Thursday, June 10, 2010

Interleague Madness Returns, Day 1

Winner in the NBA, but that's what I expect. Doesn't mean I'm not going to be happy about it, but you guys know how I feel about what we can accomplish in the Association.

I'm making up a new excuse. I'm not sure a handicapper has used this one before: "Handicapping Jetlag."

That's what happened to our baseball plays, yesterday, as both afternoon tilts were straight-up fugly. The Tigers couldn't get a ball out of the infield, and the Cubs played like someone had dosed their pregame PB & J with Valium.

Okay, I'll stop that. There are about 95% of you that know when I'm being facetious, but there's probably 1 or 2 birds out there that thought I was being serious, and was getting all fired up to write an angry response about "handicappers making lame excuses." So, I'll save you the time - that stunk, but baseball is still well in the positive over the last 3 weeks, and one furball of an afternoon isn't going to change that.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Cardinals (-145) @ Diamondbacks with a total of 9.5; J. Garcia vs. R. Lopez;
Felipe Lopez was 3-for-5 with 2 HR off Lopez before this season.
Jaime Garcia is getting a tiny bit more hittable with every start, and to me, that's why this line is somewhat affordable. He allowed 8 hits in a start for the first time in his last trip to the hill, and I believe that came on ESPN Sunday Night baseball against the Brewers. That ERA of 1.47 is still microscopic, but the day is coming when Garcia is going to give up 4 runs in 4 innings in a few starts in a row, and I just don't want anyone to be surprised when it does. Lopez, interestingly, went 7 innings of 2-run ball against the Cards earlier this year, and lost that one 4-2 to Brad Penny. He's 2-1 with a 5.25 ERA against the Cards in his career, but, as noted, posted a nice mid-2's ERA against them this season. I would be careful before blindly backing the Cardinals -- they're struggling to hit, and Arizona can definitely put up some runs at home.
Leans: None

Interleague Play

White Sox @ Cubs (-135) with a total of N/A; J. Peavy vs. R. Wells;
Juan Pierre is 3-for-5 off Wells;
Alfonso Soriano is 5-for-14 with 2 HR and 5 RBI off Peavy;
Kosuke Fukudome is 4-for-6 off Peavy.
Tough to even think about backing the Cubs after watching their effort in Milwaukee yesterday, but I suppose we have to at least compare the two teams and can't immediately choose one, or none. Peavy is having a pretty poor season. He has 3 nice starts to begin May, but has regressed considerably since. That is, until his last start, a 7-inning, 2-run performance (the resulted in a loss) against the Indians. Now, back in the NL, Peavy has a chance to pick on a very poor-hitting team in the Cubbies. Wells is struggling a bit, as well, though the White Sox are pretty sad on the offensive side, too. Both pitchers have nice career numbers against the other team, Peavy with slightly more work than Wells, so it's tough to say one club has a distinct edge. Still, at this price, you have to look at the dog first, even if Peavy's ERA is hovering near 6.
Leans: White Sox-1

Astros @ Yankees (-290) with a total of 9; B. Myers vs. A. Pettitte;
When the line gets this high, it almost doesn't matter who has done what to who else. We're not going to play a side, so let's use this energy to dominate a different game on the card. Side note - Brett Myers is 2-0 with a 3.07 ERA against the Yanks in his career, so I'd be awfully careful before laying 3-to-1 odds that the Bombers make waste of a suddenly hot(ter) Astros club.
Leans: None

Mets (-120) @ Orioles with a total of 8.5; R. Dickey vs. J. Guthrie;
Jason Bay is 6-for-12 with 3 HR and 4 RBI off Guthrie.
Jeremy Guthrie is actually kind of hot, right now. Sure, he's 3-6 on the season, but that 3.71 ERA doesn't lie. He's coming off 7.1 innings of 2-run ball against the Red Sox in a game that, not surprisingly, the Orioles wound up losing, but the mere fact that Guthrie has only given up over 4 runs in a start once all season (to the Yankees) is a testament to his return to decent form. R.A. Dickey has pitched pretty well in all 4 starts for the Mets this year, but we have to remember how bad the Mets have played on the road. I know the Orioles are "radioactive", as I've said a few times, but I strongly believe there's a reason this line is so low.
Leans: Orioles-2

