Friday's MLB Tip Sheet

Friday's MLB Tip Sheet

Friday's MLB Tip Sheet
By Brad Young

The marathon baseball regular season continues Friday with a full slate of games. Even though it is still early in the season, there are already a few races starting to take shape. Here’s a breakdown of four key contests on Friday’s schedule, with two games each in the American and National Leagues.

**Braves (Jurrjens) at Mets (Pelfrey)**

-Caesars Palace opened New York as a $1.30 home ‘chalk’ over Atlanta, with the total set at 9½ ‘under’ (minus $1.25). This National League East tilt is scheduled to begin at 7:10 p.m. ET.

-Atlanta pitcher Jair Jurrjens (2-2, 3.20 ERA) snapped a personal two-game losing skid by beating Los Angeles Sunday as a $1.10 home favorite, 6-1. The second-year veteran went seven innings, allowing the lone run on three hits (one home run) with three walks and eight strikeouts.

-The combined seven runs failed to eclipse the 9½-run closing total, enabling the ‘under’ to cash his last three starts.

-Jurrjens, a 22-year-old right-hander, has never started against the Mets in his brief major league career.

-New York righty Michael Pelfrey (2-0, 3.18 ERA) heads to the hill for the first time since Sunday’s no-decision against Philadelphia. The Wichita State product surrendered four runs on 10 hits (two home runs) with two walks and two strikeouts over five innings.

-The Mets eventually dropped that contest as a road ‘pick,’ 5-4, while the combined nine runs went ‘under’ the 10-run closing total. The ‘under’ has cashed his last two games.

-Pelfrey went 1-1 against the Braves last season in two starts, going a combined 11 innings while yielding five runs on seven hits (one home run) with five walks and 10 strikeouts. New York triumphed as a $1.20 road underdog, 5-1, while losing as a $1.02 home ‘dog, 7-3.

**Astros (Chacon) at Cardinals (Looper)**

-Caesars Palace installed St. Louis as a $1.35 home favorite over Houston, with the total listed at nine ‘under’ (minus $1.15). This NL Central contest is scheduled to begin at 8:15 p.m. ET.

-Houston’s Shawn Chacon (0-0, 2.77 ERA) is still searching for his first decision of the year after Sunday’s effort against Colorado. The 6-foot-3 hurler was reached for three runs on seven hits (one home run) with a walk and three strikeouts over six innings.

-The Astros eventually prevailed as a $1.15 home favorite, 6-4, while the combined 10 runs slithered ‘over’ the 9 ½-run closing total. The ‘under’ had cashed his first three starts, all losses for Houston.

-Chacon went six innings against St. Louis April 8, surrendering three runs on four hits with four walks and two strikeouts over six innings. The Astros eventually dropped that affair as a $1.10 home ‘chalk,’ 5-3, while the combined eight runs went ‘under’ the nine-run closing total.

-St. Louis hurler Braden Looper (3-1, 5.49 ERA) is off his first loss of the season after Sunday’s setback to San Francisco as a $1.75 home favorite, 8-2. The right-hander was reached for seven runs on 10 hits (one home run) with no walks and a strikeout over just three innings.

-The combined 10 runs toppled the eight-run closing total, helping the ‘over’ improve to 3-1 his four starts.

-Looper beat Houston April 9 as a $1.04 road underdog, 6-4, tossing 5 2/3 innings while allowing three runs on five hits with no walks and four strikeouts. The combined 10 runs slithered ‘over’ the 9 ½-run closing total.

**Angels (Santana) at Tigers (Robertson)**

-Caesars Palace lists Detroit as a $1.15 home ‘chalk’ over Los Angeles, with the total set at 10. This American League contest is scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m. ET.

-Los Angeles pitcher Ervin Santana (3-0, 2.67 ERA) continued his winning ways by beating Seattle Saturday as a $1.45 home favorite, 4-1. The Dominican Republic native went eight innings, yielding the lone run on three hits (one home run) with no walks and eight strikeouts.

-The combined five runs never seriously threatened the nine-run closing total, enabling the ‘under’ to improve to 3-1 his four starts.

-Santana fell to the Tigers last season as a $1.40 road underdog, 12-0, allowing eight runs on seven hits (two home runs) with three walks and three strikeouts over just 3 2/3 innings. The 12 runs eclipsed the 9 ½-run closing total.

-Detroit counters with southpaw Nate Robertson (0-2, 7.48 ERA), who is coming off Sunday’s setback to Toronto as a $1.15 road underdog, 5-3. The Wichita State product tossed five innings while being reached for five runs on eight hits (one home run) with one walk and five strikeouts.

