Solid pitching

Apr 27, 2010 7:01 AM

As a result, 'under' bets rule

The season is about 10 percent complete and while chicks dig the long ball the first three weeks of the season, we have had some great pitching performances including a no hitter. We’ve already witnessed a trio of 1-0 games (including Sunday night’s rain shortened Mets win over Atlanta) and 21 games have featured just 3 or fewer total runs being scored.

One of the best series in recent seasons that featured close games and outstanding pitching occurred in San Francisco this past weekend. The Giants won the first two before St. Louis took Sunday’s finale. A total of just 9 runs were scored in the three games and the teams traded 2-0 shutout wins in the final two games.

While San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain are the more heralded of the Giants’ starting pitchers a pair of lefties – Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez – are off to outstanding starts with ERA’s below 2.00 and WHIPs under 1.00. Their starting rotation should be the reason why San Francisco should be favored to win the West if they can stay reasonably healthy.

Pitching has long been the key to success in baseball, along with defense. And it’s been pitching that has vaulted a pair of teams from hapless to hopeful in the early going.

San Diego had an 8 game winning streak halted Sunday in Cincinnati. The lowly Padres begin the week actually leading the NL West at 11-1, a game ahead of the Giants.

The New York Mets have also benefited from some outstanding starting pitching over their last 11 games with an ERA of 1.28. Their 1.41 WHIP is a bit of a concern as it’s been largely due to control issues (29 walks in 63 innings) but it shows that if your starters can pitch effectively deep into games your team has an excellent chance to win.

At the other extreme are the Baltimore Orioles whose 3-16 record is by far the worst in baseball, with 4 fewer wins than any other team.

Offense generally receives most of the headlines and SportsCenter highlights but many baseball purists still prefer a tense 1-0 duel rather than a 10-9 slugfest.

Here in Nevada your preference more often relates to whether you’ve bet the OVER or the UNDER!

Here’s a look at four series this weekend.

New York Mets at Philadelphia: These non-too-friendly NL East rivals meet for the first time in 2010 after the Phillies took 12 of 18 meetings last season. The former Blue Jay has been dominant in his first four starts for the Phillies that already include a pair of compete games. His ERA of 0.82 and WHIP of 0.88 further validate his reputation as one of the game’s best. With Johan Santana he gives the Mets a solid one-two that could have the Mets a factor deep into the summer.

PREFERRED PLAYS: Mets as Underdogs in starts by Mike Pelfrey or Santana against any Philly starter or as favorites of minus 120 or less against Kyle Kendrick or Jamie Moyer; Phillies as favorites of minus 150 or less against other than Pelfrey or Santana; UNDER Totals of 8 or higher if Santana or Pelfrey oppose Roy Halladay or Cole Hamels; OVER 9½ or lower if the Phils’ Moyer or Kendrick oppose the Mets John Maine, Jon Niese or Oliver Perez.

Colorado at San Francisco: The Giants have one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball. Colorado has Ubaldo Jimenez, who tossed the season’s first no hitter, and a rather ordinary rotation after that. Thus they cannot be considered to have much of an edge at the plate in this series, especially against the Giants’ strong pitching.

PREFERRED PLAYS: UNDER Totals of 7 or higher if Colorado’s Jimenez faces other than the Giants’ Todd Wellemeyer; Colorado as underdogs of at least plus 140 in a start by Jimenez against any San Francisco starter or if favored by minus 125 or less against Wellemeyer; Giants as favorites of minus 150 or lower against any Colorado starter other than Jimenez.

Chicago White Sox at New York Yankees: The Yankees remain one of the best teams in all of baseball, able to win with either their pitching or their hitting while also playing well above average defense. For the White Sox their success relies much more on their pitching than on their offense.

PREFERRED PLAYS: White Sox as Underdogs of any price in a start by John Danks or as underdogs of plus 150 or more in a start by Mark Buehrle; Yankees as favorites of minus 150 or less in starts by any pitcher against anyone other than Buehrle or Danks except no higher than minus 130 in a start by Javier Vazquez; UNDER Totals of 9 or higher if Buehrle or Danks faces CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett or Andy Pettitte; OVER Totals of 9 or lower if Vazquez faces the Sox’ Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd or Freddy Garcia.

Los Angeles Angels at Detroit: Joel Pineiro and Jered Weaver have been the Halo’s most effective starters and are the only starters with ERA’s below 3.50. Detroit’s most effective starter has been Max Scherzer, acquired from Arizona in the off season. The Angels’ offense has been below average although in contrast to most teams they are averaging nearly a run more per game on the road than at home. The Angels have had the slightly better bullpen to start the season.

PREFERRED PLAYS: Either team as Underdogs of plus 120 or more except Angels as Favorites of minus 140 or less in a start by Weaver or Tigers also as Favorites of minus 140 or less in a start by Scherzer; OVER Totals of 8 or lower in any matchup; UNDER Totals of 9 or less in any matchup.