Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Calm Before the Storm

Recap: Another winning day! I think it's safe to say that this has gotten fun, again! We did drop the Freebie on the Dodgers, but more than made up for that with a nice 2* winner on the San Francisco Giants, who put men on base seemingly every inning late in the game, and did finally bash through with 3 runs in the 8th to break the game open. Let's just keep putting together winning days, and thence, winning weeks, and we're slowly creeping back into this thing!

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Cardinals @ Astros (-110) with a total of 8.5; J. Suppan vs. N. Figueroa;
I would say that this line is a strong indicator that the Astros are going to play tough, but I don't think we need the line to tell us that. This afternoon game features the 1-6 Jeff Suppan, who probably shouldn't be in a Playoff contender's starting rotation, and brings to the table his 3-8, 5.12 ERA against the Astros, and Nelson Figueroa, who has posted a solid 3-2, 2.77 ERA this year in a handful of starts. He's 2-1 with a 4.14 ERA against the Cardinals, and the wheels will fall off his cart, eventually, as they always do with career journeymen, but I'm not sure you can really fade Figueroa, or back Suppan, until one or the other (or both) starts to swing back the other direction.

Pirates @ Cubs (-199) with a total of N/A; J. McDonald vs. T. Gorzelanny;
This line is wildly inflated, considering how bad the Cubbies are, and how well the Pirates have played against Chicago, this year. Pirates, or nothing, and it's almost worth just putting a quarter unit down because of Chicago's complete lack of interest in playing.

Phillies @ Dodgers (-114) with a total of 6.5; R. Oswalt vs. C. Kershaw;
As a Dodger fan, I hate to say it, but...this is not a good spot, and a very weak line for a very public starter on LA's side. Kershaw is generally a hefty home favorite, even against the better teams in the League, and Oswalt is, I would say, slightly less public, but only by a hair. Fact is, Kershaw was a -125 road favorite in Philadelphia in the game the Dodgers lost in regurgitating fashion against Joe Blanton. So, how can he be a smaller favorite at home (where you can assume about a 50-cent line move, or thereabouts). Is Oswalt that much more expensive than Blanton, or is this a game the Dodgers aren't expected to win?

Padres (-139) @ D'backs with a total of 8; M. Latos vs. B. Enright;
Both of these cats are dealing, so what catches my eye is the relatively high total. Yes, I realize that playing in a pitching friendly park can add a few ticks to the total, but Latos has actually had only had 3 games over the last 3 months with a total of 8 or above, and not surprisingly, all 3 have been on the road. In fact, one was here in Arizona, against Joe Saunders, and despite going 6 shutout innings, the game hit 11 total runs. Here, he faces Barry Enright, though, who has been red hot since being called up. The Under almost looks too easy, doesn't it? I don't like the side, at all, not in a game that I feel is going to be a close one.

Brewers @ Reds (-180) with a total of 9.5; C. Narveson vs. J. Cueto;
It wouldn't appear, at least on paper, that a game would be more lopsided than this one. I'm not touching this with a 10 foot pole, side or total.

Mets @ Braves (-174) with a total of 7.5; M. Pelfrey vs. T. Hanson;
I can't believe I'm even considering a home run line, but that's about the only way I could go with this one. Pelfrey has been a total clunker against the Braves in his career, and generally worse here in Atlanta than at home. Hanson is 1-1 with a 1.02 ERA against the Mets. I'd love to find a reason to take the dog, but I just don't see it.

Nationals @ Marlins (-154) with a total of 9; S. Olsen vs. C. Volstad;
There are a handful of revenge angles at play in this one. Olsen got creamed by the Marlins about a month ago, lasting just 1.2 innings and giving up 7 runs. It is his old team, so you have to think that he's going to want to get some measure of revenge. That game also came against today's starter, Chris Volstad, who has just 8 wins on the season, and 3 of them have come against the Nats. Is a pitcher of Volstad's caliber, namely, not good, really going to rack up 4 wins against a team that's only a tiny bit worse than his own? The numbers definitely point to Florida to win, especially against a lefty, but sometimes the numbers need to come back to the mean.

Rockies (-120) @ Giants with a total of 6.5; U. Jimenez vs. T. Lincecum;
Lincecum's struggles have continued, and that makes him awfully tough to back, but it definitely looks like the oddsmakers have caught up. The fact that Jimenez is a road favorite to Lincecum when the Rockies are as bad as they are on the road tells all we need to know about how money on Lincecum has dwindled during his 5 game losing streak. Still, Jimenez has been a little less than perfect lately, too. He hasn't been bad by any stretch, and has actually given the Rockies 6 straight quality starts, but he's just 5-4 against the Giants, and we know how Colorado can struggle to score on the road. For that reason, I don't like the total either. I think you have to look at the Over just because of the opening number, and you have to look at Jimenez because of Timmy's issues, but neither is that great of a value.

American League

White Sox (-150) @ Indians with a total of 9.5; F. Garcia vs. C. Carrasco;
This game has me scratching my head, a bit. Not sure why, but I just have no real thoughts on it. Sorry, all! These games just pop up from time to time where you just don't have a feel for it. Of course, that means all of you can go ahead and fill in any details you find intriguing.

Red Sox (-229) @ Orioles with a total of 8; J. Lester vs. J. Arrieta;
Jon Lester is 12-0 with a 2.00 ERA against the Orioles, which means this line is both ultra-inflated and also quite dangerous. This is one of those games where the two schools go head-to-head. Do you back the guy with the ridiculously amazing career numbers on the assumption that, at 12-0, Lester just owns the O's? Or, do you back the kid on the surging Orioles, and assume Lester can't go 40-0 against Baltimore in his career? I vote for neither.

Athletics @ Yankees (-149) with a total of 9; B. Anderson vs. A. Burnett;
Right off the bat, I have no qualms with saying that I'm trying to find a way to back the A's, but yet, it seems like the A's organization still hasn't figured out a way to solve the Yankees. Brett Anderson, for all his fine work this year, is 0-2 with a 5.68 ERA against the Yankees in a couple starts. A.J. Burnett, for all his erratic starts this year, dominated Oakland the one time he saw them in 2010. The one big thing the A's have going for them is that Anderson is on bounceback off a very short, very bad start against the Rangers. He'll be focused, but then, will it matter? The Yankees just make Oakland look bad, time and again.

Blue Jays @ Rays (-169) with a total of 7.5; S. Marcum vs. D. Price;
Shaun Marcum has had two of his worst starts of the year against the Rays, and while it seems likely he'll be able to at least have one decent outing against them, this year, I'm not sure I'm willing to try to pick that spot, not when Tampa is playing as well as they have been. David Price is 5-0 against Toronto with a 2.09 ERA, so they clearly haven't solved the fireballer. It's a hefty price tag, but I'd sooner lay the chalk with the home team.

Tigers @ Twins (-159) with a total of 7.5; M. Scherzer vs. F. Liriano;
You think Scherzer hasn't been waiting for a chance to get some revenge on the Twins? This is, literally, the team that got him sent down to the Minors. He lost his confidence against Minnesota, and never got it back until the demotion. Thus, the 0-1 record and 18.00 ERA against Minny. Liriano is 4-3 with a 5.24 ERA against the Tigers, and has been significantly worse than that against them, this year. I can't imagine he'll be that awful against them, again, but given the Tigers actually seem to be trying to finish the year with a little positive momentum, Scherzer is definitely a live dog.

Rangers (-184) @ Royals with a total of 8.5; T. Hunter vs. B. Bullington;
This one looks pretty lopsided, too. Both teams did plenty of scoring last night, and considering Cliff Lee was involved in last night's game and this total is right at that same mark, I might consider the Under. More than likely, though, with Hunter starting to get his form back, and Bullington almost completely unpredictable unless you're an avid follower of the Royals farm system, this one is a pass.

Angels @ Mariners (-119) with a total of 7.5; T. Bell vs. J. Vargas;
Jason Vargas has been excellent in all 3 starts he's made this year against the Angels. So, I guess the question is - is the 4th time the hiccup, or does he just have a good gameplan against the Angels, and execute it well? Trevor Bell is coming off his best start as a Big Leaguer, but I don't really trust him to go 7 strong innings again. The opening line is about where I'd expect, especially given that the Angels seem to be swinging from their heels (sometimes a sign the team is playing for contract bonuses). The Angels are a fade from here on out, unless they go to a lineup of 50% call-ups.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Recap: Coming soon!

Today: I think this might be my first ever TWO-for-ONE Sunday! Don't quote me on that, but I think that's the case. Even if it isn't, we're rockin' along, 1.5 weeks into what I like to call the Bebe Winning Stretch Run, with the end goal being to post a winning mark every week from that point forward. So far, so good. Let's nab some big money plays with this special TWO PLAYS for ONE PRICE (just 18 bucks) Sunday package!

Due to my travel situation, this blog will include a breakdown of some key games, but not the entire betting card.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Marlins (-115) @ Braves with a total of 7.5; J. Johnson vs. D. Lowe;
This line feels low, and I'm digging away, trying to figure out why, exactly, Johnson is available at such a cheap price. The best reason I can think of is that, over his last few starts, Johnson has been fairly hittable. Sure, he put together a strong effort against the Pirates, but that team can't hit double-A pitching. Outside of that game, Johnson had a decent start against the Cardinals, and fared poorly against the Padres, Reds, and Mets. The Braves, a good home team that's struggling a bit, are certainly capable. The slump, though, makes Johnson viable once again. On top of that, Johnson is 4-2 with a 2.64 ERA against Atlanta, and Lowe, while 6-3, has a 4.98 ERA against the Marlins (including a rather ugly effort this year).

Dodgers @ Rockies (-115) with a total of 8.5; T. Lilly vs. J. Hammel;
Both of these guys pitched extremely well against the other team when they faced off about 10 days ago. Lilly had his best start of the season, throwing a complete game 2-hit shutout, while fanning 11 Rockies. He's 4-1 with a 3.90 ERA against Colorado in his career, but perhaps more importantly, he's a perfect 5-0 with the Dodgers. Hammel got a no-decision in his game against LA, but did go 6 innings of 2-run baseball in a game the Rockies would eventually win in extra innings after blowing a narrow lead. The Rockies have won his last couple starts, and Hammel has nice career numbers against LA, if rather low on data (0-1, 2.42). I honestly can't see Lilly doing the same damage against this team he did in LA. This will be just his 3rd career start at Coors, and he's 1-1 with an ERA over 7 there, but that doesn't really tell us too much.

Phillies @ Padres (-110) with a total of 7; C. Hamels vs. C. Richard;
Sometimes it's better to be lucky, than good. These two big lefties have been having almost equivalent months of August, but somehow Richard has won 3 straight starts and is 4-1 on the month, while Hamels is 0-3 this month. Hamels has really been racking up the strikeouts, as well, posting at least 8 in 4 of 5 games this month. So, that being said, do you back the starter that's been a tad luckier or the one on the team that's won the first 2 games of the series? For my money, the fact that the Phillies took the first 2 with a combined 6 runs only goes to show that they're not dominating, but doing just enough, and the Padres have only been outscored 6-3 in two games. San Diego has been amazing at bouncing back, too, so they have that going for them, and I feel like Hamels is the bigger name pitcher, so the line is actually a decent deal on the Padres. Just a few thoughts, is all.