-The combined eight runs failed to topple the 9½-run closing total, ending a string of three straight ‘over’ outings for the seven-year veteran.

-Robertson fell to the Angels last year as a $1.30 road underdog, 11-6, surrendering eight runs on 10 hits with two walks and six strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings. The combined 17 runs soared ‘over’ the nine-run closing total.

**Athletics (Eveland) at Mariners (Batista)**


-Caesars Palace installed Seattle as a $1.15 home favorite over Oakland, with the total set at 8½. This AL West matchup is scheduled to start at 10:10 p.m. ET.

-Oakland’s Dana Eveland (2-1, 1.90 ERA) beat Kansas City Sunday as a $1.38 home ‘chalk,’ 7-1. The four-year veteran went 5 2/3 innings, allowing the lone run on three hits with four walks and three strikeouts.

-The combined eight runs slithered ‘under’ the 8 ½-run closing total, helping the ‘under’ go 4-0 this season for the left-hander.

-Eveland has not started against the Mariners the past few years.

-Seattle pitcher Miguel Batista (2-2, 4.56 ERA) is riding a personal two-game winning streak after beating Los Angeles Sunday as a $1.35 road ‘chalk,’ 4-2. The right-hander tossed 7 2/3 innings of scoreless ball on eight hits with one walk and eight strikeouts. The combined six runs failed to topple the 10-run closing total.

-The Dominican Republic native went 2-2 versus Oakland last season in five starts, going a combined 30 innings while surrendering 16 runs on 34 hits (two home runs) with 13 walks and 26 strikeouts. The Mariners prevailed as a $1.25 road underdog, 4-2, as a $1.10 home ‘dog, 6-5, and as a $1.45 road ‘dog, 4-0, while losing as a $1.22 home ‘dog, 9-0, and as a $1.30 road ‘dog, 3-2.

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NATIONAL LEAGUE

Atlanta (11-11) at N.Y. Mets (11-10)


The Braves send young right-hander Jair Jurrjens (2-2, 3.20 ERA) to the hill at Shea Stadium to open a three-game set against the Mets, who will counter with righty Mike Pelfrey (2-0, 3.18).

Atlanta snapped a modest two-game losing skid with Thursday’s 7-4 home win over the Marlins. Going back to April 17, the Braves are on a 6-2 run, as they’ve reached .500 for the first time since the opening week of the season. However, Bobby Cox’s club is just 3-7 on the highway this year, including 1-3 in the last four.

New York has followed up a five-game winning streak by losing three of its last four, including Thursday’s 10-5 setback at Washington. On the bright side, the Mets return home, where they are 6-3 this season, including three straight wins.

These two teams have already seen each other once this season, with Atlanta sweeping a two-game series April 4 and 5 at home, posting wins of 11-5 and 3-1, though neither of today’s starters were involved in those decisions. Last year, the teams split their 18 meetings, though New York won five of the last six.

The 22-year-old Jurrjens has had four solid starts, even in his two losses, but his best outing came Sunday in a 6-1 home win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, as he allowed one run – a solo homer -- on three hits in seven innings, with three walks and eight strikeouts. In his first major-league experience last year, Jurrjens went 3-1 with a 4.70 ERA in seven starts for Detroit.

Pelfrey notched wins in his first two starts before getting a no-decision in a 5-4 loss at Philadelphia on Sunday. In that contest, he got beat up a bit, allowing four runs on 10 hits in five innings. But in two home starts prior to that, he allowed just two runs on 10 hits in 12 innings, including tossing seven shutout innings in a 6-0 win over Washington on April 15. Pelfrey is 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA in two career starts (three appearances) against Atlanta, all last season.

The over is 5-1 in Pelfrey’s last six starts at Shea, but the under is 3-1 in Jurrrjens’ four outings this year.

Furthermore, the “under” trends are heavy for both these teams, with the total staying low in six of the Braves’ last eight overall and four of the Mets’ last six overall. For Atlanta, the under is also 7-0 on the road against right-handed starters, 23-8 overall against righties and 5-1 in series openers. For New York, the under is 8-1 against losing teams, 6-2 against the N.L. East, 5-2 at home and 39-19-4 in Friday outings. Finally, the under is 6-2 in the last eight series clashes between these rivals and 3-1 in the past four meetings at Shea Stadium.

