Saturday, July 31, 2010

Two, and Counting

Recap: It's nothing to throw a party about, but since the Thursday "rest" day for the Bebe brain, we've put together two straight winning days, taking care of 2 of 3 Best Bets. Last night, we had 3 teams that each held leads of at least 2 runs, and while only 2 of 3 managed to hang on, the capping is absolutely right on the money. Ross Detwiler was solid in the Freebie, Jason Hammel and Matt Garza both did work in the Paid Plays, but the Rays just couldn't hold the Yankees in the yard. Still, I like where we've been sitting in just about every play besides the Padres Freebie on Friday. Holding leads in 4 of 5 plays is definitely a good place to be.


Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Braves (-120) @ Reds with a total of 9; T. Hanson vs. E. Volquez;
Tommy Hanson had his worst start of 2010 against these Reds; of course, that game involved one of the most absurd late comebacks of the season, maybe of the decade. Point is, Hanson is going to want to rebound strong. Can he? Well, he certainly can't do any worse than that previous start, but perhaps, given Volquez's need to build up arm strength, the Over might be better than backing Hanson against a team that hits him plenty hard. Because, really, even if he pitches better, he's probably only going 6 innings, max, and will likely give up a couple runs to a Reds team that, when healthy, can hit.

D'backs @ Mets (-165) with a total of 9; D. Hudson vs. J. Niese;
I will admit, I'm a little afraid of backing the Mets against Arizona -- the D'backs don't beat many teams in this League, and even fewer on the road, but they seem to have New York's number, even if the pitching match-up strongly favors the Mets. Not only that, Dan Hudson will make his first start for his new team, in a new League, and we've seen how starters tend to perform when they make the leap. This one is a little different, I guess, since Hudson had only made a handful of starts in the AL, so it's not like he's "used to" a particular strike zone or level of competition, but I sure as heck wouldn't back the Mets at this price.

Phillies (-165) @ Nationals with a total of 8.5; C. Hamels vs. J. Lannan;
I will admit, a great deal of my handicapping of this game is going to come once we see how the Phillies deal with that first loss in a long while they suffered on Friday. So, let's wait and see. Will Blanton right the ship, or will the Phils take that customary "equilibrating" second loss off a long win streak? In any event, Hamels is 9-3 with a 2.58 ERA against the Nats, so this isn't exactly a team he fears. Lannan, meanwhile, is 0-7 with a 6.32 ERA against Philadelphia. On paper, this looks like one of the most lopsided pitching match-ups of the year, but we know how often things go according to how they look on paper. Still, I can't argue my way out of it - the Over or the road RL are both on the board.

Brewers (-140) @ Astros with a total of 9; R. Wolf vs. W. Wright;
That's a pretty steep price to pay for a road lefty with a 5.07 ERA on the season. Still, he went 7 shutout against the Astros once this year, already, and Randy is coming off a strong outing against the Reds, so his confidence should be back up. Wesley Wright is 0-1 with a 3.09 ERA against the Brewers, but he's really still just getting his feet wet as a starter, this year, and hasn't yet gone deeper than 5 innings. I'd be tempted to lay the road chalk, except that the Astros just shipped off Berkman, and I wonder how the young guys respond to losing a team leader. Hopefully, Saturday will give us some indications that we can use on this one.

Pirates @ Cardinals (-325) with a total of 7.5; Z. Duke vs. A. Wainwright;
Out of price, out of mind. That is, unless you can get Pirates +2.5 at a good price, hah!

Cubs @ Rockies (-145) with a total of 9.5; C. Silva vs. J. De La Rosa;
Somewhat under the radar, De La Rosa seems to be rounding back into pre-injury form. It took a couple starts, that's for sure, but his last two outings have been strong enough to win, and the 8 strikeouts in each tells you his stuff is coming back. Silva squeaked his way through 5 innings against the Astros, and has been much more Silva-like over the last month or so. He did go 6 innings and allow 2 runs to the Rockies earlier this year, so there's some success, there, but pitching at Coors is a totally different bird, and De La Rosa is 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA lifetime against the Cubbies. I happen to think the line for De La Rosa might be high for a reason, here.

Marlins (-130) @ Padres with a total of 6.5; J. Johnson vs. J. Garland;
Both of these starters have tremendous numbers against the other team, which brings to mind a couple questions. First, Johnson has gone 17 innings in two starts against the Padres, beating Mat Latos way back in April, and losing a 2-1 nailbiter to Garland, in Florida, at the end of June. So, to some degree, this is a Rematch Game. Still, with them battling to a 3-run total, wouldn't you think that this line might have even come out at 6? I suppose Garland is never going to drive the total that low, but he is 4-1 with a 2.01 ERA against the Marlins, and could very well pitch solidly against them, again. This game has all the makings of a pitchers' duel, and potentially a slow one.

Dodgers @ Giants (-125) with a total of 7; C. Kershaw vs. M. Cain;
Will Matt Cain ever beat the Dodgers? 0-8 now, in his career, but the ERA of 4.32 really isn't so awful. Kershaw has no record against the Giants, but an ERA of just 1.71. He got run in his last start against the Giants, and the Dodgers pen let him down, but you can bet the kid is ready to come back and dominate in a rather pitcher-friendly park in San Francisco. This should be a very fun one, since the Giants are definitely hitting better and trying to acquire some bats at the trade deadline. Buster Posey has completely revitalized that offense, so Kershaw will have his hands full, but I don't know if we'll ever see the youngster more focused than this ESPN rivalry game on Sunday Night. That total of 7 almost looks high, doesn't it?

American League

Indians @ Blue Jays (-175) with a total of 9; J. Gomez vs. J. Litsch;
Jesse Litsch should never be a -175 favorite. That's all I have to say about that.

Tigers @ Red Sox (-150) with a total of 8; J. Verlander vs. C. Buchholz;
Clay Buchholz was a fade candidate the day he came off the DL, but it only took 1 start for him to get his act together, and now, coming off a 7-inning, 1-run effort, it's probably not a great time to back the Tigers. They got their road win thanks to an offensive jolt provided by the newest Tiger, Jhonny Peralta, but given Verlander's propensity to give up a few runs here and there, and given that Youkilis is one of a handful of current Sox that have given him trouble, this is not the place where I'd want to take a shot with Detroit on the road.

Yankees (-145) @ Rays with a total of 8.5; C. Sabathia vs. J. Shields;
Shields has never really shown me he can handle the Yankees, the way that many of his teammates have. He's 2-7 with a 5.45 ERA against the Bombers, and when you put that with C.C.'s 8-3 mark against the Rays, this one looks like a scary spot for Tampa. To Shields' credit, he's been serviceable against New York this year, more than in year's past, I'd say, but it hasn't been enough. C.C. doesn't mind pitching in Tampa, and this price is, in my opinion, high for a reason, once again. Considering C.C. was a -170 favorite at home, this adjustment is quite small, which makes me think oddsmakers believe the public is going to go extra strong on the Yankees. We need to be careful here, but I probably wouldn't back Shields.

Athletics @ White Sox (-150) with a total of 8; G. Gonzalez vs. G. Floyd;
Here's the jinx effort of the century -- Gavin Floyd hasn't allowed a homer since June 2, a span of 10 straigh starts. Gonzalez has been pretty good on that account, too, though not quite as impressive. Also disconcerting, Gonzalez is 0-2 with a 12.96 ERA against the White Sox, while Floyd is 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA against the A's. Floyd, too, has continued to dominate into late July, which is a nice change of pace for him, and I wonder how that carries over into August, if indeed it does. As we've talked about, it's easier to ride waves, though, and we know Gonzalez is a much better pitcher at home, and we also know that the pitching histories line up nicely for Floyd, who will have to take his game up a tiny bit since he won't be facing Seattle for the first time in a while, but he can certainly handle the upgrade in competition.

Orioles @ Royals (-145) with a total of 9.5; K. Millwood vs. B. Chen;
Who would have thought the day would come when Bruce Chen would be a -145 favorite over Kevin Millwood? This is a sad time, indeed. Still, I can't help but think that Millwood's greatest weakness, the fly ball that leaves the yard, doesn't really match up with a Royals' strength. Maybe that's why Millwood was able to last 8 innings against KC and give up 3 runs in a win over them this season. Of course, his 2-10 record is giving plenty of value on that side, and Chen's 5-5 mark is duping people into thinking that he's a serviceable starter. Chen has been on the very precipitous decline this month, and I have little reason to think that he somehow stems the tide.

Mariners @ Twins (-325) with a total of 8.5; L. French vs. F. Liriano;
Quarter-unit on the dog? Sure, why not.

Rangers (-145) @ Angels with a total of 7; C. Lee vs. J. Weaver;
Rematch alert! This could be a fun one, as Cliff Lee went 8.1 strong innings in a 3-2 win over Weaver and the Angels. The Texas pen doesn't figure to get a ton of work, here, so that always makes handicapping a little easier. On the Angels side, Weaver is much better against the Rangers at home, so this might actually be a spot where the Angels would be considered a live dog. My concern comes from the line adjustment, as Lee was a -175 home favorite when these cats faced off, so this move is pretty small. That could either be the result of the expectation of huge public money on Lee, or because the Angels need to be a little more enticing, and the books are expecting decent public and sharp money (combined) on the Texas side. Either way, it's inflated, and we need to figure out why.

Friday, July 30, 2010

I Got It

Recap: Well, we're still waiting on the small Freebie, but it's a positive day, regardless, as the Two-Star (2*) Top Play on the Tampa Bay Rays was a winner! I definitely think a day off helped clear the mind, and let's just try to put one more Top Play in the "W" column moving forward. I will note, though, that Phil Hughes pitched better than expected, so the handicapping was only about 80% correct, and let's try to get that up to 90% as we plow ahead.


Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Braves @ Reds (-125) with a total of 8.5; J. Jurrjens vs. B. Arroyo;
I'm having trouble figuring out how Jurrjens has a lifetime ERA of 6.75 against the Reds, since Brandon Phillips is the closest thing the Reds have to a guy that hits him hard, and Phillips is just 3-for-7 with a homer. Somehow, though, the Reds have been able to squeeze plenty of runs out of Jurrjens, so be careful there. On the other side, Arroyo has been extremely consistent this year, hasn't faced the Braves yet, but certainly has some history with them. He's 5-3 with a 5.90 ERA, and the Braves regulars named Glaus, Chipper, McCann, and Hinske have all homered off Arroyo in the past. I might look at the Over, but both pitchers could put on a show, too, so, pretty tough call, here.

Dodgers @ Giants (-125) with a total of 7.5; C. Billingsley vs. B. Zito;
How unlucky can Barry Zito be, this year? The answer, so far, is pretty damn unlucky when facing the Dodgers. He's gone against them three times, three times he's pitched extremely well, and the Giants have lost all 3. The most recent loss came about 10 days ago, when his opponent today, Billingsley, threw a complete game shutout the day after the Mattingly/Broxton silliness. The Dodgers tend to play pretty well in San Francisco, and I'm sure they'd love a 4th win against Zito, but right now, the Dodgers aren't really backable unless you're pretty positive they're going to hold the opponent to 0-2 runs. And for what it's worth, they might. Billingsley's got his season ERA down to 4, so he's one shutout inning away from ducking under that mark, and he has a solid career mark against the Giants of 5-2, 3.22.

