Bet of the Day – NY Mets at Atlanta Braves, August 31, 2010

NY Mets (+135) at Atlanta Braves (-145), Over/Under 7.5 runs, 7:10 ET

Yesterday, like the Phillies lineup, I whiffed on my bet of the day.  It’s a new day.  The NY Mets and Atlanta Braves lock horns today for the 2nd game in their series.  The Mets are teetering on a .500 season, while the Braves are looking to add another game to their NL East lead.

The Mets (65-66) have been hitting better lately, just not when they need it most.  They have a .354 OBP over their last 7 games, but have left 9.4 runners on base per game and scoring only 3.6 runs per game.  They will need more timely hitting against the hot Braves pitching staff.  John Niese (8-6, 1.336 WHIP) has been solid this year and looks to be a key part of the Mets rotation for years to come. Niese is coming off his worst start of the year.  Niese gave up 7 earned runs in 5.7 innings.

Just as many were starting to doubt he Braves (75-66), they look to be on the upswing.   The Braves have won 3 straight, including a win over the Marlin’s Josh Johnson.  Teams win 68.2% of the time when playing at home after 3 straight wins.  The Braves bats are hot with a .351 OBP over their last 7 games.  During this stretch, they scored 7 or more runs in 4 games.  The Braves are surely full of confidence today with hot young starting pitcher, Mark Minor (2-0, 1.167 WHIP).  Minor has struck out 22 batters in 18 innings; including 12 in his latest start.  The Mets haven’t seen Minor’s stuff yet and that should be to the Brave’s advantage.

The results of my baseball model are clear; Braves 4.57 to Mets 3.3 for 7.87 total runs.  The Braves are better in most relevant statistical categories.   The  keys to the model variance are Atlanta’s ability to advance runners and Niese’s walk and hit count.  If Niese isn’t on his game, it could be a long day for the Mets.

Today’s pick should be clear.  I am siding with the Atlanta Braves. The Braves are hot right now.  They have won 3 straight and are playing at home with a fresh arm on the mound.  Bet on the Atlanta Braves on the Money Line -145. Follow me on twitter for all my picks.  Good Luck!

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Weekly Results – August 23 – 29

Week 2 was another profitable week of Bet of the Day posts.  Here is a summary of the results:

Wins – 5
Losses – 2
Draws – 0
+3.05 units

August 23, 2010 – Minnesota Twins on the Money Line +140 – LOSS
August 24, 2010 – New York Yankees on the Money Line -115 – WON
August 25, 2010 – Colorado Rockies on the Money Line +115 – WON
August 26, 2010 – St. Louis Rams/New England Patriots Over 38 – WON
August 27, 2010 – Boston Red Sox/Tampa Bay Rays Over 7 – LOSS
August 28, 2010 – Cincinnati Bengals/Buffalo Bills Over 35 – WON
August 29, 2010 – Tampa Bay Rays on the Money Line -140 – WON

Stay tuned for more picks.  You can follow all my picks on twitter.  Good Luck!

Bet of the Day – Philadelphia Phillies at LA Dodgers, August 30, 2010

Yesterday we picked a Ray’s win.  Through two weeks we are 11-4 and up 6.65 units (i.e. if you bet in $100 units, you would have a $665 profit after two weeks).  Today’s bet of the day is on the improving Phillies visiting the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Philadelphia completed a 3 game sweep in San Diego and now takes a short trip to LA.  The Phillies pitching was excellent; giving up only 3 runs on 18 hits in 30 innings of play.  Roy Halladay (16-9, 1.024 WHIP) will try keep the momentum moving for the Phillies.  Halladay is 3-0 with 1.50 ERA and 0.875 WHIP when starting against the Dodgers.  Halladay has pitched well lately but is coming off his first loss since July 18th.  He didn’t pitch poorly, but had no run support.  Philadelphia averaged 2.6 runs with a .285 OBP over the last 7 games.  It should be noted the Phillies faced 5 pitchers in the top 33 ERAs in those 7 games.  But Dodger starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda is no slouch and the Phillies bats will need some life if they intend to beat the hot hitting Dodgers.

The Dodgers lost 2 of 3 in Colorado over the weekend.  They lost 2 straight after a four-game win streak which is usually a signal of tough times ahead.  With the pending ownership divorce and the departure of Manny Ramirez, it is hard to read where the Dodgers are heading.  They had a .351 OBP and averaged 4.7 runs over the last 7 games (although they didn’t face the toughest pitching).  Hiroki Kuroda (9-11, 1.225 WHIP) has been better than his record implies.  He lost several close games but also had a few blow-ups.  Kuroda is 2-1 with a 3.42 ERA and 0.874 WHIP when starting against the Phillies.

