Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Pigs Get Fat

Recap: Broke out the brooms for a GOOD cause! Too many days since the Break we had to take it on the chin in extra innings, but the Game of the Week was a nice 6-4 winner with Tampa, the Mets got a solid underdog victory on the road (of all places), and the Orioles, the strange favorite of the day, got an easy one over the Angels. 3-0. But a long way to go.

Today: Let's be honest - this card isn't even CLOSE to as completely loaded with plays as yesterday's, and that's largely because of all the day games and the confusion that revolves around the midday action. Yesterday was a colossal positive day, and it would be easy to fire off more big plays and try to make another big chunk, but with all the chalky lines and afternoon games, tomorrow is screaming, "Two plays, max!" We'll have the normal Two-Star (2*) Best Bet, and possibly a Free Play -- click anywhere in this paragraph to visit my Pro Page, where you can find the plays, packages, blogs and podcasts!

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Reds (-160) @ Pirates with a total of 8; J. Cueto vs. J. Karstens;
This one looks pretty lopsided, given Cueto's 8-2 career mark against the Pirates and 3.00 ERA, as well as Karstens' 0-3, 6.45 mark against the Reds. That being said, it seems like Cueto has gotten a little lucky, as Garrett Jones, Andy LaRoche, and Andrew McCutchen have all had significant success against him in the past, while the current Reds haven't hit Karstens all that hard, at least not on paper. Cueto has faced the Pirates twice this year, already, and the Reds are 1-1 in those games, with Cueto pitching much better at home. Karstens has not faced this iteration of the Cincinnati Reds. I suppose I'd be careful; these afternoon games often feature weird line-ups, and Cueto isn't exactly coming off a world-beater of a start.

Brewers @ Cubs (-150) with a total of N/A; M. Parra vs. R. Dempster;
This is another pretty expensive line to get the card started in the afternoon, and, again, on paper, it looks easier than it actually is. Parra is 0-1 with a 5.84 ERA against the Cubs, but if you dig deeper, Alfonso Soriano is 3-for-5 off him, and Xavier Nady is 2-for-2, but that's about it. Ryan Dempster is a colossal 13-3 with a 2.69 ERA lifetime against the Brewers, but has been wildly up-and-down against them just in 2010, and Rickie Weeks, Casey McGehee, Jim Edmonds and Prince Fielder have all done some damage against Dempster. This is another game where I'd be very careful before laying the fat price. Dog or nothing on each of these first two afternoon tilts.

Giants @ Rockies (-174) with a total of 8; M. Bumgarner vs. U. Jimenez;
Bumgarner is certainly getting the trial by fire test at Coors Field. He's been in the Bigs, what, a month and some and he's already going to pitch in altitude twice? He had himself what I'd call a "Coors quality" start, going 7 innings and allowing just 4 runs, and giving up just 1 homer. He gave his team a chance in this high-scoring venue, and his season numbers and composure would indicate he can do the same, again. Jimenez is the wild card, here. Remember how easy it was to handicap Ubaldo in April and May? Well, those days are done - he's alternating awful and good starts, and he's coming off a good one. The Giants are hitting better, but it's tough to know if we're going to see the Jimenez that walks 6, or the one that commands his opponents with an iron fist. Pass.

Mets @ Braves (-155) with a total of 8.5; M. Pelfrey vs. K. Medlen;
Ah, the power of regression. After a very strong start to the year for Mike Pelfrey, he has found his way right back to where he always is, just over a 4 ERA. Though, I can't help but wonder if he picked up some sort of weird disease in Puerto Rico, since he really hasn't been the same after getting pummeled by the Marlins down South. In any case, the Braves hit Pelfrey hard, especially so here in Atlanta, and I don't expect him to accomplish much. Medlen, too, has been on a downward progression as the League adjusts to his role as a starter. Neither starter has done anything impressive, and I suppose if I had to rank them, Pelfrey has been a shade worse. The Over is a possibility if the Mets could hit on the road.

Phillies @ Marlins (-135) with a total of 8.5; K. Kendrick vs. A. Sanchez;
How good have the Marlins been since the Break? Very impressive, I'd say, and Anibal Sanchez has been playing just as big a part as anyone, throwing a 1-hit shutout in San Francisco in his last start. He doesn't have a particularly strong history against the Phils, but has been very good in one start against them this year, and pretty bad in another, so we're sort of up a creek on that part. Kendrick is 3-2 against Florida, but has a 5.83 ERA, so he, too, has struggled in this match-up. The Phillies are fighting the injury bug, and haven't been playing particularly well on the road, but Kendrick has actually been one of the team's brightest spots this month. Tough call, though you have to give the slight edge to the favorite, just knowing how well the Marlins have been playing, including the usually-scary bullpen.

Astros @ Cardinals (-230) with a total of 7; J. Happ vs. C. Carpenter;
This one is way out of our price range, and considering Carpenter's strong history against Houston and Happ's 0-1, 5.11 ERA against St. Louis, let's leave this one alone.

