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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 12:44 PM

There hasn’t been as much hype about Trevor Bauer as there was about Steven Strasburg, but the young flamethrower has a chance to make just as big a splash in the Major Leagues when he debuts for the Arizona Diamondbacks tonight against the Atlanta Braves.

Bauer has quite a backstory. And if he has early success, he could become the next REALLY BIG story in the Majors. He combines the theatrics of Mark Fidrych, the odd mechanics of Tim Lincecum, the heat of Strasburg, the showoff antics of young pitchers who think every strikeout is a slam dunk over Dwight Howard, with the tall tales associated with the likes of Paul Bunyan or Sidd Finch.

The media will eat that up. But, as HANDICAPPERS, you have to see the reality from the mythology. It’s important that you know that sharps enthusiastically bet Bauer on the opening line when it first went up.

Opener: Atlanta (Jurrjens) -140 over Arizona (Bauer)

Currently: Atlanta -120

The line dropped even though Atlanta is clearly the better team right now…and even though Jurrjens was sharp in his first outing back after an injury layoff. Jurrjens may not quite be an ace caliber pitcher…but he’s certainly in the neighborhood when things are going well. Sharps bet Bauer anyway.

Our discussions with sources suggest that this wasn’t any sort of “position-taking” for squeezing out profit with an arbitrage (take Arizona +125 to +130, take Atlanta at -120 or lower…then you risk nothing to win that 5-10 cent differential if the D-backs win). This was support for the flamethrowing youngster who sharps believe wasn’t getting enough respect in the line.

Why the love for Bauer?

*He throws HARD! Sharps love the heat, because pitchers who throw that hard have much more control over their destiny than those who pitch to contact. This is basically a 100% rule…if you see a pitcher you’re not familiar with getting respect in early betting, then he’s a high strikeout pitcher. If you see a pitcher you’re not familiar with getting faded with abandon, then he throws to contact and is probably in big trouble.

*He throws TRICKY! Bauer has odd mechanics that throw hitters off at first. And, he has a variety of pitches that he likes to throw to keep hitters off balance. Pitchers like this often have success at first before hitters can figure them out (think Dice-K!). Braves hitters tonight will have never seen anything like him. And, that will be true for all first-look opponents the rest of the year (Bauer may be up for good because of injuries to other starting pitchers).

*He struck out 116 batters in 93 innings in Double A Mobile and Triple A Reno before being called up. That’s a K-rate of 11.2 per nine innings. K-rates are fairly stable for flamethrowers. You can probably expect some drop off in the majors…but he’s still going to grade out very well in this stat…and it’s the most important pitching stat there is in the view of many sharps we’ve consulted with.

If Bauer is mentally ready for the challenge, he could become a value pitcher very quickly in the NL West race. But, if a lack of maturity is going to doom him to wildness and implosions, then you’ll want to fade him until he grows up. Monitor these early starts very closely so you can take advantage.

The experts at VegasSportsMasters will certainly be doing that. And, one or two may have a major release in that Arizona/Atlanta game tonight. Here are the advertised highlights on this busy day-night card in Thursday’s bases.

*Kelso Sturgeon has ANOTHER 50-Unit baseball winner after cashing with the underdog San Francisco Giants Tuesday Night over the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Chicago White Sox over the Minnesota Twins Wednesday afternoon. Pay only $15 to the man who’s been red hot on his big play releases all season long.

*Jim Feist will turn a TRIPLE PLAY in Thursday bases, with three big monsters including an Inner Circle underdog and his Bailout Game of the Week. Pay just $20 for this must-have Triple Threat.

*Coach Ron Meyer has a special going for the rest of the season. Pay only $150 for the last few days of June, AND all of July, August, and September from the only man in the industry who handicaps from a coaching perspective. He knows which baseball managers are making the right moves at the right times, and he knows which teams have already given up on their current managers (there are at least five already!). The cost of a week gets you the full season!

Be sure you remember to check the ads on the home page every day for big play blockbusters (and football seasonal specials!). Complete details on each industry legends’ slate are available on the “buy picks” pulldown. Hot handicappers are always waiting to hear from you!

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