MONDAY PREMIUM SERVICE PLAYS
Re: MONDAY PREMIUM SERVICE PLAYS
Oddsmaker's Error - MLB
The Yanks missed the postseason last year for the first time since 1993 and reloaded this year with a bevy of high priced free agents (nothing new there). The Yanks stumbled out of the blocks and after losing a two-game series at home against the Rays on May 6 and 7, were just 13-15. However, they have won 12 of their last 16 since, despite losing two of three at home over the weekend to the defending World Series champs. The 25-19 Yanks have climbed within a game of first-place Boston, despite their 5.12 team ERA. As for the Rangers, not much was expected of them in 2009. They haven't won a division title since 1999 but Texas leads the AL West this year, entering Memorial Day with a 26-17 record. Everyone knew the Rangers could hit, as they led the majors last year in both BA (,283) and runs scored (901) but last year's pitching staff finished with a ML-high 5.36 ERA. Texas once again owns one of the league's best offenses but its the team's improvement on the mound which has them talking postseason. Brandon McCarthy pitched a nine-hitter in Sunday's 5-0 win over Houston (his first career CG), which completed a three-game sweep. The team's ERA is 3.20 in May and at its 4.39 ERA on the season ranks 14th in MLB (quite an improvement). Texas has now won 16 of its last 21 games and opens this three-game series with the Yankees on an eight-game home winning streak. The Rangers have hit .305 and scored 48 runs (six per game) during the streak. While a pitching rebirth has been instrumental in Texas' good play this year, the Yanks have struggled with their pitching all season. Their team ERA is 5.12 entering this game, ranking them 26th in the majors. The Yankees have been "talking up" Phil Hughes for a few years now but he may be pitching to "stay in the rotation," this afternoon. Chien-Ming Wang is seemingly healthy and about ready to return. Hughes looked promising back in 2007, going 5-3 with a 4.46 ERA in 13 starts. However, he was dreadful in his eight starts last year, going 0-4 with a 6.62 ERA (team was 3-5). His first start of 2009 came on April 28 and he was very good (6 IP / 2 hits / 0 runs), as the Yanks routed the Tigers, 11-0. However, in four starts since, he's allowed 27 hits and 17 ERs in just 15.2 innings, for a 9.77 ERA. His last outing vs Baltimore was by far the best of those four outings (5 IP / 6 hits / 3 ERs) but it helped that the Yankees got him 11 runs. Here he'll face a Texas team which has won eight straight at home, going 14-6 in Rangers Ballpark on the year (averaging 6.45 RPG) and is a perfect 5-0 in afternoon home games vs right-handers. Texas will counter with left-hander Matt Harrison, who is 4-3 with a 4.71 ERA in eight starts. He had won four straight starts and thrown back-to-back complete games but in his last outing (at Detroit this past Wednesday), allowed five ERs and three HRs in five innings of a 5-3 loss to the Tigers. Still, Harrison has been pretty good for Texas this year and the Yanks have struggled the last two seasons against lefties away from Yankee Stadium. They are 2-2 in the early going of 2009 in that situation but that follows records of 11-15 (in 2008) and 5-14 (in 2007) vs left-handed starters on the road. Hughes vs this Texas lineup here in Arlington is a HUGE mismatch (favoring the Rangers) and the lefty Harrison should keep New York's daunting lineup in check. The way Texas has played at home, there is no reason for this line to be so cheap, other than the opposing team is wearing those famous pinstripes.
