Weekly MLB Underdog Report
by Matt Foust - 08/29/2008
It looked like somebody had called off the dogs last week (just 33 percent win percentage), but they returned this week and with some bite too. This was really somewhat of a surprise, but there are a few things that can account for it. First, there were a number of mediocre to poor teams facing poor teams (i.e. Rangers at Royals) - somebody has to win, right? Second and almost the reverse of the first point, there were a number of quality teams facing quality teams (i.e. Rays at White Sox). Third, there was some streaking going on, and mostly by teams that have not played well this year (i.e. Giants, Rockies, Indians, and Nationals). Nationals? Streaking? Yes, winning five out of 10 is the Washington version of streaking.
There were 93 games in this week's sample (8/22 to 8/28) and there were 43 underdog victories for an impressive 46 percent. Home underdogs rebounded this week as well; winning 14 of 29 opportunities for a 48 percent win percentage. Finally, the road dogs came in with a respectable 45 percent tally by winning 29 in 64 chances.
Dog(s) of the Week:
There were a number of candidates this week for the 'Dog of the Week', but the award has to go to the Cleveland Indians. The Indians are absolutely on fire right now having won 10 games in a row. Amazingly, even with the hot streak, they were a dog five times last week and- obviously - they won all five times.
The victims of the Indians late-season prowess were Texas and Detroit. Yes, it's puzzling that two teams fading as fast as the Tigers and Rangers would be favorites so often against a team as hot as the Indians, but they were.
All five Cleveland wins took place on the road, which can account for some of the lines, but not all of them. Against Texas most of the pitching matchups seemed even or maybe slightly tilted in the Rangers favor. I think the oddsmakers felt that Texas would pummel the Indians rotation in Arlington while the Rangers staff did just enough to curtail Cleveland. Actually, the reverse was true; the Tribe won by scores of 7-5, 8-7, and 4-3. Against the Tigers, it was the same thing. The pitching matchups, with the exception of Cliff Lee going against Chris Lambert (Indians favored), seemed to favor the Tigers. It didn't matter, Cleveland pulled out a 4-3 win over Armando Galarraga and a 9-7 win over Justin Verlander at +154 odds. Somebody needs to tell the betting public (I guess I'm doing it right now) that Justin Verlander stinks against Cleveland and that the Indians should never be at +150 odds facing him at any location. The Tigers are just 2-9 in Verlander's last 11 starts against the Indians.
To make Cleveland's run a little sweeter; they won with odds of +183, +154, +130, +122, and +106. I hope you guys were on that train.
A Look Ahead:
Call me crazy, but I like the Orioles as a dog in Tampa Bay. This may come back to bite me, but the pitching matchups work out fairly well for Baltimore with the exception of Sunday's game (Waters vs. Shields).
Tonight Jeremy Guthrie goes against Scott Kazmir. While Guthrie may not have a lot of name recognition, he has been outstanding all year long. His numbers are slightly better than Kazmir's and he has been almost unhittable in his last five road starts.
Saturday, the Orioles send Daniel Cabrera to the mound while the Rays will counter with Andy Sonnanstine. Cabrera has really struggled of late but he is usually good against Tampa Bay. Baltimore has won six of Cabrera's last eight starts opposing the Rays. Sonnanstine has been off a little too lately; he has given up nine earned runs in his last three games and is hardly a dominant pitcher at this point.
Their will be some heavy lines in favor of the Rays, Baltimore could be a good dog play in this series.