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And So It Goes....

Overall: 7-1-0 (0.875)
Basis Function: Daubechies4

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

April 30th, 2009 Picks

2-2-0 yesterday, though it was nice to finish on a two game upswing. My first pick was the Baltimore Orioles. They took an early lead in the 1st inning as Loux gave up two singles and walked a third batter to load the bases. Adam Huff hit a sacrifice fly to score one run and the Angels got out of the inning down 1-0. Uehara was putting the start on a fine game with 5 strikeouts and no walks, while allowing 2 hits in the first three innings before an Izturis single and RBI triple by Morales evened the score at 1-1. The two teams continued to duel through the sixth inning as Uehara neared his 100th pitch. The Orioles scored the winning runs in the top of the 7th as Hunter and Morales lead off with solo pops to make the score 3-1. The Orioles came back with an RBI single by Markakis in the bottom of the 8th but Fuentes was equal to their efforts and held on for the 3-2 win. The Orioles wasted two opportunities given by Moeller hitting deep for a double and a triple in this game and Uehara earned his second loss of the season.

My next pick was the Chicago Cubs. Doug Davis and Ryan Dempster were near opposites in this game. Dempster gave up 5 runs on 6 hits while walking 3 batters and striking out 4. Davis pitched a full 7 innings and allowed zero runs and only two hits, while striking out 7 batters and walking 3. The game moved out of reach in the 7th inning when Arizona scored 5 runs; two runs being walked in by Marmol and a 3 RBI double by Upton given up by Samardzjia. The final score was Arizona 10, Chicago Cubs 0.

My third pick was Ryan Zimmerman to record more total bases. Zimmerman grounded into a double play in the 1st inning while Utley struck out. In the 3rd inning Zimmerman came up to bat with the bases loaded and was walked to tie the game at 1-1. Utley grounded out in his next two at bats while Zimmerman hit a lead off double in the top of the 6th inning. Zimmerman fouled out and flied out in his last two at bats and Utley was walked in his final at bat. Zimmerman finished with 2 total baes to 0 for Utley and the Nationals won the game 4-1.

My final pick was 197 points or fewer in the Nuggets/Hornets game. The pace was good for 198 points or more until the final 5 minutes of the first half when the teams combined for 12 points. A 4 minute period in the third quarter with 8 points combined being scored kept the score low, and it was mainly a flurry of three pointers by J.R. Smith that kept 198 points within reach. Down the stretch Denver built up a 20 point lead and with 90 seconds remaining the starters came out of the game. Denver kept playing defense but the offenses of both teams were reduced to three point shooting. Denver advanced to the second round with a 107-86 win over the Hornets. So, I suppose it’s on to the picks.

1) Angel Cabrera vs. Retief Goosen – Goosen cards a lower front 9 score
2) Shakhtar Donetsk @ Dynamo Kiev – Shakhtar Donetsk win or draw
3) Anthony Kim vs. Phil Mickelson – Kim cards a lower first round score
4) Oakland Athletics @ Texas Rangers – Texas
5) Hamburg SV @ Werder Bremen – Werder Bremen win
6) Boston Celtics @ Chicago Bulls – Chicago
7) Boston Red Sox @ Tampa Bay Rays – Boston
8) Arizona Diamondbacks @ Milwaukee Brewers – Arizona
9) Chicago Blackhawks @ Vancouver Canucks – Vancouver
10) Portland Trail Blazers @ Houston Rockets – 181 points or more
11) San Diego Padres vs. M. Ramirez and M. Kemp – Padres total runs

The money line ‘dog in Vegas has been the straight up winner for the last 9 MLB matchups on here. I’m not kidding. Good luck youses!

1) This is only the seventh year this event has been on the Tour, where it was known as the Wachovia Championship. The course has undergone many changes over the years and some of the new changes are discussed in this hole-by-hole tour of the course. The greens are sharply sloped and the fairways are lined with trees making driving accuracy a necessity, unlike on other courses where the rough is the main hazard off the fairway. Angel Cabrera has a putting average of 1.787, driving accuracy of 49.6%, and a scoring average of 70.21. He also averages 3.67 birdies per round. Retief Goosen has a putting average of 1.793, driving accuracy of 61.5%, and a scoring average of 70.51. He averages 3.08 birdies per round. Cabrera has played this event once, carding front 9 scores of -3, +1, -1, and +8. Goosen has played twice, in 2007 and 2006, and carded -2 twice, -1 three times, even par once, and +1 and +2 once each. Remember, driving accuracy is just the number of fairways hit off the tee with a driver so it has no bearing on how badly each player may hook or slice. This is a very even matchup if one tosses out Cabreras final round 44 on the front 9 here last year.

2) Dynamo Kiev are 12 points clear of 2nd place Shakhtar Donetsk in the Ukrainian Premier League. They have completely dominated that league. Both sides have impressive results in the Group stage of Champions League this year, with Shakhtar Donetsk drawing Inter Milan 1-1 at San Siro and Dynamo Kiev defeating FC Porto 1-0 at Estadio do Dragao. Dynamo Kiev have never been shutout in 22 home matches this season while Shakhtar Donetsk have been shutout in 8 away matches. Dynamo Kiev have scored 2 or more goals in 8 of 22 home matches while Shakhtar Donetsk have scored 2 or more goals in 14 of 22 away matches. Neither side has allowed any more than 2 goals to be scored in those 22 matches as well. I like Shakhtar Donetsk’s defense to keep Dynamo Kiev from scoring more than 2 and their counter attack to keep the score level.

4) Vicente Padilla is pitching for the Texas Rangers and Dallas Braden for the Oakland Athletics. The pitching matchup favors the A’s but Braden may have a difficult time finding support from his batters. Nomar Garciaparra and Ellis are out for the Athletics and Jason Giambi is probable, but may still be shrugging off the effects of injury. The A’s have a much stronger bullpen who have a combnied WHIP of 1.10 and ERA of 2.64 while Texas’ bullpen has a combined WHIP of 1.78 and 6.52 ERA. It may not be enough for Oakland, however. In 41 at bats the Rangers’ batters, minus the injured Hamilton, have a combined batting average of .341 and slugging average of .512 against Braden.

5) Werder Bremen have played two away matches against Hamburg SV, one a 2-1 loss and the other a 1-1 draw. Now they are playing at home. Hamburg SV are 1-0-3 (W-D-L) in their last 4 away matches, losing to Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City, and VfB Stuttgart. They have been outscored 6-3 in those 4 matches. Werder Bremen are 4-0-0 in their last 4 home matches, defeating VfB Stuttgart, Hannover 96, Udinese, and VfL Bochum. They have outscored their opposition 14-4 in those four matches. Werder Bremen have scored 3 or more goals in 10 of 21 home matches. A 2-1 win for Werder Bremen is most likely with a 1-1 draw being the next most likely result.

7) Josh Beckett has struggled a bit to start this season. His 6.00 ERA and 1.63 WHIP are off from last season’s 4.03 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. He’s also a long ways off from last seasons 5:1 SO:BB ratio. Aside from one relatively poor outing against the Yankees, a 16-11 Red Sox win, Beckett has a 3.60 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 20 innings pitched. Garza is having a fairly good season and has done well against the Red Sox who have a career batting average of .216 against Garza. The Rays have a career batting average of .210 against Beckett to go along with a .262 on-base percentage, though. Garza has put Red Sox batters on base at a .368 rate. Overall the Red Sox have a much stronger bullpen and that could be the difference here. Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew may miss this game, however, so it would be prudent to check out the game day lineups beforehand.

11) Ramirez and Kemp get 0 or 1 total base each in over 50% of their games. They average a combined 4 total bases per game owing to the 8 or more total bases each has gotten two or three times in the past 182 games. The Padres score at least 3 runs 6 out of 10 times so they’re not a great offensive power, but they only need a few runs to be in good position to win this one. Here’s the breakdown of the Padres’ runs scored and Manny and Kemp’s total bases in each game in this season and last season.

Manny, Matt... I am your Padre.

Here I made a couple of graphs, one for Ramirez and Kemp's total bases and one for the Padres' runs scored. I looked at their average total bases and runs scored over the past 182 games to build a Poisson distribution. The Poisson distribution does a good job at predicting the probabilities near the average but underestimates low-scoring/low-hitting games and high-scoring/high-hitting games. So I also looked at the actual proportion of games with 'N' total bases or 'N' runs being scored. The results are below.

Looking first at Ramirez and Kemp's total bases one can see that in nearly 75% of games Ramirez and Kemp get 3 or fewer total bases. Looking at the Padres' runs scored one can see that they score 6 runs or fewer in over 80% of their games. Overall this slightly favors the Padres' runs scored since they score 0 to 2 runs in under 40% of their games while Ramirez and Kemp combine for 0 to 2 total bases in just over 50% of their games. The Dodgers' bullpen is tough with Broxton, Ohman, and Troncoso, but if the Padres can score just 4 runs off of McDonald I think they have a good chance of winning this.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

April 29th, 2009 Picks

Ouch, 0-1-1 today when I made the wrong MLB pick. My first pick was Bolelli which was cancelled fortuitously due to a long weather delay in Rome. My second pick was the Detroit Tigers. Edwin Jackson and Phil Hughes had dueled to a scoreless tie after 6 innings, with Jackson giving up 4 hits and Hughes only 2 hits. Jackson had reached 117 pitches by that point and so the bullpen was brought in for the Tigers. Suffice it to say it was the first time a scoreless tie through 6 or more innings was broken open with a 10 run inning by one team since 1913. A misread pop fly error, numerous walks, RBI singles, and a grand slam were all it took for the Yankees to run away in this game. In the end New York broke it’s losing streak with an 11-0 win over the Tigers. So on to the picks.

1) Los Angeles Angels @ Baltimore Orioles – Baltimore
2) Josh Johnson vs. Johan Santana – Santana pitches more innings
3) Arsenal @ Manchester United – Arsenal win or draw
4) Chicago Cubs @ Arizona Diamondbacks – Chicago
5) St. Louis Cardinals @ Atlanta Braves – Atlanta
6) Ryan Zimmerman vs. Chase Utley – Zimmerman records more total bases
7) New York Yankees @ Detroit Tigers – 9 runs or fewer
8) Dwyane Wade vs. Atlanta Hawks win margin – Atlanta win margin
9) Tampa Bay Rays @ Minnesota Twins – Tampa Bay
10) New Orleans Hornets @ Denver Nuggets – 197 points or fewer

2) Josh Johnson is a solid pitcher and has already recorded one complete game this season. Yes, against the New York Mets, in fact. From last season till now he has averaged just over 191/3 innings pitched. Johan Santana averaged just over 201/3 innings pitched in games last season till now. I would give Santana a slight edge based on his pedigree. In terms of pitches per batter retired Johnson averages 5.3 and Santana averages 5.2, essentially the same number. This could very easily go either way and depends more on how soon in the count batters are retired more than anything else.

