Hot and Cold Pitchers; Wimbledon Off and Running
‘Money Arms’, a look around the majors at starting pitchers that are hot, and those that are not.
By Sean Murphy, read more from Sean and more about “Money Arms” at www.covers.com – an excellent source for sports information
I’ll try to avoid isolating perennial Cy Young candidates such as Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. Those pricey pitchers rarely boast value when you’re backing them, and let’s face it, fading them is rarely a good idea.
Here’s a look at this week’s list.
Michael Pineda, Seattle Mariners
The Mariners couldn’t be happier with Pineda’s performance in his rookie season.
He’s 7-4 with a 2.64 ERA and 1.03 WHIP through 14 starts, and has been downright nasty along the way, holding opposing hitters to a .202 batting average.
There’s a concern that Pineda might wear down as the season progresses, as he’s already logged 88 2/3 innings and we haven’t even flipped the calendar page to July yet. That’s a story for another day, however, as he still has plenty of life in that right arm.
This story isn’t just about Pineda. The entire Mariners team is playing its best baseball right now, coming off a series win against the Phillies, pulling within a half-game of the Rangers for first place in the A.L. West.
Neither the oddsmakers nor the betting public are ready to trust the Mariners just yet. That’s just fine with us, as we can pick up substantial value backing Seattle with Pineda on the hill in the coming weeks.
Jordan Zimmermann, Washington Nationals
The Nationals are hot right now, with third-year starter Jordan Zimmermann leading the way.
The right-hander has led the Nats’ to victory in each of his last four starts, allowing a grand total of four earned runs in 27 1/3 innings of work over that stretch.
This is Zimmermann’s first full season at the big league level, at least the Nationals are hoping he’ll last the entire way. His first two seasons were cut short due to injury, as he made just 23 starts in 2009 and 2010 combined.
He’s already taken the ball 14 times here in 2011.
Much like the Mariners, the Nationals have climbed back to respectability this season, and I still feel they have plenty of room to run. With an improving lineup, which just welcomed back slugger Ryan Zimmerman, they’re worth a wager these days.
Derek Holland, Texas Rangers
I’ve been a supporter of Holland in the past, but I don’t like what I’m seeing from the young left-hander right now.
The Rangers have won only two of his last seven starts, and while that’s had a lot to do with their inconsistent offense, it’s also been a result of Holland giving up at least four earned runs on four different occasions over that stretch.
The numbers are ugly. Holland has been tagged for eight home runs while issuing 13 walks in his last five outings, spanning 31 innings pitched.
The fact that he still owns an attractive 5-2 record is keeping Holland in favor with the betting majority. It doesn’t hurt that the Rangers have become a very public team over the last year.
Consider fading Holland in the favorite role in the next couple of weeks.
Ricky Nolasco, Florida Marlins
It’s not hard to make a case for fading the Marlins these days. When Ricky Nolasco is on the mound, it’s even easier.
Florida’s struggles have been well documented. The Fish are 1-19 in June, falling all the way to last place in the N.L. East, 12.5 games back of the division-leading Phillies.
Nolasco has been hit hard lately, allowing 46 hits and 24 earned runs over his last five starts, covering only 26 1/3 innings of work.
This is a guy that’s won 42 games over the last three seasons, so he’s bound to turn it around at some point, but he’s showing no signs of that at the moment.
Obviously the value side of the equation is starting to swing out of our favor when it comes to the Marlins right now. However, we should still be able to pick our spots and fade Nolasco as a favorite, at least in his home park.
Wimbledon Odds – Men
By: Staff Writer – StatFox
If you like stats then www.statfox.com will be your favorite spot – great stats and trends for the sports bettor
125th Wimbledon Championships – Men’s Singles
Starts: Monday, June 20
The All England Lawn Tennis Club – London, England
Odds to Win Tournament
(Odds according to Sportsbook.com)
Rafael Nadal 2-to-1
Roger Federer 9-to-4
Novak Djokovic 11-to-4
Andy Murray 6-to-1
Juan Martin Del Potro 20-to-1
Andy Roddick 30-to-1
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 30-to-1
Robin Soderling 30-to-1
Tomas Berdych 30-to-1
Milos Raonic 40-to-1
John Isner 50-to-1
Richard Gasquet 60-to-1
Mardy Fish 80-to-1
Marin Cilic 80-to-1
While there are certainly compelling arguments that the favorite on the men’s side should be either Novak Djokovic, who is 43-1 in his last 44 matches, or Roger Federer, who is on the upswing after his run to the French Open final two weekends ago, it’s Rafael Nadal who has reached the second Sunday each of the past four times he’s played Wimbledon. He has also won his past seven Grand Slam finals, which offers further evidence that even at the steep price of 2-to-1, he offers the best value among the “Big 3.”
