Friday, June 11, 2010

Interleague Madness Returns, Day 2

It's weekend time, so no sense waiting until all the games are over to get this Preview up and running. Some will enjoy this obscenely early posting time, others will cluck their tongues and call me "mad," but one thing is for certain, games are getting played, and we handicapped 'em. So there.

Let's roll, a lot to like on this card, for a change!

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Cardinals @ Diamondbacks (-140) with a total of 9; A. Ottavino vs. D. Haren;
Matt Holliday is 5-for-11 with 2 HR and 3 RBI.
Interestingly, Haren has faced the Cards already this year, and despite giving up 7 runs in 6 innings, the D'backs won 9-7. This is a different Haren now than in April, though, as his pitches are finally starting to dance, and his numbers are slowly creeping back from awful to mediocre. Pitching at home is tough, though, as Chase Field seems to get more and more hitter friendly by the year, and Haren struggled a bit with the Braves at home 5 days ago. He's 3-0 against the Cards with a 4.29 ERA, but that number was massaged north by the 7-run effort this season. Ottavino has been, well, not good in his two starts, and you have to think the D'backs are going to score a few off him, but is this price too much for a team that can't protect a late 2-run lead?
Leans: D'backs-1

Interleague Play

Astros @ Yankees (-245) with a total of 9.5; W. Rodriguez vs. J. Vazquez;
I'd love to say that THIS is the time to fade the Yankees at home, but it just doesn't seem quite right. Wandy is having an off year, and has a 9.00 ERA against the Yanks in his brief work against them. Houston is playing better, to their credit, but the Yanks are just dominant at their palace in the Bronx, and Vazquez, for as bad as he started the year, is still a guy that had top-5 stuff in the NL last year, and he's just now starting to find his velocity.
Leans: None

White Sox @ Cubs (-155) with a total of N/A; M. Buerhle vs. C. Silva;
Paul Konerko is batting .321 with 1 HR and 6 RBI off Silva since '05;
A.J. Pierzynski is batting .296 with 2 HR and 5 RBI off Silva since '05;
Derrek Lee is 3-for-10 with 3 RBI off Buerhle since '05.
I was looking for a way to back the White Sox at a dog price in this one, but this is another spot where I'm just not pleased with the numbers on the underdog side, either. Silva is just 4-10 in his career against the Southsiders, and posts a 5.52 ERA, but most of that work came a few years back, so there's been turnover, and even the guys that hit him hard haven't seen much of him lately. Buerhle is having a terrible season, and is showing zero signs of busting out of his slump. The Cubs have won Silva's last 10 starts, he's 8-0, and this is Cubs or nothin'.
Leans: Cubs-1

Phillies @ Red Sox (-156) with a total of 10; J. Blanton vs. D. Matsuzaka;
Mike Cameron is 4-for-9 with 3 HR and 5 RBI off Blanton since '05;
J.D. Drew is 5-for-15 with a HR and 2 RBI off Blanton since '05;
Big Papi is 7-for-23 with 2 HR and 3 RBI off Blanton since '05;
Kevin Youkilis is 7-for-21 with a HR and 2 RBI off Blanton.
Blanton still looks a bit lost, and while he's likely to hit his stride at some point, it hasn't happened yet. Matsuzaka is actually pitching quite well, lately, and has his season ERA down to just 4.59. This line is pretty fair, even though Blanton has pitched alright against the Sox in his career (3-2, 3.61). He's just not there physically, and until a pitcher is at full strength, almost any line is actually going to be a tiny bit of value (even if it's just a nickel) on the other side.
Leans: Red Sox-2

Mets (-115) @ Orioles with a total of 9; H. Takahashi vs. B. Matusz;
The Orioles continue to be in that rare category of being completely radioactive. I would love to fade the Mets on the road, but the Orioles are just completely hapless. I mean, it's gotten to that point where even though the Mets are a great road fade, and Brian Matusz has good enough stuff to shut down most teams (if he's on), the Orioles are just so completely inept with runners on base, and that bullpen is so pathetic (though new closer David Hernandez pitched well) that they're basically unbackable.
Leans: None