Oddsmaker's Error on the Tex Rangers
7* Daytime Dominator - MLB
Not much went right for the Tigers in 2008, as they fell to 74-88 and their moneyline mark of minus-$2,917 was the third-worst in all of MLB. Justin Verlander, a star in his first two seasons of MLB (2006 and 2007), fell as hard as anyone in Detroit. He finished last season 11-17 with a 4.84 ERA in 33 starts, with the Tigers going 13-20 in those starts, as his moneyline mark of minus-$1,351 ranked him dead-last among MLB's starting pitchers! Verlander opened the 2009 season with a 9.00 ERA through four starts but the "old Verlander" has returned in his last five outings. He is 4-0 with a 1.02 ERA (team is 4-1), with an amazing 52 strikeouts in just 35.1 innings. Verlander is 4-2 on the season and is ERA is down to 3.99 ERA. He had a chance to become the first Detroit pitcher to strike out at least 10 in four straight starts in his last outing (last Wednesday against Texas), but he "only" recorded eight Ks in the team's 5-3 win. The Tigers dropped the final two games of their weekend series against Colorado but at 24-18, they lead the AL Central. The Royals are 20-20 and find themselves in second-place, three games back of the Tigers. KC had been shut out in back-to-back 5-0 losses to open its weekend series at St Louis but salvaged the finale against the Cardinals on Sunday, escaping with a 3-2 win. The KC bats have been pretty 'quiet' during the team's recent slide, as the Royals are averaging just 3.2 RPG while losing 11 of their last 15 games. Gil Meche took a lot of 'heat' for the big free agent deal he signed with KC prior to the 2007 season, as he had just a 55-46 career mark with the Mariners when he signed a $55 million deal with the Royals (one million per win). However, he quieted those critics with back-to-back solid seasons, with ERAs of 3.67 (2007) and 3.98 (2008). However, it's not easy getting wins when pitching for the Royals and Meche entered this year 23-24 in his two seasons with KC. Meche has been dealing with an ailing back this season and that could explain some of his recent struggles. He looked pretty good in his last outing though, going six innings and allowing just two runs last Wednesday against Cleveland. However, he came away with a no decision as the bullpen didn't do its job in a 6-5 Cleveland win. Meche is 2-4 with a 4.42 ERA in starts nine (team is 3-6) and the truth is, he was pitching far better earlier in the year than he has lately. Meche was 1-4 with a 6.33 ERA in his previous five starts before Wednesday's outing vs the Indians. He figures to need some run support to win here and that's not likely, as the Royals haven't been hitting plus they've NEVER done well vs Verlander, who comes in pitching great. Not only is Verlander in "top form" but he's 7-1 with a 2.43 ERA in 11 career starts vs the Royals (Tigers are 8-3 in those games).
Daytime Dominator on the Det Tigers
Weekly Wipeout Winner - NBA
The "old" Nuggets showed up in Game 3 on Saturday night. Denver hadn't made it past the first round of the NBA playoffs since 1994, but this year's team took care of both the Hornets and Mavs in five games, reaching the Western Conference finals for the first time since 1985. They then outplayed the Lakers in both games in LA, returning home with the series tied at one game apiece. The Pepsi Center was psyched but the Nuggets played an undisciplined game, shooting a playoff-low 39 percent from the floor. They were just horrific from behind the arc, missing 22 of 27 shots. Carmelo Anthony was 1-for-7, Chauncey Billups 2-for-7 and JR Smith 2-for-10, in what was an 'ugly' performance. In the end, Kobe's 41 points (13 in the 4th quarter) and another late Ariza steal (his steal in Game 1 'saved' LA in that one), gave LA a 2-1 series lead. The loss was Denver's first at home in the postseason and ended a 16-game home winning streak. I had the Lakers in Game 3, pointing out they were an NBA-best 29-12 on the road during the regular season. Yes, they had been just 2-3 on the road in the postseason prior to Saturday's game but the two wins came in very similar situations to Saturday night's game. LA was up 2-0 vs the Jazz in Round 1, before losing Game 3, 88-86. Knowing Utah could tie the series with a win in Game 4, the Lakers left little doubt as to which was the better team in Game 4, winning 108-94. Then in the second round, LA traveled back to Houston after splitting the first two games of its series with the Rockets at home and won Game 3, 108-94. I also noted that the Lakers have been terrific as underdogs, now 15-5-1 ATS in their last 21 opportunities, including 14 outright wins and that playoff history was also on my side. The Lakers are now 16-3 SU the last 19 games when coming of an upset loss, including a perfect 5-0 in the 2009 postseason. However, as we saw in the Houston series, the Lakers have been a Jekyll and Hyde team this postseason. While I don't like giving the Lakers any points (see that underdog record above, they are NOT coming offa n upset loss in this one but rather, an upset win (big difference). Let's not forget that Denver had been 11-0-1 ATS this postseason before Saturday's loss and that other than Gasol and Ariza, Kobe has been getting very little help this postseason. Fisher may have given a great "win one for the Gripper" speech in Game 3 but he's can't 'buy' a basket (especially from three-point land) plus Bynum has become a total non-factor with he and Phil Jackson not even talking. Then there is Lamar Odom, easily one of the league's most gifted and multi-talented players, who often is "nowhere to be found." I don't know if I'll ever be 100 percent sold on Karl or the Nuggets but this sure seems like an excellent spot for them to get a big win, as LA throws in another 'clunker' of a performance.
