MLB News and Notes April 9

MLB News and Notes April 9

Friday's MLB Tip Sheet
By Brad Young

Today’s tip sheet focuses on both the National and American Leagues. Even though the season is just over a month old, division races are starting to take shape. While most of the focus this time of year is on the NBA and NHL playoffs, there remains plenty of betting options on Friday’s major league baseball card.

Here’s an inside look at four games concerning Friday’s action.

**Marlins (Nolasco) at Nationals (Redding)**

-Caesars Palace installed Washington as a $1.35 home ‘chalk’ over Florida, with the total set at 9½ ‘under’ (minus $1.20). This National League East matchup is scheduled to begin at 7:35 p.m. ET.

-Florida’s Ricky Nolasco (1-3, 7.46 ERA) dropped to 0-3 his last four starts after Saturday’s setback to San Diego as a $1.45 home underdog, 7-2. The 6-foot-2 right-hander lasted just 4 2/3 innings, allowing six runs on 10 hits with two walks and two strikeouts.

-The combined nine runs went ‘over’ the eight-run closing total, ending a string of three straight ‘under’ outings for the 25-year-old.

-Nolasco picked up a no-decision against the Nationals last year after going four innings and yielding one run on three hits with three walks and no strikeouts. The Marlins eventually dropped that contest as a $1.30 road favorite, 7-3, while the combined 10 runs went ‘over’ the nine-run closing total.

-Washington right-hander Tim Redding (4-2, 3.20 ERA) is off Sunday’s victory over Pittsburgh as a home ‘pick,’ 5-2. The New York native was reached for one run on six hits (one home run) with no walks and five strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings.

-The combined seven runs failed to eclipse the nine-run closing total, helping the ‘under’ cash his second straight start.

-The 30-year-old beat the Marlins April 18 as a $1.17 road underdog, 6-4, tossing six innings while surrendering four runs on three hits (one home run) with a walk and 10 strikeouts. The combined 10 runs slithered ‘over’ the 9½-run closing total.

**Cardinals (Wellemeyer) at Brewers (Parra)**

-Caesars Palace opened Milwaukee as a $1.15 home favorite over St. Louis, with the total set at 9½ ‘under’ (minus $1.20). This NL Central contest is slated to start at 8:05 p.m. ET.

-St. Louis hurler Todd Wellemeyer (3-1, 4.07 ERA) dumped Chicago his last start Sunday as a $1.12 home ‘chalk,’ 5-3. The six-year veteran went five innings, yielding two runs on three hits with four walks and four strikeouts.

-The combined eight runs went below the 8 ½-run closing total, enabling the ‘under’ to cash his second start in a row.

-Wellemeyer has not started against the Brewers the last few seasons.

-Milwaukee counters with Manny Parra, hoping the left-hander can improve on his 1-2 record and 5.86 ERA in six starts. The 25-year-old fell to Houston Saturday as a $1.10 road ‘chalk,’ 6-2, surrendering six runs (five earned) on nine hits (two home runs) with four walks and three strikeouts over just four innings.

-The combined eight runs failed to topple the 10-run closing total, enabling the ‘under’ to improve to 4-1 his last five starts.

-The California native has two no decisions against the Cardinals this year, going a combined nine innings while being reached for six runs on 14 hits (one home run) with seven walks and five strikeouts. The Brewers prevailed as a $1.10 road underdog, 5-3, and as a $1.20 home favorite, 9-8.

**Yankees (Igawa) at Tigers (Rogers)**

-Caesars Palace lists Detroit as a $1.30 home favorite over New York, with the total set at 10. This American League matchup is scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m. ET.

-New York’s Kei Igawa gets his first start of the season with the Yankees in place of right-hander Ian Kennedy who was shipped off to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Igawa went 3-3 with a 3.86 ERA in seven starts down on the farm, allowing 33 hits in 39 2/3 innings while walking 12 and striking out 40.

-The Japanese left-hander began his major league career last year, going 2-3 with a 6.25 ERA in 14 games (12 starts). This marks his first time pitching against the Tigers.

