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.

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