Pitching Takes Center Stage Tonight
by Robert Ferringo - 06/23/2008
Aces abound on Monday as a light schedule in the Major Leagues still lends itself to some incredible pitching matchups. King Felix vs. The Johan. Dangerous Dan Haren against Josh Beckett. And mix in cameos by John Lackey, Jeff Francis, and Ben Sheets and you can have yourself a hell of a pitching clinic.
But you get what you pay for in this great nation of ours. And if you want to back one of the big boys you are going to have to pay a premium for it. Three of the five favorites available on Monday - the Red Sox, Mets, and Angels - are posted at -165 or higher. And, given the lack of overall betting options in this abbreviated slate, I see those numbers climbing. That's awful heavy juice to be laying in these spots, especially considering that the guy on the bump for the dogs is, generally, just as capable.
Here is a breakdown of Monday's MLB action:
Milwaukee (-120) at Atlanta (+100) - 7 p.m.
Sheets vs. Reyes - 8.0
Few teams are hotter than the Brew Crew right now. They're fresh off a 6-3 home stand and have won six of seven. Further, they are 18-7 since May 26 and took two of three from the Braves at home in late May. However, they are just 9-16 in their last eight road series and are just 1-4 in their last five in Atlanta. Ben Sheets has won his last five starts against the Braves though, and Milwaukee is 10-2 backing him on the road and 13-3 with Sheets facing the N.L. East. Chipper Jones will likely be back in the lineup, but Yunel Escobar will likely still be sidelined with a hip flexor. Regardless, it's going to be a hot one in the ATL and the wind is blowing out. Ball happens to jump out of the launching pad in these conditions so look for a few bombs to be dropped by some of these sluggers.
Arizona (+150) at Boston (-165) - 7 p.m.
Haren vs. Beckett - 8.5
The Diamondbacks' slide continues as they were swept out of Minnesota by former mate Livan Hernandez. That leaves Arizona at 6-16 in their last 22 road games and 6-23 on the road against a team with a winning record. The Red Sox did not look good this weekend against St. Louis but have still been a devastating (48-13) team in interleague play. In fact, the Red Sox are 40-11 in their last 51 home games and 10-1 backing Josh Beckett in interleague games. The odds are a bit thick here, especially considering that the D-Backs are a little dangerous after being swept and that Dan Haren has been exceptional in his last four starts, but the Sox are nearly impossible to bet against in an IL game.
Los Angeles Angels (+175) at Washington - 7 p.m.
Lackey vs. Bergmann - 7.5
John Lackey had sailed under the radar among the games elite pitchers. No more. After thrashing the Phillies over the weekend the Angels head down the Beltway to take on the bumbling Nationals. Jason Bergmann has lost six straight starts and nine of ten overall. He's been touched for 18 runs (13 earned) in his last three outings (16 innings). The Angels have won eight of nine road games and are a spectacular 23-9 against the National League. Lackey is 13-3 in his interleague starts and the Angels are 40-19 in his last 59 stars overall. By the way, the Nats suck.
Seattle (+150) at New York Mets (-170) - 7 p.m.
Hernandez vs. Santana - 7.0
Great pitching matchup here and I think this is one to sit back and enjoy, rather than bet on. King Felix is the lone bright spot on the Mariners, who are 17-38 in their last 55 road games. Seattle is 8-3 backing Felix on the road and have won five straight against the Mets. However, New York has a little bounce in its step under its new manager and are 3-1 since the change. Johan Santana is 7-1 with a 2.92 ERA in his career against the Mariners and, I believe, is set up for an emotional (see: dominating) start. I like the Mets in this one, but not at these odds.
Colorado (-110) at Kansas City (-110) - 8 p.m.
Francis vs. Bannister - 8.5
This game comes down to one thing: will the momentum of Sunday's ridiculous comeback carry over for the Royals? They were down 10-3 to the Giants but rallied to score an 11-10 win to take the series. The Royals have now won seven of nine games and have one of their most trusted arms on the bump. Colorado is just 6-20 on the road lately and are just 19-46 on the road against American League teams. Jeff Francis has been getting sharper though, and I expect him to be able to cool the Royals off after yesterday's eruption.