Sitting outside the Nadal-Federer-Djokovic trio is fourth-seeded Scot Andy Murray, who is an intriguing pick at 6-to-1. The pressure to produce will enormous, but Murray will have the overwhelming support of the crowd, especially if he can play with the clarity and tenacity he showed in winning the AEGON Championships at Queen’s Club less than a week ago. Murray’s forehand isn’t as lethal as those of Nadal and Federer, but his athleticism and return are major weapons. He must use his speed offensively, connect on his first serve and avoid the passive play that has plagued him in the past to go deep in the draw.
It’s hard to see anyone besides the top four men ultimately winning Wimbledon, but if you want to reach, go with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at 30-to-1. His ability to play serve-and-volley tennis is still effective, as he showed in the Queen’s Club tournament: Tsonga slammed 25 aces while hurling his body around the court to beat Nadal en route to the final. If he can impose his athleticism and aggression, it’s not entirely out of the question that Tsonga could pull off the major upset.
Wimbledon women’s odds: Sharapova, Williams sisters lead weak field
By Ricky Dimion – check out Ricky and other sports experts at www.covers.com
Not unlike the French Open, Wimbledon features a wide-open women’s event. Kim Clijsters is sidelined due to injury, world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki has never won a major, and the Williams sisters have been AWOL. Is the result another surprise champion, ala Li Na at Roland Garros?
Here’s a breakdown of the players to watch at Wimbledon beginning Monday.
Serena Williams (+350) – Williams had not played since winning Wimbledon last year when she made her long-awaited return from a well-documented foot injury earlier this week. She looked decent in Eastbourne, coming from behind to win her first match before succumbing to 2010 Wimbledon runner-up Vera Zvonareva 7-5 in the third. It’s hard to bet against Williams, especially at this tournament and especially given the current competition, or lack thereof. It’s safe to say, though, that Williams’ status as the favorite says a lot more about the rest of the field than it does about her.
Maria Sharapova (+400) – Playing on her worst surface at the French Open, Sharapova went all the way to the semifinals before losing to eventual champion in two close sets. That only bodes well for her chances at the all-England Club, where she has powered her way through the grass on multiple occasions. The Russian owns two semifinal showings in addition to her triumph in 2004. Sharapova is not the player she once was, but a return to her glory days and winning ways over the next fortnight would not be unexpected.
Venus Williams – Quite simply, Venus is the Queen of Wimbledon. She has won the thing five times and has also finished runner-up on three occasions (every time losing to her sister in the final). Venus had not taken the court since the Australian Open when she played in Eastbourne this week, and she appeared in better form than Serena. Prior to a third-round ouster at the hands of Daniel Hantuchova, Venus dismissed Andre Petkovic in three sets and positively destroyed Ana Ivanovic.
Li Na – Li sports an impressive 26-8 record for the season, but since we are entering a major championship, let’s talk about her record on the big stage. In two slams this year, the Chinese sensation is 13-1 (runner-up at the Australian Open and winner of the French). Li can get the job done on grass in addition to hard courts and clay. She is a two-time Wimbledon quarterfinalist (2006 and 2010).
Andrea Petkovic – Petkovic is 33-11 during what has been a breakout 2011 campaign on the WTA Tour. The German is famous for her “Petko dance,” but she only gets to do it because she seems to be winning all the time. In her last two appearances, she reached the final in Strasbourg and advanced to the quarters of the French Open. Petkovic has never put it all together at Wimbledon, but her power tennis should be able to work well on grass.
Daniela Hantuchova – Ranked 25th in the world, Hantuchova is a sleeper to go all the way. The leggy Slovak stunned Wozniacki at Roland Garros, finished runner-up last week on the grass courts of Birmingham, and also upset Li this week in Eastbourne in addition to her victory over Serena. Hantuchova’s best Wimbledon finish is a quarterfinal, but she is playing like she wants a lot more than that.
Sabine Lisicki – Lisicki was carried off on a stretcher at the French Open due to severe cramping, but not before qualifying for the main draw, reaching Round 2, and taking Zvonareva to 7-5 in the third set. The German then bounced right back and won the Birmingham title last week. Get your popcorn ready for a second-round smoker between Li and Lisicki. If she can pull off the upset, Lisicki will see her draw open up the rest of the way.
Maria Sharapova – Serena should be ready to win a Grand Slam by the time the U.S. Open rolls around, but right now she’s just rusty. With Clijsters at home watching on television, look for Sharapova to capture her second Wimbledon title