Monday's MLB Action
April 1, 2013
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Sportsbook.ag MLB Monday
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (0-0) at ATLANTA BRAVES (0-0)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Atlanta -107 & 7 under -125
National League East rivals open their 2013 seasons on Monday night when the Braves host the Phillies.
Philadelphia is coming off a disappointing 81-81 campaign in 2012, finishing 13 games behind Atlanta, which lost the Wild Card Game to St. Louis. But in the offseason, both teams made significant offensive moves to try to catch the reigning division champion Nationals. The Phillies signed long-time Rangers great Michael Young to play third, grabbed Delmon Young (who is hurt right now) to man right field and filled their center field position with speedy Ben Revere. The Braves picked up Justin Upton from Arizona and his brother B.J. Upton from Tampa Bay to give them six players with 20-homer résumés in their lineup. Both teams also boast top-notch rotations, with Monday's pitching matchup featuring Philly left-hander Cole Hamels facing Atlanta right-hander Tim Hudson. The Braves dominated the season series last year, going 12-6 overall, but were just 5-4 against the Phils at Turner Field.
Philadelphia's offense performed well below expectations last season, finishing 19th in runs (684), 17th in on-base percentage (.317), 17th in slugging (.400) and 15th in batting average (.255). But the Phils actually had a better road record (41-40) than home (40-41), and were much more successful against righty starters (58-51) than against left-handers (23-30) last season. Philly was a decent underdog pick at 20-28 (-3.7 Units) and played much better at night (58-52) than during the day (23-29).
Cole Hamels finished the 2012 season with a 17-6 record, 3.05 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 216 strikeouts in 215.1 innings. This lowered his career ERA to a stellar 3.34 over seven seasons. The Phillies were 21-10 (68%) in Hamels' starts last year, including 12-5 (71%) on the road, where Hamels finished 10-3 with a 3.11 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. The lefty has usually had success in his career versus the Braves, going 12-7 with a 3.58 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 28 appearances (27 starts). This includes a 2.77 ERA and 1.19 WHIP with 25 K's in 26 innings against them last season. Hamels hasn't been as effective at Turner Field though, going 5-4 with a 4.18 ERA and 1.36 WHIP over 15 appearances (14 starts) in Atlanta. He's thankful that Braves All-Star C Brian McCann is on the DL, as McCann has produced a .903 OPS, 3 HR and 15 RBI in 64 career plate appearances versus Hamels. Batters that Hamels has been particularly successful against include 2B Dan Uggla (.145 BA, 18 K's in 62 PA) and OF Jason Heyward (.238 BA, 7 K's in 23 PA).
Atlanta felt compelled to make such major upgrades in its lineup due to mediocre hitting numbers last year. The team finished 22nd in slugging (.389), 21st in hitting (.247) and 17th in runs (700). However, great pitching led the Braves to a strong 48-34 mark (59%) at home and a 68-50 record (58%) when favored. They were also tough in divisional play (46-26, 64%), but had a losing record (30-31) when facing a left-handed starter.
Tim Hudson won at least 16 games for the third straight season, going 16-7 with a strong 1.21 WHIP. However, his 3.62 ERA was the third-worst mark of his 14-year career and his 5.1 K's/9 was his weakest strikeout rate in his eight seasons with Atlanta. Although Hudson has been outstanding in his career at Turner Field (58-32, 3.22 ERA, 1.20 WHIP), his home numbers last year weren't nearly as strong (8-5, 3.93 ERA, 1.29 WHIP). However, the Braves were 20-8 (71%) when Hudson took the mound in 2012, including 10-5 (67%) at home. Monday will mark his 28th career start against Philadelphia, a team that he is 10-9 with a 3.75 ERA and 1.30 WHIP against. Last year he beat the Phils three times, but recorded a 3.99 ERA in these five starts. Hudson has done a great job against Philly's star middle infielders over the years, as 2B Chase Utley (.210 BA, .306 SLG in 77 PA) and SS Jimmy Rollins (.218 BA, .265 OBP in 83 PA) have both struggled mightily against Hudson. However, 1B Ryan Howard (1.144 OPS, 7 HR, 17 RBI in 78 PA) and new 3B Michael Young (.321 BA, .367 OBP in 31 PA) have hit the right-hander very hard.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (0-0) at ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (0-0)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Arizona -107 & 8.5 over -115
A new-look Diamondbacks squad will try to start 2013 off on the right foot when it hosts the Cardinals on Monday night.
