Milwaukee Brewers Weekly Betting Report
by Robert Ferringo - 04/18/2007
As you may or may not know by now, the Brew Crew is one of my adopted teams for this Major League Baseball season. To get into character, I've started drinking Beast Ice every day at 11 a.m., making sure everything I eat will have a devastating effect on my cholesterol and blood pressure levels, trolling about town on the weekends looking for fat chicks, and pronouncing my "au" sounds as "o" sounds (caught - cot, taught - tot, etc.). I feel like a full-blown Wisconsinite.
Now, I'm still a die-hard Mets fan and not in any way a sports bigamist. Consider my interest in Milwaukee as more of a sporting or professional one. I've promised updates on the team's progress throughout the year so as to better equip you to wager either on or against them. This is my first attempt.
The Brewers (7-6) currently rest in second place in the National League Central, a half-game back from Cincinnati (8-6) after an 11-5 skewering on Tuesday. That game marked the end of a seven-game road trip for Milwaukee on which they went 4-3. They split a pair of mini-series with St. Louis and Cincy after taking two of three from Florida.
This little seven-game swing may seem insignificant amidst the tribulations of a 162-game meat grinder. But this road trip was precisely the type of thing that would force weaker Brewers teams (see: 1988-2006) to crumble. In each of the past two Aprils Milwaukee has had to play nine straight games as the visitors, going 3-6 last season and 3-5 in 2005. In both instances that early losing spell put them either in last place or second-to-last place.
So the Brewers came level with their first obstacle and managed to squeeze out a few a winning bender. Kudos to them. They have actually won five of their past eight, putting a cool $2,060 in the pockets of dime bettors who dropped a grand on each of those games. Milwaukee has also cashed out in three of its past four outings in the underdog cloak.
The primary reason for their successful diamond deeds has been the bullpen. "I feel real comfortable," manager Ned Yost said of his relievers to the Wisconsin State Journal. "I want to make sure we're not behind in seven or eight innings because I know those guys are coming in."
Entering Tuesday the bullpen had been lights out in "close-and-late" situations - at-bats in the seventh inning or later in a one-run game or with the tying run no deck. In those 18 pressure-plenteous innings the Brewers had an earned run average of just 1.00 (fourth in MLB), an opponent's batting average of .180, and 20 strikeouts. Francisco Cordero is 4-for-4 in save opportunities, Derrick Turnbow is pulling out his Bret Saberhagen impression - outstanding in odd-numbered years, and 39-year-old sidewinder Brian Shouse hasn't let any of the 13 runners he's inherited score.
(Ironically, I started writing this article before Tuesday's meltdown against the Reds. Four pitchers gave up five runs in the seventh inning in the loss. It was the writer's equivalent of mentioning that a guy has made X consecutive field goals or X straight field goals from under 45 yards. It's the kiss of death. My bad, guys.)
Besides a strong pen, the Brewers bats have been banging through their first baker's dozen of games. They are No. 8 in the Majors in batting and No. 5 in total bases. Prince Fielder and Geoff Jenkins have combined to hit .301 with four homers and 15 RBI between them, while Rickie Weeks has hit .305 over the past week with three dingers of his own.
However, it hasn't been all roses for Milwaukee. They're just 24th in the league in batting with runners in scoring position and RISP with two outs. Those are two Red Flag Stats. Bill Hall, a guy they're relying on for a lot this season, has been a wreck at the plate (hitting just .233 even after a 4-for-8 run in Cincinnati) and an unmitigated disaster in center field (three errors and a .893 fielding percentage).
Also, their starting pitchers have been anywhere from erratic to abysmal. Jeff Suppan and Dave Bush are still arms to fade, and Ben Sheets hasn't been much better. In fact, in games started by guys not named "Chris Capuano" the Brewers are just 3-6. And the entire staff is having difficulty with lefties, sporting the sixth-worst opponent's batting average against them. Milwaukee also has the fourth-worst ground out-to-fly out ratio (0.84) and as we get into the summer a lot more of those pop outs will be three-run taters.
Finally, two key betting trends to monitor are that over the past two seasons Ben Sheets is 5-17 against N.L. Central opponents and Dave Bush is 0-10 on the road against divisional foes. Milwaukee's next 18 games are against divisional opponents so they'll need these two to get their stuff together if the Brewers want to maintain their lofty status.
Pittsburgh comes to town for two games and the Brewers then host Houston for three over the weekend. A three-game trip to Chicago is sandwiched between another three game series with the Astros. Chicago took two of three in Cream City so we'll see how the Brewers respond in Wrigley. Also, I expect the visiting team to win both series with Houston. Call it a hunch.
Continue to fade Suppan and Sheets, and keep finding value with Milwaukee as an underdog. Capuano is approaching "must play" status. At least until his chalk gets up near -200. Make sure to check out how his opponents hit against lefties. Against anyone in the bottom one-third in the league you have to bet on the Cappy.
2007 Record Betting On/Against Milwaukee: 6-1 (+11.44 Units).
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