Monday MLB Gameday
Monday MLB Gameday
Monday MLB Gameday
Baseball's regular season really gets going on Monday, with most of the league's teams in action. Here's a look at a few of the notable matchups in your first MLB Gameday …
Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs, 2:20pm ET
Ben Sheets (0-0) vs. Carlos Zambrano (0-0)
The Brewers ended up two games back of the Cubs in the race for first place in the NL Central last season, and they'll be looking for a better result this time around. Milwaukee will send ace Ben Sheets to the mound in the opener. The righthander was limited to just 24 starts last season due to injury but he went 12-5 with a 3.82 ERA over that span.
The Cubs' first-place finish didn't lead to any playoff success for them last season, so their World Series drought continues into 2008. Carlos Zambrano will get the ball for Chicago on Monday, and he went 18-13 with a 3.95 ERA for the team last season. Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome will make his Major League debut in this game.
Chicago White Sox at Cleveland Indians, 3:05pm ET
Mark Buehrle (0-0) vs. C.C. Sabathia (0-0)
The White Sox crashed to just 72 wins in 2007, and they ended up 24 games back of first-place Cleveland in the AL Central. Chicago will be looking to get on the road to recovery on Monday, when they send ace Mark Buehrle to the mound to battle the Tribe. The lefthander went only 10-9 over his 30 starts last year, with a solid 3.63 ERA.
Cleveland won the AL Central by eight games over the Tigers in 2007, and Indians fans are hoping that their team can hold off that improved Detroit squad once again in 2008. C.C. Sabathia will take the mound for the Indians on Monday, and he's coming off a Cy Young campaign; the lefthander had a 19-7 record last season and posted a 3.21 ERA.
Colorado Rockies at St. Louis Cardinals, 4:15pm ET
Jeff Francis (0-0) vs. Adam Wainwright (0-0)
The Rockies surged into the playoffs and all the way to the World Series last season, but time will tell if that accomplishment was a fluke or a sign of great things to come. Jeff Francis gets the nod for Colorado on opening day, and he broke out with a 17-9 record over 34 starts last season. The Canadian lefthander ended up with a 4.22 ERA.
The Cardinals ended up behind both the Brewers and the Cubs in the NL Central last season, and an injury-riddled pitching staff could have them sinking even farther in the division in 2008. Adam Wainwright went 14-12 with a 3.70 ERA for St. Louis last season, and with ace Chris Carpenter still sidelined he'll get the start on opening day.
Los Angeles Angels at Minnesota Twins, 7:05pm ET
Jered Weaver (0-0) vs. Livan Hernandez (0-0)
The Angels finished six games ahead of the second-place Mariners in the AL West in 2007, but they'll have to start their defense of that division crown with top starters John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar on the disabled list. That means Jered Weaver will get the nod for opening day; the young righthander had a 13-7 mark and a 3.91 ERA last year.
Minnesota ended up 17 games behind the Indians in the AL Central in 2007, and they dealt away ace starter Johan Santana to the Mets over the winter. And with Francisco Liriano beginning the season in the minors the team's opening-day start will go to Livan Hernandez; the righthander went 11-11 with a 4.93 ERA for the Diamondbacks in 2007.
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Re: Monday MLB Gameday
The American League has six games on the card and one of VI's top baseball handicappers, James Manos, offers up his thoughts on the entire card plus free picks that are normally posted in his daily pick pack.
K.C. Royals (Meche) at Detroit Tigers (Verlander)
Here we have another inflated line, partly due to the perception that the Royals will be awful and partly due to the perception that the Tigers are loaded. Either way this line is sky-high. Yes, the Royals will have no chance to compete in some games but with Meche on the mound they at least, often times, have a fighting chance. Meche put up very solid numbers LY (3.67 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 156 K’s) for a bad team and he has good numbers career vs the Tigers (3.78 ERA, 1.32 WHIP). Also, interestingly, the Royals have gone 21-21 (+18.8 units) in their last 42 opportunities as road dogs in this price range. Tiger’s starter Verlander was excellent LY (18 wins, 1.23 WHIP) and is 6-0 lifetime vs K.C. with an ERA of 2.26 and WHIP of 1.06. Those numbers, the fact that the recent editions of the Tigers have gone 25-11 vs the Royals, and my wariness of playing against this Detroit team until I watch their bullpen perform, will keep me away from this one despite the line valued presented with the Royals.
