TUESDAY SERVICE PLAYS
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Chicago White Sox at Los Angeles Dodgers
PICK: Under 6*
The oddsmakers are going to have difficulty with the White Sox offense this summer, and we are going to be able to take full advantage. Give them either a ballpark and wind setting, or an opposing pitching staff, that is conducive to home runs, and they will mash with the best of them - they are #3 in the Major League’s in home runs. In the month of June they have reached double figures five times already. But what happens when the setting changes? They become an average offense, at best, yet one that will be priced too high because of the impact those home run derby games have in their overall statistics. We already have some evidence of that - they have played 8-2 to the Under in their last 10 road games, and 22-9 in the last 31. It is anything but home run derby against Derek Lowe tonight.
Lowe has been a rhythm pitcher throughout his career, and he is absolutely “on” right now. It has been a 1.96 over his last six starts, a span in which he has allowed only four home runs over 41.1 innings, and from this mound it has only been four in 46.1 for the full season. When his sinker is working it takes a lot of hits to get runners around the bases, and that is not the Chicago way at all. If anything, the White Sox have a direct weakness in this matchup - because they are so slow afoot, they are also #3 in the Major’s at grounding into double plays. And in a National League park they also will likely lose the bat of Jim Thome, taking away another potential weapon. Meanwhile Lowe has all key bullpen arms rested and ready behind him, and the Dodger bullpen has been outstanding in this Stadium this season, with great current form (Joe Beimel has not been scored on in nine straight appearances; eight straight for Jonathan Broxton; and Takashi Saito has one blown save in two months) .
The home team will also struggle to score tonight, which is what sets this Total up so well at the extreme value being offered. Like Lowe, Mark Buehrle is a rhythm guy, and when he is on he can frustrate hitters that lack experience against him. Few pitchers work the strike zone better, and there may not be anyone that works as quickly, which gets hitters offering at pitches on the edge of the zone that turn into easy contact outs. His 4-6/4.28 for the full season brings us value here, but note that after a slow start he has been the Buerhle of old - in working to a 1.50 over his last three starts he has worked eight full innings each time, at a masterful count of 12.7 pitches per inning in that span. He has worked to a sparkling 2-0/1.84 in a pair of Inter-League games so far, and 4-1/2.03 the past two seasons, an example of his ability to maneuver vs. hitters that lack experience against him, and Juan Pierre and Jeff Kent will the the only Dodgers that have ever faced him, with those two only combining for 12 career at-bats. And much like Lowe, Buehrle has a solid bullpen rested and ready behind him keyed by Scott Linebrink and Bobby Jenks, which gives us a solid guarantee against late-inning shenanigans.
(NOTE: Although the 8's have been disappearing from the marketplace on this one it is still a 6* at 7.5, particularly with some low-vig options out there at that price/)
Philadelphia Phillies at Oakland Athletics
PICK: Oakland Athletics 4*
In our current “Thinking Outside the Box” column we used the most unique current runs by a pair of Washington pitchers to show a little of how the geometric angles, and subsequent performance pendulums of baseball, do not always play to merit. And the gist was that as we get to this time of the season, and the markets begin to attach a full weight on the 2008 statistics, there can be some outstanding value found when we can fade some of those perceptions. The major move to the Phillies this morning set us up to do just that with Joe Blanton.
Blanton has been one of the more dependable starters in the major’s the past three seasons, working to a 42-34/4.08 tune while eating 625.2 innings. But for tonight the pitching forms show a 3-10/4.81 count for the season to date. So the question becomes - is there really an issue with Blanton anywhere? We do not believe so.
In going from 42-34 to 3-10, the increase in Blanton’s ERA is not all that major, and note that the WHIP increase is even smaller - from 1.36 in 2005-07 to 1.42 this season. In other words his pitching has not fallen off all that much, but he has absolutely not been in the right place at the right time in terms of results, particularly at home. The past three seasons it has been a 22-15/3.48 from this mound, but with the ERA only rising to 3.91, his W/L count this season is 1-7. It has been more bad luck than bad pitching, and note that the 3.91 should be even better than it is - eight of his 10 starts at McAfee Coliseum have come against teams that currently sport winning records. Only three AL teams are more than 10 games over .500 right now, and those opponents accounted for four of the 10 starts. So Blanton’s bottom line? A most under-valued commodity, and one that will offer value to us while the market shows disrespect.
