Saturday, June 05, 2010

Wearing Sunday Whites

Winner winner!

I know it's getting late (almost 2 a.m. ET as I write this paragraph), so I'll keep this brief, but this was FAR AND AWAY the best MLB week of the season for followers of both Free and Paid Plays, and yesterday was no different.

We had just one play on Saturday, a 2* winner on the Pittsburgh Pirates, who took it to Todd Wellemeyer just as we expected!

That win capped a 9-3 MLB week, and improved two other longer streaks, as well - Paid Plays are now on a 12-4 run, and All Plays are on a 20-11 run. Good times. Let's have another monster week!

Sports Wagering: NBA

Celtics @ Lakers - Los Angeles by 6 with a total of 191. Let's start by cracking open the nut that was game one. The Lakers dominated, flat out, from start to finish. Every 6 minutes that passed, it seemed like the Celtics found themselves down another 3-4 points, and by the end of the 3rd quarter, the Lakers were running away with it in a blowout. Boston made a slight comeback effort early in the 4th quarter, courtesy of some generous foul calls and the Lakers pulling their customary 85% effort in a blowout act. The combination of Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom was far tougher than Boston expected, and Gasol in particular exerted a level of dominance on the interior that was really something to behold. I will say, though, that we saw more double-teaming out of Boston than I ever thought we would. They sent some extra bodies at Kobe Bryant in particular, but in the triangle, that just doesn't work. Ron Artest hit a few big shots out of those double-teams, and they almost rarely worked out in Boston's favor. I think we'll see the Celtics go back to playing more "man" defense in game two, since one of their ultimate goals since Boston became an NBA power was to force superstars to work as hard as possible for their points, but take away as many offensive weapons as possible, and they failed to do so in game one. But, as we've been saying all Playoffs long, can any team out there compete with the Lakers inside? The simple answer is "no." Kendrick Perkins can put a big body on Andrew Bynum, but the Lakers have the luxury of being able to play two 7-footers the entire game, and skilled ones, at that. Bynum and Perkins are the "big bodies", but Gasol, who has seemed to get stronger every year in LA, is able to use his superior strength on Garnett. Then, if the Celtics try to move Perkins over onto Gasol, Bynum is just an absolute load. I really liked what we saw defensively from Ron Artest, as well, and while his offensive outburst is going to get a lot of attention, his ability to make Paul Pierce work for every look was commendable. I believe the line opening at roughly the same number tells us that oddsmakers don't think anyone is going to really change their opinion after one game. Boston should play better in game two, and I think we'll see some more hustle out of them. The Lakers can't play all that much better, though guys like Odom and Fisher could probably stand to log a few more minutes without getting into foul trouble. The final score of this one should be closer than the 13-point margin we saw in game one, but how much closer? The total on this one opened right on the final number from game one, but that 3rd quarter was something of an anomaly. Tons of fouls shots let to a high-scoring 12-minute stretch, and I suppose the big question about the score is whether the officials are going to let the guys play a little more (there were quite a few ticky-tack fouls called), or if we're going to see more of the same. Obviously, if the game starts with another double-tech, that will answer that question quickly. No matter what we think on the side or the total, this one will probably stay close for longer than the first 8 minutes, and I happen to believe we'll have ourselves, roughly, a tie game at the half. But winning by 5.5 or 6 points isn't at all out of the question, and we'll really see some resolve from the two teams here in game 2. Let's rock.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Marlins @ Mets (-110) with a total of 8; R. Nolasco vs. H. Takahashi;
Jose Reyes was batting .406 off Nolasco with 3 HR and 5 RBI before this season;
David Wright was batting .361 off Nolasco with 3 HR and 8 RBI before 2010.
This is a pretty strong line in favor of the Mets, I believe. Of course, that being said, Takahashi is coming off a miserable performance in San Diego, giving up 6 runs in just 4 innings of work, and moving his ERA up by over a run in the process. So, in terms of how the pitchers are trending, you have to give the slight nod to Nolasco. However, the Mets are just outstanding at home, both offensively (they're very aggressive at home), and on the mound. Nolasco, too, has never been "great" against New York. He's faced them twice this season already, and he pitched alright both times (and the Marlins won both of those starts), but you simply can't overstate the Mets home field edge.
Leans: None

