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MLB REIGNS ON LAST FOOTBALL-LESS MONDAY OF THE YEAR
Mon, 30 Aug 2010 08:02 PM EDT

As tonight marks the final Monday night of the year without football, baseball takes center stage. Monday features a full slate of National League action and only four American League teams have the night off. But other than Roy Halladay (10:10 p.m. EDT at LAD), the night is void of ace starters. Odds

So let’s shift our focus to division leaders expected to win big tonight. Below are the three Monday night matchups featuring division leaders favored by –150 or more.

Milwaukee (62-68) at Cincinnati (75-55), 7:10 p.m. EDT Sports.com Line: Cincinnati -155, Milwaukee +135 Total: 9
The Reds own a five-game lead in the NL Central as they open up a three-game set with Milwaukee on Monday. The pitching matchup is Randy Wolf (10-10, 4.74 ERA) against Homer Bailey (3-2, 4.83 ERA).

Since getting blasted for 12 runs and 13 hits at Pittsburgh on July 21, Wolf has pitched well in his last six outings (3-1, 3.23 ERA). In 17 career starts against the Reds, Wolf is 9-2 with a 3.07 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. Wolf’s teams have won in his last six starts against Cincinnati, and Wolf has been excellent over this span (4-0, 2.20 ERA, 42 K, 7 BB).

Bailey was roughed up in his last start in San Francisco (5.1 IP, 9 H, 5 ER) and has been awful in five night starts this season (7.09 ERA, 1.80 WHIP). The Reds are 5-1 in Bailey’s six home starts this year, in spite of Bailey who has a 5.67 home ERA.

These are enough reasons to take a chance on the underdog Brewers. The FoxSheets also likes Wolf and the Brew Crew in this one:

WOLF is 27-15 (+20.8 Units) against the money line vs. teams outscoring opp by 0.5 or more runs/game in the second half of the season since 1997 (Team’s Record). The average score was WOLF 5.2, OPPONENT 3.7 – (Rating = 2*).

New York Mets (65-65) at Atlanta (75-55), 7:10 p.m. EDT Sports.com Line: Atlanta –200, New York +170 Total: 8
The Braves kept their NL East lead over Philadelphia at two games Sunday as Brian McCann’s walk-off HR capped a five-run comeback (ATL trailed 6-1 in the 8th inning). Tonight Atlanta opens up a four-game series with the Mets. Pat Misch (0-3, 3.50 ERA) takes the hill for New York and Jair Jurrjens (5-4, 4.36 ERA) gets the start for heavily-favored Atlanta. Scores

Misch’s is 3-for-3 in quality starts this year, but has no wins to show for it. But he certainly wasn’t a quality pitcher in both career starts against the Braves last September. Misch allowed 12 ER, 15 hits, and 4 HR in just 6.1 innings.

Jurrjens, on the other hand, has had great success against New York (6-2, 2.62 ERA, 1.15 WHIP in nine career starts). He has also been lights out at home this year, posting a 5-0 record with a 1.81 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in seven starts at Turner Field, all Braves wins.

It’s difficult to play a team favored by so much against a decent club, but this FoxSheets trend backs the Braves.

Play Against – Any team (NY METS) – bad offensive team (<=4.1 runs/game) against an average starting pitcher (ERA=4.20 to 5.20)-NL, with a starting pitcher whose ERA is 3.70 or better on the season (NL). (159-110 since 1997.) (59.1%, +62.9 units. Rating = 3*).

Texas (73-57) at Kansas City (55-75), 8:10 p.m. EDT Sports.com Line: Texas –190, Kansas City +165 Total: 9
Texas is a ho-hum 6-8 in its last 14 games, but it still carries a 7.5-game lead in the AL West over Oakland through Sunday. Tonight the Rangers start their 10-game road trip with a visit to Kansas City. C.J. Wilson (13-5, 3.02) and Kyle Davies (6-8, 5.41 ERA) are the starters in this one. Las Vegas Odds

Contrary to the opening paragraph, Wilson IS the ace of the Rangers staff, but would not be the best pitcher on most major-league teams. The Rangers are 20-6 (+12.6 Units) this season, including eight straight wins, when Wilson takes the hill. He has also had success away from Arlington, posting a 2.87 ERA in 10 road starts. Texas is 7-3 in these starts.

Davies would not be the ace for most Triple-A teams. He has just two wins in his last 15 starts, and allowed 12 hits and seven runs in his last start at Detroit. His career against Texas has also been dreadful. In six starts against the Rangers, Davies has a 7.62 ERA and 2.08 WHIP. KC has lost all six of these contests.

This FoxSheets stat backs Wilson and the Rangers.

WILSON is 20-4 (+15.1 Units) against the money line vs. teams averaging 2.75 or less extra base hits per game this season (Team’s Record). The average score was WILSON 5.0, OPPONENT 2.9 – (Rating = 2*).


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