MLB Betting and Handicapping: Scouting The Week Ahead
by Alan Matthews - 6/18/2012
Philadelphia left-hander Cole Hamels is scheduled to start Tuesday night’s lone National League game against the Colorado Rockies (Phils are big -245 favorites). It could well be one of the final few starts of Hamels’ Phillies career.
It’s no secret that the Phillies, the preseason World Series favorites, have been baseball’s biggest disappointments this season. They were just swept over the weekend by a Toronto team with a rotation that has been devastated by injury. Philadelphia finished its three-city road trip with a 3-6 record and fell to 4-12 in the month of June. Philly is now 31-37 – first time six games under .500 since April 2007 – and nine games back in the NL East (+800 on Sportsbook.ag to win the division). This team lost 60 games all last season.
Certainly injuries have played a key role in the team’s demise. Neither Ryan Howard nor Chase Utley has played this season – both could be back in early July. Roy Halladay remains on the DL, but at least it appears the Phils avoided another disaster as catcher Carlos Ruiz, a likely all-star, was able to play Sunday after sitting out Saturday with an oblique injury.
The question is whether the Phillies will try and wait for Utley and Howard or start selling soon. The Phillies had the easiest schedule in April, but in July and August it’s one of the majors’ toughest. Hamels could be the one to go because he will be a free agent this offseason and likely command Matt Cain money at a minimum – i.e. about $120 million over 5-6 years. It’s hard to fathom that even the big-spending Phillies can afford to pay Halladay, Cliff Lee (who, amazingly, is still winless in 2012) and Hamels.
We should find out whether the Phillies are sellers in their next 19 games before the all-star break. That includes nine games against division foes and 10 straight games at home, beginning with three against terrible Colorado. The only problem is that the Phillies have fewer wins than any team in the National League at home (12).
On the opposite side of the spectrum are the red-hot New York Yankees, who enter this week on a nine-game winning streak to take charge of the AL East. New York swept the Washington Nationals over the weekend (I predicted a Yankees series win here at Doc’s) to complete their first sweep of three straight series of three games or more since 1998 when they won a franchise-best 114 games.
The Yankees (+500 to win the World Series at Sportbsook.ag) simply love interleague play as they have the best record all-time vs. the NL and this year are 10-2 vs. the Senior Circuit. In a scheduling oddity, they face the Braves for the second time this season starting Monday night before going to Citi Field to close out interleague play vs. the Mets.
At one point the Yanks were 21-21 but have since gone 19-4 largely because of the starting rotation. In April and May, the Yankee rotation was 22-20 with a 4.82 ERA and allowing 1.63 homers per nine innings. In June, that group is 11-1 with a 1.97 ERA (best in AL) and 0.60 HRs allowed per nine innings.
You may want to bet on right-hander Ivan Nova for his scheduled start Saturday at the Mets. He is unbeaten in his last 15 road starts, 12-0 away from Yankee Stadium since losing to the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim on June 3, 2011. As recently as May 30, Nova’s ERA was 5.60. Over his past three starts, he has allowed just two earned runs in 22⅔ innings (for a 0.79 ERA), and his overall ERA has come down to 4.32. Nova also benefits from a team-high run-support of 6.37 runs per game this season.
Fellow righty Hiroki Kuroda is 2-0 in June with an ERA of 1.80 and a WHIP of 1.05. Phil Hughes is 3-0 in June with in ERA of 1.69, while Andy Pettitte has a 1.77 ERA and opponents’ batting average of .169 this month. Ace CC Sabathia, who starts Monday night, actually has the highest ERA (3.86) and opponents’ BA (.294) of the starters in June. But the guy is the definition of a workhorse as he has thrown at least 100 pitches in 21 straight starts dating to last August, the longest streak by a Yankee since 1988 when pitch counts started being tracked officially.
And it’s not just the starters. Closer Rafael Soriano converted all four of his save chances last week without allowing a run, making him 13-of-14 with a 1.87 ERA for the season. Plus he now has stud set-up man David Robertson back in front of him after a DL stint.
Look for that New York run to continue against a Braves team that is averaging just two runs per game in its last seven contests, during which the Braves have just one win, and have been shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since 2009 entering Monday’s series opener; New York is a -250 series favorite at Bovada. Atlanta also just lost ace pitcher Brandon Beachy to the DL and potentially to Tommy John surgery.
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