Monday, June 07, 2010

Green Tea Party

We only had one day off between Finals games, so you know I'm about as happy as ever! Of course, it's bittersweet, as with every NBA Finals contest, we get one game closer to the end of NBA until Halloween-time. Yes, there's the draft, but that joy of the NBA season and just killing that sport all year long will sorely be missed.

Of course, in the meantime, we might as well cash in on some other sports, and while we did drop yesterday's 1* Rangers play, it's VERY tough to find fault in the MLB run we've put together. We're on a 5-2 Paid MLB run, a 5-2 Free MLB run, we've won 12 of 17 Paid Plays in all sports, and long story short, the last 3 weeks have been a wonderful turnaround from the previous 2.

A tip of the cap to Cliff Lee who drastically lowered his 9+ ERA in Arlington. We'll get that one back tonight, and then some!

Sports Wagering: NBA

Lakers @ Celtics - Boston by 2.5 with a total of 193. These numbers are holding pretty steady for the first 24 hours of betting. I'm sure we'll see some movement leading up to the game, and we'll react accordingly. A few notes on game two - the Celtics outworked the Lakers. In particular, Rajon Rondo. His effort on getting out and running early in the game, and his work on the offensive glass late in the game was, in my opinion, the difference between a win and a loss. He helped Boston build a lead with the assistance of hot-shooting Ray Allen, so when the Lakers made their run, it was a run that put LA up by 3 points instead of up by 10-12. Then, with the game tied in the waning minutes, Boston hit the big shots, and the Lakers didn't; it's as simple as that. My thoughts moving forward are that the Lakers probably won't have to play half the game with Kobe Bryant in foul trouble, and that Boston made the adjustment to try to get some easy buckets early, and I think the Lakers will likely make a point of getting back and stopping the transition efforts. I think LA improved defensively as the game wore on, but that's why that big Boston early lead was so important, since the Lakers were expending a ton of energy getting back into the game. I suppose another point of contention that folks have been arguing into the ground is the officiating. Boston fans are going to say they're getting screwed; Lakers fans are going to say that the two ghost-fouls on Kobe Bryant cost them game two. They're both right, and they're both wrong. Yes, the game was called extremely close, and because Boston likes to push and shove, they ended up getting a ton of silly whistles. And yes, there were a few instances where, and maybe it was a result of getting calls in game one, Kobe was the victim of some good acting or some fuzzy officiating. Either way, the games were slow, ugly, and featured a ridiculous number of fouls and free throws. Moving forward, how does this change the series? Well, I personally thought we'd see a relaxation of the whistle between games 1 and 2, but that didn't happen. Why should we assume it will happen now? David Stern wants a clean series, but the refs have taken things a bit too far. I think things will be a TINY bit more fluid in game 3, but I don't believe people should expect a complete overhaul of the officiating. They're not going to just change the way they're calling things overnight -- what they might do is allow a little more "nuzzling" on the perimeter, maybe a little more shoving for post position, and maybe they'll call 3 moving screens instead of 4-5. I also think that getting beat at home is going to lead to an interesting game from LA. Normally, they sort of take a night off when they get on the road, but this series hit them in the mouth quicker than usual. Boston hasn't been much better at home than on the road, but that's largely because of how good they've been on the road. I happen to think we see another game decided very, very late, which means we're looking at a potential coin-flip, but with Kobe "in-rhythm", that is, not sitting with foul trouble, I think you have to give him the slight edge to hit those big shots. One final note regarding Andrew Bynum: I am very curious to see how his knee holds up after a long flight and the quick turn-around between Sunday and Tuesday. His impact has been pretty significant as the biggest man on the floor, and if he's not well, that's going to hurt LA. Should be another fun one, regardless!

