MLB Betting and Handicapping: Scouting the Week Ahead
by Alan Matthews - 8/20/2012
When the Los Angeles Angels acquired pitcher Zack Greinke from the Milwaukee Brewers before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline it was hailed as a move that, at a minimum, assured the Halos would win one of the AL’s wild-card spots.
But Greinke, the 2009 American League Cy Young Award winner, has been a bust. He was roughed up for six earned runs in seven innings Sunday as Tampa Bay stunningly swept a four-game series in Anaheim. Greinke is now 1-2 with a 6.19 ERA, having allowed 22 runs and 38 hits (five homers) in 32 innings in his return to the AL. He has given up six or more hits in each of his five starts with the Angels and has allowed more homers this month already than any other in 2012.
Greinke, Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson, Ervin Santana and Garrett Richards have combined to go 3-7 with a 6.53 ERA in 18 August starts, giving up 75 runs and 22 homers in 103 1/3 innings. Weaver was the Cy Young favorite but is just 2-2 with a 4.97 ERA since Greinke joined the team – the Rays’ David Price is probably the Cy leader now. Overall the Halos have a 6.76 staff ERA this month, easily the worst in baseball.
The Angels were outscored 37-14 in the Rays series, including blowing an eight-run, third-inning lead Saturday night in a 10-8 loss. The Angels have lost 13 of 18 to fall nine games behind Texas in the division and 4 1/2 games behind Baltimore for the second wild-card spot. Los Angeles has dropped behind the Reds and Nationals in odds (5Dimes) to win the World Series at +1100. It is +450 to win the pennant, behind the Yankees and Rangers, the two Fall Classic favorites. Texas is now a massive -5000 favorite on Sportsbook.ag to win the AL West.
This is a bad time for the Angels pitching to go in the dumper. Los Angeles will be a series dog this week at both Boston and Detroit. Weaver goes Wednesday night against a resurgent Clay Buchholz in Boston, while Greinke, who may be costing himself free agent millions, is scheduled to start the series opener at Comerica Park on Friday. The Angels do at least miss Justin Verlander in the Tigers series.
Meanwhile, Tuesday’s Indians-Mariners game in Seattle is must-see TV and not because of the quality of the teams. No, the only reason to watch (or bet) is to see what Felix Hernandez might do for an encore. Last time out Hernandez pitched the 23rd perfect game in MLB history and struck out 12 Rays. In 12 starts since tweaking his delivery in mid-June after some rough outings, Hernandez is 7-0 with a 1.56 ERA and opponents are batting only .178 against him. He has four shutouts in his past 10 starts.
Could Hernandez become the first pitcher ever to throw a second perfect game? Or the second to throw back-to-back no hitters? Obviously, that’s rather unlikely but don’t rule it out against the rather punchless Indians. Hernandez blanked the Tribe for eight innings at Safeco on April 19, striking out 12. Cleveland did knock him around at Progressive Field on May 16 but that was in Hernandez’s bad stretch. Seattle is a -200 favorite for Tuesday’s game.
The Mariners, by the way, are the first team in MLB history to have a perfect game against them, and then for them in the same season. The White Sox’s Philip Humber did it to Seattle in April. There have been six no-hitters this season (including another for the Mariners), the most since 1991. The record is eight, set way back in 1884. This season is now the first in MLB history with three perfect games. The only other instances of multiple perfect games in a season are 1880 and 2010. The Rays have been no-hit four times since 2009 alone. For what it’s worth, the Rays made the playoffs in 2009 and 2010, which were the other two times they were on the wrong end of a perfect game.
Finally, the Yankees and White Sox started a big three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday with the Sox as -125 series favorites at Sportsbook.ag. And Chicago does have two of its best pitchers, Francisco Liriano and Chris Sale, lined up to go Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. But that’s just how the Yankees like it as they feast on lefties. New York has faced nine southpaw starters this month and has gone 6-3 to improve to 26-17 against lefty starters (.605), the most wins of any AL team (the Dodgers lead MLB with 27 wins). This is nothing new as the Yanks are 128-79 (.618) against left-handed starters since 2009. New York is a +105 dog for Tuesday’s game and will be a bigger one Wednesday vs. Sale.
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