Monday, August 16, 2010

Not Completely Devastated

Recap: Coming soon!

Today (Tuesday): Coming soon!

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Marlins (-150) @ Pirates with a total of 8; R. Nolasco vs. Z. Duke;
This is a wildly inflated line, but given the pitchers' historical work against the other club, I couldn't possibly bring myself to back the dog. Ricky Nolasco is just 2-3 against the Pirates, but holds a 2.45 ERA, while Duke is 0-3 with a 5.76 ERA against the Marlins. Dan Uggla, Hanley Ramirez, Emilio Bonifacio, and even Hector Luna have all gotten in on the fun of beating Duke senseless. Pittsburgh's regulars don't really have anything to show for their work against Nolasco. Florida has been playing pretty well since the Break, and the Pirates are the Pirates. At -150, the price is far too high to take Florida, but I couldn't possibly back the Pirates here, either. Let's see where the line works.

Giants @ Phillies (-145) with a total of 7.5; B. Zito vs. R. Oswalt;
This game is probably more evenly matched than most folks would think, though the Giants might be a dicey play coming off that tough series with the Padres. The Phillies have been playing pretty well of late, and even though Oswalt is just 5-8 in his career against the Giants, I expect a decent performance from him, following up a strong start against the Dodgers. Zito's recent issue has been the home run ball, and even though he's been pretty solid outside of the dinger, 8 longballs surrendered in his last 5 starts is not setting yourself up for a win. I'd have to think that Oswalt and the surging Phillies should get the first look, but that might be all anyone gets in this deal.

Nationals @ Braves (-185) with a total of 8.5; S. Olsen vs. M. Minor;
This one is too expensive to play the Braves, and not enough reason to back the slowly sinking Nats. Olsen is a rather ugly 4-5, 5.65 lifetime against Atlanta (from his time with the Marlins). Olsen is coming off an ugly outing, and while Minor wasn't great, he was decent, and we all know how the adrenaline rush for a rookie can help with that first home start. Pass.

Mets (-160) @ Astros with a total of 7; J. Santana vs. N. Figueroa;
Johan Santana has been downright scary good, at times. He's had a few speed bumps along the way, and the lack of run support is going to keep him from being among the Cy Young candidates, but all of the sudden, you look up, and he's got a 2.89 ERA, and actually leads the League in a poorly-tracked stat that I like to call "dominant" starts, of 7 innings or more, and 0 earned runs allowed. He's 2-1 with a 2.52 ERA against the Astros, though the concern, again, is whether the Mets will score off their former teammate, Nelson Figueroa. If you think New York puts up 3-4 runs, they should win handily. If they score 1-2 runs yet again, laying -160 is horrifying.

Padres (-119) @ Cubs with a total of N/A; J. Garland vs. R. Wells;
The Cubs continue to baffle me. They look like they care for 2-3 games every month, and if you can find those games, you can get some tremendous value. Of course, you always run the risk of backing Chicago on a day where they don't even care. Garland is 3-4 against the Cubs, lifetime, though he hasn't seen much of them, recently. Wells is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA against the Padres, and one of the new Padres, Ryan Ludwick, could make Wells' numbers a little uglier. He was 2-for-3 before this year with a pair of homers off Wells, and he's starting to make a little noise in the Padres lineup. Tough call, here, though at this time of year, playing on the team with some motivation probably won't do much worse than breaking even.

Brewers @ Cardinals (-200) with a total of 9; D. Bush vs. J. Garcia;
Dave Bush has a lifetime 2-6, 6.40 mark against the Cardinals. Garcia is 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA against Milwaukee in his short career. It sure looks like a home RL play, but I'm not touching a Dave Bush game no matter what the career numbers say. This will be the night he goes 8 shutout innings, that's just how Bush operates.

Reds (-120) @ D'backs with a total of 9; B. Arroyo vs. D. Hudson;
This is a pretty cheap line to back the Reds, and there's no question that a ton of folks will likely jump at the opportunity. Bronson Arroyo has been supremely consistent this year, and the Reds have given him the support he's needed to rack up 12 wins. That being said, Arroyo isn't coming off the world's best start, as he gave up 4 runs in 5 innings to the Cardinals. He's also just 1-3 with a 5.23 ERA lifetime against the D'backs. Daniel Hudson has been a beast with Arizona since the Edwin Jackson trade, and I can't help but think that with Arizona's pen looking almost serviceable, they do have a shot to win a game in this series, and while the first game home is often a bad time to back a team, Arroyo is beatable, if the D'backs are patient.

Rockies @ Dodgers (-174) with a total of 7; J. Chacin vs. C. Kershaw;
The Dodgers return home off another embarrassing road trip, and it seems pretty clear that most of this team has stopped caring. The starters are still going out there and looking to get those arbitration dollars (or next contract), but just about everyone on contract for 2011 has started to pack it in. Laying 174 with a team that doesn't seem to give a hoot is just a disastrous plan. The Rockies, despite being about as far back as the Dodgers, have not packed it in. They are a young team with a ton of fight, but have been pretty terrible on the road. If this game was in Coors, I'd be on the Rockies in a heartbeat. In LA, someone's probably going to take this contest on a bad-hop single, or something similarly ugly.

