MLB: Ace lefties square off in potential playoff preview
Two of the best teams in the American League start a three game series on Monday night, and you couldn’t ask for a better pitching matchup for the opener, as Texas’ Cliff Lee will square off against Tampa Bay’s David Price. Oddsmakers at Sportsbook.com initially gave Lee the edge, installing him as a -115 favorite, despite his team being on the road. However, since bettors have moved the line to -105 and may even turn it further over to Tampa Bay’s favor over the course of the day. Let’s take a closer look at this stellar contest.
The Rangers and Rays could well be headed for an October showdown, and Monday’s pitching matchup between Lee and Price will certainly be enough to give the game a postseason feel. The teams hold the biggest current leads in baseball's playoff races, with Texas (67-49) up 8 1/2 games on the Angels in the AL West and Tampa Bay holding a five-game edge over Boston for the wild card. The Rays are also within one game of New York for the East lead.
The current standings would match the Rangers against the Rays (71-46) in an AL division series. It’s a good bet that tonight’s pitching matchup would be the same as a potential Game 1 in that series. Lee comes in with a 10-5 record and 2.57 ERA. He has quickly become the ace of the Texas staff since arriving on July 9th. Price has a better won-lost mark at 15-5, but his ERA is a slightly more elevated 2.84. He can become the first AL starter to 16 victories with a win tonight.
Price and Lee have never faced one another. In three career starts, Price is 0-2 when starting against Texas with an ERA of 9.45 and a WHIP of 1.650. Lee lost twice to Tampa Bay while with Seattle this season, but is 6-4 with a 2.51 ERA in 12 lifetime starts versus the Rays.
Since each of these pitchers ranks among the best in his craft, one of the handicapping factors you’ll want to give full consideration to tonight is each team’s performance against left-handed starters. That edge goes to the Rays, who are 25-13 against southpaws in 2010, scoring 5.4 runs per game, a full half run per game better than against righties. The Rangers are just 20-16, and scoring 4.6 runs per contest. That is a half run worse per game than against right-handed starters. In fact, take a look at this distinctive trend from FoxSheets:
• WASHINGTON is 33-61 (-23.3 Units) against the money line in road games against left-handed starters as the manager of TEXAS. The average score was TEXAS 4.1, OPPONENT 5.4 - (Rating = 1*)
Tampa Bay has done some solid work this season against the league’s best pitchers, going 13-3 (+9.7 Units) against the money line vs. an AL starting pitcher whose ERA is 3.20 or better this season. The average score was TAMPA BAY 6.1, OPPONENT 3.2 - (Rating = 1*)
Perhaps with two fabulous pitchers and the total set at 7 runs, the best wagering option could be on the under. Take
• TEXAS is 22-12 UNDER (+8.7 Units) against left-handed starters this season. The average score was TEXAS 4.6, OPPONENT 4.0 - (Rating = 0*)
The top StatFox System also favors that side of the total:
• Play Under - All teams where the total is 7 to 8.5 (TAMPA BAY) - poor AL hitting team (AVG <=.260) against a team with a very good bullpen (ERA <=3.33), playing on Monday. (42-17 since 1997.) (71.2%, +22.6 units. Rating = 2*)
Keep in mind that the Rays have won their last four home series against Texas. First pitch for tonight’s contest is set for 7:10 PM ET from Tampa.
Thursday wraps up one set of many interleague series’ before the teams move on to another this weekend. Seven of the 11 games on the Thursday betting board are set for evening start times. Let’s take a look at some of the best StatFox Power Trends available for those games regarding the starting pitchers or the managers. Get a full look at all of today’s lines and key betting information on the GAME MATCHUPS page of Sportsbook.com.
