Mets, LA,SD rolling

May 29, 2007 7:21 AM

The 2007 major league baseball regular season is nearly one third complete and several teams that made the postseason in 2006 are already in great jeopardy of missing out this season.

Of the four National League teams to make last season’s playoffs, the New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres are all in excellent shape following their first 50 or so games. The Mets lead the East by 4½ games, while the Dodgers and Padres begin the week tied for first in the West. The two West Coast rivals tied for the division title and wild card last season.

The St. Louis Cardinals, winners of last season’s World Series, have struggled both on the mound and at the plate in 2007. Their 20-27 record, including just 11-13 at Busch Stadium, leaves them fourth in the NL Central. The Cards begin the week 6½ games behind division leading Milwaukee and 7½ out of the current wild card lead.

In the American League, both the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees are in danger of missing the postseason. Last season’s AL champion Detroit is in for a tough divisional race in the Central. Only West-leading Los Angeles seems poised for an easy repeat of last season’s trip to the playoffs.

The Angels have a 4½ game bulge over Seattle. Detroit, though trailing Cleveland by 2½ in the AL Central, has a three game edge over division rival Chicago for the wild card lead.

The Yankees may be the biggest disappointment in all of baseball, but are far from the only team failing to live up to expectations. Most of the underachieving teams are in the NL and arguably in the same division, the Central.

More has been expected from Cincinnati and Chicago in addition to defending champion St. Louis. Houston also figured to be more competitive than its record shows. The Astros are currently floundering in the midst of an eight game losing streak starting the week.

From that very same NL Central one of the early season surprises has been Milwaukee. Although the bats have cooled over the past few weeks, the Brewers continue to get solid pitching from the starters and the bullpen. There is some fine young offensive talent on the Brewers notably first baseman Prince Fielder, who shares the league lead in homers (15) with teammate J.J. Hardy.

Through nearly one third of the season, home teams are winning 52.8 percent of the games. That’s pretty close to historical results. Totals results are pretty well balanced. The OVER holds a 351-337 edge versus the UNDER. There have been 51 pushes.

The lines maker has done an excellent job of balancing the results and shows that adjustments are constantly being made to adjust for short term fluctuations. Actually, the game itself contributes to the balance that is achieved. Baseball has always been a game of streaks that tend to even out over Central. Only West-leading Los Angeles seems poised for an easy repeat of last season’s trip to the playoffs.

More had been expected from Cincinnati and Chicago in addition to defending champion St. Louis. Houston also figured to be more competitive than its record shows. The Astros are currently floundering in the midst of an eight game losing streak starting the week.

From that very same NL Central one of the early season surprises has been Milwaukee. Although the bats have cooled over the past few weeks, the Brewers continue to get solid pitching from the starters and the bullpen. There is some fine young offensive talent on the Brewers notably first baseman Prince Fielder, who shares the league lead in homers (15) with teammate J.J. Hardy.

Through nearly one third of the season, home teams are winning 52.8 percent of the games. That’s pretty close to historical results. Totals results are pretty well balanced. The OVER holds a 351-337 edge versus the UNDER. There have been 51 pushes.

The lines maker has done an excellent job of balancing the results and shows that adjustments are constantly being made to adjust for short term fluctuations. Actually, the game itself contributes to the balance that is achieved. Baseball has always been a game of streaks that tend to even out over the course of a long season.

Here’s a look at four series to be played this weekend.

Braves at Cubs: The teams split their only two meetings this season, back in mid April in Atlanta. The Braves have been pretty steady all season notwithstanding their having been swept by Philadelphia at home this past weekend. The Cubs have been very inconsistent, but have played better of late.

Neither team has any significant edges as Chicago’s starting pitching has actually fared well. Atlanta’s bullpen has not been as shaky as last season. Both offenses have been very inconsistent and underachieved based upon their potential.

Recommended plays:

”¡ Atlanta as underdogs in starts by John Smoltz or Tim Hudson.

”¡ Cubs as underdogs in starts by Carlos Zambrano, Rich Hill or Ted Lilly.

”¡ Totals are always dependent upon the wind at Wrigley Field, but if any of the five aforementioned pitchers oppose one another look to the UNDER.

”¡ Matchups involving a pair of non named starters may be looked upon as plays to the OVER.

Cards at Astros: St. Louis is 4-2 this season against Houston. In five of the matchups, the home team has been held to three runs or less. Houston was expected to be fairly competitive with a decent pitching staff but the offense was known to be a weakness. For the Cardinals the pitching staff, especially the rotation, was a major concern entering the season. And that was before ace Chris Carpenter was lost to injury for an extended period of time!

The Cardinals offense has been the bigger disappointment as former NL MVP Albert Pujols has struggled all season, largely due to a lack of support around him.

Recommended plays:

”¡ St. Louis as underdogs in starts by Braden Looper or Adam Wainwright.

”¡ Houston as underdogs in any matchup.

”¡ UNDER 8 or higher in starts by St. Louis’ Looper or Houston’s Roy Oswalt.

”¡ OVER 9 or less in starts by St Louis’ Kip Wells or the Houston duo of Wandy Rodriguez and Woody Williams.

Tigers at Indians: Cleveland surprisingly swept the three game series at Detroit last weekend so now the Tigers are playing with revenge. They are also playing without a pair of key relievers as Fernando Rodney has joined Joel Zumaya on the DL. But more of a problem against the Indians was a lack of Detroit offense.

The Tigers scored just 10 runs in the three game series. Cleveland is clicking in every which way at the moment, with contributions from throughout the lineup and on the mound. The Indians have the second best record in the AL.

Recommended plays:

”¡ Detroit as an underdog of any price except in a start by Chad Durbin.

”¡ UNDER 9 or higher if Detroit’s Justin Verlander or Jeremy Bonderman face the Tribe’s Fausto Carmona or C.C. Sabathia.

”¡ OVER 9 in any matchup not involving any of those four starters.

Yankees at Red Sox: The gap between the Red Sox and Yankees burgeoned to 12½ on Memorial Day. Despite taking two of three from the Sox in New York last week, the Yankees languish. Roger Clemens may return for the series after another minor league start. It remains to be seen if he is the Rocket of the past few seasons or if age finally caught up with him.

Boston is 6-3 vs the Yanks thus far. It will be hard to recommend a play on the long time AL East champions. Even Boston’s fifth starter, Julian Tavarez, made the Yankees bats look anemic.

Recommended plays:

”¡ Boston as an Underdog in any matchup.

”¡ Boston as -130 favorites or less in starts by Curt Schilling or Daisake Matsuzaka.

”¡ OVER 8 or less in all games.

NL EAST STANDINGS (thru 5/27)

team

record

GB

NY METS

32-17

--

Atlanta

28-22

4½

Philadelphia

26-24

6½

Florida

23-27

9½

Washington

21-30

12

MET MANIA: New York is 18-7 away from Shea Stadium. Closer Billy Wagner is 30-for-30 over two seasons in save opportunities.