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.

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