by Chris Arena, www.sportsinsights.com
Early Season Series of Interest
NY Mets at Cincinnati Reds
The opener of this series will feature Johan Santana against Aaron Harang, most likely making the Mets a huge favorite. I would avoid this game; the Mets will almost certainly win, but the odds will be astronomical. Games 2 and 3 of the series, however, should present some good opportunities for contrarian investing. The Mets will likely start Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez, while the Reds will send out Edinson Volquez and Bronson Arroyo, putting the pitching match-up far in favor of the Reds, as far as I'm concerned. I believe Cincinnati's offense and defense is currently very undervalued, as they lost their best "big name" slugger, Adam Dunn, but have a wealth of young stars in the making. As a result, I think the last two games of the series will offer very appealing underdog lines for Cincinnati that could pay big dividends for sports investors.
Kansas City Royals at Chicago White Sox
I like the Royals to make a splash this season in the AL Central, and I think they get started early in this series at Chicago. I like Kansas City's pitchers (Meche, Grienke, and Davies) slightly more than Chicago's (Buehrle, Danks, Floyd), although Davies is a major drop-off from Meche/Grienke and puts the third game of the series in favor of Chicago in my eyes. I really like Kansas City to take the first two games of the series for two reasons: one, as stated above, the pitching match-up is strongly in favor of the Royals, and two, I think the Royals' offense is more well-rounded than the White Sox, who will be heavily reliant on the long ball to score any runs. Look for Kansas City to take at least two out of three in what should be a low-scoring series in the south side of Chicago.
Washington Nationals at Florida Marlins
It may be the least exciting season-opening series of the year, but I think there is value to be had in the Washington/Florida match-up. While both teams are average at best on the offensive side of the ball, the Marlins actually boast solid starting pitching in Ricky Nolasco, Josh Johnson, and Chris Volstad. The Nationals really only have one decent starter in John Lannan, but he is more equivalent to Volstad, the Marlins' third starter, than a legitimate ace. I get the sense that the Marlins will be slight favorites in each game and I would be happy to take Florida throughout this series.
LA Dodgers at San Diego Padres
The Dodgers are being picked to win the NL Pennant by many analysts, and for good reason, but I think there will be a lot of value in fading the Dodgers throughout this series. The Dodgers are a powerhouse on offense, but their pitching is merely adequate, featuring a lot of injury risks and unproven youngsters. The Padres, on the other hand, offer maybe the worst offense in baseball, but sport a legitimate ace and a solid bullpen. Petco Park is the premier pitchers' park in all of baseball and should help equalize the large divide between two team's offenses. Additionally, Jake Peavy hasn't lost to the Dodgers since September 2006 and the Dodgers' third starter, Clayton Kershaw, is a 21-year-old phenom with control problems, meaning the Padres should have a legitimate shot at taking two games of the series.
Talk about this article in our forums!