3) Manchester United are at full strength while Arsenal are dealing with several injuries. Arsenal will be fielding the same team that drew away 4-4 at Anfield against Liverpool, with the additions of Cesc Fabregas and Johan Djourou. Based solely on their average number of goals scored and conceded in home and away matches I would give Arsenal a 53 percent chance of coming away with a win or a draw.

4) Ryan Dempster and Doug Davis are the starting pitchers for the Cubs and the Diamondbacks, respectively. Both are off to fairly good starts this season with Dempster recording a 4.88 ERA and 1.42 WHIP while Davis has a 3.67 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. Davis has had a WHIP of over 1.50 for each of the past three seasons and without a real rocket of an arm many expect he will end up back there again. In the past three games the Cubs have been killing the ball with a batting average of .291 and slugging average of .518. Davis has done well against the Cubs lineup, but their heavy hitters have shown an aptitude for getting big base hits when facing his stuff. The Diamondbacks have also been hitting fairly well recently, but their career slugging average against Dempster is only .358. Both teams’ bullpens have not done terribly well this year, with ERA’s of over 4.00 and WHIP’s over 1.50. I think the Cubs will be able to build a lead of 4 or 5 runs against Davis and should end up with the victory here.

6) The bulk of my analysis, including some graphs showing probabilities of total bases per game for each player, and the actual distribution of games with ‘N’ total bases, can be found here. I mainly like Zimmerman here because his career slugging average is .667 against Brett Myers while Utley has a career slugging average of .464 against Scott Olsen.

9) The Tampa Bay Rays look to avenge a 4-3 loss to the Twins last night with Scott Kazmir on the mound. Kazmire has recorded a 3.97 ERA and 1.32 WHIP so far this year, while his overall stats last season were a bit better. In one game against the Twins last year he allowed 0 earned runs and gave up 5 hits and 1 walk in 6 innings. Overall the Twins’ batters have a .194 batting average and a .328 slugging average off of Kazmir. Nick Blackburn has done fairly well this season with a 4.44 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. In one game last year he had a dismal outing against the Rays, pitching 11/3 innings and giving up 6 earned runs, on 6 hits and walking 3 batters. Both teams have struggled at the plate a bit recently with batting averages of .222 and .223 for the Rays and Twins, respectively. The Rays have gotten a bit more out of those hits, however, with a slugging average of .384 leading to 11 runs in those last three games. The Twins have a slugging average of .309 and 7 runs in their last three. The Rays' bullpen outpaces the Twins’ in statistical categories such as ERA, WHIP, and home runs given up. The Twins’ bullpen leads in the most important category, however, with a 4-1 record compared to an 0-3 record for the Rays. Overall I think Kazmir’s pitching will allow the Rays to take a lead and the Twins’ generally weaker hitting will not be able to catch up.

10) Well, it should be clear to everyone that the Hornets will absolutely not turn in another performance like they did the other night in losing by 58 points at home to the Nuggets. Their offense should look sharper, and the Nuggets will most likely struggle a bit more than they did in that game. The Hornets may not be able to muster the motivation to be 100 percent effective on the offensive end of te court, however, and the Nuggets, being a good defensive team, should be able to limit their points. It could be very close to going over, especially if the Nuggets come out playing lackadaisically, but I don’t think either team will break 100 in this game.

The $40 Million Man Vs. That Slugger From The World Series Champions

For this prop I looked at three things. The Poisson distribution for Ryan Zimmerman and Chase Utley based on their total bases from each game played this season and last season, their actual proportion of games with 'N' total bases from those seasons, and a Poisson distribution based on their career statistics against the opposing pitcher. Those results can be seen in the clickable image below.

The first two graphs show that neither player is much more likely to record a small number of total bases, and that Utley has around a 1 in 20 chance of having a big game with 5 total bases. Zimmerman really has no chance of recording 5 or more total bases. Interestingly, Zimmerman had a double, or two singles, in just over a quarter of his games in the past two seasons. Utley is a good home run hitter, however, with 4 total bases in over 10% of his games. The stats that make me lean towards Zimmerman are the batter vs. pitcher stats. For the third graph I looked at each players' slugging average against the opposing pitcher and multiplied that by 4, as 4 is a high estimate on the average number of at bats per game. This 'average' was used to generate the Poisson distributions. In these one can see that Zimmerman is more likely to hit big off of Myers than Utley is off of Olsen. One home run by either player should wrap it up, so I choose Zimmerman with strong reservations. Good luck!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

April 28th, 2009 Picks

1-0-0 today as my baby streak entered the terrible twos and keeps yelling at me that “No!” it does not want to turn 3. Hopefully you checked here prior to 6:30pm or so when I changed away from Anaheim, Boston, and Colorado. My one and only pick for the day was L.A. Lakers winning margin. The game started out tightly contested with the Jazz forcing quite a few turnovers and knocking down shots. The first quarter ended with the score knotted at 26. The Lakers put some distance between them in the second quarter and went up by 13 while Deron Williams recorded 6 assists.

The third quarter had the Lakers extending their lead to 23 and Williams failing to get a single assist before being subbed out for Ronnie Price. This prop was put to bed… or so it seemed. At some point in the fourth quarter Price and Paul Millsap decided to up the intensity to ‘11’ and keyed a comeback by the Jazz that forced Jackson to put his starters back in the game. At one point the Lakers’ lead was down to 6 points and after a turnover Price and Williams ran down the court, with Price bouncing the ball to Deron. Williams missed the layup and from there the Lakers held on to win by 11 points. Williams did not record a single assist in the second half and finished the game with 6, easiliy in his bottom 10% of games this season. So on to the picks.

Oh yea, and 121-63?

1) Philipp Kohlschreiber vs. Simone Bolelli – Bolelli
2) Chelsea @ Barcelona – Barcelona win
3) Derrick Rose vs. Rajon Rondo – Rondo pts.
4) New York Rangers (lose by 1 or win) @ Washington Capitals (win by 2 plus) – Washington
5) New York Yankees @ Detroit Tigers – Detroit
6) Florida Marlins @ New York Mets – New York
7) Carolina Hurricanes @ New Jersey Devils – New Jersey
8) Tampa Bay Rays @ Minnesota Twins – Minnesota
9) Seattle Mariners @ Chicago White Sox – Seattle
10) Spurs (vs. Mavericks) vs. Trail Blazers (vs. Rockets) – Trail Blazers win margin
11) Chad Billingsley vs. San Francisco Giants – Giants total hits

1) Philipp Kohlschreiber has more experience on the ATP Tour and is currently ranked 39th. Simone Bolelli is a relative newcomer and is ranked 41st. Bolelli has won four Challengers and Futures events on clay courts, but Kohlschreiber has won an ATP event on clay, in April of 2007. Just this year Bolelli played Rafael Nadal and won the first set, before losing the second set and the third set in a tiebreak. In their only previous meeting Bolelli defeated Kohlschreiber in straight sets, 6-4 6-3. You can read more about Kohlschreiber by clicking here and about Bolelli by clicking here. Their head-to-head comparison can be found here and you can click on each players’ name to see their career stats and playing histories.

2) Chelsea visit the Nou Camp to take on Barcelona in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals. Barcelona are without defender Gabriel Milito who has been injured for a long while. Chelsea are without defenders Ashley Cole and Paulo Ferreira, which will force much of their backfield to play in unfamiliar positions as they attempt to stop Messi, Eto’o, and Henry. European sportsbooks have Barcelona at -167 while a Chelsea win is +450 and the draw is +260. Against a team like Barcelona the absence of Cole will be felt. I think Barcelona win 3-1 or 3-2, but a 2-2 draw is also a well favored result.

3) This is an interesting prop as Derrick Rose has been the more consistent of the two in scoring over 15 points during , while Rondo has been the more consistent during the series. Here are their distributions for games in which they played 35 minutes or more. One can see that Rose has a clear advantage. In games where Kevin Garnett has not played or in games against the Bulls, however, Rondo actually has a bit better odds. This should be very close unless one player or the other breaks out and scores 25 or more points. I think Rose has shown he can play poorly in this series, while Rondo has been nearly unstoppable for the Bulls. I give the advantage to Rondo based on that, but it should be within 5 points.

6) Ricky Nolasco and Livan Hernandez are starting for the Florida Marlins and New York Mets, respectively. Neither has gotten off to a good start this season with Nolasco recording a 6.86 ERA in 21 innings to go with a 1.67 WHIP and Hernandez pitching 16 innings to the tune of a 7.31 ERA and 1.63 WHIP. Last year Nolasco had a 3.52 ERA and 1.10 WHIP so he will be looking to return to that form tonight. The Mets have done well off of Nolasco in the past, however, with a career batting average of .351 and slugging average of .573. The Marlins have also batted well against Hernandez. Of the two Nolasco is more likely to pitch a good game and give the Marlins the lead. He will need help from the offense which has been hard to come by lately. In their last three games the Marlins are batting .178 and slugging .267. I think both teams will improve their batting numbers in this game, and the Marlins might take a small lead in a high scoring game, but their weak bullpen (5.16 ERA and 1.62 WHIP) will allow the Mets to win in the end.

9) Felix Hernandez for the Mariners faces off against John Danks for the White Sox in the second game of a doubleheader tonight. Hernandez is one of the best young pitchers, if not the best, in the major leagues. After a rocky start with a twisted ankle he’s pitched 13 innings while allowing only 1 run and 11 hits and striking out 13 batters to 4 walks. The White Sox have done well against Hernandez in the past, especially when he hasn’t been fully healthy. Last year he had a 9.00 ERA and 2.80 WHIP against the Sox. In 57 at bats the White Sox have batted .368 and slugged .825! John Danks has gotten off to a stellar start, pitching 19 innings and recording an ERA of 0.95 and WHIP of 0.84. The Mariners have done well against Danks in the past, however, batting over .300 in 59 at bats. This is supposed to be a pitchers’ duel but I think there be more than a few runs scored by each team. I think the Mariners have the stronger bullpen with Aardsma, White, and Kelly while the only top performers for the White Sox have been Linebrink and Jenks. If Aardsma, White, and Kelly do not pitch in the first game they should be able to carry the Marlins through in the second. It might also be a good idea to see who have the hot bats in the first game.

11) Since this involves the Giants’ total hits for the entire game rather than just off of Billingsley I have to give them the advantage here. Billingsley should be good for 5 to 9 strikeouts, but the Giants average 8 hits per game. If Billingsley pitches any less than his absolute best the Giants should outpace his strikeouts and then run away with the prop when the bullpens come in. I can see Billingsley having more strikeouts by the time he is relieved and the Giants then getting enough hits to push or win the prop by one at the end. Here are some probabilities to mull over while making your choice.

Will Billingsley Get More Strikeouts Than The Giants Get Hits?

Above is a graph showing the probability of Chad Billingsley recording a specific number of strikeouts, of giving up a certain number of hits, and of the Giants recording an exact number of total hits. If it were strikeouts versus the number of hits the Giants got off of Billingsley then Billingsley would be a good pick, but the Giants will get at least 1 and probably 2 or 3 innings to add on to their total hits. The Dodgers have a strong bullpen with a combined WHIP this season of 1.14, but that is still enough to allow two or three more hits for the Giants at the end of the game.

