MLB News and Notes April 7

MLB News and Notes April 7

Wednesday's NL Tip Sheet
By Brad Young

Today’s focus is going to be on the National League and four matchups on Wednesday’s eight-game schedule. Two major market teams collide in the New York-Los Angeles game, but the main contest pits National League East leader Philadelphia against NL West frontrunner Arizona.

Now let’s break down Wednesday’s key contests.

**Mets (Maine) at Dodgers (Penny)**

-Caesars Palace installed Los Angeles as a $1.30 home ‘chalk’ over New York, with the total set at eight ‘over’ (minus $1.20). This contest is slated to start at 3:10 p.m. ET.

-New York’s John Maine (3-2, 3.48 ERA) is riding a personal two-game winning streak after upending Arizona Friday as a $1.10 road underdog, 7-2. The 6-foot-4 hurler was reached for two runs on six hits with two walks and six strikeouts over six innings.

-The combined nine runs landed directly on the closing total. The ‘under’ had cashed his previous four starts.

-The right-hander went 0-2 against the Dodgers last year in two starts, going a combined 11 innings while allowing 10 runs (seven earned) on 16 hits (three home runs) with three walks and eight strikeouts. The Mets lost as a road ‘pick,’ 4-1, and as a $1.70 home favorite, 6-2. The ‘under’ cashed in both contests.

-Los Angeles right-hander Brad Penny (5-2, 3.19 ERA) has won his last four starts after Friday’s victory over Colorado as a $1.02 road underdog, 11-6. The 29-year-old went five innings, surrendering three runs on three hits (one home run) with four walks and a strikeout.

-The combined 17 runs soared ‘over’ the 8 ½-run closing total, enabling the ‘over’ to cash his fifth straight start.

-Penny went 2-1 against the Mets last year in three starts, tossing a combined 19 1/3 innings while yielding eight runs on 19 hits (two home runs) with six walks and 14 strikeouts. The Dodgers triumphed as a $1.20 home favorite, 9-1, and as a $1.43 home ‘chalk,’ 8-6, while losing as a $1.02 road underdog, 5-2. The ‘over’ went 2-1 during those three games.

**Padres (Wolf) at Braves (Hudson)**

-Caesars Palace opened Atlanta as a $1.65 home favorite over San Diego, with the total listed at 8 ½. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.

-San Diego southpaw Randy Wolf (2-1, 3.57 ERA) heads to the hill fresh off Thursday’s no-decision against Philadelphia. The Pepperdine product went six innings, surrendering two runs on six hits with three walks and nine strikeouts.

-The Padres eventually dropped that contest as a $1.00 road underdog, 3-2, while the combined five runs failed to eclipse the 9½-run closing total. The ‘under’ is 5-1 during his six starts this season.

-Wolf picked up two no decisions against the Braves last year, going a combined eight innings while allowing seven runs on 11 hits (one home run) with six walks and nine strikeouts. The Padres prevailed as a $1.40 home favorite, 7-6, while losing as a $1.03 road underdog, 6-4. The ‘over’ cashed in both contests.

-Atlanta counters with Tim Hudson, hoping the right-hander can improve on his 4-2 record and 2.95 ERA in seven starts. The 32-year-old has alternated wins and losses his last five starts after beating Cincinnati Friday as a $1.23 home ‘chalk,’ 2-0. The 10-year veteran went the complete-game route on three hits with no walks and 10 strikeouts.

-The two runs never seriously threatened the 8 ½-run closing total, helping the ‘under’ cash his second straight start.

-Hudson beat the Padres last year in his lone start against them as a $1.90 home favorite, 5-3. In six innings, he surrendered two runs on nine hits with no walks and four strikeouts. The combined eight runs slithered ‘under’ the 8 ½-run closing total.

**Cardinals (Wainwright) at Rockies (Francis)**

-Caesars Palace lists Colorado as a $1.20 home ‘chalk’ over St. Louis, with the total set at nine. This matchup is slated to start at 8:35 p.m. ET.

