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And So It Goes....

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

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

May 17th, 2009 Picks

1-0-0 today as I picked up a victory with the Chicago Cubs. I could have added another couple of games to my streak with Fulham, the Rangers, Tigers, Pirates, or Marlins, but there will be plenty of chances in the future. In the Cubs game Randy Wells and Roy Oswalt had a good go at it. Wells got himself into trouble in the 2nd inning by giving up a single and walking two batters after getting his first two batters faced out with a double play. Fortunately Oswalt was a simple ground out and the game went on 0 to 0. The teams combined for 2 hits until the bottom of the 6th when Soriano lead off with a single. A couple of sacrifices by Theriot and Fukudome advanced him to third, and a single by Derek Lee brought him home. Hoffpauir followed with a home run to put the Cubs up 3-0. Both pitchers were done after that and it was the Astros bullpen who gave up another run with a couple of walks and an RBI single in the 8th.

Chicago put in closer Kevin Gregg to protect the four run lead, but he gave up two straight solo home runs to Berkman and Lee and then proceeded to give up two singles and hit the next batter with a pitch to load the bases. Chicago finally had Heilman warmed up but he gave up a two RBI single to tie the game. Heilman got two outs, but ended up walking the bases loaded again. Sean Marshall came in and got the final out of the inning. Fortunately for Chicago Scales walked to lead off the inning, then Miles hit a sacrifice to advance him to second, and Soriano hit the walk-off RBI single to end the game with Chicago up 5 to 4. So on to the picks.

1) Paul Goydos vs. Justin Leonard – Goydos has a lower score through three rounds
2) Lecce @ Bologna – Lecce win or draw
3) Cambridge United vs. Torquay United – Torquay United
4) Zach Johnson or Dustin Johnson vs. Rest Of Field - Zach Johnson or Dustin Johnson
5) Minnesota Twins @ New York Yankees – New York
6) Baltimore Orioles @ Kansas City Royals – Baltimore
7) Chicago Blackhawks @ Detroit Red Wings – Detroit
8) Aaron Brooks vs. Lamar Odom – Odom pts. and reb.
9) Cincinnati Reds @ San Diego Padres – San Diego
10) Boston Red Sox @ Seattle Mariners – Seattle
11) Orlando Magic @ Boston Celtics – Orlando
12) New York Mets @ San Francisco Giants – New York

2) U.S. Lecce travel to the Stadio Renato Dall'Ara to take on Bologna F.C. in a battle to avoid relegation to Serie B. Each side trail Torino for the last safety position by less than 3 points, so if Torino fail to win at Napoli a win by either team here would raise them clear of relegation. Of course, every match save Internazionale Milan at Siena are being played at 6pm CEST so they will have to play to win and assume Torino will not keep pace. Lecce have not fared well over the years at Bologna, losing three matches there and drawing twice going back 10 years. Goal.com carries an English language preview of the match. They point out that the Rossoblu are carrying a number of injuries, most importantly to Salvatore Lanna in the backfield and Davide Bombardini at midfield. Each of these players have started a majority of Bologna's matches, while the other injury concerns mentioned have started in 10 or fewer matches. The injuries and suspension mentioned for Lecce are not too concerning. Lecce fielded a side without including any of them away at Juventus and came away with a 2-2 draw. SkyBet carries odds on this game with Bologna to win at 4/5 (-125, 50.6%), Lecce to win at 10/3 (+333, 21.0%), and the draw at 11/5 (+220, 28.4%). Based on their goals scored and allowed I think Lecce is being greatly undervalued here, with the draw and Bologna winning being overvalued at their expense. With both sides fighting to save their seasons I think the defenses will be better than they have been, but not good enough for a clean sheet leading to a 1-1 draw in this match.