Rondo vs. Rose - Who Will Score More Points

Below is a pair of graphs showing the distribution of points one could expect in a typical game from Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo. I used the data from games where Rose and Rondo played 35 minutes or more to try and reduce the effect of low-scoring, low-minute games. As usual, click on the graph to get a close-up view.

You can see that Rondo's average is only slightly higher than his overall season average and that is due solely to his 36 point overtime performance in Game 1. Rondo averaged quite a bit less in games where he played 35 minutes or more, during the regular season. Without Kevin Garnett in the lineup his numbers are very comparable to Rose's and his numbers against the Bulls were at that level whether or not Garnett played. Overall I would say Rose is the safer bet since one would be counting on Rondo to 'take over the game', essentially. The Celtics defense is terrific, but has had a diffficult time slowing up Rose so far. If you think Game2/Game 3 Rose is due to show then Rondo is a great pick. If Game1/Game4 Rose shows up then it's more of a toss-up and Rose could still win with Rondo deferring to his teammates.

Monday, April 27, 2009

April 27th, 2009 Picks

1-0-1 today so I have a newborn streak alive and well after some time in the ICU. My first pick was the Philadelphia Phillies. Jamie Moyer had another terrific outing as he pitched 6 innings allowing only 1 run and recording a WHIP of 1.33. He struck out 6 batters and walked only 1. Contrasting with this was Graham Taylor in his first major league start. He lasted 32/3 innings and gave up 4 earned runs in that time while walking 6 batters and striking out only 2. The Phillies were up 4-0 in the bottom of the 5th when Hanley Ramirez hit an RBI single to make it 4-1. The 7th and 8th innings were a nightmare for the Marlins’ bullpen as they gave up 9 runs total in the two innings, two of the runs being walked in with the bases loaded. The Phillies' bullpen held on to give Moyer his third win in four starts this season, Philadelphia 13, Florida 2.

My second pick was for Kevin Youkilis to record more runs, hits, and RBIs. Jeter and Youkilis each grounded out in their first at bat. Jeter reached first base on an error in his next at bat and Youkilis struck out swinging to keep their totals each at 0. Jeter singled in the top of the 5th and Youkilis was walked in the bottom of the inning. Youkilis was advanced to third on a ground rule double by Drew, but Bay struck out to end the inning. Jeter struck out in his final at bat and Youkilis hit a lead off single to record his first hit. Youkilis again advanced to third base, this time with zero outs, but Lowell hit a ground ball which was turned into a force out of Youkilis at home. In the end Jeter and Youkilis each had one hit, no runs, and no RBIs to end the prop in a push. The Red Sox won the game 4 to 1. So on to the picks.

1) Pakistan vs. Australia – Pakistan
2) Portsmouth @ Newcastle United – Portsmouth win or draw
3) St. Louis Cardinals @ Atlanta Braves – Atlanta
4) Boston Red Sox @ Cleveland Indians – Cleveland
5) Denver Nuggets @ New Orleans Hornets – Denver
6) San Diego Padres @ Colorado Rockies – San Diego
7) Chicago Blackhawks @ Calgary Flames – Chicago
8) Los Angeles Dodgers @ San Francisco Giants – San Francisco
9) San Jose Sharks @ Anaheim Ducks – San Jose
10) Deron Williams vs. Los Angeles Lakers win margin – L.A. Lakers win margin

1) Skybet has Australia favored at 4:6 and Pakistan at 11:10, which is about 57% for Australia and 43% for Pakistan. Australia will be resting three important players in anticipation of The Ashes, a test match between England and Australia. These players rested in the 1st ODI and Pakistan won a very close match. In the 2nd ODI Australia won in an even closer match. This looks like it will be another incredibly close match.

2) Newcastle United currently sit in the penultimate position at the bottom of the table, four points off of avoiding relegation this season. They have a couple of injury doubts with Steven Taylor, Joey Barton, and Jose Enrique who will be late decisions to the squad. Their absence would be a detriment to the defense and midfield for Newcastle United. Portsmouth also face a decision of whether to play David Nugent and Younes Kaboul, which could take away some of their attacking punch. Portsmouth are 6 points clear of relegationa nd relatively safe. Their away record is 2-7-7 (W-D-L) but they have been playing much better since Paul Hart took over as coach. Newcastle United are 4-6-6 at home and have also seen a boost with a new coach, Aaron Shearer. This could easily go Newcastle’s way with their being motivated to clear themselves of relegation, but I will not pick the tough form Paul Hart has installed in Portsmouth to lose here.

3) Joel Pineiro and Jair Jurrjens are the pitchers tonight for the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves, respectively. Pineiro has had an average start to his recording a 4.12 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP which are not too far off from his numbers last season. Jurrjens has had a terrific start to the season with an ERA of 1.42 and a WHIP of 1.22. Last season he finished with a 3.68 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP so he is due to have a poor game, but not too poor, and not today I feel. Both teams are batting around their season averages recently with the Cardinals batting .278 and slugging .433 while the Braves are batting .252 and slugging .417 in their last three games. The Cardinals have not seen Jurrjens much before, though in one game last season Jurrjens pitched 7 innings, giving up 3 earned runs, walking 3 batters, and allowing 7 hits. Historically the Braves have done well against Pineiro, who recorded an 8.00 ERA and 1.78 WHIP against the Braves last season. The Braves’ current lineup have a combined career batting average of .304 and slugging average of .574. Overall the Cardinals have stronger relief pitching with a combined WHIP of 1.33 this season compared to a WHIP of 1.68 for the Braves. They have given up 11 home runs, however, while the Braves’ bullpen have only conceded 2. As long as Jurrjens does not get bombarded by the Cardinals today and the Braves can take a lead with the starting pitchers on the mound I think they will win this game at home.

6) Jason Hammel is scheduled to pitch for the Colorado Rockies after throwing for their bullpen in his first three games. He is reported to be limited to 70 pitches which would bring in a sub-par Rockies bullpen around the 5th or 6th inning, assuming he can keep his WHIP below 1.50. Chris Young is pitching for the Padres and he has had a fine start to the season with an ERA of 3.42 and a WHIP of 1.18 so far this season. The Rockies have a career batting average of .228 and a slugging average of .378 against Young so they’ll need a solid outing from Hammel to have a chance in this game. Fortunately, the Padres have struggled in their past three games with a batting average of .192 and a slugging average of .364. I expect them to improve those numbers in this game, but not by much. With a 1-4 record, 1.65 WHIP, 5.62 ERA, and only 3 saves on the season the Rockies’ bullpen cannot be expected to hold on to much of a lead and I think the Padres will be able to make up the difference in the final innings.

7) Dion Phaneuf was injured in Game 5 of this series which the Blackhawks won 5-1. That will hurt Calgary as he was one of their top defenders on the ice. Chicago has gone 7-2-0 against the Flames this season and in the playoffs so they have shown already they are capable of winning in Calgary. Mikka Kiprusoff has also been struggling in net for Calgary. He was pulled mid-way through the second period in Game 5 and has a .903 SV% for the series while allowing 16 goals. His backup, Curtis McElhinney did not have a great season, allowing over 3 goals per game and recording a .889 SV%. In the 30-plus minutes he was in during Game 5 he allowed 1 goal and turned away 9 shots. One can only imagine how he would fare against an aggressive Blackhawks attack. Chicago may be at a disadvantage on the road but they have the skill to overcome that and I see them closing out this series tonight unless Kiprusoff can put up the walls 35 to 40 times.

10) Deron Williams has averaged 10.74 assists in all 72 games he’s played this season and in the playoffs. He has averaged 12.0 assists in the 7 games he’s played against the Lakers this year. The Lakers have won by 13, 13, 13, and 10 points in L.A. and are coming off a 14 point win in Utah. Since 7 games is not a very large sample size I used Williams’ overall season average and a discrete Poisson distribution to estimate his chances in this prop. You can see the statistics here. Williams has had 14 or fewer assists in just over 90% of his games this year and can be expected to have 11 or 12 assists. I see Kobe asserting himself early in this game and the Lakers finishing the series on a high night with a 15 point win.

Deron Williams Assists Vs. L.A. Lakers Margin Of Victory

Below is a series of graphs, which you may click on to get a closer view, which show the probabilities of Deron Williams getting a certain number of assists. The first graph shows the number of games this season, including the playoffs, in which Williams recorded 'N' number of assists. The second graph shows the probability of Williams recording a certain number of assists and the third graph shows the percentage of games played Williams is expected to record 'N' assists or fewer. These graphs were made using a discrete Poisson distribution and Williams' average number of assists per game over 72 games played.

Williams had 7 of 72 games this year with 15 or more assists, and just over 80% of his games he can be expected to record 13 or fewer assists. Unless the Jazz keep this game close and lose by 10 or less Williams has a poor shot at winning this prop.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

April 26th, 2009 Picks

Arrr, 12-2-0 in my picks yesterday. I had a 6W streak built up but the Broncos’ selection of Knowshon Moreno destroyed that streak and spurred me on to keep picking. I then selected 9 in a row while skipping two others that turned out well in my blog. The final pick I was nearly certain the Bengals would take an offensive linesman with Robinskie and Nicks being off the board, but their selection of Rey Maualuga, who is listed as high as 260 pounds on a number of sites, but cut weight down to 249 for official purposes of the draft, ended that one as well. So on to the picks!

1) Philadelphia Phillies @ Florida Marlins – Philadelphia
2) Boston Celtics @ Chicago Bulls – Boston
3) Jerry Kelly or Steve Marino vs. Rest Of Field – Kelly or Marino win the tournament
4) Washington Capitals @ New York Rangers – Washington
5) Clint Bowyer vs. Matt Kenseth – Kenseth has a better final position
6) Chicago Cubs @ St. Louis Cardinals – St. Louis
7) Seattle Mariners @ Los Angeles Angels – Los Angeles
8) Orlando Magic @ Philadelphia 76ers – Orlando
9) New Jersey Devils @ Carolina Hurricanes – Carolina
10) Derek Jeter vs. Kevin Youkilis – Youkilis hits, runs, and RBIs
11) New York Yankees @ Boston Red Sox – Boston

1) Philadelphia will be starting the elder Jamie Moyer against 25-year old minor leaguer Graham Taylor. Moyer was great last season with a 2.81 ERA and 0.97 WHIP against the Marlins, but so far this season he has recorded a 6.35 ERA and 1.65 WHIP. The Phillies have also been having difficulty htiting the ball lately with a .169 batting average and .309 slugging average in their last three games. It would be surprising to see those batting numbers go anywhere but up after this game, facing Taylor and the Marlins’ bullpen. Florida has not been spectacular in their last three games, batting .257 and slugging .419 and unless Moyer is feeling his age more than he did last year it does not look good for them to increase those numbers. I think Moyer will have a solid game as he did in his first start this season. As long as the game is close the Phillies have shown their superior relief pitching can lead them to wins against the Marlins.