American League

Tigers @ Blue Jays (-110) with a total of 9.5; R. Porcello vs. M. Rzepczynski;
Outside of 1 good start in Anaheim, Rzepczynski has been a disaster in 2010. I'm not positive if he's just out of sorts, overmatched, too young, or needs seasoning (or all of the above), but there has been zero consistency, unless you count getting hit hard consistent. Porcello, and the main reason I included this game in the blog, has been a bit better since his return from the Minors. He's still nowhere near his performance in his rookie season, but he's coming off a dominant effort against the Royals, and though he has a tendency to get shelled one out of every 4 starts, or so, when he's got his sinker working, he's almost a lock for a quality start. Detroit's looking like they want to end the year on a positive note, and though the Jays have taken each of the last 2 games, they were both narrow 1-run wins, and the Jays top relievers probably aren't going to be pitching in this one.

Yankees @ White Sox (-125) with a total of 9; I. Nova vs. G. Floyd;
With apologies to anyone that faded Nova in his first start, they may have caught a little break. The kid was rolling through the Minors, and had a solid first effort, if a tad short. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a similar effort here. Roughly 5-6 innings of good baseball, since the Sox haven't seen him, and that can be a huge edge for a young pitcher. That being said, Floyd has been one of the best in the business against everyone other than the Twins over the last 3 months. I expect him to pitch well, though the red flag for Floyd is that, after about 11 starts without allowing a home run, he's given up 5 in his last 4 starts. If those flyballs start to leave the yard again, that makes Floyd just a little less dominant. Tough game, but should be a good one.

Red Sox @ Rays (-150) with a total of 9; J. Lackey vs. J. Shields;
Can't do a blog without cracking open the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball showdown in Tampa! And, I will admit, my end take on this game is going to depend largely on how the Saturday game plays out. Boston took the opener, and Clay Buchholz is trying to help them get the second, and if Boston takes the first two, there's almost no chance I could bet on Boston to complete a sweep. If Tampa nabs the Saturday game, then I happen to believe Boston is a decent dog in this finale. Lackey, after getting clubbed by the Rays the first time he faced them this year, has bounced back with 2 strong starts against Tampa, and he's starting to put on that game-face we're accustomed to seeing out of Lackey down the stretch. He certainly hasn't been lights out, but he's been a horse, and Boston has enjoyed his aggressive attitude. He's also 11-3 lifetime against the Rays. Shields, meanwhile, has started to put some of the pieces back together after a miserable middle portion of his season. He is just 4-9 with a 5.25 ERA against the Red Sox, though, and while his numbers at Fenway do a lot of damage to his total record, backing him against a team that has hit him hard at this price feels dangerous.

Arrived Safely

Recap: I was in flight for about 98% of our ballgames last night, and what I saw upon touching down brought a smile to my face. We nailed the Game of the Week play on the underdog Boston Red Sox for a jumbo size profit; we nailed the larger of the two freebies on the Toronto Blue Jays, and it took an 8th inning comeback by the Dodgers to keep us from the sweep. Obviously, perfection is the ultimate goal, but a 2-1 night with the Big Play coming in strong is certainly a night I'll take every day of the year. Heck, we'd take half that and still be the most profitable capper on the planet. Haha.

Today: It's 3:36am Eastern Time right now (12:36am local), I've been traveling all day, and unfortunately, writing a full blog would eliminate all rest. And while I do love all of you like brothers, I love sleep more. The handicapping is all but done, and we'll have that 2* Top Play loaded up into the system by 1pm Eastern Time tomorrow!

No Blog Today - Sorry Guys!

How about we just nail a winner (or two, or three...) instead?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wedding Weekend, Again

Recap: A one dollar disaster of a 6th inning. The Mets were going to town on Anibal Sanchez, just as we predicted, but the momentum turned the Mets star shortstop Jose Reyes had to leave the game. Literally, from that point forward, nothing worked. The Mets were able to preserve a narrow lead for a few innings, but the Marlins scored SEVEN runs in the top of the 6th, and knowing the Mets ability to fold, I'm calling that one right now. I still don't think it was a bad call, as Sanchez gave up 4 runs in 5 innings, but injuries and one bad inning doomed the entire play. Not cool! Eh, maybe I'll reverse jinx it...

Today: It's time to push a few chips forward! We had a beastly GOM winner on Tuesday, and this play is almost up to that standard...and I mean, just barely below that one. So, without further ado, we roll out the Game of the Week! And yes, for those that manned up and paid the buck for yesterday's Dollar-Play, you should have a coupon to get today's Big Play for half off (or thereabouts). I expect a great number of you back on board to ride out this hot streak!

I will be traveling this weekend for a wedding, so bear with me on some shorter writeups on the games that just don't "do it" for me.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Cardinals (-180) @ Nationals with a total of 8; J. Garcia vs. S. Olsen;
Jaime Garcia is coming off just a gem of a performance at home against the Giants, and he has indeed been better at home than on the road. While I'd love to suggest the dog, Olsen is 1-4 with a 6.10 ERA lifetime against the Cards, and really hasn't looked good, at all, since coming off the DL.

Cubs @ Reds (-175) with a total of 9; T. Gorzelanny vs. J. Cueto;
This game might be tougher for the Reds than people realize. Sure, they're the team with all the motivation, but that first game home off a long road trip through the NL West is going to be a sluggish one. Cubs might steal the opener, as Cueto really hasn't been anything special against the Northsiders, and Gorzelanny, somehow, is still having a decent year.

Astros @ Mets (-145) with a total of 7.5; N. Figueroa vs. M. Pelfrey;
Nelson Figueroa comes home to face his old team, though he did see them in Houston, already. He went 5 innings and allowed a run in that start, and he's been getting steadily better in each of his 3 efforts. Houston has won all 3 of his starts, too. Pelfrey, meanwhile, got pushed back a couple days, and while we might hear conflicting reports, I'm guessing he just didn't want to face the Marlins. Just a guess, though. He's been okay against the Astros in his career, and has been ramping back up over his last 3 starts. The Under is interesting, though the number is already pretty low, and Houston is on a roll right now, so they're a possibility, too.

Marlins @ Braves (-205) with a total of 8.5; C. Volstad vs. T. Hanson;
Chris Volstad remains a perma-fade for me, though at this price, I'd prefer to just leave this one alone. Hanson, by the way, is a stellar 3-0 with a 2.19 ERA against the Fish, so this isn't a particularly good matchup for the Marlins. I'm not saying I like the home run line, but I don't not like it. Eh?

Pirates @ Brewers (-155) with a total of 9; J. McDonald vs. C. Narveson;
This will be Narveson's 3rd start of the year against Pittsburgh, and he's been, let's say, bearable, in each of the previous 2. He wasn't good, and given his make-up, he probably won't ever be quite that good, but he did enough. He's coming off a very ugly start against the Padres, and with young guys, I'm always concerned that one start can mean there are more clunkers in the tank. James McDonald hasn't been terribly impressive, either, and he'll be making his first start against the Brewers, though not his first appearance. This line does feel oddly low, considering Milwaukee was a bigger favorite to the Dodgers, yesterday, and that does concern me.

Dodgers @ Rockies (-150) with a total of 7.5; C. Kershaw vs. U. Jimenez;
The tale of two cities. We know how the Dodgers take care of the Rockies at home, but life gets a little tougher at Coors. It's also quite important to look at the splits for guys pitching in Colorado. Kershaw might be 3-2 at Coors Field, but his ERA is 6.39, and that's scary. Both of these teams come into this game with a little momentum, but the Dodgers beat on the lowly Brewers, and the Rockies took it to the East-leading Braves. The Rockies feel like decent bets in this series, though this one is a tad expensive.

Phillies @ Padres (-140) with a total of 6; R. Oswalt vs. M. Latos;
I know I should want to take a side in this one, but I just don't. Oswalt is 10-2 with a 2.56 lifetime ERA against the Padres, which is pretty darn good. Latos didn't pitch that well against the Phillies earlier this year on the road, but we all know how tough the Padres starters are, at home. The Phillies are also coming to San Diego off getting swept in 4 games, at home, by the Astros. I can only think that these two teams will figure out a way to clear 6 runs. Won't they?

D'back @ Giants (-175) with a total of 7.5; B. Enright vs. T. Lincecum;
Arizona can't win on the road, or really, against anyone other than the Mets, so backing them, even with Lincecum in his current slump, seems dangerous. I also wouldn't pay this kind of money for the aforementioned slumping Lincecum. What I would do is note that the Giants have scored in double figures in 3 straight games, and the D'backs could potentially score 3 off Timmy and the Giants struggling pen. Over, or nothing.

American League

Royals @ Indians (-140) with a total of 8.5; B. Bullington vs. J. Tomlin;
This is the ultimate "who gives a rat's ass" game of the night. And on top of the completely irrelevant teams, both slumping, going head-to-head, we're seeing two pitchers that we don't know a ton about - pass!

Tigers @ Blue Jays (-125) with a total of 7.5; J. Verlander vs. S. Marcum;
Toronto has slapped Verlander around a bit, and I know it's a relatively "obvious" stat, but his 1-2, 8.22 lifetime mark against the Jays makes Verlander impossible to back in this one, for me. Does that mean Marcum is the answer? Not necessarily - the guy hasn't been nearly as strong in the 2nd half as he was early this year, and I wonder if some arm fatigue is setting in after missing so much time due to injury. He's been doing more losing lately, but has put together 2 straight strong starts, and we certainly know Detroit can struggle on the road. Verlander did beat Toronto at home, but something just feels different about pitching in the hitter-friendly dome.

Red Sox @ Rays (-130) with a total of 7.5; J. Lester vs. D. Price;
If the Red Sox can steal any game in this very tough weekend series, it's going to be this one. First game back off a long West coast road trip for Tampa means definite sluggishness. Of course, the banged up Sox might still not have the firepower to handle the Rays, but I don't think I'd back Tampa in this one. Perhaps, Saturday and/or Sunday.

Athletics @ Rangers (-135) with a total of 8.5; B. Anderson vs. T. Hunter;
Tommy Hunter is the question mark in this game, to me. And the reason I started the note with that is because I feel like most will disagree with me. Hunter is coming off a strong start in Baltimore, but prior to that, had struggled pretty mightily in 3 of his previous 4 outings. I still can't help but think that he's a little low on gas, and those strong starts are coming after very short outings. So, how does he respond in this one to the good start back East? Does the confidence carry over for a few more, or does he go back to fighting it? Anderson should be fine, and we all know how good the A's starting staff has been. This line is pretty cheap, and I think that's largely because of Hunter's recent struggles. Tiny lean to the A's, if I had to pick one.