ATS ADVANTAGE: N.Y. METS and UNDER


AMERICAN LEAGUE

N.Y. Yankees (12-11) at Cleveland (10-12)


After a long night in the Windy City, the Yankees, head east to Cleveland to kick off a weekend series against the Indians in a rematch of last year’s American League Divisional Series. New York left-hander Andy Pettitte (3-1, 2.45 ERA) is set to toe the rubber at Progressive Field against Indians right-hander Paul Byrd (0-2, 4.43) in a battle of veteran hurlers.

New York jumped out to a 3-0 lead at the White Sox last night, then endured a lengthy rain delay. Shortly after play resumed, the Yankees fell behind 6-3 and battled back to the tie the game at 6 before eventually losing 7-6 in the bottom of the ninth to halt a three-game winning streak. Despite the loss, Joe Girardi’s club is still 5-3 in its last eight on the highway.

Cleveland is coming off Thursday’s doubleheader sweep at Kansas City, winning by scores of 9-6 and 3-0. That completed the Tribe’s three-game sweep of the Royals after Monday’s 15-1 rout. Returning home may not prove all that comfortable for the Indians, who are 2-6 in their last eight at Progressive since opening the season with two home wins.

This is the first meeting between these A.L. rivals since last year’s best-of-5 divisional playoff series, won by Cleveland 3-1. Prior to that, New York won all six regular-season meetings in 2007, outscoring the Indians 49-17. The Yanks are on an 8-0 regular-season run in this rivalry dating to 2006.

Pettitte struggled in his season debut at Tampa Bay, taking the loss after allowing five runs on eight hits in five innings in a 6-3 setback. But he’s rebounded to go 3-0 with a 1.74 ERA in his past three starts, most recently throwing seven scoreless innings in Sunday’s 7-1 rout at Baltimore, allowing just four hits, with no walks and five strikeouts. In his career against Cleveland, Pettitte is 6-7 with a 4.50 ERA in 16 starts, incluing 5-3 with a 3.72 ERA in Cleveland (1-0 last year).

The Indians are 0-4 with Byrd on the mound this season, despite the fact he has held his last two opponents (Boston and Minnesota) to a combined two runs (one earned) on 12 hits with no walks and nine strikeouts in 13 innings. In his only home start of the season on April 15, Byrd held the Red Sox to an unearned run over six innings, with Cleveland’s bullpen imploding in a 5-3 defeat.

Byrd is 1-4 with a 4.44 ERA in eight starts against New York, getting blitzed for seven runs on seven hits in just two innings in his lone outing against the Yanks last year.

The Yankees are on tears of 9-1 in Pettitte’s last 10 road starts, 24-7 in Pettitte’s last 31 starts against the A.L. Central, 37-14 in Pettitte’s last 51 starts in a series opener and 44-20 in Pettitte’s last 64 starts overall. The lone negative for New York: a 1-5 mark in its last six Friday outings.

The Indians are 21-9 in Byrd’s last 30 starts at Progressive Field. On the flip side, Cleveland is 2-5 in its last seven series openers, 1-5 overall in its last six against lefties and 0-5 in its last five against the A.L. East.

For the Yankees, the under is on streaks of 15-8 overall, 10-5 on the road and 5-0 when Pettitte starts. However, for Cleveland, the over is on runs of 9-1 in series openers, 10-4-3 against winning teams and 7-2-1 when Byrd starts at home. Finally, the over is 9-3-1 in the last 13 meetings between these squads.

ATS ADVANTAGE: N.Y. YANKEES and OVER

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Mets set to host Braves
By Brian Edwards

Although Philadelphia is the defending division champion and Florida currently sits atop the standings, it says here that New York and Atlanta are still the class of the National League East.

Like all division races, the NL East won't be won or lost in April. But when you consider the Mets’ colossal collapse last September, you know Willie Randolph has to be concerned about his team that was listed as the overwhelming 2/5 ‘chalk’ to win the loop.

As New York returns home Friday for a three-game set against the Braves, it is just one game above .500 (11-10) and trails Florida by 1 ½ games for the division lead. Even worse, Pedro Martinez is on the disabled list (again), while Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran are struggling at the plate.

Delgado took the collar in Thursday’s 10-5 loss at Washington. The 0-for-4 performance lowered his average to .198. Beltran is hitting just .230.

New York held a 3-0 lead going to the bottom of the fifth, but the Nationals put up a three-spot in the bottom frame. In the sixth, Felipe Lopez belted a grand slam and Washington went on to cash tickets as a plus 115 underdog.

The Mets, who are tied with the Phillies for second place in the loop and lead the Braves by one-half game, turn to Mike Pelphrey (2-0, 3.18 ERA) tonight at Shea Stadium. Bobby Cox will counter with Jair Jurrgens (2-2, 3.20), who has been outstanding through four assignments.

