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.

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