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Marlins @ Phillies (-140) with a total of 9.5; C. Volstad vs. K. Kendrick;
Jorge Cantu was 5-for-9 with 2 HR and 5 RBI off Kendrick before 2010;
Cody Ross was 3-for-8 off Kendrick before 2010;
Dan Uggla was 5-for-14 with a HR and 5 RBI off Kendrick before 2010;
Ryan Howard was 6-for-15 with 4 HR and 5 RBI off Volstad before 2010.
REMATCH ALERT! These two went head-to-head in Florida just under 2 weeks ago in a game that Kendrick and the Phils won by the final score of 3-2. Kendrick has pitched very well his last 2 times on the hill, surrendering just 2 unearned runs to the Fish before a 7-inning, 1-run effort against Atlanta. Kendrick's career numbers against Florida aren't all that impressive, but he's throwing the ball well right now, and that makes him dangerous. Volstad has nice numbers against Philadelphia, except Ryan Howard, and he gave up 3 runs in 6.1 innings of that eventual loss. Philly appears to be waking up a little, but the Marlins are getting some renewed life from a top prospect, and I wonder how he impacts the team.
Leans: Marlins-3

Pirates @ Nationals (-210) with a total of 8.5; J. Karstens vs. S. Strasburg;
Adam Dunn is 2-for-4 with a HR off Karstens;
Ryan Zimmerman is 2-for-5 with a HR and 2 RBI off Karstens.
Well, -210. Not a bad opening line for the biggest hype machine to hit the Bigs, maybe ever? I'm not sure how someone can back the Nationals at this price. They're simply not that great of a team. I'm not sure I can back Pittsburgh, either, as Karstens has a lifetime ERA of 9.35 against the Nats, but that price on a kid that is likely going to be so amped that he blows 25 pitches in the first inning, at least? No thanks. Strasburg will probably have a good outing, but something tells me the Nats pen blows this one for him.
Leans: None

Padres @ Mets (-135) with a total of 7.5; C. Richard vs. M. Pelfrey;
I might just skip typing up the player numbers for this series, not just this game, since these teams squared off just a few days ago in San Diego. Okay, so perhaps a new pitcher will sneak in there, but these two guys are perfectly familiar with the other. In fact, each is making a second consecutive start against this opponent. Richard went 6 innings of 1-run ball of a game that the Padres won in extra-innings over Johan Santana, and Pelfrey went 8 innings of 1-run ball in a 4-2 Mets win. Now, back at home, this price on Pelfrey is remarkably cheap. I know Richard has a 2.87 ERA on the season, and has perfectly decent career numbers against New York, but Pelfrey is 8-1, and might very well be the 2nd best pitcher in the NL behind Ubaldo Jimenez this season. I know, that sounds nuts, but his ability to dominate teams when the Mets need it has been pretty impressive. The Padres look to be regressing a tad on this road trip, but if Richard keeps pitching as well as he has been, the battle of the bullpens is a scary one.
Leans: Mets-3

Giants (-140) @ Reds with a total of 8.5; M. Cain vs. S. LeCure;
Orlando Cabrera is 3-for-10 with 2 HR and 3 RBI off Cain since '05;
Laynce Nix is 4-for-7 with a HR off Cain;
Joey Votto is 4-for-12 off Cain with an RBI.
This price is simply too high to back Cain. And while Matt has been nearly untouchable over his last 3 or 4 starts, dropping his season ERA down to a microscopic 2.36, laying -140 on the road to a team with a better season record is just not among the things I like to do often. Sam LeCure is 1-1 with a 3.97 ERA on the year, and he's never faced the Giants, and while I'd love to try to get some value with the home dog, here, I think this one might best be avoided.
Leans: None

Cubs @ Brewers (-140) with a total of 8; T. Lilly vs. Y. Gallardo;
Kosuke Fukudome is 3-for-8 off Gallardo;
Derrek Lee is 3-for-7 off Gallardo with 2 RBI;
Aramis Ramirez is 3-for-8 off Gallardo;
Geovany Soto is 3-for-8 with a HR and 2 RBI off Gallardo;
Ryan Theriot is 4-or-7 off Gallardo;
Ryan Braun is 7-for-16 with 2 HR off Lilly;
Prince Fielder is 8-for-18 off Lilly with 1 HR and 2 RBI.
A fair number of offensive numbers in this match-up, which makes me think that total of 8 might be a tad low if we could trust either team. But we can't, so let's look at the sides, instead. The Cubs are coming off finally getting a win over the Pirates, and it was a pretty easy 6-1 victory, at that. They're not going to be particularly well-rested, but they're probably feeling a little better about themselves after that monkey-off-the-back winner. The Brewers are coming home off a win over the Cardinals, but they continue to win very few games, and then lose a handful. Gallardo has been a bright spot, darn near dominant, but his lifetime 5.64 ERA against Chicago is intriguing from a fade perspective. Ted Lilly is starting to round into form, and while he's getting squat for run support (hence the 1-5 record and 3.61 strange pair), he shut out Milwaukee for 6 innings earlier this year, and the Brewers are awful at home.
Leans: Cubs-4