Brewers @ Astros (-120) with a total of 8.5; D. Bush vs. W. Rodriguez;
Dave Bush has been surprisingly solid against the Astros, and honestly, he remains one of the biggest enigmas in baseball, to me. Every time I expect him to pitch well, he gets murdered, and vice versa. So, I expect him to pitch well today, which means, what? Not a great deal. On the other side, Wandy is finally getting his act together, as opponent's hits are way down, and he, too, pitched well against this opponent already this year. I can't help but think that the Astros recent run of pitching success could carry over. The concern, of course, is whether Houston has any shot of scoring enough. They've been playing alright, but Bush's history with them makes me think they'll have to fight for this one.

Phillies (-135) @ Nationals with a total of 9; J. Blanton vs. R. Detwiler;
This line doesn't make a lick of sense, to me. I mean, we're talking about Ross freaking Detwiler, here. I know Blanton's 5.85 ERA makes him look like a terrible choice to those that bet based entirely on ERA, but he's coming off, arguably, his best start of the season, so that's no time to be fading a guy, right? Detwiler is 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA against the Phillies, and Blanton 2-3 with a 6.51 ERA against the Nationals, and I can't help but wonder if the teams are going to score some runs. If Blanton wasn't trending up, I'd be all over Washington and the Over, but as it is, this line is so weird that I can't touch the Phils, and Detwiler is so poor (and short of arm strength to go deep in the game) that I can't touch the Nats, either.

D'backs @ Mets (-135) with a total of 8.5; B. Enright vs. H. Takahashi;
Enright pitched an absolute gem against the Mets in his first effort, but seeing a pitcher for a second time, and doing so in their home ballpark, I can't help but think that Enright's low ERA and strong start to his Big League career are actually creating some small amount of value on the unpredictable Takahashi. The D'backs on the road are just unbelievably bad, and Takahashi is actually coming off a decent start in LA back on the 22nd. I can't believe I'm saying this, since Takahashi was a guy I was looking to fade earlier this year, but I believe the Mets, despite probably being the public side, are going to take care of business, even against a solid young hurler on the other side.

Pirates @ Cardinals (-200) with a total of 9.5; D. McCutchen vs. J. Suppan;
Out of price, out of mind, though I suppose the Over is a possibility.

Cubs @ Rockies (-145) with a total of 9; T. Gorzelanny vs. J. Hammel;
This game could be ugly, and there are angles supporting just about every play imaginable. Thus, I'll just start off by saying this is a total and complete pass, for me. Gorzelanny has a career 10.80 ERA against the Rockies, but Colorado has struggled with lefties this year. Hammel is on a poor stretch, but pitches much better at home. The Cubs aren't hitting right now, but this is Coors Field. The Rockies weren't hitting, but then woke up a couple days back. Will it stick? Get me away from this game, it's making me feel queasy.

Marlins @ Padres (-125) with a total of 7; R. Nolasco vs. K. Correia;
This game is interesting because of the short line, but also because you have to think Nolasco is going to have a nice fan base. He's 2-2 with a 3.94 ERA against the Padres, but he's done a decent job of keeping them in the yard over the years. Correia is 2-2 with a 6.94 ERA against the Marlins, including 5 innings of 4-run ball this year in a game the Padres won 6-4. Again, though, when a pitcher picks up a win like that, you have to think that those types of starts will even out, and I can't help but think that if Nolasco can go 6-7 innings, and limit the impact of the Marlins pen, they pose a threat to San Diego's weakest starter.

American League

Indians @ Blue Jays (-200) with a total of 8.5; J. Westbrook vs. B. Cecil;
Out of price, out of mind. Inflated number, no thanks, especially with Toronto mashing again.

Tigers @ Red Sox (-175) with a total of 9; M. Scherzer vs. D. Matsuzaka;
Out of price, out of mind, again. Tigers are punchless, and even 6+ no-hit innings wouldn't do the trick, right now.

Mariners @ Twins (-110) with a total of 7.5; F. Hernandez vs. K. Slowey;
I wish the Mariners could hit, even a little. Felix Hernandez is one of the best pitchers in baseball, maybe the best in the AL over the last 2 months, and he just has nothing to show for it. He's 4-3 with a 2.56 ERA against the Twins, lifetime, though Joe Mauer and Jim Thome have actually hit him pretty hard. Slowey stinks, much like the other Minnesota starters, but the Seattle offense can make a lot of guys look good, and I can't believe I'm saying this, but this Mariners offense is pure fade material, right now. Not sure I can pull the trigger on Slowey, though, as Jose Lopez is 4-for-6 off him with 2 homers, and Russell Branyan is 5-for-12 with 2 dingers of his own.

Athletics @ White Sox (-155) with a total of 7.5; D. Braden vs. J. Danks;
John Danks is 4-0 with a 1.62 ERA against the Athletics in his career. That's considered ownage in my book. It's funny, too, since there are 3 or 4 A's that are batting around .350 off him, but they just can't get anyone across the plate. Danks didn't face the A's in the recent series in Oakland, though Braden did face the White Sox, and picked up a win with a decent, if unspectacular performance. Braden has picked up a couple wins, now, after a long losing spell, and I will admit, that's about the only factor that works for Oakland in this one. Danks is extremely reliable, especially against a team mostly without power, and I have to believe the Sox will scratch across at least a couple off Braden, who is largely a finesse guy.

Orioles @ Royals (-245) with a total of 8.5; B. Bergesen vs. Z. Greinke;
Out of price, out of mind. Hell, maybe just throw a tenth of a unit on the O's.

Yankees @ Rays (-110) with a total of 8.5; J. Vazquez vs. M. Garza;
The solid weekend series continues with this one, Vazquez trying to atone for his early season debacle against the Rays, and Garza trying to follow up his no-no against the Tigers with a good outing against a team with, to be polite, a "slightly" better offense. Garza has been good in his efforts against the Yanks, though his record might not show it. He's 1-3 with a 3.26 ERA against the Bombers, but somehow hasn't faced them this year due to scheduling. I really like Tampa in this series, and as I said in yesterday's blog, they would seem to want this series more than New York, and with the Yanks' pen in a slight state of turmoil, it's not a bad time to try to capitalize.

Rangers @ Angels with a total of N/A; TBD vs. D. Haren;
I had heard rumors that Scott Feldman would go in this one, but with Texas's day off earlier this week, they have the opportunity to skip Feldman, and given his poor effort against LA a week ago, and his general "suckiness" this year, I wouldn't be all that surprised. We'll get a line on this one soon enough, but unless Texas jumps to a hugely public starter, there isn't going to be a ton of value on the Angels side. Haren gets public money regardless of his season numbers, but in the same vein, Texas has been getting a ton of media attention, so they have a couple of guys that could start this game that would balance the action. Also, is Haren completely healthy after getting nailed with a line drive? Dangerous time to grab the traded man.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Turnaround Cometh

Recap: No plays! A day away from plays was just what the doctor ordered -- one day to put the brutal extra-inning defeats out of mind, while at the same time hammering away at the card, and checking on the numbers. The leans went well, and the confidence is still high. Let's be honest, too, we've had 4 Big plays since the All Star Break, and ALL FOUR have been extra-inning 1-run losses. It has been difficult on the psyche and the bankroll, but at the same time, we've been four sac-flies away from a 24-unit swing. That's insane, but that's how the ball bounces. If we just keep putting ourselves in position to win, the next 4 extra inning games are going to go our way.


Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Phillies (-172) @ Nationals with a total of 8.5; R. Oswalt vs. C. Stammen;
This price is out of my comfort zone to make a play on a game, but I happen to think it would be poor form to me to ignore Oswalt's first start for his new team in Philadelphia. And what have we seen from pitchers in a new uniform so far this season? Not much, in the way of great success. Cliff Lee got lit up by the Orioles, Dan Haren was pitching "okay" before getting drilled by a liner, Dontrelle Willis had his wheels come off after only about 2/3 of a start, and the list goes on and on. It isn't easy to just get thrust into a starting spot for a contender, with so many expectations and with your schedule in disarray. I wouldn't touch Oswalt with someone else's money in this one. I probably wouldn't back a guy, Stammen, who has a 15.63 ERA against Philadelphia, but the Over is in play, if indeed the Nats pen continues to stink, and if Oswalt has minor struggles, as I believe he will.

Braves @ Reds (-140) with a total of 8.5; K. Medlen vs. J. Cueto;
This price is about right, I feel. Johnny Cueto is having a stellar season, and has been somewhat underappreciated, though only by a hair. Again, the Reds have been moved into that public category, so appreciated or not, the line isn't going to be cheap, but he mostly deserves it. Cueto is coming off 8 shutout innings against the Astros, and hasn't given up more than 2 earned runs in any start since June 12. Kris Medlen, for the Braves, has been, I'd wager, significantly better than even Atlanta expected when they moved him into a starter's role. That being said, there has definitely been a marked decline for Medlen, if only because when he first moved into a starter's spot, he was giving up 1-2 runs per game, and now some 4's and a 5 have crept in, and you have to think teams are adjusting. The Reds come home after finishing up hot against the Brewers, too.

D'backs @ Mets (-141) with a total of 8.5; I. Kennedy vs. M. Pelfrey;
Rematch alert! Here's my concern. I feel like we missed our chance, on this one. Pelfrey, after getting absolutely creamed in Arizona a couple weeks ago, is now 0-5 with a 6.75 ERA against the D'backs. Kennedy, after turning in a decent, if short performance against the Mets that same night, is 1-0 against New York. Can those same situations really play themselves out, again? I know Pelfrey is likely to get hit, since he's been straight up bad since mid June, but Kennedy going 5 strong again, with the Mets starting to muster a little offense at home strikes me as less likely. The line is fair, based off the last meeting, but when a pitcher, even a struggling one like Pelfrey, goes 1.2 innings and gives up 6 runs, he's going to be extra-focused and extra-pissed. I'd be careful before assuming the exact same thing happens in this one. The Over is a possibility.

Brewers @ Astros (-115) with a total of 8.5; M. Parra vs. J. Happ;
A lot of repeating consonants in the starting pitcher matchup here, and plenty of the vowel "a", though I suppose none of that helps us. Parra is 4-3 with a 5.18 ERA against the Astros, and Happ is 1-0 with a 6.14 ERA against the Brewers. Parra has already collected a no-decision against Houston this year, going 5 innings and allowing 4 runs in a game the Brewers would eventually lose, 9-5. Happ, not surprisingly, has not faced Milwaukee this year. I already expressed above how I feel about backing pitchers in a new uniform, in the same League, and getting rushed into a start. I'm a little scared of Happ, though I must admit, the Astros being favored is always a reason to take a peek. Still, this game has a wide berth of potential outcomes based just on the inconsistency of the starters, and that makes it a tough side to bet.

Pirates @ Cardinals (-305) with a total of 7.5; J. Karstens vs. C. Carpenter;
Out of price, out of mind. Interestingly low total, considering how well the Cards hit at home.

