Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Dreaded Backdoor Push

Recap: I have one sound and two words for yesterday..."Gah, come on!" Our Top Play on Utah -3 was looking pretty good for most of the game, as they dominated almost every offensive statistical category, but 3 turnovers and blocked punt gave Pittsburgh life, enough to force us into a season-opening disappointing Push. We dropped the Small Bonus Play (for 1 unit) on the Huskies of Northern Illinois, so the season kicks off with a robust 0-1-1. Nowhere to go but up!

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Mets (-119) @ Cubs with a total of N/A; R. Dickey vs. R. Wells;
To call Randy Wells up-and-down would be fairly accurate. His last start was 6 innings of 2-run ball against the Reds. The start before that was a 6 innings, 7-run effort. Before that, 7 innings, 1 run. Before that, 5 innings, 6 runs. I suppose you could say he's due for a bad start, but it doesn't really work that way. More than likely, the punchless Mets are going to end up in a bit of a low-scoring battle, at least until the bullpens get involved. Let's keep an eye on the wind, because Dickey just keeps dominating everyone in the League not named the Marlins.

Brewers @ Phillies (-265) with a total of 8.5; C. Capuano vs. C. Hamels;
Inflated line, anyone? Toss a half unit on the Brewers with Philadelphia coming home off a makeup game in Colorado that followed a long road trip through AZ, SD, and LAD. This is a trademark letdown spot for the Phils, and while Milwaukee stinks, it's a great shot to steal one.

Nationals (-120) @ Pirates with a total of 8.5; L. Hernandez vs. Z. Duke;
Both of these pitchers have been struggling, of late, but then, I suppose the only surprise there is that it took so long for Livan's ERA to creep up into the mid-3's. This has still be a huge success of a season for Livan, and while his career 4-4, 5.05 ERA against Pittsburgh doesn't look so hot, he actually beat Duke a few months back with 6 innings of 2-run ball. I would expect something similar, even though the Pirates are a little better at home. Fact is, the Nats offense is significantly better than the Pirates, so even if both starters give clunkers, Washington has some edges. It's a cheap line, and that's the only note on this one that's scaring me away from the Nationals.

Braves (-125) @ Marlins with a total of 9; K. Kawakami vs. A. Miller;
How do you get to be 1-9 on a really, really good team? That's the question that only Kawakami can answer, and a 4.75 ERA isn't good, but certainly doesn't warrant a record that poor. Sometimes a pitcher can just be insanely unlucky, and sometimes a pitcher brings a little of that on himself. Without going back through each game he's started, it's tough to know if, perhaps, Kawakami had a tendency to give up runs after his team scored (failed shut-down innings), but what we do know is that he's just 1-4 with a 5.55 ERA against the Marlins, and the Braves road woes make even Andrew Miller seem like a decent play.

Reds @ Cardinals (-130) with a total of 8; B. Arroyo vs. J. Garcia;
Arroyo's been a complete disaster in this ballpark so far in 2010, though I suppose it's just one start. He's faced the Cards 4 times this year, was great in his first 2 starts, and pretty mediocre in the most recent 2. St Louis has been struggling, but that might also be when they're the most dangerous to fade. Garcia at a -130 favorite is about where I expected this line to open. He's been decent enough against the Reds, and very strong at home. If the Cardinals weren't playing like such nitwits, it might be easier to pull the trigger on them, but the sweep in Cincinnati might have the Reds thinking revenge, and the big NL Central lead for Cincy might also have them thinking, "Crush their spirits."

Astros @ D'backs (-140) with a total of 8; B. Myers vs. D. Hudson;
This line is higher than I expected, considering how well the Astros have been playing, and the quality of the starting pitcher on the hill for them. Brett Myers is 10-7 for a very bad team, and has a 2.97 ERA on the season - very impressive. Daniel Hudson continues to impress for his new ballclub, and even though Edwin Jackson is pitching well for the White Sox, you have to think the D'backs are pleased to get a quality young arm...especially since, in my opinion, they got garbage for Dan Haren. Hudson has never faced the 'Stros, and Myers beat the D'backs earlier this year with a strong effort. I would take the Under if I trusted the bullpens.

Rockies @ Padres (-130) with a total of 7.5; A. Cook vs. C. Luebke;
I imagine the question on everyone's mind is...who the heck is Cory Luebke? Well, funny you should ask because, conveniently, I've actually done play by play for a game where he pitched for the Lake Elsinore Storm and got waxed. Of course, some time between 2007 and now Luebke "figured it out." What is "it", exactly? Tough to say, but over his last 2 Minor League seasons, Luebke is 21-5 at 3 levels. He's not a big-time strikeout guy, but he does seem to have a good grasp of how to pitch, and thus the Padres will deploy him to try to catch the Rockies off guard. Aaron Cook, interestingly, is 13-4 with a 2.86 lifetime mark against the Padres, but got beat up by them in one start this year, and hasn't pitched since August 3.