Yankees (-140) @ White Sox with a total of 9; A. Burnett vs. F. Garcia;
All these meaningful games, and this is another one where, for whatever reason, I just don't feel too strongly. Garcia's in a bit of a slump, and Burnett is about as erratic as any starter in the League, short of Brian Matusz. Seems like the only thing you could really eyeball is the Over, but even that seems too easy, since both guys could easily turn it up a notch for a big Friday night game and this one could end with 7 runs.

Orioles @ Angels (-160) with a total of 9.5; B. Bergesen vs. T. Bell;
Brad Bergesen has led the Orioles to wins in each of his last 4 starts, and the Orioles beat Trevor Bell and the Angels just a couple weeks back, in Baltimore. So, our job here is to decide if this line is high because the Angels, despite an ugly season, are still a public team, or if it's high because Bell is going to pitch better, and Bergesen is due for a fall-off. I think one mistake I made during NBA season is that I sometimes give the "betting schmoes" too much credit. They still don't know who Brad Bergesen is, and even though all of us here can see his hot run, most probably don't. The O's are a live dog.

Twins (-140) @ Mariners with a total of 7.5; S. Baker vs. J. Vargas;
Okay, I know we can find something here. Vargas is 1-0 with a 1.08 ERA against the Twins, and he pitched very, very well against them earlier this year. Of course, he was also rolling then, but since the beginning of July, Vargas has been much more hit-or-miss. Baker is coming off a very good start against the Angels, and he, too, has been pretty up-and-down. It's actually borderline amazing how many starters today have that same lack of predictability. Still, with the Twins coming off a brutal series in Texas and clearly slipping a little, I think we'll get max effort from the position players.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Recap: Humbug! We got the 4 runs we expected out of the Brewers (I predicted 5, so it was close), but the Dodgers got that one key 2-run single from James Loney that I really didn't expect. LA had been pretty darn bad in critical hitting spots, but Randy Wolf just couldn't get his fastball down in the zone, and we paid for it. Minor setback on an otherwise tremendous week-plus stretch.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Astros @ Phillies (-165) with a total of 8; W. Rodriguez vs. K. Kendrick;
Honestly, the "cool" kids are probably going to jump on the Astros, but with the getaway game, and with the Phillies likely a little shaken and peeved after the first two games of the series (and yesterday's result, when it comes in), I happen to think this is not a particularly good spot for the Astros. I can't quite put my finger on why, and I know that's not particularly helpful for all of you, but something is just telling me that the red-hot Wandy would not be this huge of a dog to the very pedestrian Kyle Kendrick unless the Phillies were going to break out the lumber.

Dodgers @ Brewers (-171) with a total of 8; C. Monasterios vs. Y. Gallardo;
This line is probably out of our price range for backing a favorite, considering the Brewers simply aren't a good team. Add to that LA has knocked Gallardo around a bit, and suddenly you actually have yourselves a live dog. Gallardo (and this surprised me, too) is 0-2 with a 12.19 ERA against the Dodgers. He hasn't faced them in 2010, however, and this eerily punchless Dodgers iteration probably won't punish Gallardo for more than a couple runs, if that. He's also coming off an ugly start (that resulted in a win, somehow) against the Padres, and I'd argue Gallardo's last 3 starts have all been a little lacking in focus. Monasterios is a reliever. You're going to get 5 innings, maybe a little more, and he'll probably get through the order twice before needing a bailout. This game, to me, is closer to a coin-flip than the line indicates, but backing the Dodgers right now takes some stones.

D'backs @ Padres (-165) with a total of 7; I. Kennedy vs. K. Correia;
The D'backs, like the Dodgers, are another interesting dog, to me. Ian Kennedy has pitched a little better his last 3 starts, though certainly not great. He does hold a 2.70 ERA against the Padres, though, and actually led the D'backs to a win over Correia way back in early April. Does that mean he can do so, again? My take is that Kennedy gives up 2-3 runs in 6 innings, and Correia will probably do the same. So, it comes down to the chance the pens give up 2 runs to get us to an Over, and which pen, since Arizona could potentially be a profitable dog.

Cardinals (-210) @ Nationals with a total of 8; C. Carpenter vs. J. Zimmerman;
Ah, the return of Washington's "other" Zimmerman. For too long, kept in the shadows behind Ryan, Jordan gets a chance to face...oh, crap, a former Cy Young winner. Carpenter is 5-1 with a 3.56 ERA against the Nats, but the Cardinals just haven't been that convincing on the road this year. No play in this one for me.

Marlins @ Mets (-110) with a total of 7.5; A. Sanchez vs. J. Niese;
I will admit, this is one of the few games on the board that really caught my eye, largely because it's one of the few games with a line under 170. In any case, Jon Niese brings his 1-2, 3.60 lifetime mark against the Marlins to the table, along with what has been, I'd call a breakout season for the young lefty. How many years in a row did we keep hearing that this Mets' youngster has all this talent, and now finally we're seeing it bear itself out. Interestingly, Niese has allowed just 1 run in each of his last 4 starts. Sanchez, for the Marlins, is sporting a solid 3.16 ERA, and has had one very good and one mediocre start against the Mets, this year. He's 3-4 against them, lifetime, but he, too, is coming off a strong start, and 3 straight quality outings. Good pitchers, slight edge to the Mets because of the home field, but can they score more than 2-3 runs?

Athletics (-125) @ Indians with a total of 8.5; V. Mazzaro vs. J. Masterson;
Masterson's wacky up-and-down season continued his last time out with an ugly bit of work in Detroit. And we've hit that point where backing him is probably out of the question. The Indians aren't hitting, and the only time they win games is when they're putting up 5-6 runs/game. Masterson is also 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA against the Athletics, so it's not like history is going to make him any more confident. Mazzaro is, somehow, already 1-1 with a 4.05 ERA against the Indians in his career, including a tremendous start earlier this year right here at Progressive. I know it's the public side, given the teams and the starters, but I'm looking at the A's or pass.

Tigers @ Blue Jays (-140) with a total of 8; M. Scherzer vs. R. Romero;
Max Scherzer has been outstanding since his return from Triple-A; I mean, just dominant. If the Tigers could give him any kind of consistent run support, he'd be rolling through the League. Of course, that's why there's both an offensive and a defensive side to the game, and Detroit, on the road, rarely takes part in the offensive half. Romero hasn't been that outstanding against the Tigers in his short, but solid career (1-2, 4.26), and Toronto is going to be coming off an emotional series with the Yanks, but how much stock can we truly put into the Tigers recent run of better play, at home? I'm not sure I can fade Scherzer because of how good he's been, but I think I need just a tiny bit more value to jump on the dog.

Twins @ Rangers (-160) with a total of 8; F. Liriano vs. C. Lee;
We're seeing Texas start to put the pieces back together, and that's scary. They had taken their collective foot off the gas when they got up about 10 games on the Angels and A's, and after a little scuffling, it seems like Texas has pulled out of the nosedive, and they're back to winning. Of course, this line is wildly inflated, and getting Liriano at this type of dog price is something you at least have to give a little thought. Still, without getting into the numbers too much, with Texas playing better (and we know how good they can be, at home), and the Twins due for a little lull (after the beastly start to the second half), I'm not sure I want to put anything on this line, unless someone wanted to subsidize me and let me go max volume for a day.

Orioles @ White Sox (-210) with a total of 9; J. Arrieta vs. E. Jackson;
I think some of the luster on the Orioles is coming off. Once the public catches up, it usually does. This team is still a value, but not nearly the insane value they were 2 weeks ago, or even 3 weeks ago. I'm not betting this game, as I see very little reason to take either side or total, but just heed my warning -- the Orioles are going to be very close to a break-even proposition the rest of the way, as the market is starting to catch up, and lines are inching towards getting tighter. As I also said a few days ago, I'd rather back them against bad teams, since the Sox really need wins right now, and aren't going to take the O's lightly like they might have back in July.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Recap: Coming Soon!

Today: Coming Soon!

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Braves (-125) @ Rockies with a total of 9; J. Jurrjens vs. E. Rogers;
I'm not a monster fan of Jurrjens and his teammates on the road, but at this price, it's almost too good to pass up. I don't believe it's a shady line, since we've seen all 3 games in this series hovering between Braves as a small favorite and a pick. Yes, Rogers is coming off his only good start since hitting the Bigs, but how good will he really be in only his 2nd career start in Coors Field? My guess is not that great. Jurrjens is 4-1 with a 3.02 ERA lifetime against the Rockies, and he seems to be rounding into form, healthwise, or at least his numbers would seem to indicate as such. He has strung together 4 straight quality starts, and the Braves have won all 4.

Reds @ Giants (-111) with a total of 8; H. Bailey vs. M. Bumgarner;
Let's not forget, Homer Bailey was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball near the end of 2009, so the fact that he's back, healthy, and dealing shouldn't be a huge surprise. Since returning from injury, Bailey has gone 13 innings over 2 starts, allowing just 1 combined run on only 7 hits to the Marlins and Dodgers. I expect another decent showing against the Giants. Bumgarner just continues to rumble right along, giving solid outings every time and putting the Giants in a position to win, or at least compete. I don't much care for the side in this one, as I feel the game is close to a coin flip, anyway, but the Under in the afternoon is a possibility.

Cubs (-120) @ Nationals with a total of 8.5; R. Dempster vs. J. Marquis;
Here's an interesting one. The line certainly isn't all that tasty for a bad team on the road, but at the same time can we really put our money behind Jason Marquis? The guy is 0-6 with an ERA of 11.39 this year, for goodness sakes. He did pitch better in his last start, in Philadelphia, but still isn't going deeper than 5 innings in any game. Could it really be this easy? The Cubs hit the ball well in the opener, and maybe the new Manager syndrome is kicking in for a few days? Either way, Dempster is 6-1 with a 3.18 ERA lifetime against the Nats, and only Ryan Zimmerman has really given him any trouble in the past. I don't know, sometimes I think lines really are gifts. Tough call, though.

Astros @ Phillies (-325) with a total of 7; J. Happ vs. R. Halladay;
Don't even stop to think about it. Put a quarter unit on the Astros, and a quarter on the dog RL and just move on to the next one. Hell, we even have a revenge angle!

Cardinals (-169) @ Pirates with a total of 8.5; J. Westbrook vs. J. Karstens;
We might also be hitting that point where the Pirates are just a fade every time out, so awful in every respect that there's simply no point in even considering them. Karstens, for what it's worth, is 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA against the Cardinals, so at this price, I'd just stay away from this game, altogether.