Most spots are listing New York as a minus 130 favorite with a total of 9 ½ ‘under’ (minus 125). Bettors can back the Mets on the run line (minus 1 ½ runs) for a plus 160 return (risk $100 to win $160).

Atlanta arrives in the Big Apple off a 7-4 home win over Florida as a minus 155 favorite. The Braves hooked up run-line backers with a plus 130 payout. Chipper Jones celebrated his 36th birthday by going for 3-for-3 with a homer. He comes to Shea, where he’s consistently answered chants of “Larry” by punishing Mets pitching throughout his career, batting an MLB-best .442.

Pelphrey will be facing the Braves for the third time of his career. He has a 1-1 record and 4.15 ERA in the two previous starts.

The middle game of this series will go at 1:00 p.m. Eastern on Saturday. Tim Hudson (3-1, 2.93) will get the starting nod for the home team, while the Mets will counter with John Maine (1-2, 3.57).

I would expect the side to be a pick ‘em in this matchup. If anything, the Braves might be ever-so-slight favorites. I think the total should be 8 ½.

Hudson owns an 8-4 record and 3.68 ERA in 13 career starts against the Mets. Meanwhile, Maine is 1-2 with a 4.84 ERA in four lifetime starts versus Atlanta.

David Wright is just 8-for-37 (.216) with one homer off Hudson, but Delgado (.321, three doubles and six HRs in 53 at-bats) and Beltran (.333, 3 HR’s in 54 ABs) might snap out of their respective slumps if past performance against the veteran right-hander is any indication.

On Sunday, John Smoltz (3-1, 0.78) will oppose Nelson Figueroa (1-1, 4.05). I anticipate Atlanta being a minus 125 ‘chalk’ with its ace on the mound.

Smoltz, who earlier this week became just the 16th pitcher in MLB history to surpass 3,000 career strikeouts, has compiled an 18-14 record and 3.37 career ERA against the Mets. Delgado has enjoyed some success off the ageless righty, going 12-for-42 (.286) with four homers.

The Braves took two out of three from their bitter NL East rivals earlier in the year at Turner Field.

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Tale of the Tigers: Oddsmakers cautious with Detroit lines
COVERS.COM

Is it safe to look yet? Is the coast clear?

Slowly, carefully dedicated Detroit Tigers supporters are surfacing after their highly-touted club actually put together a four-game winning streak this week. It’s been a long, long spring for Tigers bettors since the team opened the year with seven straight losses.

Burdened daily with fat chalk from the books, Detroit’s terrible start still has Tigers bettors down more than seven full units even after the mini winning streak.

But that’s not to say there weren’t some good signs this week. Center fielder and leadoff man Curtis Granderson returned from a fractured right hand on Wednesday and Jim Leyland made a key defensive switch by moving co-AL Player of the Week Miguel Cabrera from third base to first, and Carlos Guillen from first to the hot corner. Meanwhile, Dontrelle Willis and Joel Zumaya are progressing nicely with their rehab work and could be ready to help out the pitching staff.

Plus, everybody takes notice when you break out by putting 19 runs on the board like they did Wednesday against Texas.

“Once they get on a five or six game winning streak, I'll start to believe in them again,” says Covers Expert handicapper David Chan. “It's tough to really gauge their value when they're up against a weak team like the Texas Rangers. Who hasn't beaten up on that terrible pitching staff?”

It’s a good point. Texas’ pitching staff ranks either dead last or second from the bottom in ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts, so don’t get too carried away with the offensive surge. One thing it will do is help the Tigers’ confidence as they move into a tougher part of the schedule.

“The Tigers should show their true colors, for better or worse, when they host the Angels this weekend and then travel to Yankee Stadium at the start of next week,” Chan adds. “I'm thinking that they may offer some solid value during that series in New York.”

Well maybe, but oddsmakers are being careful with these Tigers, who have been favored in 14 games already despite the slow start and a relatively tough road schedule. They’re such a big-name public team that bettors haven’t been scared away, allowing oddsmakers to keep their prices high.

“The bettors took the early Detroit losses very lightly - they continued to bet and even double up on each of Detroit's games in an attempt recover losses,” says betED.com Sportsbook Manager Randy Scott. “The public is still on Detroit, even when they are underdogs and because the action is still going Detroit's way the lines will stay the same, there will be no fading Detroit until the public turns on them.”

And if seven straight loses to start the season didn’t deter bettors, chances are you’ll have to pick your spots because you’ll be paying for your Detroit bets from here on out.

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