Midweek Baseball: Plus Steelers, Colts, 49'ers Previews

IT'S THE MID-WEEK BASEBALL REPORT:

HAS LIKELY NL ALL-STAR STARTER MATT HARVEY BEEN A MAJOR MONEY-MAKER THIS YEAR? ...

PLUS OUR NFL TEAM-BY-TEAM UPDATES GETS YOU A LOOK AT THE STEELERS, COLTS & 49ERS

By Jim Hurley:

The clock is tick, tick, ticking closer to Tuesday's All-Star Game in Flushing, New York - the home of the New York Mets for the past 48 ½ years now - and the betting odds are that Mets' righthander Matt Harvey will indeed get the starting nod in the Midsummer Classic at Citi Field providing a blister won't keep him sidelined.

Okay, so National League manager Bruce Bochy (San Francisco Giants) hasn't given the word out yet but it's starting to become the worst-kept secret in sports and so we figured that with all the Harvey hype this season it might be a good time to see what kind of money-maker he's been in his 19 starts thus far this season.

Take note that Harvey is scheduled to start this Saturday's game in Pittsburgh and through the Mets' wild 16-inning win in San Francisco on Monday night - a game that Harvey started and went seven solid if unspectacular innings - the Mets are a modestly successful 11-8 in his starts this year.

Here's the statistical breakdown:

The Mets are 0-4 in Harvey's day-time home starts and 5-2 in his night-time home starts this year;

Meanwhile, the Metsies are 4-1 in Harvey's day-time road starts and they're 2-1 in his under-the-lights road starts.

Hey, we also did the math and so heading into his expected weekend start in Pittsburgh, if you had wagered $100 on each/every start made by Mr. Harvey this year you would be down $200!

Okay, so many of Harvey's starts have been a "no decision" for the ace righty this year but how about that factoid that you'd be down two bills with this flame-thrower on the hill ... wouldn't you have expected a major plus amount for a guy who is 7-2 with a 2.35 ERA with 147 Ks and just 28 BBs?

No doubt it's the old tale of a good/great pitcher on a bad team. You might want to keep this in mind the next time Harvey's starting and laying one of those monster prices.

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will be banging out loads of Major-League Baseball Winners all summer long and so check with us right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 after 1 p.m. Eastern time for weeknight action, after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Winners. Plus, the Football Season isn't that far off as NFL Preseason action swings into gear in early August - can't wait! So, pile up the greenbacks while you're kicking back this summer of 2013!

NFL NEWS & NOTES - TEAM-BY-TEAM REPORTS

Today we continue with our annual summertime NFL Team-by-Team looks of all 32 clubs. From this point forward (and all this week long) we will concentrate on three NFL teams per Jim Sez column - and so there's still plenty of football straight ahead. In today's column space we highlight the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers. Take note that we list the overall team records (including post-season play) next to the team names below:

PITTSBURGH (8-8) - Ask any Steelers fan what area of the team projects as the biggest concern and you'll hear this ... the offensive line. Last year's Steelers sported one of the NFL's weakest offensive lines - one rating service had 'em 27th-best in the 32-team league - and so naturally there's going to be a whole lot of attention this summer paid to QB Ben Roethlisberger's blocking wall that is expected to start Marcus Gilbert at left tackle and former Ohio State star Mike Adams at right tackle.

Note that Gilbert's only played a total of 14 games over the course of the past two seasons while Adams is considered a strong run-blocker who still needs better footwork to handle enemy pass rushers.

Last year's Steelers ranked 26th in the league in rushing yards - the once-upon-a-time run-first squad averaged only 96.1 yards per game via the ground route - and so this reconfigured O-line must get better in a hurry and Michigan State RB Le'Veon Bell -- who rushed for 1,793 yards rushing last year for Sparty - may have to be an instant impact player now that former star RB Rashard Mendenhall is plying his trade with the Arizona Cardinals.