Marlins @ Mets (-125) with a total of 8; A. Sanabia vs. M. Pelfrey;
This line is low for a reason. And yes, I'm trying to be more decisive in my writeups, if you're wondering. Sanabia is just a youngster, but he's been serviceable, only making one truly awful start, and that came in San Francisco. He bounced back his last time out with the best start of his young career with 7.2 solid innings against the hapless Pirates. Today, he'll get a better test, but I suspect we'll get about 5 innings of 2 run ball out of Sanabia. Not good, by any stretch, but not bad, and definitely enough to keep the Marlins in this one. Pelfrey hates facing Florida. Flat out - he got roughed up by them earlier this year in Puerto Rico, and he's been slapped around by the Marlins throughout his career. I know he's on a little bit of a "warm" streak, but I wouldn't touch this eerily low line on a big name starter at home. Marlins or nothing.

Dodgers @ Brewers (-110) with a total of 8; H. Kuroda vs. R. Wolf;
This line is interesting only because it's all kinds of crazy compared to yesterday's number. Ted Lilly opened as a -140 road favorite over Dave Bush, and today's matchup, which features pitchers of almost the exact same numbers, is a good 30-50 cents off from that number, depending on where you look. Kuroda is 1-0 with a 7.36 ERA against the Brewers, so that might have something to do with it, but considering how well he's pitched in his last 3 starts, this game is a true head-scratcher. After trying to be extra-decisive above, now I'm slipping back into waffling mode. Given the Dodgers are about ready to unload Manny Ramirez, something tells me they won't score much this series.

D'backs @ Padres (-166) with a total of 8; J. Saunders vs. W. LeBlanc;
This line is pretty fair. Of course, that also means it's too high for me to back the favorite, and not enough reason to back the dog. Screw this one.

American League

Royals @ Tigers (-165) with a total of 9.5; S. O'Sullivan vs. A. Galarraga;
This line is actually a little cheaper than I expected, and again I can't help but worry that there's this impending sense of doom at Comerica. Sure, the Tigers whipped up on Bruce Chen, and they've been hitting the ball extremely well on this cake of a homestand, but shouldn't Galarraga's namesake get this thing up to -175? Well, believe it or not, I happen to think that at -165, this Tigers side might still hold some value. Galarraga has solid career numbers against KC (2-0, 2.78), and he's coming off his best start since the almost-perfect game (also had 8 strikeouts). I don't play home run lines, so either lay the chalk or leave the day tilt alone.

Mariners @ Red Sox (-150) with a total of 7.5; F. Hernandez vs. J. Lester;
It's funny, actually. Two of the most electric starters going head-to-head in this one, and I have almost zero opinion on the game. I honestly just don't feel like I have a good read on the Red Sox right now, and the Mariners seem to stink, but then jump up and win one when you least expect it every so often. King Felix should keep them in the game, and Lester is outstanding and on bounceback. I might look at the Over, but I'd rather just move on.

Rays @ Angels (-120) with a total of 8.5; J. Niemann vs. D. Haren;
I know I said I don't like backing guys coming off an arm situation, but Niemann has been a complete cash cow this year. On top of that, he beat the Angels here in Anaheim earlier this year, so we know he's comfortable on this mound. And even on top of that, Dan Haren is continuing to get ace-like betting love even though his ERA is 4.55, and he's coming off getting drilled by the Twins. The guy just isn't having his type of year, and getting an amazing road club at a dog price is pretty darn tempting. The concern, of course, is whether Niemann's shoulder is alright, because backing an injured pitcher is a sure way to age at double-speed.

Athletics (-150) @ Indians with a total of 7.5; T. Cahill vs. M. Talbot;
Looking at the stats and box scores, it appears that Mitch Talbot has just about run out of steam for 2010. Arm fatigue, perhaps, but he was slowing heading into the All Star Break, had about 2 decent starts coming out of the Break, then ran out of gas, again. We faded him in his last start, and everything was going swimmingly until the KC bullpen melted down in dramatic fashion. Trevor Cahill is having a ridiculous season, now 13-5 with a 2.54 ERA for a team that's hovering right around .500. Very impressive. He's 0-1 with a 12.27 ERA against the Indians, though, and I can't help but think that if he walks a few guys, and Talbot stinks again, we could get to 8 runs.

Yankees (-132) @ Blue Jays with a total of 8.5; P. Hughes vs. B. Cecil;
With Toronto playing with a bit of a chip on their shoulder, I'm not sure I could bet the Yankees in any game this series. I know the numbers probably say that Hughes is the way to go with this one, but he's been a little up-and-down against the Jays, and Toronto's power is always threatening. Plus, he seems to be going shorter distances in games, even when he pitches well. Cecil is a solid young arm, not great against the Yankees, but I think this game is about a 50/50 proposition, so at the price listed, it's Jays or nothing at all. As you all know, when I say that, I'm usually leaning towards the nothing at all option, but hey, you never know.

Twins @ Rangers (-144) with a total of 8.5; B. Duensing vs. C. Wilson;
What the hell, man? Why didn't someone tell me Brian Duensing was going to roll back into the Bigs and crush fools? I mean, damn. He's 1-1 with a 1.74 ERA against the Rangers, and should probably put together another decent start. C.J. Wilson is coming off a dominant performance in Baltimore (with the help of a truly colossal strike zone), and though he's 0-2 with a 3.41 ERA against the Twins, he's certainly a threat to throw another solid game. I'd say the one thing tipping the scales towards the Rangers is that Minnesota has looked out of sorts a bit, the last couple games, and Duensing has been markedly better at home, which is pretty impressive considering he hasn't been that bad on the road. Wilson, by the way, had a great game going against the Twins earlier this year, but made a few mistakes, and the Twins hit them all hard as hell.

Orioles @ White Sox (-185) with a total of 9; B. Matusz vs. M. Buerhle;
There's always value with a motivated dog. That being said, unless we're putting some money on Baltimore every single game from this point forward, this game, to me, doesn't look like the best time to jump on the bandwagon. Buerhle is 5-4 with a 2.81 ERA against the O's, and while Matusz is coming off a strong start at home, he's still pretty damn erratic. Again, I'm not backing the White Sox, either, but with the Sox desperately needing wins, the Orioles will probably sneak a game in this series, but I'd feel better backing Baltimore in a series that means less to its opponent.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Game of the Month, August Edition

Recap: One more winner in the bank. We only had the one Top Play on the short Monday card, and despite letting the Angels creep back into the game, the Rays bullpen locked it down and got us a nice 2* winner behind a strikeout-heavy performance from James Shields. Could have been easier, but we took the lead throughout the game, and no complaints, here!

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Cubs @ Nationals (-124) with a total of 8.5; C. Zambrano vs. J. Lannan;
Fading the Cubs is pretty much the way to go, these days. I will admit, though, that the one Cubbie that has at least looked like he has something to play for is Zambrano. Probably respect, I would guess. I can't back the Cubs, but Zambrano feels like a guy that is going to keep this one close for a while, and I won't play a different crappy team just because they're the lesser of two evils. Probably a pass.

Cardinals (-266) @ Pirates with a total of 7; A. Wainwright vs. P. Maholm;
You know our little ditty - out of price, out of mind.

Astros @ Phillies (-240) with a total of 8; B. Norris vs. C. Hamels;
Yep, no thanks.

Marlins (-126) @ Mets with a total of 6.5; J. Johnson vs. R. Dickey;
This line feels a little on the low side, but then, I suppose the Mets are still a little bit of a public play just because of the city from which they hail. I know R.A. Dickey's been tremendous this year, but at the same time, most of his issues have come against the Marlins. I can't imagine this line is seriously the gift that it looks like. Still, can I really lean to the Mets? I guess they're playing a tiny bit better over the last 2 weeks than they did in the previous few, but damn. Also, the Over is a possibility, just because of the number.

Dodgers (-141) with a total of 8.5; T. Lilly vs. D. Bush;
Ted Lilly has been one of the few Dodgers that finds himself on the winning side of things, and he's really been a breath of fresh air for a team spiraling in the NL West. Something tells me this game is where things get dangerous. First, the line is inflated pretty wildly, considering the Dodgers don't ever win on the road. Second, Dave Bush, my arch nemesis of the baseball world, is going opposite Lilly, and I'm sure the moment I say he's going to pitch well, he's going to get knocked around (or vice versa), so I'm saying nothing, there. He is 1-1 with a 3.55 ERA against the Dodgers, but Belliard and Manny have done some damage against him in the past. Lilly has been able to shut down Rickie Weeks, but Braun and Fielder have hit him hard, and the value in this one is squarely on the home dog.

Braves @ Rockies (-111) with a total of 9; D. Lowe vs. J. De La Rosa;
I made a deal with myself a few years ago (long before my Pregame time) that I would never back Derek Lowe at Coors Field, and I have yet to renege on that self-contract. Fact is, the guy is a bit of a head case, and he's already psyched himself out before he ever steps on that mound. Sure, he's seen plenty of Colorado, and has a good game plan, but when he sets foot on the field and the first thing he thinks is, "My sinker isn't going to sink," that can screw with you. I also remember the Dodgers rearranging the rotation a few years back to skip Lowe in Colorado. Maybe he's grown up, and the Braves have helped him remove the Huggies, but this game is Colorado, the Over, or nothing. De La Rosa, by the way, is 0-1 with a 12.15 ERA against the Braves. Yikes.

D'backs @ Padres (-200) with a total of 7; R. Lopez vs. C. Richard;
Rematch time! We know the Padres stink in Arizona, but things are a tad different at home. These two pitchers, meanwhile, have faced off twice already this year, both have stunk something fierce in both games, and the Padres have prevailed in both. So, we have a double-revenge spot for Lopez, but at the same time, does it matter? Fact is, he's just not good. He serves up homers at a ridiculous clip, and if he can go 6 innings of 4-run ball, it's probably a success. Richard, by the way, allowed 5 runs in both starts against the D'backs, and I know it looks like a gift given the last 2 games, but the Over is definitely in play, and I'd play the dog long before I'd touch the favorite.

Reds @ Giants (-111) with a total of 7; T. Wood vs. J. Sanchez;
Despite being 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA against the Reds, Sanchez was wobbly, at best, against them earlier this year. He is much, much better at home than on the road, though, so we definitely need to take that into account, as well as the Giants' need for wins. Travis Wood has been a quality start machine since he got the call to take a rotation spot for Dusty Baker's Reds. I hate to say it, and obviously with the blog coming out early, I can't do much else, but my feelings on this game are pretty heavily dependent on how the Giants look in their first game home on Monday. If they are jetlagged, I think they bounce back. If the win the opener, we'll reassess.

American League

Yankees (-126) @ Blue Jays with a total of 10; D. Moseley vs. M. Rzepczynski;
Okay, we made it through Toronto's starter's name, now on to the line. The total is very high, that's the first thing I notice, but I imagine the lack of name recognition for the two starters is playing a large role in that. I imagine the fact that Moseley is basically just squeaking his way through 5 innings, and that Marc has been awful in 3 of his 4 starts in the Bigs are combining to help that total increase, as well. As far as the line goes, this one is a coin flip, to me. Both guys could blow, one might and the other could be decent, and there remains the off chance both starters pitch well. This is likely a pass.