Cubs @ Rockies (-126) with a total of 9; R. Dempster vs. J. Francis;
The pitcher histories make the Over look like the very first place to look, but then, digging deeper, I'm not so sure. Ryan Dempster is an ugly 3-2, 7.43 pitcher against the Rockies, and Francis, in limited action, is 0-0 with an 8.77 ERA against the Cubs, but we have to remember that those numbers have been accumulated over a long period of time with very spread-out meetings. For instance, no one on Colorado has more than 6 AB against Dempster in the last 5 years, so really, how accurate can that lifetime ERA truly be? On the other side, Francis has struggled with Derrek Lee, who just vetoed a trade to the Angels, and backup Xavier Nady. Colorado did get an easy win to avoid the sweep yesterday, so the bats might be waking up a tad, but Dempster is usually good for 5-6 innings and a couple runs, even at Coors. I've sort of talked myself into liking the Cubs side, but that team stopped hitting in Houston.

Marlins @ Padres (-135) with a total of 7; C. Volstad vs. W. LeBlanc;
This line is creeping me out. I would have expected a number higher than this, so now we need to put our sleuthing monocles on and try to figure out why the number is so reasonable in what appears to be a pretty lopsided matchup. Admittedly, neither starter is lights out, but LeBlanc has better season numbers than Volstad, and Volstad has been one of the biggest money-losers in betting. Very odd, indeed. The Marlins can hit, so that could be keeping the line down, and they did manage to split 4 games in San Francisco, which was fairly impressive, all things considered. At the same time, though, when that offense gets shut down, Florida is in trouble, and the Padres can definitely frustrate teams. Not a ton of experience either way, in terms of the pitcher v. batter numbers, but we know who has the pen edge. This one deserves watching.

Dodgers @ Giants (-186) with a total of 7; C. Monasterios vs. T. Lincecum;
If you want to talk about a team that is just not hitting at all, it's the Dodgers. They managed to squeeze wins out because of strong pitching, but the team hasn't scored more than 3 runs since July 20th. The Giants, meanwhile, got shut out by the Marlins yesterday, but have actually been doing some nice work at the plate, largely due to the infusion of energy of Buster Posey. There's going to be a time to back LA in this series, I can already tell, since they do play well at AT&T Park, but against Lincecum, I'm not sure it's the right time, especially since he started the aforementioned game on July 20th, and pitched very poorly. An angry Lincecum isn't one I want to mess with, and I'd say to look at the Under, but the Giants could score 7 by themselves if the Dodgers go to the "B-list" guys in the pen.

American League

Indians @ Blue Jays (-180) with a total of 8.5; J. Masterson vs. S. Marcum;
Rematch alert! Interestingly, Masterson and the Indians won the first one. Though, perhaps I shouldn't be that surprised -- Marcum is now 0-3 against Cleveland in his career with a 5.34 ERA, and Masterson is 2-0 with a 2.04 ERA against the Jays. This line is pretty high, though, as Marcum was just a -125 favorite on the road, and a 55 cent swing is a little more than usual. Some of that can be chalked up to the Jays beating the piss out of Baltimore at home, and some can be attributed to the Indians getting slapped by the Yanks the last couple nights, but I think the majority of the swing is the rematch angle. Still, I'm not sold on Marcum, here. I know the Jays are playing good ball, but I still wouldn't take the favorite, here. This is a bad match-up for Marcum, and it looks like Toronto might be limiting his innings, too, given the elbow inflammation that landed him on a brief DL stint earlier this month.

Tigers @ Red Sox (-275) with a total of 8.5; A. Galarraga vs. J. Lester;
Who knows, maybe a miracle will happen, but I won't be betting on it.

Yankees (-115) @ Rays with a total of 9; P. Hughes vs. W. Davis;
Phil Hughes, to me, is like Luke Skywalker when he's hanging from a pole beneath the Cloud City. Yep, you guys knew I was a nerd, so I'm going Star Wars with this one. I just feel like he's clinging for dear life in almost every start, and the Yankees just keep swinging that big-ass ship around to rescue him. I mean, look at the numbers. Only 2 of his last 7 starts have been quality, and yet, the Yanks have won 5 of those 7 starts. It's rare when a guy is getting such huge run support that he can go 4-2 over a stretch where he's giving up over 4 runs per start, and only going just a shade under 6 innings. On the other side, Wade Davis has been, let's call it "serviceable" lately, and I'd use that same adjective to describe his career work against the Yanks. This game is basically one question - will the Yankees slam Davis? You can make a ton of money with the answer to that.

Orioles @ Royals (-136) with a total of 9.5; J. Arrieta vs. S. O'Sullivan;
The series we've all been waiting for, though I guess the opener last night didn't disappoint, with the O's taking it in extras. And, to be completely frank, I wouldn't be surprised to see the O's do it, again. They've quietly been hitting better, and now taking on some sorry competition (that happens to be losing players left and right to injury and trade) has made the Orioles an incredible bargain. We missed out on yesterday's tough one, so I don't want people to just jump on Baltimore out of regret. Let's break it down. Arrieta has been completely hit or miss, but against the Royals, who don't have much sock, he has a shot, if he can strand some runners. That being said, he's coming off 2 bad starts, and with young guys, that's always concerning that maybe the League is figuring them out. O'Sullivan was hit very hard in his brief work against Baltimore, so there's no way I'd touch that side. Orioles or the Over, here, though the total appears to be somewhat inflated, already.

Athletics (-126) @ White Sox with a total of 8.5; B. Anderson vs. D. Hudson;
Doesn't setting Anderson up as the road favorite seem a little presumptuous, given his injury issues this year? He made 4 starts to begin the season, pitched well. He made 2 starts a month later, pitched alright before leaving early in the 2nd start, and hasn't thrown a game since June 3. How do we know he's fully healthy? Can we truly trust he's going to go deep into the game? I know Dan Hudson isn't exactly a pillar of hope, but I'm sure he'd like to exact some revenge on the A's, who beat him up a week ago. I know we've seen a trend of guys coming back from injury and looking pretty good in that first game, and that might happen again, here, but if he's not going 7 innings, that means a fair amount of bullpen work, and the A's pen is far better at home than on the road. This one is a little bit of a head-scratcher - let's see how the money comes in to get a better idea of the perception of Anderson.

Mariners @ Twins (-185) with a total of 8.5; D. Fister vs. S. Baker;
Out of price, out of mind. Twins playing far too well to take a shot, here.

Rangers @ Angels with a total of 8.5; S. Feldman vs. E. Santana;
There's an opening line listed of Rangers -120 at a few places, but that was when Tommy Hunter was the expected starter. He's been moved back a day, and Scott Feldman will once again look to try not to embarrass himself. He's still among the tops on my fade list, however, this is a rematch, so that throws a tiny wrinkle into things. So, I'll issue the old Rematch Alert here in the middle of the paragraph, since I wanted to clear up the line issues first and foremost. Now, Feldman, can you do anything productive? I'm still not sure. I suppose my thoughts have veered to the total, somewhat. When these two cats faced off a week ago, the total was set at 10. I'm curious to see if this one adjusts its way up, but I think I'm seeing 9 as the highest out there, and 8.5 everywhere else. That tells you Feldman is going to pitch better, but how much better? Still seems like the Angels need this one more, but they've lost 7 of 8, and Santana's start was the only win in that stretch. Yikes.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ice Freaking Cold

Recap: Chronologically, the afternoon Free Play on Angels was "No Action" when Pineiro got scratched, the early evening GOW on Mets is a freaking disaster, and the late evening Free Play on Dodgers hasn't even started, but goodness, after watching Gallardo implode on Tuesday, and Johan Santana have his worst 1st inning in his entire Major League career, well, I just don't feel like waiting around. Good grief.

Today: Short Thursday card, and not a single line currently under -140. No Paid Play today -- if I play anything, it will be posted Free with a unit designation.

Sports Wagering: MLB

Cardinals @ Mets (-140) with a total of 8; B. Hawksworth vs. R. Dickey;
This matchup of starting pitchers looks wildly lopsided, and with the way the Mets play at home, and Dickey's continued success in the face of all naysayers, I find it hard to find good reasons to play the Cards. Hawksworth has walked at least 3 batters in every start he's made except 1, he has just 1 quality start in 7 tries, and he's coming off a 4.1 inning stinker against the Cubbies. Dickey just keeps rolling along. The Cards lineup has enough pop where a knuckler might be just what they need to wake up, but at the same time, Dickey has made, really, just one bad start all year, and it came in Puerto Rico. He seems pretty comfortable in the states. Truthfully, if this game weren't at noon, I'd be more inclined to claim a lean on the Mets. As it stands, these day games can be a real pain.

Braves (-135) @ Nationals with a total of 8.5; D. Lowe vs. S. Olsen;
I'd say there's a pretty darn good reason this line is pretty reasonable. Or maybe a couple reasons, come to think of it. Lowe didn't look good in his one start against Washington, this year, and though his career numbers against them aren't bad (6-5, 3.86 ERA), Christian Guzman and Nyjer Morgan have given him a hard time, and Lowe hasn't had a quality start in any of his last 3 appearances, so he's not really on his game. On top of that, the Braves are struggling to get it done on the road. Olsen, meanwhile, hasn't pitched in months, but was actually off and running on a solid early part to his season. And based on what we've seen from guys coming off the DL, they have one good start on adrenaline, then drop off. I happen to think Washington is a live dog. I'm not sold on betting them, but I wouldn't take the Braves.

Pirates @ Rockies (-290) with a total of 8.5; P. Maholm vs. U. Jimenez;
Out of price, out of mind. Ubaldo has been struggling, but he bounces back here, and I wouldn't touch it.

Marlins @ Giants (-150) with a total of 8; A. Sanchez vs. M. Bumgarner;
There's probably a little line inflation, here, since Bumgarner is definitely good, and he'll have a nice Major League career, but probably not 2.43 ERA good. This game is interesting, if only because Bumgarner has made 5 straight starts on the road. He's keeping hits pretty low, and though he's not a big-time strikeout guy, AT&T Park is a nice place to pitch your home games. I will note, this total seems a little high, considering Alex Sanabia and Jonathan Sanchez sported a total of 8 in yesterday's game, and the first two contests had totals of 6 and 7, and I might argue both starters in this game are better than both, yesterday. Time to see how the money comes in, but with the side this high, that total grabs my attention, for sure.

Dodgers @ Padres (-140) with a total of 6.5; V. Padilla vs. M. Latos;
I guess the question in this one, a late afternoon game on the West coast, is whether either team will ever score a run? I can't believe that 6.5 actually looks high to me on the total, but with the way these guys have thrown on the year, for Latos, or lately, for Padilla, if this game has more than 4 runs in the 7th inning I'll be blown away. The Dodgers have been winning a ton of low-scoring games, or at the very least, playing a ton of them, and Petco is notorious for those. Obviously, I wish this line was at 7, but goodness. Padilla is 2-1 with a 3.23 ERA against the Padres, and is on a run of 6 straight quality starts. Latos is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA against the Dodgers, but hasn't faced them this year. The Padres are trying to go easy on their young gun, so he probably won't go more than 6-7 innings, if that, but that Padres pen isn't a dropoff, at all. Considering the number of runs, too, you have to think that a big dog is at least a value play.