3) It's the Blue Square Premier promotion playoff final at Wembley stadium. The winner of this one-off will be promoted to the League Two of the Football Association, a major accomplishment for both of these clubs. Prior to losing 1-3 away at Stevenage Borough in the first leg of their semi-final tie Cambridge United had gone undefeated for 4 matches. That was their last regular season loss and it was also away at Stevenage. The U's still earned a trip to Wembley with a 3-0 home win in the 2nd leg of their tie. Torquay United had gone undefeated for 5 matches, including 3 draws and a 2-1 defeat of of league leaders Burton Albion, before losing 0-1 away at Histon. It was a solid enough defensive effort to win the semi-final 2-1 in aggregate as they had already defeated Histon 2-0 in the first leg. During the season Torquay United went undefeated against Cambridge, winning 1-0 away and drawing 0-0 at home. This is not a home match for either squad, though Cambridge is about 140 miles closer to London than Torquay. Torquay were 12-7-4 (W-D-L) away this season with 34 GS and 24 GA while Cambridge were 10-8-5 away with 31 GS and 24 GA. Both sides are healthy and essentially at full-strength, though both carry concerns with their first string keepers. Torquay United's Bevan is rated as 50/50 so they may play his replacement, Michael Poke. Poke has figured in their last 3 matches, conceding only 2 goals, and started in their impressive win over Burton Albion. Rumors have been ignited about the fitness of Cambridge United keeper Danny Potter with the emergency signing of Kidderminster Harrier's keeper Adam Bartlett. Adam Bartlett is considered a very good goalie, having played for England's national team on the 'C' squad. Cambridge United themselves are claiming he is only experienced cover for Potter should he be injured during the final. As always BBC and Setanta Sports have nice previews of the match. They mention that Gulls forward Blair Sturrock has picked up a knock in the tie against Histon. Torquay United will be able to select from strength in selecting his replacement to pair with Sills on the attack. The Cambridge News note that have many players on their squad have played at Wembley last year. In contrast, Torquay United is full of footballers who played in last years Blue Square Premier promotion semi-final, but did not advance past Exeter City to play at Wembley. SkyBet has the match exactly even with either side to win at 6/4 and draw at 9/4, but I think Torquay will be able to pull off a 1-0 win much as they did back in September at Cambridge.

6) The Baltimore Orioles are hoping to win back to back games on the road for only the second time this season when they face the Kansas City Royals. The Orioles will have Koji Uehara pitching for them, a 31 year old veteran of the Nippon Professional Baseball league, has been very good this season posting a 4.01 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. His last outing was a 6 inning, 6 hit, 1 earned run domination of the New York Yankees, though the Orioles lost the game 5-3. Uehara has a good sense of the strike zone, striking out over four times as many batters as he walks, but has difficulty keeping the ball low evidenced by his low ground ball to fly ball ratio. Kansas City will counter with Luke Hochevar, who had a complete nightmare of a first start by pitching 2 innings and allowing 8 earned runs on 7 hits. His ERA is 36.00 from that game and his WHIP is 4.50, but I am sure those numbers will go way down after this game. Last season he had a 5.51 ERA through 129 innings, so while he has been mediocre at best he is not prone to giving up more than 1 run per inning. Kansas City has been batting above average in their last three games with a .304 batting average and a .471 slugging average. Baltimore has been below average with a .262 batting average and .383 slugging average. I think Uehara will assist Kansas City in their natural return to the norm and as the Royals are not a power hitting team particularly his low ground ball production will not be too detrimental. Baltimore should also have a bit of a breakout game, with at least their batting average improving against Hochevar. The Orioles will need to have a lead through 6 innings to have a good chance of winning here, however, as the Royals' bullpen has been fairly impressive so far this season.8) It's Game 7 of the quarterfinal series between the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers were up 2 games to 1 when it was revealed that Yao Ming had broken his foot and would be out for the remainder of the playoffs. Since then the Rockets have won two games in Houston in a blowout and a near blowout and the Lakers won Game 5 in L.A. in a 40 point blowout. Not surprisingly, the team who has won in a blowout has had the players racking up the points, assists, and rebounds. In this game Lamar Odom is expected to be the starter to help defensively against a Rockets team that is smaller and quicker without Yao Ming in the lineup. Looking at the graphs above it's clear that Odom has averaged more points and rebounds at home than Brooks has averaged points and assists on the road, with Odom averaging 19.1 to 16.0 for Brooks. In L.A. the story is a bit different with Brooks averaging 17.4 points and assists, and Odom averaging only 15.8 points and rebounds against the Rockets. As both players started the season on the bench and earned starting roles due to trade or injury I think these averages are still reflective of their relative production. Aaron Brooks, being one of the fastest players on the Rockets, has become one of the focal points of their offense so his production can be expected to go up. Lamar Odom's role remains unchanged. Essentially Brooks does have the better chance of winning this prop in any given game, but this is Game 7 of a playoff series. I expect the Lakers to step up their defense and make things hard for Brooks and the rest of the Rockets team leading to fewer points and assists for Brooks. The key is for Odom to be effective while he is on the court. He will be sharing minutes with Andrew Bynum and if Odom is not effective and Bynum is then Odom will lose some minutes in this game. I don't see Bynum stepping up his game suddenly with the pressure higher than it's ever been since he's such a young player and think Odom will be a major part of a Lakers blowout.

