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Saturday's MLB Tip Sheet

Saturday's MLB Tip Sheet

Saturday's Tip Sheet
By Josh Jacobs

Saturday ushers in yet another stacked card in Major League Baseball. A quick week in review witnessed favorites going 28-17 since Monday, the Rays remain on top of the AL East and the Diamondbacks continue to roll through the league with a 20-8 record.

Without harping too much on past events let’s take you right into this weekend’s matchups with the mission of uncovering some important notes worth taking to the window.

Seattle (F. Hernandez) at N.Y. Yankees (M. Mussina) – 1:05 p.m. EDT

The Yankees are 6-4 in their last 10, mainly due to poor pitching performances (4.55 ERA in the last seven days) and plate appearances that have lulled fans and gamblers to sleep (batting an unbelievable .212 average this week).

Seattle has been far from spectacular or even average on the diamond this season. The Mariners are 18th in the league with 129 runs and are 22nd worst with a .319 on base percentage.

Some good news for the M’s is that young starter, Felix Hernandez (2-1, 2.22 ERA) will get to toss his seventh start of the season. Giving up 13 runs and three long balls hasn’t been the problem for the highly touted right hander. Receiving only four runs per game of support helps explain why Hernandez hasn’t posted more ‘Ws’ on the board with a 2.22 ERA.

Parlaying New York for a loss and an ‘under’ play at home has netted a +224 profit.

The ‘under’ is 7-3 in the last 10 head-to-head meetings.

Chicago White Sox (J. Danks) at Toronto (J. Litsch) – 1:07 p.m. EDT

Chicago is at the top of the AL Central, harboring a 14-12 record this season. A 15-11 run line record which has registered +4.25 units should be a bright spot for gamblers thus far.

The Blue Jays will send out right-handed starter Jesse Litsch (3-1, 4.85 ERA) to the hill on Saturday, hoping that the Florida native can work past five innings of work. In five starts this season, Litsch has averaged only 5.1 innings. His 14 earned runs sacrificed have been supplemented by strong run support (23 runs in his three wins).

One hurdle that Chicago has been fighting since the season began is five blown saves. Closer Bobby Jenks (six saves, 2.31 ERA) has tallied up solid numbers this season, and a blown save in his last outing against Baltimore shouldn’t worry bettors.

The White Sox bullpen has been firing from the hip in their last three games. A 2.96 ERA with a 1.43 WHIP and a 3.43 ERA on the season ranks Chicago 11th best in the league.

Chicago Cubs (T. Lilly) at St. Louis (K. Lohse) – 3:45 p.m. EDT

The Cubbies must be prepared for the Cardinals ace in the hole, Kyle Lohse (3-0, 2.36). The St. Louis righty has surrendered a total of nine earned runs and is allowing opponents to hit a low .248 BA. It should also be noted that two of the three wins for Lohse have come at home this season. When pitching in his own ballpark, Lohse has earned himself a 1.08 ERA, while surrendering a scant three runs.

Since coming off an 8-1 run from Apr. 13 through Apr. 23, the Cubs have dropped five of their last seven contests. Chicago has been outscored 25-15, and its bullpen has been on damage control after logging in 19.1 innings in the last three days for a 6.98 ERA and a 1.66 WHIP.

The Cubs finished off April with a 9-6 record on the ‘over’, although a 5-2 run on the ‘under’ might have gamblers doing a double take at the window.

On the road this season, Chicago is batting .249, while a .338 OBP has shot this team to the top of the rankings (ninth best to be exact).

N.Y. Mets (M. Pelfrey) at Arizona (B. Webb) – 3:45 p.m. EDT

One of the highlights of Saturday’s afternoon games will center on Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb and his 6-0 record with a 1.98 ERA. Webb has been phenomenal to start off the ’08 season. His nine runs allowed in 41 innings ranks Webb among the elite of the league and this effort has contributed to the club earning a league best +1027 on the money line. Even more impressive is the 11.36 units that the D-Backs are up on the run line.

If there’s one point of importance it’s that six of the seven head-to-head games played last year ended up as ‘under’ plays. The Mets did take the series 4-3, but an average combined score of 7.4 runs per game in those seven meetings last year resulted in positive payouts for ‘under’ players.

Speaking of New York, a .226 BA with 23 RBIs in the last seven days is a clear cut message that this club has been struggling in the offensive department. The Mets’ David Wright has been the most promising of players at the plate, putting together a .318 BA with 10 RBIs in 12 games played on the road.

Most books have installed Arizona as a chalky $1.91 home favorite, with a total sitting at eight runs. A combined 3.20 ERA between Pelfrey and Webb lends itself to an expected low scoring affair.

Tampa Bay (J. Shields) at Boston (J. Beckett) – 7:05 p.m. EDT

Evening coverage of hardball roles into what would otherwise be an average game at best before Tampa Bay began proving its value. But with the Rays playing well above expectations, and the Red Sox swinging at flies (.164 BA with a league worst eight RBIs in the last seven days), this contest should develop into a competitive contest.

Who would have predicted that adding veteran closer Troy Percival (six saves) to the Rays’ lineup combined with starters Andy Sonnanstine (4-1, 4.42), James Shields (3-1, 2.54) and Edwin Jackson (2-2, 3.86) would have given this club this much of an edge?

The Red Sox have traveled on the other side of this highway, tanking with a 2-6 record in its last eight (three losses in a row to Tampa from Apr. 25 to he 27th). A total of 17 runs have crossed the plate in those eight defeats and only starting hurler, Daisuke Matsuzaka (4-0, 2.52) has registered more then two wins this season.

Most books have listed the Rays as $1.42 underdogs with a total hovering at eight runs.

Tampa is 8-1 in its last nine and has seen the ‘under’ cash tickets seven times in the last eight.

San Diego (J. Peavy) at Florida (R. Nolasco) – 7:10 p.m. EDT

The Padres’ ace Jake Peavy (3-1, 2.09) started the season with a 3-0 record and a 1.64 ERA before bucking those numbers in his last three starts, giving up six runs and three long balls. San Diego has been outscored 15-9 in those three defeats (mainly due to an 11-7 shootout) on Apr. 22.

It might be worth taking a look at an ‘under’ play in this contest as the Pads are averaging 3.2 runs per game in their last 10 meetings and the Marlins are in the neighborhood of scoring just above four runs per game. Mix in San Diego’s Peavy with his rock bottom numbers and logic says that a low scoring game could be on tap.

Most books have adjusted the total to 8½.

A total of six players for Florida are pulling in double-digit RBIs so far this season, with Hanley Ramirez rocking the batters box for 19 RBIs and a .322 BA. Although the Marlins are the second best team in the Majors with 37 home runs, 118 RBIs (20th ranked) have added another angle for looking at the ‘under’.

The Padres are 3-12 in their last 15, while the Marlins are 1-5 in Ricky Nolasco’s (1-2, 5.13) last six starts.

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