-St. Louis hurler Adam Wainwright (3-1, 2.60 ERA) is off Friday’s no-decision against Chicago after allowing one run on four hits with a walk and five strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings. The Cardinals ended up winning that contest as a $1.12 home favorite, 5-3, while the combined eight runs landed directly on the closing total.

-St. Louis has won his last four starts.

-Wainwright beat the Rockies last year as a $1.30 home ‘chalk,’ 9-2. The 6-foot-7 hurler was reached for two runs (one earned) on nine hits with no walks and four strikeouts over six innings. The combined 11 runs toppled the 8 ½-run closing total.

-Colorado left-hander Jeff Francis (0-3, 5.26 ERA) is still searching for his first victory of the year after falling to Los Angeles Friday as a $1.08 home favorite, 11-6. The Canadian lasted 5 1/3 innings, yielding four runs on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts.

-The combined 17 runs soared past the 8 ½-run closing total, helping the ‘over’ improve to 4-2 his six starts.

-The five-year veteran went 1-0 against the Cardinals last year in two starts, surrendering four runs on nine hits (one home run) with four walks and six strikeouts over 14 2/3 innings. The Rockies prevailed as a $1.20 road underdog, 3-2, and as a $1.45 home favorite, 6-2. The ‘under’ cashed in both outings.

**Phillies (Kendrick) at Diamondbacks (Owings)**

-Caesars Palace opened Arizona as a $1.35 home favorite over Philadelphia, with the total set at 10½. This matchup is scheduled to begin at 9:40 p.m. ET.

-Philadelphia pitcher Kyle Kendrick (2-2, 5.01 ERA) is off Friday’s no-decision against San Francisco, tossing six innings while yielding three runs on eight hits with no walks and six strikeouts.

-The Phillies eventually won that contest as a $1.65 home ‘chalk,’ 6-5, while the combined 11 runs toppled the nine-run closing total. Philadelphia has won his last three starts, with the ‘over’ cashing each time.

-Kendrick, a two-year veteran, has never started against the Diamondbacks in his brief major league career.

-Arizona right-hander Micah Owings (4-1, 4.42 ERA) suffered his first setback of the season in Friday’s loss to New York as a $1.20 home favorite, 7-2. The Tulane product was tagged for seven runs (six earned) on 10 hits (two home runs) with three walks and two strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings.

-The combined nine runs landed directly on the closing total. The Diamondbacks have dropped his last two starts after winning his first four outings.

-The 6-foot-5 pitcher went 2-0 against the Phillies last year in two starts, going a combined 12 innings while allowing three runs on 12 hits (two home runs) with four walks and five strikeouts. The D’backs prevailed as a $1.25 home favorite, 3-2, and as a $1.35 road underdog, 11-5.

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Wednesday's AL Tip Sheet
By Josh Jacobs

Rolling through the week, the action continues on Wednesday when all 14 teams in the American League enter ballparks across the country.

The most intriguing matchup based on defense will pit Cleveland (14-17, -971) and the New York Yankees (17-16, -471) together in Game 2 of a three-game series. Why is this contest worth focusing on? Because earned run average leader (in both leagues), Cliff Lee will toe the slab for the Indians in search of his sixth win of the season. Lee will enter mid-week with an earth shattering 0.96 ERA and a rock bottom WHIP of 0.56.

It wasn’t until Apr. 30 (his last start) that the Cleveland’s Lee gave up more then one earned run in a win over Seattle (8-3). Opponents are batting with toothpicks, registering a .151 BA against the shutdown slinger. What might be most significant is the Cleveland starter’s lone two walks surrendered this entire season. Talk about cutting down on base opportunities (Lee has sacrificed five RBIs on three hits with runners in scoring position this season).

