Detroit Tigers -175 @ Cleveland Indians +155 (Total: 7.5)
J Verlander (16-5, 2.39) vs. F. Carmona (5-11, 5.19)
Ubaldo Jimenez and the Indians made me look good last night, cruising to an important and easy victory, and extending their home winning streak over the Tigers to a staggering 13 games. SO clearly the Indians have Detroit’s number, so what could possibly scare anyone off from wagering on the Indians, especially at +155…
Um, Justin Verlander. With apologies to Roy Halliday, Cliff Lee, Jared Weaver and a few others, given my choice of anyone in baseball toeing the rubber, I’m going to go with Verlander. Forget the microscopic ERA, forget the gaudy 16-5 record and forget that he has thrown a no-hitter already this season and taken two others into the seventh inning or later. What is most impressive is his 0.78 WHIP and strikeout o walk ratio of nearly 6:1 (186 Ks to 37 walks). Both are simply incredible stats that speak to the complete domination by Justin Verlander in 2011.
So the question is, can he by sheer brilliance alone snap one of the longest individual team win streaks in major league baseball?
I’m wagering he will, and would have no objection if you want to get aggressive with the line and take the -1.5 runline to pay slimmer juice (-115). Verlander is 7-1 in his last 8 starts against teams with a winning record; the Tigers are 5-0 in his last five road starts where they were favorites of -150 of greater, and 21-5 in his 26 most recent starts against teams in their own division.
Now factor in that the Indians are having Fausto Carmona bring his gas can (and 5.24 ERA) out to the mound, and it’s hard not to side with Verlander and the Tigers; even in spite of their ridiculous losing streak at the Jake. The Indians are 3-7 in Carmona’s last 10 starts at home as an underdog, and I’m wagering the Tigers make it 3-8…
Milwaukee Brewers +120 @ St. Louis Cardinals -130 (TOTAL: 7.5)
Y. Gallardo (13-7, 3.56) vs. C. Carpenter (7-8, 3.75)
Chris Carpenter just never has gotten on track this season. His numbers overall are right in line with his last three starts, last five starts; nearly any split you choose. Cardinal fans and cautious gamblers keep waiting for the Cy Young form to emerge…but it just hasn’t seemed to happen.
Meanwhile, Yovani Gallardo appears to be ready to finally make the leap into elite territory that was always predicted of him. The Brewer ace has been just that over his past three starts, posting a 2-1 record with a 1.23 ERA and a WHIP of 0.76. That is domination – despite having the one tough-luck loss saddled on him.
I’ve been wary of the Brewers road woes several times before, but have finally grown convinced this team has finally hit their stride and is clearly the class of the NL Central. After last night’s win, they expanded their lead to a full five games over the Cards and sit 17 games over .500. Even more encouraging proof that the Brew Crew is a great value play at plus-money is the fact they are 8-2 in Gallardo’s last 10 starts against a team with a winning record. Not only has he been good statistically, but he has also been good enough to out-duel the other hurler most nights.
I’m taking the Brewers at +120, not because I don’t respect Carpenter’s ability to pull out an All-Star effort, but simply because it isn’t every day you can get this many trends in your favor at underdog value. Gallardo has gone 7+ innings and allowed two or less runs in 7 of his last 10 starts (6 at 1-run or less). Look for the Brewers to finish off the sweep and creep even closer to only their second playoff berth in twenty eight years.