Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More of the Same

Recap: Coming soon!

Today: Back to the standard 2* Top Play, today! All the afternoon games really cut into the card, and we'll grab that Best Bet, and possibly a Free Play or two, as well. Sort of the cookie cutter day, in terms of what we have going on -- don't get too used to these types of days, though, with multi-sport cards just around the corner!

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Brewers @ Cardinals (-244) with a total of 7.5; R. Wolf vs. A. Wainwright;
Adam Wainwright hasn't had too many troubles with the Brewers in his beefy career, going 7-3 with a 1.94 ERA against Milwaukee. This line is well out of our price range to back the favorite, and given Wainwright's dominance of Milwaukee, not enough reason to grab at the underdog. Pass.

Padres (-140) @ Cubs with a total of N/A; C. Richard vs. C. Coleman;
I will admit, I don't know as much as I should about the young Cubs starter, Casey Coleman. I know he has no record and an 8.64 ERA, but that doesn't tell us much. No one has really seen much of each other in this one, which makes me think that this might come down to the bullpens, and the Padres have a monster edge, there. It's a day game, so there are always some question marks, and at this price, I probably would pass.

Marlins (-200) @ Pirates with a total of 7; J. Johnson vs. R. Ohlendorf;
This is way too high of a price to pay for a road favorite, especially since Johnson hasn't really faced the Pirates all that much, and especially since Ohlendorf is actually 1-1 with a respectable 3.75 ERA against the Marlins. Ohlendorf might be one of the unluckiest pitchers in baseball, at 1-9 with a 3.95 season ERA. I mean, goodness gracious. A pretty low total catches my eye -- watch how the money comes in, there.

Giants @ Phillies (-110) with a total of 8.5; M. Cain vs. J. Blanton;
Matt Cain has a terrible history with Philadelphia, which is a shame because, looking at the line, I was tempted to get behind him. Cain is 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA against the Phils, and while Blanton hasn't exactly been strong against the Giants (1-3, 5.08), I'd rather get underdog value with a team like San Francisco if they're going to be playing against a good team on the road. That being said, the strength of the opening line certainly has an impact. Cain is coming off a couple of marginal starts, not up to his usual standards. Blanton is coming off a full season of marginal starts. If you think the teams get a few runs off the bullpens, I'd look at the Over. Otherwise, I suppose you have to tip just slightly to the Giants.

Nationals @ Braves (-215) with a total of 7; L. Hernandez vs. T. Hudson;
You want to talk about completely owning a team? Tim Hudson is 10-1 with a 1.49 ERA against the Washington Nationals franchise. Livan Hernandez is 6-14 with a 5.41 ERA against the Braves, and has been good once and bad once against them this year. This is one of those spots where I'm not happy to admit it, but I would sooner play a home run line than the big road dog, despite the line inflation. The low total makes me a little nervous, though, since Livan could very well toss 6 decent innings. Be careful.

Mets @ Astros (-110) with a total of 7; R. Dickey vs. B. Myers;
This is a pretty solid pitching duel, despite the complete lack of playoff implications of the game. Dickey is still sporting a 2.43 ERA on the season, though he's seen almost zero of the Astros, especially the youngsters. He's coming off a complete game 1-hitter against the Phils, too, so he's not trending up or down, just pitching well almost every time. Brett Myers has been outrageously consistent, all season long, and the Astros recent stretch of better play has suddenly elevated Myers to favorite status in a game against a pretty public team, the Mets. He's 9-6 with a 5.01 ERA lifetime against New York, but current Mets Luis Castillo, Jeff Francoeur, Jose Reyes and David Wright have combined to do almost nothing against Myers. It's tough to see how these guys could tag Myers for a similarly high ERA, and even at 7 runs, the Under is in play.

Reds (-135) @ D'backs with a total of 10; E. Volquez vs. R. Lopez;
This line is probably more like what we'd expect in this series, after last night's rather cheap number on Arroyo. Obviously, the dropoff to Rodrigo Lopez is part of the equation, and his ability to serve up dingers is unparalleled around baseball. Add to that Cincinnati's ability to drive 'em out of the yard, and Lopez seems like a scary play. Volquez, meanwhile, has seemed to get things back in gear after coming off the DL with a bit of a slowness, but he's been on cruise control his last few starts. He's rarely going to go super-deep in games while he builds the arm strength back up, but his recent success makes this line pretty accurate, and pretty fair.

Rockies @ Dodgers (-135) with a total of 7.5; J. Hammel vs. H. Kuroda;
This is a very cheap line on the Dodgers, at home, especially when you consider that the Dodgers' starter has an ERA almost a full run lower than his competitor. If we look deeper, though, Kuroda's 0-3, 7.57 career mark against the Rockies certainly jumps out. And while he has indeed been worse at Coors than here at home, Kuroda hasn't exactly been convincing at either venue against a team that hits him very, very hard. Hammel, as we all know, seems to be more comfortable pitching at home, but his 2.25 ERA against the Dodgers, and only brief work against them makes me think he does have a slight edge, there. It also doesn't hurt that the Dodgers bullpen is in disarray, and the team seems to have given up.

