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Wednesday's MLB Tip Sheet

Wednesday's MLB Tip Sheet

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Arizona (15-5) at L.A. Dodgers (8-12)


The red-hot Diamondbacks head to Dodger Stadium for the first time this season looking to pad their lead in the N.L. West in the opener of a brief two-game series. Arizona is set to send Dan Haren (3-0, 1.80) to the mound opposite L.A.’s Derek Lowe 1-0, 2.59).

Since starting the season 1-2, Arizona has won 14 of its last 17 to build a six-game lead in the N.L. West. The DBacks, who are the only team in the West with a winning record, capped a 4-1 homestand with Tuesday’s 5-4 victory over the Giants. Also, they’re 5-1 in their last six on the road.

The Dodgers lost 8-1 at the Reds last night, ending a five-game road trip with a 1-4 record. Los Angeles is 4-10 in its last 14 games (3-3 at home).

L.A.’s current 4-10 slump began when it got swept in a three-game series at Arizona from April 7-9. Going back to last season, the DBacks are on a 9-3 run against the Dodgers (4-2 in Los Angeles).

Haren, who was acquired in the offseason from Oakland, has been terrific in his first year in the desert, giving up a total of five earned runs in four starts while pitching at least six innings in each outing. On Friday against the Padres, the righthander scattered three hits and a walk over seven scoreless innings en route to a 9-0 victory. Haren is 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA in his last three starts (all at home), with the DBacks outscoring the opposition 28-6 during this run. Furthermore, going back to last September, Haren has allowed three earned runs or fewer in seven straight starts.

In Haren’s lone road start of the season, he gave up three runs in six innings, failing to get a decision in a 6-5 Arizona loss in Cincinnati. After that outing, he faced the Dodgers at home and yielded three runs (one earned) in six innings in a 9-3 victory.

Lowe is coming off his shortest stint of the season, as he lasted just 4 1/3 innings in Fridays 6-1 loss in Atlanta, giving up five runs (three earned) on eight hits and four walks. However, in two home starts this year, the veteran right-hander has been terrific, going 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA.

Lowe went 1-2 despite a solid 2.89 ERA in three starts against the DBacks last year, but he’s 3-6 with a 4.45 ERA lifetime against the division rivals.

The under is 6-2 in Lowe’s last eight starts overall (3-1 at home) and 5-1 in Lowe’s last six against the DBacks. However, the over is 3-0-1 when Haren pitches this season.

The Dodgers have followed up a 7-2 “over” streak by going 3-1-1 “under” in their last five, and the under is 6-2 in the last eight series meetings between these teams in L.A. However, the over is still 5-1 in the last six at Dodger Stadium. Also, the over is 8-2-1 in Arizona’s last 11 overall.

ATS ADVANTAGE: ARIZONA


AMERICAN LEAGUE

N.Y. Yankees (11-10) at Chicago White Sox (11-8)


The Yankees and White Sox continue a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field, with Mike Mussina (1-3, 5.75) scheduled to oppose Chicago’s Javier Vazquez (3-1, 3.20).

New York got big home runs from Bobby Abreu and Johnny Damon en route to Tuesday’s 9-5 rout of the White Sox for its second straight win, which comes on the heels of a three-game slide. Despite last night’s result, the Yankees are still just 6-6 on the road this season.

Since starting the season with consecutive losses, Chicago has won 11 of its last 17, though it has alternated wins and losses in its last six games. Also, the Sox are now just 4-4 at home on the season.

The Yankees have won six of the last seven meetings in this rivalry going back to last June, including four straight in the Windy City.

Mussina got rocked in his last two starts, both against the Red Sox, allowing a combined nine runs (all earned) on 15 hits in 8 2/3 innings, losing 4-3 in Boston and 7-5 at home. Going back to last season, New York is 4-8 in the veteran right-hander’s last 12 starts (1-4 on the road).

Mussina went 1-1 with a 4.67 ERA in three starts against the White Sox last year, which mirror his career numbers against the White Sox (16-16, 4.63 ERA in 37 starts). At U.S. Cellular, Mussina is 8-9 with a 4.22 ERA in 19 starts.

Since losing his 2008 debut at Cleveland, Vazquez has been fantastic, going 3-0 with a 2.21 ERA in three starts, with the White Sox outscoring the opposition 27-6. That includes Friday’s 9-2 victory at Tampa Bay, with the right-hander allowing two runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings. For the season, Vazquez has a 21-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and he’s 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA at home.

Vazquez, a former Yankee, is 1-3 with a 5.25 ERA in four starts against his former squad. Last year, he faced New York once (at home) and gave up four runs on seven hits in six innings, falling 5-1.