Pirates @ Tigers (-250) with a total of 8; R. Ohlendorf vs. J. Verlander;
Aki Iwamura is 3-for-10 with a HR off Verlander.
In the surprise twist of the century, Ross Ohlendorf is actually 1-0 with a 0.96 ERA lifetime against Detroit, and current Tigers have done absolutely nothing against him. It's limited action, but the 2010 Tigers are 2-for-16 as a team against Ross. Verlander is a beast, and the Tigers are going to feel like they're facing a more seasoned Strasburg (though Verlander's curve is far less devastating), and I wouldn't be surprised to see this one end with someone winning 1-0, assuming the bullpens do their job.
Leans: Under-2

Nationals @ Indians (-110) with a total of 9; L. Atilano vs. J. Westbrook;
No shocker, here, that we don't have much data to work with. Pudge Rodriguez is 5-for-23 lifetime off Westbrook, but that's about all we have. Westbrook is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA against the Nationals, but that doesn't help us much. Let's check out how these guys have pitched, recently. In truth, Atilano has been pitching better than Westbrook, as the Indians hurler is coming off getting shelled by the White Sox. It will be an interesting task for Atilano to deal with the AL, but pitchers only hit in a few Minor Leagues anyway, so he's probably more used to it than we might think.
Leans: None

Marlins @ Rays (-175) with a total of 9; A. Sanchez vs. J. Shields;
Chris Coghlan is 3-for-6 off Shields;
Hanley Ramirez is 8-for-19 with a HR and 2 RBI off Shields.
Shields is 2-1 with a 4.12 ERA against the Marlins, and we have a little more data there than expected, thanks to this being something of a makeshift rivalry game. This line is probably too high for us to legitimately work with, but for what it's worth, Sanchez is coming off a less-than-stellar start against the Mets, though his season numbers continue to look impressive. Shields is coming off 2 straight rough starts, though his defense let him down in his most recent effort in Texas. I don't think Florida has enough of an edge on this line to warrant a play on the underdog, and the favorite is simply too expensive.
Leans: None

Royals @ Reds (-170) with a total of 9; L. Hochevar vs. B. Arroyo;
Willie Bloomquist is 4-for-6 with 3 RBI off Arroyo;
Scott Podsednik is 4-for-6 off Arroyo, too.
We might not even see the bullpen in this one. Talk about a matchup of workhorses. Hochevar has gone at least 7 innings in his last 4 straight starts, and Arroyo, aside from that bad effort against the Cards, has gone at least 6.2 innings in 7 of 8 starts. That being said, Hochevar is 1-0 with a 1.00 ERA against Cincinnati, and he's really made huge strides this year. The Royals are elated with his progress. Arroyo, meanwhile, is 0-2 with a 5.52 ERA against the Royals. He's been pitching better this year, too, and both of these starters have almost the exact same numbers. So, what causes this -170 line? The bullpens? The Royals pen has been a little better, and offensively, the Royals aren't exactly struggling. I can't help but think this line is inflated because of the Royals name.
Leans: Royals-2

Phillies @ Red Sox (-155) with a total of 10; J. Moyer vs. J. Lackey;
Raul Ibanez is batting .394 off Lackey with 3 RBI since '05;
Bill Hall was 6-for-11 off Moyer before 2010;
David Ortiz was 3-for-7 with 2 HR off Moyer between '05 and '09;
Marco Scutaro was 9-for-27 with a HR off Moyer from '05-'09.
Jamie Moyer's career numbers against the Red Sox are ghastly, at 3-9 with a 6.41 ERA. Boston is the perfect antidote to Moyer's junk. They're patient, they're veteran, they'll go opposite field, or, considering this game at Fenway, a deep flyball is a double off the monster in left. Of course, at -155, you're paying quite a price on a guy who is still putting almost 2 men on base every inning. Yes, he's starting to bring that ERA into the mid-4's, but when you consider the competition (Oakland, Baltimore), Lackey's ERA should come down facing those loser offenses. Probably too expensive to play Boston, but I sure as heck wouldn't play Moyer in Fenway.
Leans: Boston-1

Braves @ Twins (-128) with a total of 7.5; T. Hudson vs. F. Liriano;
The Braves haven't seen Liriano at all, so nothing to work with, there, other than Liriano coming off a thoroughly dominant effort in Oakland. Still, if you eliminate that beating, Liriano has been pretty average since a blindingly hot start to the year. Tim Hudson is coming back to Earth a little bit, too. He gave up 4 runs (3 earned) to the Dodgers in his last start, though I guess you could argue that there's no team that a righthander would less like to face these days. Still, he hasn't had that shutdown start in his last 3 outings, and while his career numbers of 6-2 with a 2.15 ERA against the Twins look good, they mostly came back in the early parts of the millennium. The Twins are hot right now, coming off a series win against the Royals, and the Braves are traveling from Arizona - just seems like a tough opener for the Bravos.
Leans: Twins-2