My baseball simulation projects Philadelphia 4.04 to LA Dodgers 3.33 for a total of 7.37 runs.  On paper these teams have very similar batting and bullpen statistics.  The key difference is in Halladay (surprise, surprise!); he pitches on average 1.5 innings deeper with a lower ERA and WHIP.  The only other significant contributor to the model variance is the Dodgers ability to consistently drive in runners. Basically, the model says if Halladay pitches to his normal level, Philadelphia will win.  Can it be that easy?

For today’s bet, I am taking the Phillies.  But not just because of Halladay.  I have 3 reasons.  First, is Halladay.  Second, the Phillies have been facing very tough pitching lately which explains some of the lower batting statistics.  Third, the Dodgers have faced mediocre pitching lately in hitter friendly parks which explains their hot bats.  Bet on the Philadelphia Phillies on the money line at -140.  Follow me on twitter.  Good Luck!

Bet of the Day – Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays, August 29, 2010

Boston Red Sox (+130) at Tampa Bay Rays (-140), Over/Under 8.5 runs
August 29, 2010 8:05 ET

Yesterday’s bet was a winner.  Let’s hope for the same as we return to Tampa for the Boston Red Sox (74-56) and Tampa BayRays (79-50) series finale.  Today’s game could be the biggest game of the season for Boston.  With yesterday’s loss, they are now 5.5 games behind the Rays and Yankees.  With only 32 games remaining, a loss today could be the first ring of Boston’s death knell.  In the opposite dugout, Tampa Bay could be on cruise control to the playoffs with a win today.

Fighting the injury bug all year, Adrian Beltre tweaked his hamstring in yesterday’s loss.  The 3rd baseman and key bat in the Boston lineup will likely start but his effectiveness is the unknown.  Boston was slumping at the plate coming into this series, but has had 21 hits in 2 games during this series.  Their problem hasn’t been getting men on base, it has been advancing them.  Boston has left 15 runners on base in these 2 games (a problem they have had all year-long in road games).  Starting pitcher John Lackey (12-7, 1.491 WHIP) has been consistently mediocre this year.  He was sharp last time out and generally pitches pretty deep into games.  Lackey has a tendency to walk runners in road games.  This is a definite concern as the Rays lead the league in drawn walks.

The Tampa Bay Rays are in a mild batting slump (.310 OBP and averaging 4.1 runs in last 7 games).  Fortunately, the Rays starting and bullpen pitching has been consistent (1.24 WHIP on the season) and they continue to find ways to score and get hits in key situations.  James Shields (12-11, 1.396 WHIP) starts for the Rays today.  Shields had a rough start to the year but has come into form of late (e.g. allowed 7 earned runs over his last 25 home innings).  Shields hasn’t been stellar against Boston this year going 1-2 with a  5.03 ERA.  With the Red Sox backed into a corner, the Rays will need a good outing today from Shields.

My baseball model simulated the game at Tampa Bay 5.09 to Boston at 4.57 for 9.63 total runs.  The model projects similar walks and hits for both teams but Boston is the driver for both.  The Red Sox are clearly the superior hitting team, but Lackey and the Boston bullpen’s high WHIP opens the window for the Ray’s creative offense.  There are two key contributors to the variance in the model: Boston’s ability to advance runners and James Shields.  If either of these are above average, you will likely have the winner.

The question remains, Who should I bet on today?  I won’t take the easy way out and give you a total bet.  For today’s bet of the day, I am going to take the Rays on the money line.  Here’s why: Boston is in a bit of a hitting slump.  Boston has left runners on base all year.  James Shields has been solid of late and even better at home.  The Rays bullpen is superior (1.168 WHIP on the season).  Last, the Ray’s are one of the most efficient scoring and timely hitting teams in the league.  Bet on the Tampa Bay Rays on the money line (-140).  Get all my picks on twitter.  Good Luck!

Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills – August 28, 2010 6:30 ET

Cincinnati (-3) at Buffalo (+3), Over/Under 35

Yesterday’s bet was a flop.  Today’s bet of the day is another NFL preseason game, the Cincinnati Bengals at the Buffalo Bills.  Both teams have improving offenses and can force turnovers.  The Bengals’ (2-1) offense has been flat, high-powered, and sloppy in their 3 preseason games.  They are averaging less than 4 yards per rush and 6 yards per pass (4.24 YPR and 6.57 YPP – 2009 NFL average).  Tonight they will be looking for more consistency moving the football and improved scoring efficiency.