Recommendation = Pass
Toronto Bluejays (Halladay) at N.Y. Yankees (Wang)
This is likely to be a popular dog play but there is solid value with the Bluejays when Halladay is on the mound and installed as a dog. Halladay usually very solid and he’s had career success (10-4) vs N.Y. and recent success vs this batch of Yankees. Wang a solid starter as well, and a good groundball pitcher that eats up innings, but he’s overpriced here. Yankees lineup is outstanding but the Bluejays would win other divisions in baseball but instead are mired in third place in the AL East behind the Yanks and Red Sox. Yankees still with bullpen issues and rotations to work out and I like the top of the Bluejays order (Eckstein, Rios, Wells) vs Wang. Halladay 4-0 with a 1.78 ERA in his last 8 starts vs the Evil Empire.
Play On = Toronto (Halladay) +140
Tampa Bay Devilrays (Shields) at Baltimore O’s (Guthrie)
Get used to seeing the O’s as home dogs it’ll be happening a lot in ’08. I won’t say much about this matchup as the line is very accurate. I don’t like the pitching matchup for the Orioles here and I’m unwilling to back the D-Rays as an early season road fave, so this one an easy pass.
Recommendation = Pass
Chicago White Sox (Buehrle) at Cleveland Indians (Sabathia) +155/-170
Looked for a reason to back the White Sox in this one and was simply unable to find it. I like Buehrle and I feel that several of the key White Sox players will rebound from very poor ‘07’s. With that said, the middle of the Sox order still strikes out to much and as a team they rely too much on HR’s to produce runs. The Sox hit just .238 LY vs lefties and here must face one of the best lefties in the A.L. Sabathia was dominant at home last season, going 12-5, with a 1.20 WHIP, and K’ing 145 in 146 innings pitched. Buehrle has the tools to keep his team in the game but Sabathia’s career stats vs the Sox (14-3, 1.23 WHIP) and bullpen concerns for Chicago having me passing here.
Recommendation = Pass
Texas Rangers (Millwood) at Seattle Mariners (Bedard)
Mariners trot out their prime off-season acquisition right away, in Eric Bedard. Bedard was phenomenal in ’07, going 13-5 with a 1.09 WHIP while pitching for the Orioles. His transition to a pitchers park to be backed by a better bullpen should only make him stronger. Rangers’ starter Millwood is coming off a disappointing ’07 and nursing a hamstring pull suffered in the pre-season but can be a solid starter. The Mariners offense consists of several overvalued offensive players and the Rangers will be breaking in a new lineup. I expect pitching to dominate here and with the colder weather in Seattle a pitcher friendly park should play even more so. Don’t like the 8 but if you can find some of the 8.5 (-125), that would be solid.
Recommendation = UNDER 8
Play On = UNDER 8.5 (-125)
LA Angels (Weaver) at Minnesota Twins (Hernandez) -140/+130
OVER/UNDER 9.5 (-120)
WOW, the Twins will start Livan Hernandez on opening day. This Twins team may have been the team with the most turnover in the off-season. They still do have centerpieces Mauer and Morneau but the rest of the roster has been turned over a bit. The Angels may be the best overall team in the A.L. and have position players to spare. The Angels send the younger Weaver to the hill and he has solid numbers from LY (13 wins, 3.9 ERA) and against Minnesota (2-0, .80 WHIP). The Twins back Hernandez with one of the A.L.’s best bullpens and they are rested and ready to perform. Departed centerfielder Torii Hunter’s return to Minny should ensure a focused effort from the home team and a nice crowd. I expect maximum effort from the Twins here and with both teams having solid bullpens this should be a tight ballgame. Hernandez on a short leash early and the Twins, early in the year, have the bullpen to pull extended innings.