Despite losing Albert Pujols before last season began, St. Louis still managed to win 88 games before falling to the Giants in seven games in the NLCS. That marked the ninth playoff season for the Cardinals in the past 13 years. The Diamondbacks have made only two playoff appearances since 2003, finishing 81-81 last year. While St. Louis has just about the same roster as last season, Arizona has a new left side of the infield with 3B Martin Prado and SS Cliff Pennington, and with injuries to new OF Cody Ross (calf) and returning OF Adam Eaton (elbow), a pair of 25-year-old outfielders, A.J. Pollock and Gerardo Parra will be starting on Monday. Runs may be hard to come by though, as the pitching matchup features Cards ace Adam Wainwright against D-backs front-line starter Ian Kennedy. St. Louis dominated the season series in 2012, going 5-1 against Arizona, including a three-game sweep at Chase Field.
St. Louis will be missing some key players in 3B David Freese (back), SS Rafael Furcal (elbow) and closer RP Jason Motte (elbow). Despite not having Pujols last season, this team was still among the elite offenses, especially in the weaker-hitting National League. The Cards led the majors in getting on base (.338 OBP), while finishing fourth in hitting (.271 BA), fifth in scoring (765 runs) and ninth in slugging (.421 SLG). Although they were a poor road bet (42-47, -9.8 units), they were a winning +2.0 Units (17-18) in the underdog role last year.
Adam Wainwright understandably struggled a bit last year after missing the entire 2011 season due to Tommy John surgery. He finished 14-13 with a 3.94 ERA and 1.25 WHIP, numbers considerably worse than his 20-11, 2.42 ERA, 1.05 WHIP from 2010. Including playoffs, the Cardinals were just 18-17 in Wainwright's starts, going 7-9 on the road. But Wainwright was much more effective after the All-Star Break (3.28 ERA, 1.14 WHIP) after struggling with his surgically-repaired throwing elbow in the first three months of the season (4.56 ERA, 1.35 WHIP). Wainwright has always pitched well in his career versus the Diamondbacks, going 5-2 with a 2.27 ERA in seven starts against them. In four appearances at Chase Field (two starts, two relief), he is 1-1 with a 2.03 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and .188 opponents' BA. The only non-injured Arizona players he's faced at least 10 times in his career have both hit him well though, with C Miguel Montero going 4-for-11 with a homer and two walks, and Prado going 3-for-10 with a walk.
Arizona was average-to-good in all the major offensive categories in 2012, finishing eighth in runs (734), seventh in on-base percentage (.328), 10th in slugging (.418) and 13th in batting average (.259). The Diamondbacks didn't play well at home last season, going 41-40 (-13.9 Units), and were also a losing wager as the favorite (-13.1 Units, 53-48), and in night games (-11.3 Units, 57-58).
Ian Kennedy's numbers dropped in a big way in 2012. After going 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 2011, Kennedy fell to 15-12, 4.02 ERA, 1.30 WHIP last season. The team still managed a winning record (18-15) with Kennedy on the mound though, including 9-6 (60%) at Chase Field. Kennedy's peripherals weren't much worse than 2011, as his walk rate jumped slightly from 2.2 to 2.4 BB's/9 and his strikeout rate actually increased from 8.0 to 8.1 K's/9. But one team that has given him a lot of trouble in the past two seasons has been these Cardinals. In four starts against them, Kennedy is 1-3 with an 8.59 ERA and 1.55 WHIP, allowing St. Louis to post a .281 BA, .363 OBP and robust .618 slugging percentage. The two players that have hit Kennedy particularly well are outfielders Carlos Beltran (1.141 OPS, 2 HR, 6 RBI in 23 PA) and Matt Holliday (1.420 OPS in 11 PA).