Weekly Wipeout Winner on the Den Nuggets
Re: MONDAY PREMIUM SERVICE PLAYS
6* DENVER over L.A. LAKERS
On Saturday we focused on what we thought were a litany of edges that Denver had over the Lakers going into Game #3, and with the Nuggets winning each of the first three quarters, adding up to an 8-point advantage going into the final period, the path to a winning ticket appeared to be there. Then a team that has played so flawlessly throughout the playoffs turned in their worst quarter of the post-season, getting out-scored 32-18 to not only turn that game around, but to put their backs firmly against the wall here. And while that setting could be awkward for a team with a different mentality, they bring exactly the kind of aggression and intensity to step up big under the circumstances. We believe that turns this one into a blowout.
Denver did a lot of things right in Game #3 ? more points in the paint, more fast break points, more steals, fewer turnovers and more offensive rebounds. Those are the hustle categories in which we believe the Nuggets have substantial advantages in this matchup, and once again they easily won the battle of the benches, out-scoring Los Angeles 29-15, with a 17-15 edge in rebounds and 8-5 in assists. So what went wrong? Two areas that can easily turn around. After playing the best basketball of his career in the first two games, Carmelo Anthony had a foul-plagued outing in which he only made 4-13 field goal attempts, including 1-7 from beyond the arc, and he finished with more fouls than rebounds and more turnovers than assists. That is not going to happen again. And as a team the Nuggets were a dismal 5-27 from 3-point range, dragging down their overall shooting to 39.3 percent. We can also expect that to turn around, and note that even with that awful accuracy they still held a 95-93 lead when Kobe Bryant made that tough triple with 1:09 remaining. On a night in which they got a poor game from a superstar and shot about as poorly from long range as they had all season, they still had the lead almost 47 minutes into the proceedings.
Now not only do we expect a much better performance from the Nuggets, but the Lakers look even more vulnerable. The bench issues are in play again. The limited fuel left in the tank of Derek Fisher showed again on Saturday (only four points and two assists in 26:13). Andrew Bynum continues to show a lack of rhythm and played only 20:47. But the Lakers got big-time games from Bryant and Pau Gasol, who scored 61 of their 103 points. That, however, comes at a toll. Bryant had to have an IV solution after the game, and only shot free throws in practice yesterday. Meanwhile Gasol is off of a draining 42:53, and he and Bryant played more minutes than anyone else on the floor. That particularly matters because of the Denver altitude, and their ability to regenerate after just one day off, and having had more than one day off only once since the start of the Houston series, raises serious flags for tonight. And Trevor Ariza, who has been an integral part of the Laker floor game, is being bothered by both a hip pointer and a strained groin. This is a fragile team for this setting, one that will not be able to take the kind of punch being thrown by the home team and still be able to stay on their feet.
Re: MONDAY PREMIUM SERVICE PLAYS
At 4:05 pm our selection is on the Atlanta Braves over the San Francisco Giants. The Giants' lefthander Jonathan O. Sanchez got off to a pretty good start with a 2.60 ERA in the month of April. But the month of May hasn't been quite so kind to the 26-year-old Puerto Rican as he has yet to win a game this month and he's seen his ERA balloon to 4.74. It took a trip to the mound in the very pitcher-friendly Petco Park for Sanchez to finally get a quality start in his last outing against the Padres. Sanchez only has one career start against the Braves and that was last August and it didn't go well for Sanchez or his team as Atlanta blasted Sanchez and the Giants by an 11-4 tally. Atlanta's righthander Javier Vazquez has three quality starts in a row and he now has 73 strikeouts in 58 innings. It's only about 1/4 of the way through the season, but Vazquez has his best ERA since his days in Montreal. The Braves have actually been better on the road this season than at home, as they have a 12-8 record away from Turner Field compared to 11-12 in games played in Atlanta. The Giants are 1-6 in games which Sanchez has started this season and they are 2-9 in their last 11 overall. Pitching Mismatch Game of the Month on the Braves.