Recommendation = UNDER 9.5 (-120)
Re: Monday MLB Gameday
The National League has eight games on the card and one of VI's top baseball handicappers, James Manos, offers up his thoughts on the entire card plus free picks that are normally posted in his daily pick pack.
Arizona Diamondbacks (Webb) at Cincinnati Reds (Harang) -105/-105
Nice pitching match-up to start the season for, what should be, two up and coming teams. Solid season last year for the D-backs (93-76, including postseason) but this young team did struggle away from home, scoring just 4 rpg and hitting .242 as a team. Cincinnati, despite playing with a decent homefield advantage, went just 39-42 at home. D-back starter Webb is an excellent ground ball pitcher (a good thing a Great America Ballpark), was dominant on the road LY (1.06 WHIP, 7.1 ips) and should have success vs a free swinging Reds lineup. Cincinnati starter Harang showed he can pitch in this park, sporting a home WHIP just .002 higher than his overall WHIP and striking out 115 battters (no balls in play) in 118 home innings. Amazingly, these two teams have played UNDER in 10 of 11 meetings, including the last 5 at Great America Ballpark. These two pitchers have excellent statistics vs the opposing teams with Webb being 7-0 UNDER vs the Reds and Harang 6-0 UNDER vs the D-backs. Concern with the low number in an OVER park, but with the colder weather, young visitor, and home team fitting in new pieces we'll side with a lower scoring affair.
Recommendation = UNDER 8.5
Milwaukee Brewers (Sheets) at Chicago Cubs (Zambrano) +115/-125
Here we go again for the Brewers, can Ben Sheets stay healthy and help take this team to the next level. Those of you who know me, know that I love to go against volatile Cubs starter Zambrano when he's placed in high-pressure situations, and starting on opening day can be one of those situations. The Brewers have been bad in this situation recently (short road dog) and the Cubs were 16-9 last year as a home fave in this price range but that was last year. Zambrano was just 6-9 LY at home with a WHIP of 1.50 and an ERA approaching 5. Sheets has had success vs the Cubs in daytime starts and in his last 3 starts vs them LY he went a combined 17 innings, allowing just 16 hits, walking only 2, with 14 K's, and allowed just 5 ER's. The Cubs are too free swinging, are weak up the middle, and the bottom portion of their lineup features two rookies (Fukudome, Soto) and two weak hitters (DeRosa, Pie). I like the addition of veterans Cameron and Kendall to the young Brewers lineup and they have 7 guys who could potentially hit 20 HR's. Statement game for an upstart Milwaukee franchise and lots of pressure, and probably public backing, for the Cubs in a Wrigley day opener.
Play ON = Milwaukee (Sheets/Zambrano) +115
Washington Nationals (Chico) at Philadelphia Phillies (Myers) +180/-200
Tough to gauge this game without knowledge of how the Nationals performed in their emotional home opener vs Atlanta. High price for Myers return to the Phillies starting rotation but he is solid and the Phillies are loaded offensively.
Recommendation = Pass
San Francisco Giants (Zito) at LA Dodgers (Penny) +155/-170
Will there be a worse team this season than the SF Giants, judging from their projected lineup and exhibition performances, perhaps not. Giants starter Zito pitched poorly last season and that carried over to the exhibition season, as he continues to tweak his delivery. Dodgers starter Penny was solid for LA last year, as he sported a 1.31 WHIP and the Dodgers went 23-10 in his starts. The Dodgers are superior to the Giants in virtually every aspect of the game, lineup, bullpen, coaching, starting pitching, etc. and the team should be inspired as this will be new manager Torre's 1st home game. However, this line is seriously inflated and that will keep us from backing the Dodgers in this one.