Astros @ Rockies (-210) with a total of 9.5; B. Moehler vs. J. Francis;
Carlos Lee is 3-for-7 with a HR and 5 RBI off Francis;
Clint Barmes is 5-for-11 with a HR and 2 RBI off Moehler;
Brad Hawpe is 4-for-7 with a HR and 2 RBI off Moehler;
Troy Tulowitzki is 3-for-5 with a HR and 3 RBI off Moehler.
Looking at the big underdog is generally a wise move, but I don't know if that's the case with Moehler. He's been terrible basically his entire Big League career, and his 6.67 lifetime ERA against Colorado isn't exactly confidence-inspiring. Francis holds a 2.21 lifetime mark against Houston, and while he's trending down, that's not a strong enough indicator to put us on the other side.
Leans: None

Braves (-120) @ Diamondbacks with a total of 9.5; K. Medlen vs. E. Jackson;
Another short line - I think bettors have to enjoy having this many options on the card, and we're not even to the AL yet! Medlen has been excellent as a starter, and he's starting to improve his stamina, as well. Medlen is coming off a 7.1-inning, 2-earned performance against the Dodgers, and now will try out his arsenal on the suddenly-hot-hitting D'backs. Edwin Jackson has been pitching well, too, and he is redefining horse. The D'backs are just riding Edwin until his arm falls off, thanks to the terrible bullpen. I'm a little concerned that Jackson might suffer some sort of setback after throwing about 200 pitches in his last start, and for that reason, I might have to stay off this game. I'll take another peek at it, but for now, the only feelings I'm getting about this game involve the eerily high total, and the fact that both pitchers are trending up.
Leans: Under-1

Cardinals (-125) @ Dodgers with a total of 7; C. Carpenter vs. H. Kuroda;
I'm having some issues coming up with numbers on Kuroda here, for whatever reason. Don't worry, I'll dig them up, and will have some thoughts on this one in the a.m. For now, without seeing Kuroda's numbers, I'm already thinking about Carpenter. The Dodgers teed off on some crummy hurlers last night, but Carpenter has long been able to neutralize the Dodgers. Even though LA managed to tackle Carp in the playoffs, this is not a guy that has surrendered much to LA during the regular season.
Leans: Cardinals-3

American League

Red Sox (-165) @ Indians with a total of 10; T. Wakefield vs. D. Huff;
The only lean I might even come close to offering would be the Over. I figure I'll just get that out there up front. Wakefield's knuckler isn't really moving this year, and David Huff is awful. Of course, because of that, the total is inflated to begin with, which makes this play not a very good value. Just because the total is inflated doesn't mean the game is going to stay Under, but there's almost no good reason to make a play when you're not getting the best of it.
Leans: Over-1

Yankees (-235) @ Orioles with a total of 8.5; P. Hughes vs. K. Millwood;
REMATCH ALERT! Is anyone else as tired of handicapping Kevin Millwood starts as I am? I don't know why. Maybe it's his 0-6 record, or maybe it's just Baltimore, but I am just completely annoyed with running numbers on Millwood games. He's coming off a bad start against these very same Yankees, too. If we turn the clock back to April, though, these two starters squared off here in Baltimore, and the Orioles managed to win that game 5-4. Phil Hughes doesn't have outstanding history with Baltimore, though they remain so bad that I just don't even know if I can recommend playing them. Still, with the O's coming off a win, I wonder if maybe they'll get a little confidence and win another?
Leans: Orioles-1

Blue Jays @ Rays (-200) with a total of 9; B. Tallet vs. J. Niemann;
REMATCH ALERT! I was sort of hoping the line on this one wouldn't be so girthy, since these two pitchers squared off on June 1st in Toronto in a game the Jays' bullpen completely blew. Niemann has been on the winning side of two games against Toronto this year, already, but really hasn't pitched that well in either of them. Is this the time Toronto finally breaks through? Tallet's career 2-1, 5.11 mark against Tampa isn't really getting my juices flowing, though he did go 5.2 shutout innings against them a week ago. I have to think that the Rays hit Tallet a little harder this time, and I also have to think that Niemann pitches better against the Jays this time. But without a bullpen implosion, Toronto at least has a shot.
Leans: Blue Jays-2