3) At 10-under par Steve Marino leads the rest of the field by oen stroke, and Jerry Kelly leads by 4 strokes at 13-under. The lowest score carded in the first three rounds has been a 6-under par 66. So players currently six strokes back are realistically the only players with even the most remote of chances of catching the leaders. If someone like Charlie Wi or Rory Sabbatini can hit 3-under par for the final round and Marino and Kelly each card their worst round at over par they might end up losing to someone from the rest of the field. It’s not as unlikely as it seems at first glance, but there’s nothing suggesting that it will happen based on the first three rounds, so the best pick would be to pick the current leaders.

6) The Cubs are starting Rich Harden who currently has a 1.27 WHIP and 4.20 ERA. The current Cardinals’ lineup has only had 22 at bats against Harden, but have only managed three hits while being walked three times and struck out five times. Harden is probably due to pitch a solid game but should be tested by a Cardinals team who is batting .366 and slugging .574 while scoring 24 runs in their last 3 games. I am thinking the Cardinals struggle early on and manage only 1 or 2 runs off of Harden. Todd Wellemeyer is starting for the St. Louis Cardinals. He has a 5.29 ERA and 1.94 WHIP thus far this season which are much worse than his numbers from last year. The Cubs have been cold with their bats lately and Wellemeyer is due to have a solid game as well. In 77 at bats against Wellemeyer the Cubs have only hit .286 and slugged .351. Provided both pitchers play well this should be a very close game with few runs. With the Cardinals’ bullpen having a combined WHIP of 1.24 and the Cubs’ bullpen with a combined WHIP of 1.45 and the Cardinals being at home I think they’ll pull out the win at the end.

7) The Seattle Mariners look to sweep the 3 game series with the Angels today. In the three games prior to facing the Angels the Mariners were batting .169 and slugging .303. After two games against them their three game batting average is up to .311 and slugging average at .462. I think those numbers will go back down a bit after today’s game. Jarrod Washburn for the Mariners faces off against Jered Weaver of the Angels for the second time this season. In the first game Washburn shut down the Angels and the Mariners won 11-3 in Seattle. Washburn has a 1.71 ERA and 0.86 WHIP in his first three starts of the season. Weaver has not done so bad himself with a 3.38 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in three starts. Historically the Angels have not been shut down against Washburn, batting .243 and slugging .388 in 276 at bats. Last season Washburn’s ERA against the Angels was 4.42 with a WHIP of 1.58. The Mariners have done very well against Weaver as well, with a career batting average of .312 and slugging average of .462. The Mariners’ bullpen has also done much better than the Angels’ this season. I think Weaver will put in at least 6 solid innings, and keep the bullpen out of the game, while Washburn will have a poor game overall so that the Angels will be the ones defending a lead. With their bats cracking, especially at the end of yesterday’s game, I think they’ll be able to keep that lead and win here, but this is far from a sure thing.

8) Basketball, and especially a 7 game series between two teams, can be one of the most tactical of all sports. The losing team, provided they are not completely overmatched, generally has the advantage after a loss. The winning coach may try to anticipate offensive and defensive changes to be made by the other team but is more likely to continue to emphasize what led to their victory in the game before. The losing coach can run new plays and change defensive strategy to bring the advantage back to their team. Here I think Orlando has the more talent and were on the losing side. Even though they are on the road they also have Hedo Turkoglu approaching full health which is a large factor in their ability to close out teams in the fourth quarter. I think Orlando can make the necessary adjustments to win. Dwight Howard is also young enough that he can put forth an all-star effort night in and night out.

10) A quick look at each players’ numbers will show that Youkilis has been hitting more, scoring more runs, and batting in more runs. Though Jeter is more consistent when it comes to getting at least one hit, run, or RBI Youkilis has a greater likelihood to get more of these in any single game. Masterson and Pettite both had poor games against the opposition last year with Masterson recording a WHIP of 1.93 and Pettite a WHIP of 2.15 so I think each player will record a large number of hits, runs, and RBIs and that favors Youkilis. Pettite is also a left handed pitcher, which favors the right handed Youkilis, while Masterson and Jeter are both right handed. Here is a graph showing the probability distribution and cumulative probability functions for each players’ combined runs, hits, and RBIs based on this seasons’ stats. Youkilis averages about 1 more combined run, hit, and RBI this season (3.59 to 2.65) and I can see him winning this one 5 to 4 today. Keep in mind that each game is not statistically independent and so the functions are based on invalid assumptions, but they do not suggest anything improbable and so have some utility.

Youkilis and Jeter Probabilities From This Season

Above are cumulative probability distribution functions and probability mass distribution functions for Kevin Youkilis' and Derek Jeter's combined runs, hits, and RBIs. The functions were computed using the data available from the 17 games they have played already this season. Click on the image to see a closer view. Essentially Youkilis has recorded more hits, runs, and RBIs is a larger proportion of his games, but if each player records a lower number, such as 2 or fewer, then Jeter has a greater probability of recording the higher number. With Masterson and Pettite recording WHIPS over 1.90 last season against the opposition and the bats hitting heavy lately for both teams the high end numbers favoring Youkilis are more likely.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

April 25th, 2009 Picks

Conservative play today paid off as I avoided all 8 losing picks and went 1-0-0 with the San Francisco Giants. Tim Lincecum pitched terrific, giving up 5 hits and 1 earned run while striking out 12 batters and walking only 1. Davis was not as fortunate as he had been last Saturday giving up 9 hits and 5 earned runs in his six innings pitched. Renteria hit a solo home run in his first at bat to put the Giants up 1-0. Neither team was able to score until Beinge Molina lead off home run put the Giants up 2-0 in the 4th inning. Lincecum gave up an RBI single to Davis in between striking out three batters in the bottom of the 5th but it was the last hit the Diamondbacks would get off of him.

In the 7th inning Lincecum struck out swinging at a wild pitch that allowed him to reach first base. Lewis singled and a sacrifice by Renteria advanced runners to second and third. Davis was relieved at that point by Gutierrez but he gave up a 2 run RBI double to Molina, the second batter he faced. In the 9th inning Affeldt came in to close out the Diamondbacks and give Lincecum his first win of the season. So on to the NFL Draft and a new day of picks.

1) #2 Draft Pick: From the Big 12 vs. Any Other Conference – Big 12
2) #4 Draft Pick: Quarterback vs. Any Other Position – Any other position
3) #6 Draft Pick: From the SEC vs. Any Other Conference – SEC
4) #8 Draft Pick: Listed at 240 lbs. or less vs. Listed at over 240 lbs. – Over 240 lbs.
5) #10 Draft Pick: Wide Receiver vs. Any Other Position – Wide Receiver
6) #12 Draft Pick: Defensive Line or Linebacker vs. Any Other Position – DL or LB
7) #14 Draft Pick: Offensive Player vs. Defensive Player – Defensive player
8) #16 Draft Pick: From the Big 10 or SEC vs. Any Other Conference – Any other conference
9) #18 Draft Pick: Offensive Player vs. Defensive Player – Defensive Player
10) #20 Draft Pick: Listed at 240 lbs. or less vs. Listed at over 240 lbs. – Over 240 lbs.
11) #22 Draft Pick: Offensive Player vs. Defensive Player – Offensive Player
12) #24 Draft Pick: Offensive Player vs. Defensive Player – Defensive Player
13) #26 Draft Pick: SEC, Big 10, or PAC-10 vs. Any other conference – SEC, Big 10, PAC-10
14) #28 Draft Pick: Offensive Player vs. Defensive Player – Offensive Player
15) #30 Draft Pick: Listed at 240 lbs. or less vs. Listed at over 240 lbs. – 240 lbs. or less
16) #32 Draft Pick: ACC, Big East, or PAC-10 vs. Any Other Conference – Any other conference
17) #35 Draft Pick: Offensive Player vs. Defensive Player – Defensive player
18) #38 Draft Pick: Listed at 250 lbs. or Less vs. Over 250 lbs. – Over 250 lbs.

1-5) Click here for a list 256 mock drafts. These die-hard fans have done most of the work for us already. I’ll post some conditional lists for who a team might pick if player A and player B are gone but player C is available a bit later on.

1) Jason Smith is from Baylor and is the odds on favorite to be selected here. Eugene Monroe from Virginia is his main competition. There are rumors about Monroe having problems with his knees but he is widely regarded as the more NFL ready prospect while Smith is more of a project. Do the Rams go for the ‘higher potential’ pick or the safer pick? Here is a good article from the St. Louis Post Dispatch about which player the various parts of the Rams organization favor.

2) Recent, and I mean very recent as in before yesterday nobody was talking about this, rumors have Mark Sanchez being selected by the Seahawks. The reasoning is that Sanchez could be the next Peyton Manning so a team who will be looking for a QB in a 2-3 years might rue the day they passed up on him. Hasselback has another two years on his contract and Seneca Wallace has done well as backup QB when Hasselback has been injured. So do you think the Seahawks will take the chance that Sanchez turns out to be the all-pro quarterback of the future, or select any other position, most likely an offensive lineman? Here is a link to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. They appear to like Aaron Curry there and see Sanchez’s potential contract as a problem for the Seahawks in light of Stafford’s recent deal with the Lions. An argument can still be made for the potential reward of taking Mark Sanchez, who has only one year of college starting experience (remember Alex Smith?).

3) Andre Smith from Alabama is a favorite pick here. Tyson Jackson and Peria Jerry, both defensive linesmen, are the only other SEC players projected to possibly go this high. If Eugene Monroe is still available here the Bengals are likely to select the ACC offensive lineman. The staff at the Cincinnati Enquirer like Andre Smith with Monroe and Jason Smith being selected already. The other options are discussed here.

4) Eugene Monroe, Andre Smith, B.J. Raji, Brian Orakpoe, there are a number of linesman over 240 pounds who the Jaguars would like to get but who may not be available with the 8th pick. Watch out for trades involving teams, like the Jets, who may want to grab Sanchez at this spot if he’s available. If Raji, Monroe, and Smith are gone then it is likely an offensive position player will be selected who will be 240 pounds or less. Here’s a link to Jaguars coverage from the Florida Times-Union. And a good breakdown of the options available to the Jaguars. Trading down to allow another team to take Sanchez seems to be a popular theme.
UPDATE: With Raji and Monroe both still available a pick over Crabtree, and over 240 pounds is pretty darn likely here, but with Crabtree still available it’s tough to say for sure.

5) If reciever Michael Crabtree is available here the Niners may take one of them. They may even take Jeremy Maclin (WR) if he’s available. Otherwise they will probably be taking a defensive linesman and a non-WR pick seems most likely here. Here is a link to 49ers coverage from the San Francisco Chronicle. A bit of insight on the Niners’ draft strategy: take the best player available. And some more in-depth analysis from the staff.
UPDATE: Crabtree is going to be available after Green Bay selects Raji. The Packers have plenty of receivers already.

6) Most mock drafters have the Broncos taking someone like B.J. Raji or Everette Brown or Roger Ayers. Here’s a link to the Denver Post. Analysis from their staff indicates they’ll be taking a defensive linseman with their pick.

7) Malcolm Jenkins, at free safety, is a popular pick here. Here’s a link to the Louisiana Times-Picayune. They are hoping Jenkins is still available at #14 also.