Nationals @ D'backs (-140) with a total of 9.5; C. Stammen vs. I. Kennedy;
This line actually seems somewhat cheap, considering Rodrigo Lopez was laying -125 to Livan Hernandez, and clearly, Ian Kennedy is better than Lopez and Stammen is not as good as Hernandez. This makes me think that either Stammen is going to pitch well, or Kennedy is going to pitch poorly, and the books are aware of the perception of these guys. Stammen is actually on a run of 3 decent starts (well, 2 of 3, really, were pretty good), and Kennedy is clearly fighting some sort of arm fatigue. He hasn't really made it through a full season, before, and it's not easy to get that tired limb fired up every 5th day when you have nothing to play for.

Padres @ Dodgers (-135) with a total of 7; W. LeBlanc vs. V. Padilla;
I know folks are going to want to back the Dodgers, since Padilla has the name recognition, but really, since LeBlanc went back down to the Minors and figured things out with his confidence, he's been solid, especially against the Dodgers. He did lose a decision to them, 1-0 earlier this year, but it's hard to fault the pitcher in that one. Padilla is making his second straight start against the Padres, only going 4 innings in his last one, which was a struggle. If the Dodgers can find a way to score a few runs, they could be pretty darn good, but sadly, such does not appear to be the case, at least not since the Break.

American League

Blue Jays @ Yankees (-180) with a total of 9.5; S. Marcum vs. P. Hughes;
Hughes seemed to get a little confidence back in his last start, but made one key mistake and it cost the Yankees the game. I don't want to get into the details on this one, since the side is too expensive, especially with Marcum posting a career 6.39 ERA against the Yankees, but I would also offer that Phil Hughes wasn't very good against the Jays the one time he faced them, this season. I don't like the side, at all, but that total is extremely high, and our job here is to decide if it's high for a reason (which seems to be the case, with both teams hitting pretty well in the series, so far), or if it's a gift for fans of the Under. I happen to think we see a couple dingers.

Royals @ Athletics (-185) with a total of 8; S. O'Sullivan vs. B. Anderson;
This one is truly out of our price range. With as poorly as the Royals have been playing, they're not a good play, and with Brett Anderson still trying to get healthy, they're not a good play, either.

White Sox @ Tigers (-110) with a total of 9; E. Jackson vs. A. Galarraga;
Edwin Jackson returns to Motown, but now, with the ChiSox, as his World Tour of MLB continues. Less than 1 year ago, Jackson was a Tiger, and since has been with the D'backs and now the Pale Hose, and actually does have decent numbers against Detroit and at Comerica Park. Armando Galarraga toes the rubber for the Tigers, who might get Brandon Inge back for this one, which, despite his relatively weak offensive skills, is absolutely an upgrade over the scrubs Detroit's been forced to play on the infield. Peralta will move over to shortstop, and whichever utility man is hottest will play 2nd base. Makes sense, I guess. I like Detroit to compete hard, and I wonder about Jackson this year, as he just continues to serve up hits. Of course, pitching for a team in a pennant race might wake him up?

Angels (-145) @ Orioles with a total of 9; E. Santana vs. B. Matusz;
See, now this line is more like what I expected in this series. The Angels are laying some chalk, with the superior starter and the team playing for something. Is the Trevor Bell to Santana increase really worth this much? Is Jeremy Guthrie really that much better than Brian Matusz? Really makes you think that sometimes folks can truly predict exactly how a game is going to go. Okay, so, we have a fair line, and the Angels are 1 game removed from the tough series with Texas. Brian Matusz has been pretty disastrous at times, this year, and Santana has returned to his solid #2 form behind Jered Weaver. Santana has had some issues with the Orioles in the past, though, so this one isn't a sure thing, and certainly isn't a run-line candidate.

Indians @ Red Sox (-270) with a total of 8.5; J. Masterson vs. J. Lester;
A little expensive, don't you think?

Twins @ Rays (-180) with a total of 8; S. Baker vs. D. Price;
This one is too expensive, as well, as I still feel strongly that Tampa gets it done in this series, and I'm not about to lay 180, even if I feel strongly that the Rays take care of business. They're doing a ton of their scoring via the home run ball, and that's a little finicky. I'd rather leave this one alone, especially since Baker has been having something of a mini-resurgence over his last few starts.

Rangers (-155) @ Mariners with a total of 7; C.Wilson vs. D. Fister;
Don't get me wrong, I like some of the young guys in the Seattle rotation, but there's a huge problem - they don't strike people out. They can sort of escape, pitching in such a dead-ball stadium up in Seattle, but it's always just a matter of time before the wheels come off, and three or four of those "balls in play" fall in for hits. This line is pretty fair, but should draw a ton of public money on the Rangers side. That being said, Fister pitched extremely well (8 innings, 0 runs) in his one start against Texas, this year, and Wilson has been solid against Seattle, twice. I think the one game hangover from playing the Angels should have worn off by this one, and the Mariners offense is just the worst I've seen in a while. I can't play the Mariners against a good team, I just can't.

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