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Tuesday's MLB Tip Sheet

Tuesday's MLB Tip Sheet

MLB Tip Sheet
Brian Edwards

After most of the American League took Monday off, every team in the league is in action Tuesday. A pair of division leaders will square off when Boston and Los Angeles collide in Beantown.

Both teams from the Big Apple are in Chicago with the Mets facing the Cubs and the White Sox taking on the Yankees. Let’s take a look at your wagering options.

**Mets at Cubs**

--Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened the side as a pick ‘em and held off on a total due the always-uncertain wind conditions at Wrigley Field.

--Chicago (13-6, +486) won its fourth straight game Monday night, capturing a a 7-1 victory over the Mets. The Cubs cashed tickets as minus 135 favorites, hooking up run-line backers (minus 1 ½ runs) with a gorgeous plus 155 payout. Carlos Zambrano worked seven strong innings and Felix Pie belted a three-run homer.

--Lou Piniella’s team is in first place in the National League Central thanks to a 9-4 record at home. The Cubs lead the Cardinals by one-half game in the division.

--New York (10-8, -68) fell to 1 ½ games back of the NL-East leading Marlins by losing the series opener in the Windy City.

--Chicago LHP Ted Lilly (0-3, 9.16 ERA) is 1-1 with a 4.67 career ERA versus the Mets.

--New York RHP Nelson Figueroa (1-0, 3.60) has an 0-3 record and 3.97 lifetime ERA against the Cubs.

**Angels at Red Sox**

--LVSC opened Boston (14-7, +732) as a minus 160 favorite with a total of 9 ½ ‘under’ (minus 125). Gamblers can back the Red Sox on the run line for a plus 120 return (risk $100 to win $120).

--Los Angeles (12-8, +150) is tied for first place in the American League West with Oakland. The Angels bring a 6-3 road record into Fenway Park for this three-game set.

--Terry Francona’s team has won five in a row, including Monday’s 8-3 win over Texas as a minus 155 ‘chalk.’ Julio Lugo was the offensive sparkplug with a 4-for-4 performance, while Clay Bucholz pitched six scoreless innings for the win. David Ortiz snapped out of a season-long slump with a pair of hits and three RBIs.

--Josh Beckett (2-1, 5.12) will toe the rubber for the Red Sox, who have won eight of their 10 home games to date. Beckett is 2-0 with a 2.16 ERA in four career starts against the Angels.

--Jered Weaver (1-3, 3.60) is 0-2 with a 4.70 lifetime ERA against Boston.

--The ‘under’ is 4-0-1 in L.A.’s last five games, but the ‘over’ has hit in five consecutive road games for the Angels.

--The ‘over’ and ‘under’ have been a wash in 10 home games for Boston, but the ‘over’ has hit in six of the Red Sox’s last eight games (regardless of venue).

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--Texas RHP Vicente Padilla has been a pleasant surprise with a 2-1 record and 3.12 ERA through four starts. The veteran righty is 3-0 with a 2.08 career ERA against Tuesday’s foe, Detroit. As for Tigers’ RHP Justin Verlander, he’s struggled to an 0-3 record and 7.03 ERA in four assignments. However, the right-hander is 3-1 with a 2.49 lifetime ERA versus the Rangers. Detroit is a minus 160 ‘chalk’ for Verlander-Padilla.

--Atlanta has won five consecutive games following Monday’s 7-3 win over Washington. The Braves were expensive favorites with Tim Hudson on the mound, but they hooked up run-line backers with a small “plus” (+115 at most spots) return.

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Philadelphia (10-10) at Colorado (9-10)

After exacting a bit of revenge against the Rockies last night, the Phillies will now attempt to sweep this brief two-game series when they send Brett Myers (2-1, 3.96 ERA) to the mound opposite Colorado ace Jeff Francis (0-2, 5.89 ERA).

Philadelphia, which got swept by the Rockies in a best-of-5 National League Division Series last October, scored five runs in the final two innings Monday night to steal a 9-5 victory. It was the Phillies’ second straight win after holding off the Mets 5-4 Sunday night, but Charlie Manuel’s team has yet to win (or lose) more than two straight games all season. On the bright side, Philadelphia is 19-3 in Myers’ last 22 starts against the N.L. West.