9) The Cincinnati Reds try to avoid being swept on the road in their series with the San Diego Padres, but the presence of Jake Peavy on the mound for San Diego won't make the job any easier. Peavy has a 4.30 ERA and 1.22 WHIP so far this season after a little rough patch a few weeks ago against the Pirates and the Giants. Since then he has been magnificent, including this 2 hit gem against the Dodgers, pitching for 21 innings in 3 starts and giving up 5 earned runs from 12 hits while striking out 29 batters and walking only 6. Cincinnati has been batting .220 and slugging .378 in their last three games, including the 16 inning marathon last night, and I don't see it getting any easier for them in this game. The Padres have also had their struggles at the plate, batting .197 and slugging .393, meaning that while they have not gotten many hits they have had more power behind those hits. They will face off against Bronson Arroyo in this game. Arroyo has struggled this season with a 7.02 ERA and 1.61 WHIP through 7 starts. In his last start, against Arizona, he pitched for 7 innings and gave up 5 runs on 10 hits which isn't too shabby, especially when you receive 13 runs of support from your batters. I think Arroyo could fairly be expected to give up 4 or 5 runs in this game, but with Peavy pitching for the Padres it could very well prove to be too much. With either team potentially being forced to delve deep into their bullpens after the extra innings last night, however, it could end up being anybody's game with big runs being scored late.

12) The New York Mets will be trying to complete a 4 game sweep of the San Francisco Giants today. Both teams have been hitting well, but the Mets have just gotten so many more hits, especially against the Giants' bullpen. New York is batting .359 and slugging .436 in the series against San Francisco while the Giants are doing great with a batting average of .309 and slugging average of .473. Those extra bases the Giants are getting would normally be enough, but it's difficult to overcome a team getting hits nearly 40% of their at bats. The Giants will try to contain New York with Matt Cain, a 3.00 ERA and 1.36 WHIP pitcher this season. The Mets will have Mike Pelfrey pitching for them who has a 4.89 ERA and 1.57 WHIP through 6 starts. Pelfrey is coming off of one of his better outings of the season, a 7 inning, 6 hit, 2 earned run game against the Atlanta Braves. A more likely game for Pelfrey is to pitch 5 or 6 innings while giving up 3 to 5 runs as he is not too economical with his pitches. One advantage Pelfrey has over Cain is his ground ball to fly ball ratio, which is more than double Cain's. With so many ground balls being hit off Pelfrey it's not surprise the Giants' current batting order has never hit more than a single off of Pelfrey. In 94 at bats the Mets are slugging .468 off of Cain, so I think he may give up some RBI doubles to the Mets. The Giants will continue to hit above average against Pelfrey, but they will struggle to get the long hits scoring multiple runs at a time. Pelfrey will still give up at lest 3 runs and so the Mets will need to provide some run support. They will just have to hope they can do better than Diamondbacks in this game, which Cain dominated. If the Mets can get some doubles and a home run off of Cain they should win. Even if Cain shuts down the Mets, as long as they are able to face the Giants' bullpen for a few innings their chances of winning remain large.

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