With the number of NBA Playoff games diminishing, we have to continue to be extremely cautious with our selections.
We had just one small play yesterday, taking a shot on the hapless Atlanta Hawks, and just got blasted. I don't know what it was about that game, but despite it being just a 1* play, the smallest possible wager we put out, it still put me in a very bad mood. I think it has to have something to do with the Hawks dismal effort and complete lack of defensive intensity. I just wonder why they would even play as hard as they did in those final two games against Milwaukee if they were just going to roll over every time the Magic hit a contested three. Oh well, a sad series for the Hawks, and a sad series for us, but luckily, there are other teams out there that still give a flying hoot, and we'll make some money on those guys!
Sports Wagering: NBA
Celtics @ Cavaliers - Cleveland by 8 with a total of 195. This is a pretty powerful number for the Cavs, considering the series is tied, and aside from the blowout win that both teams have posted, the other two games have been pretty evenly matched. And that, to some degree, makes me think Cleveland comes back with a vengeance in this one. Both teams have seen the best the other has to offer, and I believe that Cleveland is still the better team. The series, thus far, has seemed to hinge on whether or not King James is at his most aggressive. He was in the 2nd half of game one, and the Cavs mounted a furious comeback. He wasn't in game two, and Cleveland got worked. He was hyper-aggressive in game three, and Cleveland dominated, and he seemed to defer a tad in game four, and Rajon Rondo's monster game gave the Celts a win. Mo Williams hasn't been a huge impact player, and it might have something to do with getting beat on defense by Rondo over and over again, and that's hurting Cleveland. Antawn Jamison has stepped up nicely, and Shaq is actually playing well, but the Cavs need Williams' shooting, and something tells me he has a nice game five back at home. Will it be enough to cover this rather hefty number? That's a tough question. I was desperately hoping we'd see this line near 6 or 6.5, but at 7.5 we're starting to talk about a game that's bordering on a runaway. Paul Pierce didn't have a good game four, and the Celtics still won. Admittedly, Tony Allen probably won't play that well again on the road, but so many factors are counterbalancing one another, here. If I had to pick a side, I'd take Cleveland for the 9-10 point win, but it's a tough one, that's for sure. The total of 195 reflects a Boston-style game in the last meeting, but I just wonder if Cleveland tries to get things moving again back on their home court. Too many turnovers for the Cavs, and not enough Lebron-domination led to a very low final score. I can't help but think this one might creep up over the total at first glance. However, as we all know, as Playoff series wear on, scores tend to get lower. Teams learn each other, things get more physical, each possession gets more intense and drawn out, and guys start to get tired. This number is pretty accurate, but I think because we like Cleveland, we have to like the Over just a tiny bit. Touch and go, to be sure, and while the lean on the side will likely not change, the lean on the total is subject to change.
Sports Wagering: MLB
Reds (-135) @ Pirates with a total of 8.5; J. Cueto vs. C. Morton;
Brandon Phillips is 3-for-5 off Morton;
Garrett Jones is 5-for-8 off Cueto;
Andy LaRoche is 4-for-11 with 2 RBI off Cueto;
Andrew McCutchen is 4-for-8 with 2 HR off Cueto.
Considering Johnny Cueto is 6-2 against Pittsburgh, there seem to be a few guys mixed in that lineup that can clock him around a little. Cueto has been consistently poor this year, generally going 5 innings and allowing 3-4 runs. He hasn't really been horrible in any one start or good in any one start, just kind of not great in all of them. Morton is coming off his only decent start of the year, so maybe some confidence is building. Lean to Pittsburgh.
Nationals @ Mets (-135) with a total of 8; S. Olsen vs. J. Niese;
The entirety of the Nats lineup is 3-for-6 off Niese, so not much there;
Luis Castillo is 5-for-13 off Olsen with a HR and 4 RBI;
Jose Reyes is 15-for-39 off Olsen with a HR and 5 RBI;
Fernando Tatis is 4-for-11 off Olsen;
David Wright has 3 HR, and Jeff Francoeur has 2 HR off Olsen, since '05.
Scott Olsen is an ugly 1-6 against the Mets, but is 2-1 this year with an ERA in the mid-3's, so he's off to a nice start. Jon Niese is finally starting to pitch with a little gumption after all the hype. He had 3 outstanding starts in a row, fared a little worse his last time out against the Reds, and now faces a Nats team he's never encountered before. Probably a fair price, here, though the Mets are a decent deal at this somewhat low number.
