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Clemens blasts through Diamondbacks but Astros bullpen collapses
(July 31, 2006)
Boy, that Diamondbacks game fell nicely into our laps as a cool +150 underdog but it did not start out that way. Roger Clemens pitched the greatest game of the year. He annihilated the Diamondbacks lineup like he was the atomic "Rocket" and the Diamondbacks were Japan. Pardon the pun.
The Diamondbacks managed to score 1 run on him but it was the unearned variety. Tough to score points when you don't get walked and only manage 2 hits in 7 innings.
We predicted great things from these Diamondbacks today. We did not necessarily think they would bust out for a lot of runs but the +150 odds they were getting was value.
First Angle Used to Make Pick
A +150 team only has to win 40% of the time to break even. That means, out of 100 bets, you would have to go at least 41-59 to be a winner. Nice. Out of a 162 game season, 65-97 is good enough to make money at +150.
There was very little reason to believe these Astros were deserving of so much juice. They were 3-7 L10, 6-10 since the All Star break. They cannot score runs and this has hurt the Rocket himself. The Astros were 2-5 in games that he started this season heading into this game. Then you couple that with the fact that the Diamondbacks are in a playoff hunt and were 6-4 L10. That is the first angle we used to bet this play.
Second Angle Used to Make Pick
We actually picked these Diamondbacks the day prior when they faced Roy Oswalt. Oswalt pitched great and got the easy win. The Diamondbacks did a poor job of working the counts and were forced to face a dominant starter for 8 innings. When facing a dominant starter, I say take as many pitches as you can to get to the bullpen. Bullpens suck and you will have a better chance to score some runs.
Despite having played poorly over the past 4 games (1-3), they are in a wild playoff hunt in the NL West and are coming off a poor performance facing Roy Oswalt. Situations like this make a team's propensity to bounce back better than if they were not. In fact, when we analyzed the Diamondbacks under a microscope using Bayesian statistics, we saw that the Diamondbacks would be on average 12 points undervalued by the fact that they had scored so few runs. 12 points here is the difference between a +138 and +150 team. Consider that we bet about 400 games a year, that is about 10 games that we win instead of losing. For you unit gamblers, that is a 25 unit turnaround!
Third Angle Used to Make Pick
It is obvious that the Astros hitting was likely to do well but we are weary to take underdogs sometimes because they are generally going up against strong starting pitching, ala Roger Clemens. But the dude has not pitched more than 7 innings all season and is a bit old and possibly rusty. We predicted that he would pitch anywhere from 5-7 innings. So let's say that he only pitched 6 innings, you will be having a motivated and bounceback prone Astros team against a bullpen for 3 innings!
In the end, the Astros scored a few more runs than we expected. The Rocket pitched better and longer than we expected. But the Diamondbacks still took it to the Astros bullpen.
Remember a good number of games are decided by relievers in modern era baseball. Bullpens suck so be sure to go against:
- a starting pitcher pitching on less rest because the bullpen will likely need to come in earlier
- a starting pitcher that is pitching out of his spot on the rotation. Varying the amount of day's between starts can screw some pitchers up.
- starting pitchers that pitched a complete game their previous outing. They might not have gas in the tank.
- teams with a battered bullpen, using 5 or more relievers in a game
- a team that went into extra innings their previous game
- a team that may be looking ahead to a division rivalry series as they will be more prone to save their better relievers for the big showdown
- teams with pretty bad bullpens and you see the odds at or around even money
- a team that has used its saves pitcher too frequently and may be in a spot where they cannot use him. Vegas does not adjust the odds but imagine being down 1 run and getting to face Tanyon Sturtze instead of Mariano Rivera. Big difference, right?