D'backs @ Phillies (-170) with a total of 9.5; J. Saunders vs. K. Kendrick;
I was all set to drop the "out of price" line, but then I was struck with the idea of an AL pitcher heading to the National League, and facing a bunch of guys, not necessarily for the first time, but maybe the 2nd time, and first in a while. Raul Ibanez has hit Saunders hard, and Placido Polanco has a few ABs, but otherwise, Saunders has the edge, and is 1-0 against the Phillies over his career. Kendrick has no record against Arizona, but does sport an ERA of 6.23. I know the Phils are streaking, so you'd have to have some significant stones to back the D'backs (and yes, that was a terrible, short-lived Diamondbacks "theme song" a couple years back; I kid you not, check it out, it was awful), but I wouldn't dare touch the Phils against a cat making his first NL start.

Tigers @ Rays (-245) with a total of 8; R. Porcello vs. D. Price;
Out of price, out of mind.

Yankees (-150) @ Indians with a total of 8; D. Moseley vs. M. Talbot;
I'm getting tired of being disappointed with Talbot. I thought we had a sweet underdog the last time he pitched, he struck out 5 in the first 2 innings, sailed right along, and then all of a sudden, the wheels came off, and that's plagued him a bit. Talbot has had so many solid outings that are 1 terrible inning away from being gems, and the Yankees are definitely a team that can put up a crooked number if a pitcher lets his guard down. I know this looks like a short line, but the Indians are getting some credit, and Moseley is one of the few guys the Yankees could put on the hill that won't drive a ton of money. The Yankees, believe it or not, are not a bad deal.

Athletics @ Rangers (-200) with a total of 8.5; V. Mazzaro vs. C. Wilson;
Out of price, out of mind. Yeah, this one I went through with - Mazzaro has been solid, but Texas is just a tad strong to consider this big dog.

Orioles @ Royals (-140) with a total of 9.5; B. Matusz vs. K. Davies;
I still find it interesting that Davies is one of the biggest money makers in the entire League, at +9 units. Remarkable, really. That being said, he's 2-1 with a 6.65 ERA against the Orioles in his career, even though the current crop hasn't seen much of him or really hit him too hard. Davies went 6 innings of 2-run ball against Baltimore in a road win back on May 17, so he's taken care of them once already, this year. Matusz has had a wildly inconsistent first full year, and his 3-11 record are both indicative of pitching for an awful team, and also having some downright ugly performances. I'm horrified of backing Matusz, especially with the way the Royals can collect base hits against lefties, but at the same time, should Davies ever be a -140 favorite?

Mariners @ White Sox (-165) with a total of 8.5; D. Pauley vs. F. Garcia;
I wrote down the names and line, and was all set to talk about how the Mariners are a nice value at this price, and then I looked at the numbers. Garcia is coming off an horrid start, and I love fading a pitcher trending down, but I generally don't like fading a pitcher coming off one of his worst starts of the year, especially a veteran. Garcia is in a trademark bounceback spot, as his arm is fully rested, and on top of that, the Mariners can't hit to save their lives. David Pauley has gotten off to a decent run as a starter, but to no one's surprise, he doesn't have a win to show for it. Seattle has been a huge disappointment, and I'm going to go ahead and put a large portion of the blame on Chone Figgins. Did anyone really think this guy was going to move from Anaheim and completely forget how to play baseball? His speed seems to be down, his excitement is gone, he can't hit, and the Mariners should just sell low and get rid of his bad attitude. And this is a roster with Milton Bradley on it! Heck, while you're at it, dump Jose Lopez, too. Just blow things up, keep Ichiro and Franklin Gutierrez, and call up your triple-A team for the rest of the roster spots.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thermometer Time

Recap: That one was over early, wasn't it? Yovani Gallardo just got absolutely lit up like the Reds knew what was coming (someone should check into that), and our Top Play got crushed before the seats at Miller Park were even lukewarm. The Free Play is yet to be decided, but is leading 2-0 with a long way to go. As far as the blog title is concerned, in the NBA season many of you probably remember I started tracking the "temperature" of the plays, and that seemed to get a turnaround going, so today, we'll start at "cool" and try to put some heat under it.


Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Cubs (-145) @ Astros with a total of 8; R. Wells vs. B. Norris;
Randy Wells has been like butter lately...on a roll (rim-shot, thank you very much). He hasn't allowed a run in each of his most recent 2 starts, and has posted 5 consecutive quality starts, most of which have been well above the minimum criteria for "quality." Bud Norris has been a total turd, once again disappointing the Astros with his Major League flops. The problem here is that Wells' only start against the Astros this year was a dud, so we're now forced to weigh his recent run of success against his poor 2010 numbers versus this opponent. Generally, in those cases, I put more weight on the recent success. He's a good pitcher that had a slow spell in the middle of the season, but he's 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA overall against Houston. The Cubs are also the hottest hitting team in baseball, batting nearly .320 as a team since the Break.

Reds (-134) @ Brewers with a total of 8.5; T. Wood vs. C. Narveson;
Seriously, how is this Narveson kid still in the rotation? Is Milwaukee's farm system that devoid of pitchers? Can they really not move any middle relievers into a spot-starting role? Maybe his upside is better than I've seen, but Narveson is usually pretty good for 5 innings of 4-run baseball, and if ever we're looking at a game where the Reds bats will perk up for 9 innings, this would seem to be that one. A pretty strong line for the youngster, Travis Wood, but I suppose he's semi-earned it, posting a 2.76 ERA in his first 5 starts. His control has been excellent, and while the strikeouts will probably back off as teams get a better scouting report, he's done more than enough to get a win, and his team hasn't helped him out. Tough to even consider backing the Brewers in this one, but because of the weirdness of getaway games, might be almost as tough to put any money on it.

Braves (-144) @ Nationals with a total of 7.5; T. Hudson vs. L. Hernandez;
Hudson is 9-1 with a 2.47 ERA against the Nats. Livan Hernandez is 6-13 with a 5.39 ERA against the Braves, but the current Braves haven't done a whole lot against him. Livan went 5.1 innings to these cats, and gave up 2 runs (1 earned) in a Washington win. Hudson has faced Washington twice this year, and has allowed just 2 earned runs in 14 innings. You can see why the total is pretty darn low, then. I must say, I'm a little concerned about the Braves recent play on the road. The Nationals are surprisingly competent at home, and if indeed this one is going to come down to the wire, you have to think the home team has a shot. Not sure I have the gusto to lay it on the line, but Hudson most likely can't do it, himself (he's gone 8 innings a few times this year, but no complete games), so that does give the Nats a little hope.

D'backs @ Phillies (-270) with a total of 8; E. Jackson vs. R. Halladay;
Out of price, out of mind.

Marlins @ Giants (-144) with a total of 8; A. Sanabia vs. J. Sanchez;
This line is a bit lower than I expected, but it seems to show a rapidly declining faith in Jonathan Sanchez. I suppose his 0-1, 7.36 career mark against Florida isn't doing much to dispel that notion. That, of course, is in very limited action, so I'm not sure we can derive too much from it. More importantly, Sanchez's natural inconsistency is on full display, of late, which makes him awfully tough to back or fade, and makes this game a difficult one to nail down. Alex Sanabia, on the other side, has had about the shortest leash of any pitcher on the planet, though the Marlins have done a nice job of getting him out of games before the ceiling caves in. His short leash, though, means a ton of work for the pen, and that's scary. In fact, the pens for both teams should be game for a workout.

Cardinals @ Mets (-119) with a total of 6.5; J. Garcia vs. J. Santana;
Rematch alert! Yeah, caught me by surprise, too. These two faced off back in mid-April in a game the Mets won, 2-1. Heck of a pitchers' duel, though. Garcia went 7 innings and gave up just 1 hit. Santana went 7 frames, as well, allowing 4 hits and striking out 9. The game was decided by the pens. As far as recent work goes, Garcia is coming off a nice bounceback start, shutting down the Phillies with 7 innings of 1-run ball - this, coming after a rather poor start against the Dodgers. Santana, meanwhile, has been so hot (typical of him in the 2nd half) that even the ice cold Mets have had no choice but to win a few of his starts. Santana has given up just 3 runs in the entire month of July, spanning 38 innings. Tough to go against an arm doing that kind of damage, even with the way New York's been hitting.

Pirates @ Rockies (-229) with a total of 9; R. Ohlendorf vs. A. Cook;
Out of price, out of mind. The only way I'd even remotely look is the Over, but Cook's actually been alright at home.

Dodgers @ Padres (-124) with a total of 6.5; H. Kuroda vs. C. Richard;
This is another big game out West, and I happen to think the Padres would probably prefer to have almost anyone else on the hill. Just my humble opinion, but Richard has been showing one of the most pronounced downward progressions of anyone on the staff. He cruised through late June, but has had something of a late June and July-long swoon. Richard gave up at least 5 earned runs in 3 of his 4 starts this month, and allowed 3 earned runs in the other. Opponents batting average is up significantly, and his last 5 straight starts have gone Over the total. So, he's getting some run support, and that might very well continue. Kuroda is 4-2 against San Diego, but has a 4.91 ERA against them. These pitchers have not seen the other team this year, but going on recent trends, Kuroda's been the better pitcher, so make of that what you will.

American League

Twins (-135) @ Royals with a total of 9.5; B. Duensing vs. B. Bannister;
This game, I will admit, has me wringing my hands, a little, and I'm leaning strongly to the PASS. Duensing was an extremely reliable starter for Minnesota last year, and pitched well in his only start this season but lost a tough one to the Orioles. He's 2-0 against the Royals, but has an ERA of 4.85, so a little shaky, there. Bannister, on the other side, has seen his ERA balloon to 5.73, but he's 4-4 with a 4.09 ERA against Minnesota, and beat them with 6.1 innings of 2-run ball back in April. He's been terrible this month, though, and has been pretty darn bad, basically, since the end of May. I'd look at the Over if the total weren't so high, already.

Red Sox (-115) @ Angels with a total of 9; J. Beckett vs. J. Pineiro;
I find it hard to swallow that Beckett will roar back in each of his first 2 starts off the DL. Generally, you see a guy get up for that first start and power ahead with adrenaline and anticipation, and then there's a letdown. Maybe not in his very next start, but generally within a start or two, later. I suppose we just have to wonder if Beckett will have one, or if he's so fully healthy now that he'll just surge ahead. I happen to think that, given the success of 3-4 of the Angels regulars, Beckett might be in for a tougher start, though probably not a bad one. Pineiro, meanwhile, is sort of the Angels stopper this year, and though his career mark against the Red Sox isn't too impressive, he went 6 innings of 2-run ball against them, this year, and Boston's hitting worse now than they were, then. I wish the Angels weren't slumping so hard, though.

Yankees (-150) @ Indians with a total of 9; A. Burnett vs. F. Carmona;
The first thing that jumps out is that this line is strikingly low, and I have to wonder if that's because of Burnett being so erratic, Carmona's decent year, the Indians' run of marginal success after the Break, or something we don't know. Honestly, Burnett always scares me, but he's been good since Eiland returned to the club. And aside from a start where he had some cuts on his pitching hand and couldn't grip a curveball, he appears to be back where he was in the early parts of the year. Carmona's having a nice season, but the Yanks have always been able to score some runs off of him, and while this line looks like a "trap", I think it's just a little on the low side, and believe it or not, I like the Yankees over the Indians, even at this price. Yikes, right?