8) Here’s a link to the San Diego Union-Tribue. Most mock drafts have the Chargers selecting either of running backs ‘Beanie’ Wells or Knowshon Moreno. Denver already has a huge number of running backs who were injured last year, but running back is not a need for them this year.

9) With Knowshon Moreno being a surprise pick by the Broncos at #12 a defensive player here seems almost assured.

10) A big offensive tackle sure would be a nice pick to complement Stafford.

11) Here’s a link to the Minnesota Star-Tribune. Harvin at wide-receiver is a staff favorite.

12) The Falcons traded during the off-season for Tony Gonzalez at tight end. Now they need to shore up their defense, and they know it. Vontae Davis or Evander Hood

13) Not surprising as we approach the lower end of the draft order the picks become a little more murky. Here’s a link to the Baltimore Sun. They may trade this pick which could make things even more murky, or make this pick a lock.
UPDATE: New England traded down for this pick and Darius Butler is a favorite.

14) Here’s a link to the Buffalo News. A tightend like Brandon Pettigrew, or even an offensive tackle would be good picks for the Bills.
UPDATE: Pettigrew is gone for the Bills, so they may settle for an offensive player in one of the later rounds. Phil Loadholt on offense is more likely to be the pick with Everette Brown on defensive also being likely.

15) Tennessee may go for a secondary player here, or someone like Clay Matthews or a big defensive lineman. I am leaning towards a lighter defensive back.

16) Here’s a link to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. They’re staff see the Steelers looking for a defensive lineman. If available, Evander Hood from Missouri would be a good pick. If Hood is gone then an offensive linesman from the PAC-10 would be their top choice.

18) The Cincinnati Bengals pick here and would like a big offensive linesman like Eric Wood. If he’s gone then a receiver would be the pick.
UPDATE: The Patriots took Wood. Bengals should take Britton or Beatty with Nicks and Robinskie gone.

Friday, April 24, 2009

April 24th, 2009 Picks

Ahh a great day as the Utah Jazz won their first and probably only playoff game this year! My picks went 2-1-0 yesterday as I finished with two wins. My first pick was Steve Marino to card a lower front 9 score. It was all square through four holes as both he and Rich Beem were at one over par. On the fifth hole Beem hit a terrific shot from just outside a fairway bunker to give himself a two foot putt for birdie and a one stroke lead. On the seventh and eighth holes Marino found himself hitting into the sand on every non-chip shot. He was fortunate to come out of the two with a bogey and a birdie to remain one stroke behind Beem. On the final hole, a par-3, Beem missed the green with his tee shot and Marino left himself with an 11 foot putt for birdie. He missed the putt, but Beem chipped to 25 feet away. Marino made par and Beem sank his longest putt of the round to save par as well and stay one stroke ahead of Marino, finishing with a 35 to Marino’s 36.

My second pick was Kenny Perry to card a lower front 9 score. Mike Weir took an early lead with a birdie on #2, but Perry got a stroke up by birdying the 7th and 8th holes. Perry hit three consecutive birdies to start the back 9 and Weir hit birdie on the 11th and 13th to stay two strokes behind. From there Perry finished weakly with two bogeys and the rest pars to finish with a 69 for the round. It was nothing compared to Weir’s meltdown, however, as he hit a double bogey on #15, then two straight bogeys, followed by a triple bogey on the final hole, which included two penalty strokes. Weir finished with a 76, seven strokes behind Perry.

My final pick was the Toronto Blue Jays. Scott Richmond had a great outing, allowing only two runs on 6 hits for the Rangers. He also struck out 8 batters while walking only two. Kevin Millwood didn’t do so bad himself with the Blue Jays only getting 5 hits off of him in 7 innings. Unfortunately three of those hits were home runs that led to four runs. Jason Jennings gave up another run to Toronto in the 8th inning and Scott Downs was able to retire the Rangers to complete the save and the win for Richmond. Toronto won at home 5 to 2. So on to the picks.

1) Andres Romero vs. Scott Verplank – Romero cards a lower front 9 score
2) Bangalore Royal Challengers vs. Kings XI Punjabi – Kings XI Punjabi
3) Rory Sabbatini vs. Charles Howell III – Howell III cards a lower 2nd round score
4) De Graafschap @ Sparta Rotterdam – De Graafschap win or draw
5) LeBron James vs. Will Bynum – Bynum pts.
6) NY Rangers points leader vs. Alex Ovechkin – NY Rangers ponts leader pts.
7) New York Yankees @ Boston Red Sox – Boston
8) Dwight Howard vs. Andre Iguodala – Iguodala pts.
9) San Francisco Giants @ Arizona Diamondbacks – San Francisco
10) Portland Trail Blazers @ Houston Rockets – 188 points or more
11) Seattle Mariners @ Los Angeles Angels – Los Angeles
12) Antonio Escalante vs. Gary Stark Jr. – 10 rounds or more

1) Andres Romero carded 2 under par in the first round to 1 under par for Verplank. Romero won this tournament last year and this is the first year Verplank has played a Tour event at TPC Louisiana. So far in 2009 Verplank has a scoring average of 70.13 while Romero has a scoring average of 71.92, which is a hugely substantial difference. Romero has made more money on the tour in the same number of events and sure enough he plays lights out some weekends and terribly on others. Yesterday Verplank had trouble finding the fairways and avoiding the bunkers, and did well to save par on more than one hole. I think Verplank will play better and is the safer choice, honestly. Romero has more Tour experience on the course, however, and made longer putts on average in the first round.
Confidence: W1 streak or less

3) Rory Sabbatini finished with a 70, two strokes behind Charles Howell III’s first round 68. Sabbatini hit into the water once to pick up a penalty stroke and hit into the sand three times so it seems he could not do much worse than 70. Howell III only hit into a bunker once in the first round, but looking at his shot selection he should be able to avoid most of the bunkers today. Sabbatini made two 15 to 20 foot putts, a 10 to 15 foot putt and two 5 to 10 foot putts while missing 12 putts over 5 feet and two putts under 1 putt under 5 feet. Howell III made one putt over 20 feet, one from 10 to 15 feet and three from 5 to 10 feet. He also missed 12 putts from over 5 feet and made all 13 of his putts from under 5 feet. Sabbatini may gain a stroke from avoiding the water but he will probably lose it back by not scoring an eagle in this round.
Confidence: W1 streak or less

4) There are a few injury concerns for Sparta Rotterdam for this match with Ruud Knol out and Donovan Sljingard facing a late fitness test on defense. Forwards Yuri Rose and Rydell Poepon will also be out for this match. The rest of Sparta Rotterdam’s roster has still outscored De Graafschap 24 to 21. De Graafschap have scored 6 goals in 15 away matches, 3 of them in one match, so they average around 0.25 away goals while conceding 2 per match. On loan Chelsea striker Ben Sahar give De Graafschap more of a scoring punch and they’ve scored nearly half of their goals in the 13 matches since acquiring him, though only one of those goals has been away. Both teams are struggling to avoid relegation with Sparta three points clear of relegation and De Graafschap needing 4 points to climb out of the zone. Today’s match represents one of the best chances either have of earning any points for the rest of the season so I think both will put forth a good effort but De Graafschap’s form will prove to be enough to secure a draw.
Confidence: W1 streak or less

7) Joba Chamberlain and Jon Lester are starting for the Yankees and Red Sox, respectively. Both have done well enough to start the season but should display better form as the season goes on. Lester has a 5.50 ERA with a 1.44 WHIP while Chamberlain has a 5.06 ERA with a 1.50 WHIP. The Sox have had difficulty with Chamberlain in the past, as a starter or a relief pitcher, with a .220 batting average and .320 slugging average. The Yankees have a career .276 batting average and .391 slugging average. Last season, however, it was Lester who had the lower ERA in more innings pitched. Lester also has a better than 4:1 SO:BB ratio while Chamberlain is at 2:1. Chamberlain is good for 80 to 100 pitches, so the Yankees may have to rely on their bullpen more. That is good news for the Sox as the Yankees bullpen have two losses to one loss for the Sox bullpen. In their last three games the Yankees are batting .311 and slugging .525 which is tremendous, but overshadowed by the Red Sox batting .351 and slugging .649 in their last three. An off day by either pitcher could hand the game to the other side, but with the Yankees bullpen having a combined WHIP of 1.50 to 1.13 for Boston and with Lester probable to pitch an inning more than Chamberlain I have to give the advantage to the Red Sox at Fenway.
Confidence: W2 streak or less

8) Since the beginning of March Iguodala has scored over 18 points in 20 games and 18 points or fewer in 5 games. During the same time period Howard has scored more than 18 points 12 times and 18 or fewer 12 times.
Confidence: W1 streak or less

9) Lincecum and Davis have faced off once this season, with each pitcher recording 8 scoreless innings and the Diamondbacks winning 2-0. As the NL Cy Young winner last year, Lincecum obviously had the lower ERA and WHIP of the two. So far this season Lincecum has recorded a 3.86 ERA and 1.53 WHIP compared to Davis’ 2.57 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. Of the two Lincecum is more likely to pitch a stronger game assuming both pitchers regress towards their previous season’s numbers. The Giants have only batted .228 in their last 3 games with a slugging average of .315 while the Diamondbacks have batted .270 with a .470 slugging average. It will be up to Lincecum to hold off Arizona and hope the Giants can find some success against Davis who has walked 14 and struck out 22 Giants batters in 185 at bats while allowing .398 of batters to reach a base. Lincecum’s SO:BB ratio against Arizona is nearly 8:1 so he has a good chance of shutting down an Arizona team which has been relatively cracking recently. Whoever can keep their bullpen out of the game the longest increases their odds of winning. San Francisco’s has a 2 losses, 2 saves and a 1.44 WHIP while giving up 3 home runs and Arizona’s has 1 loss, 4 saves and a 1.60 WHIP while giving up 6 home runs.
Confidence: W2 streak or less

12) I know nothing about these fighters other than that they are 122 pounds in weight and have recorded multiple knockouts in their careers. A well placed punch, even from these bantams can knock someone out. Thanks to phillkoo for finding this site. Click here for Escalante’s stats and click here for Stark’s In 43 fights combined each fighter has been knocked out once. I am thinking it’s because they are skilled at avoiding those knockout punches, so I can see this fight going the distance.
Confidence: W1 streak or less

Thursday, April 23, 2009

April 23rd, 2009 Picks

An ugly 1-3-0 day, and if I hadn’t gotten all 3 morning picks right I’m sure it would have been 0-4-0. My first pick was the PIttsburgh Pirates. Neither Maholm or Nolasco had spectacular outings with a 6.00 ERA for the former and a 7.50 ERA for the latter in 6 innings pitched each. Pittsburgh took an early 1-0 lead on an Adam LaRouche ground rule double in the 1st. McLouth batted in another run and a sacrifice fly by Andy LaRouche made it 3-0 after three. A Helms double RBI in the fourth got a run back for the Marlins and Nolasco himself hit a single RBI in the 5th to make it 3-2. Andy LaRouche got that run back in the next inning but the Marlins leveled things at 4-4 with RBI’s by Paulino and Ross. Morgan batted in a run at the top of the 6th, and crossed home on a throwing error by Paulino. The bullpens came in to play after that and another run by the Pirates made the final score 7-4. Grabow did a terrific job for the Pirates with a 3 K hold in the 8th.