Colorado, which had a four-game winning streak snapped Sunday in Houston, fell to 3-4 at Coors Field this season with Monday’s defeat. The loss also snapped the Rockies’ seven-game winning streak against the N.L. West. However, Clint Hurdle’s club is on runs of 7-1 on Tuesdays and 13-3 when Francis pitches against the N.L. East.

The Rockies are still 9-5 in their last 14 meetings with Philadelphia (3-2 at home). Ten of the last 13 clashes have been decided by more than one run.

Myers, who returned to the starting rotation after spending most of 2007 in the Phillies’ bullpen, is coming off a pair of home victories over the Cubs (5-3) and Astros (10-2). In those two contests, the right-hander gave up a total of four runs on 10 hits in 15 innings, walking just one and striking out 13. Myers’ one problem has been a propensity to give up the long ball, as he’s surrendered six home runs in his last 20 innings.

Prior to Myers’ last two starts, the Phillies had lost eight straight games that Myers started, and they’re 0-4 in his last four road outings. On the bright side, Myers has owned the Rockies in his career, going 6-0 with a 2.29 ERA in six career games (five starts). He’s also a perfect 4-0 with a 2.63 ERA at Coors Field.

Francis was a disaster in his first two starts – both against Arizona – giving up 12 runs and 19 hits in 11 1/3 innings. But in Thursday’s marathon 22-inning game at San Diego, the southpaw was terrific, scattering three hits and a walk over seven scoreless innings while striking out seven.

Francis got destroyed in two regular-season starts against the Phillies last year (one home, one road), giving up a total of 14 runs (all earned) on 20 hits and five walks in just 8 1/3 innings. However, in Game 1 of the NLDS in Philadelphia, Francis dominated, allowing two runs on four hits in six innings of a 4-2 win. Finally, Colorado is 3-1 in his four career outings versus the Phillies.

The over is 5-1 in Myers’ last six starts overall (2-0 on the road), 3-1 in Francis’ last four starts going back to last season’s World Series and 9-1 in Francis’ last 10 starts versus the N.L. East. However, the under is 12-5-2 in Myers’ last 19 against the N.L. West.

The over is 12-6 in the last 18 series meetings between these teams dating to the start of 2006, with Monday’s contest easily flying over the total. Also, the over is 8-3 in Colorado’s last 11 overall. However, the under is still 7-4 in the Phillies’ last 11 overall and 7-4 in their last 11 on the highway.



L.A. Angels (12-8) at Boston (14-7)

The Angels return to Fenway Park for the first time since getting eliminated in last year’s American League Division Series, as they’ll send Jered Weaver (1-3, 3.60) to the hill opposite Red Sox ace Josh Beckett (2-1, 5.12).

Los Angeles had Monday off after having a three-game winning streak snapped in Sunday’s 4-2 home loss to Seattle. Despite that setback, the Angels enter this three-game series on a 6-2 run. Also, they’re 6-3 in their nine road games this season.

Boston is riding a five-game winning streak after capping a four-game sweep of Texas with Monday afternoon’s 8-3 Patriots Day victory. The Red Sox are 9-1 in their last 10, including 6-0 at home, and they’ve averaged more than eight runs per game in their last eight contests. Finally, Boston is on further runs of 20-7 overall, 41-19 at home, 16-5 against the A.L. West and 27-10 when Beckett starts (4-0 in his last four starts at home).

The Red Sox swept the Angels in a best-of-5 playoff series last October en route to their second world championship in the last four years. Boston outscored Los Angeles 19-4 in the series and is on an 11-4 roll in this rivalry. What’s more, Fenway Park has been a house of horrors for the Halos in recent years, as they’re 6-20 in their last 26 in Beantown (2-7 in the last nine).

Weaver yielded three runs (two earned) on 10 hits over six innings in Wednesday’s home start against the Royals, but it wasn’t good enough as he got saddled with a 3-2 loss. Los Angeles is 1-5 in the right-hander’s last six trips to the mound (0-3 on the road). Also, in his two road starts this season, Weaver is 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA.

