Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Found a Gomez

Recap: What can I say? I dug deeper than ever before for yesterday's play, going into the subtle mechanics of cool, humid air, how air drag alters the knuckleball flight, even going into the physics of it in the write-up, and unfortunately, the result was the same. The losing skid is now officially UGLY, and I'm PISSED about it. I held the emotions in check, and while you have to learn how to deal with losing, that doesn't mean you have to LIKE it. Dan angry.

Today: That all being said, I actually like today's card, and if years of handicapping have taught us anything, it's that you HAVE to trust your numbers. Slight tweaks are absolutely fine, and clearly we need to be ready for bullpen meltdowns coming out of this particular All Star Break, but I'll just keep digging deeper and working harder until we crash through this little wall.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Astros @ Cubs (-155) with a total of N/A; B. Myers vs. T. Lilly;
If the Cubs could beat a bad team, we might not look at them so disfavorably. As it stands, though, Chicago just keeps coming up short to the clubs they should beat. Now, a potential trade piece, Ted Lilly, well get the daytime nod against one of the most consistent starters that most folks aren't talking about, Brett Myers. Myers is 7-6 this year with a 3.35 ERA, and 8-3 lifetime (2.63 ERA) against the Cubbies, including a win this year over Randy Wells where Myers went 6.2 innings and allowed just 2 runs. Lilly is equally solid against this opponent, 7-1, 2.49 ERA lifetime against the Astros, though he hasn't faced them this year. He is coming off a nice start against the Phillies, a 10-strikeout effort that was his high water mark for the year. If the wind is blowing in, runs could be at a premium.

Brewers (-140) @ Pirates with a total of 8.5; R. Wolf vs. Z. Duke;
This is Randy Wolf's 5th start against the Pirates this year. Just mull that over for a moment, while I recite a few numbers. 8-2, 3.57 ERA lifetime against Pittsburgh, started the year with 14 innings against them, only allowing 2 runs, finished his work against Pittsburgh with a 6.1 inning, 6 run, 10 hit, 5 walk clunker and a 6 inning, 4 run mediocre performance a week ago. So, which Wolf shows up? Well, the line has dropped 13 cents at a few books before we could even get an opinion written on it. But why, I'm not completely sure. The Pirates didn't hit at all in the opener of this series, and the verdict is still out on Tuesday's game, not to mention Zach Duke is 3-7 with a 6.33 ERA against the Brewers in his career, including 2 miserable starts against them a few months back.

Rockies @ Marlins (-115) with a total of 8.5; J. Hammel vs. R. Nolasco;
You may be surprised to hear these career numbers - Hammel is 0-2 with an 8.71 ERA against the Marlins, and Nolasco is 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA against the Rockies. Considering Colorado usually hits righties pretty hard, Nolasco is certainly the exception. He went 8 innings of 1-run ball at Coors earlier this year, so the hopes are high that he'll get it done at home. Hammel has been much, much better since missing a few starts in early May, but those career numbers, and the fact that Hanley Ramirez is 5-for-6 off him make me think that the Marlins should be able to score at least a couple. My concern, of course, is that Hammel is coming off a 10-strikeout game, and the Marlins definitely swing-and-miss.

Padres @ Braves (-150) with a total of 8; J. Garland vs. T. Hanson;
Jon Garland, meet my friend "a challenge." Garland is 0-2 against the Braves lifetime with an ERA of, yikes, 14.04. That's bad. Eric Hinske has hit him hard, Omar Infante has hit him harder; Troy Glaus has a few homers off Garland, too. He hasn't faced them all too recently, but the history is there, and I can't imagine this is a ballpark or a team he's excited to face. Hanson, 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA against the Padres, beat them 6-1 back in early April, but really hasn't dominated anyone this month despite pitching slightly better than he did in June. It might be a tad on the expensive side to get behind Hanson, though both bullpens can carry a decent load, and I don't expect either starter to really go too deep in the game.