American League

Tigers @ Yankees (-180) with a total of 8; J. Verlander vs. C. Sabathia;
This could be a pretty well-pitched game, and really, there are a few Tigers that have hit Sabathia hard, in the past. Unfortunately, the Tigers are so hit-or-miss offensively, and it's so easy to pitch around the heart of that lineup (which, right now, is just the #4 hitter), that even if they're on top of things, and even if they put some runners on base, Sabathia should be able to get Laird or Santiago, or the slumping Boesch to get out of whatever jam he might have created. And, for all his accolades and wins, Verlander is not really a lights-out starter. He tends to give up at least 2-3 runs in most starts, and while he goes 7 innings almost every time - he is a horse - those numbers against the Yankees might not be good enough.

Mariners @ Orioles (-124) with a total of 9; L. French vs. K. Millwood;
I honestly can't even wrap my head around how bad Millwood has been, this year. He's 2-12 with a 5.74 ERA, and 8-12 with a 5.13 ERA lifetime against the Mariners. I will give him credit - he has been trying again since Showalter showed up, and while the Orioles have lost his 2 starts under the new Manager, Millwood has made them both quality, and I wouldn't be surprised to see that renewed gusto in another decent start. I happen to think that we're getting a pretty nice price on this game simply because of Millwood's awful season, and the fact that Baltimore loses his starts keeps folks from noticing that he is actually pitching a little better. The Orioles haven't seen the soft-tossing Luke French, a bit of a change-up artist that will probably give up a few runs before his day is done.

Angels @ Red Sox (-140) with a total of 8; J. Weaver vs. C. Buchholz;
This might be the game of the night, but as is often the case, that doesn't necessarily mean there's a ton of betting value. I would note that the total of 8 is relatively high for two guys with ERA's in the 2's. Weaver, the AL strikeout leader, is 2-3 with a 3.81 ERA against the Sox; Buchholz, the AL ERA leader is 3-2 with a 5.16 ERA against the Halos. Interestingly, Buccholz went 7 stellar innings in Anaheim, but didn't pitch well against the Angels, at all, when he faced them here at home, earlier this year. Weaver went 7 innings of 2-run ball against the Sox in a losing effort, so it's tough to really get a feel for how things are going to shake out. The Angels are truly teetering on the brink of playoff contention, while Boston is actually within striking distance, or at least moreso. I don't think I can trust the Angels to score runs, and that bullpen is a disaster.

Rangers @ Rays (-144) with a total of 8.5; T. Hunter vs. M. Garza;
Again, the numbers are generally a little ugly, since the Rays just stink beyond stink when they play the Rangers in Texas. Here at home, however, things should be a little more even. Hunter is 2-0 with a 2.33 ERA lifetime against the Rays, but he's been slowing a tad, and 2 of his last 3 starts have been significantly below average. I worry that the kid is hitting a bit of a wall. Garza, meanwhile, has gotten back on track, though he, like some other flame-throwers, does have a tendency to give up a homer here and there. He's 4-3 with a 4.53 ERA against the Rangers, but again, the numbers get inflated from some poor work in Texas, and overall, the current Rangers haven't hit Garza much, at all. This line is high for a reason.

White Sox @ Twins (-120) with a total of 8.5; J. Danks vs. S. Baker;
This will be Danks' 5th start this season against the Twins. He's been very good in 2, good in 1, and not so great in 1. That being said, the common theme in those 4 starts is that the games have been pretty hotly contested. 3 of the 4 games started by Danks have been decided by a single run. Baker, on the other side, has been good against the Sox once this year, and not as great once, but the Twins did find a way to win both of those games. Baker's been decent enough, though rarely has he been unhittable, and that makes the Sox a potential dog play. I definitely want to back Minnesota at some point in this series, considering how well they've been hitting, but Danks' body of work this year makes me think he keeps this one very close, and a coin-flip means you have to look at the dog, or nothing.

Indians @ Royals (-174) with a total of 8; J. Gomez vs. Z. Greinke;
Jeanmar Gomez jumped to the Bigs and hasn't looked back. He's 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA for the Indians, and making his first start against the Royals here as a very live, and large dog. Greinke still gets a ton of line inflation from the awards he's collected, but he just hasn't been the same this year, and his ERA of 4 is a good indicator that there have been just as many bad starts as great ones. Greinke has been alternating good and bad starts over the last 3 weeks, but that doesn't really tell us much. More importantly, he beat the Indians in his one start against them this year, despite allowing 3 runs in 6 innings - the just-barely-quality start line. I don't think I'd recommend a big play on either side, but I certainly can't get behind an inconsistent Greinke against a better-than-advertised Indians club.

Blue Jays (-119) with a total of 7; B. Morrow vs. D. Braden;
This one sort of falls into a "system" play, in that we can fade the guy coming off the unbelievable, get-me-on-ESPN game to get the best value. That would, for better or worse, put us on Oakland, and against Brandon Morrow. Don't get me wrong, as a Cal grad, I have no choice but to root for Morrow's success (as well as a few other Cal grads floating around in the MLB), but in terms of straight value, Braden has been pitching very well over his last 4-5 starts (aside from one subpar effort against Texas), and this ballpark is not at all conducive to the way that Toronto does a large part of their scoring. If even 1 or 2 of those Rogers Centre homers die on the warning track in Oakland, that could be the difference between winning 1 or 2 games. And Morrow, who threw an amazing 1-hitter with 17 strikeouts against the Rays in his last start is definitely in the standard letdown spot. He's pitching in front of his College buddies in Northern California, too.

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