Giants @ Dodgers (-135) with a total of 7.5; B. Zito vs. C. Billingsley;
Chad Billingsley isn't really the question mark. I didn't think I'd ever get to say that again after the way he sputtered after the playoff meltdown(s). He's been very good for the Dodgers after a slow start, and he's been dominant against these Giants this year. He's 5-2 against San Francisco in his career, and that includes 2 starts this year where he hasn't allowed a run to them. And whether or not the Dodgers are in the playoff hunt, these rivalry games are always going to bring out some sort of competitive fire. Zito is a concern. He's been amazing in 4 starts against the Dodgers this year (though he's just 0-1 with 3 no-decisions), but he's coming off a stretch of 4 straight ugly outings that has ballooned his ERA up over 4. Which Zito will we see? And how about the fact that Billingsley has faced Zito 3 times already, this year, the Dodgers won 2 of those and all 3 went Under.

American League

Blue Jays @ Yankees (-150) with a total of 9; B. Morrow vs. I. Nova;
It sucks to be in the AL East. Toronto is actually 7-5 against the Yankees this year, but man, every time you turn around, you have to play one of the best teams in baseball. Morrow, Toronto's starter, has put together a nice year for the Jays, coming close to a no-no. He's also been very good against the Yankees, but only at home. His work in New York has been subpar, and I feel like we're getting a pretty cheap price on Ivan Nova, largely because of his name. If I were to play this one, and I doubt I will be, it would be the home team.

Rays (-200) @ Orioles with a total of 8.5; M. Garza vs. K. Millwood;
Do I think there's some sort of reason to back the Orioles? Sure, but I'd prefer to take them against teams not fighting for anything. Pass.

White Sox @ Red Sox (-150) with a total of 8; J. Danks vs. C. Buchholz;
It's been talked about ad nauseum, but really, how can you still get Buchholz for this reasonable of a price? I guess one more game. I know the White Sox have Manny now, and John Danks has been pretty darn solid this year, but he's just 1-4 lifetime against the Red Sox with a 5.08 ERA. Boston can definitely score at home, and while Buchholz got lit up the one time he faced the White Sox, this is a more mature version of him. And that 15-5 record and 2.21 ERA is a testament to that.

Tigers @ Royals (-160) with a total of 8.5; J. Bonderman vs. Z. Greinke;
This line is headed North, thanks to the Tigers playing a long one in Minnesota last night, and one that took more pitchers than they would have liked when the day started. If you like the Royals, which I would given Bonderman's failure in KC earlier this year and Greinke being nothing short of dominant against the Tigers, then you should get them early.

Rangers @ Twins (-130) with a total of 9.5; D. Holland vs. N. Blackburn;
I can't believe I'm even considering this, but Blackburn has actually looked pretty solid since his return to the Twins rotation. He's 0-2 with a 4.26 ERA against Texas, but I would go so far as to say that giving up 3 runs in 6.1 innings should be enough in this one. The Twins are coming off a tough extra-inning game, and that's a definite concern, and Texas had the day off, so they're rested, but Holland faced Minnesota once this year way, way back, and only made it through 1 inning. He was bad in his first start since getting another call-up a week ago, too. The price might be right on a favorite.

Angels @ Athletics (-180) with a total of 7.5; S. Kazmir vs. G. Gonzalez;
My, how the mighty have fallen. The Angels a monster road dog to...the A's? I'm afraid so. The A's have outplayed the Angels for the last couple months on the coattails of their tremendous starting pitchers. I don't expect anything less, here. The Angels have, more or less, mailed it in, scoring almost all their runs on monster cuts. It's almost funny to watch the Angels at the plate, taking these HUGE swings. Yeah, they connected for a couple homers in that Seattle series, and that was enough against the cruddy Mariners, but they'll get rolled in Oakland if they keep that crap up.

Indians @ Mariners (-110) with a total of 7; F. Carmona vs. L. French;
The Indians are live dogs in every game of this series, largely because they can just flat-out hit better than the Mariners. Seattle is good for about 3 runs most games, but Carmona is strong enough where he might be able to pin them at 2. Can the Indians score 3-4 off French? Maybe. I am starting to hate betting on Mariners games - they're just a struggle to watch, even if they're going well. I might consider the Over, since French seems to alternate good and bad starts, and Carmona has not pitched well over the last month.


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