The over is 8-1 in Vazquez’s last nine starts, including 4-0 this year and 4-1 in his last five at home. However, the under is 4-0 in his four career starts against New York, 3-1 in Mussina’s four outings this season and 6-3 in Mussina’s last nine outings against the White Sox (4-1 in Chicago).

Last night’s game easily eclipsed the posted total, but the under is still 15-6 in Yankee games this season and 7-4 in Chicago’s last 11. Also, the under is 15-8-2 in the last 25 head-to-head meetings between these teams.

ATS ADVANTAGE: N.Y. YANKEES and UNDER

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Re: Wednesday's MLB Tip Sheet

Fraudulent Teams
By Judd Hall

The baseball season inherently starts with only a few teams -- ok, I'll narrow that down to the Yankees and Red Sox -- expected to make the playoffs. Meanwhile, the rest of the squads are left to fend for themselves with hope being the only thing that springs eternal.

Of course, you will find those clubs that catch lightning in a bottle and wind up at the top of their respective divisions. Then they find a way to melt back into obscurity just as fast as they found the spotlight.

We’re almost a full month into this season and there are already a few of those teams up to those old tricks.

Let’s look at a couple of them and see what they’re going to do for themselves and most importantly, to your wallet.

Florida Marlins (12-7 SU, 10-9 RL, ‘over’ 11-7-1)

My compatriot, Josh Jacobs, believed that these same Marlins were destined to fall well ‘under’ the preseason win total of 71.

At the time of this writing, Florida has notched one-seventh of the total victories it is projected to have for the season before the first month comes to a close.

If you are looking for any reasons that the Fightin’ Fish are doing so well, take a look at the lumber that they’re swinging. Currently, the Marlins are second in the National League with 29 home runs for the year. Hanley Ramirez deserves a lot of credit for that power, sending six pitches into the deep, dark night with a .355 batting average and 16 RBI.

Not everything can be attributed to the Marlins’ offense, you have to give their pitching the nod as well for the fast start. And its more of the same youth movement leading the way in the form of a pair of southpaws.

Mark Hendrickson has posted a 4-1 mark in five starts this season, but has an inflated earned run average of 3.82. Florida’s other strong lefty, Scott Olson, is 3-0 with a 2.60 ERA.

Both hurlers have great records and the bats have been on fire to boot. What holds me back from feeling that they’re legit is the quality of opponents they’ve faced up until this point. Up to this point they’ve only taken on the Mets, Braves, Nationals, Astros and Pirates…a group with a combined record of 38-53. You take Atlanta and New York out of the mix and the record drops to 19-37. Not a real challenge if you ask me.

Florida will be able to answer those “Are you for real?” questions soon against teams with the Braves, Brewers, Dodgers and Padres on tap. Milwaukee should be an interesting spot to fade the Fish as Olson and Hendrickson will be on the mound in that series in South Florida. Given that the Brew Crew are crushing left-handed pitching this year to the tune of a .297 average and nine four-baggers, you should be able to catch some value on Prince Fielder and company.

Another angle to take right now is how the Marlins may have nice overall record, but prefers to play under the lights. Florida is just 1-3 in day games this year. And with another three afternoon tilts coming up in the next two weeks, it’s just another way to fatten your wallet.

Chicago White Sox (11-7 SU, 12-6 RL, ‘over/under’ 9-9)

Here is a team that is living on borrowed time.

The White Sox sit atop the American League Central right now, which is admittedly down at the moment with Detroit and Cleveland finding new and exciting ways to screw the pooch.

Perhaps more peculiar to me is that Chicago is relying way too much on the long ball to keep itself in these contests. You’ve got a club that is hitting .242 as a whole, second worst in the entire AL, but are No. 1 with 25 home runs.

The lion’s share of those dingers are coming off the bats of Jim Thome (five), Joe Crede (five) and Carlos Quentin (four). Two of those three should continue to produce this year. Quentin, however, has never hit more than nine homers in a season. And he’ll be platooning with Nick Swisher in left field…who also happens to have more pop to his offensive game.

I can’t rag on the ChiSox pitching staff too much though, as they are second in the AL with a 3.45 ERA and have averaged almost seven strikeouts per game. I will say that they need to get more production out of everyone besides Javier Vazquez right now. Vazquez is currently 3-1, but has a 4.38 ERA.

If you’re wondering how legit the Pale Hose are this season, we’ll get to see it soon enough with the Yankees this week. After that, it won’t be until May 9 when Chicago heads out on the road to face off with the Mariners.

And just to be the polar opposite of the Marlins, Chicago is just 3-6 in night games this year…Which should just add more bettors to back anyone the White Sox face once the lights go on.

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Re: Wednesday's MLB Tip Sheet

Teams Hitting Lefties
By Josh Jacobs

Lefties are an integral part of baseball on all levels. From the minors to the majors, southpaw pitchers are a sought after commodity. We can argue about their windups, delivery and statistics but at the end of the day, lefty hurlers can help make or break the effectiveness of defense on the mound.