Weaver started against Boston in Game 3 of last year’s ALDS, giving up two runs on four hits and three walks in five innings of a 9-1 loss. Los Angeles is 1-4 in Weaver’s five career starts against the BoSox, with the young hurler posting a 4.50 ERA.

After getting roughed up in his season-opening start at Toronto on April 6, Beckett has bounced back with a pair of quality efforts, both against the Yankees. He gave up three runs in each start covering a total of 14 2/3 innings, winning 4-3 at home and 7-5 on the road.

Beckett has owned the Angels since coming to Boston in 2006, allowing a total of six earned runs in five starts spanning 28 innings (1.93 ERA). The Red Sox have won four of the five starts, including a 4-0 home victory in Game 1 of the ALDS last year, with Beckett pitching a complete-game four-hitter, walking none and striking out eight.

The over is 6-2-1 in the past nine series meetings overall, 7-3-2 in the last 12 head-to-head clashes at Fenway and 7-2 in Boston’s last nine overall. However, the Angels are on a current 4-0-1 “under” streak.


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Questionable 3-0 starters?
By Joe Nelson

Most people recognize that 'Wins' is a somewhat overrated statistic for determining the quality of starting pitchers but baseball side bettors aren’t necessarily looking for the best statistical pitchers, just pitchers that help teams win. Every year several pitchers start the year strong with wins in April and it can be easy to put too much stock into the early season results. Some starters that get off to hot starts end up being successful and profitable pitchers to get behind, while others are eventually exposed as fortunate in the early going. Here is our analysis of some of the starters off to 3-0 starts in the first three weeks of the season. Excluded from this list are proven commodities and consistent heavy favorites like Ben Sheets and Jake Peavy, as well as pitchers with limited previous starting results to judge from like Micah Owings and Ryan Dempster.

Cliff Lee, Cleveland: 3-0, 0.40 ERA
Cliff Lee was not expected by many to earn a spot in the rotation this season for the Indians but youngsters Jeremy Sowers and Aaron Laffey struggled this spring and Lee pitched well enough to get another shot after a disastrous 2007 season. Lee was a legitimate Cy Young contender in 2005 with a 18-5 record but he struggled considerably last season and did not even make the playoff roster for the Indians. Lee has been brilliant in 2008 with just one earned run allowed in three starts and 20 strikeouts. Cleveland has greatly struggled early this year despite Lee’s success so there are some reasons for concern when considering backing Lee and the Indians. Lee has also faced two weak hitting teams, Minnesota and Oakland twice in his three outings which may be a contributing factor to his early success. Lee should probably be avoided as a favorite unless he proves this type of success for a greater period of time and the Indians offense and bullpen show improvement. Opponents are currently hitting just .111 against Lee so he clearly is doing something right, but expect this to be more a fluke start than something sustainable.

Zack Greinke, Kansas City: 3-0, 1.24 ERA
The Royals have been a pleasant surprise this season and pitching has been the reason with the success of Zack Greinke playing no small role. Greinke went 5-17 in 2005 and in hindsight he was probably rushed up to the big leagues a little too soon. After an extended absence from the game, Greinke returned to have a respectable season last year serving as a reliever in the middle of the season before getting back to a starting role with great success late in 2007. Going back to last fall, Greinke has allowed just eleven runs in his past ten starts and he has the talent to be a high level pitcher in the American League. Kansas City’s bullpen has had great success early this season so there are reasons to be optimistic that Greinke can remain a play-on pitcher. The Royals offense will never be among the league’s best but Kansas City will also find nice underdog value in many match-ups. Greinke is a pitcher to look for as an underdog and given the Royals low-output offense it may be worth looking at ‘under’ plays as Greinke continues a successful start to 2008.