Orioles @ Blue Jays with a total of N/A; J. Guthrie vs. B. Mills;
No line? This one can wait until tomorrow.

Tigers @ Rays (-230) with a total of 8.5; E. Bonine vs. J. Niemann;
Out of price, out of mind. This could be a beating. Hell, it could be all kinds of things.

Athletics @ Rangers (-151) with a total of 8.5; T. Cahill vs. C. Lewis;
These late American League match-ups are kind of upsetting me. This line is a little lower than what I would have expected, but at the same time, it's very difficult to tell if there's anything in that line. I happen to think that there isn't. Cahill and Lewis both have strong numbers against the other club, including 2 decent starts against the other, this year. I'd argue that Cahill's success gives him some confidence, but not sure how much I can trust Oakland on the road. Cahill did beat the Rangers in his two efforts, and that has to make you wonder...

Mariners @ White Sox (-163) with a total of 8; J. Vargas vs. M. Buerhle;
The southpaw square-off to end the evening. Vargas is 0-0 with a 2.45 ERA against the White Sox, thanks to a solid effort against them this year, and Buerhle is 7-4 with a 3.68 ERA against the Mariners, though he has not seen the punchless bunch this season. Buerhle has been solid in July, and that explains the rather pricey line on this one. I know Vargas pitched well against the White Sox, but the Mariners are just unbelievably bad on the road. I foolishly backed them earlier this series, thinking King Felix would get it done, and I hate to say it, but in some cases it's just that simple - if Felix can't do it, Vargas probably can't either, and the Sox are just far, far superior. I wish I could complicate things and advise a play on the dog, but I just can't, in good conscience.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Feeling Optimistic

Recap: Summer Sizzler winner, Free loser. But hey, a positive day, and since those have been a little hard to come by since the Break, I ain't about to complain. And we did it in 9 innings, too, so no morose thread title about extra frames, today! As far as the Paid Play goes, Randy Wolf was excellent, and the Brewers won their 5th in a row at a nice price. The Free Play was a toss-up between the Mariners and the Over, and, well, I picked wrong. Could have gone with the Minnesota lean, and looked smarter, too, but dumb is what I do best, and I'll stick to that. But again, winning day, I like.

Today: A nice looking National League card, and some mondo lines in the American League, though John Lackey's return to Anaheim should be a fun one to watch. Believe me, I'd love nothing more than to have a super-exciting play, but today's card has a few equally nice games, so we'll keep things standard around these parts. One Top Play Package will contain a 2* Best Bet, and anything else (and there will likely be at least 2 plays) will be Free and posted here in this thread, in my daily notes thread, and on the Pro Page, which you can access by clicking anywhere in this paragraph.

For the blog, and this might happen from time to time while I get my act together for Football season (and re-tool some of the blog/podcast research and formatting), I will keep the blog to games with reasonably short lines. Let's say, in general, about 150 or less. If you guys have thoughts on some of the games with monster lines, always feel free to hit me with them, but since those games are less popular, and you know I'm going to tell you to stay away or play the dog 99/100 times, I can use that time on more important things, like upgrading electronics, learning some new software, prepping for a very busy time of year, or pouring additional effort into the more interesting games on the card. That won't always be the case, but tonight, as I had fifty other things in the hopper (including a Best Of podcast that should be ready by Wednesday), the ultra-high lines are getting the cold shoulder treatment.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

D'backs @ Phillies (-215) with a total of 8.5; R. Lopez vs. C. Hamels;
As you'll see moving forward, when I see a game that is completely out of our price range, and when the total doesn't immediately strike me, I will post the note, "Out of price, out of mind," and move on. Such is the case here, and you'll see a few more of those ahead.

Braves @ Nationals (-140) with a total of 6.5; T. Hanson vs. S. Strasburg;
This line is definitely in the wheelhouse for games to be discussed, and it's a fun one. Two of the top young arms going head to head, and I have to say, it seems like Strasburg is getting a somewhat inflated number here, after a few starts of getting a fairer line. His opponent is a big name pitcher on a big name team, and the Nats have been playing like garbage, getting crushed in Milwaukee before starting this homestand. My concern is certainly that the Braves aren't playing very well, either. They got whipped in Florida, and need a few wins pretty badly to get back on track. Hanson might be the right guy - he's 2-0 with a 2.94 ERA against the Nats, though he did give up 4 runs in 6 innings to them earlier this year. Strasburg was equally unimpressive in Atlanta, giving up 4 runs in 6.1 innings, though his defense certainly let him down in that one. Tough call - value with the Braves, but both teams are clanking right now.

Cardinals (-160) @ Mets with a total of 7; A. Wainwright vs. J. Niese;
Somehow, and maybe I'm nuts, but I'm actually surprised this total isn't at 6.5. Adam Wainwright hasn't allowed a run since July 4, and only 1 earned run since June 24. His ERA has dipped to 1.94 on the year, just disgusting, filthy numbers for one of the best pitchers in baseball, and a guy that does it pretty quietly. The Cards are coming off an extra-inning win an a terribly ugly game in Chicago, and the Mets are coming home off an awful 2-9 road trip where they barely touched home. All signs point to Wainwright coming into town and continuing the domination. But why the total of 7, I wonder. Niese has never faced St. Louis, but he's been excellent since returning from the DL. His last 5 starts have gone Under the total, so what gives? The side is too expensive, but I said I'd talk about games if the total caught my eye, and this one definitely did. The Under looks good, but it also looks way too easy.

Cubs (-120) @ Astros with a total of 7.5; T. Lilly vs. B. Myers;
Rematch time! These guys squared off just a few short days ago on the 21st in a game the Astros would eventually win, 4-3. Both pitchers worked their way to a no-decision, but each was outstanding, allowing a single earned run in 7 or more innings. Somehow, that game made its way to a total of 7. So, here we are, again. Same total of 7.5, but Lilly, who was a -175 favorite at home, is just a -120 road favorite, and that line seems like it's thinking about dropping. And I may have learned my lesson about backing pitchers that are about to get traded, and Lilly seems like, maybe, the most likely Cub to get shipped out of town. His contract isn't nuts, a great number of teams could use a lefty in their rotation, and he's fairly reliable. Myers is a junkballer now, but he's rolling, and the Cubs are a team he's picked on throughout his career, even in those "bad years." Something tells me this game gets to 8 runs, but not sure that's enough to make a play.

Reds @ Brewers (-149) with a total of 7.5; E. Volquez vs. Y. Gallardo;
This line actually looks a little cheap, to me, considering that Volquez had his "adrenaline" start the first game back, and then looked very, very human his last time out, and looked like a guy that is going to need some time to build back the arm strength that made him such a touted youngster a couple years back. Gallardo is a stud, his ERA at 2.45 on the season, and he's been decent against the very hit-or-miss Reds, who once again have been averaging almost 4.5 runs per game, but never seem to score 4 or 5, posting a 2-spot last night in a loss. The Brewers, mind you, have won 5 in a row, all of a sudden, and you know stepping in front of a freight train is rarely a good idea. This is a public choice, most likely, but it's tough to make a compelling case for Volquez's jelly-arm.

Pirates @ Rockies (-205) with a total of 9.5; Z. Duke vs. J. De La Rosa;
Out of price, out of mind.

Dodgers @ Padres (-120) with a total of 6.5; C. Billingsley vs. J. Garland;
I still think Jon Garland stinks, and someday soon, I will be proven correct, I just know it. It might not be today, though, since he's pretty tough at Petco, and the Dodgers have been hitting about as well as I do. They're averaging just 2.3 runs per game over their last 7, though, thanks to playing a slumping Mets club, they have won 4 of their last 5 games. Don't be duped, the Dodgers aren't playing well. The Padres aren't exactly world-beaters, picking on the Pirates, but they're winning games, and now have a chance to put some real distance between them and one of their rivals. That being said, the Dodgers had their way with San Diego here earlier this year, and Billingsley is 9-4 with a 2.51 ERA against them, largely because he's kept Adrian Gonzalez in the yard. Garland has been serviceable against LA in 2 starts this year, but I just keep thinking the roof is one bad pitch from falling in.

Marlins (-115) @ Giants with a total of 6.5; J. Johnson vs. M. Cain;
Wow, cheap price on Johnson, no? I guess it's not that insane, as he was a -115 road favorite to Hiroki Kuroda of the Dodgers, and the Giants are hot right now. Also, he's 0-3 against the Giants in his career, so maybe there's some deflation written into that number. Cain is on a 2-start hot streak of his own, though he's got a long way to go to catch Johnson for season numbers. We are witnessing one of the sickest pitching stretches over the past 10 years. Seriously. Johnson hasn't allowed more than 2 earned runs in a start since May 8th. May freaking 8th, people! Can Florida score 2 runs off the Giants? Hanley Ramirez has nice numbers against Cain, but he could easily shut them down, too. Scary game, in my opinion, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Marlins lead 2-1 when the starters leave, then lose the game.

American League

Yankees (-240) @ Indians with a total of 9; C. Sabathia vs. J. Tomlin;
Major League Debut? Screw it, put a quarter unit on the Indians.

Orioles @ Blue Jays (-240) with a total of 8.5; K. Millwood vs. R. Romero;
Out of price, out of mind.

Tigers @ Rays (-130) with a total of 8; J. Verlander vs. J. Shields;
Let's see, here. Tigers got no-hit last night. Verlander is 4-0 with a 3.55 ERA against Tampa. Shields is 3-0 with a 3.93 ERA against Detroit. The Tigers haven't won a game on the road since 2008. The line should inflate a bit because of the no-no. A total of 8 seems a little high, doesn't it? I'd say fishiness tells us to play the Over, the short line seems to indicate that the Tigers score a few runs and Verlander keeps them in the game, but I still don't trust Detroit on the road. I'd say Over or nothing in this one, considering how mediocre Shields has been of late.

Athletics @ Rangers (-235) with a total of 8; G. Gonzalez vs. C. Lee;
Out of price, out of mind. I'd look at the Over, if but briefly, considering Gonzalez is half the man on the road that he is at home.

Twins (-150) @ Royals with a total of 8.5; C. Pavano vs. B. Chen;
Pardon my language, but I sure as shit can't back the Over here after last night's ridiculous affair. 20 runs, 19 of which came from the Twins? Yikes. Something tells me Bruce Chen has himself a heck of a game. In any case, hunches aside, Carl Pavano is 6-5 with a 6.62 ERA against the Royals, so this has been one of the teams that's hit him hard. Those numbers are a little inflated by a couple bad starts, though. He's faced them 3 times this year, already, and dominated twice, and got drilled once. Chen looks like the wheels are starting to come off, and it was really just a matter of time since his stuff just isn't very good. I'm not confident enough to back the Royals at the dog price, but inflation of the line, and it will probably move up, should get some value on the Under.

Mariners @ White Sox (-250) with a total of 8.5; R. Rowland-Smith vs. G. Floyd;
Out of price, out of mind. Yikes to this one.