Tonight is the ideal time to step in. The Phillies have somehow been bet into this range despite taking to the road on an 0-5 slide, a span in which the offense produced only nine runs. They have been able to mash the ball in warm weather, rating #2 in the Major’s in home runs, but can be vulnerable on a cool night in Oakland where the ball does not carry well. They also face the defensive issues of dealing with some tricky wind in a park in which they lack experience, and we anticipate matchup problems for Jamie Moyer against one of the most patient offenses in the league - the patient A’s (3rd in the A.L. in walks) will not put his borderline pitches into play, and will make him throw over the white part of the plate. When he does that, his stuff is nothing but ordinary.
Twins (RL) at Padres (RL)
PICK: Twins (RL) 3*
The last time that Kevin Slowey took the mound for Minnesota, we backed him with a 4* play against Washington, and we started the analysis this way - When the betting markets look at Kevin Slowey, they see a 3-6/4.70 in the pitching forms that causes a sneer, and leads to disrespect. And that works to our advantage in a major way here, in a game in which some fundamental handicapping logic comes into play. Tonight we have more of the same.
Slowey still only sports a 4-6/4.37 for the season, but his peripherals are solid in some particular key areas for tonight’s matchup - his WHIP of 1.18 is almost an even match for the 1.15 of Jake Peavy, and his command of the strike zone is outstanding - since becoming a full-time member of the Minnesota starting rotation last September, he has rolled up a ratio of 61 strikeouts vs. only nine hits allowed. He has only had one issue - the gopher ball, but at Petco Park that becomes only a minor nuisance, instead of a significant weakness. We can count on Slowey to once again do what he does best, which is throwing strikes and forcing the opponents to win with their bats, and the Padres have a difficult time making that happen. With a quality bullpen bringing all arms rested and ready behind him, it means that the home team is hard-pressed to score the entire way in this one.
Jake Peavy is drastically over-priced here, a solid favorite despite pitching for the weaker team. that line sets us up with the outstanding value that we get on the Run Line here - in a game in which runs are going to be difficult to come by, the +1.5 is worth far more than what the marketplace is charging. San Diego is just 21-56 as -1.5 this season, including 12-29 at home, and the Padres will struggle to merely win this game, much less get any kind of a margin.
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Chris James Sports
New York Yankees
The Yankees are as hot as they come right now and they will continue the winning tonight! This will be the first time the Yankees visit Pittsburgh in almost 50 years since the 1960 World Series. The Yankees lost that world series in Game 7 with a game winning home run even though they handily outscored the Pirates in the series. It will be a different story tonight than it was in Game 7 as the Yankees come in with an 8-2 record in their last 10 games. They are 4-0 in their last 4 starts vs a left handed pitcher and 4-0 in their last 4 as a road favorite. Inter league play has been fairly easy for the Yankees recently as they are 7-2 in their last 9 games. The same is not true for Pittsburgh has been terrible in inter league play for quite some time. They are 18-46 in their last 64 inter league games and an astounding 14-42 in their last 56 inter league games as an underdog! The Yankees helped contribute to those numbers as they swept the Pirates in 07 and 05. Let's play the Yankees and Rasner to make 7 straight against Pittsburgh
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Cincinnati Reds @ Toronto Blue Jays Over 8.5
AJ Burnett the Toronto Blue Jays, starting pitcher here tonight against the Cincinnati Reds is currently in a funk , as is evident by a 3 game run that has seen his garner, 11.30 ERA. Burnett has allowed 18 runs on 22 hits, and 12 walks in a little over 14 innings. The right hander has also struggled at home going 3-3 along with a bloated 8.16 ERA. The Reds starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo(4-6,5.55 ERA)has also struggled, recording a ugly 6.33 ERA during a winless four game stretch. Bottom line: I know both these offenses have been less than consistent this season, but both batting orders still have a great deal of talent, and are more than capable of breaking out with an explosive effort, especially against the type of starting pitching they will face in this spot. Final notes & Key Trends: The Jays have gone over in 7 of their L9 interleague home games. Play OVER
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My Las Vegas Insider is on the LA Dodgers at 10:10 ET.