-Detroit left-hander Ken Rogers (2-3, 6.27 ERA) toes the rubber for the first time since Sunday’s no-decision against Minnesota. The veteran hurler went 6 2/3 innings, yielding five runs (three earned) on six hits with no walks and six strikeouts.

-The Tigers eventually dropped that matchup as a $1.03 road underdog, 7-6, while the combined 13 runs eclipsed the 9 ½-run closing total. The ‘over’ is 4-0-1 his last five starts.

-Rogers beat the Yankees April 29 as a $1.25 road underdog, 6-4, allowing two runs on six hits (one home run) with four walks and four strikeouts over six innings. The combined 10 runs landed directly on the closing total.

**Red Sox (Lester) at Twins (Bonser)**

-Caesars Palace opened Boston as a $1.30 road favorite over Minnesota, with the total listed at nine. First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. ET.

-Boston’s Jon Lester (2-2, 3.94 ERA) upended Tampa Bay Sunday as a $1.10 home ‘chalk,’ 7-3. The southpaw was reached for one run on four hits (one home run) with three walks and five strikeouts over six innings.

-The combined 10 runs went ‘over’ the nine-run closing total, ending a three-game ‘under’ streak for the 24-year-old.

-Lester, a three-year veteran, has not started against the Twins the last few seasons.

-Minnesota pitcher Boof Bonser (2-4, 4.29 ERA) received a no-decision his last start Sunday against Detroit despite tossing a subpar six innings. The righty was tagged for six runs (five earned) on eight hits (one home run) with no walks and five strikeouts.

-The Twins eventually won that affair as a $1.07 home favorite, 7-6, while the combined 13 runs went ‘over’ the 9½-run closing total. The ‘under’ had gone 4-1 his previous five outings.

-Bonser beat the Red Sox last year as a decided $2.30 road underdog, 5-4, lasting five innings while surrendering three runs on six hits (one home run) with two walks and two strikeouts. The combined nine runs landed directly on the closing total.

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Toronto (17-19) at Cleveland (16-18)

The Blue Jays trot out right-hander Roy Halladay (3-4, 3.00 ERA) to open a four-game series at Progressive Field against the Indians, who will start struggling left-hander C.C. Sabathia (1-5, 7.51) in a battle of aces.

Toronto is coming off a three-game home series against Tampa Bay in which the Jays dropped the opener 5-4, won the second game 6-2, then gave up five runs in the 13th inning to suffer an 8-3 loss Thursday night in the finale. The Blue Jays are still on a 6-2 tear in their last eight games.

Cleveland is returning home after a three-game set at Yankee Stadium, in which it took the the first two games by scores of 5-3 and 3-0, then finished out the series with Thursday’s 6-3 loss. Despite taking two of three from New York, the Indians are only 4-6 in their last 10 games overall.

Cleveland is on a 12-1 run against Toronto at home and is 17-6 in the last 23 matchups overall, including taking four of six games from the Blue Jays each of the last three seasons. One positive for Toronto: It is 5-1 in Halladay’s last six starts against Cleveland.

Halladay halted a three-game losing streak in his last start Sunday, allowing three runs on three hits with no walks and seven strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings en route to a 4-3 home win over the Chicago White Sox. Halladay has gotten a decision in all seven of his starts this year, and he’s gone no less than seven innings each time out, including four complete games, going just 1-3 in those contests.

Halladay is 5-0 with a 3.77 ERA in 10 appearances (nine starts) against Cleveland, including two complete games. In his only start against the Tribe last year, he allowed five runs on nine hits in just 5 2/3 innings, but he got the win as Toronto took an 8-6 home victory.

Sabathia, also making his eighth start of the year, has lost his last two, most recently giving up four runs on 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings as Cleveland fell 4-2 to Kansas City at home on Saturday. That loss came on the heels of a 1-0 home setback to New York in which Sabathia went eight strong innings, allowing the one run on four hits. Sabathia is 6-3 with a 3.71 ERA lifetime against Toronto, including allowing three runs on four hits (three of them homers) in six innings in a 12-4 win over the Jays the only time he faced them last year.

