Midweek MLB Report & AFC West Previews



By Jim Hurley:

Gotta admit something to you good folks:

The Jim Sez staff usually doesn't get all hot-and-bothered when it comes to who makes - and who doesn't make - Major-League Baseball's All-Star Game rosters in the National and/or American League but we do find it rather amusing that three NL players that didn't get the nod to perform in Tuesday's Midsummer Classic in Phoenix really spoke up with their play the past couple of days.

Consider the triumvirate of guys that didn't either get voted in by the fans - yes, the same fans who voted in New York Yankees SS Derek Jeter to a starter's role despite the fact he's having an awful and injury-saddled season - or were not chosen by NL manager Bruce Bochy (San Francisco Giants) who picked the pitchers and the senior circuit reserves:

ANDREW McCUTCHEN, OF, PITTSBURGH - The do-it-all everyday center fielder of the born-again Pirates was out-and-out robbed when it came to this year's NL All-Stars and leave it to his outspoken manager Clint Hurdle to declare, "I think everybody whiffed on this one".

McCutchen followed up his snub by doubling in a key run in Monday's 5-3 triumph over the Houston Astros and last night his steady defense helped pave the way to a 5-1 win that brought the Buccos to within 1 ½ games of first place in the NL Central ... really. Don't look now but McCutchen has been the single-biggest key in getting Pittsburgh to its 45-41 record and shame on the voters/Bochy in not recognizing that fact.

CRAIG KIMBREL, RP, ATLANTA - Just so everyone knows: Last night Kimbrel matched Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon's record for most saves before the All-Star Game break with 26 as he fanned two batters and allowed one ninth-inning hit in the Braves' 5-3 win against the short-handed Colorado Rockies (no SS Troy Tulowitzki and no CF Carlos Gonzalez as both were out with injuries). No doubt about it: The Braves have really relied on their bullpen en route to this spiffy 51-36 start that has ‘em in the lead for this year's NL Wild Card berth. Kimbrel (2.45 ERA) deserved a berth on the All-Star team and also deserves mid-season consideration for the NL Cy Young Award too.

RYAN HOWARD, 1B, PHILADELPHIA - We know, we know. The Phillies have a gazillion guys on this year's NL All-Star team but doesn't this former league MVP deserve a berth with his 18 home runs and whopping 71 runs batted in? Last night Howard swatted a two-run homer off Florida RHP Chris Volstad and he also added a double and two singles en route to a 4-for-5 night that included four RBI and three runs scored. The Phils are a sizzling 55-32 this season while heading into the final game of this three-game set in Miami and didn't it dawn on the voters/Bochy that Howard carried Philly for major stretches of time when 2B Chase Utley was down-and-out with injuries and when LF Raul Ibanez was putting up a bunch of oh-fers?

Hey, maybe it's time to take away the voting from both the fans and the World Series managers too!



We fully trust that there will indeed by a 2011 NFL season and so let's get off the lockout talk and instead discuss recent Pointspread Trends. Now, let's take a look at the AFC West:

DENVER - Last year's Broncos sagged to their fourth double-digit spread loss season in the past five years as the Mile High gang finished 6-10 ATS (against the spread) and note that included season-ending pointspread victories against Houston and San Diego. If you go back to the start of the 2006 season through last year you'll notice that the Broncos are a collectively rotten 29-50-1 versus the vig for a .367 winning rate. Overall, the Broncos are 13-26-1 ATS when playing at home the past five seasons and that includes five consecutive home spread losses to the rival Oakland Raiders - and it's not exactly as if Denver's been bright lights and balloons away either as evidenced by the team's 12-20 spread log the past four years (a dismal .375 winning rate). Finally, take heed that the Broncos have been an awful chalk side: Denver's a composite 10-29-1 versus the vig whenever in the favorite's role since the start of the 2006 season and that means a $100 per-play wager on the Broncs as betting favs would have you down some $2190 - yikes!
KANSAS CITY - Talk about being consistent! The Chiefs have been at .500 or else one game above or below the .500 mark spreadwise each of the past five seasons and that includes last year's 9-8 ATS log. Note that KayCee did sport a 9-7 ATS regular-season record a year ago but was crushed 30-7 by 3-point road fav Baltimore in an AFC Wild Card Round game at Arrowhead Stadium. And - speaking of Arrowhead Stadium - the Chiefs were once thought to be nearly invincible at this joint from a spread standpoint but note that KC's a collective 11-21-1 against the Las Vegas odds as hosts the past four years (a .344 winning rate) and that just so happens to include a 5-4 ATS home log in 2010.

OAKLAND - Here's a fact: The Raiders have not sported a winning spread season since way back in 2002 (see 12-7 ATS) and even with last year's feeling of "overachieving" the silver-and-black still only cranked out a dead-even and vig-losing 8-8 spread mark. Note that Oakland's failed to cover five of its last six season-opening games including last year's dreary 38-13 loss at 6-point fav Tennessee. Overall, the Raiders are 49-78-1 against the odds since the start of the 2003 season (a putrid .386 winning rate) and note that Oakland's not made it to the post-season this entire time - hard to believe for anyone that remembers the so-called glory days of this once-proud franchise. Note that Oakland has notched four consecutive spread wins against archrival San Diego these past two years including last year's clean sweep: A 35-27 outright win at home as 6 ½-point pups and later a 28-13 outright win at the 13-point favored Chargers - and so you wanna know why SD didn't make it to the playoffs for the first time since 2005?

SAN DIEGO - First the good news for the SD Chargers and their financial backers: The Bolts are 69-46-5 ATS overall since the start of the 2004 campaign - a splendid .600 winning rate - and this franchise has had only one losing spread season in the past seven seasons (see 8-9-1 ATS back in 2008). Now the bad news: San Diego's not had a winning spread season since that shiny/happy 14-5 ATS mark in 2007 and you have to go back pre-2000 to find the last time the Chargers went three consecutive seasons without sporting a winning spread mark. A couple of other pointspread-related items here: The Chargers are 22-7-3 ATS as underdog sides dating back to the start of 2004 and that includes last year's one-and-only appearance as a pointspread pup - the 36-14 triumph at 1 ½-point fav Indianapolis in a Week 12 affair at Lucas Oil Field. In fact, the last four times that San Diego has been an underdog, it has won the game outright ... good stuff!

NOTE: More NFL Spread Reports comin' your way in tomorrow's Jim Sez - it's the NFC East.


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