Nationals (-120) @ Reds with a total of 7; S. Strasburg vs. B. Arroyo;
This is a rather low line on Strasburg, isn't it? It's not as though he's gone to hell - his ERA is still 2.03, and he's coming off 6 innings of 4-hit ball in Florida, also as a -120 road favorite. I suppose oddsmakers are accounting for the likely large chunks of "sharp" money that are going to come in on the opposite side in a standard public fade. Arroyo is definitely up to the task of facing the Nats, 3-1 with a 3.16 ERA against them lifetime, and dealing 8 sterling innings in Washington back in early June. Arroyo is on a roll, too, and that's a dangerous time to fade him. Then, of course, you look at the Under, but that darn total of 7 is already pretty stinking low. The Reds are prime to wake up, offensively, at some point, and the Nats pen seems like a potential culprit.

Phillies @ Cardinals (-165) with a total of 8.5; J. Blanton vs. J. Garcia;
The Cardinals bats are wide freaking awake, all of the sudden. They've been mashing since the Break, rattling off 4 straight wins over the Dodgers, and then cleaning the Phils' collective clock in the opener. Thanks to typing this blog before Tuesday's games even begin, we don't know how day 2 of this series goes, but my guess would be that the Cards will continue to hit. Now, that being said, Blanton is 3-1 with a 2.60 ERA against St. Louis in his career, including 6 innings of 4 run ball this year -- not great, but considering it was his first game off the DL, not too bad. Garcia beat Philly this year once already, and though the line might be a tiny bit inflated, not sure we can really venture into this side unless it's a pure volume play.

Mets @ D'backs (-120) with a total of 9; J. Niese vs. D. Haren;
Good lord, Haren, when will you get it together in 2010? Ever? Maybe not. He's 7-8 with a 4.60 ERA, simply not good enough. He's 1-0 with a 3.77 ERA against the Mets, completely shutting down Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Jeff Francoeur, and I just keep wanting to back Haren, and I just keep getting reminded that he's not the same, this season. Jon Niese, meanwhile, is finally living up to that massive potential, and has been a beast since a stint on the DL a few months back. There's very little reason to think that everything goes to pieces in this one, and normally I'm all about backing an ace at a cheap price, but I just don't think Haren is an ace, at least not now.

Giants @ Dodgers (-130) with a total of 7.5; B. Zito vs. C. Billingsley;
Rematch! You know, despite his 6-5, 4.13 lifetime mark against the Dodgers, Zito has actually pitched quite well against LA this year. He went 7.1 innings of 1-run ball here in LA back in April in a game the Dodgers would go on to win 2-1, and then allowed just 2 runs in 6 innings in San Francisco, and the Dodgers went on to win that one, 4-2, behind a nice effort from tonight's opponent, Chad Billingsley. Billingsley's always pitched fairly well against the Giants, though Zito, prior to 2010, had been a little hit-or-miss with the Dodgers, and I can't help but wonder if the 3rd time's the charm. I mean, again, it's not as though Zito has been getting hit hard, at all, and he's coming off an incredible start against the Mets while Billingsley is off an ugly outing in St. Louis. I love my Dodgers, but this doesn't feel like a very good price on a rematch game, where the loser of the last meeting is the hot arm.

American League

Rays (-209) @ Orioles with a total of 9.5; J. Shields vs. B. Bergesen;
I have to say, I'm pretty tired of handicapping Brad Bergesen. The guy shouldn't be a Major League starter. Maybe someday, but not now. This will be his 15th start, and he's turned in 4 quality starts to this point, 3 of which came in a row in May. He's 0-2 with a 9.35 ERA against the Rays, and he's probably going to give up at least 4 runs, because a quality start tonight would be too much to ask. Shields has been struggling, so I don't like the Rays, either, but heck, if Baltimore can find a way to score 3-4 runs of their own, this one could potentially get over an already-beefy total. Probably a pass, though. Plus, it's at 12:30ET, so barely any time to even down that caffeine fix before this one is already over.

Angels @ Yankees (-180) with a total of 9.5; J. Pineiro vs. J. Vazquez;
This is actually a rematch, but it's been so darn long, I didn't even want to put an exclamation point. Pineiro won the first match, going 7 innings of 1-run ball in New York back in April. Of course, he faced the Yankees again a couple weeks later, and got pounded for 6 runs. A little inconsistency is always fun to handicap, isn't it? Vazquez has been bad against the Angels both times he's seen them this year, and he's 0-3 with a 4.38 ERA against the Halos, overall. Vazquez's last few starts have been pretty impressive, though, and I worry he's turning the corner. There might very well be some value with the dog, here, but the Yankees are just too damn tough.