Tim Lincecum, San Francisco: 3-0, 1.57 ERA
The expectations are low for the Giants this season but after a brutal first week things are looking improved. The schedule has been very tough for the Giants with teams off to hot starts like Arizona and St. Louis featured prominently as well as a tough road series against Milwaukee. Despite matching up against tough opponents, Tim Lincecum has pitched extremely well and the Giants are 4-0 in his four appearances. The Giants have scored three or fewer runs in three of those outings but it has been enough, as Lincecum has allowed only four runs in 23 innings. Run support will likely continue to be a problem for Lincecum and his record will eventually suffer. Lincecum is also far from an unknown talent as he has been a highly regarded prospect for some time so he won’t catch underdog value often, even though San Francisco is unlikely to be a winning team. There will be situations to pick spots playing on Lincecum but overall the rest of his team will be hard to rely on for him to remain a highly profitable pitcher to back.

Dan Haren, Arizona: 3-0, 1.80 ERA
Haren has been everything the Diamondbacks could have hoped for so far after landing the former Oakland ace this off-season. There are few a reasons to be weary of the early numbers however. The A’s were just 8-9 behind Haren in road games last season and his numbers did benefit from the great pitcher’s park in Oakland. Haren is 3-0 at home this season for the Diamondbacks but he was much less effective in his lone road start this season, allowing two home runs in a game that Arizona eventually lost in the bullpen. Arizona is off to an incredible start at the plate this season and in his three wins Haren has received 28 runs of offense, numbers that simply are not going to continue. Haren has established himself as a very solid pitcher the last few seasons but he is going to be valued as an elite pitcher especially with Arizona off to such a hot start. Haren is probably a pitcher to consider going against in road games as a favorite and he may have a hard time keeping this pace together.

Joe Saunders, LA Angels: 3-0, 2.15 ERA
Opposing batters hit .298 off Saunders last season but he had produced great numbers in 2008. Although the Angels are 4-0 in his starts this season, the numbers are getting progressively worse in each outing. Saunders has allowed only seven runs in over 29 innings but he has just 12 strikeouts and he has pitched enough at this level to expect the numbers to drop back to earth after a few more starts. Saunders may still be a solid option in some situations considering how the strong the Angels are at home and the value he could receive as relatively unknown pitcher to non-baseball followers. As a left-hander he also will present match-up problems for several teams that are not as well suited for southpaws. Saunders is worth keeping an eye on but the reality is the losses will be coming, although he is capable of still having a solid season.

Livan Hernandez, Minnesota: 3-0, 3.00 ERA
Hernandez is a veteran innings-eater and the Twins have to be thrilled with the early results from the free-agent acquisition, particularly after misfiring on a couple of veteran pitching signings last season. Hernandez was a valuable piece of the NL West division champion Diamondbacks last season and he has been a key member of two World Series teams earlier in his career so he clearly is a capable starter for a Minnesota team that will likely be competitive, if not a dark horse candidate in the playoff race. Hernandez has just eight strikeouts this season but Minnesota is 4-0 behind him despite modest scoring numbers. Hernandez is going to get hit hard in a few games this season but Minnesota’s bullpen should come around and the Twins are a team that can be undervalued in many situations. Hernandez seems to be the most obvious of the potentially phony 3-0 starters but he is the most experienced and likely doesn’t get the credit or line respect of other veteran pitchers that have similar numbers in the last few seasons. For example since 2005, Hernandez has a better winning percentage than Jamie Moyer or Greg Maddux and more wins than Tom Glavine or Randy Johnson yet he is generally not regarded or valued at the same level as those veterans at similar points in their careers.

Carlos Silva, 3-0, 2.79 ERA
Many criticized the signing of Silva by the Mariners and it is fair with their track record of big free agent signings but Silva has been exactly what Seattle was looking for through his first four starts. Silva is not a pitcher that is going to strike out a lot of batters and he allows a great deal of hits but he also induces a high number of double plays and rarely allows walks. Seattle’s bullpen is good enough to keep leads and Silva will generally keep the team in the game as you long as the offense can get a few runs on the board. Silva was just two games above .500 the last four years with the Twins however, an unimpressive mark especially considering that Minnesota won two division titles with him in the rotation in that span. Silva seems like a poor fit in Safeco Field and with a somewhat marginal defense behind him the record will likely even out in the coming weeks. Seattle has scored 24 runs in his four starts, numbers well above the rest of the season and Silva will likely remain about a 50/50 proposition but his early season numbers will force an inflated perception

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