Roy Halladay won't be appearing for the Philadelphia Phillies this week against the Cincinnati Reds, but the big righthander could still play an inspirational role for his club as it kills off an early 6-game road trip.
Let's look at each of this series' matchups to decide how us bettors can cash in with our MLB picks.
Wednesday's Game Three
By: Willie Bee
It certainly didn't look like a pitchers duel on paper Tuesday night when the Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds met for the middle clash of a 3-game series. Kyle Kendrick and Homer Bailey fooled us, however, stringing nothing but zeroes on the scoreboard before rain forced a suspension in the bottom of the ninth.
The teams will pick that game back up at 5:30 PM (ET) today, then play the regularly-scheduled contest still listed for a 7:10 PM start with ESPN's cameras on hand to document the series finale. More rain is expected in the Cincinnati area during the day, but the chances taper off to 30% in the evening.
MLB odds at 5Dimes have the Reds -135 with a +125 return on the Phils. John Lannan is in line to start for Philadelphia opposite Cincinnati's Mike Leake, and totals bettors are looking at an 8.5 run mark.
We've seen nothing but solid efforts from the starting pitchers in this series. Bronson Arroyo and Cliff Lee got things going on Monday before Bailey and Kendrick produced even better results Tuesday. Philadelphia has now plated just eight runs in the last 39 innings heading into the resumption of Game 2 today. The Phillies are 11th in the National League scoring 3.57 runs per game, and 12th with a .291 on-base average.
Cincinnati isn't tearing the cover off the ball either with 18 runs in the last seven games after averaging 7.2 RPG in jumping out to a 5-2 start on the schedule.
Lannan pitched well enough to win both of his previous starts, yet he remains with a blank record on the season. Philadelphia did win both games as the lefty fashioned a 2.77 ERA, 0.69 WHIP with no long balls to smudge his record in 13 innings.
Leake also is 0-0 on the slate after two starts, pitching poorly enough to lose both games which the Reds did, 7-6 against Lannan's old mates the Nationals and 6-5 at Pittsburgh last Friday.
Ed Hickcox should be calling balls and strikes for this contest. Now in his 19th MLB season, two of Hickox's three assignments this year have gone OVER, and the home team is a perfect 3-0.
I've been wrong this entire series, so proceed at your own risk with my free pick on the underdog Phillies. If you're looking for another pick to fade or follow, you can read my preview for the second game in the Bronx between the Yankees and Diamondbacks.
My MLB Pick: Phillies +125 at 5Dimes
Tuesday's Game 2
By: Willie Bee
In case you missed it, Cliff Lee and Bronson Arroyo hooked up in a fantastic mound battle Monday when the Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds opened their 3-game set at Great American Ball Park. Unfortunately, it didn't go how I'd hoped as the Reds came away 4-2 winners.
Tuesday's second game doesn't hold out near as much promise for a pitchers duel with a pair of Texas natives on the hill. Kyle Kendrick will try and even the series for the Phils while Homer Bailey takes his turn in the Cincy rotation. There has been a little bit of movement on the moneyline with the Reds -153 at 5Dimes after beginning -147. The live MLB odds at SBR show 8.5 for the total, and leaning UNDER.
Cincinnati's victory last night left both clubs with 6-7 records; the Reds were able to keep pace with the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central, two games back and tied for second with the Pittsburgh Pirates, while Philadelphia dropped 5.5 games behind the idle Atlanta Braves in the NL East.
Kendrick's struggles during spring training have carried over to the regular season. The former 7th-round pick posted a 6.88 ERA in five exhibition starts, and brings a 5.40 ERA into this game following a couple of assignments. He did pitch better last Wednesday in a home win vs. the Mets, and proved more effective on the road (3.30 ERA) last season than at home (4.41). Kendrick faced the Reds on this mound once last year, taking a 2-1 loss with six innings of work.