Halladay is 1-3 despite a solid 2.76 ERA in four road starts this year, while Sabathia is 0-4 with a beefy 9.33 ERA in five home outings.

The Blue Jays are riding slumps of 2-7 on the highway, 1-7 in series openers, 3-7 against left-handed starters, 1-4 as a road ‘dog, 1-5 with Halladay as a road ‘dog and 3-11 in Halladay’s last 14 starts overall on the road. On the positive side, though, Toronto is on runs of 5-0 against the A.L. Central, 10-4 on Friday, 21-7 with Halladay starting a series opener, 50-15 with Halladay facing a losing team and a stellar 62-29 in Halladay’s last 91 starts overall.

The Indians are 25-11 in Sabathia’s last 36 Friday starts, but 4-11 in their last 15 as a home chalk. In fact, they’re just 8-11 at Progressive Field this season.

For Toronto, the under is on streaks of 20-8 overall, 5-0 in Halladay’s last five startsl, 4-0 against lefties and 36-15-2 on the road. For Cleveland, the under is on runs of 5-0 overall, 7-0 against the A.L. East, 6-1 at home against righties, 7-2 at Progressive Field overall and 6-2 as a favorite.

Conversely, the over is 12-5-3 in Halladay’s last 20 series-opening starts, 10-4 in Cleveland’s last 14 series openers and 6-1 in Sabathia’s last seven Game 1 starts, and the total has gone high in five of the last six meetings in this rivalry.


N.Y. Yankees (18-18) at Detroit (15-21)

Kei Igawa makes his first big-league start of the season when he leads the Yankees into Comerica Park for a three-game weekend series against the slumping Tigers, who are set to hand the ball to veteran left-hander Kenny Rogers (2-3, 6.27 ERA).

After dropping the first two games of a home series against the Indians, New York came back on Thursday afternoon and avoided the sweep with a 6-3 victory. The up-and-down Yankees are just 4-5 in their last nine games, including being on the wrong end of three-game sweep against the Tigers at Yankee Stadium on April 29-May 1.

Detroit comes into this series having dropped six of its last seven, including losing three of four to Boston to begin this week. Despite having one of the most feared lineups in the major leagues, the Tigers have been held to three runs or less five times during their 1-6 slump, and that includes Thursday’s 5-1 loss to the Red Sox.

The Tigers’ three-game sweep of New York 10 days ago was historic in that it was the first time since 1966 that Detroit swept a three-game set in the Bronx. Rogers pitched the opener on April 29, yielding two runs on six hits in six innings as Detroit won 6-4. The Tigers have won the last five clashes in this rivalry and are 6-1 in the last seven meetings in Detroit.

Igawa, who was just recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, went 2-3 with a 6.25 ERA in 14 games (12 starts) for the Yanks in his rookie season last year, including 0-2 with a 5.76 ERA in five starts on the highway. The 28-year-old southpaw from Japan did not face the Tigers last year.

Rogers got his second no-decision of the season on Sunday at Minnesota, giving up five runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings, with Detroit blowing a 6-0 first-inning lead and losing 7-6. Rogers is 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA in two home starts this year and 6-7 with a 6.25 ERA in 36 career regular-season games (15 starts) against the Yankees. Prior to his April 29 victory over New York, Rogers hadn’t faced the Yankees since the 2006 A.L. Divisional playoffs when he pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings in a 6-0 win in Detroit.

The Yankees are on a 14-6 run against teams with a losing home record and are 4-0 in their last four as an underdog and 5-2 in their last seven as a road pup, but they carry losing trends of 8-19 against left-handed starters, 2-6 on Friday and 1-5 against the A.L. Central. New York also went 1-4 in Igawa’s five road starts in 2007.

The Tigers are on a 4-0 tear against lefties and are further runs of 4-1 at home against left-handers, 7-3 as a home chalk, 35-17 in Rogers’ last 52 starts overall, 20-7 in his last 27 home starts, 14-6 with Rogers going on four days’ rest and 4-1 with Rogers facing an A.L. East opponent. On the downside, Detroit is 1-5 in its last six as a favorite.