The Yankees are slated to start a shutdown pitching weapon of their own. New York’s ace Chien-Ming Wang (6-0, 3.00) has been responsible for pulling in +437 on the money line, with his team going 7-0 in the seven starts he’s been a part of. The ‘under’ has cashed in five out of seven games in Ming Wang’s starts.

A good reason for Wang’s success comes at the hands from within the batter’s box. In a minimum of four starts, the offense has supplied their top pitcher with a team leading 5.6 runs per start.

The Yankees are 26-7 in Wang’s last 33 starts versus a team with a losing record and are 28-8 in Wang’s last 36 home starts.

And with New York taking three games in a row versus Seattle over the weekend it should be noted that the team’s bullpen was light’s out, hurling for a 1.80 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP in 30 innings of work (compared to a 3.42 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP for the season).

Wang has a 2-1 record, a 3.72 ERA and has relinquished a .315 BAA versus Cleveland in three starts over a three-year span.

Game time is set to begin at 7:05 p.m. EDT with ESPN providing full coverage.

L.A. Angels (J. Weaver) at Kansas City (Z. Greinke) – 8:10 p.m. EDT

Continuing this conversation on pitching matchups, young Kansas City starter Zack Greinke (3-1, 1.47) will once again record a start. While his last outing resulted in a loss versus Texas (2-1), the effort was surely there. Greinke tossed the ball for seven innings, surrendering just four hits and two runs (both homers) on 105 pitches. The third man in the rotation has been dominant versus both righties and lefties, combining for a .217 BAA and an on-base plus slugging percentage of .661 versus southpaws and .569 versus righties.

Total players, come on down! With Jered Weaver (2-4, 4.36) taking the hill for L.A., one should expect to see a low scoring affair. In seven night games, Weaver has constructed a 5-2 record on the ‘under’. The Angels are 21-13 this season, helping backers out with a bankroll of +511 on the money line. L.A. has been effective on the road with an 11-5 record, is hitting .285 and has driven in 49 RBIs (20 homers have definitely helped) in 16 games. Compare these numbers to a .260 BA with 75 RBIs in 18 games played at home this year.

Minnesota (L. Hernandez) at Chicago White Sox (M. Buehrle) – 8:11 p.m. EDT

While working for a sub-par 4.43 ERA, Twins’ starter Livan Hernandez (4-1, 4.43) has been able to rack up four wins this season. Hernandez has been less effective in his last four starts, registering a 1-1 record, while falling prey to batters brining in 15 earned runs (seven earned runs surrendered in a 10-0 loss to Texas on Apr. 27). Minnesota is on top of the AL Central even with the team bringing in 4.1 runs per game (24th worst) and the pitching staff being tagged for a 4.11 ERA (14th ranked in the league).

The White Sox find themselves in the same position as last season, with the club spraying and praying for a .229 BA (worst in the majors). With manager Ozzie Guillen losing his cool for yet another year, Chicago finds itself in another corner of a small room. The White Sox have dropped six straight games, are swinging at flies for a pathetic .170 BA and have brought in 1.5 runs per game through the losing streak. On somewhat of a positive, the ‘South Siders’ have kept backers’ hopes alive with a +254 run line profit, while total players who play on low scoring games have seen the Sox go 17-13 on the ‘under’.

With Chicago sending out a southpaw in Buehrle, Minnesota has gone 7-3 in its last 10 road games versus a left-handed starter. The White Sox counter (trend wise) with an 8-3 record in their last 11 home games versus a right-handed starter.

Bonus Game

-- Texas (13-20, -423) will square up with Seattle (14-19, -532) at 10:10 p.m. EDT

-- The Rangers enter with only three wins in their last 16 meetings in Seattle, with the ‘under’ going 7-2-1 in their last 10.

-- Texas’ starter Vincent Padilla (4-2, 3.50) will make his eighth start of the season, working for a 3-1 record and a 4.08 ERA on the road. A .308 BAA combined with a sky high .913 OPS skews the three wins and one loss away from home numbers.

