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And So It Goes....

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

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

May 14th, 2009 Picks

2-1-0 today. Started off rough with the New York Mets choking things away. They fell behind by 2 after the 1st but got the runs right back at the bottom of the inning. They fell behind again, but got the lead back with a grand slam by Tatis in the 4th. Sheffield equalized the score again with a solo shot but they were unable to drive home Church at second with 1 out, so the game went into extra innings. In the 10th inning Beltran was at second with 1 out, but this time Tatis ground into a double play. Eventually Takahashi gave up a solo home run to Prado in the 12th inning and that proved to be the difference.

My next pick was the Florida Marlins to hit the first home run of the game. I was pleasantly surprised to see Chris Coghlan hit a two run homer, and even more pleased when I found out it was his ninth at bat in the Majors. It got sickeningly sweet when Weeks hit a lead off home run with the first pitch thrown to the Brewers.

The last pick was Denver Nuggets' winning margin. The Nuggets did their part by getting a double digit lead in the first quarter and holding on to it for the rest of the game. The drama was taken out of the prop with Jason Terry totaling zero points and zero rebounds until sometime in the third quarter. He finished the game with one each and the Nuggets won their series with a 14 point win. So on to the fucking picks.

1) Alex Cejka vs. Rich Beem – Cejka cards a lower front 9 score
2) Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Philadelphia Phillies – Los Angeles
3) Chad Campbell vs. Justin Leonard – Leonard cards a lower 1st round score
4) Seattle Mariners vs. Texas Rangers – Texas
5) Millwall @ Leeds United – Leeds United win
6) Boston Red Sox @ Los Angeles Angels – Los Angeles
7) Rajon Rondo vs. Rafer Alston – Alston pts. and ast.
8) Detroit Goals Scored: 3 or fewer vs. 4 or more – 4 or more
9) New York Yankees @ Toronto Blue Jays – Toronto
10) Carolina Hurricanes @ Boston Bruins – Carolina
11) Pau Gasol vs. Ron Artest – Gasol pts.
12) New York Mets @ San Francisco Giants – New York

1) Today's front 9 prop takes us to the Resort Course and LaCantera Golf Club in San Antonio, Texas. The course has been set at par 70 as it is already known for the low scores achievable on it. The official website's course tour seems a bit lacking with a clunky interface and tiny pictures of each hole, but from what I could see it looks like there are fairly wide fairways and a lack of bunkers guarding each green. Water hazards are scarce, and in general it appears that an aggressive game will pay dividends. I don't think either player has a particular advantage here, based on driving distance and accuracy. You can look at Rich Beem's stats and Alex Cejka's stats by clicking on the links. Rich Beem has a 71.05 scoring average compared to Cejka's 71.45 scoring average, so neither player has been all that terrific this year. Cejka and Beem have each played 12 rounds at LaCantera since 2005. Cejka's median score on the front 9 is a -1, and his most common score is -2. Beem's median score is a -1 as well, but he has carded -2 and +1 an equal number of times. Cejka has scored anywhere from -4 to +4, while Beem has carded scores as low as -3 and as high as +3. I would give Cejka a 48% chance of winning this prop, Beem a 38% chance, and the push a 14% chance of occurring. Those odds are based on the frequency of their front 9 scores since 2005 and by assuming their median and most common scores are most likely and that scores 'N' strokes off of those are 2-N times as likely.

2) Chad Billingsley is a rare pitcher who has started out his season with seven straight quality starts. He's garnered a 2.45 ERA and 1.13 WHIP this season never giving up more than 3 earned runs and 8 hits in a game. Of course, 5 of those starts have come against the Padres and the Giants, so he will be facing his first major test against the Phillies. Fortunately, or not, the Phillies have been in a batting slump lately. In their past three games they have a .185 batting average and a .315 slugging average. One has to think that is going to end, and soon, so Billingsley may find himself in for a tough start, giving up 4 or 5 earned runs by the 5th inning. Cole Hamels will be trying to prevent Billingsley from getting the run support he will need as Hamels seeks his fourth consecutive solid outing after starting out the season with a variety of injuries. His last outing was a 6 inning, 2 earned run, 3 hit domination of the Atlanta Braves. For good measure he struck out 7 batters and walked only 2. The Dodgers have done well in their past three games without Manny Ramirez, batting .295 and slugging .434, but it's clear their batting order is not as strong without Ramirez. Against Hamels I think they can be expected to struggle. I think Philadelphia looks like a very good pick here, but I cannot pick against a top pitcher like Billingsley when Hamels is 50% likely to strain a weak adductor muscle injury.

5) Millwall is up 1-0 in aggregate on Leeds United after their first leg match at The New Den. Now the Lions visit Leeds United at their home ground to decide who will go on to Wembley for the championship match and a chance at promotion to the English Championship. Leeds United are on an 11 game winning streak at home, not having lost since January 10th, 0-2 to Carlisle United. Overall this season they are 20-3-4 at home in all competitions. In League One competition they are 17-4-2 at home, and have outscored their opposition 49 to 20. Millwall are 14-3-9 away in any competition, and 12-3-8 in League One. In those 23 league matches they have barely outscored their opponents, 33 to 32. They have lost their last three away matches, each time by 2 goals, and most recently 0-2 away at Carlisle United. Leeds United are at full strength with their manager able to select his strongest team possible. Millwall F.C. are also at full strength, essentially, with only striker Jason Price to miss out. The rivalry between these two teams is very heated with scenes of mayhem not uncommon. I have to think Leeds United fans will be out of their minds for this match. With Leeds United in good home form, and Millwall in recent poor away form the advantage is to Leeds. I calculated odds of Leeds winning at 50.4%, though oddsmakers have them at closer to 56.2%. As this prop involves injury time only, and not extra time, Millwall can feel good about losing by 1 goal and still have a chance in extra time to advance to Wembley.