As we head into the depths of April, teams are prospering, suffering or producing average numbers versus these lefty-handed specialists. Here’s a list of some top teams that standout from the rest of the pack. If you notice, the National League is exclusive to such excellent production off lefties.

Arizona Diamondbacks (14-5, +772)

Last season was a great run for the youthful Diamondbacks and 2008 seems to be much the same. The main difference in the desert is batting production.

The D-Backs are currently on top of the league with 120 runs, while 28 homers is good indication that this club is receiving excellent pop at the plate. But sticking to the topic, Arizona is taking advantage of lefty-righty matchups.

The Diamondbacks have been led by Jason Upton. The right fielder has been able to scorch left-handers for a .423 BA with eight RBIs. First baseman Conor Jackson is another player on the front lines. His .593 on base percentage, coupled with an off the charts .593 BA in 21 at bats has served the team justice.

Arizona has put together a 7-2 record versus lefties (4-1 on the road and 2-1 at home). Delving deeper reveals that the Diamondbacks are scoring 7.3 runs per game at home versus southpaws.

What should surprise the masses is the power that this team has showcased. With Mark Reynolds, Chris Young and Upton combining for 15 long balls this season, the D-Backs are averaging a homer in 23.7 plate appearances versus lefties (compared to 35.5 at bats per homerun).

Lefties on Tap: Barry Zito (0-4, 4.50 ERA) on 4/22, Randy Wolf (2-0, 2.49) on 4/25

New York Mets (10-8, -68)

So the Mets began the season at a snail’s pace. Going 7-2 in its last nine has definitely been a turnaround, and success off lefties is hard to overlook.

An 8-1 record versus southpaws ranks among the best in the Majors. The Mets are hitting .300, have crossed the plate for 37 runs and lead the league with 20 doubles against lefties this season.

What’s more staggering then the actual numbers produced is the frequency that New York has faced off against left-handers (more then 50% of its games have come against lefties).

On an individual note, David Wright (.519 BA, nine RBIs), Ryan Church (.355 BA, six RBIs) and Carlos Beltran (.304 BA, three RBIs) have been leading the charge for the Mets.

While New York is ranked among the highest teams in strikeouts (43) against southpaws, 26 walks and six stolen bases off lefties has helped give the team its 4-0 record on the road and 4-1 ledger at home.

One more abnormality that goes against the Mets numbers is the high, seven grounders into double plays. But then again, we’re talking about a New York team whose seen lefties more then anyone else in the league.

Lefties on Tap: Ted Lilly (0-3, 8.69) on 4/23

Milwaukee (11-8, +435)

The Brewers finished 2007 with the third highest production in RBIs (249), fifth best BA (.288) and ranked No. 1 in the league with 73 shots over the fence versus left-handed pitchers.

It’s been a slow start for Milwaukee against southpaws statistically, but that’s not to say this club hasn’t flourished in the win/loss column. Quite the contrary, the Brew Crew is 5-0 versus lefties and a .297 BA is nothing to sneeze at.

What could be most dangerous to left-handed pitchers is facing a Milwaukee team that’s remained relatively intact from last season. Leading the majors in slugging percentage versus southpaws (.499), the Brewers’ Ryan Braun, J.J. Hardy and Prince Fielder combined for 99 RBIs with a .342 BA.

While Braun, Hardy and Fielder have contributed to demise of lefties this season, Gabe Kapler and Jason Kendall have now stepped up to the plate. Both center fielder and catcher have complied a total of 12 RBIs (Kapler has four long balls).

And the future might look just a bit brighter when outfielder Mike Cameron returns to baseball after serving a 25-game suspension for the use of a banned stimulant. Over a three-year period, Cameron has been responsible for hitting .268 with 101 RBIs in almost 700 at bats versus lefties.

The Brewers will get ready to face four left-handed pitchers in their next four contests as listed below.

Lefties on Tap: Cole Hamels (2-2, 1.86) on 4/23, Jamie Moyer (1-1, 4.76) on 4/24, Scott Olsen (3-0, 2.60) on 4/25, Mark Hendrickson (4-1, 3.82) on 4/26

Chicago Cubs (13-6, +486)

The final team in the NL who is consistently feasting on lefties is the slugging Cubbies.

Below Arizona and the New York Mets, Chicago has swung the lumber to record 34 RBIs. The Cubs Derek Lee is just one monster responsible for terrorizing lefties. Lee’s .329 BA with 50 RBIs and 18 homers over a three-year period is impressive to say the least, but 52 base on balls and a .423 OBP have also supplied the team with great scoring opportunities.

Other notable nightmares for southpaws are Chicago’s Aramis Ramirez (.389 BA, four RBIs), Geovany Soto (.353 BA, four RBIs), Kosuke Fukudome (.400 BA, three RBIs).