Reds (-135) @ Nationals with a total of 9; B. Arroyo vs. C. Stammen;
Willie Harris is 3-for-10 off Arroyo;
Ryan Zimmerman is 4-for-13 with an RBI off Arroyo.
I have a vast array of concerns about this game. Starting with Arroyo, sure his numbers against the Nats are good lifetime at 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA, but he's coming off a miserable start against he Cardinals, and Arroyo has been, throughout his career, one of the streakiest starters in baseball. He had 3 bad starts in early April, has pitched pretty well since, but now the bad performance in St. Louis is a little foreboding. Stammen, on the other side, just isn't very good. He's 1-2 with a 5.88 ERA, and that number is spot on. He's been consistently giving up 3-5 runs almost every time out. Can't trust either of these guys, though I believe the line is correct, given that Arroyo could potentially throw a strong game, while Stammen probably can't.
Leans: None

Padres @ Phillies (-145) with a total of 9; K. Correia vs. J. Blanton;
Adrian Gonzalez is 3-for-10 with a HR off Blanton;
Raul Ibanez is 4-for-7 with a HR and 5 RBI off Correia;
Chase Utley is 4-for-7 with a HR and 3 RBI off Correia;
Shane Victorino is 5-for-10 with a HR and 5 RBI off Correia.
I know the Phils have been slumping offensively, but Correia's 1-3 record and 7.71 ERA lifetime against them might be just the cure. Plus, Correia just hasn't been quite right since he returned to the Padres off the untimely death of his brother. He pitched well enough to win his last time out, but only because the Padres scored 18 runs in that one. Blanton is the one thing keeping this one from being a play...and the price. Blanton has been pretty bad in most of his starts this year, though he's been solid for the first 4 innings, generally (not all of them) before crumbling the 3rd time through the order. He's 1-1 with a 5.73 lifetime mark against the Padres, and I'm not sure I can advocate throwing a buck-45 on a guy with a 5.68 ERA.
Leans: Phillies-2

Giants (-185) @ Pirates with a total of 7; T. Lincecum vs. R. Ohlendorf;
Ryan Church is 4-for-7 off Lincecum;
Ryan Doumit is 3-for-9 off Lincecum.
I'm waiting to get some player matchup numbers on Ohlendorf, but given the hefty line, this one is probably not going to make the final card. Very quickly, Lincecum is in a slump. I wouldn't dare lay almost 2-to-1 odds, even on the Freak, right now. He's coming off 4 straight starts where he's walked 5 batters, which is extremely out of character, and I just can't trust him right now. Can we trust the Pirates to actually capitalize on those walks? I doubt it. Ohlendorf has pitched probably well enough to win in 5 of his 6 starts, but these are, after all, the Pirates. A volume guy should look at Pittsburgh.
Leans: Pittsburgh-1

Cubs (-135) @ Astros with a total of 8; R. Wells vs. B. Myers;
Derrek Lee is 8-for-16 with a HR off Myers since '05;
Xavier Nady is 3-for-9 with a HR and 2 RBI off Myers;
Aramis Ramirez is 8-for-22 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Myers;
Ryan Theriot is 3-for-8 off Myers;
Geoff Blum is 3-for-8 off Wells;
Michael Bourn is 4-for-9 off Wells.
Randy Wells is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA against the Astros. He's coming off a nice 5-inning bounceback start off the outing where he failed to record an out, so he's in a decent situational spot. Brett Myers is 7-3 with a 2.63 ERA lifetime against the Cubbies, so he's seemingly done a decent job of minimizing the damage caused by Lee, Nady, Ramirez, and Theriot. Myers has yet to give up more than 4 runs in any start this season, so he is really in fine form, and that scares me, especially with how hot the Astros have gotten, all of a sudden.
Leans: None

Braves @ Dodgers (-130) with a total of 7.5; T. Hudson vs. J. Ely;
Rafael Furcal is 5-for-12 off Hudson;
Matt Kemp is 2-for-5 with a HR off Hudson.
This line is awfully high for young John Ely. I was really expecting this one to be roughly a Pick, so to see the Dodgers just about 20 cents higher is leaving me scratching my head just a bit. Ely has been great in his time with LA, going 3-2 with a 2.54 ERA, and just throwing strike after quality strike, but Hudson has quietly been one of the best pitchers in the NL this year. I know he's just 4-2 with a 4.23 lifetime ERA against LA, but looking at the current Dodgers, Manny Ramirez has never hit Hudson well, Russ Martin is 1-for-10, Ethier is 2-for-10, Ronnie Belliard is just 3-for-15 over the last 5 years. I find it tough to compute that Hudson is a true underdog in this Sunday afternoon matchup, especially with how hot the Braves have been. The Under might be the best option, if indeed we see some reserves out there.
Leans: Under-3, Braves-2