6) The Los Angeles Angels welcome back pitcher Ervin Santana who is starting for the first time this year after sustaining an elbow injury. Last season Santana pitched for 219 innings and accrued an ERA of 3.49 and a 1.12 WHIP, very good numbers for a regular rotation guy. He has had a tough time against Boston, however. In 75 at bats the Red Sox have a .320 batting average and .533 slugging average, though they only have 1 home run. There is a big question about whether Santana will be in form immediately, and especially against Boston, though hopes are high. The Angels have batted .267 in their last three games but have slugged only .344 so they still have room to improve. They have been getting hits up and down the order lately though, so even with those relatively mediocre batting numbers they've been scoring runs. Boston has been struggling even more so, with a .229 batting average and .365 slugging average in their last three games. I think they will up those numbers against a recovering pitcher who they've had success against while healthy. On the other side will be Brad Penny who has not had a good season thus far. With a 1.77 WHIP he's lucky to have only a 6.90 ERA. He has settled down a bit from the start of the season, having not allowed a home run for two games after giving at least one up in each of his first 4 starts. His last two starts, both against Tampa Bay, have been decent, giving up 6 earned runs in 121/3 innings pitched and 14 hits total while striking out 10 batters and walking only 4. I think the Angels enjoy playing at home and will make life hard for Penny in this game. As long as Santana is even halfway healthy enough to play I think the Angels' bats will keep them in this game and give them the lead by the time the bullpens come into play. Los Angeles' relievers have not had a great season, but they have settled down lately and should be able to deliver a save.
7) Rajon Rondo and the Boston Celtics travel to Orlando to attempt to close out their series in 6 games. The Orlando Magic should be plenty motivated for this game after losing Game 4 on a last second shot by Glen Davis, and giving up a 14 point lead in the fourth quarter of Game 5. Looking at the graph above it's clear that Rafer Alston has the advantage in this matchup. He has averaged 17.5 points and assists in home games this year and 16.9 since joining the Orlando Magic. Rajon Rondo, on the other hand, has averaged 11.9 points on the road this year. Against the Magic his numbers have been better with 13.5 points per game in Orlando. That production has been bolstered by his recent playoff performance, scoring 15 and 21 points in Orlando, whereas during the season he scored 9 points in two games there. Rafer Alston is averaging 14.3 points and assists per game against Boston, but only 9.5 in games at Orlando. I still like Alston in this prop as Rondo tends to have a difficult time scoring against smaller, quicker guards. Most of his higher scoring performances came against larger guards such as Deron Williams and Jason Kidd. I also think Orlando will be fired up for this game with the Celtics confident in being able to close out the series at home. Looking at the bar graphs one can see that Alston has over 15 points and assists in 70% his home games. Rondo has scored over 15 points in only 25% of his road games. It will take yet another spectacular game from Rondo to win this prop, and he could do it, but I think Alston is far more likely to win 17-12 than the other way around.

8) It's Game 7 of the series between the Detroit Red Wings and the Anaheim Ducks. It's been a very close series, at least when Anaheim has won. Twice they've won 2-1 and of course there was the triple overtime Game 2 Ducks victory. The Red Wings won Game 1 with a 3-2 score, but the other two wins have been fairly decisive at 6-3 and 4-2. Jonas Hiller has been amazing in these playoffs, but clearly not invincible with Detroit scoring 4 goals on him in two of their three wins. Looking at the graphs to the right Detroit has scored 4 goals or more in 22 of their 31 home wins this season and in the playoffs. The bar graph for Hiller shows how many games he has given up 4 goals or more in road losses. The number of games has been normalized to 31 for comparison with the Red Wings' numbers. In reality he has only tended the net in 11 road losses for the Ducks this year, giving up 4 or more goals in 6 of them. The white line represents the number of games Detroit is expected to score a certain number of goals in a win based on their average from this year. The black line represents Hiller's road goals against. One can see the Red Wings are equally likely to score 3 or 4, though they have scored 4 more often. One can also see Hiller is most likely to allow 3 goals in a road loss, though he has given up 4 most often. It looks very close, but the past results from the season suggest that 4 goals will be the total for Detroit.

11) With Yao Ming out of the lineup the task of guarding Pau Gasol has fallen to Carl Landry. He's giving up a few inches, but he did well the past two games in keeping Gasol out of the lane. At least as well as could be expected. Gasol has scored 30 and 16 points in the two games missing Yao, 30 points in the blowout loss in Houston and 16 in the blowout win at home. Overall this season Gasol has averaged 19.4 points on the road, and 18.5 points against the Rockets. By comparison Artest has not done so well, averaging 16.9 points at home and 14.7 points at home against the Lakers. One might think that having Yao out of the lineup would place more of the scoring load on Artest, but he has scored only 8 and 9 points in the two games since Yao's injury. I think the Rockets' move to a smaller, quicker lineup has shifted the scoring focus away from forwards Scola and Artest and more onto Brooks and Battier. Even with Houston fired up for this game and Landry doing a fine job on Gasol I think Pau is just too coordinated, too quick, and too good to score fewer than 15 points. Artest has scored less than 10 for two straight games.