Friday, August 06, 2010

Early Birds

Recap: Broom-time! We made back what we lost yesterday, and then some, and this has now officially been a strong, strong comeback since we took last Thursday off! Toronto won a sphincter-clencher over the tired Rays, and the Phillies scored 6 runs in the 8th inning to win what turned into a laugher, and once again, we got the best possible line by getting down early!



Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Reds @ Cubs (-120) with a total of N/A; E. Volquez vs. R. Wells;
Will he, or won't he, have control and life on his stuff? Volquez, now set to make his 5th start since coming off the DL, will look to continue what he started in a short start last time out, going 5 innings against the Braves and allowing just a run. That said, he walked 5, and his walks are actually quite a problem, having put 15 men on base for free in his 4 starts. Volquez is, when healthy, 2-0 with an 0.75 ERA against the Cubs. Wells is coming off an ugly start against the Brewers, but he has a strong history against Cincinnati, so I guess we'll see. Wells has the tendency to pitch in waves, and I'm concerned he lets that last start get to him.

Rockies (-135) @ Pirates with a total of 8; J. De La Rosa vs. R. Ohlendorf;
De La Rosa is starting to get things turned around a bit. His strikeout numbers are solid, and he's already pitched well against the Pirates once this year, though the Rockies last that one to a stellar effort from Zach Duke on the other side. Ohlendorf has a rather poor history with the Rockies, going 1-1 with a 6.94 ERA, and only pitched a third of an inning in Colorado a couple weeks ago. He's been hit hard by a few of the Rockies regulars, as well. I'm generally not a fan of backing a road favorite when that team is weak away from home, and the Rockies most certainly fit that mold. At the same time, though, the Pirates are bad, and the Rockies are in crunch time, and to some degree, De La Rosa is undervalued (at least, in terms of a number against the Pirates is concerned), so if the Rockies were ever a marginal value, and in a spot where they might get a hit or two, this would seem to be that case.

Mets @ Phillies (-130) with a total of 7; J. Santana vs. C. Hamels;
The Mets remain a complete mess away from home, and the fact that Santana is this size of a dog to Cole Hamels certainly reinforces that fact. Johan has been getting hit, too, surrendering a ton of base hits in his last two starts, though they've largely come in one awful inning (the first) in each game. If he can settle down earlier, he's got a shot to really control the game. The Phillies, though, put up a 10-spot on Johan earlier this year, so we have to weigh the revenge angle in opposition to the idea that Philadelphia is just going to hit Santana, who clearly doesn't have his top velocity. Hamels, meanwhile, is sort of rumbling along, not really make a ton of noise, but having a solid season, overall. He gives up some hits and runs, but he's striking out a ton of batters, and the Mets can't do squat on the road. There's certainly some sort of reason the line is this high, even though a few of the Mets have actually hit Hamels with some authority.

Astros @ Brewers (-130) with a total of 8; B. Myers vs. R. Wolf;
Two pitchers, largely different season numbers, mostly similar numbers against this particular opponent, and contrasting numbers against each other on the season. Complicated enough for you? Brett Myers is having a great year for a bad team, he's 4-2 with a 3.02 ERA against the Brewers, but he was solid in one start against them this year, and gave up 4 homers in the other. Wolf, 7-9 with a 4.91 ERA against the League, 5-5 with a 3.49 ERA against the 'Stros, but has dominated Houston twice this year, already, though his pen gave up the game when he took a line drive off the arm in the second of those two starts. Houston is suddenly the "posh" team to back, especially at a dog price, but I'm not so sure that the boat hasn't sailed, at least just a bit. Wolf was a -130 road favorite to Wesley Wright, and what we're seeing from this line is that Brett Myers is roughly a 50-cent jump over Wright, if nothing else were involved. The Astros are starting to get a little respect, so if you like them, get 'em quick, since the value is dissipating as we speak.

Giants @ Braves (-145) with a total of 7; M. Cain vs. T. Hudson;
With the way Matt Cain has been dealing, I'm not sure he should be this large of an underdog, though it's pretty clear why. Tim Hudson is having one of the best seasons in the entire NL, still powering ahead with a 2.36 ERA, and to this point in the year, really having only 1 bad start. That's incredibly impressive. Cain is on a nice little roll of his own, and actually has just slightly superior career numbers against the Braves than Hudson does against the Giants. However, Hudson did go 7 innings of 2-run ball in San Francisco once already this year, so no reason to think he doesn't do it again, here in Atlanta, especially given the Giants are less proficient on the road. Tough call, to be sure, as the total looks on the mark, and we know how tough Atlanta is, at home.

Cardinals @ Marlins (-180) with a total of 6.5; J. Westbrook vs. J. Johnson;
Doesn't this total look outrageously low for a game being played in Florida (not a terribly huge park), and considering the Cardinals are throwing a guy with a 4.58 ERA? It looks low to me. I have to think money is going to come in on the Over, since Westbrook's last start led to a 13-run game, and Johnson actually got hit pretty hard in San Diego in his last outing. I believe a great deal of my opinion on this game will be formed once I see where the public money is actually coming, so we can more accurately determine if this total is set ultra-low because Westbrook is going to match Johnson pitch for pitch, or if it's low because the books know the amount of Under money that Josh Johnson can draw. Stay tuned.

