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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