off Carpenter.
The Cardinals are absolutely pathetic offensively, of late, and I suppose the wind is going to play a role in whether things stay that way. Still, I just can't trust St. Louis as a favorite right now, even with Carpenter's powerhouse career numbers against the Cubbies (9-3, 2.81). Pass.

Astros @ Reds (-130) with a total of 8.5; W. Rodriguez vs. S. LeCure;
Miguel Cairo is 3-for-5 off Rodriguez;
Jonny Gomez is 4-for-11 with 3 RBI off Wandy;
Ramon Hernandez is 5-for-13 off Wandy;
Joey Votto is 7-for-22 off Wandy.
This is Sam LeCure's Major League debut, and this is a polarizing concept. I'm generally a fan of either backing a rookie in his debut, or passing on the game. Fading a guy making his debut is not usually a wise play since you're not usually going to get a ton of value on the other side unless that rookie is of the "once in a lifetime" type prospects. Here, Houston might look interesting with a proven starter as an underdog, but the prudent choice is to Pass.

Phillies @ Marlins (-130) with a total of 9.5; K. Kendrick vs. C. Volstad;
Ryan Howard is 6-for-15 with 4 HR and 5 RBI off Volstad;
Raul Ibanez has homered twice off Volstad in just 8 AB;
Jorge Cantu is 5-for-9 with 2 HR and 5 RBI off Kendrick;
Cody Ross is 3-for-8 off Kendrick;
Dan Uggla is 5-for-14 with a HR and 5 RBI off Kendrick.
My big concern with this game is that number of 9.5. It feels like it could go soaring over, and our job is to determine if that is indeed the case, or if this number came out below 10 because of Volstad's career success against most of the Phillies not named Ryan Howard. I'd say it's a little surprising, in fact, but Volstad is 2-2 with a 3.21 ERA against Philadelphia, and against a clunker of a starter like Kendrick, this line is where it is for a reason. Slight lean to the Marlins, and slight lean to the Over.

Pirates @ Braves (-180) with a total of 8.5; Z. Duke vs. D. Lowe;
These pitchers recently faced this opponent, so we'll go off recent trends and career numbers, though I should note up front that it's too expensive to play Lowe, and way too risky to play Duke. Duke is on one of his better rolls, and he's given up just 1 earned run (2 total) over his last 2 starts, one against the Braves. Lowe gave up 2 runs in 5 innings against these Pirates, a team that he's owned to the tune of an 8-0 career mark. Lowe really hasn't been up to snuff this year, and even though he's 6-4 this year, his 5.30 ERA is a better indicator of his slightly ineffective stuff. I wouldn't touch the Braves in this game.

Mets @ Brewers (-120) with a total of 7; J. Santana vs. Y. Gallardo;
Ryan Braun is 7-for-13 with 5 RBI off Santana;
Prince Fielder is 5-for-13 with a HR off Santana;
Corey Hart is 6-for-13 off Santana;
Rickie Weeks is 4-for-10 with 2 HR off Santana.
Johan has been very, very strong this year, and while his ERA isn't among the League leaders, it certainly could be if you yanked out the 10-run implosion in Philadelphia. Gallardo is walking too many batters, but his stuff is good enough that he's usually able to escape messes, for the most part. Gallardo has been good in his brief work against the Mets, and the Brewers have been able to at least score a couple runs off Santana in his career. The Mets continue to be a great team to back at home, and not so great to back on the road. Slight lean to Milwaukee.

Dodgers @ Rockies (-145) with a total of 9.5; C. Monasterios vs. J. Francis;
Ronnie Belliard is 3-for-8 off Francis;
Rafael Furcal is 8-for-21 off Francis;
Russ Martin is 7-for-21 off Francis.
Jeff Francis has an 0.68 ERA since coming off the DL, and his ability to hit the ground running has been huge for the Rockies, who are starting to play better baseball. The Dodgers remain about one spoke short of a wheel on the road, and without Ethier, and with Manny battling injury, the offense that can make up for any pitching issues on the road just isn't there, and the ability to scratch out runs in low-scoring games is hurting a little, as well. This line is accurate, and while I'd love to back somebody in this Division rivalry game, I think one of the other weekend tilts may hold more value for us.

Nationals @ Padres (-165) with a total of 6.5; J. Lannan vs. C. Richard;
Will Venable is 4-for-11 off Lannan.
Richard is 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA against the Nats, and we've seen how well the Padres pitch at home. Lannan is coming off a nice start but got jobbed of a win when Capps blew the save. He's 0-2 against the Padres, but has a solid 3.12 ERA against them. I can't lay 165 on a game with a total of 6.5. If you're going to lay -165, you have to have the expectation that your team can score more than a couple runs. Pass.

Diamondbacks @ Giants (-145) with a total of 7.5; E. Jackson vs. M. Cain;
Stephen Drew is 7-for-18 with 2 HR and 5 RBI off Cain;
Conor Jackson is 6-for-16 with 3 RBI off Cain;
Kelly Johnson is 3-for-7 off Cain.
Call me crazy, but I actually really like what Jackson has been doing lately. He dominated the Marlins, then came back and was cruising against the Jays, up by 7 runs, and may have been left in the game a tad long. Toronto clubbed a pair of homers in the 8th inning, that led to 3 additional runs, and so Jackson's start didn't look outstanding even though he pitched pretty well. Cain remains the guy with no run support, and managed to lose his last start 1-0 to the A's. Well, here he faces a D'backs team that has actually hit him harder than the League average. I think this line is pretty cheap on Cain because Jackson is going to pitch well, and the low total tells us the same. Lean to Arizona.

