: I suppose I can take this paragraph to recap the plays posted on Friday night, since the website crashed, and we haven't talked Bebe-plays since. We lost our Small Freebie on the Astros, but as is often the case, with those longshots, I can't stress enough when something is a small play. Would have loved to cash the big dog, but still managed to turn a profit on the day, as the Top Play on the Atlanta Braves (behind Tommy Hanson, and a slew of solo homers) beat the Mets. And with that, our Pre-MLB All Star Break part of the season came to a close. It was a season marked by a brutally slow start through April and about half of May, followed by an equally impressive stretch of success from late May right up through the Break. It's probably not going to do anything for sales numbers, but folks who played every Bebe selection so far are likely still down on the season -- barely, but still down. Still, it has been a steady ramping-up, and we all rolled into the Break just as hot as ever, winning 3 straight Paid Plays, and going 32-19 on our last 51 Paid Selections. That 63% run over almost 2 months is definitely pleasant, but the goal for the second half is to build on that, never settling, and continuing to ride the wave of momentum and success that made the last 2 months so much fun.
Sports Wagering: MLB
Brewers @ Braves (-155) with a total of 8.5; D. Bush vs. J. Jurrjens;
Prince Fielder is 2-for-2 lifetime off Jurrjens;
Alex Gonzalez is 4-for-6 off Bush.
I happen to believe there's a reason this line looks so low, and that reason is Bush's recent stretch of quality starts. Bush has turned in at least 6 innings of work in 5 straight outings, and hasn't allowed more than 2 earned runs in any of those efforts. Pretty good for a guy that probably has no business putting up numbers like that. He's also 1-1 with a 2.33 lifetime ERA against the Braves, losing to Tim Hudson earlier this year despite allowing just 3 runs in 6 innings. Jurrjens is 0-1 with a 5.14 ERA against the Brewers, and it seems like he's healthy again. I probably wouldn't back the Braves, even though the price looks tempting, but not sure I can trust the lowly Brewers, either.
Phillies @ Cubs (-130) with a total of N/A; J. Moyer vs. R. Dempster;
Shane Victorino was 3-for-8 off Dempster with an RBI before 2010;
Derrek Lee was 5-for-11 with 2 RBI off Moyer since '05;
Ryan Theriot was 4-for-12 off Moyer before 2010.
Interestingly, both of these starters have faced the other team once, and both lost. Moyer pitched better, giving up just 2 runs in 7 innings on only 4 hits, but Tom Gorzelanny did him one better in that meeting. Dempster allowed 4 runs in 6 innings of a game his team would eventually lose 5-4 to Joe Blanton. Neither starter is coming off a particularly strong start, though I suppose you'd call Dempster the more reliable pitcher just because of his better stuff. The awful, awful Cubs shouldn't be a -130 favorite to the Phils, though, and Philly went into the Break feeling good, while the Cubs just continue to stink.
Dodgers @ Cardinals (-125) with a total of 7; C. Kershaw vs. C. Carpenter;
Jamey Carroll was 6-for-16 off Carpenter between '05 and '09;
Matt Holliday was 4-for-10 off Kershaw before 2010;
Albert Pujols was 4-for-7 off Kershaw before 2010.
Chris Carpenter is scary-good against the Dodgers. Kershaw is nipping at his heels against the Cards. If there's one thing I often take away from Dodgers-Cardinals series, it's that St. Louis generally plays much better at home. It will be interesting to see how these teams come out of the All Star Break, since both need to make a move this second half. Kershaw outdueled Adam Wainwright in LA earlier this year, giving up 3 runs in 7 innings of a 4-3 LA win. Carpenter was not so lucky, as he went 7 shutout innings, but lost 1-0 to Hiroki Kuroda. Kershaw's strikeout numbers are really impressive, of late, but his greater number of strikes means more balls in play. The Cardinals bullpen is a little scary, but the Dodgers' road numbers make me think the Cards take the opener.
Mets @ Giants (-180) with a total of 7; R. Dickey vs. T. Lincecum;
Not a ton of experience on either side of this one, as Lincecum is 0-1 with a 5.04 ERA lifetime against the Mets, but actually lowered that number with 6 innings of 2-run ball in NY earlier this year. The issue with Timmy is that he's actually been a little inconsistent this year, fluctuating between starts where he strikes out 10 in 7 innings and ones where he walks 5 in 5 frames. Dickey, for the Mets, continues to be consistently solid, though the Mets struggled offensively heading into the Break. I believe this line is right about where it should be, especially with the Giants' offense picking up right before the time off. Will it pick back up where it left off? Maybe, but I'd rather pass on this one and make a play later in this series on a lower priced line.
Rangers (-115) @ Red Sox with a total of 9.5; T. Hunter vs. T. Wakefield;
Vlad Guerrero is 5-for-11 with a HR and 2 RBI off Wakefield since '05;
Adrian Beltre is 3-for-6 off Hunter with an RBI;
Kevin Youkilis is 3-for-5 off Hunter.
The historical data suggests this one could get ugly. Tommy Hunter is 1-1 with an 11.74 ERA lifetime against the Red Sox, and Tim Wakefield is 6-11 with a 6.26 ERA lifetime against the Rangers. Will anyone get anyone else out, reliably? Well, Hunter's 2.34 ERA this year suggests he may have turned a corner, and Boston's slew of injuries certainly make them a little less formidable than last year. Wakefield is almost guaranteed to give up 3-4 runs to a good-hitting team like Texas, so the question is whether Hunter can get it right. Texas was slumping heading into the Break, and I just can't believe Boston is a home dog to any team not named the "Yankees." I'm struggling here, but I happen to believe the oddsmakers have reasons for what they do.
White Sox @ Twins (-110) with a total of 8.5; J. Danks vs. K. Slowey;
Alexei Ramirez was 4-for-10 with 2 RBI off Slowey before 2010;
Alex Rios was 4-for-11 with a HR and 2 RBI off Slowey before 2010;
A.J. Pierzynski was 3-for-8 off Slowey before 2010;
Michael Cuddyer was 16-for-30 with 5 HR and 11 RBI off Danks before 2010;
Jason Kubel was 7-for-22 with a HR and 9 RBI off Danks before 2010;
Joe Mauer was batting .345 off Danks since '05;
Justin Morneau has 3 HR and 9 RBI off Danks since '05.
And yet, for all the player numbers, Danks has given up just 4 earned runs in 13 innings against the Twins this year, both games the White Sox lost. It would seem that Danks' 4-6, 5.03 career mark against the Twins might be a little inflated, considering how well the White Sox are pitching this year, and the Twins recent struggles. Slowey is 2-3 with a 5.66 ERA against the Whte Sox, and allowed 5 runs in 4.2 innings against them earlier this year. I know Slowey is a better pitcher at home, and Danks is worse on the road, but with the way the teams played going into the Break, don't we need to see the Twins get things going before we can really trust them?
Leans: White Sox-2
Mariners @ Angels with a total of N/A; D. Fister vs. E. Santana;
We don't have a line on this one, yet, as the Angels took their sweet time selecting a starter to open the "2nd half." I would imagine the Angels will be a decent favorite, so I'm not planning on spending a ton of my energies powering into this one. Fister looked like he was regaining some confidence in his last start before the Break, so perhaps he rolls that into a start against the Angels, here, against whom he is 1-0 with a 2.51 ERA. Santana has faced the Mariners twice this year, and was great once and bad the other. I don't like big question marks, though I suppose that, given his recent work, you'd be wise to expect a decent game out of Santana. The Angels need wins, too, and they need them quick. I just wonder if the added pressure helps or hurts them.