Royals @ Tigers (-151) with a total of 9.5; K. Davies vs. R. Porcello;
Detroit's been hitting a little better on his homestand, picking on some bad teams, but I always like to start these notes with the reminder than the Royals tend to play pretty well in Motown. Davies, despite being 2-6 with a 5.40 ERA against the Tigers actually beat Porcello way back in April. Porcello is coming off an ugly effort against the Yankees, and he remains a bit of a question mark. The Tigers probably win this game, but the side is too high for me to back a poor starter, and the total is hinting at us that runs are going to be scored.

Athletics (-121) @ Indians with a total of 7.5; G. Gonzalez vs. F. Carmona;
Gio Gonzalez remains very, very good at home, and pretty good on the road, and because of the A's recent slightly-above-average play combined with the Indians pitching fall-off, this line is about where it should be, in my opinion. Gonzalez, too, is a perfect 3-0 with a 1.16 ERA against the Indians, so he loves dominating these kids. Carmona, on the other side, has faced the A's twice this year, and pitched very well in Oakland, and decently at home. He's just 3-4 with a 5.56 ERA lifetime against the A's, but that's probably a tad misleading considering his better work in 2010. I'm not sure how you go against a guy that has completely owned his opponent, but Carmona gives us a good reason to be careful, that's for sure.

Mariners @ Red Sox (-216) with a total of 9; D. Pauley vs. J. Beckett;
Inflated line, but we don't have the bankrolls to go dog-hunting at these prices.

Twins @ Rangers (-131) with a total of 9; C. Pavano vs. C. Lewis;
I happen to think Pavano's 1-2, 9.00 lifetime mark against the Rangers is pretty misleading. It's a very small sample size, and this year he shut them down in a 7-inning, 2-run effort a few months back. Colby Lewis, meanwhile, is a somewhat unimpressive 0-2 with a 4.40 ERA against the Twins, so this one is sort of picking between a rotten egg and some moldy cabbage. To Lewis's credit, he did pitch well enough to win in Minnesota this year, but the Rangers just couldn't score. And lately, they haven't been hitting much. Texas is struggling, so it's awfully tough to back a favorite that isn't playing well, especially when the rather unlucky Lewis is on the hill. The Rangers have lost his last 6 straight starts, even though he's pitched pretty well in them. So, he doesn't win. Why back him?

Orioles @ White Sox (-186) with a total of 8; J. Guthrie vs. G. Floyd;
The price is too high, and the dog won't be a top play. I'm looking at the Under, if anything, but probably a full-on pass.

Rays @ Angels (-111) with a total of 8.5; W. Davis vs. E. Santana;
Wade Davis hasn't started since August 5, as he's been dealing with some shoulder inflammation. How badly do we want to back a guy that might be fully healthy? The answer is not that badly. Davis might feel great, but when he gets on that mound, and then has to sit between innings for 10 minutes, things might tighten up a tad, and cortisone shots tend to run out after a few innings. I guess a lot of that is speculation, but I rarely like to back a pitcher that is coming back from a throwing arm issue. Santana, meanwhile, has been one of the few Angels getting it done. His career numbers aren't too great against the Rays (4-4, 5.17), but he's been pretty hot, as pitchers go, and if he can keep Carl Crawford off the bases, the Angels will have a shot, even with their spotty offense and shaky pen.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sizzle Time, Just a Little Longer

Recap: I admit, we're getting a little more exploratory with our plays, but really, for those who followed my MLB work in 2009 here at Pregame (as a forum poster), you know I usually made 3 plays per day. As a Pro, it has taken some time to really figure out how to piece things together, because, no matter what someone says, it's definitely a different bird. I think things are finally coming together.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Cubs @ Nationals (-155) with a total of 8.5; C. Coleman vs. L. Hernandez;
I honestly just can't see any reason to back the Chicago Cubs. Yes, Sweet Lou retired after yesterday's ugly loss, but if his announcement of retiring didn't get his guys to play one last solid game, then I don't see how his actual departure is going to have any impact. I'd say to keep an eye on who takes over, but what is this replacement really going to say? The guys clearly aren't playing for pride, since they're just getting manhandled by every other team in the League. I could actually see them playing better on the road, since there are zero expectations away from home. Still, the Cubs are radioactive to me, at this point.

Astros @ Phillies (-156) with a total of 9; B. Myers vs. J. Blanton;
In terms of the starters, this line is a value on the Astros. In terms of the Astros inability to score on the road, I'm not sure I can back them. Houston squeaked out one win in the series in Florida, but what we've seen is perfectly predictable. A young team with a ton of guys playing for a spot on next year's roster, are playing good baseball at HOME. The kids go out on the road, everything is uncomfortable, the pressure picks up, and suddenly they can't score. So, the question is, can Brett Myers hold the Phils to 2-3 runs? Probably, but can the bullpen go 2-3 scoreless? I doubt it. The Phillies are playing good baseball, of late, and they certainly know about Myers despite never facing them.

Cardinals (-141) @ Pirates with a total of 8.5; K. Lohse vs. R. Ohlendorf;
This is a dangerous spot to back the Cardinals. Lohse gave up 7 runs in 3 innings in his return from the DL, and just has not been, at all, his usual self this year. If he gets into a rhythm, there's still plenty of hope, and his career numbers against the Pirates are solid. Pittsburgh stinks, we all know that, but Ohlendorf is actually 1-2 with a 2.77 ERA against the Cardinals, so he'll probably keep the Pirates in it for 4-6 innings. After that, it's a big question mark, but I can't advocate laying a buck-40 on the road with a guy that hasn't thrown a good game all year.

Braves (-140) @ Rockies with a total of 8; T. Hudson vs. J. Hammel;
If I bet anything in this game, it would have to be the Over. I know the humidor has done some damage on Coors, and the Rockies are coming off another road struggle-fest, but these pitchers have great season numbers, and lesser player matchup numbers. Hudson is 3-2 against the Rockies, but sports a 4.65 ERA, and Helton, Giambi and Tulo have all given him some minor issues. Hammel is 0-2 with a 12.66 ERA against the Braves, so there's no way I'm getting behind that troublemaker. And the road price is a little hefty, if just barely within reason.

Reds @ Giants (-156) with a total of 7.5; E. Volquez vs. M. Cain;
I happen to believe this line is about right, since Volquez still doesn't appear to be quite right. He was starting to appear more confident, then had the wheels come off in a bad inning in Arizona. The Reds have the better travel schedule, though, flying north from LA, rather than home from a bad road trip through Philadelphia and St. Louis, which happens to be the case for the Giants. That first game back home is never an easy one, even if you need it as badly as the Giants do. The Reds, to me, seem like a live dog, and the Under is in play, since the bats don't usually wake up for the traveling team until the late innings.

American League

Royals @ Tigers (-150) with a total of 9.5; B. Chen vs. J. Bonderman;
The Royals, let's remember before anything else, play very well at Comerica Park. They're not a home run hitting team, so the large dimensions play to their line drive bats quite well, and the pitchers seem, for whatever reason, quite comfortable on that Detroit mound. The issue in this one is that Bruce Chen is 1-2 with a 6.50 ERA against the Tigers, and backing a bad team with a bad starter is a recipe for a bald head. Bonderman isn't too good, either, but he'll get some outs at home, and the Tigers have 13 pitchers on their roster right now, so if time permits, and Leyland sees fit, maybe he'll just run out an arm for every out in the last 4 innings.

Yankees @ Blue Jays (-111) with a total of 9.5; I. Nova vs. B. Morrow;
I will admit, between now and when plays get locked in, I'll dig up some stuff on Ivan Nova. In the meantime, from his baseball reference page, we can see he was 12-3 with an ERA in the high 2's with the Yanks Triple-A team in Scranton-WB. It seems like he figured something out in 2009, and there has been a nice steady upward progression, since. Is he ready for the Bigs? Maybe, but you can bet the lack of video and lack of experience against him should buy the Yankees about 4 solid innings before we really see what he's made of. Morrow, meanwhile, had that incredible start against Tampa, regressed against the A's, and has been a home/road split pitcher against the Yankees, this year. I might take a peek at the Under before betting a side in this one.

Mariners @ Red Sox (-181) with a total of 9; D. Fister vs. J. Lackey;
Boston is trying to make a little push. If you guys want to talk about the total, feel free to ask, but the side is right out.

Twins @ Rangers with a total of N/A; F. Liriano vs. R. Harden;
No line on this game yet, but I'll have some thoughts on it tomorrow.

Rays (-145) @ Angels with a total of 9; J. Shields vs. S. Kazmir;
Kazmir faces his old team for just the second time, and this game, like the National League contest in San Francisco, faces a home team that's going to be dealing with an uglier travel schedule than the road team. Does that mean we should fade the Angels? Not at all. They've shown that they can score a little on low rest, and this is the time of year when Scioscia is going to press his guys for whatever's left in the tank. The Rangers have been scuffling, and to some small degree, have let the Angels sniff a tiny bit of life. I expect a well-played game from both clubs, and that makes for a tough handicap.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Little More Odd Schedule

Recap: How about that! We won the Free Play on the Nationals despite Strasburg leaving with a strained forearm (while dominating the Phillies), and won the Paid Play in extra innings with the Red Sox giving up a few runs to let Toronto tie it, but prevailing. What can I say? Two weeks ago, there was no chance we'd have actually won the extra inning contest, even if we had the more reliable bullpen and the home team. Whatever. As mentioned, 2-0 sweep, now a little 7-3 run a-brewin', and the job is to just post winning weeks the rest of the way and get back some of what we dropped as regular season football approacheth.

Today: Good things are happening, and with the Monday Summer Sizzler on the docket, let's grab a couple more winners. No sense pushing the envelope with the recent corner-turning that has taken place, so let's just do what we did, yesterday. A Top Play 2* for sale for just 15 bucks, and if I can find a Freebie (or two), those will be posted in the forum and right here in this thread!

NO WRITEUPS TODAY - as most of you know, I was either driving, sitting in trademark Michigan summertime construction-related traffic, or at a friend's wedding from about 4pm until about 1am, so no time for a full blog.

Let's talk about the baseball and football cards, though!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Running in Place

Recap: 'Twas a big card, and when all was said and done, we won the two plays on favorites, lost the two plays on dogs, and broke completely even. The Indians got worked by Armando Galarraga (again, somehow), the Marlins dominated the Astros, the D'backs used a late rally to overcome the Rockies, and the Orioles mostly got ejected by a home plate umpire with the world's largest strike zone. Crazy times!

Today: I know people would rather get football plays, but that's not how I roll, not when the football card is so thin. So, we're headed back to the bases! Things definitely seem to be making a slight turn for the better, and I see no reason to make some big alterations when the current model is working after that long cold spell. Click anywhere in this paragraph to hop aboard the 2* Top Play at my Pro Page!