Pirates @ Tigers (-185) with a total of 8.5; P. Maholm vs. J. Bonderman;
Ryan Church is 2-for-2 with an RBI off Bonderman.
Jeremy Bonderman is coming off a poor start against the Royals that raised his ERA considerably. He's had 2 other starts this year where he's just sort of blown up, and each time he's bounced back nicely the next time out, and for that reason, I don't really consider it a downward trend. Bonderman just doesn't have the velocity he used to, so when he's off his game, he's going to get hit hard. Maholm is a nice, solid lefthander, but we know what the Tigers can do to lefties. This is not a good time to back the road team, and the price is probably too high to consider a play on the home team.
Leans: None

Nationals @ Indians (-129) with a total of 9; J. Martin vs. F. Carmona;
Adam Kennedy is 3-for-5 with a HR and 3 RBI off Carmona;
Ivan Rodriguez is 3-for-9 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Carmona.
This line seems intriguingly low, considering Carmona's name recognition. Jake Westbrook opened as a -110 favorite yesterday and went off at -129, and this is only 4 cents more? I'm not sure you can really call a line "fishy" when it's a Washington/Cleveland game, but I'm absolutely not sold on the reasoning behind this one. Still, looking at the numbers, Martin has pitched well in 2 starts, but we know he's not a 2.31 ERA guy long term, and Carmona just keeps rumbling along. He walked too many batters against the Red Sox in his last start, and got hit harder by the Yanks a few starts before that, but he would seem to be effective enough to shut down the Nats lesser offense.
Leans: Indians-3

Braves @ Twins (-120) with a total of 9.5; D. Lowe vs. N. Blackburn;
Joe Mauer is a perfect 4-for-4 off Lowe;
Justin Morneau is 3-for-6 with a HR and 4 RBI off Lowe.
This is an interesting game, if mostly because Derek Lowe is getting us a very cheap price on the Twins. Do we want it, though? I think maybe. The Twins seem to find a way to win many of Blackburn's starts, even though the oddly pear-shaped righthander has a 5.21 ERA. He's never faced the Braves, so he will have his hands full, but Lowe is a career 0-4 with a 6.46 ERA against Minnesota, and the Twins are mashing at Target Field. The concern is that Blackburn is indeed coming off his 2 shortest starts of the season, so he's really struggling, but man does this price look tempting.
Leans: Twins-3

Marlins @ Rays (-180) with a total of 8.5; R. Nolasco vs. M. Garza;
Nolasco is 2-1 against the Rays, but has a 6.88 ERA. Maybe not the best time to be backing the big underdog. If we're going to lay our money down on a bit of a longshot (or semi-longshot, in this case), we're not going to do it unless the situation is damn near perfect. Garza is actually coming off 3 straight starts where he has been far from dominant, but Nolasco is right in that same boat, and Tampa has the huge bullpen edge.
Leans: None

Royals @ Reds (-175) with a total of 8.5; B. Bannister vs. J. Cueto;
You were looking for that big underdog with a decent shot? This one certainly is getting closer. Brian Bannister is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA against the Reds, and while that is the definition of "limited action", he's extremely reliable, and his 6-3 record is a nice indicator that run support is usually alright. Cueto is struggling just a tad, lately, giving up 10 hits in each of his last 2 starts, and 12 runs in 11 innings. Sure, it could be a 2-start blip, which happens to younger pitchers quite often, but the strikeout numbers aren't great, and I happen to think this slump could last another 1-2 starts before he gets things straightened out. The bullpen always makes the Royals a dangerous play, but they're definitely a good value these days, finding ways to win closer to 40% of games.
Leans: Royals-3

