Milwaukee Brewers Weekly Betting Report
by Robert Ferringo - 04/26/2007
All of you Milwaukee Brewers fans out there, I just want you to know that you're welcome. You're welcome because I'm certain that all of Milwaukee's success is directly related to the fact that I've adopted them as my team to trail for the season.
Of course, I will warn you that I'm a Mets, Bears and Syracuse fan and each of them has met a horrific and soul-crippling end over the past six months so I wouldn't get those hopes for a world championship too high. Also, I feel like there are a few red flags in the numbers that indicate some dark clouds could be on the horizon.
Thus far into the season I like the voodoo that the Brew Crew has, um, done. They are currently 13-8, two games better than their 11-10 mark after 21 games last season, and they possess a 2.5-game lead in the National League Central. That cushion is tied with Boston for the biggest in the Majors, and can be attributed to the Brewers' 9-6 mark against the rest of the National League Central.
It looks like I may have been wrong with my initial impression to fade Jeff Suppan this season. The right-wing nut and right-handed starter has put together five quality outings, going 3-2 with a 2.97 ERA. Suppan has been a dog in four of his five starts, and if you had played the run line in each of his five starts you would be 4-1.
The Brewers also got some good news, I guess, about ace Ben Sheets. Sheets left in the fourth inning of his last start against Chicago with a strained groin. According to team sources he's going to make his next start Tuesday against St. Louis. I also say that "I guess" that's good news because the Brewers are a pathetic 5-19 in Sheets' last 24 starts against divisional opponents. He has had exactly one good outing this year (the season opener) and has become a trap bet for public players.
Sheets short start on Wednesday against the Cub also hung his bullpen out to dry. The Brewers pen has logged the ninth-most innings in the league despite playing at least one less game than six of the eight teams ahead of them. They have been good in the clutch this year, converting nine of 10 save opportunities and picking up three wins and they lead MLB in strikeouts per nine innings (9.18). But when teams are getting the bat on the ball they're hitting it hard. Milwaukee is just 23rd in both bullpen ERA and opponents' batting average. Keep an eye out to see if that starts to hurt them late in games.
Another potential red flag for the Brewers is that their defense remains to be suspect and that's been a fantastic indicator of profitability over the past few years. A perfect example was J.J. Hardy's fourth-inning error against Chicago on Wednesday, which cost Milwaukee a chance at a sweep. The Brewers have surrendered the second-most unearned runs in the league (15) while committing the fourth-most errors and sitting No. 22 in overall fielding percentage.
But fortunately for Brewers backers the offense has been able to pick up the slack for uneven relief pitching and shaky fielding. Milwaukee has been the best 'over' bet in the league this year, posting a 13-7-2 mark against the total this season.
They have the No. 5 batting average, No. 5 OPS, No. 2 in total bases and are fourth in the league in at-bats per home run (27.6). They have also been great at avoiding double plays, with the second-fewest in the league. As long as they continue to execute and get some timely long balls they should be able to compensate for some other weaknesses.
Also, a big reason for their success on offense is the fact that three players - Kevin Mench, Geoff Jenkins and Corey Hart - that were hesitant to platoon this year are all hitting over .300.
Finally, last week I mentioned Sheets' struggles against divisional opponents and he proceeded to drop two more games against the NL Central. Well, another huge trend to play against is that Dave Bush is 0-10 on the road against divisional opponents and will be on the bump in Houston on Saturday.
Milwaukee is 5-1-2 in its season series on the year and has won six of its past eight outings. However, they had an off day on Thursday as they travel to Houston to take on the Astros this weekend. Houston is coming off a grueling set in Pittsburgh, where the Pirates managed their second sweep of the 'Stros this year. Houston has dropped six straight since their last win - last Friday in Milwaukee.
The Brewers are just 16-43 in their last 59 games in Houston and get to face Roy Oswalt in the Friday opener. I know I'll be looking to go against Dave Bush on Saturday if we can find some value on Houston starter Chris Sampson, who pitched great in his first two outings before getting lit up by Philadelphia (14 hits, seven runs) on Monday.
After three in the Lone Star State the Brewers head home for a 10-game home stand in which they have a great opportunity to build on their division lead. They get St. Louis for three, Pittsburgh for four and Washington for three. We'll be picking our spots during that stretch, but the best case scenario is that they go 7-3 during that period and get a bit overvalued as they get into a potentially overwhelming May slate.
2007 Record Betting On/Against Milwaukee: 7-3 (+6.44 Units).
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