Saturday, August 07, 2010

Finish Strong

Recap: In a frustrating twist, our two opponents scored a combined 3 runs, and yet, we only went 1-1 on the night, winning the afternoon Freebie and losing the evening Paid when Johan Santana completely dominated the Phillies.

Today: I don't usually like Sunday cards all that much because of the inevitable lineup issues, but there are (for better or worse) a handful of games that caught my attention! With an eye on getting all the best plays out there, only the 2* Best Bet is for sale, and anything else will be Free! As usual, if you want the Top Play, click anywhere in this paragraph to head to my Pro Page - if not, I expect you guys to get on the Free one, at the very least, so we can cheer together.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Cardinals (-120) @ Marlins with a total of 9.5; J. Suppan vs. S. West;
This seems like a little bit of an inflated number, largely just because of the team names. Jeff Suppan has been extremely inconsistent this year, though I suppose he's been a tad better lately than he was early in the year. Sean West has made just 1 start this year, and got knocked around by the suddenly surging Phillies. He did, however, face the Cardinals previously (last year), and pitched pretty well against them. Bottom line, Suppan hasn't faced the Marlins much over the last couple years, but he shouldn't be a road favorite against any competent team. He gave up a run in relief against them this year, and went 5 innings in a start in each of the previous 2 years, giving up 2 runs and 3 runs on those starts. The Marlins can hit, and while Suppan has been a little tricky, which can cause some problems for young teams, Florida can hit.

Mets @ Phillies (-200) with a total of 7; R. Dickey vs. R. Halladay;
I have some thoughts on this game, despite the hefty line, and it revolves around the underdog run line. We know the Mets can't score, and we know the Phillies are surging. To expect New York to do anything special offensively against Halladay is probably asking a bit much. However, R.A. Dickey has been the one bright spot for the Mets this last month, and they won his last start with a late run. I don't really think the Mets win, but I do like Dickey, and he's already put together some fine work against the Phillies, this year. I haven't played a single underdog run-line this year, but this one is right in that wheelhouse, and the price is right.

Rockies @ Pirates (-111) with a total of 8.5; E. Rogers vs. P. Maholm;
There's something weird about this game, the line included. First, what business do the Pirates have being the listed favorite against a talented team like the Rockies? Say what you want about oddsmakers, but they usually have a pretty good reason to make a terrible team a favorite. In fact, going to the recordbooks, Maholm has been the listed favorite in just TWO of his 22 starts this year. He's 1-1 in those games, beating Todd Wellemeyer (a candidate for the "where are they now?" award) and losing to Fausto Carmona. And let's remember, when those games happened, the Giants were slumping, and the Indians were still about a month away from starting their offensive romp that they're in, right now. The Rockies are a good team, and they've been playing well enough to be the favorite in this series, and considering Maholm has a career 1-5, 6.26 mark against the Rockies, including giving up 8 runs in 5.1 innings in Colorado 2 weeks ago, I can't help but think Rogers gets dominated.

Giants @ Braves (-130) with a total of 8; J. Sanchez vs. D. Lowe;
I know Derek Lowe hasn't been all that good lately, but Sanchez is a fade candidate for me. He had such a nice start to the year, and folks have been riding those fumes for a while, but let's remember how well Derek Lowe knows the Giants. Lowe is coming off a solid start against the punchless Mets, so we have to try to weigh his gain in confidence against how awful that opponent was, but at the same time, we also know that Lowe can be pretty darn streaky, and often builds on a good start. Sanchez faced the Braves way back in early April and couldn't last 5 innings. He's 1-2 against Atlanta with a 5.48 ERA, and Lowe, as noted above, is 6-4 with a 2.92 ERA against a team he's seen plenty of times. Aaron Rowand, interestingly, is the Giant with the most success against Lowe.

Astros @ Brewers (-244) with a total of 8; W. Wright vs. Y. Gallardo;
This one is way out of our price range, and the total does not intrigue me.

Reds (-140) @ Cubs with a total of N/A; T. Wood vs. T. Diamond;
What we've seen in this series, so far, is that the Cubs seem completely uninterested in playing tough. They know their Manager is out at the end of the season, so I doubt he's really motivating like he used to, they're way out of contention, and they were actually sellers at the trading deadline. This line is inflated for the Reds because of their success this year and the Cubs' complete apathy towards each game, but at the same time, I don't think I could possibly back Chicago. As our good buddy Mike Hook likes to say, "If you care more about the game than the team you backed, that's not a good bet."

Nationals @ Dodgers (-201) with a total of 8; J. Marquis vs. T. Lilly;
No chance. Don't do it. Do not back the Dodgers. This team woke up, offensively, for one game against the Padres, but if they give up 3-4 runs to their opponent, they're basically cooked. They lost the opener to the Nats, and these huge lines are just so far beyond what anyone should pay for this team, it's insane.

Padres (-145) @ D'backs with a total of 8; M. Latos vs. J. Saunders;
Joe Saunders has been outstanding since coming over to the NL, going 16 innings and giving up a combined 3 runs on 14 hits with only 2 walks, and while Arizona lost one of those games in a low-scoring battle, his efforts most certainly cannot be faulted. Latos hasn't faced the D'backs yet in his young career, but this one has all the makings of 6 innings, and 9 strikeouts. The Padres pen is often the difference, and while the value play is definitely on Arizona, I'm not sure that there's enough value to really warrant a play. I guess what I'm saying is that if you have unlimited bankroll, you're probably getting 5-8 cents of value, maybe as much as 10, and long term, it's a good bet, but isolating the exact days where it's a winner is where things get interesting. Underdog run line isn't nuts, either.