Recommendation = Pass
NY Mets (Santana) at Florida Marlins (Hendrikson) -210/+190
Lots of question marks in this game and another inflated price. The Mets will be one of the better teams in the NL and there is no doubting the superior talent of Santana. The Marlins are in rebuilding mode, again, and traded several key players away in the off-season to get younger and more inexpensive. The Mets are dealing with several injuries to veteran players and the Marlins, while inexperienced, do still have some talent at the top of their lineup (Ramirez, Uggla, Willingham). Better days and times to back Santana later.
Recommendation = Pass
Colorado Rockies (Francis) at St. Louis Cardinals (Wainwright) -105/-105
Interested to see how much support we'll see for the Rockies here. Will LY's Cinderella run to the WS turn them into a "public" team? The Rockies return virtually intact and despite some shakeups at the bottom of their starting rotation, should be just a strong as LY's squad. The Cardinals are a different story and Wainwright being their opening day starter should give us a hint as to how much turmoil this franchise is in. The Cardinals starting pitching is in disarray and their lineup lacks support for superstar Pujols. Can a converterd pitcher (Ankiel) and a oft-injured, slow of foot 3rd basemen (Glaus) provide enough pop to give the Cardinals a chance? We'll see. Francis was solid LY and has excellent career numbers vs the Cardinals (4-1, .831 WHIP). However, the Cardinals have owned the Rockies at Busch, 7-2 last 9, and they did fair well behind Wainwright LY (19-13 in his starts). On paper this game is as lined, a toss-up, but I will play the Cardinals if they slip to a dog price of > than +105. Cardinals historically solid home dogs and I won't like the Rockies in the position of public road favorite.
Recommendation = Pass
Play On = St. Louis at +106 or better.
Pittsburgh Pirates (Snell) at Atlanta Braves (Glavine) +140/-150
Braves return home after opening the MLB season by christening the Nationals new ballpark on national t.v. Tom Glavine makes his return to the Braves rotation and that should ensure a solid home turnout. Pittsburgh will get the benefit of having traveled early. Pittsburgh starter Snell was a pleasant surprise LY, as he was very good down the stretch and the Pirates went 16-16 in his starts. Braves starter Glavine is now 42 and severely faltered at the end of last season. Pittsburgh owns the better bullpen and Snell, despite mediocre numbers, has struck out 17 Braves in his last 17 innings vs them and will get to face some free swingers here (Johnson, Francoeur, McCann). I think Snell turned the corner at the end of last season and will be undervalued early on TY. Glavine's return to Atlanta has this price inflated a bit and I will back the Pirates catching the Braves off of a strange 1-day travel situation. This will become stronger if Atlanta is off a Sunday night win or the price on Pittsburgh exceeds +150.
Recommendation = Pittsburgh (Snell/Glavine) +140
Play On = Pittsburgh at +150 or at > than +140 if Atlanta off a win
Houston Astros (Oswalt) at San Diego Padres (Peavy) +145/-155
Great pitching match-up in a pitcher's park (PETCO) to open the season for these two. Don't go to strongly simply on my opening numbers as I like to have more data to work with but this game is severely mis-priced in my opinion. I made the Padres a much lower -138 and given the 6.5 total and the nature of this ballpark also think that the Astros +1.5 (-165) offers value. Runs, and thusly the value of a run, will be at a premium in this contest. Both of these pitchers are outstanding and have excellent numbers vs the opposition but I like the improvement to the Astros bullpen and the middle of their lineup (Pence, Berkmen, Lee, Tejada) much better than the Padres mediocre offense. Runs at a premium in this one and now the Astros have the closer in Valverde to help them win close one.
Play On = Astros +1.5 runs at -165
Re: Monday MLB Gameday
Houston (0-0) at San Diego (0-0)
Reigning N.L. Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy (19-6, 2.54 ERA in 2007) leads the Padres against the Astros and ace Roy Oswalt (14-7, 3.18) as the two squads begin the 2008 season at Petco Park.
San Diego is coming off a heartbreaking 2007 season in which it lost a one-game playoff to Colorado for the N.L. wild-card berth. The Padres finished 89-74, 1½ games behind division champion Arizona and a game back of the Rockies. On the bright side, Bud Black’s club won 13 of its final 18 home games last year.