Rockies (-215) @ Diamondbacks with a total of 8.5; U. Jimenez vs. R. Lopez;
Jason Giambi was 7-for-17 with 3 HR and 7 RBI off Lopez in years past;
Adam LaRoche was 4-for-8 off Jimenez coming into 2010.
REMATCH ALERT! No need to get into Arizona's player numbers against Jimenez, as this will be his 3rd start against them this year. So far, Ubaldo has thrown 14 shutout innings against the D'backs, allowing just 8 hits, walking 3, and striking out 9. I mean, hell, Jimenez hasn't even allowed a run since May 15. He is the best pitcher in baseball, right now. Rodrigo Lopez has been throwing alright, though he did give up 4 runs in 6 innings in Coors when he faced the Rockies 2 weeks ago. He bounced back with a nice effort in LA, so you have to wonder which Lopez will show up, here. I'm intrigued by this total. With Jimenez on the hill, you have to think that he's going to bring the total down a point (or more) from where it would be with an average starter on the hill. The teams combined for 10 runs at Coors when these two faced off, which cleared the posted mark of "9" by a run. So, here in Arizona, the total is just a half point lower? I know there's the venue effect, but damn, if this number isn't making me think twice.
Leans: Further Exploration of the Total

Brewers @ Cardinals (-245) with a total of 8.5; M. Parra vs. J. Garcia;
Ryan Ludwick is 6-for-19 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Parra;
Aaron Miles is 3-for-8 off Parra;
Nick Stavinoha is 4-for-10 with 3 RBI off Parra.
I see Randy Winn is now a member of the Cardinals, so that should be interesting. Manny Parra can't be expected to go too deep in the game, since he's not an every turn starter, but if he can get through the 5th, that would probably be optimal. That makes it very, very tough to take the big dog, when the starter isn't going to be all that crucial. Jaime Garcia gave up a couple runs to the Reds in his last start early, then settled in, and he just keeps rolling. That 1.32 ERA isn't helping this line at all, either. Garcia beat Milwaukee in his first start of the year, back on April 10th, and we could read this two ways. They've seen him, but he's also got some confidence against a bad team.
Leans: None

American League

Yankees (-120) @ Blue Jays with a total of 9.5; J. Vazquez vs. B. Morrow;
Jose Bautista is 3-for-5 with 2 HR and 2 RBI off Vazquez.
Vazquez seems to have found a bit of a rhythm of late, and while his ERA is still hovering around 6, he's pitched well in 3 of his last 4 starts, and his only rough outing came against the Twins, a team that has always knocked him around. Brandon Morrow is coming off his best start of the year, too, going 7 innings and allowing just a run to the Rays. Both pitchers trending up, the Yanks struggling to hit in Toronto so far this series, but trying to avoid getting swept?
Leans: Under-2

Red Sox (-175) @ Orioles with a total of 9.5; J. Lackey vs. B. Matusz;
We'll forgo player numbers here, as well, since this is Lackey's 3rd start this season against the Orioles. He's gone 7 innings in each start, and gave up 2 earned and 3 earned. Lackey is 9-3 in his career against the Orioles, and while I'd love to say that there's value on the Baltimore side, I continue to maintain that this team is absolutel radioactive right now. Matusz faced the Red Sox once this season and gave up 3 runs in 6 innings, but Boston is playing much better now than they were then. This one could potentially get ugly.
Leans: Over-1

Indians @ White Sox (-160) with a total of 9; J. Westbrook vs. M. Buerhle;
ULTRA REMATCH ALERT! Let's see if we can write this clearly. This is the 4th start for each of these two against this opponent, and amazingly, the 3rd time that they will be going head-to-head. So far, in the two head-to-head matchups, Buerhle won 6-0 back on April 5, and Buerhle went 2.1 scoreless innings 2 weeks ago before getting tossed for arguing some balk calls in a game the Sox would go on to win. So, I suppose you could argue that Westbrook has lost to Buerhle twice, and beat Peavy once. Buerhle has, to some degree, been on the winning end of two starts against Westbrook, but lost when he faced Mitch Talbot. It's a funny little dynamic. Buerhle is coming off a clunker of a start his last time out, and Westbrook is actually coming off a strong one. The double rematch angle and the upward trend of Westbrook makes me think the Indians have a puncher's chance.
Leans: Indians-3