My second pick of the day was the San Diego Padres. Barry Zito had a terrific outing for the Giants with 5 strikeouts, and zero earned runs in 7 innings. Chris Young also had a nice outing, giving up 2 hits and 0 runs in 7 innings. Howry relieved Zito but was pulled after two batters when Hairston advanced to third on a sacrifice fly. Affeldt caught Giles and Gonzalez looking to retire the inning with 2 strikeouts. The game went into extra innings tied 0-0 and in the bottom of the 10th Moreno gave up a single, and a ground rule double to Molina to earn the loss. The Padres kept Bell out for a potential save, but it never materialized and the Giants won 1-0.

My third pick was the Baltimore Orioles. This was one that was just a bad pick. The White Sox immediately went to work with Quentin, Getz, and Fields batting in three runs in the first two innings. A lead off home run by Thome in the 3rd made it 4-0 White Sox. Guthrie and Danks dueled for a few innings before Scott hit a solo home run to make it 4-1. Guthrie was relieved by Sarfate in the top of the 7th with one man on and Sarfate immediately yielded a two run shot by Fields to put it at 6-2. Danks did a great job retiring batters without throwing too many pitches and did not walk a single batter. In the end it was 8-2 Chicago.

My final pick was the Los Angeles Angels. It was a back and forth battle with Verlander and Saunders giving up hits and runs left and right. Verlander had a 12.40 ERA and 2.20 WHIP in 5 innings pitched while Saunders stood with a 9.00 ERA and 1.8 ERA after 5. It was tied up 4-4 after three innings and the Angels led 8-6 after 6 innings. Scot Shields came in for the Angels in the 7th and immediately gave up two singles and walked a batter to load the bases. He then walked in a run before being relieved by Arredondo. He did not fare well and four singles and an error later the Tigers were up 11-8. The Angels gave up another run in the 9th and a 2 RBI double with 2 outs by Rivera was too little, too late. Detroit won on the road 12-10. So on to the picks…..

1) Rich Beem vs. Steve Marino – Marino cards a lower front 9 score
2) Kansas City Royals @ Cleveland Indians – Cleveland
3) Mike Weir vs. Kenny Perry – Perry cards a lower first round score
4) Sampdoria @ Inter Milan – Inter Milan wins by 1 goal, ties, or loses
5) Tampa Bay Rays @ Seattle Mariners – Seattle
6) Penguins (v. Flyers) vs. Red Wings (v. Blue Jackets) – Red Wings win margin
7) Texas Rangers @ Toronto Blue Jays – Toronto
8) Boston Celtics @ Chicago Bulls – Chicago
9) New York Red Bulls @ Kansas City Wizards – Kansas City win
10) Los Angeles Dodgers @ Houston Astros – Los Angeles
11) Los Angeles Lakers @ Utah Jazz – Utah

1) To start off it might help to view each golfers stats in 2009. Click here for Rich Beem’s stats and click here for Steve Marino’s. In 2008 and 2009 Marino has entered 40 stroke play events, been cut 9 times and finished in the top 10 six times. Beem has entered 35 such events, been cut 14 times and finished in the top 10 twice. The Zurich Open has been played at TPC Louisiana in 2005 and 2007-present. In 2006 and prior to 2005 it was played at the English Turn Golf Club. At the current course Beem has carded four front 9 scores, at +1, +3, -1, and even par. Marino has carded four scores as well, -1, -2, +1, and even par. That makes Beem’s average and median scores just above par and Marino’s a stroke better at just below par. Marino has a worse sand save percentage than Beem and this course is filled with enormous bunkers. On the front 9, however, the bunkers are placed such that that only a poor hook or slice will place a player in the sand. This is in contrast to the back 9 where the bunkers are placed such that an aggressive player trying to give themselves a short approach shot to the green would be penalized. The front 9 should play well to a big driver like Marino and I like his chances to win the front 9. Click here for the group’s shot tracker and click on one of the colored boxes with the players photos inside to get a hole-by-hole view of the course to see what I mean about the placement of the bunkers.
Confidence: W1 streak or less

2) Both starting pitchers have had a good start to their seasons. Gil Meche has a 2.25 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP in 20 innings of work and Anthony Reyes has a 5.73 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP in 11 innings. Reyes has had great success against the Royals posting a 2.25 ERA in 8 innings against them last season. The Indians’ batting order has a career batting average of .278 and slugging average of .432 against Meche, so Kansas City’s ace may not be enough for them here tonight. What does favor the Royals is the Indians’ relatively cold bats since their 22 run victory at the new Yankee Stadium. They’ve batted .198 with a .330 slugging average since that game, going 1-2. The Royals have been on the other side of that equation with a .310 batting average and .450 slugging average in their last 3 games. I can see Meche and Reyes each struggling a bit today in a cold early game and can see Cleveland getting back on track with their hitting.
Confidence: W1 streak or less

3) Not much to go on here. Perry has played 8 rounds at TPC Louisiana and carded an average and median score of 71.5 ranging from a 69 to a 74. Weir has played two rounds, a 71 and a 75. You can see how Weir has performed this year compared to Kenny Perry. I think Perry wins with a 71 to a 73 for Weir today.
Confidence: W1 streak or less

5) Felix Hernandez and James Shields are starting for Seattle and Tampa Bay, respectively. Both had terrific seasons last year although Hernandez’ stats suffered a bit through injury. Historically the Mariners have performed better against Shields than the Rays against Hernandez. Last season Shields had a 4.05 ERA against the Mariners and a 1.35 WHIP, while Hernandez had a 1.13 ERA against the Rays and a 0.88 WHIP. The Rays’ lineup has a career batting average of .132 and slugging average of .176 against Hernandez. The Mariners’ lineup has a career batting average of .239 and slugging average of .403 against Shields. In their last 3 games the Rays are batting .243 while the Mariners are batting .219, though they are slugging .354 compared to .320 for the Rays. I think it should be a great pitchers duel, but if Hernandez’ ankle is bothering him at all the Rays will be able to take a lead. Unfortunately I don’t see their bullpen doing well to hold on to that lead.
Confidence: W1 streak or less

7) Kevin Millwood has had a great start to the season with a 1.17 ERA and 0.78 WHIP in three starts. Last season he had a 5.07 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP so it is likely he will be giving up some walks, hits, and runs soon enough. Scott Richmond is a minor league surprise who has done well enough in the majors. In 27 innings last season he had 20 strikeouts and walked two batters. This season his ERA is 3.48 and his WHIP is 1.35 in 101/3 innings. Texas has one of the best batting orders in the league, but have slumped a tiny bit recently. Toronto’s bats are hot and their bullpen has performed much better than Texas’. Texas will need another terrific 6 or 7 innings from Millwood to have a good chance here.
Confidence: W1 streak or less

10) Wandy Rodriguez is an all-star but Chad Billingsley is no slouch. Against Rodriguez the Dodgers have a career batting average of .298 and slugging average of .553. Against Billingsley the Astros have a career batting average of .214 and slugging average of .300. Both teams are hitting great recently and both pitchers are due to give up some runs but the Dodgers’ bullpen has performed a bit better this season with Broxton especially being nearly unhittable.
Confidence: W2 streak or less

11) The Utah Jazz were within three points with three minutes to go and the result was a roaring Staples Center, some clutch play by Kobe Bryant, and some brick wall physical defense by the Lakers to end up with a 10 point victory. Mehmet Okur will be missing again for the Utah Jazz and that’s a big injury since Okur can pull Gasol or Bynum out from the paint with his three point shooting and that opens things up down there offensively for the Jazz who rely quite a bit on open lanes to the basket leading to easy shots. As long as Kobe and Gasol lead the Lakers with a killer instinct they should win this game, but I wouldn’t be too surprised to see them come out a bit lackluster and fold if Utah applies the pressure early and throughout.
Confidence: W1 streak or less

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

April 22nd, 2009 Picks

‘Twas a quite disappointing 0-2-0 day for me today. My first pick was Liverpool to win at home. They were very aggressive right from the start but were unable to work one past keeper Lukasz Fabianski. At 36’ Mascherano lost the ball to Arsenal and Andrei Arshavin booted the go-ahead goal in past Pepe Reina. Arsenal led 1-0 at half time but Liverpool quickly jumped in front with a header by Torres at 49’ and another one by Benayoun at 56’. Fabianski slapped the Benayoun header out of the goal but was standing past the line and the ball crossed it before he made his move.

At 67’ Arshavin stole the ball and rocketed a shot past a diving Reina. The Liverpool defense made another costly mistake at 70’ when Aurelio chipped a shot clear which landed right to Arshavin who collected his third goal of the day. Torres brought another equalizer two minutes later when he received the balll in the box and turned to his left to slam his shot into the goal. Right as injury time was reached Liverpool had a corner and had pulled an extra man into the box. Fabianski punched the ball clear and there was no Reds player to collect the rebound. Arshavin and Walcott broke for the counter attack and easily beat the Liverpool defense. Arshavin made his fourth goal on the resulting shot. Benayoun equalized again in the third minute of injury time but Liverpool could not muster up a fifth goal in the final two minutes. Arsenal picked up a well deserved point with a 4-4 draw at Anfield.

My second pick was the Milwaukee Brewers. My gut feeling that the Brewers would hit well against Moyer was only half correct. They took a 1-0 lead in the first inning off a Braun solo home run, but gave back two runs in the bottom of the inning. The Brewers ended up with 7 hits and 4 runs off of Moyer, but Parra was one run worse. Moyer put in a solid 6 innings while Parra lasted only 4. In the next two innings the Brewers’ bullpen had allowed another 6 runs and the Brewers were down 11-3. They could not outpace the Phillies’ bats which produced 13 hits with those 11 runs. A rain delay caused the game to finish late, precluding the selection of the late evening picks and the Phillies prevailed 11-4. So on to the picks, eh?

1) Florida Marlins @ Pittsburgh Pirates – Pittsburgh
2) Werder Bremen @ Hamburg SV – Werder Bremen win or draw
3) Lazio @ Juventus – 3 goals or more
4) San Diego Padres @ San Francisco Giants – San Diego
5) Chicago White Sox @ Baltimore Orioles – Baltimore
6) Montreal (v. Boston) vs. NY Rangers (v. Washington) – Montreal scores more goals
7) Andre Miller vs. Orlando Magic win margin – Orlando win margin
8) Miami Heat @ Atlanta Hawks – 184 points or fewer
9) Los Angeles Dodgers @ Houston Astros – Los Angeles
10) Jose Reyes vs. Joel Piniero – Piniero total strikeouts
11) Chicago Blackhawks @ Calgary Flames – 5 goals or fewer
12) Detroit Tigers @ Los Angeles Angels – Los Angeles
13) C. Paul and D. West vs. C. Billups and C. Anthony – Paul and West pts.

