May 5th 2013 - Posted 12:00 PM Eastern Time

2 Baseball picks added at the bottom as #2 and #3

#1: Take Memphis Grizzlies at +3 spread against Oklahoma City Thunder risking 1%

This is Game 1 of the second round of the playoffs which has historically been a tough spot from a handicapping angle. Things that were prevalent or consistent with the first round of the playoffs don't always carry over into the second round. We have new match-ups and new angles that need to be considered and Game 1 has typically been a "feeling out" process for some teams. With that being said, there is value backing the Memphis Grizzlies today. Since dropping Game 1 against the Clippers, Memphis is now 5-1 ATS in this years playoffs. They used Game 1 against LA as almost like an evaluation game, they were beaten on both sides of the ball by Chirs Paul and company only to come back and make the necessary adjustments in games 2-6 and rattle off 4 straight wins against the Clippers. That is what good teams do. They look at what they did wrong and come back and make adjustments, Memphis has been doing that all season long.

Oklahoma City has quite a different series with Houston. After completely dominating Game 1, a key injury in Game 2 to PG Russell Westbrook completely changed the series. Houston made adjustments to their lineup and actually got better in Games 2-5 before dropping game 6 at home and ultimately ending their playoff run. Oklahoma City is simply a different team without Westbrook running the point. Kevin Durant has been absolutely fabulous and has stepped up immensely in his absence. Kevin Martin has also stepped up to take over for the injured Westbrook, but the fact that Oklahoma City has gone just 2-2 since Westbrook went down is a telling tale. OKC still needs to find ways to win and struggled scoring against what has been known as a truly porous and almost non existent Houston defense. Tonight they will take a step up in competition to face a Grizzlies team who has already beaten a full strength Oklahoma City team twice this season.

Memphis relies on the defense, there is not question about that, however their recently surging offense is something that Oklahoma City is going to need to contend with. Memphis has scored over 100 points in 3 straight games, including 118 in their last game. As I said, Memphis has already beaten Oklahoma City twice this season and once out in Oklahoma by the score of 107-97. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are going to pose problems for OKC in the lane. While Mike Conley has stepped up and is averaging 17 points in the playoffs. Memphis has not been bitten with the injury bug like most teams and are at full strength coming into this contest. Memphis is the hotter team at the moment and I believe their momentum carries over into this series. Oklahoma City and Kevin Durant will get their points, but I believe the Grizzlies defense is simply going to be too much for them to overcome in this game. It should be a tough battle the entire way and I don't see either team running away with this game. Until the Thunder can prove to be as efficient on offense without Westbrook in the lineup against a quality defense, I have to side with the points in this game. With it being game 1 and a lot of unknowns as to how each team is going to match up with each other, I am keeping this a small play but there is value with the Grizzlies today. Take the points.

Some trends to consider:

  • Memphis is 54-36 ATS as an underdog over the last 3 seasons
  • Memphis is 17-7 ATS after 3 or more consecutive wins
  • Memphis is 20-9 after a win by more than 10 points
  • The road team is 6-1 ATS in the last 7 meetings
  • OKC is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games

#2: Take Philadelphia Phillies at -1 spread against Miami Marlins risking 2%

(Halladay and Slowey must start)

Philadelphia will look to bounce-back today after yesterdays poor showing against the Miami Marlins. Philadelphia has had this 4 games series pretty much in control, winning the first 2 games of the series and outscoring the Marlins 11-3 in the process before yesterdays game where Philadelphia only managed 1 hit for the entire game in a 2-0 loss.

Philadelphia will attempt to get back on track when they send veteran Roy Halladay (2-3, 6.75ERA ) to the mound. Halladay's numbers are down for the season as he has struggled in a couple of his starts this season. "Doc" is coming off arguably his worst start of the season as he allowed 9 hits an 8 earned runs ( 3 homeruns ) in just under 4 innings pitched against the Cleveland Indians. Prior to that it appeared that Halladay had found his form as he had allowed just 3 total hits in his previous 2 starts. The thing about Halladay is that he is still a great pitcher even though his numbers tell otherwise. Against a Marlins team who struggles mightily on offense, he should be able to regain his composure and produce a solid start today. Halladay is 8-4 lifetime against the Marlins with an ERA of just under 3. He has currently won his last 3 straight starts against Miami. In his last start earlier this season, Halladay went 8 strong innings giving up just 5 hits and 1 earned run in a 2-1 win.

