By: Al Walsh – Follow him on Twitter @14AdotWalsh
NBA Finals – Game 5: Golden State Warriors (-1, -105/ML: -114) at Toronto Raptors
The city of Toronto is ready to celebrate an NBA championship for the first time in its history, but it’ll have to wait until Thursday or Sunday… or never.
Kevin Durant is back for the Warriors and it’s really anyone’s guess how he’ll perform. Personally, I don’t think he’s going to make a HUGE difference, but his presence could be enough to get Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson a little more wiggle-room to shoot. KD is a body the Raptors certainly have to account for, and you wonder if they’ll end up putting Kawhi Leonard on him instead of Klay or Steph. Ohhhhh, the mind games – I love it!
The Raptors’ length has proven to be detrimental for the Warriors, and adding KD will only space things out a bit more for the Splash Brothers, who both need to be at the top of their games – we’ve seen them do this plenty of times.
I do think it’s a fascinating optic that this Warriors team has been on both sides of the 3-to-1 coin. They know exactly what works to get back from that deficit, and also what allowed the Cavs to come back on them.
Toronto won’t make this easy on Golden State with the rawkus crowd, but if KD gets off to a hot start look for them to be neutralized a bit. I wasn’t going to underestimate the champs without KD, but now that they have him, I’m ready to make the ballsy prediction.
We’re going back to Oakland for Game 6 – and then coming back for Game 7!
* Final Score Prediction: Golden State Warriors: 115 – Toronto Raptors: 107 *
* 2019 MLB Record: 99-81-4 (55%) *
[7:10 p.m. EST] Under 7.5 (-104) – Texas Rangers at Boston Red Sox
TEX: Mike Minor – L (5-4, 2.55 ERA/1.22 WHIP)
BOS: Chris Sale – L (2-7, 3.84 ERA/1.00 WHIP)
Chris Sale shrugged off a horrific start to this season and even threw a complete-game shutout his last time out against the Royals. Tonight, he’ll be taking on a Rangers team that owns the fourth-highest K-rate (26.4%) against left-handed pitching. Sale has truly thrived on the home crowd, striking out 48 batters in 28 1/3 innings at Fenway Park this season.
If all of that wasn’t enough, Sale is 3-0 in three starts against Texas since coming to Boston. The electric lefty also has at least 12 strikeouts in four of his last five starts against the Rangers.
While Sale has amazing numbers in this matchup, let’s not count out Mike Minor here. Outside of a rough outing on Opening Day, the veteran lefty has been simply magnificent this season with seven quality starts since the beginning of April.
Minor has been better at home, but this matchup against the Red Sox is one that could even out the splits. They were dazzled by lefty Blake Snell yesterday and now own some less than gaudy numbers against left-handed pitching over the last 14 days, including a 25% K-rate over that span.
I’m going with the under of 7.5 runs tonight, considering Vegas dropped the IRT (implied run total) -0.5 runs for both sides. Sale’s K-prop sits at 9.5 (-112 for both over/under) and I don’t mind taking the over on that one either.
* Final Score Prediction: Boston Red Sox: 4 – Texas Rangers: 1 *
[7:10 p.m. EST] Oakland Athletics at Tampa Bay Rays (1.5-run line: -122)
OAK: Tanner Anderson – R (season debut)
TB: Charlie Morton – R (7-0, 2.30 ERA/1.06 WHIP)
There’s plenty of data behind the Rays, including two of the highest SK Trend Confidence ratings of the night in our system.
Tanner Anderson is making the first start of his MLB career, and he registered a 6.26 ERA down in Triple-A this season. Tampa’s offense looked outstanding in Boston over the weekend, and now own a zaftig .360 xwOBA (contact metric) against right-handed pitching over the last 14 days. Tampa’s +0.6 IRT increase is the highest of any team on tonight’s slate, and it also helps that Oakland’s bullpen ranks second-worst in xFIP and SIERA over the last 14 days.
It’s truly unbelievable, but Charlie Morton has not registered a loss over his last 20 starts, allowed three runs or fewer in 18 times and two runs or fewer in 15 times. Look for the A’s to struggle with playing catch-up for Anderson’s apparent rough start.
We’re taking the Rays with resounding confidence.
* Final Score Prediction: Tampa Bay Rays: 7 – Oakland A’s: 2 *