1) Ricky Nolasco will be starting pitcher for the Florida Marlins as they try to avoid a sweep by the Pittsburgh Pirates and PNC Park. Paul Maholm will start for the Pirates. Maholm is having a terrific start to the season with a 0.87 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in 3 starts and 202/3 innings pitched. Nolasco has had a more mundane start with an ERA of 6.60 and a WHIP of 1.60 in 3 starts and 15 innings pitched. Last season Nolasco was a slightly better pitcher regarding these metrics and collected 15 wins to 8 losses while Maholm had 9 wins and 9 losses. The Marlins batters have had success historically against Maholm as well, batting .286 and slugging .603 in 63 at bats. The Pirates have not done as well with a .216 batting average and .314 slugging average. One bright spot for Maholm is his 2.6 strikeout to walk ratio against the Marlins’ lineup compared to a 1.8 SO:BB ratio for Nolasco against the Pirates. This season, however, it is Nolasco with the 4.0 SO:BB ratio and Maholm with a 1.0 SO:BB ratio. The Marlins have been cold at the plate in their last three games with a .185 batting average. This could be the game they break out of that slump, but I think the Marlins are facing Maholm at the wrong time to take advantage of him again. The Pirates’ bullpen of Yates, Grabow, and Capps has performed well this year so they should be able to hold on to a lead as long as Maholm doesn’t plummet back to earth in this game.
Confidence: W2 streak or less

2) It’s probably easier just to read it for yourselves so here are each clubs’ news in English. Click for Werder Bremen news; Click for HSV news; And a preview from goal.com. Werder Bremen have won 4 away matches to reach the semi-final, including a 5-2 thrashing of VfL Wolfsburg who are 13-1-0 (W-D-L) in league play with a plus-27 goal differential. Werder Bremen are 1-5-8 away in the Bundesliga with a minus-7 goal differential. Wolfsburg was at full strength so one can see how Bundesliga form can fly out the window for a Cup match like this. Throw in that this is a ‘derby’ (read: rivalry) match between HSV and Werder Bremen and it’s tough to predict the outcome. I would give HSV the advantage at home but give Bremen the overall advantage of performing well in this tournament. HSV have their hands full with the Bundesliga title within reach. HSV and Bremen play one another in the UEFA Cup semi-finals as well so neither team is relying on this tournament solely for winning a trophy this year.
Confidence: W1 streak or less

4) The starting pitchers for this game are Chris Young for the Padres and Barry Zito for the Giants. Young has had a good start to the season with a 4.86 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in 16.2 innings pitched which is not far off from his overall ERA and WHIP from the 2008 season. He also has done well against the Giants with a 2.57 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in 14 innings against them last season. Barry Zito has not gotten off to a stellar start with a 10.00 ERA and 1.89 WHIP in 9 innings pitched. He gave up 6 earned runs in one start and 4 earned runs in his other start. His numbers from last season were worse than Young’s but much better than his current lines. He did alright in 202/3 innings against the Padres last season with a 3.48 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. Both teams are hitting the ball well with the Padres batting .330 in their last three games and the Giants batting .255 in their last three. In terms of slugging percentage the Padres are at .477 recently and the Giants are at .363. Overall the Padres’ bullpen has done better with Bell recording 5 saves in 5 appearances, and Cla Meredith recording 3 wins. The Giants’ Brian Wilson has 2 saves in 5 appearances and no wins, and the other main relievers have nearly as many losses as holds and saves. I fully expect Zito to pitch a good game today, but Young should be better. The Padres have had the hotter bats lately and the deadlier bullpen as well.
Confidence: W5 streak or less

7) The Sixers won Game 1 by two points in Orlando and Andre Miller had 7 assists and 7 rebounds. Stan Van Gundy is a good coach who was the favorite to win Coach of the Year for most of the season. I think Van Gundy will make some adjustments and Orlando will find itself up by at least 15 after three quarters and this time Orlando will extend that lead. Hedo Turkoglu not being 100% will make it more difficult for the Magic as he has been a large part of their ability to close teams out at the end of games. Andre Miller is also one of the better rebounding point guards in the league. If Orlando plays strong defense Miller’s teammates will start to miss shots and Miller could very well end up with under 5 assists. Half of Miller’s rebounds this season were offensive so he’ll still get at least 4 rebounds. Miller has the potential to get a triple double so 20 plus assists and rebounds is possible but I like the Magic to win by more than 20.
Confidence: W2 streak or less

10) Piniero has had 2 and 3 strikeouts in his first two starts. His median number of strikeouts this year and last is 3. Last season Piniero had 10 games with 4 or more strikeouts and 16 with three or fewer. This season Reyes has two games with 5 or more total bases and 11 games with 3 or fewer. His median number of total bases this season and last is 1. Reyes has recorded 13 total bases in 9 career at bats against Piniero while being struck out twice. This looks to be very close and only based on Piniero’s success in a small number of at bats would he have a chance here.
Confidence: W1 streak or less

11) In the playoffs these teams have scored 4, 5, and 6 goals in regulation. During the season they scored 7, 4, 7, and 7 goals. Notice when the series was at 0-0 there were 4 goals, at 1-0 there were 5 goals, and at 2-0 there were 6 goals. Now it’s 2-1 so I see more conservative play and defensive focus from these two teams.
Confidence: W1 streak or less

13) Chauncey Billups scored 36 points on 10 of 15 shooting in Game 1, including 8 for 9 from three point range. Anthony added 13 points with a poor shooting night. David West did even worse with 12 points on 16 field goal attempts and Paul added 21 points, with the Nuggets’ duo outscoring them 49 to 33. During the season Paul and West averaged 43.8 points while Billups and Anthony averaged 40.5 points. In the last 5 games of the regular season Paul and West averaged 53.2 point to 35.6 points for Anthony and Billups. Billups would do well to have even 3 three pointers and 25 points in this game. I think West, Anthony, and Paul all increase their scoring from Game 1. In the end West and Paul should win this prop by 5 points or so.
Confidence: W2 streak or less

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

April 21st, 2009 Picks

Holy flarking schnittballs, 1-3-0 today. My first pick of the day was Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot. He started out the race well as a dozen or so runners were leading the pack in a group of their own. At 25K, a little over halfway through the race Cheruiyot and Ryan Hall were still with the main group clocking in at 1:16:10, a very fast pace. 5 kilometers later Cheruiyot had dropped behind the main group by nearly half a minute and in the next 5 kilometers he had dropped behind by over 4 minutes. In the end he was unable to complete the race and Ryan Hall made a terrific finish to the race to close the gap between him and eventual winner Deriba Merga to 58 seconds. Ryan Hall finished in 3rd place with a time of 2:09:40 and proved he can run with the best in the world on one of the toughest courses in the world.

My second pick was Burnley over Sheffield United. Both teams looked very talented and worthy of promotion, though they played a bit recklessly most of the time. It was a very physical match with the referee allowing most contact when a play was made for the ball. In the 23’ Rhys Williams whipped a cross in from the right wing and Martin Paterson leaned forward to head the ball in to the goal and put Burnley ahead 1-0. At the end of the first half Sheffield United applied some pressure and were rewarded with three consecutive corner kicks, but could not get anything for the effort. They had some very dangerous opportunities arise in the 2nd half but Brian Jensen made the necessary saves and the Blades squandered other opportunities with off-target shots. Burnley held on to win after 5 minutes of injury time, 1-0.

My third pick was the New York Rangers. They were at home and up 2-0 in the series and that must have provided all the incentive the Capitals needed to show up. They played very well, going up 2-0 in the first 12 minutes on two Alexander Semin goals, each assisted by Ovechkin and Backstrom. The Rangers were frustrated by their inability to beat Simeon Varlamov, who finished with a shutout and 33 saves. The Rangers ended up with 26 penalty minutes and the Capitals took advantage with two power play goals. Washington took a game back with a 4-0 win.

My last pick was the Colorado Rockies. Considering Marquis and Garland had similar ERA’s last season it was not terribly surprising to see Garland pitch a fine game while Marquis was far too hittable. Arizona went up early on a lead-off home run by Reynolds in the 2nd. Colorado got the run back when Fowler hit a single to bat in Iannetta. A Reynolds double in the 4th put Arizona up 2-1, and in the 5th inning the Diamondbacks broke the game open. An error by Hawpe allowed Ojeda to reach home from 1st base off a single and Montero belted out a three run homer to give Arizona the 6-1 lead. Colorado made a game attempt at a comeback with a single run in the 6th and 8th innings but in the end left too many men stranded at 2nd and 3rd to take this game. Arizona won at home 6-3. So on to the picks.

1) Arsenal @ Liverpool – Liverpool win
2) Pittsburgh Penguins @ Philadelphia Flyers – Philadelphia
3) Milwaukee Brewers @ Philadelphia Phillies – Milwaukee
4) Rodney Stuckey vs. Zydrunas Ilgauskas – Ilgauskas pts.
5) New York Mets @ St. Louis Cardinals – St. Louis
6) Detroit Tigers @ Los Angeles Angels – Los Angeles
7) Tampa Bay Rays @ Seattle Mariners – Tampa Bay
8) San Jose Sharks @ Anaheim Ducks – San Jose
9) Carlos Boozer vs. Kobe Bryant – Boozer pts. and reb.

1) Liverpool currently lies one point off Manchester United for first place in the Premier League, and with a game in hand against Portsmouth for the Red Devils Liverpool absolutely need to win this game. Missing for Arsenal will be Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor at forward, Clichy, Gallas, and Djourou on defense, and goalkeeper Manuel Alumnia. Arsenal have the necessary depth up front with Arshavin, Bendtner, Eduardo, and Vela available, but will be hard pressed to replace Clichy and Gallas, though the return of Bacary Sagna will help. Lukasz Fabianski will fill in for Alumnia. Liverpool will be without Steven Gerrard who has a groin injury and another week or more of recovery left. That will hurt but they will be hoping Xabi Alonso can take on his role and Yossi Benayoun can put in a strong start. Liverpool played at the Emirates Stadium last December against a an Arsenal side missing Theo Walcott and Liverpool with Robbie Keane in place of Torres. The result was a 1-1 draw. Now Liverpool is at home and I think with the injuries in Arsenal’s backfield Liverpool have a good chance of winning this match outright.
Confidence: W1 streak or less

3) Because of the rainout last night Jamie Moyer will be getting his third start of the season tonight. So far in 11 innings pitched he has given up 16 hits and walked 4 batters while striking out 3. His WHIP is 1.83 where 1.75 is considered the break point between very poor and average. Last year his WHIP was 1.33 and his strikeout to walk ratio was 1.98 so he is due to have a good start, but in his 23rd season now it would not be surprising if he experienced a decline this year. Manny Parra is starting for the Brewers and has had an average start to the season with a 6.97 ERA and WHIP of 1.39. He has two losses in his first two starts due to the Brewers only scoring 1 run in each of those games. Milwaukee will need to generate more runs here to win this game and I think Jamie Moyer will allow that It will be difficult to outpace the Phillies’ bats which have generated 31 hits and 17 runs in their series against the Padres, but my gut tells me it will happen tonight.
Confidence: W1 streak or less