-- Even after collapsing in three straight defeats this past weekend (and finally ending a five-game contest), the Mariners where still able to maintain a relatively low bullpen ERA of 2.68 (compared to its seasonal 4.21 ERA in a total of 104.2 innings pitched).

-- With home plate umpire Mark Wegner taking his position behind catcher, the ‘under’ has gone 4-3 with the final score averaging nine runs during his reign.

-- Seattle enters this contest with a 6-1 record in the last seven versus Texas (all home games for the M’s).

-- Seattle’s Raul Ibanez has been red hot this season, swinging the Louisville for a .308 BA with 23 RBIs and five shots over the fence. Unfortunately, Ibanez is the only player on the roster batting over .300 in a minimum of 90 at bats.

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 7

Baseball Today

Cleveland at New York Yankees (7:05 p.m.). Two undefeated pitchers square off when stingy left-hander Cliff Lee (5-0, 0.96 ERA) and the Indians take on the Yankees and ace Chien-Ming Wang (6-0, 3.00), who has won three straight starts.


- Gavin Floyd, White Sox, took a no-hitter into the ninth inning before giving up a double to Joe Mauer with one out in a 7-1 win over the Twins.

- Nate McLouth, Pirates, had two homers and three RBIs in Pittsburgh's 12-6 victory over San Francisco.

- Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman, Astros. Lee had the go-ahead two-run double in the eighth inning and Berkman had a career-high five hits in Houston's 6-5 win over Washington.

- Tim Wakefield, Red Sox, allowed two hits in eight innings of a 5-0 win over the Tigers.

- David Dellucci, Indians, had a pinch-hit, three-run homer off Joba Chamberlain in the eighth inning to lead Cleveland to a 5-3 victory over the New York Yankees.

- Garret Anderson, Angels, homered for the second straight game and drove in five runs in Los Angeles' 5-3 win over Kansas City.

- Braden Looper, Cardinals, pitched into the ninth inning in the longest outing of his career and went 2-for-3 with an RBI in St. Louis' 6-5 win over slumping Colorado.

- Blake DeWitt, Dodgers, had three hits and four RBIs, including a go-ahead, two-run inside-the-park homer in the fifth inning of a 5-4 victory over the New York Mets.


Gavin Floyd didn't allow a hit until Joe Mauer's double with one out in the ninth inning of Chicago's 7-1 victory over the Twins on Tuesday night. Floyd (3-1) was taken out to a standing ovation after the hit and Bobby Jenks got the last two outs to help the White Sox end a six-game losing streak. Floyd previously held Detroit hitless for 7 1-3 innings on April 12.


Barry Zito, demoted to the San Francisco bullpen last week, is returning to the starting rotation without having made any relief appearances. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said that Zito will start Wednesday's game at Pittsburgh. Zito, who a year ago signed a $126 million, seven-year contract, was sent to the bullpen last week after a terrible start. The left-hander lost his first six starts and had a 7.53 ERA.


Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and David Murphy drove in three runs each to support stingy starter Sidney Ponson in the Rangers' 10-1 victory over the sinking Mariners. Ponson gave up seven harmless hits in seven innings, striking out two and walking two. Signed to a minor-league contract in March, Ponson is 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA in three starts since his recall from Triple-A Oklahoma last month.


Victor Martinez was pulled from the Indians' lineup because of a stiff neck. The decision was made during batting practice before the opener of a three-game series against New York. Martinez, an All-Star catcher, was replaced by backup Kelly Shoppach. ... Arizona second baseman Orlando Hudson could be out up to 10 days after an MRI exam revealed a strain in his right hamstring. ... The Blue Jays lost shortstops David Eckstein and John McDonald to injuries against Tampa Bay. Eckstein left in the fifth inning with a sore right groin and McDonald, his replacement, had to leave after injuring his right ankle in the sixth.