Spread Notes - Last year's 6-9-1 ATS (against the spread) record actually marked the third time in the past four seasons that the Steelers stumbled through a sub-500 pointspread campaign (to go along with a 5-10-1 ATS record in 2009 and a 7-10 ATS log in 2011). Overall, the Steelers registered a rotten 4-8 spread record when in the favorite's role last season and the AFC North crew also finished 3-5 ATS away including spread setbacks in Denver and in Dallas.

INDIANAPOLIS (11-6) - Is it fair to expect the young Colts to be better in 2013 than they were a year ago in a "transition year"?

The fact of the matter is the 2012 Colts played 11 regular-season foes that didn't make it to the post-season and this year's sked is considerably tougher at first glance with road games at San Francisco, Houston and Cincinnati doting the agenda and let's not forget that the team's October schedule is a potential killer: Oct. 6th home to Seattle; Oct. 14th at San Diego; Oct. 20th home versus Denver before an Oct. 27th bye week.

No doubt that the Colts need to upgrade their rush defense if Chuck Pagano's gang is gonna make it back to a second consecutive playoff appearance - last year the AFC South crew ranked a rotten 28th in rushing defense while allowing 137.5 yards per game - take note that LB Pat Angerer (foot) is being listed as "questionable" for the start of training camp later this month.

Still, reports have it the Colts are happy with their four inside linebackers that include the above-mentioned Angerer along with Kelvin Sheppard (acquired in a trade with the Buffalo Bills for OLB Jerry Hughes), Jerrell Freeman and Kavell Conner. Note that ILB Mario Harvey might also make the cut should he show something this summer in camp and in the preseason games.

Spread Notes - Maybe the single-best thing about last year's Indy Colts from a wagering perspective is that they never suffered back-to-back pointspread defeats. In fact, Indianapolis followed up four regular-season spread losses with pointspread "W's" and that included covers against Green Bay, Cleveland, Buffalo and Kansas City following a spread setback. The 2012 Colts were good but not great as underdog sides as Indianapolis sported a 6-5 ATS log when grabbing points but did you realize that this AFC South unit went a healthy 7-4 versus the vig in non-divisional affairs and pounded out a perfect 4-and-oh spread mark whenever in the home underdog role with outright wins against Minnesota, Green Bay, Miami and Houston ... so keep that in mind.

SAN FRANCISCO (13-5-1) - Here's a question for this year's 49ers: Is the offensive game plan gonna feature more - or less - tosses in the direction of TE Vernon Davis and/or WR Mario Manningham?

When you reveal last year's regular-season stats, you see that the Niners targeted #1 wide-out Michael Crabtree 126 times (or nearly eight times a game) while the aforementioned Davis and Manningham were targeted a combined 118 times.

No doubt Davis is looking to be more of a red-zone factor for this 2013 team after registering just 5 TDs while Manningham scored only one regular-season receiving score and so it'll be interesting this summer to see whether or not the Niners have QB Colin Kaepernick spread the ball around or whether he simply hones in on the hot - or open - receiver one year after Crabtree nabbed 85 receptions with 9 TDs.

And count us among the folks who will be happy when they're talking football in regards to Kaepernick who in the past week has created a firestorm by wearing a Miami Dolphins baseball cap at a July 4th event and posing nude for ESPN The Magazine ... geez, you would think ESPN (and Kaepernick) has better things to do with their time, right?

Spread Notes - The NFC champions hardly made their backers rich last year with a 10-8-1 ATS log (a .556 winning rate) but dig a little bit deeper and this is what you'll discover about the 2012 Niners: They sported winning spread records both at home (5-4 ATS) and away (5-4-1 ATS) and San Fran was a brilliant 9-3-1 against the Vegas prices whenever playing outside the NFC West and, yes, that included the bitter 34-31 loss in the Super Bowl against 4 ½-point dog Baltimore. Naturally, there were some negative spread stats too including the fact San Francisco failed to cover five-of-six divisional games with both Seattle and St. Louis snagging season sweeps spreadwise a year ago.

NOTE: More MLB and NFL Notes in the next Jim Sez. Our next batch of NFL Team-by-Team Reports will feature the New England Patriots, the Atlanta Falcons and the Seattle Seahawks.

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