The Marlins, who rank in the bottom of the league this seaosn in almost every category, send Kevin Slowey (0-2, 2.15ERA)on the mound. Slowey has yet to pick up his first win of the season and that is due mainly to the fact that the MArlins rarely provide him any kind of run support. Slowey has faced the Phillies twice in his career and has yet to reach a decision. He is 0-0 with a 10.29 ERA in 2 starts.

Philadelphia has handled the Marlins in this series prior to yesterdays game. Miami is simply not a good team with only 9 wins on the season and you can bet that Halladay is going to want to atone for his poor start last time out and the Phillies batters will want to make some noise as they were pretty much silenced yesterday. Halladay has been valued right around the -125 mark for much of the season this year, for him o suddenly be favored heavily in this contest points to him having a quality start. Philly is 2-1 on the season after being shut out and you can bet that they will want to close out this series with a win. In Games 1 & 2 Philly beat Miami by scores of 7-2 and 4-1, you can expect a similar score this afternoon. There is not a lot of value back the Phillies on the moneyline, however there is value in betting them on winning by more than 1 runs. Take the Phillies at -1 for the reduced juice.

Some recent trends to consider:

  • Halladay is 11-2 since 2001 when facing less than 25 hitters in his last game.
  • Halladay is 12-0 as a favorite coming off a loss where he had 3 or less strike-outs!
  • Phillies are 10-2 when Halladay starts at home vs. teams with losing records.
  • Home team is 4-0 in Jeff Kellogg's (umpire) last 4 games behind home plate in Philadelphia.
  • Home team is 21-10 in Jeff Kellogg's last 31 games behind home plate.
  • Miami is 1-5 in its last 6 games when playing on the road against Philadelphia

#3: Take Baltimore Orioles as Underdogs on the moneyline against LA Angels risking 2%

(Hammel and Williams must start)

There is value backing Baltimore against the Angels this afternoon. The Angels are a team that made some major moves in the off-season and on paper have a quality team, however they have failed to put all of the pieces together and string together any kind of consistency. Baltimore on the other hand has picked up right where they left off last season and is a threat to win each and every game that they play in and yet the linemakers still insist on favoring the struggling Angels and under valuing the Orioles.

The Angels have elected to bring Jerome Williams into the starting rotation today after making a string of reliefs out of the bullpen. Williams has not started a game yet this season and his last start was against Oakland in a game where he gave up 4 earned runs in under 4 innings last September. It is always a dangerous thing when you bring a relief pitcher into a starting role. Relief pitchers are just that, they are used to making short stints in a game against batters who are already used to seeing another pitchers style and delivery. I will give Williams credit though; in just under 22 innings pitched he has only given up 4 earned runs on 16 hits, however that is usually only a span of just over 2 innings per game. There is a big difference between going just 2 innings and trying to get a quaility start of 6 or 7 innings. A relief pitchers arm is not used to the strains of going long games and throwing a greater number of pitches, that simply leads to quicker fatigue and poor ball placement/movement. With a team like Baltimore, a pitcher can rarely leave a ball hanging over the plate without paying for it.

Baltimore sends Jason Hammel (4-1, 3.78ERA) to the mound this afternoon. Hammel has been a consistent pitcher for the Orioles this season and has grabbed wins in 2 out of his last 3 starts. Hammel is not the type of pitcher who will typically lose the team a game, granted he will give up some hits and more than likely a couple of runs. 2 starts ago however, he did managed to silence the Oakland A's bats, allowing just 3 hits and 0 earned runs which is pretty impressive given the fact that Oakland is one of the higher scoring teams in the league this season and he did so on the road. Baltimore has provided Hammel with plenty of run support and that should continue today against Williams who I believe will struggle in his first start.

Take Baltimore as a quality underdog this afternoon.


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