Bet of the Day – Texas Rangers at Tampa Bay Rays, Oct. 12, 2010

Texas Rangers (+100) at Tampa Bay Rays (-110), Over/Under 6.5

Just lost yesterday’s bet, Minnesota Vikings at New York Jets, on a last second interception.  Today’s game is the Rangers and Rays series finale.  A series where no one has won a home game yet.  Expect a tense game.

The Rangers seemed to have the series locked up after taking the opening 2 games in Tampa.  Now they return to Tampa tied with their hired gun on the mound.  In 2010 road games, the Rangers are batting .265  with a .322 OBP for 4.4 runs per game.  They allowed .314 OBP for 4.2 runs per game in 2010 road games.  They weren’t great on the road this year but proved they could win on the road when needed.  Cliff Lee (13-9, 0.994 WHIP) is on form and dominated in the series opener.  In his career, Lee is 7-5 with a 2.76 ERA and 0.997 WHIP against the Rays.  Lee is only 1-3 this year against the Rays; he has a 4.56 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in those 4 games.  Lee will pitch well, but will the Ranger bats get going again?

The Rays now have the momentum and seem confident returning home.  Is returning home a good thing?  Haven’t the Rays have been a better road team all year.  On paper yes, but Tropicana Field is the toughest place in MLB to score runs; don’t over value the difference in their home/away stats.  In 2010 home games, the Rays hit .240 with a .325 OBP for 4.2 runs per game.  They allowed .292  OBP for 3.7 runs in 2010 homes games.  The Rays will need a good outing from staff ace David Price if they have ALCS dreams.  Price (19-7, 1.204 WHIP) didn’t pitch bad in the opener but also didn’t shut down the Rangers.  Price has shown he can rebound and has pitched very well against teams that beat him last time they played.  The Rays will pull out all the stops tonight and I expect Price to pitch well.

My baseball model predicts a close game, Tampa Bay 3.4 over Texas 3.2.  The teams have similar on base numbers and starting pitcher stats (Lee away/Price home).  The difference is Tampa Bay is a more efficient scoring team and has a better bullpen.  The model variance all comes down to starting pitching.  Lee is a proven commodity in the post season but hasn’t pitched great (except last time out) versus the Rays this year.  Price doesn’t have the playoff chops [yet] but has proven he can rebound and fix flaws.  If either pitcher gives up more walks and hits than their average, they will have a tough time winning.

What a tough game to bet.  I am going to go with the Rays and a total bet.  Here’s why. Home team and momentum, they have a winning feel after the last two games.  Cliff Lee has had some difficulties with the Ray’s line up this season.  The Ray’s can successfully get on base and move runners without hits.  Bet on the Tampa Bay Ray’s on the money line -110.  Also, bet the Rangers/Rays Under 6.5.

Feel free to comment or ask a question below or email me at derekbets@gmail.com.  Follow me on Twitter for all my picks.  Good Luck!

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Bet of the Day – New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays, Sept 14, 2010 7:10 ET

New York Yankees (+130) at Tampa Bay Rays (-140), Over/Under 9

Yesterday’s bet was a loser.  It was close, but the Jet’s offense was terrible.  We did win our other two twitter picks on the Braves and Rays.  Hopefully we turn it around today with the New York Yankees visiting the Tampa Bay Rays.  The Rays took the opener in extra innings last night and now lead the Yankees by 0.5 games.  The Yankees have a comfortable 7 game lead in the wild card.  The Yankees have 18 games remaining but 15 of those are against above .500 teams.  The Rays have 19 games remaining but 13 of those are against teams below .500.  Tampa Bay clearly has the easier path and decent play may assure they are the AL East winners.

The Yankees (87-57) have lost 4 straight games; their longest losing streak of the season.  They have been close, losing 4 of the last 5 by 1 run.  They have lost 6 of 7 batting .212 with a .301 OBP for 2.9 runs per game.  That stretch includes 3 games vs. Baltimore and Texas and last night’s matchup in Tampa.  Starting pitcher Ivan Nova (1-0, 1.338 WHIP in 4 starts) has been good for the Yankees this year.  The Ray’s haven’t seen him yet; this may help the Yankees.  Nova will need a solid start and the Yankee bats need to regress to their mean to win this game.

The Rays won last night.  They have won 4 of 7 batting .240 with a .344 OBP for 7.3 runs per game.  The Rays will send Matt Garza (14-8, 1.208 WHIP) to the mound coming off his 1st loss since August 11th.  This was his worst loss of the season.  Garza has been tough at home (7-2, 1.101 WHIP).  Only 66 of his 163 hits allowed and 9 of his 25 HRs allowed have come at home.  The Rays are 44-26 at home and a rebound outing from Garza will make this a tough night for the Yankees.