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Mets (-121) @ Pirates with a total of 8; J. Niese vs. J. McDonald;
Considering how awful the Pirates are, it's a wonder this line is so low. The number is so damn strong in favor of Pittsburgh, I just don't know if I can touch this one. One of the fishiest lines on the board already, and it's coming down off the opening number. I would back the Mets, but something weird is going on.

Nationals (-110) @ Phillies with a total of 8; S. Strasburg vs. K. Kendrick;
I happen to actually believe that, despite Washington's issues with the road and Strasburg's crummy first start off the DL, that Washington isn't a bad price here. Kendrick has been awful against the Nats in his career, and Strasburg hasn't faced the Phils. Admittedly, Philly can hit, and they'll test the young phenom, but I think he bounces back from that last start with a little better showing today.

Astros @ Marlins (-130) with a total of 8.5; W. Rodriguez vs. C. Volstad;
Volstad is still a guy I look to fade right off the bat. Yes, when he faces the Nationals, he finds ways to get wins, but the Astros aren't from the Nation's capital. In fact, while Volstad is 1-0 against Houston, his ERA is near 5. Wandy, meanwhile, has a very strong 3-1, 2.76 lifetime mark against the Marlins, and he's been pitching his butt off in the season's second half. Off yesterday's drubbing, the Astros should be looking to punch back, even if it's an open-handed slap. They're a live dog, if nothing else.

Padres (-125) @ Brewers with a total of 9; K. Correia vs. C. Narveson;
I'm not sure this game should have made the cut for interesting match-up to do a writeup for on the weekend, but hey, whatever. Correia is coming off a decent start, and he's usually good to at least keep the Padres in the game. Narveson, to me, is one of the worst starters in the NL, and while, perhaps, the future isn't all that dim, the present has been. Padres or nothing, here.

Giants @ Cardinals (-156) with a total of 7; T. Lincecum vs. C. Carpenter;
Tim Lincecum is getting an absolute ton of bad publicity lately. What does that mean? That's right, back him. This is when his value has peaked. He's 5-0 with a microscopic 1.54 ERA lifetime against the Cardinals, and even though he's struggled a tad, this is the perfect time to jump back on, before the rest of the globe does. It's a little scary with Carpenter on the other side, and such a tempting line on Lincecum, so I might, in fact, just watch, but mark my words, his value is not going to get much higher.

Reds @ Dodgers (-118) with a total of 7.5; J. Cueto vs. C. Billingsley;
There's very little reason to think the Dodgers score more than 2 runs in this one. Do the Reds score 3? Billingsley has had a very nice second half, and he's from Ohio, so there might be a little extra motivation to pitch well against one of the teams he knew growing up. Still, Cincinnati is a team on a mission, and the Dodgers are a team that's looking to go on vacation.

American League

Blue Jays @ Red Sox (-133) with a total of 8.5; R. Romero vs. D. Matsuzaka;
It almost feels too easy to back the Red Sox, doesn't it? I wonder, though, if Ricky Romero is truly that good, that he can draw money at this price despite his struggles against the Red Sox. Matsuzaka isn't necessarily a beast against the Jays, and we should definitely see some runs here. Hell, if Toronto winning 16-2 in yesterday's series opener wasn't an indicator of the fun to come, I don't know what is.

Rays (-125) @ Athletics with a total of 6.5; D. Price vs. B. Anderson;
This is a hell of a pitchers' duel, and to the A's credit, they're playing good ball, at home. I can't help but think that with yesterday's game getting to 9 runs, and this total so low, we might sneak to 7 runs in this one. I don't much care for the side, since both pitchers could be amazing, and a bloop and a blast could potentially decide the game, but those same bloop/blast combos should push this thing to 7 runs.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Meltdown Number 1 Billion

Recap: Coming Soon!

Today: Coming soon!

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Braves (-135) with a total of N/A; J. Jurrjens vs. R. Dempster;
There are absolutely a few factors going head-to-head in this one that makes it an interesting afternoon game to bet. For one, Jurrjens has not been good, at all, on the road. However, in that same vein, Jurrjens is coming off his best road start of the season (2 starts back) in Houston, and his last 3 consecutive starts have all been very, very good. He's just 0-1 with a 3.27 ERA lifetime against the Cubs, so not much experience, there, and we can't draw a ton from the player matchups. Dempster, meanwhile, is 2-10 lifetime against the Braves. His ERA against them is 4.98, which isn't good, but it's not nearly as bad as some other career numbers we've seen this year, and the current Braves haven't done anything against him. Dempster hasn't been all that convincing, but the Cubs have given him a ton of run support, lately. Which of these factors will prevail?

Mets (-130) @ Pirates with a total of 8; M. Pelfrey vs. J. Karstens;
Pelfrey, after one of the ugliest stretches for any competent pitcher, seems to have sorted things out. His last 2 starts have been solid, but the Mets complete inability to score make backing Pelfrey, home or road, just as tenuous as backing anyone else on the staff. Jeff Karstens is something of a loser. He's 2-9 with a 4.57 ERA, and just finds ways to put the Pirates behind, even if it's a low-scoring game. He's 0-1 with a 5.27 ERA against the Mets lifetime, and Pelfrey has equally crummy numbers against the Pirates. This one is a pass on the side, and if you take the total, you have to bet on mediocrity.

Nationals @ Phillies (-360) with a total of 8; J. Marquis vs. R. Halladay;
Holy mackerel! I'm not even handicapping this one. Sorry. Put a quarter unit on the Nationals, and hope that it gets turned into almost a full unit. Hell, if you can find a book that'll give you 2.5 runs, do that. Hah.

Astros @ Marlins (-145) with a total of 8; J. Happ vs. A. Sanchez;
Jay Happ is looking like a nice pickup for the Astros, pitching well in all of his Houston starts except one. Of course, to me, the Astros look like a team that, right now, is sort of a "missed the boat" situation. They played strong baseball for a couple weeks after the trade deadline, and they're still finding ways to win a few games, but most of their prowess occurs at home. The young guys, not surprisingly, are playing much, much better in front of the home crowd, with the home clubhouse, friendly pitching mound, and so on and so forth. On the road in Florida's stinker of a ballpark, this team is going to get steamrolled. Anibal Sanchez is 2-0 with a 0.96 ERA against Houston, and while Happ is 1-0 against the Marlins, his career 5.51 ERA would seem to indicate that he did enough to win, but not enough to win with Houston.

Padres @ Brewers (-145) with a total of 8; W. LeBlanc vs. Y. Gallardo;
Let's see, here. The best team in the NL as a dog? It's tempting, I'll admit, and LeBlanc has been, quietly, one of the better pitchers on a very good Padres staff. This will be the second time Milwaukee's seeing LeBlanc this year, and he shut them out for 6.1 innings back in April. I wonder if he can do it again. I will admit, there's something a little disconcerting about expecting a change-up artist to dominate a decent offensive team 2 times in the same year. Yes, it helps that there was a 4 month break between times the Brewers see him, but I doubt he throws another shutout. Gallardo, meanwhile, continues to have a nice season or a bad team. He should be good for 6-7 innings against a team that has "just enough" on offense.

Giants @ Cardinals (-145) with a total of 8; M. Bumgarner vs. J. Westbrook;
Here's a line that doesn't really add up. Now, it's on us to determine if this is just a mistake by the oddsmakers (unlikely), the betting public thinks more highly of the Cardinals than we realize (possible), or the feeble road performances of the Giants and the rapidly accelerating Padres have made San Francisco a potential fade (also possible). Westbrook has been exactly what the Cardinals hoped since his acquisition - a solid veteran that gives a quality effort every time out. He's not going to dominate any competent offensive teams, but he's going 6-7 innings, giving up 2-3 runs, and giving his guys a solid chance to win. This game, to me, is closer to a coin-flip than the line would indicate, though, and I think you have to consider the Giants, even if they only win this game 45% of the time. The volume approach, perhaps.

Rockies @ D'backs (-130) with a total of 10; E. Rogers vs. I. Kennedy;
Let's start with the easy part of this one -- Esmil Rogers is not Major League-ready. Flat out. The kid has made 4 starts, and he's yet to give up fewer than 4 runs; he's yet to go deeper than 6 innings, and yet to give up less than a hit per inning. Arizona will score a few runs in this game, hence the outrageously high total for a game without wind. Ian Kennedy, to me, is the wild card. He's had 2 good starts in a row, and while he did allow 4 runs to the Brewers 2 starts back, he straightened things out and dominated the final 3 innings of that effort. His opponents' hits numbers are down in those 2 starts, and that's a good sign that some of the life is back on his stuff. He hasn't been particularly good against the Rockies, though some bad defense didn't help him. That could happen again, since this is, after all, the D'backs, and the Rockies' pen is vastly superior. The D'backs look great on paper, but those last couple innings scare the urine out of me.

Reds @ Dodgers (-135) with a total of 7.5; H. Bailey vs. V. Padilla;
If there's one team that can wake the Dodgers up, it's the Cincinnati Reds. I mean, we're talking about a series that has just been completely and utterly owned by the Dodgers over the last few years, and continuing into this season. Of course, that assumes the Dodgers are playing for something. Right now, the motivational edge is colossal in favor of the Reds. They're charging hard, and opening up a division lead over the Cards, and the Dodgers are, for all intents and purposes, done for the year. Padilla got stomped in his last 2 road starts, and though his home/road splits are disturbingly positive for him pitching at home, it's tough to lay this kind of price on a team that may or may not actually try to win.

American League

Indians @ Tigers (-140) with a total of 9; J. Masterson vs. A. Galarraga;
Does anyone else feel like Armando Galarraga has parlayed a near-perfect game into another full season of starting when, really, he should be a long reliever? That's how I feel. His numbers, across the board, are just not very good. He seems to give up at least 3-4 runs in every start, home or road, regardless of opponent, and the only recent start that Armando didn't give up 3-4 runs was when he got yanked after just 4.1 innings. Cleveland generally doesn't play all that well against Detroit, but the Tigers are flailing right now, sporting the worst record in baseball since the All Star Break, and even though the Indians aren't (to use an expression I like) world-beaters, Masterson has the ability to be brilliant. At this dog price, it's Indians or nothing.

Mariners @ Yankees (-145) with a total of 8; F. Hernandez vs. A. Burnett;
The shortness of this line is strongly indicative of the world's respect for King Felix. I suppose it's partially because Burnett is such a hit-or-mostly-miss starter, but he is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA against the Mariners, lifetime. Felix Hernandez has dominated the Yankees twice this year, already, so now we have the added issue of the dreaded "third start," as well. Can he do it again? I'm inclined to think that the Yankees do score a couple runs off Felix, who has slowed just a tiny bit since his unbelievable run a month back. Burnett is coming off a strong start in Kansas City, and that head case can be pretty streaky, too. Believe me, I'm looking for a way to back the Mariners, but I'm not sure I've got the gumption.