The White Sox have made quite an impressive turnaround in '08, after losing 90 games last year. Despite getting swept at Wrigley this past weekend in a three-game series, Chicago opens this three-game series with the Dodgers at 41-34, giving them a 1 1/2-game lead over the Twins in the AL Central. However, the White Sox are in a "free-fall" way from home, as after opening the '08 season by winning 17 of their first 31 road games, the White Sox will take a nine-game road losing streak into this series in LA, batting just .251 as a team while scoring the grand total of only 21 runs (2.33 per) during their slide. The Dodgers are just 2-7 in interleague play but have won four of their last six games overall (includes a three-game sweep at Cincy last week), following a five-game losing streak. Despite owning a 35-40 mark, LA trails the D'backs by just four games in the NL West (so don't count them out just yet). Mark Buehrle will start for the White Sox and while he's got a 2.10 ERA over his last four starts, the White Sox have gone just 2-2 in those games. Buehrle's had no luck on the road this year, going 2-4 with a 4.91 ERA in nine away starts, with the White Sox going 2-7. He'll be opposed by LA's Derek Lowe, who was in danger of being dropped for the Dodgers' rotation in mid-May. Lowed opened that month 0-3 in his first four starts, allowing 30 hits and 22 ERs over 21.1 innings, for an ERA of 9.28. However, while the Dodgers lost his final two starts of May by the identical score of 2-1, Lowe got himself "back on track," allowing nine hits and two ERs in 14 innings. In June, he's gone 3-1 with a 2.31 ERA, giving him an ERA of 1.96 over his last six starts. Expect Chicago's road woes to continue tonight, as Lowe "stays in the zone." Las Vegas Insider on the LA Dodgers.
My Oddsmaker's Error is on the Phi Phillies at 10:05 ET.
Philadelphia ranks third in all of MLB in runs scored (398) and is second in HRs (104) but one would hardly know it by looking at the boxscores of Philly's last five games. The Phillies, who still lead the NL East by one game, have dropped five straight games, batting .166 as a team while scoring only nine runs, or an average of 1.8 per game! The Phillies will open a three-game series tonight with the A's in Oakland, a team which owns MLB's best team ERA (3.43), has allowed opponents to hit a ML-low .239 and has also allowed the fewest HRs in all of MLB as well (53). Based on those stats alone, it would be difficult to back the Phillies here. However, there are more than a few factors which greatly favor Philly in this game. First off, the Phillies will be facing Oakland's least effective starter in Joe Blanton. Blanton enters tonight's game with a 3-10 mark and a 4.81 ERA in 16 starts in '08. The team is 4-12 in his 16 starts and at minus-$827 vs the moneyline, he ranks 226th out of 229 starting pitchers this year! In his 11 home starts, the A's are a disastrous 2-9! Starting for the Phils is the ageless Jamie Moyer. Moyer enters this game 5-1 with a 3.20 ERA over his last seven starts (team is 6-1) and he has been much more effective on the road (4-1 with a 2.76 ERA in seven starts / team is 6-1) than he has been at home (3-3 with a 5.32 ERA in eight starts / team is 4-4). Going a little deeper "inside the numbers" and we find that the A's are 6-3 vs lefties here in Oakland during night games but have averaged only 3.6 RPG in those contests. Meanwhile, while the Philiies are a modest 8-7 vs right-handed starters on the road in night games, they have averaged 5.5 RPG. The Phillies are one of only a handful of teams above .500 (20-17) on the road this year and getting "out of Philadelphia" after losing five straight home games, is probably a "good thing." The price is right here to go against Blanton and the A's at home. Oddsmaker's Error on the Phi Phillies.
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BIG AL McMORDIE TUESDAY NIGHT BASEBALL ROUND-TRIPPER
At 10:05pm our selection is on the Philadelphia Phillies over the Oakland Athletics. Phillies 45-year-old lefthander Jamie Moyer is enjoying one of his best seasons in years and is pitching particularly well recently for his ballclub. In his last three starts, Moyer is 1-1 with a 1.96 ERA and 1.09 WHIP (the Phillies are 2-1 in these games). The same cannot be said of Oakland righthander Joe Blanton who has been simply awful recently. Blanton is winless in his last four starts (Oakland is 0-4 in those games) and has surrendered 20 earned runs in just under 23 innings during this time. Adding to this misery is the fact that in 11 home starts, Blanton only has one win (to go with seven losses and three no-decisions) while the A's are 2-9 in these games. Philadelphia has won 10 of Moyer's 15 starts this season, and the crafty southpaw could be poised to have another great start tonight in a very pitcher friendly ballpark against a team that is only batting .246 against lefthanders. If he leaves the game with a lead, he will be turning things over to one of the best bullpens in baseball. The Phillies are almost as good on the road (20-17) as they are at home (22-18), which is quite rare and they are 9-6 in their last 15 games away from Citizens Bank Ballpark.
Take the Phillies