Marlins @ Cubs (-115) with a total of N/A; R. Nolasco vs. R. Wells;
Alfonso Soriano is 4-for-13 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Nolasco;
Ryan Theriot is 4-for-6 off Nolasco;
Derrek Lee and Mike Fontenot are each 2-for-6 with a HR off Nolasco.
Sadly, despite those 4 guys, the Nolasco is 2-1 against the Cubs with a 2.86 ERA, so they're not stringing anything together. Randy Wells has never seen the Marlins, but his start to 2010 is what I think we can categorize as "eh." This number is probably about fair, with the Cubs home field giving them just a tiny favorite price, but with Nolasco's nice stats against Chicago, and the Cubs hit-or-miss offense, the Marlins do look intriguing.
Braves (-120) @ Brewers with a total of 8.5; T. Hudson vs. D. Bush;
Nate McLouth is 8-for-20 with a HR off Bush;
Brian McCann is 0-for-8 off Bush;
Ryan Braun is 5-for-11 with 1 RBI off Hudson;
Jim Edmonds is 6-for-16 off Hudson with 1 HR and 4 RBI since '05;
Corey Hart is 6-for-17 off Hudson;
Rickie Weeks is 0-for-12 off Hudson.
So, it seems each team has a guy or two that can hit the other team's starter, and also one guy that could be a potential black hole in the lineup. Bush is another of those starters that adequately fills the back end of the rotation, but Hudson obviously has the talent to be a middle-of-the-rotation fixture. He's having a nice 2010 so far, but that Braves team behind him seems to find ways to lose. This line is pretty fair, and I'd look at Bush first, due to the Braves' struggles, but I might just be inclined to leave this one alone.
Astros @ Cardinals (-235) with a total of 8; B. Myers vs. B. Penny;
Geoff Blum is 5-for-6 off Penny with 4 RBI since '05;
Carlos Lee is 4-for-8 off Penny with 2 RBI since '05;
Kaz Matsui is 5-for-13 off Penny since '05;
Cory Sullivan is batting .321 in 28 AB off Penny since '05, with 6 RBI;
Matt Holliday is 6-for-10 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Myers since '05;
Ryan Ludwick is 5-for-8 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Myers;
Skip Schumaker is 6-for-13 with 2 HR and 2 RBI off Myers.
A lot of offensive numbers here, no? I know Myers is off to a nice start and Penny is off to a tremendous start, but this total of 8 looks colossally high for two teams that aren't really hitting. I'll be curious to see where the money comes on this one, since I feel like this one is either going to be a 3-run total or an 11-run total. Let's keep this one on the watch list, though the side is a little crummy.
Phillies (-175) @ Rockies with a total of 8.5; R. Halladay vs. A. Cook;
Ross Gload is 5-for-7 with 3 RBI off Cook;
Ryan Howard is 6-for-17 with a HR and 3 RBI off Cook;
Chase Utley is 5-for-16 with 4 RBI off Cook;
Jayson Werth is 3-for-8 with 3 RBI off Cook;
Melvin Mora is batting .302 in 43 AB off Halladay since '05, with a HR and 7 RBI.
This line is accurate. Halladay could very well dominate the Rockies. He might just pitch a merely extraordinary game. He might not even pitch at his top level, but Cook's lifetime awful numbers against the Phils don't bode well for the Rockies in this one. Does that mean there's value on Colorado? Maybe, but they'd still have to win the game for it to matter.
Dodgers @ D'backs with a total of N/A; TBD vs. D. Haren;
Garret Anderson is 12-for-33 off Haren with 2 HR and 5 RBI since '05;
Casey Blake is batting .344 off Haren since '05 with 2 RBI;
Andre Ethier is 10-for-27 with 2 HR and 5 RBI off Haren;
Matt Kemp is 6-for-19 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Haren;
Manny Ramirez is batting over .500 against Haren since '05 with 3 HR and 6 RBI.
We'll find out who's going for LA, but as you all may recall, we faded Haren the last time he faced the Dodgers, and got a little lucky with LA pulling out a walk-off win in Southern California. The Dodgers have struggled mightily on the road, but Haren just hasn't quite been himself this year, either. This could feature more runs than people expect, depending on the Dodgers starter, and we all know how LA hits righties.
Padres @ Giants (-145) with a total of 7; W. LeBlanc vs. B. Zito;
Will Venable is 4-for-10 off Zito.
This is a battle of the mighty offspeed pitch. LeBlanc, 2-0 with a 1.16 ERA this year, against Zito, 5-0 with a 1.49 ERA. That total of 7 is a pretty good indicator that runs will likely be at a premium. Of course, the -145 price on Zito makes the road dog look pretty good. Still, recent history has the Padres having some trouble with the Giants but I guess every game is a new adventure. I'd rather watch these two hurlers and just enjoy a 2 hour game.
