Pitchers rule

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Will there be even more no-hitters?

In addition to the two perfect games that were officially pitched this season there has also been a no hitter tossed by arguably the front runner for this season’s Cy Young Award. Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez finally got “roughed up” this past Sunday when he allowed only his second home run of the season, a two run blast by Arizona’s Connor Jackson. The homer ended a streak of 33 scoreless innings. The two runs he allowed were both earned and caused his ERA to “soar” to 0.93 through 12 starts. Jimenez is 11-1 thus far and all 12 of his starts have been Quality Starts.

The year of the pitcher continues. Nearly one fifth of all starting pitchers with at least 8 starts through this past Sunday have ERAs below 3.00. And of that group of 25 more than half, 14, have ERAs below 2.50.

Two pitchers have compiled extraordinary Over/Under results. Both St. Louis’ Jaime Garcia and Washington’s Livan Hernandez have made 11 starts this season. Of Garcia’s starts, 10 have stayed UNDER the Total with just one going OVER. Hernandez has yet to be involved in an OVER as 10 of his starts have stayed UNDER and the other resulted in a PUSH.

Five other starters have had at least 6 more UNDERs than OVERs this season (Roy Oswalt, Barry Zito, Kevin Millwood, Clayton Kershaw and Ted Lilly).

There are also three starters who have had at least 6 more OVERs than UNDERs in their starts this season (Dan Haren, Randy Wolf and Johnny Cueto).

Interleague play resumes this weekend and will continue without interruption through Sunday, June 28.

Here’s a look at four series this weekend.

Chicago White Sox at Chicago Cubs: Both teams have been major disappointments thus far but that won’t lessen the intensity in America’s “Second City” this weekend. The Cubs have struggled at the plate while their starting pitching has been fairly decent. Four of the starters have ERAs of 3.76 or better with the most unlikely of their starters, castoff Carlos Silva, having had the most success. With Monday’s win over Pittsburgh the Cubs have now won 10 of Silva’s 11 starts (they are 16-30 in all other games). For the White Sox it’s been a combination of both their offense and their pitching that has been the problem. Only lefty John Danks is putting up respectable stats. The bullpens have been average at best. Barring a turnaround over the next few weeks both teams figure to be providers rather than procurers of talent as the trade deadline approaches.

RECOMMENDED PLAYS: OVER Totals of 8 or lower in any matchup; either team as Underdogs of +125 or more in any matchup; Cubs as favorites of -130 or less when facing the Sox’ Gavin Floyd, Mark Buehrle or Jake Peavy.

Philadelphia at Boston: Both teams are contenders though neither starts the week leading their Division. Both teams have plenty of offense although the Phils’ bats have been silent much of the past two weeks. Both also have solid and balanced pitching staffs, with highly rated rotations and bullpens. These teams meet for the third straight season. In each of the past two years Boston has taken two of three from the Phillies with all six of those games played in Philadelphia.

RECOMMENDED PLAYS: OVER Totals of 9 or lower in any matchup not involving Halladay, Buchholz or Lester; UNDER Totals of 8 or higher if Halladay opposes Buchholz or Lester; Boston as underdogs of +125 or more against Halladay; Phillies as underdogs of +125 or more against Lester or Buccholz; either team as underdogs in any other matchup.

Atlanta at Minnesota: Both teams begin the week atop their Divisions with identical 33-24 records. Atlanta’s ascension in the standings is more of a surprise than is Minnesota’s. Both teams are well managed with Atlanta’s long time skipper Bobby Cox retiring after this season. Minnesota has one of the best balanced lineups in baseball. Both teams have been outstanding at home as each has scored 1.9 runs more at home than they allow, second only to the Yankees in that regard. Minnesota is a solid 18-9 at home whereas Atlanta has a losing record (14-18) on the road. Tim Hudson has been the ace of the Atlanta staff thus far with both Tommy Hanson and Kris Medlen also faring well. For the Twins lefty Francisco Liriano has been the ace with veteran Carl Pavano also having had a solid first two months of the season.

RECOMMENDED PLAYS: Atlanta as underdogs of any price in a start by Hudson or if favored by -125 or less against other than Liriano; Minnesota as favorites of -140 or less against other than Hudson; UNDER Totals of 8 or higher if Hudson or Hanson opposes Liriano or Pavano; UNDER Totals of 9 or higher in matchups not involving Atlanta’s Kenshin Kawakami or Derek Lowe or Minnesota’s Nick Blackburn or Kevin Slowey.

Los Angeles Angels at Los Angeles Dodgers: Both teams start the week in second place in their Divisions, a half game out of first. The teams played twice last season with the road team taking two of three each time after the home team took two of three in their two 2008 series. The most effective starter on either team has been the Angels’ Jered Weaver with Ervin Santana also having a solid season thus far. The Dodgers have had better starting pitching as a whole with Clayton Kershaw and John Ely putting up the best stats. The Angels’ bullpen rates higher but Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton has a decided edge over his Angels’ counterparts, the duo of Fernando Rodney and Brian Fuentes. Both teams’ offenses rate about average although each scores more on the road than at home.

RECOMMENDED PLAYS: UNDER Totals of 7 or higher if Jered Weaver or Santana oppose Kershaw or Ely; UNDER Totals of 8 or higher in other matchups; Angels as underdogs of +125 or more in a start by Weaver; Dodgers as favorites of -130 or less in starts by Kershaw or Ely or as favorites of -150 or less in other starts except against Weaver.

 

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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