We have come to that dreadful time of year in Philadelphia, the time when, for the next three months, us sports fans will have nothing to watch except the Philadelphia Phillies. Don’t get me wrong; I love baseball as much as the next guy, but focusing on only one sport for that long of a stretch gets tedious very quickly.
With the Philadelphia 76ers losing Game 7 of their second round playoff matchup against the Boston Celtics last Saturday night, the Phillies are the only major players in town still in action. Sure, we’ll get some off-season news here and there from the Sixers and Philadelphia Flyers, and the Philadelphia Eagles will be building toward training camp and the pre-season in August, but for now, the only real game action will be played on the baseball diamond.
September can’t arrive soon enough.
The summer is my lull in betting. I often try to take a step back, conserve what I have and start my research for the frantic upcoming football season – especially college football. But I’ll keep trucking along for this weekly column, analyzing the Phillies’ upcoming game and series all summer, while sprinkling in some random betting thoughts as I unveil some of my research.
Last week, I concluded the Sixers season with a loss, ending my 2011-2012 NBA campaign at 10-11. I won my bet on the Phillies, pushing my MLB record to 3-2 so far.
The Background: Even with injuries to starting pitchers Roy Halladay and Vance Worley, the Phillies have turned it around lately and are actually playing good baseball. With their 10-6 win over the New York Mets Wednesday night, the Phils have won two series in a row. They sit two games above .500 at 27-25, which shockingly is only 3 games out of first place in the National League East Division. This weekend, they host the Miami Marlins (29-22) for a three-game series. The projected starters are Kyle Kendrick vs. Mark Buehrle tonight, Cole Hamels vs. Ricky Nolasco tomorrow and Joe Blanton vs. Carlos Zambrano on Sunday.
The Line: Phillies -107; Marlins -103; O/U 8.5
My Take: The Phillies have played much better baseball as of late, but the Marlins are nothing short of red hot. Miami has gone 7-3 in their last 10 games, including winning their last three games, pushing them up to just a half-game behind the Washington Nationals in the division. The Marlins finished May with a 21-8 record, compared to the Phillies’ mark of 16-13 last month. So why is this line so close, with the Phillies as the favorites? The Phillies won 2-out-of-3 games against Miami earlier this year, but that was way back in early April.
The only edge I see is the recent performance of both of tonight’s projected starters. Kendrick has been solid over his last three outings, with a 1-1 record over 22 innings, 15 hits, 2 walks, 3 earned runs and 12 strikeouts. Buehrle, meanwhile, has won all of his last three starts, but hasn’t been nearly as effective (21 IP, 19 hits, 3 walks, 10 ER, 9 strikeouts). Will those trends continue tonight? If they do, then the edge goes to the Phillies. But I just don’t really trust that Kendrick can continue to put up those type of performances.
I don’t have a strong feeling either way in this game, but my lean is toward the Marlins, so that’s where I’d place my money if I were forced to lay down a bet.
BONUS – Stanley Cup Finals
Here’s a quick hitter for you. The New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings will face off in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Saturday night. The Kings won Game 1 in overtime on Wednesday, a 2-1 final. The line for Game 2 is even right now, with both teams at -110. I really like the Devils in this one. Dropping Game 1 is nothing new for them, and they played a very good first game on Wednesday. My suggestion is to put down some dough on Jersey.