American League

Angels @ Tigers (-131) with a total of 9.5; T. Bell vs. R. Porcello;
This might very well be more than I'm willing to pay to back Porcello, who has just been a total money-eater. The Tigers are 5-12 in his starts, and even when he pitches well, Detroit seems to find a way to lose. The Angels and Tigers are both hanging on by a thread, in terms of any kind of postseason hopes, so we should get some desperation efforts in this series, and I'm honestly just a little hesitant to take either side. Bell pitched well enough to win against the Orioles, but the Angels subpar pen gave that one away (to our pleasure, mind you, as we faded him in that game), but his pitch count is increasing, and his comfort level seems to be on the rise, as well. By the way, Porcello has a career ERA over 9 against the Halos. Yikes.

Twins (-150) @ Indians with a total of 9; B. Duensing vs. D. Huff;
I realize this is a big number, and I realize how well the Indians have been playing, but damn if David Huff isn't among the 4 or 5 guys in this League that I don't think I can ever back, regardless of the situation. The Indians are 3-11 in his starts, and while he did pitch what we can safely call an okay game against the Red Sox on the 3rd in his return to the rotation, Huff is not a good starter. He's 2-4 with a 6.06 ERA against the Twins, including 2 starts this year where he allowed 4 runs in each. He also gave up 13 hits in those 11 innings, and 8 walks. As far as Duensing goes, I'm not sure he deserves this kind of line, but he has been extremely reliable in his starts this year, and I see no reason to think that the wheels come off in this one, despite the Indians strong offensive roll.

Rays @ Blue Jays with a total of N/A; A. Sonnanstine vs. B. Morrow;
I'm seeing both Jeff Niemann and Andy Sonnanstine listed as potential starters, but the more reliable site has Sonnanstine, so we'll see how well that goes. If indeed he's the guy, the Jays will probably be a medium favorite, as Sonnanstine is not among the usual Rays' elite, and his career ERA against the Jays is near 6. That being said, after the 28 runs we saw yesterday, this one should be a little less insane. Morrow has faced Tampa twice this year, and has been very good against them both times. Of course, we know how tough it is to completely shut a team down repeatedly in the same season, and with Morrow giving up his fair share of runs in the last month, he's not exactly in top form. I'm concerned that the line is actually going to be a bit inflated on the Jays side, but I suppose we'll see.

White Sox (-141) @ Orioles with a total of 8.5; M. Buerhle vs. J. Guthrie;
Aside from Nick Markakis, Buerhle has completely owned the Orioles. He's 5-3 with a 2.72 ERA against them, and has been just sort of doing his thing over the last two months - throwing mostly changeups down and away, getting grounders, and working quickly. Guthrie, by the way, has a string of 4 straight quality starts going right now, and though his career numbers against the White Sox aren't that impressive, looking up and down the Chicago roster, there really aren't too many guys doing significant damage off Guthrie. Baltimore is playing hard, and they're a live dog against most starters, but Buerhle lifetime success makes me a little more hesitant on the side, and a little more interested in a potential Under.

Rangers @ Athletics (-125) with a total of 7.5; C. Lewis vs. T. Cahill;
Super-mega-rematch alert! This one actually made me laugh a little bit. These two pitchers, Lewis and Cahill, have faced one another 3 times already this year, and Cahill has won all 3 starts. I'm not a guy that buys into the "someone's due" theory, for the most part, but at some point, you have to think that the Rangers break through against Cahill. He's 5-1 with a 1.83 ERA against Texas, and his most recent start against them was his best, going 8 shutout innings and giving up just 2 hits. And Cahill is as hot right now, as a pitcher, as you can ever be. He's gone 17 shutout innings in his last 2 starts, and has only allowed 5 hits, total. Just incredible. Lewis has been good, and probably deserves a win, but when you weigh all these factors together, how do you really pick a side?

Royals @ Mariners (-151) with a total of 8; K. Davies vs. J. Vargas;
The lines in this series have just been all over the place, with Greinke getting pasted as a -170 road favorite, and now Vargas is a -150 home favorite? Good grief. I'd love to break this thing down, but honestly, when neither team has anything to play for, and you'd have to either lay big chalk to play the favorite (that doesn't really care), or take a shot with a dog (that can't pitch), you're putting yourself in a position to go gray early in life.

Red Sox @ Yankees (-140) with a total of 9; J. Beckett vs. A. Burnett;
Oh, A.J. Burnett, will you ever figure out how to just go 6 innings and give up 2 runs every time out, please? I doubt it. He's going to keep doing what he's been doing, going 3 straight starts without allowing a run, then giving up 11 runs in his next 2 starts. Which one will this one be? Well, if history is any indicator, he should stink. Since Burnett moved over to the Yankees, the Red Sox have clobbered him, including two ugly starts against them this year. Josh Beckett appears to be feeling pretty good, these days. He's one of the few starters we've seen come back from a substantial injury, and not really have a letdown game. Tough to have a letdown against the Yankees. I know his career numbers against New York aren't too good, but when he's on his game, Beckett can be flat out unhittable.
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