Monday, August 09, 2010

The Start of Dinnertime Blogs

Recap: Coming later tonight!

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Marlins @ Nationals (-200) with a total of 7; A. Sanchez vs. S. Strasburg;
The price is well out of our range, but if I don't at least give some thoughts on Strasburg's return from the "DL" I think I might get strung up and smacked with 2-by-4's. My thoughts are that they wouldn't let this kid pitch unless he was PAIN FREE. Simple as that. There's obviously value on the other side with the line this inflated, but at the same time, one of the prime arguments for fading a guy coming off injury is that he might be rusty or feel some tightness. No chance Strasburg throws a pitch if any of that creeps into the mix. Precisely why I'd leave this one alone; also, Washington isn't that bad at home, and this one is going to draw a crowd.

Dodgers @ Phillies (-115) with a total of 8.5; V. Padilla vs. K. Kendrick;
This line might look like it's Phillies-friendly, and it is, but it's for a reason. That reason: the Dodgers are bad on the road, and worse lately. To Padilla's credit, he's been pitching his butt off (as have most of the Dodgers starters), but the Dodgers just can't put any offense together, and now they have to head to the humidity of Philadelphia to take on their nemesis of the past couple seasons. Padilla, mind you, has really only seen Raul Ibanez more than a couple times on this Phillies roster. Kyle Kendrick gets the start for Philadelphia, and his 2-2, 7.29 mark against the Dodgers certainly makes you want to back LA, but he's actually on a run of 3 straight quality starts, and is the Phillies most profitable starter this season.

Rockies (-165) @ Mets with a total of 7; U. Jimenez vs. M. Pelfrey;
Pelfrey is just a complete and total mess, but at this price, I don't see how you can back Ubaldo Jimenez. I don't see how you can back Pelfrey, either, given how much he has just stunk beyond stunk. Let's be honest - there are going to be games in this series where we will back the Mets. It's almost inevitable, since they play so much better at home than on the road, and the Rockies are the exact opposite, but Pelfrey, who might "find a nut" in this one if his team scores 5-6 runs, is just not the guy for me. Let's wait until later in the series.

Cardinals @ Reds (-125) with a total of 8; J. Garcia vs. J. Cueto;
This is quite a series, and we'll definitely talk about it a bit on the upcoming podcasts, but in terms of this individual game, we can do most of our handicapping based on what we've seen this year, and what we've seen recently. Garcia, recently, has been a little less spectacular, though aside from his absolute most recent start, still decent. In two starts against the Reds this year, he's been good, but not great. I think we can safely assume that Garcia goes 6 innings in a hotly contested game, and gives up 3 runs. Cueto, interestingly, has been decent against the Cardinals twice (bordering on quality), and very bad against them, once. Both pitchers are having rock solid seasons, so it's tough to know exactly what prevails, but I'm inclined to think that the home team edge might balance out with Cueto's issues with St. Louis.

Braves (-135) @ Astros with a total of 7.5; J. Jurrjens vs. J. Happ;
This line seems low, doesn't it? I mean, I know the Astros are starting to get a little betting love, and the line isn't wildly off-base (like when we capitalized on the Orioles being a home favorite), but Jurrjens was a public darling last year, and if you look at some of his lines, this year, this one looks even weirder. Jurrjens was a "pick" on the road in Cincinnati against Bronson Arroyo, a more reliable starter on a better team, and is only 25 cents more expensive here? I wouldn't back the Braves, who have struggled mightily on the road over the last month. The Astros aren't truly a dangerous team, but Happ is 2-0 with a 2.23 ERA against the Braves, another 6-inning, 1 or 2-run performance might be enough. Jurrjens, by the way, has not been convincing, at all, on the road (the Braves have won all 6 of his home starts, and are 1-5 when he starts on the road).

D'backs @ Brewers (-130) with a total of 9; B. Enright vs. M. Parra;
While I liked the value in backing the Brewers at roughly this number, yesterday, I definitely don't feel similarly, today. In fact, I'm a tiny bit confused by the line, and I can only assume it's because I know more about Barry Enright than probably 98% of the betting world. That wasn't meant to be an arrogant remark, it's just that I've been semi-following a lot of those 2008 Visalia Oaks through the Minors, so when he broke into the Bigs (and has delivered a quality start almost every time out), I've been taking notes. The League still hasn't figured him out, and while the D'backs don't seem to want to throw him longer than 6 innings lately, he's fighting his way through those frames. Manny Parra, meanwhile, has been serving it up. He has an impressive, if brief, career mark against the D'backs (1-0, 0.86), but that tells us next to nothing, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Arizona put up a crooked number on him. Milwaukee is really mashing, though, and that scares me with that Arizona pen waiting in the wings.

Pirates @ Padres (-200) with a total of 7; J. Karstens vs. W. LeBlanc;
This one is out of our price range. I was hoping we might see it in the 160-170 range, which would have been value on the Padres, but at -200, we move along. When there are 15 games, and most of them have reasonable lines, no reason to stress out about these ugly ones.

Cubs @ Giants (-200) with a total of 6.5; R. Dempster vs. T. Lincecum;
I stand corrected. Two ugly lines in a row. This is an Over play, or nothing. I tend to think nothing is the way to go.