American League

Indians @ Yankees (-245) with a total of 9; F. Carmona vs. P. Hughes;
Robinson Cano is 5-for-15 with 3 RBI off Carmona;
Derek Jeter is 5-for-14 with 3 RBI off Carmona;
Mark Teixeira is 5-for-14 with a HR and 3 RBI off Carmona.
This line is too high to work with, and not going to waste time. Short version - DON'T BET FAVORITES THIS BIG. And you guys know how I feel about home run lines.

Athletics @ Tigers (-120) with a total of 9; B. Sheets vs. D. Willis;
Adam Everett, amazingly, is 8-for-20 with a HR and 5 RBI off Sheets.
Yeah, not a ton to go off, here. Recent trends would seem to indicate that Sheets is the way to go, though the Tigers are a tough out at home. Sheets has pitched relatively well over his last 4 starts, and Dontrelle is trending down. He's starting to walk too many, again, and as a result just is not going deep in games. Detroit has a great bullpen, so Dontrelle leaving early isn't that huge of an edge, but if indeed Sheets can continue to pitch well, I think the A's could steal this first one in Detroit before the Tigers settle into their normal daily lives at home. Lean to Oakland.

Orioles @ Blue Jays (-180) with a total of 8; K. Millwood vs. S. Marcum;
Adam Jones is 3-for-10 with a HR off Marcum before 2010;
Nick Markakis is 9-for-18 with 5 HR and 6 RBI off Marcum before 2010;
Corey Patterson was 3-for-7 off Marcum;
Miguel Tejada was 6-for-13 with 3 HR and 7 RBI off Marcum before 2010;
John Buck was 7-for-16 with 6 RBI off Millwood;
Aaron Hill is 6-for-19 off Millwood;
Lyle Overbay is 5-for-13 with 2 HR off Millwood.
REMATCH ALERT! Millwood and Marcum went head-to-head earlier this year, and both pitched well enough to win, but some bad defense by the O's led to a handful of unearned runs, and that was the difference in the game. Marcum has had some issues with a few of the current Orioles, though he's crushing the League thus far in 2010, and pitched well against Baltimore, too. Still, you know how I love the rematches, and Millwood is constantly on the wrong end of some tough luck. The value is entirely with Baltimore, here.

White Sox @ Rays (-210) with a total of 8.5; F. Garcia vs. D. Price;
David Price did actually give up 3 runs in just 5 innings earlier this year to the White Sox, so this isn't his favorite team to face. His 0-2 record and 5.73 ERA against the Southsiders is additional evidence of that. Freddy Garcia continues to be consistently mediocre, so if you needed someone to create some value opposite Price, Garcia might not be that guy. Volume bettors, grab the dog. Everyone else, pass!

Royals @ Red Sox (-185) with a total of 9.5; K. Davies vs. T. Wakefield;
Yuny Betancourt is 5-for-13 with a HR off Wakefield;
Jason Kendall is 3-for-10 off Wakefield;
Victor Martinez is 4-for-12 with a HR and 2 RBI off Davies;
Marco Scutaro is 5-for-8 with 2 HR off Davies.
This is that weird starter that, for some reason, just loves facing the Red Sox. I know, Kyle Davies, of all people. He has a career 2.45 ERA against Boston, and it's not over a ton of work, but it's there, and Marco Scutaro is really the only Sox bat that has been consistently good, and I wonder if he struggles now that Davies sees a Boston jersey on him. Wakefield has marginal career numbers against the Royals, and I'd almost be inclined to back KC in this game, if Boston weren't so freaking hot right now. This one makes the list as a very weak lean.

Rangers @ Twins (-120) with a total of 9; C. Lewis vs. K. Slowey;
Jim Thome is a perfect 3-for-3 with a HR and 5 RBI off Lewis since '05.
Surprisingly little background info on the Slowey side, so we'll go on recent trends in this one. The Twins are coming off another rough series with the Yanks (though last night's game has yet to conclude while I type this), but either way the Yanks won another series from Minnesota, and the Twins need to bounce back, somehow. Slowey is coming off a nice outing, but a rather short one against the Milwaukee Brewers, and he remains a consistently back-of-the-rotation talent, giving up a few runs over 5+ innings most times out. Lewis has the higher upside in this match-up, but he's been a little erratic. He's coming off a good start last time out, though it's tough to know if he's coming back out of a slump, or if the Cubs anemic offense just made him look good. Pass.

Mariners (-120) @ Angels with a total of 8; C. Lee vs. S. Kazmir;
Franklin Gutierrez is 6-for-15 with 3 HR and 4 RBI off Kazmir;
Torii Hunter is 6-for-15 with a HR and 5 RBI off Lee;
Juan Rivera is 5-for-12 with 3 HR and 4 RBI off Lee.
There are a lot of guys that don't do squat against these starters, but then there are those 3 names listed that crush the listed pitchers. I have to say, though, it's been about 3 or 4 days since I saw a line that seemed fishy, and Cliff Lee being just a -120 favorite against a struggling do-nothing lefty like Kazmir is just all kinds of crazy. Kazmir's gone 7 innings in each of his last 2 starts, but he's allowed 7 runs, and is still really looking for that shut-down start. Lee is coming off a dismal start against the Padres, but he's so far beyond Kazmir in terms of stuff and execution, I just can't put the pieces together on this thing between so close to a pick. I have to lean Angels based on the screwball line, no question.

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