Rangers (-185) @ Orioles with a total of 9; C. Wilson vs. J. Arrieta;
Rematch time. No exclamation point, since it's not a truly exciting one, but Baltimore did take round one, and it shouldn't have surprised you. I guess that's the interesting part. Jake Arrieta, another inconsistent Orioles starter just getting his feet wet, gave up just a run to the Rangers in a 4-1 Orioles win. C.J. Wilson is 1-3 with a 7.15 ERA against the Orioles lifetime, so for whatever reason, that orange is just not a color that Wilson wants to see. Admittedly, the O's haven't seen a ton of Wilson, since he was a reliever up until quite recently, but his start against them this year was an ugly one, and sometimes a pitcher just doesn't like a particular opponent.

Blue Jays @ Red Sox (-185) with a total of 8; B. Cecil vs. J. Lester;
This looks like a wildly lopsided match-up, and honestly, it might be just that. I expect Toronto to score a few runs with that giant wall just beyond the infield at Fenway, but Jon Lester is 6-3 with a 2.74 ERA lifetime against the Jays, and Brett Cecil is 0-3 with a 7.80 ERA against the Red Sox. I'm not backing Toronto, but that total of 8 looks clearable if Toronto can put up 3 runs. You guys know how I feel about home run lines, but it's that, the Over, or nothing. Given how many times I've written sentences just like that one, you all can probably guess that it's more than likely the "nothing" option.

Angels @ Twins (-150) with a total of 8; D. Haren vs. B. Duensing;
Wow. I don't even know what to make of this line. I know the Angels have basically given up on the year, but to see Dan Haren at this size of a dog to Brian Duensing was, well, a little shocking. Duensing's been good, but he just has that "no one notices me" name, a similarly boring arsenal of pitches, and he just sort of goes about his business getting people out. Haren, to his credit, has been decent for the Angels, but it hasn't been enough, and the Twins, being, arguably, the hottest team in baseball, are definitely starting to get the public money, as evidenced by this ridiculously high line.

White Sox (-156) @ Royals with a total of 9.5; E. Jackson vs. S. O'Sullivan;
Based on the inflated opening number, this is the type of game where I'd normally look for a way to back the home team, but I've been largely disappointed with O'Sullivan's work in the Bigs. He's 1-4 with a 5.27 ERA, and 0-1 with a 7.20 ERA in his brief work against the White Sox. Chicago desperately needs wins if they're going to stay in the AL Central race, and while I don't think I can bring myself to lay the large road chalk (it's not impossible, but unlikely), I also don't trust the Royals enough to get behind them, either. Not to mention Jackson's been a beast since returning to the AL.

Rays (-145) @ Athletics with a total of 7.5; J. Hellickson vs. V. Mazzaro;
Both of these pitchers have been absolutely red hot. Hellickson was great in the Minors, and he's been equally impressive in the Bigs, if not more so. Perhaps the best stat is that in his 3 starts, Hellickson has allowed a combined 9 hits! That's over 20 innings of work. He's just been amazing. Mazzaro, a solid A's youngster, has had 3 straight quality starts, and 7 of his last 8 starts have been of quality status. I wouldn't be surprised to see some nasty curveballs in the cool Oakland air. I don't really like either side at this price, and with the Rays solid pen and the A's good home pen work, this one might sneak Under, though the line is fairly deflated already.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Oh, That's What a Win Is

Recap: Coming soon!

Today: Coming soon!

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Nationals @ Braves (-200) with a total of 8; J. Lannan vs. D. Lowe;
This price is just too high, and with props to VegasRunner, this is a time of year (the start of football) when some of the favorites are going to be extra-inflated due to the influx of more public money on all sports. Derek Lowe has not been terribly impressive against the Nationals, this year in particular, giving up 4 runs in each of his starts, and neither was terribly long. He has, however, been good in August, and he's very streaky, so fading him is a little dicey. Lannan, meanwhile, is 3-4 with a 3.44 ERA against the Braves in his career, but hasn't seen them this year. He, too, has been pitching well, and I think that has a large impact on the low total. Come to think of it, that total is scary-low for a game without a true ace. Watch the money on the total, and the side is probably a pass.

Padres (-160) @ Cubs with a total of N/A; M. Latos vs. C. Zambrano;
The newest Padres are probably the biggest reason that I'm hesitant to fade them in this day-game series finale. Latos is 0-1 with a 12.27 ERA against the Cubbies, but in limited action, and he's pitching far too well to implode like that, again. Zambrano, interestingly, is 6-2 with a 2.71 ERA against the Padres, but Ludwick and Tejada, the new guys, have each demolished "Z" in the past, and could play a large role in keeping Carlos from getting win number 7 over San Diego. This price is way too high for a road favorite, even with Latos's success this year, but those new Padres are making the home dog too much of a crapshoot for me, too.

Marlins @ Pirates (-110) with a total of 9; S. West vs. P. Maholm;
It always catches our eye when the Pirates are the listed favorite, and honestly, this line came out almost exactly where I expected. Sean West is not very good, and we've seen him pitch a few times over the last year. He doesn't have overwhelming stuff, so while the Pirates stink, offensively, it's still somewhat likely that they'll at least scratch across a few runs against a lesser starter. Maholm has been extremely up-and-down, and the Marlins have had some success against him, so I am hesitant to back Pittsburgh just based on the line. Cody Ross and Hanley Ramirez, in particular, have hit him hard, but then Florida has slowed a bit after coming out of the Break with a head of steam. I do lean to Pittsburgh, and slightly to the Over (which looks too easy), but I'm far from convinced.

Giants @ Phillies (-175) with a total of 8.5; J. Sanchez vs. C. Hamels;
These pitchers have actually faced the other team this year, but I'm not sure we can learn a ton. The first meeting between the Giants and Phils was back in April, and while Sanchez went 5 innings of 1-run ball, he's been worse lately than early in the year, and he's better at home than on the road. Hamels, on the other hand, gave up 4 runs in 6 innings of a marginal start (in a game the Phils won), but he's gotten steadily better this year, and is a career 4-1 pitcher against the Giants. Certainly, if Sanchez has any kind of control, this isn't a particularly bad spot, and at this price, the underdog is the way to go. That being said, how do we know what days Sanchez will walk 6 and which days he'll only walk 1? He makes me very nervous.

Mets @ Astros (-110) with a total of 8; P. Misch vs. B. Norris;
Norris is coming off one of his best start, as he struck out 12 over 7 strong innings. He has not faced the Mets before, which is definitely a slight edge to Bus. Misch, meanwhile, is making his 2nd start for the Mets this year, and is coming off an effort where his defense let him down a bit. He allowed 4 runs, but only 1 earned, and he's likely to still have some of that adrenaline from getting a shot at starting coursing through his veins. I can't help but think that the Mets pathetic road offense isn't going to do much, and the question mark is really how the Astros can get guys on base against Misch and the spiraling Mets bullpen.

Reds (-130) @ D'backs with a total of 9; T. Wood vs. J. Saunders;
I'm still struggling to understand why Travis Wood continues to be one of the most high-valued Reds starters. This will be the most expensive (or basically tied with) game for the Reds in the series, and we've already seen Arroyo and Volquez. And Joe Saunders hasn't been terrible for Arizona, either. He was good in a few starts, has been a little less solid in his last 2, but Cincinnati hasn't seen Saunders before, and Arizona hasn't seen Wood before. That has all the makings of a sneaky Under, though both teams can really hit, so it won't be easy no matter what you play on the total. As far as the side goes, the Reds are looking to win series on this road trip, and they certainly have the starter and bullpen edge, but the price is a little high for a guy that can't really dominate teams, but can class his way through with great control and nice movement.

Rockies @ Dodgers (-150) with a total of 7.5; J. De La Rosa vs. T. Lilly;
Jorge does not like the Dodgers. He's 0-5 with a 6.58 ERA against LA in his career, and while we know of his home/road splits from last year, he's been mostly mediocre everywhere this year. I don't know if it's a rust thing, since he hasn't really been able to get into a rhythm all year long, or what, but his ERA near 5 just simply isn't good enough. Lilly, meanwhile, has been the one Dodger that just seems to be on the hill for wins. He's got a 5.40 ERA against the Rockies, which isn't too great, but he's 3-1 against them which makes me think that he does enough to put his team in a decent spot. Here in LA against a Rockies team that struggles with the Dodgers, this isn't that bad of a price for Lilly, amazingly.

American League

Tigers @ Yankees (-260) with a total of 9.5; R. Porcello vs. P. Hughes;
This line is so damn high, we might as well just put a quarter unit on the Tigers and hope for the best. Seriously. I know Porcello hasn't been great this year, but the season numbers and the name on the jerseys have set this line up significantly higher than it would normally be. Porcello, by the way, is coming off a tremendous start in Chicago, so he's got a little confidence going, and the Tigers won a few games in a row before getting shut down completely by Sabathia on Monday. With Tuesday's game pending, of course, this inflated line is a perfect example of books getting the best of their bettors.

Rangers (-180) @ Orioles with a total of 9; C. Lewis vs. B. Matusz;
I know the Orioles are kicking ass and taking names these days, but Brian Matusz has just been completely and thoroughly drilled by the Texas Rangers. Colby Lewis is probably a fade candidate these days, but not today. I'm not paying -180 to go against a hot team, either, so I think you have to look at the Over, or nothing. Probably nothing.

Angels @ Red Sox (-150) with a total of 9.5; E. Santana vs. J. Beckett;
Josh Beckett has been getting absolutely bitch-slapped in his last 2 starts, and I admit, I'm afraid. I know he threw well when he was in Anaheim a few weeks ago in a Boston win, but since then it seems like the wheels are, let's say, getting loose. They haven't come off entirely, but they're wobbly. Ervin Santana is coming off a strong start against the Jays, and he looked good against Boston earlier this year, as well. The price is a little high, I worry. Does that mean Santana is going to get hit hard? The total of 9.5 would seem to indicate that both teams are going to put up some runs. Which team does a high scoring team favor? Probably the Angels, since they're not going to win a pitchers' duel. I lean slightly to the dog and slightly to the Over.

White Sox @ Twins (-160) with a total of 7.5; M. Buerhle vs. C. Pavano;
Carl Pavano has been lights out against the White Sox, but even with that in mind, this line is inflated. There is zero question about that. It's tough to argue with success, though, and Pavano has given up just 2 runs in each of his starts against the Sox this year. Buerhle's been decent against the Twins, too, so therein lies the line inflation. If Chicago was starting some scrub, this would be easy to understand, but it's not as though Buerhle has zero skill. He's 24-17 in his career against Minnesota, including 2 decent starts this year. I don't think you can play the favorite.

