Freak’s Streak is Over
The Giants looked like they were going to lose their 10th straight game with Tim Lincecum pitching last Friday night at Oakland. Right out of the gate in the first inning, Lincecum had no control and was down 3-0 with the bases loaded and no outs. In a freakish manner, it was almost like someone slapped him awake because he then proceeded to strike out the side to get out of the horrible jam.
From that moment on, Lincecum looked like the two-time Cy Young winner-Lincecum we have been awed by all these years. He didn’t allow any runs in his final five innings and struck out five, but best of all he kept his team in the game and they battled back for four runs in the top of the ninth to win. The streak is over, but best of all, the Freak looks like he’s back.
Just think about where the Giants would be if Lincecum had been a .500 pitcher. With Friday’s win, the Giants are now 3-12 when Lincecum starts. Considering their record is 38-21 without his contributions, just imagine how good the Giants might be in the second-half if Lincecum can look as good as he did Friday. A solid Lincecum would arguably give them one of the best rotations in baseball and make them a serious contender to win it all.
On Wednesday against the Dodgers we’ll know the answer to whether his Friday performance was a breakthrough or just a matter of another day where Lincecum imploded in a single like inning like he has done on several instances over his past 10 starts. The Dodgers have been unkind to Lincecum over the last two seasons, including a 6-2 loss last month, but there is definite cause for optimism in the start.
When Lincecum’s psyche is ultimately figured out this week, it could have a major bearing on what we see with the Giants future prices. San Francisco is only three games back of the Dodgers and have odds of 15/1 (Bet $100 to win $1,500) to win the World Series. Should Lincecum come back to life Wednesday, expect that number to drop considerably.
Three Jays Flappers Down
In a matter of a 10-day stretch, the Blue Jays went from having a starting rotation able to compete with all the heavy hitters in the American League East to having a rotation many of us here in Las Vegas know from the Jays Triple-A affiliate. Three of the top-four starters, Dustin McGowan, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchinson all went down with serious arm issues that cost them their season.
From a betting standpoint, this may sound like a bad deal, but in reality, it could actually turn out to be a favorable change of events. The difference in the line from those three starters who are now out to the ones who are in will be anywhere from .20 to .40 cents per start. This sets up a few opportunities to take advantage of Toronto’s bats at bargain basement prices.
McGowan, Drabek and Hutchinson all had the luxury of finding themselves with early leads in many cases due to the Blue Jays quick striking nature of the long ball. Toronto is second in the majors to the Yankees with 104 home runs this season.
So instead of finding reasons to bet against Brett Cecil, Jesse Chavez and Joel Carreno, maybe look the other way and take advantage of some of the Jays raw strength and ability to get out front quickly. Most starting pitchers seem to fare much better with a lead and the chances are good that the three new starters will experience a few of those opportunities and make the most of it at plus-money prices.
The Rich Appear to Get Richer
As if the Texas Rangers weren’t intimidating enough with five likely All-Star starters, in first place and riding a six-game winning streak, we also come to find out Roy Oswalt can still pitch. Oswalt made his 2012 debut Friday after signing with the Rangers last month, and he was sensational.
Oswalt scattered nine hits over 6 2/3 innings allowing only one run in a 4-1 home win over the Rockies. There was a lot of skepticism with Oswalt in his debut because of a poor stint in the minors while getting into shape. It could be that the adrenaline from his first outing elevated him to the win against a Rockies offense that gives up some days.
If you think Oswalt is closer to what he showed in the minors, rather than what he showed Friday, betting against him Wednesday when they face Doug Fister and the Tigers is a must.
Home Sweet Home
Yankee Stadium may be the most intimidating ballpark opposing players visit on the road, but statistically, the Yankees (20-14) are not the best home team in baseball. The Dodgers (24-12) currently hold that mark followed by the Pirates (23-13).
You wouldn’t think of the Dodgers home field offering much of an edge other than the beautiful pallet of colors smog makes when dusk turns to night. It’s in that home smog that has been the secret to extending careers of several journeyman pitchers, and they have a couple this year feasting off of it.
The fans show up late and leave early to avoid traffic, but the Dodgers keep piling up wins and have maintained first place in the National League West for the entire season.
The Pirates home field edge comes strictly from their style of play. They find themselves in a lot of close games and the home crowd has helped swing the momentum in a few of those situations. The Bucs get close to 24,000 attending a night, but it’s still only good enough for only 23rd most among the 30 teams.
Pittsburgh fans are also hungry for any kind of success gained in any form. It’s been 19 years since the Bucs last had a winning season.
It’s apparent that the amount of fans in attendance doesn’t equate to victories, just ask Philadelphia and Boston. Both cities lead baseball with the highest capacity percentage on a nightly basis, but both teams are at the bottom of their divisions.
My vote doesn’t matter among the millions that determine who starts in the All-Star game, but here’s who I got starting with the NL: 1B) Joey Votto, 2B Brandon Phillips, 3B) David Wright, SS) Starlin Castro, OF) Melky Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez, Andrew McCutchen, C) Carlos Ruiz, SP) R.A. Dickey.
You could probably argue that Ryan Braun should start in the outfield, but all three listed have higher batting averages with McCutchen and Cabrera being the heart and soul of offenses that are contending. I would also seriously consider adding Bryce Harper to the roster because the fans want to see him and also because his style of play has earned the right to play with the best.
Here’s who I got in the AL: 1B) Paul Konerko, 2B) Robinson Cano, 3B) Adrian Beltre, SS) Derek Jeter, OF) Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton, Adam Jones, C) A.J. Pierzynski SP) Chris Sale.
The starting pitcher is a tough one. The start should probably be given to Jeff Weaver, but he missed a couple of weeks. The combination of ERA and WHIP make Sale one of the better pitchers this season to go along with his 8-2 record.
We saw Reds flame thrower Aroldis Chapman not give up a single earned run on the season through June 6, a span of 29 innings, but he is a complete meltdown mode since. In the Cuban Missile’s past 6 ˝ innings he’s given up eight runs, taken four losses and has had his perfect ERA muddied with a 2.04 mark.
Welcome back Jair Jurrjens! In a strange turn of events, Jurrjens came back to life last Friday beating a hot Red Sox squad 4-1 at Fenway showing form that made him 12-3 at the All-Star break last season. Between lingering knee problems and a loss of confidence, the Braves sent Jurrjens to the minors in April after a 0-2 start with a 9.37 ERA. Despite having a 5.27 ERA at triple-A Gwinnett in nine starts, the Braves had to bring someone up to replace Brandon Beachy and Jurrjens got the opportunity to redeem himself and he came up big.
The White Sox acquired the Red Sox “Greek God of Walks” Kevin Youkilis on Sunday from Boston to shore up their lousy production at third base that has produced a .168 average with only one home run. The first-place White Sox are currently 25/1 to win the World Series and this is the type of move that could help put them in the upper echelon of top contenders this season. Even in a down year compared to his past standards, the addition Youkilis to the lineup is a huge improvement. The change of scenery should fare him well.