As of Tuesday, the Cubs had manufactured a 5-1 record versus lefties (3-1 on the road and 2-0 at home). Chicago will be facing four southpaw pitchers in the next six games, who have a combined record of 1-10 with a 5.22 ERA.

Lefties on Tap: Franklin Morales (1-1, 6.60) on 4/23, Odalis Perez (0-3, 3.38) on 4/25, Matt Chico (0-4, 6.04) on 4/26 and John Lannan (0-2, 4.86) on 4/27

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Re: Wednesday's MLB Tip Sheet

MLB handicapping helper: This week's streaks & slumps
COVERS.COM

On vacation last week and need a quick MLB catch up? Yeah, I know all about it. Here's a quick checklist for your daily wagers.

All stats current through Sunday's action.

Streaking

Boston Red Sox:

It looks like the Red Sox have completely recovered from a hellish early-season schedule that spanned over 19 days and three countries. Boston dropped three straight in Toronto at the end of that marathon, but haven’t lost consecutive games since. They’ve won four straight and eight of their last nine heading into Monday’s game against Texas.

The Red Sox own the best team batting average in the bigs and rank fifth in runs per game even though David Ortiz still isn’t swinging the bat the way he’d like to be. Pitching isn’t exactly a weak spot either. Boston’s staff has struck out the second most batters in the show so far.

Betting forecast: The books are going to make you pay for your BoSox bets, so you really need to pick your spots to avoid outrageous juice. Right now the over might be worth a look with six of Boston’s last eight playing over the total.

Chicago Cubs:

Call it wishful thinking or pity for the long-suffering Cubs, but many pundits penciled Chicago in as the toast of the NL Central long before the season started. So far they haven’t disappointed.

The North Siders have won six of their last seven, keeping them a half game ahead of the second-place St. Louis Cardinals at the top of the division, and so far it’s all been thanks to an explosive offense. Chicago ranks among the league’s top seven teams in runs per game, batting average, OPS, home runs, and stolen bases.

Betting forecast: With all that offense, it’s no surprise the Cubs have played over in six of their last seven and in 11 of their 17 games to date. There’s a good chance that will continue this week with the Mets and Rockies on the menu.

Slumping

Pittsburgh Pirates:


Something’s telling me we might as well reserve a spot for the Pirates in the 'Slumping' section. The Pirates rank dead last in ERA, WHIP, and errors in the bigs and haven’t cracked the top 10 in any major offensive categories.

They’re currently tied for the third-worst record in the league at 7-11 after dropping five straight games.

Betting forecast: Optimists hoped Ian Snell, Zach Duke and Paul Maholm would come of age to carry the rotation. So much for that; they aren’t even close to that yet and the rest of the arms in the staff are laughable. There’s really no reason to be wagering on Pittsburgh at this point. The Pirates have already dropped 6.62 units for runline bettors.

Texas Rangers:

Texas dropped its fourth straight game and the ninth in its last 11 games Monday in Boston. The Rangers have been a team that’s lived and died with their offense for years and this year doesn’t look to be any different. Right now though, the Rangers aren’t scoring many runs (21st in the league) and continue to struggle on the mound, having allowed at least five runs in eight of their last 10 games.

Betting outlook: Texas had a tough time with Boston this week and may end up being the remedy for the Detroit Tigers’ struggles once they land in the Motor City on Tuesday. The only real value spots could come when the Rangers host K.C. this coming weekend, but even then it’s a crapshoot with those pesky Royals.

Washington Nationals:

Not much new to report since the Washington Nationals last occupied this spot other than the fact that they’re officially the worst team in the bigs at 5-14. The Nats have won just two of their last 14 games.

Betting outlook: Still terrible. Until this team figures out a way to push some runs across, there’s no need to roll the dice with them.

Total streakers (O/U)

Atlanta Braves:

This is a bit of a weird one. Atlanta can do pretty much everything on offense except for steal bases and the team’s pitching has been relatively solid, but the Braves have played under in four straight and in 12 of their 18 games to date.

Oddmakers aren’t putting out overly high totals either, with the majority of them coming in around nine or 9½.

Betting forecast: Keep an eye on this trend. It’s more likely to level off than to continue being so unbalanced.

Arizona Diamondbacks:

Meet the best team in baseball at 13-5. Arizona’s pitching staff keeps daily totals low and the Diamondbacks’ offense keeps cashing for over bettors.

Arizona has played over in seven of its last nine and has a 11-5-1 over/under record to date.

Betting forecast: The problem betting totals in Diamondbacks games is that they’ll win one day with their pitching and the next day with their bats, so it’s hard to know what to expect. Might be best to stay away from the totals with some very winnable games against San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego coming up.

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