The Buffalo Bills (1-1) improved in their 2nd preseason game with rookie running back C.J. Spiller debuting as a starter.  The Bills have averaged 5.6 yards per rush in their first two games.  The Bills improved in their passing game, including former starter Trent Edwards connecting with Lee Evans for a 70 yard touchdown pass.  Despite a poor showing in the first preseason game, the Bills defense rebounded holding the Colts to less than  300 total yards and forcing 4 turnovers.  I guess there are a few reasons for Bills fans to be optimistic (of course, it is only preseason).

The football simulation projected a slight Buffalo advantage; Bills 22.4 Bengals 20.2 for 42.6 total points.  Cincinnati’s average pass defense and Buffalo’s recently effective running game are primary drivers in the model results.  The Bills are the home underdog and appear to have betting value.  The model also predicts an Over on the total line.

Despite the betting value being with Buffalo and their improved performance, I am concerned with their defensive scoring efficiency (i.e. Cincinnati’s ability to convert points relative to total yards).  Considering their defensive weaknesses and improving offenses, I think today’s bet is on the over/under total.  Bet Cincinnati/Buffalo Over 35.  Follow all my picks on Twitter.  Good Luck!

Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays – August 27, 2010 7:10 ET

We easily covered our first football pick last night.  Today we have several interesting baseball series starting, so we are heading back to diamond.  The Red Sox and Rays have identical records over their last 7  games (4-3) and this series feels like the kickoff to the playoff race.

The Red Sox are 5.5 games back in the AL East, the next 12 games could determine their playoff destiny.  The Red Sox do play well on the road (33-29), with a .333 OBP and 0.38 scoring efficiency.  They will need all the run support they can get as starting pitcher Jon Lester (13-8, 1.184 WHIP) is coming off a 2 innings 9 run shelling.  Lester was pitching well prior to that start and will need to regroup quickly if the Red Sox want to win tonight.

The Ray’s David Price (15-5, 1.256 WHIP) hasn’t been stellar of late and occasionally has control problems.  But the Rays don’t have the same injury problems and can find creative ways to score when their bats are not hot.  They lead the league in drawn walks (530) and stolen bases (150) and have a league low grounded into double plays (74).  The question mark will be Price’s control and the Red Sox’s bats.

My baseball model predicts an unusually close game; Boston 4.32 to Tampa Bay 4.3 for a total of 8.62 runs.  A quick look at the data behind the model confirms the close score.  Boston hits better, Tampa Bay scores more efficiently.  Boston’s starting pitcher allows fewer walks and hits, while Tampa Bay’s bullpen is more consistent and efficient.  Tampa Bay is a mild favorite on the money line and there doesn’t appear to be much value on either side.  What to do?

Considering that both teams know how to score runs, both pitchers underperformed last time out, and the simulation predicts the total to be 1.6 runs above the current betting total (2 standard deviations), today’s bet is pretty clear.  Bet the Red Sox/Rays Over 7 runs.  Follow me on twitter for all my picks.  Good Luck!

St. Louis Rams at New England Patriots – August 26, 2010 7:30

Despite a previous tweet, I contracted football fever and can no longer refrain from posting an NFL pick.  Since my first post last Monday, I lasted a total of 11 days.  My first football pick this year is the Rams and Patriots game.

The Rams didn’t look too hot in their opening game but ground out a win in their 2nd.  Between the 2 games, they totaled 322 yards on offense while allowing 699 yards. With AJ Feeley out with “game-keepers” thumb, the Rams will need rookie Sam Bradford to dramatically improve from his 6/14 24 yd performance.  Only averaging 2.6 yards per play with a .48% completion rate, it is hard to be optimistic about the Rams tonight.

The Patriots are a much different story.  They have been sharp in the first two games, out scoring opponents 56 to 34.  The Patriots are averaging 5.1 yards per play while holding opponents to 4.6.  The Patriots are +3 in turnovers and both Tom Brady and back up Brian Hoyer are playing well.

Based on my football simulations, the project score is New England 29.2 to St. Louis 18.7 for an over/under total of 47.9 points.  This is driven by New England’s offensive efficiency and both teams limited ability to stop the run.

I expect the Rams to improve tonight and the Patriots to continue to be offensively effective.  Today’s bet is on the total.  Take the St. Louis Rams/New England Patriots over 38 points.  Good Luck!

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