At 9:05 pm, our selection is on the Denver Nuggets minus the points over Los Angeles. Well, it was bound to happen: Denver finally lost against the spread in the Playoffs after covering its first 12 post-season games. But for much of Saturday's Game 3, the Nuggets looked like the better team, and there's no reason to not step in and back the home squad tonight in Game 4 -- in what amounts to a "must-win" situation. Denver also falls into a super 70% ATS playoff system of mine which plays on certain home teams off a SU/ATS loss at home, if they're not getting 4+ points, and they are also not off back-to-back losses. Take Denver.
At 6:05 pm our selection is on the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians 'over' the total. It's Memorial Day and that means it's time to pay tribute to the fallen so perhaps it's appropriate that we look at this game between two teams who have both fallen rather hard from their successful campaigns in 2008. The Indians and Rays were a combined 178-146 in 2008 and Tampa made its first-ever trip to the World Series. But about 1/4 of the way through the 2009 season and these two teams are a combined 40-51 with Cleveland in the cellar of the AL Central and the Orioles the only thing keeping Tampa out of the same spot in the East. Certainly the Rays have plenty of excuses, most of them in the form of players on the DL, including their closer (Percival), LF (Burrell), 2B (Iwamura), and ace starter Scott Kazmir. It's the latter one that opens the door (finally) for #1 prospect David Price who will get the start tonight in this game. Price pitched OK at AAA Durham with a 3.93 ERA, but only had one win in eight starts, no doubt due to poor run support. It is unlikely he will have that problem tonight as despite all the injuries, the Rays have been scoring runs in bunches lately. In fact, 11 of Tampa's last 13 games have gone over the total. Cleveland is on a similar streak, putting up plenty of runs and having plenty of runs scored against it. Seven of the Indians last 10 games have gone over, and tonight's starter Fausto Carmona just can't seem to get his form back and it's starting to look more and more like his excellent 2007 season was nothing more than a fluke. Take the 'over.'
Re: MONDAY PREMIUM SERVICE PLAYS
I'm laying the points with DENVER. I played on the Lakers in Game 3, so their victory did not come as shock to me. Having already reclaimed homecourt advantage, I expect a slight emotional letdown. On the other hand, the Nuggets' intensity should only increase. While they've had a superb run through the playoffs, the Nuggets know that it will all be wasted if they don't win tonight. That's because a loss would put them in a 3-1 hole and with two of the final three games scheduled for LA, their chances of winning would be extremely slim. In other words, this is essentially a "must win" game. Yet, the line isn't much higher than it was for Game 3. This series has some similarities to the Lakers' last series, vs. Houston. In that series, like this one, the Lakers split the two games at LA and then came out with a big win and cover on the road in Game 3. So, what happened in Game 4? Having already regained homecourt advantage, the Lakers lost a bit of their emotional edge. In much the same situation that the Nuggets are in tonight, the Rockets were the "hungrier" team - they won by double-digits. Speaking of this series and the Lakers' last one against Houston, they've both been extremely physical. While he's still putting up big numbers, the physical play is starting to take a toll on Kobe Bryant. After last game, Kobe was quoted as saying that is was the most exhausted he'd been after a playoff game. He needed an IV. He was quoted as saying: "For two, three years now I've been playing nonstop. Then, the physical series we had against Houston and these guys grabbing and holding more than the Houston series. It's been a really physical series. They're making me work for everything, so it's a combination of all that." Note that the Nuggets previous series was much easier and so they should be the fresher team overall, particularly as they're used to playing at high elevation. Even with the Game 3 loss, the Nuggets are still an extremely profitable 12-1 ATS their last 13 games. They're also 22-10-1 ATS the last 33 times that they were playing with "revenge." They've proven that they're more than capable of holding their own (could very easily be winning) with the Lakers and I look for them to bounce back with a convincing win and cover. *Main Event
