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.

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