Red Sox @ Angels (-140) with a total of 8.5; J. Lackey vs. J. Weaver;
Boston got Victor Martinez back, the Angels watched their new ace take a line drive off his pitching forearm, and now the Halos are looking squarely in the eyes of one of their own. Lackey comes home to Anaheim, and that makes for a very interesting game. Lackey faced his old team once, already, tossing 7 innings of 2-hit baseball in Boston, but it's different when you're back at your old ballpark, but dressing in the visitor's locker room. I can't help but think that he won't go 7 near-perfect innings again today. He has pitched well his last 2 starts, lowering his ERA to a respectable 4.36, so it's not as if he's tanking like he was early in the season. On top of that, Weaver has looked pretty hittable in his last few outings, getting burned by the longball. This line is probably close to fair, if not a tiny bit inflated, which means you're taking a chance laying that price.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Officially Hate Extra Innings Now

Recap: I can't believe I get to title another blog something involving extra innings - it's been a rather painful way to get punched in the gut, but at least we got 4-5 hours of baseball for every decision lately, right? Yeah, not so much. The Cubs were the latest victim of a post-9th-inning defeat. No excuses, the coin is just coming up "tails" on every flip, and it's my job to find a game that isn't going to come down to the wire. That starts NOW.

Today: Two words: "SUMMER SIZZLER." We lost last week's play in the 14th inning, so I've gone ahead and called the Managers of each team involved in this coming play and kindly asked to have the game end in 9 innings (unless our side is trailing by 2 runs or more, I asked for extras). I don't have the coupon code yet, but after Marco's daily video comes out, I'll try to report back to this thread with the code to get my Summer Sizzler play for just $6. And since I'm doing all that legwork, I expect each and every one of my pals to be on board, and each and every person that wants the cheapest winner on the net, too.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Rockies @ Phillies (-126) with a total of 9.5; J. Hammel vs. J. Blanton;
I'm not a huge fan of betting these Monday "end of series" games, since we're likely to see some really absurd lineups. Of course, with due diligence, you can get those lineups and recalibrate your phasers, or whatever nerdy weapon you chose. For what it's worth, Blanton has never started against the Rockies, so this is uncharted water for a guy that has had a hard time keeping his opponents to a run total under 3. Hammel, meanwhile, continues to pitch pretty well, though the Marlins, his nemesis, tagged him for 5 runs in his last start. This is a pretty cheap price on the Phils, who are playing much better than the road-weary Rockies, if I had to offer an initial thought.

Cubs (-150) @ Astros with a total of 9; C. Silva vs. W. Wright;
Carlos Silva is coming off his worst start of the season, which would probably make you think that he's set for a downward spiral, if not for one key note: it came against these same Astros. So now, you have to balance his regression with the revenge angle. He had actually been quite good against Houston prior to that ugly start, and you certainly can't claim he isn't rested, since he only went an inning, but I think that's playing a large role in this line being so high. Another reason is that a converted reliever is his opposition. Wright is making just his 2nd start, his first being one of those insane games where no one can get anybody out, so he'll probably be better than that, though I hardly think he's going to be good.

Reds @ Brewers (-111) with a total of 9; B. Arroyo vs. R. Wolf;
Don't look now, but the Brewers have actually won 4 games in a row. Of course, picking on the Nats didn't hurt their cause. In any case, they're hitting, and right now, the Reds aren't, really. This opening number is pretty strong for the lowly Brewers, too, considering Randy Wolf is sporting a 5.20 ERA on the season. Somehow, he hasn't faced this division rival yet this year. Arroyo, meanwhile, has an ERA a full run lower, 3 more wins, 4 fewer losses, and an ERA against the Brewers under 4 (Wolf has a solid one against Cincy, too). This is a tough one to cap, since neither pitcher has seen this team this year, though historically, Arroyo has struggled with Craig Counsell, Jim Edmonds, and Prince Fielder has 3 homers off him, while Jonny Gomes is probably Wolf's biggest concern on the offensively inconsistent Reds.

Marlins @ Giants (-145) with a total of 7.5; R. Nolasco vs. B. Zito;
The Giants are just rolling right along, though that first game home, just like in basketball, can be a little bit confusing. That's my minor hesitation, since the Marlins are playing excellent baseball, and it's not as though they're just going to get steamrolled. Ricky Nolasco is 1-2 with a 2.05 ERA against the Giants in his career, and only Pat Burrell, of the current Giants, has any real success against him. Zito is also in a good spot, based on historical numbers - he's 5-0 against the Marlins with a 2.15 ERA, and his last 2 starts have each been solid. I find it hard to believe that either team is going to lay waste to the other. Zito allowed a run in 7 innings to the Marlins this year, already, while Nolasco gave up 3 runs in 6 innings of a loss to Matt Cain. Tough call, here.

American League

Yankees (-200) @ Indians with a total of 9.5; J. Vazquez vs. J. Westbrook;
This has to be Indians or nothing, at this price. Vazquez is coming off a less-than-stellar outing against the Angels, and hasn't faced the Indians yet, this year. Westbrook will usually give you 6 frames, and will probably surrender a few runs. Honestly, unless you're huge into totals, I'd leave this one alone. And as far as totals go, this number looks a little inflated to me, but at the same time, I could easily see it getting there. Total coin-flip, in my opinion.

Orioles @ Blue Jays (-215) with a total of 9; B. Bergesen vs. B. Morrow;
This is another inflated line, but at the same time, the Jays are a perfect 9-0 against the Orioles this season, so there's a pretty good reason for oddsmakers to bump that line up a few ticks. Does that mean we're playing the Orioles? Hell no. But at the same time, just realize that if you're backing Toronto, either on the RL or ML, you're paying a premium, and that will not work out in your favor in the long term.

Tigers @ Rays (-165) with a total of 8; M. Scherzer vs. M. Garza;
Detroit is absolutely a live dog in this one, though folks don't seem to like seeing a Top Play on a huge dog, so I'll make the promise right here that if I decide to back the Tigers, it would be a free play. I love the way Scherzer is pitching - he's added a little hitch in his delivery that seems to be helping with his timing and helping hide the ball. He hasn't been as strong on the road, and Detroit has been, for the most part, a complete mess away from home, but Garza has been an even bigger mess over the last 2 months, and he's 0-4 in his career against Detroit. Damn, though, the Tigers are without Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen and Brandon Inge for a while, Brennan Boesch is hitting the wall, and that leaves about 2 competent offensive players. Tough to beat one of the best teams in the baseball with only 2 bats.

Twins @ Royals (-110) with a total of 7.5; F. Liriano vs. Z. Greinke;
Somehow, Liriano has avoided pitching against the Royals this year, but I happen to think that works slightly in his favor. I will admit, I was kind of hoping that the Twins would lose their finale in Baltimore to keep this line from moving, but more than likely, the public bettors that won with Minnesota are going to look to double up, and this line will probably move 5-10 cents towards the Twinkies, as a result. Liriano, in his career, is 3-3 with a 4.84 ERA against the Royals, but we have to remember that he went through some rough spells while getting his arm strength back. A better barometer is to check current Royals' success against him, and only Mike Aviles has any numbers to speak of. Greinke hasn't been all that impressive against the Twins, going 3-6 (no surprise there), but an ERA in the mid-4's. No Morneau is going to hurt, but Delmon Young has been, maybe, the hottest hitter in the AL.

Mariners @ White Sox (-140) with a total of 6.5; F. Hernandez vs. J. Danks;
What can I write about King Felix that I haven't over the last 2 months? The guys has been as close to unhittable as you can get. He and Josh Johnson are battling for best in the business, in my eyes, and if Felix pitched for a team that could hit, he'd have 13-14 wins right now. I mean, the fact that Felix only has 1 win this month is an embarrassment of epic proportions. He's allowed 6 runs in 32 innings over 4 starts. In any case, he hasn't allowed a run to Chicago in any of his last 3 starts against them, and that will likely change tonight, as he's going against them for the 2nd straight start, and it's not easy to keep the gameplan in place. I will give Seattle credit, though. Chone Figgins and Jose Lopez nearly decked each other in the dugout, and the team has been playing with a better fire ever since. On the Chicago side, this team is very much looking forward to getting home, as the road trip ended quite poorly in Oakland. Danks is a nice stopper, and he 2-hit the Mariners in his last start. Thus, we have the total of 6.5, and this one could actually go Under. Should be a nice 2 hour game.

Red Sox (-125) @ Angels with a total of 9; C. Buchholz vs. J. Pineiro;
I almost can't fathom how the two pitchers have the numbers they do against this opponent. Buchholz is 2-2 with a 6.35 ERA against the Halos, and Pineiro is 3-6 with a 5.94 ERA against the Red Sox. For Pineiro, you can make the argument that a lot of his mess came before he found his way to Dave Duncan, and actually turned in a quality start in a 3-1 loss to Boston back in the early parts of this season. Buchholz is making just his 2nd start since coming off the DL, and looked rusty in his first go. He was not at all sharp against the A's, and didn't pitch well against Anaheim this year even when healthy. The concern, here, is that the Angels are emotionally drained off a tough 1-3 series in Texas. Pineiro is coming off a bad start, and we know how he can implode for 1-2 starts before getting things back on track. I happen to think this is a pretty strong opening number for Buchholz, considering he was a -115 favorite to Gio Gonzalez, in Oakland, and now 10 cents higher against a team with a better record and a more notable starter?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Introducing the non-GOW 3*

Recap: This will be added in the responses section, as the games are still going, and I won't be around late tonight to post this blog, then.

Today: There are definitely some weird games on the Sunday card, but also a few that are undeniably interesting. I've got my eye on a potential BIGGER play, but thanks to the rather limited ranking system, I can't make it a 2.5* in the system. Hence, we're staring down the barrel of a non-GOW 3* -- whatever we call it (and I know I have to be careful there, since it's a point of contention at Pregame, and in my mind), the winner's-a-comin', and I can't wait to get you guys on board for this one.

Once again, a slightly abridged blog to honor the true meaning of the word "weekend." We'll take a crack in the blog at some of the more exciting or interesting match-ups, in my eyes.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Rockies @ Phillies (-130) with a total of 9.5; J. Francis vs. J. Happ;
This game caught my attention because of the return of Jay Happ to the Phils rotation. And yes, let's be clear, he said he doesn't want to be J.A. anymore, and we always have to honor how players get all screwy with their names. In any case, the Rockies true "road" colors are beginning to show through, losing 4 in a row heading into this one, and the Phillies offense woke up just in time to lay waste to the Rockies. So, why the cheap line? Well, I'd offer that part of it is that Happ is coming back after not pitching since early April, more than 3 months off, so he's not likely to go very deep in the game even if he's on the money. He is an untouched 1-0 against the Rox in his short career, but not sure how much that matters, here. Francis is 1-1 with a 7.59 ERA against Philadelphia, but he's coming off a beautiful game in Florida, so the confidence should be decent, and I wonder if he doesn't pitch better than folks expect. Jayson Werth and Jimmy Rollins have given Francis trouble in the past, but that's about it. Why is this game interesting? It's a true test of what is more potent today - historical data, which favors the Phils, or the weird blend of adrenaline and rust that should take its toll on Happ.