Jimmy Rollins thinks he almost is ready to rejoin the Phillies after going 2-for-4 with a solo homer Tuesday in an extended spring game against the Yankees. On the disabled list for the first time in his big league career, Rollins is recovering from a sprained left ankle. He is 6-for-8 with a homer, three doubles and four RBIs in two games. ... Giants shortstop Omar Vizquel, out all season after having arthroscopic left knee surgery Feb. 27, could rejoin the team within a week. Vizquel, who has been at the team's extended spring training camp in Arizona, may return to San Francisco on Friday for evaluation and, if no problems are found, could be ready to play shortly after that. ... A's right-hander Rich Harden struck out nine in six scoreless innings in a rehab start for Class-A Stockton. He allowed three hits and plunked three without a walk.


Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling tested his ailing shoulder by playing catch on flat ground Tuesday but isn't ready to begin throwing off a mound. The 41-year-old right-hander threw 25 balls from 60 feet away. He'll repeat the exercise Thursday before the Red Sox complete a four-game series against the Tigers.


The players' association expressed concern to the baseball commissioner's office over the lack of offers to Barry Bonds, asking for additional information about the offseason's free-agent market. The union did not go as far as to file a grievance on behalf of the 43-year-old outfielder, who remains unsigned and hasn't received any offers since the Giants decided not to re-sign him last year and he became a free agent.


Carlos Zambrano allowed three hits in eight innings, and Ronny Cedeno singled home a pair of runs that sent the Chicago Cubs to a 3-0 victory over the Reds. ... Scott Olsen allowed two hits in 8 2-3 innings, and Mike Jacobs hit a two-run homer to help Florida beat slumping Milwaukee 3-0. ... Tim Wakefield allowed two hits in eight innings, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez hit back-to-back homers on successive pitches in the seventh inning and Boston beat Detroit 5-0.


Colorado right-hander Kip Wells underwent surgery to remove blood clots in his pitching hand. The four-hour operation was performed by Dr. Robert Thompson at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. Wells' condition will be re-evaluated Wednesday. No date has been set for his return.


Boston's 5-0 victory over Detroit was the Red Sox's fifth straight win and the Tigers' fifth straight loss. ... Andy Sonnanstine won his fourth straight start, Eric Hinske homered and Tampa Bay beat the Blue Jays 5-4 to snap Toronto's five-game winning streak.


``We're not doing well right now. But it's very important that we remember what we have and how good they are.'' - Tigers manager Jim Leyland, following his team's 5-0 loss to Boston on Tuesday night that dropped Detroit to 14-20.

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 7

Better baseball betting

Sometimes the best books for bettors to read contain virtually no information on point spreads, money lines or anything else having to do with gambling.

The classic example is the annual Blue Ribbon college basketball yearbook, which many hoops bettors swear by, even though it does not target gamblers specifically.

The latest example, though, is “The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball” by Tom Tango, Mitchel Lichtman and Andrew Dolphin, three sabermatricians working in the vein of groundbreaking authors such as Bill James, Pete Palmer and John Thorn.

The authors examine hundreds of concepts linked to baseball strategy. Although their research and results appeal to anyone who takes a “thinking person’s” approach to baseball, much of it also carries value for those who bet the sport — even though “The Book” barely mentions handicapping.

The 384-page paperbound book ($21.95), published in 2007 by Potomac Books, is available in wide release, including at the Gambler’s Book Shop at 630 South 11th St. in Las Vegas.

The following are thumbnail highlights of a few of the concepts that could appeal to baseball bettors:

1. Hitters’ streaks

Bettors who consider how many players in a team’s starting lineup are “hot,” or “streaking,” in handicapping a baseball game could be making a mistake. The authors used computer analysis to study how every batter in the major leagues performed during and after “hot” and “cold” streaks of various lengths to try to determine whether that was a good predictor of performance in the immediate future.

For example, each player had up to 158 possible five-game streaks each season, starting with the fifth game each year.