Yankees (-150) @ Tigers with a total of 10; J. Vazquez vs. R. Porcello;
Nick Swisher has a HR and 2 RBI in 2 AB against Porcello;
Miguel Cabrera is 8-for-19 with 3 HR and 7 RBI off Vazquez since '05;
Johnny Damon is 5-for-9 off Vazquez since '05 with 3 RBI.
If Rick Porcello could get his act together, this would be a great time to back the Tigers, but the kid is deep, deep in a sophomore slump. And then this total of 10 is already so high. Tough game, but I suppose if I had to lean anywhere, I'd lean to the dog and to the Over.
Mariners (-145) @ Orioles with a total of 7.5; C. Lee vs. D. Hernandez;
Jose Lopez is 3-for-5 with a HR and 5 RBI off Hernandez;
Miguel Tejada is 4-for-10 with a HR and 2 RBI off Lee since '05.
The Mariners snapped an 8-game losing skid with their win in the home finale against the Angels, so can they take any momentum on the road, or was that one game offensive outburst a flash in the pan? The Orioles are starting to play a little better, so this isn't a sure thing, but the starting matchup looks about as lopsided as it can get. Line movement could make all the difference, here.
Blue Jays @ Red Sox (-165) with a total of 10.5; D. Eveland vs. D. Matsuzaka;
Adrian Beltre was 4-for-11 off Eveland before 2010;
J.D. Drew was 5-for-7 off Eveland before 2010;
Mike Lowell was 4-for-5 off Eveland before 2010, with 2 RBI;
Kevin Youkilis was 3-for-6 with a HR before 2010;
Jason Varitek was 2-for-4, but added some RBI earlier this year in Toronto.
Dana Eveland can't retire Red Sox, that's just how it seems to be. He's been so much better against most of the League, but that 18.24 ERA against the Sox is pretty glaring. Daisuke has been decent against the Royals during his time in the Majors, but awful so far this year. I'd look at the Over, even if it's the public play.
Athletics @ Rangers (-171) with a total of 9; T. Cahill vs. C. Lewis;
Michael Young is 4-for-6 off Cahill with a HR and 2 RBI.
Cahill beat the Rangers a week ago, and he has pitched very well against Texas just about every time he's seen them. This is absolutely a live dog, even if Cahill is not at his best. The Rangers bullpen is a little slippery, and Lewis is generally a pretty high pitch count guy. It's a longshot, but despite the rematch angle, I think the A's have a little life, here.
White Sox @ Twins (-165) with a total of 9; F. Garcia vs. K. Slowey;
Alexei Ramirez is 4-for-10 with 2 RBI off Slowey;
A.J. Pierzynski is 3-for-8 off Slowey;
Alex Rios is 4-for-11 with a HR and 2 RBI off Slowey;
Mark Teahen is 4-for-13 with a HR and 1 RBI off Slowey;
Joe Mauer is 6-for-18 off Garcia since '05.
Freddy Garcia has had slightly better-than-average success against the Twins, and getting this sort of dog price isn't half bad. In fact, one of Garcia's best starts this year came against the Twins. Slowey has been decent in most of his starts, never all that amazing, never all that bad, which makes me think the White Sox do have a chance. It's a longshot, but it's a value.
Indians @ Royals (-115) with a total of 9; J. Westbrook vs. B. Bannister;
Travis Hafner is 5-for-13 with 2 RBI off Bannister since '05;
Grady Sizemore is 7-for-20 with a HR off Bannister;
Yuny Betancourt is 3-for-9 off Westbrook.
Considering Westbrook has been pretty bad against most of the MLB most of his career, his 5-3, 2.65 ERA mark against the Royals is a little head-scratching. Bannister has been equally tough against the Indians. If these teams had reliable pens, I'd be all over the under in this one, but we could see 9 runs scored in the 7th inning alone. The line is pretty fair, considering Westbrook's success, so I'd look at the total.
Rays (-130) @ Angels with a total of 9; J. Niemann vs. S. Kazmir;
Jason Bartlett is 3-for-7 off Kazmir;
Mike Napoli is 3-for-5 off Niemann.
I'm honestly a little surprised to see the Rays as a favorite in this one, but Kazmir's 7+ ERA might have something to do with it. Niemann has been pitching very well so far this season, and the Rays, despite some offensive struggles, are still a very tough club. Niemann didn't pitch well against Anaheim in brief exposure, and Kazmir is now facing his former club. Something funny about this one, and I'd love to take the home dog, but this line might be expensive on Tampa for a reason.