American League

Orioles @ Indians (-135) with a total of 9; J. Arrieta vs. J. Masterson;
It's funny - if you had told me a month ago that I'd actually be curious about this series, I'd have called you a liar and a thief, but here we are. The issue with this particular game, at least for me, is that Justin Masterson is all over the map. He's coming off a 5-inning, 1-run effort against the Red Sox, but his start before that was a 5.1-inning, 8-run debacle against the Jays. He gives up a ton of hits, and if he can get some double play balls, he can keep teams at bay, but the Orioles, interestingly, have hit him hard. Arrieta has been equally inconsistent, though he, too, is coming off a good one. I think we can save our money for a later game in this series, maybe when we get a pitcher with a little more predictability on the hill for either team.

Rays @ Tigers (-115) with a total of 8; J. Hellickson vs. M. Scherzer;
Hellickson is a beast. He's the top dog coming up through a loaded Minor League system, and we saw the kind of damage he can do in his Major League debut against the Twins. There isn't going to be much in the way of scouting reports on this kid yet, and the Tigers are packing about as much punch lately as the Mariners. If they score 4 in this game, it'll be a triumph of epic proportions. Max Scherzer, similarly, has been very, very good, and would have been even better with a little defense in his one outing against the Rays this year. Heck, he was in a battle of no-hitters until he gave up some walks, an error, and a grand slam. He'll be looking to get the better of this team in round two. So, let's see, the Rays were struggling coming into this series, the Tigers are about one 3-game losing streak away from ending the season's hopes, and both pitchers are the focal points. I'm looking at the total.

Red Sox @ Blue Jays (-130) with a total of 8; D. Matsuzaka vs. R. Romero;
I think this game has four notes. First, Boston comes off a rather important series split in New York, at least in terms of building momentum. Second, that series was an emotional one, so can they keep the energy up going from the mayhem in the Bronx to, well, Canada? Third, the Jays have been hot, winning both high and low-scoring games. Fourth, Ricky Romero can't seem to get the Red Sox out. He's 1-4 with an 8.76 ERA against Boston in his short Major League career. Those are really the key points in this one, the way I see it. Matsuzaka has quietly been Boston's second best starter behind Jon Lester, and he's a sneaky 6-1 against the Jays in his career. I know seeing Boston as a dog to the Jays is a little disconcerting, and the first inclination might be to think it's a mistake, but I think this line is pretty accurate.

Yankees @ Rangers (-140) with a total of 9.5; A. Burnett vs. C. Wilson;
Hm...I will admit, this one gives me pause, and I'm having trouble putting my finger on exactly why. Burnett is obviously a huge question mark, and after getting his Sunday start scratched for back tightness, to bounce back with this Tuesday outing is a little scary. Wilson, meanwhile, has been Texas's most profitable bet this season, but he's 0-3 against the Yankees, and has never really looked all that comfortable against them (including this year). This line is probably about where it should be, if we assume that Burnett's back issues cause him to get hit a bit, but that total looks pretty darn high. If that many runs are going to get scored, this one could go all sorts of directions. I suppose with a gun to my head, Texas and the chalk is probably a little less frightening.

Twins @ White Sox (-120) with a total of 9; S. Baker vs. F. Garcia;
Somehow, Freddy Garcia has faced the Twins 3 times, and Baker has faced the Sox just once, but all 4 of those combined starts have been solid. Therein lies our problem. Do we expect Baker to go 7 innings against the Sox again in this one like he did in April? Do we expect Baker to continue to pitch better, as he has been doing in his last 3 starts (though, moreso in 2 of those starts than the 3rd)? Or, do we expect the 5.77 career ERA against Chicago rear it's ugly head? On Garcia's side, I think it's fair to assume he goes 6-7 innings and gives up between 1 and 3 runs. That's nice to be able to almost mark that down in the scorebook before it happens. This one comes down to Baker, completely. The Sox come home off a tough road trip to Detroit and Baltimore, which leaves them a little vulnerable.

Royals @ Angels (-260) with a total of 8.5; B. Bullington vs. D. Haren;
Wowzers, what's with West coast games and inflated lines? The Angels will have had a day to adjust to Pacific time, so I'll kindly pass on this lopsided madness.

Athletics @ Mariners (-135) with a total of 6.5; B. Anderson vs. F. Hernandez;
Brett Anderson apparently needed only one start to get his sea legs back, struggling against the White Sox before bouncing back and dominating the Royals. We all know about Felix Hernandez, but with the Mariners hit, there's almost no good reason to pay this kind of price for anyone. Now, that's how I would have left this paragraph if Manager Don Wakamatsu hadn't been fired, yesterday. It'll be interesting to see how this team responds to having their Triple-A Manager promoted. Will they play like they care, if briefly, or continue to go through the motions? We know the A's are playing with purpose, as those young guys want spots on the team next year, and they know how bodies get moved around in Oakland. The Over is probably the ugliest wager on the entire board, and I don't have the stones to play it, but in a game this low-scoring, even if it's a coin-flip, that means the A's are the better play.


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