Indians @ Royals (-125) with a total of 9; M. Talbot vs. K. Davies;
You know, it's funny -- despite his 6-7 record and 5.22 ERA this year, and 3-4 lifetime record and 5.79 lifetime ERA against the Indians, Kyle Davies actually hasn't been that awful, at least of late. He's not going deep in any games, but he's sort of defined himself this year, and you usually know what to expect. He seems to be comfortable going 5-6 innings, and lately, he's been able to hold opponents to 2 runs, or so. Talbot, meanwhile, has been one of those pitchers that runs into the dreaded disaster-inning, but might throw 6 shutout frames around it. He gave up 6 runs in 6 innings to these very Royals earlier this year, and his most recent few starts would seem to indicate that he's getting fatigued. He wasn't too convincing heading into the All Star Break, had one good start coming out, and then went back to struggling. I know it's an underdog time of year, but the Indians seem ripe for a losing streak.

Rays @ Athletics (-135) with a total of 7; A. Sonnanstine vs. T. Cahill;
Has Trevor Cahill really become an ace? This line would seem to say so. I mean, we're talking about one of the best teams in all of baseball, the Rays, who have also been solid on the road, and can definitely win with strong pitching, going against an overachieving bunch of misfits led by a decent starting staff. With a line this strong, you have to at least give a look to Cahill, who has been nothing short of brilliant. Still, Sonnanstine is a crafty veteran fill-in, and while he might go only 5 innings and give up a run or two, the Rays are more than good enough to compete with Andy getting the ball. Scary line, here, to be sure.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More of the Same

Recap: Coming soon!

Today: Back to the standard 2* Top Play, today! All the afternoon games really cut into the card, and we'll grab that Best Bet, and possibly a Free Play or two, as well. Sort of the cookie cutter day, in terms of what we have going on -- don't get too used to these types of days, though, with multi-sport cards just around the corner!

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Brewers @ Cardinals (-244) with a total of 7.5; R. Wolf vs. A. Wainwright;
Adam Wainwright hasn't had too many troubles with the Brewers in his beefy career, going 7-3 with a 1.94 ERA against Milwaukee. This line is well out of our price range to back the favorite, and given Wainwright's dominance of Milwaukee, not enough reason to grab at the underdog. Pass.

Padres (-140) @ Cubs with a total of N/A; C. Richard vs. C. Coleman;
I will admit, I don't know as much as I should about the young Cubs starter, Casey Coleman. I know he has no record and an 8.64 ERA, but that doesn't tell us much. No one has really seen much of each other in this one, which makes me think that this might come down to the bullpens, and the Padres have a monster edge, there. It's a day game, so there are always some question marks, and at this price, I probably would pass.

Marlins (-200) @ Pirates with a total of 7; J. Johnson vs. R. Ohlendorf;
This is way too high of a price to pay for a road favorite, especially since Johnson hasn't really faced the Pirates all that much, and especially since Ohlendorf is actually 1-1 with a respectable 3.75 ERA against the Marlins. Ohlendorf might be one of the unluckiest pitchers in baseball, at 1-9 with a 3.95 season ERA. I mean, goodness gracious. A pretty low total catches my eye -- watch how the money comes in, there.

Giants @ Phillies (-110) with a total of 8.5; M. Cain vs. J. Blanton;
Matt Cain has a terrible history with Philadelphia, which is a shame because, looking at the line, I was tempted to get behind him. Cain is 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA against the Phils, and while Blanton hasn't exactly been strong against the Giants (1-3, 5.08), I'd rather get underdog value with a team like San Francisco if they're going to be playing against a good team on the road. That being said, the strength of the opening line certainly has an impact. Cain is coming off a couple of marginal starts, not up to his usual standards. Blanton is coming off a full season of marginal starts. If you think the teams get a few runs off the bullpens, I'd look at the Over. Otherwise, I suppose you have to tip just slightly to the Giants.

Nationals @ Braves (-215) with a total of 7; L. Hernandez vs. T. Hudson;
You want to talk about completely owning a team? Tim Hudson is 10-1 with a 1.49 ERA against the Washington Nationals franchise. Livan Hernandez is 6-14 with a 5.41 ERA against the Braves, and has been good once and bad once against them this year. This is one of those spots where I'm not happy to admit it, but I would sooner play a home run line than the big road dog, despite the line inflation. The low total makes me a little nervous, though, since Livan could very well toss 6 decent innings. Be careful.

Mets @ Astros (-110) with a total of 7; R. Dickey vs. B. Myers;
This is a pretty solid pitching duel, despite the complete lack of playoff implications of the game. Dickey is still sporting a 2.43 ERA on the season, though he's seen almost zero of the Astros, especially the youngsters. He's coming off a complete game 1-hitter against the Phils, too, so he's not trending up or down, just pitching well almost every time. Brett Myers has been outrageously consistent, all season long, and the Astros recent stretch of better play has suddenly elevated Myers to favorite status in a game against a pretty public team, the Mets. He's 9-6 with a 5.01 ERA lifetime against New York, but current Mets Luis Castillo, Jeff Francoeur, Jose Reyes and David Wright have combined to do almost nothing against Myers. It's tough to see how these guys could tag Myers for a similarly high ERA, and even at 7 runs, the Under is in play.

Reds (-135) @ D'backs with a total of 10; E. Volquez vs. R. Lopez;
This line is probably more like what we'd expect in this series, after last night's rather cheap number on Arroyo. Obviously, the dropoff to Rodrigo Lopez is part of the equation, and his ability to serve up dingers is unparalleled around baseball. Add to that Cincinnati's ability to drive 'em out of the yard, and Lopez seems like a scary play. Volquez, meanwhile, has seemed to get things back in gear after coming off the DL with a bit of a slowness, but he's been on cruise control his last few starts. He's rarely going to go super-deep in games while he builds the arm strength back up, but his recent success makes this line pretty accurate, and pretty fair.

Rockies @ Dodgers (-135) with a total of 7.5; J. Hammel vs. H. Kuroda;
This is a very cheap line on the Dodgers, at home, especially when you consider that the Dodgers' starter has an ERA almost a full run lower than his competitor. If we look deeper, though, Kuroda's 0-3, 7.57 career mark against the Rockies certainly jumps out. And while he has indeed been worse at Coors than here at home, Kuroda hasn't exactly been convincing at either venue against a team that hits him very, very hard. Hammel, as we all know, seems to be more comfortable pitching at home, but his 2.25 ERA against the Dodgers, and only brief work against them makes me think he does have a slight edge, there. It also doesn't hurt that the Dodgers bullpen is in disarray, and the team seems to have given up.

American League

Rangers @ Rays (-161) with a total of 9; D. Holland vs. J. Shields;
This is a pretty lopsided line, considering how good both teams are, and you can put a lot of that on the names of the starting pitchers. That being said, Shields has not been at all his usual dominant self, and is coming off 2 pretty poor efforts. A similarly ugly performance will not get it done. Derek Holland makes his first start since late May, and we've seen a few times this year guys getting yanked back up from the Minors for a second time and pitching well. Confidence is a big part of that. In his first stint this year, Holland pitched alright in 3 starts and very poorly in 1 other, and is somehow 2-0 with a 5.73 ERA against the Rays in his short career. This is way too high a price to pay for the struggling Shields, and it's Rangers or nothing on the AL early afternoon game.

Blue Jays @ Athletics (-130) with a total of 8; M. Rzepczynski vs. G. Gonzalez;
Gio Gonzalez gets to start at home - that has to be the first thing you notice in this one, and he's been quite comfortable in Oakland, this year. Toronto's starter is coming off a brilliant outing in Anaheim, going 7 innings of 2-hit ball, so he's feeling good about himself. Gonzalez is coming off a decent road start, but his damage gets done at home, and I happen to think that with Rzepczynski pitching as well as he has been, the Under might be the best play. That number of 8 might look high, but it's about where we would expect, given Toronto's strong offense.

Tigers @ Yankees (-185) with a total of 9.5; J. Bonderman vs. D. Moseley;
This line gives absolutely no respect, at all, to Jeremy Bonderman, and I guess I can understand it. He's 3-8 with a 5.29 ERA against the Yanks in his career, though the current Yankees haven't done a great deal against him in the last 5 years. I don't think you can back Moseley at this price, not while the Tigers are playing a little better, but I don't think I have the confidence in Bonderman, either. He's coming off a 6-run effort in one of those wacky high-scoring games in Chicago, so you have to think he's going to be a little more focused than usual, but this one could definitely have some scoring.

Mariners @ Orioles (-147) with a total of 8.5; D. Pauley vs. J. Guthrie;
I think this might officially be too high a price to pay for the Orioles. I know Guthrie's last 6 starts have all been outstanding, but David Pauley has been sneaky-good, and the Mariners are definitely pitching well as a team, right now. Guthrie should keep the Orioles neck and neck, as should Pauley for the Mariners, but at this price, you have to see a pretty substantial advantage in the starters to lay the chalk. Does that mean I advocate backing Seattle? Well, if you think you can win with only 2 runs, then perhaps, but it's not going to be easy no matter which side you take.

Angels @ Red Sox (-175) with a total of 10; S. Kazmir vs. J. Lackey;
I'll admit, I was hoping to see a lower line when I heard of the projected starters -- Lackey has been completely dominant against his old team, and now we run up against the philosophy that destroying the same team 3 times in the same season isn't easy. I'm not sure I'm on board in this particular spot. Both starters are coming off decent starts, and Kazmir has looked better since his return from the DL, so I think that at this inflated price, you have to at least consider the Angels. Still, Lackey's success against the Angels makes it a tough trigger to pull, and I'm looking harder at passing, or at the total... given that absurdly high total, there has to be some sort of madness at work.

White Sox @ Twins (-145) with a total of 7; G. Floyd vs. F. Liriano;
Double rematch! This is a good one, with Floyd having lost each of the first two meetings. And it wasn't for lack of effort. Floyd got left in the last game a batter too long and served up a monster home run in the 7th. In the previous meeting, the Sox defense let him down. Still, fact is, he can't get over that hump with the Twinkies. Liriano squirmed his way through 5.2 innings in that most recent win over Floyd and the White Sox, stranding runners all over the place. He's looked good enough in his two recent wins over Chicago, and 3 total wins over Chicago on the year. How many wins can Liriano rack up against one team? Something tells me this one is a competitive game, and it won't be as easy a win for the Twins as people expect. The low, low total certainly agrees.

Indians (-113) @ Royals with a total of 8.5; F. Carmona vs. B. Chen;
This price seems somewhat low for Carmona and the Indians, doesn't it? I know the Indians still aren't a team that's going to get much love, but the name Carmona is about the only one on the starting staff that can actually drive some money. Bruce Chen isn't such a name. He is a streaky sort, looking excellent in June, just plain awful in July, and has been decent again in August. Tough to know what you're going to get from Chen, especially considering his 1-2, 9.00 lifetime mark against the Indians. It's a bit of a public play, and the line would tell us to back the Royals, but I'd actually lean Indians and the Under more than the other potential plays.
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