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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, June 23, 2012 at 11:59 AM

After the games of May 14th, the Chicago Cubs stood at 15-20 in the NL Central standings. That’s far from a great start. In fact, it’s a pace for a lousy 69-93 record. But, given the low expectations for the Cubbies entering the season…that certainly felt like treading water while new management tried to put the pieces in place for the future.


The Cubs are 9-26 since then, which has them at 24-46 heading into Saturday Night’s late game in Arizona. And, that horrible 9-26 run actually includes three wins over San Diego, baseball’s other doormat this season. The Cubs are 6-26 their last 32 games when not playing the Padres!

A record of 24-26 projects to a full season mark of 56-106. But, that’s giving the team credit for an adequate early start that is now a distant memory. If you put more weight on recent form as an indicator for what’s ahead…then something like 52-110 isn’t out of the question.

Oh, Ryan Dempster is the only Cubs starting pitcher with an ERA below 4.00. He was having a stellar season amidst the ruins…but was just put on the 15-day Disabled List with a strained lat. It will be a week and a half before he’s eligible to return…and you never know with pitching injuries. The Cubs had won Dempster’s prior four starts…which had all come during that 9-26 debacle. All that’s left in the rotation are pitchers who aren’t throwing well!

Even though it was common knowledge that Chicago was going to struggle this year…the legal betting markets appear to have badly underestimated how dark things were going to get. The “regular season victory” propositions available in March had projected around 73-74 victories for the Cubs. They’ll have to go 50-46 the rest of the way just to reach 74 wins. Heading into Saturday Night’s game with the Diamondbacks, the Cubs are down 17 units against Vegas moneylines.

Have the lines caught up yet? Well, Chicago is 10-27 on the road, which is a 27% win rate. Generic opposing home favorites should be -270 based on that record (easy to do the math!). Good opponents should be higher. Does THAT tell you the lines have caught up?!

We would certainly agree that the margin for error isn’t the same as it used to be. Oddsmakers finally ARE adjusting…and the team is probably due to regress to the mean some off that 9-26 collapse. That being said:

*The starting rotation doesn’t scare anybody

*The offense is mostly made up of selfish hitters

*The new manager hasn’t inspired anybody

*Many current players know they aren’t part of the future

Selfishness can win sometimes when the opposing pitcher is struggling. Dempster may come back at full strength next week and go back to winning games. Plus, being in a division with Houston, Milwaukee, and Pittsburgh in the second half of the season is a pretty good antidote for losing 110 games. If St. Louis doesn’t ever get healthy, the Cubs could have an easy schedule in the dog days of summer that helps hide how bad they are. As handicappers, YOU need to have a clear picture of how bad this team is, and what kind of circumstances it will take for fortune to smile on them in any given matchup.

Beating baseball is usually a mix of backing good teams and beating bad teams. The experts at VegasSportsMasters plan to do just that on this busy Saturday baseball card.

*Kelso Sturgeon has put his full weekend card on one $20 report Saturday. You get a 75-Unit MLB Parlay (for Saturday) and a 50-Unit Solid Gold game (for Sunday) on one very special report. Play it safe and take care of business before the games start! Cost is just $20

*Jim Hurley’s Network has done the same with a “Lucky 11” Weekend you can purchase for just $25. Try out either Saturday or Sunday individually for just $15.

*Coach Ron Meyer has a Dog Day Parlay and the best total of the day in Saturday action for just $15.

Be sure you remember to check the ads on the home page every day for big play blockbusters. 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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