By: Al Walsh – Follow him on Twitter @14AdotWalsh
NBA Playoffs Pick: Toronto Raptors at Milwaukee Bucks (-6.5, -110)
It took the Toronto Raptors three quarters to finally show themselves but did come through for us in relinquishing the game on Wednesday night. Just as we saw, the Milwaukee Bucks are a more well-rounded team from top to bottom and that’ll be more evident tonight.
The Bucks shot 25% from 3-point range, while Kyle Lowry of the Raptors went 7-for-9 from behind the arc — and Milwaukee still won. Believe me, neither of those will happen tonight, and the Bucks will coast to victory.
SK Trend Confidence rating believes the Bucks with the 6.5-point spread is the best value pick of the evening. Basically, you don’t even need to waste all that money ($270 to win $100) betting the Bucks outright when you can just sit back and watch them easily devour the Raptors.
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* 2019 MLB Record: 66-39-4 (62.9%) *
[7:05 p.m. EST] Under 8 (-116) – Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals (moneyline: -155)
CHC: Cole Hamels – L (3-0, 3.08 ERA/1.07 WHIP)
WSH: Max Scherzer – R (2-4, 3.64 ERA/1.15 WHIP)
The Nationals got a nice +0.5 boost to their implied run total (IRT) and their moneyline odds increased from -124 to -155, which is third-highest on the slate. Since Gerardo Parra came to DC, the Nats’ offense got a jolt of energy and more help is on the way with Trea Turner returning off the injured list tonight, while Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon have also returned in recent days. Parra won’t be in the starting lineup tonight against the lefty, but he could have an impact pinch hitting later in the game.
Max Scherzer is on the mound for the Nationals and it’s a bit surprising that they’ve only won two of his nine starts this season. Look for that trend to get bucked as the Cubs’ current roster has a combined 38.6% K-rate in 101 career plate appearances against Scherzer – Javy Baez and Kris Bryant have struck out a combined 14 times in 21 plate appearances – Yikes!
Cole Hamels goes for the Cubbies, and he’s done a fine job of limiting damage from opposing teams. The veteran lefty has been slightly worse away from Wrigley Field, allowing an opposing batting average of 66 points higher on the road than at home. I don’t think Hamels gets absolutely rocked tonight, but we could certainly see a score similar to the one Chicago lost by in Cincinnati last night.
It’s also interesting to note that Scherzer has a K-prop of 9.5 tonight, with +120 juice on the over. I’ve found myself gravitating more to these props lately, so that’s just some side action to throw on top.
* Final Score Prediction: Washington Nationals: 5 – Chicago Cubs: 1 *
[7:10 p.m. EST] Oakland Athletics (1.5-run line: -116) at Detroit Tigers
OAK: Frankie Montas – R (4-2, 2.78 ERA/1.26 WHIP)
DET: Daniel Norris – L (2-1, 2.63 ERA/1.41 WHIP)
It has certainly been a rough stretch for the Tigers, allowing 8.2 runs per game over their last nine contests. Yesterday’s 17-3 thumping appears like it could happen all over again, as evidenced by the +0.6 IRT and moneyline (-145 to -180) increases for the A’s — both are the highest on tonight’s slate.
Oakland has Top-5 numbers against left-handed pitching this season in nearly every advanced-metric and owns a .365 ISO over the last 14 days — the highest for any split on tonight’s slate. That’s all good news, considering Detroit’s bullpen has pitched a whopping 35 innings over the last seven days – eight more innings than any other team over that span. Look for Daniel Norris to possibly get extended a little more, and rocked in the process.
Although he’s been allowing too many baserunners lately for my liking, Frankie Montas is an absolute stud. He gets a fantastic matchup against a Tigers’ team near or dead-last in most advanced metrics against right-handed pitching. Looking at their numbers over the last 14 days in that split, it doesn’t get much better, as they own a putrid .256 wOBA and 25.4% K-rate.
The Tigers have lost the last four games by a combined deficit of 32 runs, and their last 11 losses have been by two runs or more.
* Final Score Prediction: Oakland A’s: 10 – Detroit Tigers: 3 *
[10:07 p.m. EST] Kansas City Royals at Los Angeles Angels (1.5-run line: +124)
KC: Brad Keller – R (2-4, 4.47 ERA/1.43 WHIP)
LAA: Matt Harvey – R (1-3, 6.69 ERA/1.41 WHIP)
It was a good start to the season for Brad Keller, but things have certainly taken a turn for the worst. Keller has allowed at least five runs in three of his last four starts with the only misnomer coming against the Tigers, who are the worst hitting team in the American League.
The Angels received a +0.5 IRT increase, which is tied for second-highest on tonight’s slate. Makes sense, considering their outstanding .407 wOBA, .238 ISO and 14.7% K-rate against right-handed pitching over the last 14 days. Over the course of the season against righties, the Angels rank first in K-rate (15.7%), second in wRC+ (120) and fourth in wOBA (.346).
Matt Harvey has looked much better of late, allowing two runs or fewer in three of his last four starts. One of those outings came against the Royals, going seven innings and allowing two hits, three walks and one run while striking out five. KC’s offense has not been at its best of late, scoring one run or fewer four of the last five games and in five of the last seven.
Keller’s last four starts have all been Royals’ defeats by three runs or more, while the team has suffered some convincing losses already this week. Let’s take a chance here and get plus-money on our bet for this one.
* Final Score Prediction: Los Angeles Angels: 7 – Kansas City Royals: 3 *
[10:10 p.m. EST] Under 7.5 (-128) – Pittsburgh Pirates at San Diego Padres (-158)
PIT: Jordan Lyles – R (3-1, 2.09 ERA/1.09 WHIP)
SD: Joey Lucchesi – L (3-2, 4.57 ERA/1.35 WHIP)
I almost feel like we can take last night’s game preview, copy/paste and replace the pitcher’s names. Don’t worry, I won’t.
Not much changed with the Pirates and their struggles against left-handed pitching on Thursday, as they posted a total of two runs against Eric Lauer and the Padres’ bullpen. Pittsburgh faces another lefty, Joey Lucchesi, and he comes into tonight’s start in better form than Lauer did. Certain trends have already followed teams from the beginning of this season, and this one is no different for the Pirates – they just simply can’t hit lefties well.
The Padres do have the third-highest IRT (+0.4) and moneyline (-130 to -158) increases on the slate, which is interesting. They have well below-average advanced metrics against right-handed pitching and Jordan Lyles has been quite solid this season, allowing two runs or fewer in all but one of his seven starts this season.
We can look to the first five innings total of 4.5 when figuring out how this game will play out. There’s a huge -160 amount of juice on the under there, so look for the Padres to capitalize on the Pirates’ bullpen late once again. Not trying to play God here, just looking at the numbers!
* Final Score Prediction: San Diego Padres: 4 – Pittsburgh Pirates: 2 *