Reds (-120) @ Astros with a total of 8.5; M. Leake vs. W. Rodriguez;
Why did this one grab at me, you ask? Well, probably because Wandy Rodriguez gave up 8 runs to the Reds in just over 3 innings earlier this year, and not surprisingly, took the loss. Conversely, Leake has given up just a single run in 13 innings against the Astros this year, picking up a win and a no-decision. So, given those numbers, and given that Leake is 7-1 for a good team, and Wandy is 7-11 for a bad one, why can Leake be had for such a cheap price? Well, as much as I hate to cite this little mostly-unfounded note, it is indeed tough for a pitcher to stymie the same lineup 3 times in the same season, especially the level that Leake has been able to, so far. I wouldn't be surprised to see Leake still turn in a quality start - 6 innings, 2-3 runs, something along those lines, but more than that, I strongly believe Wandy turns in a nice game. The bounceback is a mighty tool for pitchers, and on top of that, the Reds have been somewhat inconsistent at the plate since the Break. This line is showing signs of moving down to a total of 8, and the side is holding fairly steady at first glance, but I offer the opinion that this one is going to be closer than people think.

Giants (-150) @ D'backs with a total of 8.5; T. Lincecum vs. B. Enright;
I admit, this one only intrigues me as a game to watch, not so much to bet, so for those that have a short attention span, feel free to jump to the next one. I'm just hugely excited about the career beginnings of one of the nicest ballplayers I had the pleasure of meeting during my time calling Minor League games. As far as handicapping goes, the reason I didn't just make this a footnote is because this total seems oddly high for a game involving The Freak. Lincecum is 5-1 with a 2.36 ERA against the Giants, and 10-4 this year. Enright is rolling along with a 2.66 ERA in his first few starts. So, why is this total just a shade under the key number of 9? This is actually the highest total of any game involving Lincecum all season long. Three times his games have featured a posted mark of 8, and all 3 went Over. Hell, even a battle with Chris Narveson was just an 8. Fishy? Yep.

Cardinals (-125) @ Cubs with a total of N/A; C. Carpenter vs. R. Dempster;
If the Cardinals bats weren't taking a little snooze of late (though they did score a few in a losing effort yesterday), this one would be a no-brainer. Carpenter is 10-3 with a 2.73 lifetime ERA against the Cubs, shut them down once already this year, and is coming off back-to-back 8-inning, 1-run performances. Tough to find fault with that. Dempster got shellacked by the Cards when he faced them this season, and hasn't gone 7 innings in a start since June. That being said, he's been the beneficiary of some chunky run support this month, and even though he hasn't pitched that well, he's gone 2-1 on the month, with the Cubs scoring 0, 8, 12, and 14 runs in his 4 starts. Needless to say, I'm confused by the short line. The Cards haven't been good, at all, on the road lately, but they've certainly got a good shot here in another one of those games that I think ends up a little closer than folks expect

American League

Rays (-155) @ Indians with a total of 9; W. Davis vs. J. Masterson;
Just thought I'd throw this game in the mix because of how well the Indians are playing, and how lopsided the stats are supporting the Rays. Don't play on Tampa. Just don't do it. I know Davis is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA against the Indians, but regardless of how Saturday's game turns out (it's in the 1st inning while I type this), the Rays claiming they're comfortable in Cleveland is just a flat-out lie. Masterson is 1-3 with a 6.49 ERA against the Rays, so he looks like the worst choice on the planet, but I'm damn close to just going for it with Cleveland, again, because that's how it needs to be.

Twins (-125) @ Orioles with a total of 9; K. Slowey vs. J. Arrieta;
This game made my short list of interesting contests because of Slowey's dismal work against the Orioles. He's 0-2 against Baltimore lifetime with an ERA of a cool 7.00. He's having a rather poor month of July, which has basically been the case for the entire Twins starting rotation. They're hoping Baltimore helps get things back on track, and moving Duensing into the rotation is another move they hope helps the rotation stop hemorrhaging runs. Arrieta has been hugely up-and-down, though the Orioles have had a nice trend of winning more of his starts than most of his teammates, and he's only been with the team a few weeks. Somwhere, Kevin Millwood lost his last 4 hairs. Still, the O's are a good value right now - they're scoring runs and fighting from start to finish. I wouldn't touch the Twins with a 10-foot pole.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Some Enchanted Evening Blog

Recap: I'm teetering on the brink of a rant, but I'll save my hatred for batters like Mark Reynolds for a podcast. At least Adam Dunn is batting in the high .200's and walks all the time - Reynolds strikes out so often it's disgusting. Those who enjoy Bebe rants, get ready for a good one early next week. But the news from yesterday was quite the mixed bag: the D'backs completely bungled another one, giving up 2 runs on throwing errors, and another run on a misplayed fly ball; the Marlins had a 5-4 lead going into the 9th inning, blew the lead in the top half to trail 6-5, then scored twice off Billy Wagner to win, 7-6; and the Tigers game was postponed.

Today: A few people got jobbed out of the Tigers play, yesterday, and I'm trying to figure out how to account for it. If yesterday was just one Top Play, the solution would be simple, but folks still got a play in the Top Play Package from yesterday. I think a fair move would be for me to email Pregame support, and ask for everyone that bought yesterday's package to get something like 9 Pregame bucks in their account, since the Package was $18, and half got canceled by rain. So, I'll do that right now, and hopefully you'll see the $9 in your account within the next 24 hours to be spent however you like. Fair?

Also, due to time constraints, I'm going to break down just the games with relatively short lines and start times in the evening. Let's rock!

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Reds (-120) @ Astros with a total of 7; J. Cueto vs. R. Oswalt;
We'll get this blog kicked off with a 7pm ET start time down in Houston between two quality starting pitchers. Johnny Cueto is 9-2 this year with an impressive 3.39 ERA. Roy Oswalt is a rather malodorous 6-11 on the season, but his ERA is just 3.12, and scouts are saying his fastball is as good as it's ever been. Roy is 23-2 in his career against the Reds, and I wonder how much play that stat gets with the public. It's a pretty obvious stat, but at the same time, the Reds are a significantly stronger public play due to their record and all the attention they're getting. Cueto, too, is 0-4 against the 'Stros, so he's never beaten them. This game is, in my opinion, a not-so-rare occurrence in handicapping where the line move and bet percentage numbers might actually mean more than the player stats.

Nationals @ Brewers (-124) with a total of 10; J. Martin vs. M. Parra;
This line is rather low, but then, Manny Parra isn't very good. He's 1-1 with an ERA approaching 7 against the Nats, so not much is expected of him. On the other side, J.D. Martin, who has been more or less "okay" this year, is 0-2 with a 6.39 ERA against the Brewers, is getting a fair amount of credit, and I have to admit, I'm surprised. Both of these guys are coming off absolutely hideous starts, so the question is whether you believe either guy can bounce back. The total suggests they won't. I'd rather let this one pass us by.

Braves @ Marlins (-110) with a total of 8.5; K. Medlen vs. A. Sanchez;
This line is rather cheap, as well, but this one is probably more justified than yesterday's eerily Marlins-heavy line with Sanabia on the hill. Today, Anibal Sanchez is certainly a bigger name, and Kris Medlen is a lesser name, and somehow, this line is exactly the same as yesterday's, maybe even lower on the opening line. I can't help but think that this one is fair, as a result. So, who do you like? Medlen shut down the Marlins at home shortly before the Break, and Sanchez hasn't really put up spectacular numbers against the Braves, but as we saw last night, Atlanta is just a little shakier on the road. Here's the bottom line - Atlanta finds ways to win games that Medlen starts, and he's 6-2 this year, as a result. I like how Florida is playing with guts right now, but I'm not certain guts is enough.

Giants (-119) @ D'backs with a total of 9; M. Bumgarner vs. I. Kennedy;
This is a fun little match-up of quality young pitchers, though Bumgarner is certainly the more heralded of the two. Kennedy is coming off a nice first start of the post-Break run, but still isn't going too deep in games, and I wonder if his arm is just getting a little tuckered out. Bumgarner's arm is fine. He gave up 4 runs in each of his first 2 starts, but hasn't allowed more than 1 earned run in any of his last 3. Arizona's bats did a slightly better job last night of getting runners on base, but just couldn't get the big hit, and strikeouts, as usual, were the kiss of death. Bumgarner is not a strikeout guy, so I do worry just a tad that Arizona putting the ball in play could be bad for Bumgarner. Kennedy has pitched well against the Giants twice this year, already, so even if the D'backs only get 5 strong innings, that'll still keep them in the game.

American League

Twins (-134) @ Orioles with a total of 9; S. Baker vs. B. Matusz;
So, which struggling pitcher do you like more, or less, I guess? Well, amazingly, Scott Baker actually likes facing the Orioles. This should be a nice test for him, though. He's been in steady decline this year, the ERA up to 5.15 now, but he did go 8 innings of stellar 1-run ball against Baltimore back home in May. In that same series, Matusz got spanked by the Twins, and he's coming off an ugly start against the Jays 6 days ago. While Guthrie had a decent history with Minnesota, Matusz most certainly does not, and if ever there were a time that we could get a a struggling Baker at a cheap price and it might actually pan out, this could be that square play.

Angels @ Rangers (-124) with a total of 10.5; E. Santana vs. S. Feldman;
I'll be frank, I was hoping to see a slightly lower total, and it might come down a tiny bit considering the shortage of runs in last night's game. Still, Santana is 6-8 with a 6.06 ERA against Texas in his career, and Michael Young has just murdered him, and Feldman is 4-5 with a 5.54 ERA against the Halos, and Mike Napoli has pushed him around something fierce. This one has high-scoring written all over it, and as a result, that total is all kinds of inflated. The side is definitely tipped towards the Rangers thanks to how they've been beating on teams, but Feldman remains one of my favorite spot-fades. You know he's going to give up a few runs, and if you can get a better-than-average performance from the other starter, you're in great shape. Sadly, Santana hasn't faced the Rangers this year, and the Angels are falling farther and farther behind.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Misfire

Recap: I was all set to take a relatively chalky favorite yesterday, and in the late morning switched over the shortest dog on the card. Regret, thy name is Bebe. Matt Cain continued his mastery of the Diamondbacks, we got suckered, just a tad, and just flat out got beat. Rodrigo Lopez pitched a pretty solid game, but for naught, as Arizona never got anything going, and ran themselves out of one of their only rallies of the game. At least we can always go back and see what went wrong, and in this one, we got the read right on Lopez, but Arizona's bats went back to sleep after a nice series with the Mets.

Today: TWO-FOR-ONE Friday! I'm excited, and you should be, too. Yes, we lost yesterday's play, but I can say, definitively, that I'm seeing AT LEAST two games on today's card that I like more than anything on yesterday's card, and there's actually the possibility that one of the Two Best Bets (in the package) could get upgraded to a 3*, if the money comes in the way I'm hoping. That means the package could contain a 2* and a 3* (not a game of the week, just a slightly larger play), and it's all for 2 dollars less than the normal price of one game. I could potentially have a freebie, too. Fun times ahead, I can feel it.

Equation of the Day: None today, I've got a sinus headache, and Physics equations don't combine well with a headache...

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Cardinals @ Cubs (-159) with a total of N/A; J. Suppan vs. R. Wells;
Well, let's see. Randy Wells did TRY to make a start against the Cardinals earlier this year, but didn't get too far. He failed to record an out while surrendering 5 runs in 6 hits. Thus, no surprise, averaging "infinite" into an ERA against a particular team is probably going to inflate it. Still, he's 0-2 with a 10.13 ERA against St. Louis, and this game is almost entirely about determining which factor prevails. We know Suppan is finally starting to get a little rhythm, so he'll probably be serviceable. But, will we get the Randy Wells that can't retire a Cardinal, or the one that has made 4 straight super-strong starts? Decide that, and you've got your play.