Mariners @ Rangers (-125) with a total of 8.5; F. Hernandez vs. C. Lewis;
This game marks the 3rd start this season for each of these gentlemen against this opposition. However, neither of the previous stats came against each other. Hernandez went 1-1 against Matt Harrison, and Colby Lewis beat the Mariners twice, knocking off Jason Vargas and then Cliff Lee. Can Lewis keep up that sort of complete dominance? The 3rd start against a team is often the anomaly, as the team that was getting throttled makes a few adjustments, and the guy doing the beating, in this case Lewis, might be a little less focused. Hernandez is getting on one of his rolls, so that's reason for optimism in Mariners country. He beat Texas here in Texas back on April 10, but then got creamed by the Rangers while dealing with a sore back in early May. However, his last time out might have been his best start of the year, holding the Twins to just a single run in 8 innings, striking out 9 and walking just 1 - that's a big boy start against a good offensive club.
Leans: Mariners-3

Tigers @ White Sox (-125) with a total of 9; A. Galarraga vs. G. Floyd;
Johnny Damon is 5-for-8 with a HR and 3 RBI off Floyd since '05;
Carlos Guillen is 8-for-23 with a HR and 3 RBI off Floyd since '05;
Ryan Raburn is 9-for-23 off Floyd;
Ramon Santiago is 4-for-13 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Floyd;
Paul Konerko is 3-for-7 with 3 RBI off Galarraga.
All those player numbers would seemingly point to a play on the Tigers, wouldn't they? Well, that's why we use other tools, as well. Galarraga is coming off the "almost" perfect game, so the value is probably not going to be on his side. Floyd is still sporting an ERA of 6.64 on the season, and yet, against a team with a better record, Floyd is a small favorite. Checking out some more numbers, Galarraga is 1-2 with a 5.06 career ERA against the White Sox, and Floyd is a perfect 5-0 against Detroit. The White Sox tend to play the Tigers tough, too.
Leans: White Sox-3

Royals @ Twins (-125) with a total of 8; Z. Greinke vs. K. Slowey;
Mike Aviles is 4-for-11 off Slowey before 2010;
Alberto Callaspo was 3-for-8 off Slowey before this season;
David DeJesus was 5-for-14 with a HR and 7 RBI off Slowey before 2010;
Delmon Young was 4-for-11 with a HR and 5 RBI off Greinke before 2010.
I'm a little confused as to why Greinke hates the Twins so much. From a pure average standpoint, they don't seem to hit him all that hard, but he just can't quite get over that hump. Greinke is 3-5 with a 3.92 ERA against Minnesota, and pitched a dud against them earlier this year. Slowey has been decent enough for the Twins this year, though one of his poorer starts did come against these Royals. There would seem to be a little value in the Over, here, if we thought both teams would do some hitting, but it's a little dicey since Greinke could turn it on for one night, and the Royals pen isn't as bad as it used to be.
Leans: Over-2

Angels (-155) @ Athletics with a total of 8.5; J. Weaver vs. V. Mazzaro;
Maicer Izturis is 3-for-6 with a HR and 3 RBI off Mazzaro;
Gabe Gross is 3-for-7 with a HR and 2 RBI off Weaver.
Jered Weaver is 3-3 with a 2.61 ERA against the Athletics, and honestly, I would have expected a better record. He tossed 6 innings of 1-run baseball earlier this year, and the Angels did go on to win that one. Weaver is 5-2 with a 2.74 ERA on the season, definite All-Star level stuff on display most nights. Vin Mazzaro, a youngster I had the pleasure of seeing briefly when he pitched with Stockton, is 0-1 with a 7.88 ERA against the Angels, gave up 4 runs in 3 innings in his only start this year, and doesn't appear quite ready to make the leap to the Bigs. I can't believe I'm saying this, but laying road chalk doesn't seem all that insane, here.
Leans: Angels-2

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