4) During the regular season Ilgauskas outscored Stuckey in 3 of the 4 meetings. Allen Iverson played in all four of those games and that had an effect on Stuckey’s role in the offense and his production. In Game 1 of their playoff series Stuckey outscored Ilgauskas 20-12 while taking 21 field goal attempts and 6 free throws. I cannot guarantee Stuckey will have been told to stop taking so many shots and distribute the ball more but that is how I see Curry playing it in Game 2. I’m guessing Hamilton, Wallace, Prince, and others will end up with more field goal attempts this time around. Ilgauskas should score 12 plus points, but he’s had bad games before with less than 10.
Confidence: W1 streak or less

6) Armando Galarraga will be starting for the Tigers tonight and he is off to a fantastic start to the season, and that’s understating it. In two starts he has pitched 131/3 innings with an ERA of 0.68 and a WHIP of 0.90, both wins. His strikeout to walk ratio is over 4:1. He had a 1.88 ERA and 0.85 WHIP against the Angels last season, so I think we can expect another great outing from him rather than a move back to the mean. Jered Weaver has had a fairly good start for the Angels, pitching 112/3 innings with a 3.09 ERA and a WHIP of 1.54. Detroit has been hitting the ball very well with a batting average of .283 in their last three outings generating 13 runs. Their slugging average has been lagging, however, at .321 with only four doubles in those three games. The Angels have been cold lately hitting .225 in their series against the Twins. They have done better at home and playing at Angel Stadium may be the boost they need. In their last series there, against the Red Sox, they batted .289 with a slugging average of .454 which included 4 home runs. The Angels need 5 to 6 solid innings from Weaver and will need to swing wisely and force Galarraga into high pitch counts in an effort to get to the Tigers’ bullpen early.
Confidence: W2 streak or less

9) Over the course of the season Carlos Boozer has averaged 26.6 points and rebounds and Kobe Bryant has averaged 26.8 points. Boozer was injured for over half of the season and had a number of low production games when he returned. He averaged 31.0 points and rebounds before the injury. His production remained limited even after recovering from the injury, however, as he averaged 27.8 points and rebounds in his last 5 meaningful regular season games. Kobe Bryant has also slowed a bit at the end of the season, averaging 25.0 points in his last 5 games where he played meaningful minutes. In last years playoff series Kobe Bryant won this prop in 4 games of the 6 including the first two homestand games. Bryant averaged 13.4 free throw attempts per game, with a series low of 10 attempts in Game 5. He had 7 attempts in Game 1 this year which gives an indication of how aggressive he was in attacking the basket. Boozer had 27 points and 9 rebounds to Bryant’s 24 points in Game 1. Watching the Lakers this year Phil Jackson has been running the offense through Pau Gasol to a greater degree. Against a generally weak defensive frontcourt in Utah I expect to see more of the same and thus fewer 30-plus point games from Bryant. Boozer only needs to have a decent night offensively, especially if he gathers 15-plus rebounds which he is more than capable of.
Confidence: W2 streak or less

Monday, April 20, 2009

April 20th, 2009 Picks

2-1-0 yesterday. My first pick was Rory McIlroy to card a lower front 9 score. Joe Durant played a very solid round, hitting most of his fairways and rarely having to scramble to score par. McIlroy routinely found himself hitting his second shot from the rough but managed to stick his shot fairly close to the hole most of the time. The winner of this prop was decided by who had the best mid-range putting game. Durant hit his 10 foot putt on #2 for birdie while McIlroy missed his and ended up with par. Durant missed a 7 foot putt for par and ended up with a bogey on #3. McIlroy missed a 6-foot putt on #6 and ended up with a bogey on that hole. On the par-4 8th hole Joe Durant sank a 12 foot putt for birdie and went up two strokes on McIlroy. McIlroy was able to hit a 5 foot putt on #9 to gain a stroke back but it was not enough as Durant carded a 34 to McIlroy’s 35.

My second pick of the day was for Brian Gay to win the Verizon Open. Gay started out well with a birdie on the first hole and only got better from there. On the par-5 second hole he hit his second shot on to the green 57 feet from the hole and proceeded to sink that monster for an eagle. He had opened up a six stroke lead at that point and went on to hit two more birdies on the front 9 while hitting par on the rest of the holes. His first bogey came on #12 when he missed a 9 foot putt for par. At that point he had a seven stroke lead and it hardly mattered. He hit three more birdies on the next four holes and had a 10 stroke lead on the rest of the field with two holes remaining. He hit par on #17 and #18 to take the tournament with a record 20 under par. His 10 stroke lead on the rest of the field was also a record at Harbour Town. Gay bogeyed two times in the 72 holes he played in the event, also a record.

My third pick was the Vancouver Canucks. The St. Louis Blues took the lead three minutes into the game on a David Backes goal. The Canucks held on from there and in the second period scored a couple of power play goals two minutes apart. Andy McDonal equalized things at 2-2 with four minutes remaining and the score stood heading into the third period. A roughing penalty assessed at the very end of the period would prove costly for the Blues as Vancouver scored on the resulting power play less than two minutes into the third. Vancouver would hold on to win 3-2 to go up 3 games to none in the series. Vancouver converted 3 of their 5 power plays and killed all 6 Blues power plays. So on to the picks.

1) Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot vs. Ryan Hall – Cheruiyot finishes with a faster time
2) Sheffield United @ Burnley – Burnley win
3) Washington Capitals @ New York Rangers – New York
4) Oakland Athletics @ New York Yankees – 2 home runs or less hit in the game
5) Atlanta Braves @ Washington Nationals – Washington
6) Florida Marlins @ Pittsburgh Pirates – Florida
7) Cincinnati Reds @ Houston Astros – Cincinnati
8) Chicago Blackhawks @ Calgary Flames – Calgary
9) Dirk Nowitzki vs. Tim Duncan – Duncan pts. and reb.
10) Colorado Rockies @ Arizona Diamondbacks – Colorado

1) Robert Cheruiyot is an overwhelming favorite to win this race in the eyes of the bookies and bettors. Cheruiyot has +150 on him while Ryan Hall is anywhere from +350 to +500. Cheruiyot has won the Boston Marathon for the past three years and set the all-time record at the Boston Marathon in 2006 with a time of 2:07:14. Ryan Hall qualified for the Boston Marathon with his 2:06:17 5th place finish at the London Marathon in 2008. This is Hall’s first entry into the Boston Marathon. Here is a story about that London Marathon that makes me think Cheruiyot will win finish ahead of Hall if not win the race: “On that note I came across the results from the London Marathon this past weekend and Ryan Hall kicked ass. He finished in 5th place (behind 4 Kenyans) with a time of 2:06:17, which is the 3rd best American marathon finish ever. I think the coolest thing I read about the race is that sometime in the middle of the race, Hall in the lead pack rolled up to the front of the Kenyans and told them to pick up the pace, they were running too slow. Granted that may not have been the best move as the Kenyans picked up the pace to 4:30/mile (insanity) and dared him to keep up, not much of a chance.” I think Cheruiyot will be able to match and exceed any pace Hall decides to set but a year of training could surprise everyone.
Confidence: W3 streak or less

2) Sheffield United stands 3rd in the tables with 76 points, 4 points off of automatic promotion to the Premier League. Burnley stands 6th place with 69 points, one point clear of dropping out of the promotion playoffs. Burnley defeated Sheffield United away 3-2 on December 6th, 2008. Sheffield United last lost an away match October 19th, 2008, to Sheffield Wednesday 0-1. Since then they are undefeated in 15 away matches. Burnley lost at home to Sheffield Wednesday 2-4 on February 28th, 2009 and since then have won three straight home matches. Striker Steven Thompson is likely to be missing from Burnley today with injury and fellow striker Martin Paterson is probable to be a substitute rather than a starter. Sheffield United will be without defender Matthew Kilgallon who suffered a knock in during a 1-0 away win at Reading. They will also miss attacking midfielder Brian Howard. With Burnley being at home and desperately needing at least one point to stay in the race for promotion I think they will be more motivated to avoid a loss, while Sheffield United would be satisfied with a draw.
Confidence: W1 streak or less

4) This game has been postponed.

5) The Washington Nationals are 1-11 this season. They simply have to start winning some games at some point because teams just do not finish the season with 14 wins. They will be starting Jordan Zimmerman who is a highly touted prospect. The Braves will counter with Derek Lowe who has a strong track-record against the Nationals. Lowe has an ERA of 2.81 in three starts this season, having given up 5 runs in 16 innings. Last season he fairly dominated the Nationals with a 0.56 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning) in 13 innings and an ERA of 1.13. The Braves look like a lock here, but with Washington due for a win and the potential of Zimmerman they could easily lose a low scoring game.
UPDATE: The 5-year $45 milion deal was for 3B Ryan Zimmerman, unrelated to Jordan Zimmerman.
Confidence: W1 streak or less

9) Dirk Nowtizki averaged 34.3 points and rebounds during the season while Tim Duncan averaged 30.0 points and rebounds. In the last 5 games of the season where Duncan played meaningful minutes he averaged 32.8. Nowitzki also stepped up his game, averaging 40.2 rebounds and points in his last 5 games of the regular season. In three meetings during the regular season Nowtizki won this prop once in San Antonio, 37-34 and once in Dallas, 36-31. Duncan won once in Dallas 46-45 and did not play in the third game of the season series. In Game 1 of this series Nowtizki had 19 points and 8 rebounds. Tim Duncan had 27 points and 9 rebounds. Last year against the Hornets Nowitzki averaged 34.8 points and rebounds while going down in 5 games. In the Spurs’ series against the Hornets that same year Duncan averaged 27.1 points and rebounds while winning a 7 game series. After losing Game 1 of this series I think Duncan, out of the two, will be the one to step up his game which was already more than enough to out pace Nowitzki in points and rebounds. Nowitzki has the greater potential to win this prop but I’m inclined to go with the player who won in the previous game.
Confidence: W1 streak or less

10) The starting pitchers in this game are Jon Garland for the Diamondbacks and Jason Marquis for the Rockies. Garland has a year-to-date ERA of 8.44 and is 1-1 in decisions. He’s also struck out 2 batters while walking 8 which is poor for him when he struck out 1.5 times as many batters as he walked last year. Marquis has a 1.93 ERA so far this year and has a 2-0 record in decisions. Both he and Garland have been around 4.50 in ERA for most of their careers. I like Colorado in this game because of how cold the Diamondbacks have been when it comes to hitting the ball recently. They have a .126 batting average in their last 3 games, including a .167 slugging average against Sanchez on Friday night, a pitcher against whom their batting order has a career slugging average of .680 against. Colorado has been only slightly better with a .214 batting average in their past 3 games. At least Colorado has scored 10 runs in those games, whereas Arizona has been limited to 4 runs. Marquis has been pitching well compared to Garland so far this season as well.
Confidence: W2 streak or less