Rangers @ Brewers (-110) with a total of 10; S. Feldman vs. M. Parra;
If we make a play on this game, it's going to be based largely on who works in the Brewers pen the previous game. There are, literally, 2 arms in that pen that I trust, and if those guys aren't fully rested, I'm not sure I can advocate playing on Milwaukee. I believe Feldman is going to give up 3-4 runs in this one, and that high total is indicative of that. Parra has actually been alright since sliding back into the starting rotation. He's building up that arm strength, and he racked up 10 big strikeouts in his last start against the Cards. The Brewers are miserable at home, so that's definitely a point of concern, but the Rangers offensive home/road splits make them an intriguing road fade. But, again, this lean is based on the opening line and the assumption that all relevant arms are available.
Leans: Brewers-3

Blue Jays @ Rockies (-129) with a total of 9.5; B. Morrow vs. J. Hammel;
Fred Lewis is 6-for-7 off Hammel;
Vernon Wells is 3-for-8 with a HR off Hammel.
Jason Hammel is 2-0 against the Jays, but that ERA of 5.87 stands out as less-than-stellar. He has, however, started to turn the corner this year, and has made 3 straight solid starts, including 2 very strong efforts here at Coors. Brandon Morrow is another guy that is on a wild upward swing. He's given up just 2 runs over his last 14 innings in 2 starts, those coming against the Rays and Yanks, 2 of the top offenses in baseball. If you're a Morrow fan, you're liking what you see. I think the first thing that jumps out in this game is that total. 9.5 is such an interesting number, especially when you have two pitchers with ERA's in the 5's getting the starting nod at Coors Field. That number is a strong, strong note, as oddsmakers could have easily opened this one up at 10, considering the two guys involved.
Leans: Under-4

Mariners (-125) @ Padres with a total of 6; C. Lee vs. W. LeBlanc;
REMATCH ALERT! This is a really funny rematch, if only because the last game, a 6.5-total battle in Seattle, ended with the final score o 15-8, Cliff Lee giving up 7 runs in 6.1 innings, which was good enough for a win, somehow. Ah yes, I know how. LeBlanc has a career ERA of 24.92 against the Mariners, absolutely the one team that he never wants to see again. 8 runs in 3 innings is going to be a bit of a nausea-inducing contest. LeBlanc is coming off a nice start his last time out, and I'm intrigued by this incredibly low total. You have to think that the 23 combined runs would have at least kept the total at 6.5, but instead it's a half-run lower? Someone is throwing a complete game shutout, maybe both, but given LeBlanc's history with the Mariners, I'd think Lee is the safer play.
Leans: Mariners-3, Under-3

Athletics @ Giants (-136) with a total of 7.5; B. Sheets vs. B. Zito;
Ben Sheets probably wishes he could just go back to facing NL teams. He's been decent enough this year, but pitched 6 shutout innings in his only start against the NL this year, that coming in a 3-0 win over these Giants. He's 4-2 with a 2.15 ERA lifetime against San Francisco, but, for what it's worth, the Giants are hitting the ball a bit better going into this meeting with the A's, and haven't had their spirits broken by series with the Padres. On the Giants side, Barry Zito gets the call, and aside from his dominance of the Rockies, Zito has been scuffling over the last month, or so. This line is low for a reason, and while I'm not sure the A's have the firepower to win (the Giants are pretty tough at home), I'm absolutely positive I don't trust Zito against his former team.
Leans: Athletics-3

Angels @ Dodgers (-161) with a total of 8.5; S. Kazmir vs. J. Ely;
The price just keeps rising on this young Dodgers hurler, and probably too high for me to get behind. Though, at the same time, I realize that you don't often get a chance to back one of the best home teams in baseball against a lefthander that can barely get a ball over the plate. Quietly, though, Kazmir has given up just 1 earned run in each of his last 2 starts, both Angels wins, so he's starting to find a little bit of a rhythm. You could probably convince me that there's value on the Angels side, given that Kazmir is trending way, way up, and Ely is sort of plateauing at "pretty good," but I'm not sure I can fade that Dodgers bullpen right now. Even if Kazmir keeps this game close...heck, even if the Angels are up by a run or two, Kazmir doesn't go deep in games, and the Angels middle relief is a very weak spot, and the Dodgers pen is dominant.
Leans: None

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