(959) CHI WHITE SOX (BUEHRLE) at (960) PITTSBURGH (OHLENDORF) 7:05 PM
The White Sox have taken the first two games of the series in Pittsburgh, extending the Prates losing streak to 10 games. The hosts will likely need to hold Chicago to a low run total to win, since Pittsburgh has only scored 29 runs during the skid. Fortunately, there’s a significant UNDER trend of Ross Ohlendorf, the Pirates starter:
* OHLENDORF is 14-2 UNDER (+11.6 Units) when playing against a team with a losing record over the last 2 seasons. (Team's Record) The average score was OHLENDORF 2.7, OPPONENT 3.6 - (Rating = 2*)
(961) NY METS (DICKEY) at (962) CLEVELAND (WESTBROOK) 7:05 PM
The Mets have continued their strong surge in the N.L. East by taking the first two games in Cleveland. New York is 17-5 in its last 22 games and comes into Thursday’s contest on a 6-game winning streak. By the looks of this trend on Indians skipper Manny Acta and R.A. Dickey’s 2.78 ERA to date for the Mets, the streak should continue.
* ACTA is 13-62 (-43.3 Units) against the money line vs. an NL starting pitcher whose ERA is 3.50 or better in all games he has managed since 1997. The average score was ACTA 3.0, OPPONENT 5.2 - (Rating = 3*)
(963) PHILADELPHIA (KENDRICK) at (964) NY YANKEES (PETTITTE) 7:05 PM
The Yankees and Phillies have split a pair of spirited games between the last two champions of Major League Baseball. Thursday’s series finale matches Kyle Kendrick for Philadelphia versus Andy Pettitte for host New York. Kendrick has proven a trendy OVER pitcher, while Pettitte has produced UNDER’s regularly. This is the highest rated trend though:
*KENDRICK is 22-6 OVER (+15.7 Units) after a win over the last 3 seasons. (Team's Record) The average score was KENDRICK 6.5, OPPONENT 5.3 - (Rating = 2*)
(965) TEXAS (NIPPERT) at (966) FLORIDA (NOLASCO) 7:10 PM
The Rangers have gotten hotter than a summer day in Texas of late, winning seven of their last eight games to put a 2-game cushion between themselves and the Angels in the A.L. West. On Thursday, the Rangers will look for a 3-game sweep of the Marlins in Florida. The pitching matchup pits Dustin Nippert versus Ricky Nolasco.
*NOLASCO has been hit hard in his last five starts, with a WHIP of 1.96 and a record of 1-4 (Team’s Record). The average score was NOLASCO 4.0, OPPONENTS 6.6 – (Rating = 1*)
(967) TAMPA BAY (SHIELDS) at (968) ATLANTA (HUDSON) 7:10 PM
One of the other highlight series’ this week besides Phillies-Yankees has been that between the Rays and Braves. It has lived up to billing too, with the teams splitting the first two games. It could be edge to Atlanta on Thursday, since James Shields, the Tampa starter has been rocked hard for 23 runs in 15-2/3 innings in his last three starts, while Braves’ hurler Tim Hudson can fall back on this powerful angle:
*HUDSON is 64-27 (+29.3 Units) against the money line in home games vs. teams outscoring opp by 0.5 or more runs/game on the season since 1997. (Team's Record) The average score was HUDSON 4.8, OPPONENT 3.8 - (Rating = 1*)
(969) ARIZONA (HAREN) at (970) BOSTON (LACKEY) 6:10 PM
The Diamondbacks may be buried at the bottom of the N.L. West with little chance to emerge, and are just 9-24 on the road this season, but according to this strong angles regarding Thursday’s starter Dan Haren, they at least have a decent shot of avoiding a sweep at Boston.
*HAREN is 25-9 (+15.5 Units) against the money line against AL East opponents since 1997. (Team's Record) The average score was HAREN 6.1, OPPONENT 4.2 - (Rating = 1*)
(971) HOUSTON (MYERS) at (972) KANSAS CITY (LEREW) 8:10 PM
The Astros and Royals wrap up a 3-game set in Kansas City with Brett Myers taking the hill for Houston and Anthony Lerew, called up from Triple-A Omaha, toeing the rubber for the hosts. The Royals are -115 favorites, but…
*MYERS is 13-6 (+9.1 Units) against the money line as an underdog of +100 to +150 over the last 2 seasons. (Team's Record) The average score was MYERS 5.2, OPPONENT 4.1 - (Rating = 1*)