The under is 25-10-1 for the Yankees this season, including 13-5 on the road (4-0 last four on the road). The under is on further runs for New York of 12-1-1 against losing teams, 5-0 on the road against left-handed starters, 8-1-1 against the A.L. Central. Conversely, for Detroit, the over is on streaks of 11-2-2 at Comerica against left-handed starters, 4-0-1 overall in Rogers’ starts, 6-0-1 when Rogers goes on four days’ rest and 7-2 with Rogers a favorite. However, the under is 17-8-2 in Rogers’ last 27 home starts.



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Baseball Today

Toronto at Cleveland (7:05 p.m.) Toronto's Roy Halladay, the 2003 Cy Young Award winner, faces C.C. Sabathia, won the award last season. Halladay is 3-4 and Sabathia, after a rocky start, is 1-5.


-Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks, improved to 8-0 with his 13th career complete game in an 8-3 victory over Philadelphia.

-Jermaine Dye, White Sox, homered for the third straight game in a 6-2 win over the Twins.

-Matt Holliday, Rockies, had four singles and scored three times in a 9-3 victory over St. Louis.

-Daniel Cabrera, Orioles, threw a three-hitter to remain perfect in four decisions against Kansas City with a 4-1 victory.

-Dioner Navarro, Rays, hit a grand slam in the 13th to help Tampa Bay beat Toronto 8-3.

-Matt Treanor, Marlins, hit a three-run homer to give himself a career-high in RBIs with one swing and help Florida beat Milwaukee 7-2.


Brandon Webb became the first pitcher to win his first eight starts since Jon Garland of the White Sox in 2005 and the first in the NL since Pedro Martinez for Montreal in 1997. He tossed his 13th career complete game in Arizona's 8-3 victory over Philadelphia.


The Blue Jays rallied for three runs in the ninth inning against Rays closer Troy Percival, who came into the game without allowing a run and perfect in seven save opportunities. Despite Percival's first blown save, Tampa Bay beat the Blue Jays 8-3 in 13 innings.


The Braves finally won a one-run game when Matt Diaz hit a bases-loaded single in the ninth inning to beat San Diego 5-4 and extend Atlanta's winning streak to six. Atlanta was the first team since the 2000 Houston Astros to lose its first nine one-run games. The Braves were the only team in the major leagues without a one-run victory.


Reserve outfielders Willie Harris and Rob Mackowiak started and homered to help the Nationals beat Houston 8-3.


Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera improved to 4-0 against Kansas City, tossing a three-hitter with seven strikeouts in a 4-1 victory. Cabrera's lifetime ERA is 4.89, but against the Royals, it's 2.25.


Ryan Ludwick hit two solo home runs in St. Louis' 9-3 loss to Colorado. He went 9-for-13 in the four-game series with three doubles, three home runs and six RBIs. Ludwick entered Coors Field with a .308 average and departed at .363.


Josh Beckett recorded his 1,000th career strikeout in Boston's 5-1 victory over Detroit.


Kevin Youkilis hit his third homer in two days at Detroit as the Red Sox beat the Tigers 5-1. Youkilis finished with four homers in the series and now has eight at Comerica Park. He has no more than two at any other road venue.


Richie Sexson charged the mound and flung his helmet at Rangers pitcher Kason Gabbard after the left-hander threw a pitch eye-high to the Mariners' first baseman in the fourth inning. Both benches cleared, but no punches were thrown. Sexson was ejected.


The Brewers lost their season-high sixth straight game, 7-2 to the Marlins. ... The Nationals beat the Astros 8-3 to snap Houston's five-game winning streak. ... The Braves extended their winning streak to a season-high six straight with a 5-4 victory over San Diego.


``Amen! Hallelujah!'' - Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones, after the Braves beat San Diego 5-4 for their first one-run victory of the season. Atlanta was the first team since the 2000 Houston Astros to lose its first nine one-run games.