My baseball simulation predicts Tampa Bay 4.16 over New York 3.8 for 7.96 total runs.  Digging into the data, the Rays are the better pitching team.  The Yankees are clearly superior hitters, but the Rays draw a high number of walks, accumulate stolen bases and score efficiently.  The major variance contributors to the model are the Rays scoring efficiency and the walks and hits allowed by Ivan Nova.  What does this mean?  It means that the Rays rely on a grinding way of scoring runs dependent on base runners.  For Ivan Nova, it means that if he pitches to his average the Rays will likely score the projected runs.  But one deviation up or down in walks and hits allowed and this is a much different game.

This is a very tough game to call and there were definitely easier games out there today, but it is the spirit of this blog to take on the day’s biggest and toughest games.  That’s why I am taking the Tampa Bay Rays.  The Yankees will turn it around, but I don’t think it will be tonight.  After losing 4 straight, it is very hard to win on the road against a division rival.  With 4 starts, teams now have intel on Ivan Nova and he is more vulnerable tonight.  Garza has proven in the past he can rebound from bad games.  The Rays have been scoring runs lately while the Yankees are in a slump.  Bet the Tampa Bay Rays on the money line -140.  Follow me on twitter for all my picks.  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!

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!

Tampa Bay Rays at Oakland A’s – August 22, 2010 4:05 ET

Today, the Tampa Bay Rays are looking to tie up their series with the Oakland A’s.  Both teams send a strong starter to the mound.  The Rays are 6-4 over their last 10, including a sweep of the Rangers.  The Rays have been hitting well averaging 5.6 runs with a .357 OBP over their last 7 games.  Starting pitcher Matt Garza (12-7, 1.190 WHIP) threw 7 shutout innings in his last start.  The Rays seemed poised to keep winning.

The Oakland A’s have played .500 ball over their last 10 but that includes 4 game losing and winning streaks.  The A’s hitting has been dull (3.9 runs per game and .287 OBP over the last 7 games) but their pitching has been strong.  Dallas Braden (8-8, 1.154 WHIP) has had two strong starts allowing only 3 runs over 16 innings.  Braden will need another solid outing and run support to stop the Rays offense.

My baseball model projects the game to be Tampa Bay 4.23 to Oakland 3.37 for a total of 7.6 runs.  This is driven by Oakland’s abysmal .343 scoring efficiency and the expected few walks and hits allowed by Matt Garza.  The results have a normal distribution with a .80 run standard deviation in the projected score.  This indicates the  Rays money line (-125) has a positive expected value based on the likelihood of them winning.

With the Rays needing every win they can get, a hot starting pitcher and positive value in the betting line, today’s bet is the Tampa Bay Rays on the money line currently at -125.  Good luck!

Texas Rangers at Tampa Bay Rays – August 16, 2010 7:10 ET

This is my first game day post.  Today I am focusing on two probable MLB playoff teams, the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays.  Texas is starting a seven game road series, facing their third consecutive AL East team.  After splitting a short series against the Yankees, the Rangers took 2 of 3 against the Red Sox.  Recently acquired staff ace, Cliff Lee, is  3-4 as a Ranger and coming off his shortest outing of the season.

The Rays have won two straight but against a Baltimore team that is playing better under new manager Buck Showalter.  David Price takes the mound today for the first game of a tough three game set.  The Rays are one game behind the Yankees in the AL East, while the Rangers sit comfortably atop the AL West.

I use a game simulation model on most games I handicap. I will detail the simulation results in the events analysis.  The simulation results predicted a final score of Texas at 4.2 to Tampa Bay at 3.6, where Texas should be the fair money line favorite at -125.  Obviously Cliff Lee’s appearance is a major factor in the simulation results, but what is equally important is Texas’ ability to drive in runs and David Price’s high walk-per-hitter ratio (5th in the AL).  Though both teams have a similar OBP, Texas has 118 more hits in fewer at bats.  Tampa Bay leads the league in walks drawn (488) while Cliff Lee has only allowed 9 walks.

Beyond the data, Texas is starting a seven game road trip after finishing a competitive series and traveling overnight. Cliff Lee is making his 5th start in 20 days and coming off a game where he game up 4 runs and 8 hits in 6 1/3 inning.  On the other hand, David Price is coming off a decent win with an extra day’s rest and may be cycling back on form.  The Rays need every win they can get and are coming off two straight wins.

Despite the simulation results, I am going to side with the situational tendencies.  Play the Tampa Bay Rays on the money line -105.  Good luck!

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