Bailey was masterful in his first game of 2013 blanking the Nationals for six innings at home, but then imploded at St. Louis last Wednesday when he allowed seven runs and three homers in five frames. The former 1st-round pick (No. 7 overall in 2004), saw the Phillies once in 2012, a 5-4 Cincinnati win in which Bailey didn't figure into the decision (6.1 IP, 2 ER).
The weatherman is calling for a 60% chance of scattered thunderstorms early in the evening, so check your personal doppler radar devices before making a wager. Veteran umpire Wally Bell is in line for plate duty on Tuesday, and the Buckeye State native is off to a 3-0 OVER start to 2013 after his games went 11-23-1 O/U/P in 2012.
I'm going to get behind the two lineups in this one with a play on the OVER. While you're here at SBR, you can also follow my previews and picks for the series in New York between the Yankees and Diamondbacks.
My pick: Phillies-Reds Over 8.5 (+105) at 5Dimes
Monday's Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
MLB odds makers have made Philadelphia the small -125 road favorite behind Cliff Lee; Cincinnati counters with Bronson Arroyo and the 7.5 run total is priced -120 to the UNDER.
One of three series I'll follow this week for SBR, the Phillies arrive in Cincinnati having won four of five and coming off a low-scoring weekend in Miami where only 10 runs crossed the plate. Philadelphia took two of the three matchups, winning the set with a 2-1 decision on Sunday behind Halladay who had struggled in his first two starts. Seeing Doc turn things around, even if it did come against a weak Marlins lineup, should boost the Phillies' confidence.
Sunday's victory leveled Philadelphia's record at 6-6, which is only good enough for fourth place in the AL East, five games behind the red-hot Atlanta Braves.
The Phillies will be looking to add to the Reds' woes as Dusty Baker's squad comes off a 1-5 road trip that ended with a 3-game sweep at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Cincinnati was atop the NL Central a week ago and looking every bit like the team picked to win the division with -135 MLB futures odds on Opening Day. But the 5-game losing skid the Reds are riding has since dropped them to third with a 5-7 mark, two games south of the front-running St. Louis Cardinals.
Arroyo, Lee Set For Monday's Mound Battle
Do you ever wonder if pitchers' personalities off the field match their performances on the diamond? For instance, is Lee a control freak at home like he is on the mound, and is Arroyo a bit of a laid-back curve ball outside of baseball?
Both of Game 1's starting pitchers have proved they are durable, if nothing else. Arroyo, now in his eighth season with the Reds, has worked at least 200 innings each season since 2005 except for one, and that was a 199-inning tally in 2011. Lee's inning count is nearly as impressive during the same span, reaching the 200-inning plateau in seven of the past eight campaigns.
Lee is also off to a very good start in 2013 with wins in each of his previous two assignments, a 1.08 ERA and 14 strikeouts without a walk in just under 17 frames. The southpaw has also produced good results against the Reds during his career, posting a 6-2 mark and 3.19 ERA over 10 starts since the '05 season began. He came within an out of a shutout in his last appearance at Great American Ball Park in 2011.
Arroyo has split his first two start of 2013, beating the Angels at home and losing to the Cards in St. Louis. He hasn't had good luck against the Phils since coming over to the Reds (2-7, 6.55 ERA), though his one start at Philly last year was a good one (8 IP, 2 ER, win).
Phils Look To Continue Recent Series Dominance
This rivalry goes back to the late-1800s, and the Reds have the advantage over the course of history. It's the Phillies, however, who have dominated play the past 10 seasons with a 45-26 record. That mark includes winning 22 of the 35 played in Cincinnati's new park.
Cincinnati won two of the three played on this diamond last year, and the UNDER cashed twice to go with a push at Great American Ball Park in 2012. The last eight games played in Cincinnati have produced a 2-5-1 O/U/P record for totals bettors.
There is a little bit of rain in Cincinnati's forecast for Monday, but it should clear out by game time to leave muggy conditions, a 70-degree temp and 10 mph southerly breeze (in from right field).
Both bullpens scare me towards a lean to the OVER, but I'll back Lee and Philadelphia with my free picks instead.My pick: Phillies -125 at Bookmaker