Rangers (-130) @ Brewers with a total of 10; R. Harden vs. C. Narveson;
Corey Hart is 3-for-7 with a HR off Harden;
Casey McGehee is 3-for-3 with 3 RBI off Harden.
Both of these starters have been downright mediocre most of the season. Seems like every time out, they each surrender 4 runs in 5 innings. Harden throws way too many pitches, so he exits early regardless, and Narveson gets yanked because he's stinking. Either way, you're into the bullpen by the 6th inning, at the latest, and the total is probably up near 8. That total of 10 is a little scary, given that the Brewers aren't exactly a consistent offensive club. Texas has been hitting well, though, so I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them hit 5-6 runs in this one by themselves. And, on top of all that, the Brewers used their best relievers in yesterday's game with the Cubs.
Leans: Over-3

Blue Jays @ Rockies (-205) with a total of 7.5; R. Romero vs. U. Jimenez;
Melvin Mora is 3-for-9 off Romero.
Wow, I would have thought you might be able to snag Jimenez for just under -200 against a stud like Romero, but here we are. Considering the Jays are the better team, here, this line has basically said that if you're betting Jimenez the rest of the way, you're going to be absolutely getting reamed on the price. We have literally nothing to work off, here, and I'd say it's safe to say that Jimenez has been pitching just fine, of late. Romero is coming off back-to-back sterling outings, so he could very well hold the Rockies in check. I just don't know if I can back a guy on his first trip to Coors.
Leans: Jays-1

Mariners @ Padres (-140) with a total of 7; J. Vargas vs. K. Correia;
Ryan Langerhans is 3-for-4 with a HR and 2 RBI off Correia;
David Eckstein is 2-for-4 with a HR off Vargas.
Considering the way that Correia has pitched since returning from the Bereavement List, this line seems awfully expensive. I'm a little concerned that it's "asking" for Seattle money, but we'll get some more info on this when the betting percentages become available. Vargas is sort of equilibrating, though he's still getting through 6 innings or more in every start, and most of them are quality efforts. Correia doesn't look right, and this line, hopefully, is just inflated because of the Padres run of success this year. Also, San Diego is coming off a double-header in New York that took them late into the evening, yesterday. Seattle is coming from Minnesota, so they actually have the energy advantage.
Leans: Mariners-3

Angels @ Dodgers (-165) with a total of 8.5; J. Pineiro vs. C. Billingsley;
Erick Aybar is 3-for-10 off Billingsley;
Casey Blake is 7-for-12 with a HR off Pineiro;
Jamey Carroll is 3-for-6 with 2 RBI off Pineiro;
Rafael Furcal is 3-for-8 off Pineiro;
Reed Johnson is 3-for-8 with a HR off Pineiro;
Manny Ramirez is 5-for-16 off Pineiro with a HR.
The Angels have, historically, played the Dodgers very, very tough, but one of the Dodgers starters that has been very solid against the team from down the road is this one. Billingsley is just 1-2 against Anaheim, but his 2.89 ERA and fine work against the Angels bats keeps the Dodgers in the game every time. The issue was that the Dodgers never really hit the Angels. Pineiro is still a Cardinal, as far as I'm concerned, and he's 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA against the Dodgers, despite the 4 or 5 regulars that have hit him pretty hard. This line is pretty accurate, given the Dodgers confidence at home.
Leans: Dodgers-2

Athletics @ Giants (-185) with a total of 6.5; G. Gonzalez vs. T. Lincecum;
Kevin Kouzmanoff is batting .351 off Lincecum with 2 RBI.
We know Gonzalez can pitch. He shut the Giants down for 8 innings when he faced them a few weeks back in Oakland. Now, on the other side of the bay, he draws the Freak. Lincecum is coming off another start where he allowed 3 earned runs, but he looked a little more like himself. His walks were back down to just 2 (instead of 5), and he only allowed 6 hits in 7 innings. He got burned by the home run ball, but that shouldn't be an issue in the thick Bay Area night air and that large San Francisco ballpark. This total is set at 6.5 for good reason, and the only way this game goes over is if one of these guys has a wild streak and starts issuing free passes.
Leans: None

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