Padres (-125) @ D'backs with a total of 9; C. Richard vs. R. Lopez;
Rematch game, though no exclamation point needed since no one outside of San Diego, and outside of Rodrigo Lopez's locker is really going to care. In any case, Clayton Richard is another of those guys that I keep thinking is going to hit a wall, but after a brief lull in the middle of the season, he's showing signs of waking back up. Still, it seems like teams are starting to get the scouting report, and Richard hasn't truly changed his approach. On top of that, the D'backs scored 5 off him in a Padres win earlier this year, so they had success against him even in the first match-up. Lopez is serving up homers at an unbelievable rate, but when he gets his good 2-seamer in the right spot, he can be pretty consistent. This is an ugly one, but I can't help but think Arizona's big righthanded power is going to knock in at least a couple off Richard, and the hope is that Lopez can only give up 1 homer tonight. Hah.

Nationals @ Dodgers (-180) with a total of 7.5; L. Hernandez vs. H. Kuroda;
Way out of our price range, for a team that can't hit. Moving on.

American League

Rays @ Blue Jays with a total of N/A; J. Shields vs. J. Litsch;
Well, we probably weren't going to venture a play on this early game, anyway, but without a line, it's awfully tough to truly get a feel for it. For what it's worth, Shields is coming off, arguably, his best start of the 2010 season, so he might be ramping back up. I'm scared of Shields when he's on his game, though the Jays have hit him a little bit; really, more intermittent success than anything else. Litsch isn't very good. The end.

Red Sox @ Yankees (-186) with a total of 8.5; J. Lackey vs. C. Sabathia;
This is another one where we'll simplify things a bit - neither team should ever really be this large of a dog in the showdown series, though I suppose Sabathia has been a little more up to pitching in big games the last year-plus than he had been earlier in his career.

Rangers @ Athletics (-120) with a total of 7.5; R. Harden vs. G. Gonzalez;
This is a strong opening number for the A's, there's no doubt about that. Considering Cliff Lee opened as a -170 road favorite to Dallas Braden, oddsmakers are saying that the dropoff to Harden and the upgrade to Gio is worth 90 cents? I find that hard to believe. Maybe 65-70, at most. The other 20 cents is credit to the A's, either from the oddsmakers themselves or some "test" money that got this sucker to open at a strong number. Because, really, let's be honest - Texas has only been a dog lately to aces, and I'm not sure I'd put Gonzalez in that territory just yet. He pitched poorly in Texas once, and well in Texas once, but hasn't yet faced the Rangers in Oakland, where Gonzalez has been lights out this year. Harden, by the way, is in that interesting "second game back" spot, which has shown itself to be something of a letdown situation, moreso this year than in years past.

Angels @ Tigers with a total of N/A; TBD vs. J. Bonderman;
Not only don't we have a line, we don't even have both pitchers. I love doing a ton of work as much as the next guy, but this one can wait. Let's feel free to chat about this game in the comments section, if anyone feels so inclined, but I know comments are a little less prevalent on the weekends, anyway, so, moving on.

White Sox (-170) @ Orioles with a total of 9; G. Floyd vs. K. Millwood;
Good lord, Kevin Millwood, you are truly hanging on by a thread. I know life with the Orioles has been painful, but the kids are playing hard under Showalter now, and it's time for the veteran to do the same. And really, is there any team in the American League that doesn't have at least 2 guys hitting over .400 against Millwood lifetime? As you guys have come to know, I only even mention the words "run" and "line" in rapid succession in the most severe cases, but Millwood, to me, seems like a guy ripe for the picking. I mean, how many other starters have given up 5 runs or more in 5 straight starts and are still making multiple millions? Bring up someone on the farm, for real.

Twins (-145) @ Indians with a total of 8; C. Pavano vs. F. Carmona;
Justin Morneau might make this play a little easier to decide upon. That's the first thought that popped into my head, since the Twins have been Carmona's nemesis in the Majors, and the big lefty is a good reason why. Delmon Young and Jason Kubel have joined the party in the past, and Carmona gave up 6 runs to the Twins in his only start against them, this year. Interestingly, Carl Pavano hasn't faced the Indians this year, despite playing in the same division, and considering he's faced Kansas City 4 times, that struck me as odd. Anyway, he has been, as we've spoken of before, a pillar of consistency, and the horse of the AL, in my opinion, but the Indians are hitting well, and that's keeping this line within reason. Someone on the road is going to lose today, and someone is going to win. I'm thinking the Twins are one of the ones that wins.

Royals @ Mariners (-120) with a total of 8; B. Chen vs. D. Pauley;
The epic "who cares?" series continues in Seattle, with ultra-compelling match-up number two. And I repeat, number two. Bruce Chen, who, as we speak, is hiring a pit crew to try to keep the wheels from falling off, will try to do to Seattle what every other half-baked pitcher in the League has done, and that's throw a quality start. David Pauley (and I'm seeing hints that Jason Vargas might also get the nod) has been abysmal in his 4 starts this year, and I see no reason to think that improves. Of course, the total of 8 seems to indicate that someone is going to have trouble scoring. Which team is more likely to struggle at the plate?

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