Houston experienced a rare losing season last year, going 73-89, good for fourth place in the six-team N.L. Central. The Astros did close the year on a 5-1 run, and also won of their last seven on the road.
The Astros won the season series last year, 4-3. The visiting team is 8-5 in the last 13 meetings.
Peavy, who is making his third Opening Day start, hit the pitching equivalent of the Triple Crown last year, leading the N.L. in wins, ERA and strikeouts (240). The veteran righthander was 9-5 with a 2.51 ERA in 19 starts at Petco Park in 2007. He’s 6-4 with a 2.23 ERA in 12 career starts against the Astros, going 2-1 with a 1.29 ERA in two outings last season.
Oswalt had a drastic home-road split last year, going 9-1 with a 1.91 ERA in Houston, but just 5-6 with a 4.77 ERA on the highway. The righthander, who is starting on Opening Day for the sixth time, made one start at Petco Park last year, giving up two runs in just 4 2/3 innings, failing to get a decision in a 3-2 Houston win. For his career, Oswalt is 7-1 with a 2.27 ERA against the Padres (2-0, 2.50 ERA at Petco).
The Padres are 7-2 in their last nine against the N.L. Central.
The under is 9-2-2 in the last 13 Padres-Astros clashes, including 5-0-1 in the last six battles at Petco. The under also went 4-0 in Houston’s last four overall last year, 6-1 in Oswalt’s last six starts and 12-6-1 in Peavy’s 17 home outings. However, the Padres closed 2007 on a 7-1-1 “over” streak.
ATS ADVANTAGE: SAN DIEGO and UNDER
L.A. Angels (0-0) at Minnesota (0-0)
Jered Weaver (13-7, 3.91 in 2007) makes the first opening-day start of his career when he leads the Angels against the Twins and veteran righthander Livan Hernandez (11-11, 4.93 in 2007).
The Angels went 94-68 and cruised to the A.L. West title last year, their third division crown in the last four seasons, winning it by six games over the Mariners. However, Los Angeles got swept by eventual the World Series champion Red Sox in a best-of-3 opening round playoff series.
After winning the A.L. Central four times in five years, the Twins took a major step back in 2007, finishing in third place in the division with a 79-83 record.
The Angels won the season series last year 6-3, capturing the final four meetings. Going back to 2005, Los Angeles is 12-6 in this rivalry.
Hernandez, who pitched for Arizona last year, was shaky in his first spring in Minnesota, posting a 6.38 ERA. Despite that, with former Twins ace Johan Santana traded to the Mets in the offseason, Hernandez was awarded with the eighth opening-day start in his 10-year career, but his first as a pitcher in the American League. He has never pitched inside the Metrodome.
Hernandez has made two career regular-season starts against the Angles, failing to register a decision in either contest while posting a 3.55 ERA. However, he did face the Halos twice in the 2002 World Series when with the Giants, going 0-2 with a 14.31 ERA.
Weaver started last year on the disabled list and struggled at the start of his first full big-league season. But he came on strong after the All-Star break, going 7-2 with a 4.13 ERA in 14 starts. He was also outstanding in spring training this year, going 5-0 with a 1.67 ERA in six starts.
Weaver was 6-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 14 starts on the road, including getting a no-decision on July 21 in Minnesota, as he gave up just two runs on five hits over seven innings, with L.A. eventually losing 5-2. For his career, the righthander is 2-0 with a 2.11 ERA in three starts against the Twins.
Los Angeles went 2-7 in its final nine road games last year and 1-4 in its final five against the A.L. Central. As for the Twins, they lost nine of their last 13 home games in 2007, but are on a 4-0 roll against the A.L. West.
The under is 23-11-3 in the last 37 games in the Metrodome, but the over is 4-1-1 in the last six Twins-Angels battles in the dome.
ATS ADVANTAGE: L.A. ANGELS