Rockies @ Phillies (-199) with a total of 7.5; A. Cook vs. R. Halladay;
REMATCH! Interestingly, Cook and the Rockies actually won the first go-round, though neither pitcher received a decision in that Rockies 4-3 win at Coors. Halladay's numbers are still quite impressive against Colorado, 1-0 with a 1.17 ERA, which actually went up after his 6 inning, 2-earned game to which we're referring. Cook is 1-5 with a 5.70 ERA against Philadelphia, and this game looks, on paper, like the world's easiest choice, but trust me when I say that things are rarely this simple. The Phillies are fighting it, offensively, like you wouldn't believe, though they did get a nice 2-0 extra-inning win over the Cards yesterday. I would be inclined to look at the total, since home RLs are absolutely a recipe for disaster.

Padres (-119) @ Pirates with a total of 8; K. Correia vs. P. Maholm;
This line is awfully low for one of the best teams in the NL. I realize the Pirates have been mashing at the plate, but if there's a club out there that can send another team into an offensive tailspin, you'd have to figure it's the Padres. Kevin Correia remains something of a weak link in the Padres rotation. He's the consistently poor starter, though usually he can be counted on to go 5-6 innings, at the very least. He's 1-1 with a 3.26 ERA against the Pirates. Maholm, on the other side, is coming off a complete game shutout of the Astros, and has a 3.05 ERA against the Padres. He's 0-2 against them, no surprise there, since he pitches for a terrible team. Still, I can't get over how cheap the Padres can be had against, arguably, the worst team in the NL. Hmm...

Braves @ Marlins (-119) with a total of 8.5; D. Lowe vs. A. Sanabia;
Say what? Alex Sanabia, making only his 3rd Major League start, is favored over a recognizable name on the single best team in the National League? I can't believe we're handicapping two games in a row with super-strange lines. Sanabia, to his credit, is slowly getting extended, and has yet to allow an earned run as a starter, but I mean, these are the Braves, after all. Lowe is 6-3 with a 4.88 ERA against the Marlins in his career, hasn't faced them this season, and is coming off 2 starts where he's been rather inefficient with his pitches. Jorge Cantu, Hanley Ramirez, and Dan Uggla have all hit Lowe hard throughout their careers, so I suppose there are a few reasons to look at the Fish, but again, the decision looms - is this a gift line for the ultra-tough Braves, giving credit to the Marlins, or is this line accurate because of a Lowe meltdown?

Reds (-170) @ Astros with a total of 8; T. Wood vs. B. Norris;
This is an outrageously overpriced line. This is one of those rare occasions where you don't even really have to check out who's been doing what to know that this line is the result of the Reds recent run of publicity, thanks to the All Star Break, and being in 1st place for a while. But, because we're thorough, here are some quick notes. Travis Wood has been a nice young addition to the starting rotation, 0-1 with a 2.03 ERA, unable to collect a win thanks to some offensive issues, and that's precisely why the Reds are overpriced. They're not hitting right now, losing 2 straight to the Nats heading into this series. Bud Norris is a stinker, in general, but with the Reds struggles, I imagine he'll improve on his 9.00 ERA against Cincy to this point, though it might not be by much.

Nationals @ Brewers (-129) with a total of 9.5; C. Stammen vs C. Narveson;
This is truly the day of lines significantly closer than expected. The Nationals were just a +180 road dog in Cincinnati yesterday, blasted them, and now, with maybe the team's worst starter on the hill, with a 6.55 ERA against the Brewers, he's barely a dog? I realize that Chris Narveson, the Brewers' starter, is abysmal, but he's 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA against the Nats, and I worry, to some small degree, that the Nationals are actually getting a tiny bit too much credit, here. I think the line might be too fishy to play either side, but you can best bet you'll get a lot of folks that play the Nationals just because this line is so low. Make sure you have a good reason to pull the trigger on this game.

Giants (-124) @ D'backs with a total of 9; J. Sanchez vs. E. Jackson;
This game is extremely interesting, to me, for a few reasons. First, Jonathan Sanchez. He's 7-6 with a 3.42 ERA on the season, coming off a nice start (in a losing effort) against the Mets, and has pitched relatively well against Arizona this year. However, in his career, Sanchez is 5-6 with a 4.93 ERA, not too impressive, and 2-3 with a 5.47 ERA here at Chase Field. He has a WHIP of 1.91 here, and the D'backs bat over .300 against him at this venue. That's the key, here. Sanchez is not likely to duplicate his success at home against a hotter Arizona team, on the road. The problem? Edwin Jackson is suffering through a poor July that is threatening to push his ERA back up into the 5's after a solid June brought it down to a reasonable number. The Over is a possibility, if we were certain the Giants would do their part, offensively - this one is, as noted, an intriguing game, and I think we can dig something up.

Mets @ Dodgers (-125) with a total of 7; J. Santana vs. V. Padilla;
This is the baseball equivalent of the classic comedy, "Dumb and Dumber." You have hot, and hotter, among the pitchers, and cold, and colder, among everyone else on the team. Vicente Padilla, in typical fashion, has that fastball that really runs up the velocity come Summer, and he's been straight dominant since June 25, including 2 straight starts without allowing an earned run. Johan Santana is coming off a tremendous start against the Giants, and he is just owning July. Typical Johan, to come on strong in the second half. Will either offense get anything going? Santana is 3-0 with an 0.44 ERA lifetime against the Dodgers, and Padilla is 10-3 with a 3.54 ERA lifetime against the Mets. On top of that, Johan went 6 shutout frames against LA earlier this year. Can the bullpens go a game without a complete meltdown?

American League

Royals @ Yankees (-229) with a total of 10.5; B. Bannister vs. A. Burnett;
This one doesn't fit into the "autobet the dog" category, and thank heavens for that. Bannister is 1-2 with a 15.07 ERA against the Yankees in his career, and Burnett has an ERA of 3.32 against the Royals in his. On top of that, Burnett is slightly undervalued, even on the Yankees, thanks to his poor start against the Rays, and the misconception that he has nothing left. Burnett was pitching with lacerations on his pitching hand, and was completely unable to control his curve, a nasty pitch for anyone's that watched him. The Royals collect more than their fair share of singles, and I just don't feel like that will be enough in this one. The Yanks have been a bit of a run line monster, so contrary to everything I believe in, if you're going to make a play on this one, I actually happen to think the Yanks lay a beating on KC.

Twins (-145) @ Orioles with a total of 9; B. Duensing vs. J. Guthrie;
It's easy to forget, Jeremy Guthrie actually has had some decent games in his career, and a few of them have come against the Twins. He beat them once this season, already, so don't immediately toss some cash on Minnesota just because they're the better team. This one really requires some thinking through. I do like Duensing, and I think he should have been in this rotation much earlier than now. He's been extremely consistent as a starter, and while he might not have the sheer stuff to dominate the better teams, he should be able to give a quality effort against the Orioles. If both starters pitch well, you might be inclined to grab the Under, but beware the bullpens. I wouldn't be at all shocked to see 5 runs scored in the final 2 innings, though I suppose the Under is probably still the better lean, if you're looking at the total. On the side, just be careful.

Rays (-149) @ Indians with a total of 8; J. Niemann vs. F. Carmona;
REMATCH! Wrap your head around this stat. The Rays have lost 17 straight games in Cleveland. The Indians are playing rather solid baseball, right now, which might play some role in keeping this line fairly low, but I still think that, at this price, we're going to see a lot of tickets being printed for the Rays. Carmona is 3-1 against the Rays, but his 5.52 ERA against them is a little disconcerting. Niemann is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA against Cleveland. Carmona has pitched well enough twice against Tampa already this year, though both of those were down in Florida. It's not as though we have a ton to work with, but Tampa isn't exactly world-beating right now, and the starters have been right at the center of it. I think Niemann might actually be the best of the Rays starters, these days, but there's something intriguing about backing Cleveland in every game of this series, and just banking on the dog being the casher.

Blue Jays @ Tigers (-120) with a total of 9; S. Marcum vs. R. Porcello;
I think this game is another one where we simply have to ask one question - is Rick Porcello really back, or was his first start back from the Minors a flash in the pan? He's 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA against the Jays, but a confident pitcher doesn't care about history. And truthfully, if he keeps those sinkers down, Toronto is going to be hard-pressed to jack a few out. On the other side, Marcum hasn't faced Detroit in some time, and the current Tigers haven't done much against him, but at the same time, Marcum seems to be hitting a tiny bit of a wall. He pitched well in his last start, but only went 5 innings, and it seems like Toronto is being careful with him. That Jays pen is decent, overall, but it has some holes, and if the Tigers are getting on another home win streak, it'd be a little on the saucy side to fade it.

Angels @ Rangers (-205) with a total of 10; J. Saunders vs. C. Wilson;
Joe Saunders is terrible against the Rangers, but Wilson hasn't done much against the Angels, either. Thus, this line is pretty close to where I'd expect, though perhaps a tiny bit inflated for the home team because of how well Texas has been playing. In a rivalry series, though, lines shouldn't be quite this high, in general, but I'm not the kind of guy to take a longshot with Joe freaking Saunders. Also, this total has already been beefed up, so while I'd love to take an Over with these two cats on the hill, we'd be fighting against the line, and that's no way to win, long term. Leave this one alone.

White Sox @ Athletics (-149) with a total of 7.5; M. Buerhle vs. T. Cahill;
Mark Buerhle is a very strange 3-12, with a 3.93 ERA against the A's. Why he can't seem to beat Oakland is something of a mystery, but even so, I happen to think this line is a little bit too high on the Oakland side. Cahill's having an outstanding sophomore season, getting burned a little bit lately by the home run ball, specifically with runners on base, and Chicago is just the kind of team that can square one up at a most inopportune moment. Well, perhaps Toronto is a better example, but the Sox have some sock in the middle of that lineup, especially if Carlos Quentin can get back in there in time for this one. Buerhle is going to throw strikes, most likely, but word on the street is that Bobby Jenks is out as the closer, so the back of the pen is in a little bit of tumult, and I might wait before taking a shot in this series.

Red Sox (-124) @ Mariners with a total of 8; J. Beckett vs. J. Vargas;
This is another eerily low line, considering the name of the pitcher involved, and from a handicapping standpoint, it makes a ton of sense. From a line-setting standpoint, I'm a little taken aback. The Mariners are a complete offensive disaster, and I feel like we escaped doom when they scored a couple runs in extra innings 2 days back to get a rare win. Jason Vargas is quietly having a tremendous year, without the benefit, seemingly, of ever striking anyone out. Still, keeping the ball down, and consequently, in the yard, here in Seattle, means you've always got a chance. He's 0-0 with a 1.69 ERA against the Red Sox, who are in a fairly significant offensive rut, too, due to injury. Does Beckett come back with a flourish? Does it matter, if he's limited in innings and pitches? Mariners are a live dog, but can you back a team that might score 2-3 runs, if you're lucky?
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