The authors’ conclusion: “Knowing that a hitter has been in or is in the midst of a hot or cold streak has little predictive value.”

Tread carefully if you’re taking hitters’ streaks into account when creating a betting line you hope is more accurate than the oddsmakers’.

2. Pitchers’ streaks

You’ll often hear baseball handicappers talk about starting pitchers who are in “good form,” or who have found their “groove” in predicting games vis-a-vis the betting line.

It turns out they’re on solid ground here, according to the results of the authors’ comprehensive study of all pitchers’ performances during four complete recent seasons.

Their conclusion: “If a pitcher has pitched exceptionally well for four consecutive appearances or so, we can expect him to continue to pitch better than his norm for at least one more appearance.”

3. Hitters who “own” specific pitchers, and vice versa

I remember reading about Earl Weaver’s keeping track on index cards of how his hitters fared against individual pitchers around the league. If a pinch-hitting situation arose, Weaver supposedly would refer to his cards and choose the batter who was 2-for-5 (.400) against the particular pitcher ahead of the guy who was 1-for-4 (“only” .250).

It’s possible Weaver ignored the danger of small sample sizes.

The authors of “The Book” demonstrate that believing a batter “owns” a particular pitcher is a dubious line of thinking at best: “When a particular batter has faced a particular pitcher 200 or 300 times, come back and we’ll talk. Maybe.”

4. Platooning based on groundball and flyball tendencies

Also in the excellent chapter called “Mano a Mano,” the authors show that like other forms of platooning, doing so based on the groundball and flyball tendencies of hitters and pitchers has real results on the field.

Groundball pitchers, for example, really do “own” groundball hitters, and flyball pitchers “own” flyball hitters. A manager facing a groundball pitcher, then, would want as few groundball hitters in the lineup as possible, all things considered, because “groundball pitchers eat them up,” according to “The Book.”

The authors explain that unlike lefty/righty platoons, most major league managers do not make use of this kind of platoon advantage. This is valuable information for bettors who can spot such situations, because it might not be built into the betting line.

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 7

This week in MLB betting

Los Angeles Angels at Kansas City Royals

The series between the Angels and Royals wraps up with a pitching matchup that has shown complete opposite numbers of what we thought coming into the season. Zack Greinke is having a spectacular season after missing most of 2006 and pitching out of the bullpen most of last year. He is 3-1 with a 1.47 ERA and 1.02 WHIP through six starts. Jered Weaver meanwhile is struggling with a 4.36 ERA on the season as only two of his last five starts have been quality. However, he has a 1.93 career ERA against the Royals.

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 7

Wednesday's best MLB bets

Tampa Bay at Toronto -145, 8½

If you take into account their 16-18 record, the Toronto Blue Jays haven’t lived up to the lofty expectations some baseball analysts heaped on them before the season, but you can’t blame it on their starting pitching. The Jays have the second best team ERA in the major leagues at 3.29 and Shaun Marcum has been a big part of that.

The right-hander has a 2.70 ERA this season and he’s coming off a dominant performance against the Chicago White Sox, in which he pitched 6 1/3 shutout innings and allowed only two hits. In Marcum’s only career start against the Rays, he went six innings without allowing a run.

Marcum will go up against Matt Garza, who has recently regained his form after a tough start to the season. In Garza’s last two starts, he has allowed a total of five earned runs and helped the Rays win both games.

Pick: Under

New York Mets at Los Angeles Dodgers -125, 8½

The Dodgers are on an incredible tear right now after winning nine of their last 10 games and bettors can thank the hot L.A. bats for most of the success. They are averaging 7.5 runs per game during that stretch and they should get Rafael Furcal back in the lineup today after he sat out yesterday with a stiff back.

They will have a good chance to have another big offensive day today as they face John Maine, who has never beaten the Dodgers in three career meetings and has allowed 14 runs in 16 innings.

Pick: Dodgers

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