Today’s buffet of games provides one that immediately catches my eye. When looking at games to bet the money line, I always research previous trends, news, and injuries (especially from the starting pitcher standpoint). If I locate a pitching matchup that seemingly is heavily in favor of one pitcher, I almost always place my bet on the favored team in that match-up. Utilizing this strategy does not provide the “big hits” by winning money on the underdog, but it provides a consistent way to earn by placing safe and, usually, winning bets.
With that in mind, one jumps out today that should provide legitimate chances of cashing in: the Angels versus the Rays. More importantly, the game features a battle between Alex Cobb (Rays) and Dan Haren (Angels). Based on the starting pitchers, Vegas has set the Angels as heavy favorites at a 1.602 line. The Rays are pitched at 2.560. Not surprisingly, I am placing my money on the Angels and the arm of Haren.
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Aside from a seven-inning outing on June 17, Cobb has been less than average. On that June evening, he registered 10 strikeouts while pitching a shutout. Immediately following that superb outing, Cobb barely managed to put together a respectable start for his next two games against Kansas City and Detroit. With the exception of a four-strikeout performance against the Indians on July 6, Cobb has been beyond disappointing. And, to make matters worse, Cobb had to be helped off the field after taking a hard-hit grounder off of his shin during his latest start against Seattle on the July 21. In only two innings of work during that game, he allowed two runs and two walks. Perhaps taking one to the shin was the best thing to happen considering his performance. Nonetheless, Cobb’s X-rays did come back negative, but I would watch intently to see if Cobb’s performance is hindered at all by nagging pain in his shin.
On the other side of the scorecard is Haren, who, by all accounts, has been relatively surprising this season. Aside from a poor outing against the Indians on July 3, Haren has been consistently over-achieving. The highlight of his season, thus far, came two months ago in a complete-game, 14-strikeout shutout against Seattle. Haren then followed that performance with another excellent outing against the Yankees. Despite his 7-8 record this season, Haren is certainly a player to feel comfortable with on the money line … especially when pitching opposite a hurler such as Cobb.
With that match-up spoken for, let me offer a few games to stay away from today. First, the pitching duel between Phil Hughes and Aaron Cook. The line is, not surprisingly, favoring Hughes and the Yankees (2.130 versus 1.820). I know many people will be tempted to bet on the underdog Red Sox because the money line is fairly close. I, on other hand, am running far away from this game. Hughes had an excellent first half but has cooled down slightly since the All-Star break. Cook, on the other hand, has thrown only a handful of games, and, because of that, I am not comfortable making a judgment on him yet. In the end, my betting strategy always rests in the consistency of the winning odds. And, unfortunately, there is simply not enough leverage one way or the other in this match-up to make me feel comfortable betting it.
The other game I am avoiding today is the Carlos Zambrano and Kip Wells match-up. With Zambrano on the mound, the Marlins are favored at 1.730. But, again, Wells has only pitched a handful of outings this year (the majority of them being far from good). And, again, many people would be comfortable placing the money line bet on Zambrano’s excellent line of work thus far. But I am not comfortable placing a bet on a game where one of the pitchers (Wells) does not have enough performances to form a consistent conclusion. In my opinion, this is simply another game to stay away from.
Remember, I will argue until I am blue in the face that placing bets on incomplete numbers is a total waste of money.