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And So It Goes....

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

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Friday, May 22, 2009

May 22nd, 2009 Picks

Ahh man, I was all set to take it easy on the stunt props, and started out only taking Banalore which was a true blue guaranteed lock when you could select the matchup after Bangalore had already won the toss and elected to bat first. So my streak was at 9 and for some reason I went with no scoring in the 1st inning with Texas and Detroit instead of waiting for Greinke. A first inning home run by each team ended that streak and from there it was a flurry of poor selections. A couple were just bad luck, like a fielding error by Minnesota allowing Quentin to get to bat for the Sox and getting the 2nd hit of the inning, and Bedard giving up a home run to Rivera in the first inning with 3 balls on the count. There ended up being only 3 extra base hits in the entire game, all home runs by the Angels.

Overall I went 8-6-0 on the day, so it could have been worse. Amazingly, with all of the obvious majority picks that won today the largest streak coming out is only 23 with a 20 win streak and 48 wins overall being the new target for the Streak 7. Crap, ah well, on to the picks.

1) Jacksonville State vs. Alabama – 6 runs or more
2) Dijon FCO @ SC Amiens – SC Amiens win
3) New York Mets @ Boston Red Sox – Boston
4) Tampa Bay Rays @ Florida Marlins – Florida
5) Detroit Red Wings @ Chicago Blackhawks – Chicago
6) Pittsburgh Pirates @ Chicago White Sox – Pittsburgh
7) Hedo Turkoglu vs. Mo Williams – Turkoglu pts.
8) Richard Gutierrez vs. Antwone Smith – Smith wins
9) San Francisco Giants @ Seattle Mariners – Seattle
10) Los Angeles Angels @ Los Angeles Dodgers – L.A. Angels

2) Dijon FCO visit Stade de la Licorne (Stadium of the Unicorn) to take on SC Amiens who are currently 4 points clear of safety with two matches remaining in the season.

SC Amiens seek their place in Ligue 2

Dijon FCO have injuries to worry about, but no pressure to win.
Amiens could clinch their spot in Ligue 2 with a win today, and with an away match at Boulogne to finish the season they can ill-afford to come away with a single point. Dijon FCO have cemented their position in Ligue 2 and since have lost two straight by a score of 5-1, away at Troyes and home against Angers. One can see they also lost a recent away match at Nimes who are currently in last place in Ligue 2. Amiens have also had difficulties with trying to cement their position in Ligue 2, having been unable to win a home match outright since a 2-0 defeat of 2nd place Montpellier. One of their biggest problems has been holding out on defense through the entire 90 minutes, having been up 3-1 against Guingamp before conceding late goals. Indeed, Amiens led 1-0 at Dijon into the 89th minute before two late goals gave Dijon the victory in that match.
Recent Form - SC Amiens
AmiensGuingamp3 - 3-4
AmeinsTours0 - 0-10
AmiensAngers1 - 1-5
GD: Opponents goal differential in away matches
Recent Form - Dijon FCO
TroyesDijon2 - 1+4
NimesDijon2 - 1+1
BrestDijon1 - 2+3
GD: Opponents goal differential in home matches
Going into this match Amiens are able to field their strongest side while Dijon FCO face a couple of concerns with defenders Stephane Morisot and Desire Periatambee out, and second leading goal scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang tied up with their amateur team. Dijon will still be dangerous on the attack with Carrière and Ribas available to start but these injuries and Amiens' motivation for safety have been enough to move the opening lines on this match greatly in favor of Amiens and I am inclined to agree. Amiens have shown some skill this season and it has been late lapses in play that have cost them a higher position in Ligue 2. As long as Amiens stay focused they should be able to come away with a 2-1 home victory and a place in Ligue 2 next season.

3) When the New York Mets visit Fenway Park for their fist interleague game of the season the storyline of the night will be Daisuke Matsuzaka, coming off the disabled list and a stint in the minor leagues, facing off against Johan Santana, the best pitcher in the league today. New York will hope to end a streak of poor hitting which has seen them lose 4 straight, while batting .229 and slugging .286 in their last three games. Fortunately they will have Johan Santana on the mound. Santana has a 1-3 record in his career at Fenway with a 6.89 ERA, but he has been pitching better than he ever has in his career with a 1.36 ERA and 1.04 through 8 starts, so hopes are high for a quality start from the Venezuelan ace tonight. Santana is coming off a rocky start against the Giants in which he pitched 7 strong innings, striking out 7 and walking zero batters, but still gave up 4 earned runs off of 11 hits. It was a rare game in which the Mets provided sufficient run support and New York won 9-6.

Matsuzaka's health will be paramount for Boston's success.

Santana will have his work cut out for him as the Red Sox are coming off a sweep of division leaders Toronto, batting .296 and slugging .589 in the series. New York will have to hope the small size of Fenway Park and the potential rustiness of Matsuzaka play in their favor in rediscovering their offensive prowess. The Mets will plan on rotating Wright, Beltran, and Sheffield at the designated hitter position, with Sheffield being the only one of the three to ever have taken an at bat against Matsuzaka. In fact, only two Mets have faced Matsuzaka, with Reed being the other. Sheffield has gone 6 for 11 against the Japanese right-hander, with 1 HR and 2 doubles. The Mets hope Sheffield can play tonight, probably in the designated hitter position, after he missed the series with the Dodgers with an illness.

Boston's hopes will focus on Daisuke Matsuzaka being fully healthy, after having pitched 112/3 innings over 3 games for the Pawtucket Sox after two atrocious outings where he recorded a 12.79 ERA and 3.00 WHIP forced him onto the disabled list. The Red Sox will need to get a solid 6 innings out of Matsuzaka, giving up no more than 4 runs against a Mets team sure to rebound at least somewhat offensively. If Santana can shutout Boston's offense, a tall order, they will have a great chance of winning this game, but if he gives up even 2 runs it will take a monumental effort from the Mets' bats to avoid losing a lead late in the game.

