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Hot and Cold Baseball Teams

   by Matt Fargo - 04/28/2009

Toronto Blue Jays 14-7 +6.25 Units

The Blue Jays were picked to finish anywhere from third to fifth in the American League East and they have come storming out of the gates. They have led the division since day one and heading into Tuesday action, are currently tied with the Red Sox, who have won 11 straight games. The fact that Toronto remains tied with Boston even after that huge winning streak shows how hot it really is. It is currently second in baseball in profits at +6.25 Units, trailing St. Louis who is at +6.75 Units and the big difference going forward is that the Blue Jays are likely to still be undervalued by the linesmakers.

Toronto has been an underdog in only seven of its 21 games but it has been higher than a -150 favorite only twice and to no surprise those were with Roy Halladay on the hill. The last two seasons, the Blue Jays offense was not productive and there were questions coming in again this season. They have been very potent at the plate, hitting .289 while averaging 6.0 rpg, second and third in the Majors respectively. Aaron Hill, Adam Lind and Scott Rolen are leading the way and if it wasn’t for Alex Rios hitting just .239 with one home run, the offense could even be better.

The pitching staff has an ERA of 4.06 which is higher than its league-leading ERA of 3.49 from a season ago but the offense has been able to pick up the slack. David Purcey has a 7.01 ERA through five starts, but the Blue Jays have been able to sneak out two one-run wins in his outings. Most other starters have an ERA of 3.75 or better. The bullpen who led the league with a 2.92 ERA last season is solid again with a 3.38 ERA, fifth in baseball. After the series with Kansas City, the Blue Jays first 10 games in May are against Baltimore, Cleveland, Los Angeles and Oakland so more damage can be done.

St. Louis Cardinals 14-6 +6.75 Units

I mentioned that the Blue Jays trail only the Cardinals for the most profitable team in baseball. St. Louis has gotten off to a great start and it may be a surprise to some as the schedule has been relatively tough with games against the Mets, Cubs and Diamondbacks although none of those three are playing to their potential right now. After winning the World Series in 2006, the Cardinals put together back-to-back disappointing campaigns and they were not picked to do much this season as the Cubs came in the overwhelming favorite in the National League Central.

Whether St. Louis can maintain this play remains to be seen but it is getting it done right now with an excellent offense and consistent pitching. The Cardinals lead the entire league in hitting at .296 while averaging 5.9 rpg, tied for fourth in baseball. They are getting tremendous production out of non-household names such as Yadier Molina, Chris Duncan, Joe Thurston and Colby Rasmus. That could be a cause for concern going forward but you have to ride it while it is hot. Albert Pujols is up to his old tricks, hitting .333 with seven home runs and 25 RBI’s.

It is the pitching that is the most surprising as St. Louis has a 3.77 team ERA which is 4th best in the bigs. This is with Chris Carpenter going down after only two starts and Todd Wellmeyer posting a 6.14 ERA in four starts as he is much better pitcher than that. Journeymen Kyle Lohse and Joel Pineiro along with steady Adam Wainwright have been extremely solid, posting a combined 9-0 record. The bullpen is middle of the road with a 4.64 ERA and that could come to hurt the Cardinals in the long run. The May schedule looks trouble-free and with a lot of those easy games on the road, we will see decent moneyline numbers with a chance to make more money going forward.

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