MLB All-Star Game Odds and Predictions
by Robert Ferringo - 7/12/2011
Much of the news about the 2011 Major League All-Star game has involved the musical chairs of who is playing and who is not. In all, 16 players selected for the All-Star Game won’t suit up, and over the past four days there has been a dizzy number of players who have been voted in, scratched, replaced, and named late.
To be honest, I won’t be100 percent sure who is going to be playing for each team until I actually see the clubs take the field tonight.
The MLB All-Star Game will take place at 8:20 p.m. EST. It’s being held in ChaseField in Phoenix. For MLB All-Star Game odds, the National League is presently listed as a -120 favorite with the total set at 8.5 (with the ‘under’ at -120).
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Only four of the 16 players scratched from the All-Star Game are currently on the disabled list. Six other starting pitchers won’t suit up because they threw on Sunday.
In terms of handicapping the MLB All-Star Game I usually take a backwards approach. By that I mean that I generally focus more on the players that will be on the field in “money time,” or the last three innings of the game. That means that while the rest of the baseball-loving world is getting worked up about who is starting where, I almost ignore that aspect and focus the majority of my handicapping on who will likely be on the field from the seventh inning on.
Last year the National League finally snapped a 12-game losing streak to the American League with a 3-1 victory. That win was in no small part due to the shaky nature of the A.L. bullpen. Phil Hughes, whom has been a dud throughout 2011, and Matt Thornton (ditto) combined to blow last year’s game for the A.L. Between that pair and shaky back-enders Raphael Soriano and Jose Valverde, it wasn’t difficult to predict a collapse prior to the game.
The starting pitchers will be Roy Halladay for the National League and Jered Weaver for the American League.
But while all of the attention is on those two arms, I am more concerned with analyzing the players that will be asked to hold the lead, hold the fort, or close the game out. And as I look at the American League bullpen again this year I see several potential trouble spots.
Rookies Aaron Crow and Jordan Walden, along with veterans Brandon League and Chris Perez, are all playing in their first All-Star Games and none of them can be trusted. Valverde leads the A.L. in saves (he is 24-for-24), but I have seen enough of his stylings to know that he is not a big game closer.
Four of the A.L.’s best arms – Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, C.C. Sabathia and James Shields – won’t be available because they started on Sunday.
That essentially leaves Weaver, Josh Beckett, Gio Gonzalez, Alexi Ogando, David Robertson, Michael Pineda, and Ricky Romero to carry the water for the A.L. There is nothing too fearsome about that grouping. And the majority of those players are making their all-star debuts.
The National League pitching staff is in much better shape. They lose two arms – Cole Hamels and Matt Cain – because they threw on Sunday. They are starting Halladay on three-days’ rest (count me among those that think he should have sat this one out), but they can follow him with Jair Jurrjens, Clayton Kershaw, and Cliff Lee.
Now, the National League does have some Red Flag arms. Tyler Clippard, Joel Hanrahan and Kevin Correia hail from the Nationals and Pirates, respectively. Those organizations are famous losers. And despite some exceptional first-half performances, I don’t know if I trust any of them against the top-tier American League bats. Especially Correia, who was a late add to the team and has a 4.49 career ERA.
However, I do think that Atlanta’s light’s out Craig Kimbrel-Jonny Venters combo is good for a shutdown inning. And both Heath Bell and Brian Wilson are proven big game closers. So I give the bullpen edge to the National League – narrowly.
Injuries and late scratches have not decimated the American League’s lineup advantage though.
The starting lineups are solid on both sides. But the American League has a bevy of game-changing bats coming off the bench. Guys like Paul Konerko, Miguel Cabrera, Kevin Youkillis, Carlos Quentin and Michael Young are proven commodities. Although the American League bench is heavy on right-handed batters, manager Ron Washington still has a lot of veteran options to work with in late-game scenarios.
The National League may have fewer proven bats off the bench, but they do have more speed and a bit more versatility. Young players like Andrew McCutchen, Justin Upton and Starlin Castro are all X-Factors that can win a game with their bat or with their legs. Mix in bona fide stars like Joey Votto and Matt Holliday and the N.L. is in business.
Regardless of which team wins, my MLB All-Star Game predictions say that we are going to see some scoring. There are simply too many quality bats and too many question marks on the pitching staffs for this game not to see some scoring.
Not surprisingly, in the last three steroid-free All-Star Games we have seen seven, seven and four total runs scored. Prior to that, the HGH-infused All Star games had given us nine, five, 12, 13, 13 and 14 total runs. Despite the feeble offense we witnessed through most of the first half of the 2011 season, I think that there should be some fireworks in Phoenix on Tuesday.
Robert Ferringo is a professional sports handicapper for Doc’s Sports. He is considered one of the top MLB handicappers in the country and has turned a profit in four of the last five years on the diamond with his baseball picks. He closed 2010 with $6,000 in earnings over the last four months and is looking forward to continuing his exceptional earnings.
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