American League

Rangers @ Rays (-161) with a total of 9; D. Holland vs. J. Shields;
This is a pretty lopsided line, considering how good both teams are, and you can put a lot of that on the names of the starting pitchers. That being said, Shields has not been at all his usual dominant self, and is coming off 2 pretty poor efforts. A similarly ugly performance will not get it done. Derek Holland makes his first start since late May, and we've seen a few times this year guys getting yanked back up from the Minors for a second time and pitching well. Confidence is a big part of that. In his first stint this year, Holland pitched alright in 3 starts and very poorly in 1 other, and is somehow 2-0 with a 5.73 ERA against the Rays in his short career. This is way too high a price to pay for the struggling Shields, and it's Rangers or nothing on the AL early afternoon game.

Blue Jays @ Athletics (-130) with a total of 8; M. Rzepczynski vs. G. Gonzalez;
Gio Gonzalez gets to start at home - that has to be the first thing you notice in this one, and he's been quite comfortable in Oakland, this year. Toronto's starter is coming off a brilliant outing in Anaheim, going 7 innings of 2-hit ball, so he's feeling good about himself. Gonzalez is coming off a decent road start, but his damage gets done at home, and I happen to think that with Rzepczynski pitching as well as he has been, the Under might be the best play. That number of 8 might look high, but it's about where we would expect, given Toronto's strong offense.

Tigers @ Yankees (-185) with a total of 9.5; J. Bonderman vs. D. Moseley;
This line gives absolutely no respect, at all, to Jeremy Bonderman, and I guess I can understand it. He's 3-8 with a 5.29 ERA against the Yanks in his career, though the current Yankees haven't done a great deal against him in the last 5 years. I don't think you can back Moseley at this price, not while the Tigers are playing a little better, but I don't think I have the confidence in Bonderman, either. He's coming off a 6-run effort in one of those wacky high-scoring games in Chicago, so you have to think he's going to be a little more focused than usual, but this one could definitely have some scoring.

Mariners @ Orioles (-147) with a total of 8.5; D. Pauley vs. J. Guthrie;
I think this might officially be too high a price to pay for the Orioles. I know Guthrie's last 6 starts have all been outstanding, but David Pauley has been sneaky-good, and the Mariners are definitely pitching well as a team, right now. Guthrie should keep the Orioles neck and neck, as should Pauley for the Mariners, but at this price, you have to see a pretty substantial advantage in the starters to lay the chalk. Does that mean I advocate backing Seattle? Well, if you think you can win with only 2 runs, then perhaps, but it's not going to be easy no matter which side you take.

Angels @ Red Sox (-175) with a total of 10; S. Kazmir vs. J. Lackey;
I'll admit, I was hoping to see a lower line when I heard of the projected starters -- Lackey has been completely dominant against his old team, and now we run up against the philosophy that destroying the same team 3 times in the same season isn't easy. I'm not sure I'm on board in this particular spot. Both starters are coming off decent starts, and Kazmir has looked better since his return from the DL, so I think that at this inflated price, you have to at least consider the Angels. Still, Lackey's success against the Angels makes it a tough trigger to pull, and I'm looking harder at passing, or at the total... given that absurdly high total, there has to be some sort of madness at work.

White Sox @ Twins (-145) with a total of 7; G. Floyd vs. F. Liriano;
Double rematch! This is a good one, with Floyd having lost each of the first two meetings. And it wasn't for lack of effort. Floyd got left in the last game a batter too long and served up a monster home run in the 7th. In the previous meeting, the Sox defense let him down. Still, fact is, he can't get over that hump with the Twinkies. Liriano squirmed his way through 5.2 innings in that most recent win over Floyd and the White Sox, stranding runners all over the place. He's looked good enough in his two recent wins over Chicago, and 3 total wins over Chicago on the year. How many wins can Liriano rack up against one team? Something tells me this one is a competitive game, and it won't be as easy a win for the Twins as people expect. The low, low total certainly agrees.

Indians (-113) @ Royals with a total of 8.5; F. Carmona vs. B. Chen;
This price seems somewhat low for Carmona and the Indians, doesn't it? I know the Indians still aren't a team that's going to get much love, but the name Carmona is about the only one on the starting staff that can actually drive some money. Bruce Chen isn't such a name. He is a streaky sort, looking excellent in June, just plain awful in July, and has been decent again in August. Tough to know what you're going to get from Chen, especially considering his 1-2, 9.00 lifetime mark against the Indians. It's a bit of a public play, and the line would tell us to back the Royals, but I'd actually lean Indians and the Under more than the other potential plays.

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