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Pitchers who aren't worth the price

When it comes to handicapping baseball, nothing can be as helpful, or as costly, as an ace. Even if you haven't been paying a lot of attention to a team, you know who their ace is.

An ace is supposed to come out every game and give a solid effort. If an ace is matched up against a fourth or fifth starter, his team is in good shape. Or at least it should be. But ss is the case every year, some teams are currently dealing with an ace that isn't looking very ace-like.

That can be costly for bettors looking for wins from these guys. Here's a look at five aces that have been particularly frustrating so far this year.

Barry Zito, San Francisco Giants: This guy is way too easy to pick on, but I can't seem to help myself. It's hard to argue that Zito should not have been viewed as the ace based on the year he had last year (11-13 with a career-high 4.53 ERA). The fact remains, though, that he should be the ace. He's being paid like one with his $126 million, seven-year contract which was the highest ever for a pitcher when he signed it last year. He also has the career record of one - he has a Cy Young award in his trophy case, and he was 16-10 in his last season in Oakland.

His first year in San Francisco was practically Cy Young-like compared to what he has pulled off this year. Saying he has been bad is an insult to bad pitchers. In six starts he has six losses and an ERA of 7.53. A guy who always had a decent strikeout-to-walk ratio has walked 15 and only struck out 11. He had a decent start against St. Louis, but he didn't make it out of the fourth inning in his last two. He was so bad that he actually got yanked from the rotation and put in the bullpen. Zito never appeared in relief, and he is back in the Giants' rotation now, but the fact remains that a $126-million player should not be waiting to get the call to mop up in the fifth. Ugly.

Roy Oswalt, Houston Astros: Houston's opening day starter is just 3-3 with a 5.57 ERA. His story isn't nearly as bleak as Zito's, however, since his three wins are tied for a team high on a pretty average Houston club. More significantly, he's starting to find his form in recent starts.

His first three starts were terrible, capped by eight earned runs in four innings against the Marlins. Since then, though, he has three wins in four starts and he looks much better. He still is walking more batters than we are used to, his ERA remains higher than in the past, and he seems to not quite be the same dominating pitcher we have known, but at least he isn't as lousy as he was in the first couple of weeks.

Jeff Francis, Colorado Rockies: It seemed like the Canadian lefty found his stride last year. He had improved in each of his first three full years, and topped out with an impressive 17-9 mark last year. Based on what they did at the end of last year, the Rockies came into this season with some reasonably high expectations.

They haven't come close to meeting them, and Francis has struggled along with his teammates. He's 0-3 in six starts and his ERA is a full run higher than last year. He's had one outstanding start that was turned into a no-decision when he didn't get any run support and another start that was decent. Take those out, though, and he is walking too many batters and giving up way too many runs. You can't blame Coors Field either because his worst start was on the road.

Gil Meche, Kansas City Royals: Here's another guy that you wouldn't necessarily call an ace if he wasn't being paid like one. His five-year, $55 million contract signed last year was tied for the highest in franchise history and he has been the opening day starter both seasons he has played for the Royals. He's not doing what he has been paid for this year, though.

He has the highest ERA and the most losses of any starter on the team. Despite the criticism the Royals took over the contract, the guy is a decent pitcher. He's no Johan Santana, but he gets the job done. This year, though, he is on a team that is struggling badly after a quick start and he isn't providing the leadership the young team needs. On the other hand, neither is anyone else on the team with the exception of Zack Greinke.

C.C. Sabathia, Cleveland Indians: Cleveland's giant has been a disaster this year. After going 19-7 last season, he has gone 1-5 out of the gate and his 7.51 ERA is more than double last year's.

It has been so bad that he allowed nine earned runs in back-to-back games against Oakland and Detroit. After hitting that low, it looked like he may be turning things around when he pitched a six-inning shutout against the Royals and followed that up with just one run in eight innings against the Yankees. But in his most recent outing, he got chased in the seventh after allowing four earned runs. That's five sub-par starts in seven tries, and that is far from what we have come to expect.

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