Indians @ Twins (-210) with a total of 8; J. Westbrook vs. F. Liriano;
This is sort of a cookie-cutter write-up. This price is too high for a team that isn't pitching well, though Liriano did his part 5 days ago against the White Sox. He has also done well against the Indians this year, while Westbrook hasn't faced Minnesota, somehow. He's 7-9 with a 3.62 ERA against the Twins, but both Michael Cuddyer and Jim Thome have hit him hard. This one has too many competing angles, really. Both teams have been hitting well, but both pitchers have decent history against the other club. Which prevails? Probably a coin flip everywhere you look.

Blue Jays @ Royals (-175) with a total of 8.5; M. Rzepcynski vs. Z. Greinke;
This is another line that seems awfully steep. Marc, as we'll call him, didn't get off to the world's finest start, surrendering 4 runs in just under 6 innings of work against the Twins in his only start this year. Greinke, backed by some shaky defense, got his 2nd half started in zero-surprise fashion, with a loss. He's just 2-4 with a 4.80 ERA against Toronto, though he did go 7 innings of 2-run ball versus the Jays this year. You guys know how I feel about large favorites, and I don't believe Greinke's season makes him worth a play, here. I also don't trust Marc R enough to keep the Royals from pounding out 8-9 hits. The Over is about the only number I'd check out, since I believe Greinke does get hit a little.

Red Sox (-118) @ Athletics with a total of 8.5; C. Buchholz vs. G. Gonzalez;
This line is freakishly low, given the starters. I mean, I know the Red Sox have been a bit of a mess lately, but -118? Come on. I can't believe I'm saying this, too, but this line is so very low that I'm actually tempted to go public. Hah. In any case, a quick look at the players - Buchholz is coming back from his baserunning injury, so there's obviously a little concern there that, perhaps, he's not going to get the same drive on his pitches. He hasn't thrown since late June. Gonzalez gave up 3 runs to the Sox in just 5 innings at Fenway in June, but he's a total beast at home, except against the Yankees. I think a lot of folks might make a play on the A's just based on the weirdness of the line, and I'm not sure I can talk them out of it, but I would advise digging a little deeper before pulling any triggers.

Rangers (-120) @ Tigers with a total of 9; C. Lewis vs. M. Scherzer;
I struggled to decide where to start this writeup because I feel like there's a lot going on beneath the surface in this particular game. First, the surging Rangers are still getting a fairly inflated road line, considering Tommy Hunter went off as a favorite of roughly this size against the lackluster right arm of Armando Galarraga. Max Scherzer has a significant edge over Galarraga in stuff, and his recent work, especially at home, has been a large step up from where he was in April. Speaking of, Scherzer went 7 innings against Texas in April, and gave up 3 runs. Lewis went 6.1 innings against Detroit in April, allowing 4 runs, but striking out 10. I wonder if Lewis will hit a wall any time soon. He's been pitching long seasons, but hasn't had that MLB grind in a few years, and his starts in July have been shorter, on average, than other months. This game has that feeling of the one where the Tigers finally snap out of their haze, doesn't it? Maybe a little?

White Sox @ Mariners (-132) with a total of 6.5; G. Floyd vs. F. Hernandez;
Gavin Floyd is 1-4 with a 7.41 ERA against the Mariners, somehow. The Mariners! Something weird about that. I suppose the one real question that a person needs to ask himself when capping this game, outside of the standard stuff, is whether Floyd is going to keep up his June push, or start to swoon. He allowed 4 runs in 5 innings in Minnesota, but only 1 of those runs was earned, so it's tough to say that he got blasted, just wasn't spot on, and very few pitchers have been great out of the Break. In any case, Hernandez is still rolling right along, going 8 innings against the Halos and allowing 3 runs in a losing effort. He's just 7-6 on the year, but that ERA is down to 2.90, and he might very well be the hottest pitcher in the AL over the last month and a half.

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