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By Kevin Rogers
The Arizona Diamondbacks have done one thing better than any team in baseball this season -- they have failed more times at the plate than the 29 other teams, batting a pedestrian .235. The D-Backs even tried to shake things up by making a change of on-field leadership by firing manager Bob Melvin, two years removed from winning the NL West title. How does this benefit bettors? Easy. Playing away from Chase Field the D-Backs have been 'under' machines according to the VegasInsider.com Total Report, cashing the 'under' in nine of 11 road games, including one push.
Coincidentally, the D-Backs have been doing this without their ace, Brandon Webb, who has been on the disabled list since April 12. The 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner is not expected back until June at the earliest. The second half of the great starting duo in Arizona has lived up to his reputation, as Dan Haren has an ERA of 1.84 in his first seven starts, while going 'under' in five of those outings. One of the 'over' tickets Haren was involved in was the lone road 'over' for Arizona this season, a 4-3 setback at San Diego last Thursday. Jon Garland has been a nice addition to the D-Backs staff, compiling a 3-2 mark, with four quality starts to his ledger. Garland has received outstanding run support compared to Haren, as the Arizona bats have averaged 5.7 runs in Garland's seven appearances, while the D-Backs are putting up an average of 2.4 runs/game in Haren's seven outings.
Second-year hurler Max Scherzer has improved after a shaky start, holding the Brewers and Dodgers to two earned runs in 12 innings pitched, but Arizona dropped both those road contests. Scherzer is getting the Haren treatment as of late, with the D-Backs scoring just two runs in his previous two outings before a recent 10-game explosion on May 10 against the hapless Nationals. Lefty Doug Davis has received two runs or less in six of his seven trips to the mound, helping contribute to his 2-5 record. The D-Backs are 1-8 this season as a favorite when Davis, Scherzer, or Yusmeiro Petit starts, meaning you can get excellent value by fading Arizona when Haren or Garland does not start, and the team is favored.
The Arizona lineup has put up truly offensive numbers through the first five weeks. With the loss of Adam Dunn in the offseason to Washington, the D-Backs lost that extra-pop in the middle of their lineup. Arizona hitters struck out the second-most times in baseball last season, and are in a neck-and-neck race with last year's strikeout champions, the Marlins, so far this season. The D-Backs have been without their leadoff man, shortstop Stephen Drew for the last two weeks with an injured hamstring. Drew is the lone consistent left-handed bat in the lineup dominated by righties, including Chris Young, Mark Reynolds, Justin Upton, Eric Byrnes and Conor Jackson. Young, Byrnes, and Jackson all are hitting under .200, while combining to punch out 56 times.
There looks like plenty of good 'under' opportunities when Arizona hits the road for a nine-game trip that begins May 15. The D-Backs play three-game series at Atlanta, Florida, and Oakland. All three opponents are batting under .260, while both the Marlins and A's are barely ahead of the D-Backs in batting average. This is not to tell you to just ride 'unders' the rest of the season with Arizona, but if their total sits at 8.5, 9, or even 9.5 away from Chase Field, the 'under' definitely merits a look over the next few weeks.
Upcoming Road Schedule:
May 15 - @ Atlanta
May 16 - @ Atlanta
May 17 - @ Atlanta
May 18 - @ Florida
May 19 - @ Florida
May 20 - @ Florida
May 21 - @ Florida
May 22 - @ Oakland
May 23 - @ Oakland
May 24 - @ Oakland