6) The Pittsburgh Penguins begin their interleague play against a team who absolutely demolished them last season, the Chicago White Sox. In that series the White Sox were struggling, much like this year. The visit to U.S. Cellular Field reversed the fortunes of the two teams as the Pirates were destroyed, giving up 10 home runs to the Sox in a supposed pitchers' park.

Can Duke help the Pirates reverse their fortunes at The Cell?
The Pirates were outscored 37-15 during the game sweep. Fortunately, the Pirates will have Zach Duke, who has given up only 3 home runs in 57 innings, pitching this time around. Duke is having a great season thus far, with a 2.84 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. He struggled a bit in his last game, and the fielding behind him didn't help as he gave up 4 ER off of 6 H in 7 innings. In his next previous start, against Colorado, he pitched 8 innings and gave up 1 earned run off of 4 hits while striking out 5 and walking 1 batter. Impressively, Duke has given up only 10 earned runs in his last 4 starts combined. Duke doesn't strike out too many, but he rarely walks batters as well, specializing in ground outs. Another difference this season is that the Pirates have Craig Monroe and Eric Hinske available as designated hitters, each of whom have played the position in the American League in past seasons. Monroe, who has batted .231, with 13 HR and 46 RBIs in 84 games as a DH and has done well this season as a sometimes starter and pinch hitter, will most likely get the start against the left-handed Gavin Floyd. Pittsburgh has been a tad anemic at the plate with a .226 batting average and .349 slugging average in their last 3 games, but overall have been better than Chicago in batting and slugging despite the White Sox hitting 13 more home runs in 1 fewer game.

Chicago has been down of late, going 3-7 in their last 10 games and losing their last game 20-1 against Minnesota yesterday. Part of the reason for that run of losses was the absence of sluggers like Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome, and Carlos Quentin. With Thome and Dye in the lineup the White Sox batted .232 and had a .411 slugging average which helped them collect two victories against the Twins. The White Sox hope Carlos Quentin's return to the starting lineup at 3rd base will further strengthen their power hitting. Chicago looks to continue their success against Pittsburgh at U.S. Cellular Field where they have gone 7-2 against the Bucs. At the other end of their lineup the White Sox will start Gavin Floyd. Floyd has been struggling this season with only 2 quality starts in 8 games. He's been downright bad for the past month or so. In his last three games he has lasted 5 innings in each, giving up a combined 20 earned runs off of 24 hits and walking nearly as many batters as he's struck out. I expect he'll be able to settle down a bit and have at least a decent outing, going for 6 innings. If he gives up 4 runs or less it would be considered a success for him. Overall, I think the Pirates are primed to have a good game at the plate and Duke should do well to limit Chicago's long hits. Gavin Floyd will probably pitch better in terms of strikeouts and walks, but I think he will still put men on base and give up more than a few runs off of singles and doubles. I like Pittsburgh to take an early lead and hold on to it in this game, reversing their fortunes at 'The Cell'.

Mo Williams had a 43 point game at home earlier in the season.

7) Looking at the graph above it's clear both Mo Williams and Hedo Turkoglu can put up big numbers, or suffer through poor shooting to post 12 or less. Williams has scored 17 or more points in 55.6% of his home games this season, including the playoffs while Turkoglu has scored 17 or more in only 42.6% of his road games. In four games facing one another Williams is averaging 15.0 points per game and Turkoglu is averaging 15.8 points, holding a slight edge due to his consistency in those games. Williams has scored 10, 12, 17, and 21 points against the Magic and it's those low point totals that have me favoring Turkoglu in this matchup. After shooting so well in Game 1 the Magic might be expected to struggle more as Cleveland makes defensive adjustments, but I think those adjustments will provide Turkoglu with more chances and he will take more than 11 shots in this game. Both players should be able to get open shots so it will come down to who is in the zone moreso.

10) Tonight's game between the Angels and the Dodgers has got to be a lot of fun for the city of Los Angeles, I imagine. This should be an incredibly close matchup, featuring two very good ballclubs with two very good pitchers on the mound.

Budding ace Clayton Kershaw faces the Angels for the first time.
Jered Weaver has recorded a 2.59 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in 8 starts this season and is coming off a quality game at Rangers Stadium, though the Angels could not overcome Feldman and the Rangers bullpen in a 3-0 loss. Over his 3 year career the Dodgers have taken 86 at bats against Weaver, batting .209 and slugging an abysmal .244, an incredible feat considering the number of pop flies Weaver tends to give up. The Dodgers come into this game having swept the New York Mets despite putting up numbers not much better than those posted against Weaver. Their pitching has been key to their success, and errors by the Mets certainly did not hurt. Tonight the Dodgers will start sophomore Clayton Kershaw, who has a 4.60 ERA and 1.24 WHIP due mainly to a couple of bad outings, including a 10-4 loss to the Rockies on April 26th in which Kershaw gave up 9 earned runs off 8 hits in only 42/3 innings. He has not faced the Angels before in his career so it will be interesting to see how he fares. The Angels have also been having their troubles hitting, though they have been able to drop a few beyond the fence which has helped. In their last game against Seattle they took a 3-0 victory behind three solo home runs. I give the advantage to the Angels in this game with Weaver having a proven track record against the Dodgers, with Manny Ramirez even, and with Kershaw being an unknown. He could potentially have another outing like he did against Colorado. With the two teams having comparable offensive numbers and the Angels' bullpen starting to get it together I would favor them to win, although this is an incredibly close matchup with the arguments against picking the Dodgers a bit lacking.

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