I'm laying the price with OAKLAND. Neither starter has very good numbers, although both are coming off quality starts in their last outing. Jakubauskas was better but Anderson still has better stats overall. Note that Anderson has a better ERA during the day than he does at night. Conversely, Jakubauskas' daytime ERA (8.31!) is much worse than his mark underneath the lights. The A's should also have a couple of other advantages. Oakland is hitting .264 against right-handers, averaging 5.1 runs per game. The A's average 4.6 runs per game at home. Seattle has had some success against southpaws thus far. However, the Mariners are averaging only four runs per game on the road and a dismal 3.1 when playing during the afternoon. Through their last seven games, the Mariners are averaging a mere 2.9 runs and hitting only .236. During the same stretch, the A's are hitting a much better .266 and averaging 4.9 runs. Oakland relievers have a combined 3.24 ERA and 1.16 WHIP at home. Seattle relievers have a combined 5.06 ERA and a terrible 1.709 WHIP on the road. Yesterday was an important victory for the A's, as it allowed them to avoid getting swept. I expect them to carry that positive momentum into today's game. I also expect Anderson, who is coming off his first win, to do the same. As Oakland catcher Landon Powell had to say: "Its good to get one of these in our favor. I hope it gives us momentum..." *Annihilator
I'm playing on COLORADO. The Dodgers bring the much better record to the table. They're 30-15. The Rockies are 18-25. Additionally, at first glance, the Dodgers' starter has better stats than the Rockies' starter. Yet, it's the Rockies which are favored. That will have many quick to back the Dodgers. However, I believe that there's more to the matchup than first meets the eye and that the Rockies are favored for good reason. While the Dodgers' overall record is excellent, their road record (12-10) is only mediocre. The Rockies have admittedly gotten off to a slow start (7-10) at home. However, in fairness, it should be noted that they've played the fewest home games, so far, in all of baseball. (They're back home for six straight now.) Looking at the last 2+ seasons and we find the Rockies are still a respectable 104-81 here. During the same stretch, the Dodgers are just 89-99 (-11.8) on the road. Already 11 games back of the Dodgers in the NL West standings, the Rockies know that this is an extremely important series, arguably much more so for them, than it is for LA. Both teams had to travel yesterday. The Rockies played early in the afternoon at Detroit, winning by a score of 3-1. The Dodgers played much later in the day vs the crosstown rival Angels, eventually losing by a 10-7 count. That means it's Colorado which brings some positive momentum into the game, not LA. Rockies manager Clint Hurdle noted: "We're looking for traction right now, and this is the type of win that can help..." While they did lose two of three here last month, note that the Rockies are still a healthy 11-7 the last 18 times that they hosted the Dodgers. Stults goes for the Dodgers. He's certainly capable as shown by his complete game 4-hit shutout vs. SF two starts ago. However, that came at home and he followed it up by allowing three runs in just five innings in his next start. That was at Florida on 5/15. Stults was supposed to have gone again this past Wednesday but was scratched with a sprained left thumb, which forced him to use a brace. While his home stats are strong, Stults is averaging only 4 1/2 innings per start on the road. Through four road starts, he has a poor 6.00 ERA and an awful 1.889 WHIP. De La Rosa goes for the Rockies and he's coming off a rough start, getting rocked at Atlanta. He's fully capable of bouncing back though. In his previous start, he held the Pirates to just one run through seven complete innings, recording 10 K's without walking a batter. Additionally, in his most recent home start, he allowed only four hits and two runs through eight complete innings, recording an impressive 12 K's while walking only one batter. He's better than his record shows and has a stellar 0.964 WHIP in three home starts. In other words, he's been allowing roughly half as many baserunners at home as Stults has been allowing on the road. The Rockies have been solid as home favorites of this size the past few seasons and I look for them to celebrate Memorial Day with an important victory. *Personal Favorite