Tigers (-135) @ Royals with a total of 9; J. Bonderman vs. B. Bannister;
Johnny Damon is 6-for-8 off Bannister with a HR and 4 RBI;
Carlos Guillen is 5-for-12 with 2 RBI off Bannister;
Yuny Betancourt is 9-for-19 with a RBI off Bonderman;
David DeJesus is 9-for-29 with 2 RBI of f Bonderman;
Jose Guillen is 3-for-7 with a HR and 4 RBI off Bonderman since '05.
I'm actually a tad surprised that the Tigers are this big of a favorite, but then, when you think back to the Scherzer/Chen game, I'm reminded that most folks don't see the same thing that we all do when they look at a Tigers/Royals game. Most see the Tigers, a supposed AL Central frontrunner, taking on a team that can't get its head out of its collective rectum, but in actuality, the Royals always give Detroit fits, and Brian Bannister is 4-2 lifetime against Detroit with a 2.12 ERA. He's pitched well against them twice this year already, and while Bonderman has been throwing exceptionally well since the beginning of May, there are plenty of Royals that have hit him, and KC has one of the top team averages in baseball.
Leans: Royals-4

Rays (-145) @ Rangers with a total of 9.5; M. Garza vs. R. Harden;
Michael Young is 5-for-16 with 1 HR and 2 RBI.
Rich Harden has been flat-out bad since the beginning of May, and his ERA just keeps ballooning. He's given up 18 runs in his last 4 starts, and has been able to last just 18 innings. Bad news, there. Garza hasn't been all that outstanding lately, either, and his start in Texas last year was pretty miserable. The Rays are 1-7 in their last 8 games in Texas, and it almost seems like they go out of their way to lose games in Arlington. Still, if we had almost any other starter on the other side going for the Rangers, it would be a good bet. Here, with Harden clanking his way through his last 4-5 starts, it's just a roll of the dice.
Leans: None

Twins @ Athletics (-130) with a total of 8; N. Blackburn vs. G. Gonzalez;
Brendan Harris is 2-for-4 off Gonzalez;
Jason Kubel, Joe Mauer, and Justin Morneau are each 2-for-2 off Gonzalez with 4 combined homers and 11 RBI. Yikes!
Jack Cust is 6-for-13 with a HR and 2 RBI off Blackburn;
Mark Ellis is 4-for-8 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Blackburn;
Kurt Suzuki is 3-for-8 with 4 RBI off Blackburn.
These pitchers have miserable histories against the other team. Blackburn is 0-2 with a 6.37 ERA against the Athletics, and Gio Gonzalez is 0-1 with a 28.59 ERA against the Twins. That is just straight up hideous. Both of these pitchers have done well this season, so I believe that is what's keeping this total so very, very low, and while I don't legitimately trust either of them. Neither is coming off a good start, so they're both somewhat trending down, and my one concern is really the fact that this is an extreme pitcher's park, and that we might see some reserves on a Sunday game.
Leans: Over-3

Angels @ Mariners (-130) with a total of 8; J. Pineiro vs. J. Vargas;
Juan Rivera was 3-for-4 with 2 HR and 3 RBI off Vargas before 2010.
Joel Pineiro has been the epitome of up-and-down this season. He's had complete game shutouts, and he's had 3 innings of 9-run baseball. Which Pineiro will we get, here? He has half-decent numbers against most of the current Mariners, but I don't know how much that means. The Angels pitching staff has completely shut down the Mariners this series, so far, so Pineiro's got momentum on his side, but Vargas is definitely the stronger starter in this one. Vargas is 2-0 with a 2.20 ERA against the Angels in his career, including 7.1 innings this year of 1 unearned run ball. I believe this line is probably pretty accurate, considering the Angels are playing better, but Seattle has the superior starter, and will likely try to avoid the sweep with a stronger effort.
Leans: Mariners-2

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