SpreadKnowledge MLB Free Pick of the Day – Wednesday, September 4

By: Al Walsh – Follow him on  Twitter @14AdotWalsh
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[6:40 p.m. EST] Under 8.5 – Philadelphia Phillies at Cincinnati Reds
PHI: Aaron Nola – R (12-4, 3.45 ERA/1.21 WHIP)
CIN: Trevor Bauer – R (10-12, 4.53 ERA/1.29 WHIP)

The Phillies missed a golden opportunity to inch closer to the Cubs over the weekend, but they’ve won three straight games now to at least keep pace. While the Reds have fallen out of the playoff race, there is some motivation to not get completely clobbered in this series – tomorrow afternoon is the series finale. The over has seen plenty of bets early on for tonight’s total, but there might be a few reasons why that’s the wrong move.

We’re going with the under of 8.5 runs for the SpreadKnowledge MLB Free Pick of the Day.

Aaron Nola has stayed true to form as one of the best pitchers in baseball, allowing three runs or fewer in all six of his starts since the beginning of August. This is the time when Philly needs him most, as they try and make this last-month push towards the playoffs. As for Nola against Cincy, this is a matchup that has worked well before, considering its current roster owns a .171 batting average and four extra-base hits against him 82 career plate appearances.

The trade for Trevor Bauer to Cincy certainly hasn’t been one the team can be happy about. However, there’s something about Great American Ballpark that’s sitting well with him this season – even as a member of the Reds. In three starts there this season, Bauer owns a 2-1 record and 1.71 ERA/0.86 WHIP while striking out 31 batters – a span of 21 innings.

While Bauer’s numbers with the Reds aren’t great, it’s hard to ignore the success he’s had at Great American Ballpark this season. Nola is on top of his game and the Reds have only scored three runs in the first two games of this series.

We’ve had pre-game double-digit totals in the first two games of this series, and both games fell exactly at eight runs. So, with the 8.5-run total in tonight’s game, we’re going to see it fall just short of that number once again.

* Final Score Prediction * Philadelphia Phillies: 4 – Cincinnati Reds: 2

MLB Betting Value Picks for Monday, July 1

By: Al Walsh – Follow him on  Twitter @14AdotWalsh

* 2019 MLB Record: 127-109-4 (53.8%) *

[7:10 p.m. EST] Under 10 (-104) –  Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds
MIL: Adrian Houser – R (2-2, 2.94 ERA/1.34 WHIP)
CIN: Tyler Mahle – R (2-8, 4.35 ERA/1.22 WHIP)

We’re only going to see Adrian Houser for a few innings, but he should get us well on our way to hitting the under tonight. Despite a rough outing in his last appearance, Houser has allowed one run or fewer in 14 of his 17 appearances this season.

Coming behind Houser is the Milwaukee bullpen, which has the fifth-best ERA (3.08) over the last 14 days. In any event, we’re probably going to see Josh Hader enter the game at some point. That’s two innings of pure shut-down baseball. The electric lefty has notched 77 strikeouts in 40 2/3 innings this season.

The stat sheet for Tyler Mahle hasn’t necessarily been pristine, but it’s not a total disaster either. Mahle has allowed three earned runs or fewer in seven of his last 10 starts. Not to mention, the Brewers’ offense hasn’t been at its best of late, scoring three runs or fewer in five of their last six games and the Reds have one run or fewer in three of the last five games.

Brewers’ games have gone under the total in five straight, while Reds’ games have done the same in 18 of their last 24. Five of the nine Brewers-Reds’ matchups have also gone under the total this season. This is THE TOP TREND is the SK Trend Confidence rating system tonight, folks! Let’s have at it!

* Final Score Prediction * Milwaukee Brewers: 5 – Cincinnati Reds: 3

[7:10 p.m. EST] Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays (1.5-run line: -144)
BAL: Thomas Darwin Eshelman – R (MLB debut)
TB: Ryne Stanek – R (0-1, 2.76 ERA/1.14 WHIP)

OK, time to pick on the Orioles again. And this is the perfect time to do so, given that Tampa Bay will be rolling out one of its patented bullpen-games. I always love taking the Rays in these situations because they play the individual matchups so well and truly make it work to their benefit.

Even better for the Rays is that they’ll be facing the worst team in MLB. The Orioles have lost 14 of the last 17 games, and their bullpen is absolutely dreadful. Baltimore’s pen ranks dead last (even worse than the Mets) in every single metric that is tabulated.

The Rays are 4-2 against the Orioles this season and will likely add on to that win total tonight. Tampa Bay’s -280 moneyline is its highest total of the season, thus increasing the likelihood that the home team will take care of business this evening.

* Final Score Prediction * Tampa Bay Rays: 7 – Baltimore Orioles: 2

MLB Betting Value Picks for Saturday, June 22

By: Al Walsh – Follow him on  Twitter @14AdotWalsh

* 2019 MLB Record: 117-99-4 (54.2%) *

[4:10 p.m. EST] Over 11 (-110) – Toronto Blue Jays at Boston Red Sox
TOR: Derek Law – R (0-1, 5.16 ERA/1.59 WHIP)
BOS: Brian Johnson – L (10.00 ERA/2.67 WHIP)

These two teams have met seven times so this season, and the total has gone over in six of them – in the only misnomer, the total pushed at 10 runs. Not to mention, Blue Jays’ games have gone over the total in eight of the last 10, with one push mixed in there.

We’re going to see plenty of bullpen pitching today, and that’s a beautiful sign for the total going over. The Blue Jays’ bullpen owns the second-worst WHIP (1.66) and fifth-worst ERA (5.97) while the Red Sox’ actually owns the fourth-best ERA (3.11), but 10th-worst WHIP (1.41).

The one thing that sort of nullifies Boston’s bullpen ERA is that Brian Johnson will be starting the game. He has been atrocious this season in limited action, as seen by his massive 2.67 WHIP. In nine innings pitched this season, Johnson has allowed 18 hits (3 HR), six walks and 10 runs.

It’s to put much stock in this because we likely won’t see much of Johnson today, but Toronto has improved mightily against left-handed pitching, with a .358 wOBA and .229 ISO over the last 21 days.

It’s good to see the Red Sox offense getting back on track, scoring at least seven runs in six of their last eight games. Guys like Andrew Benintendi, Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers (he’s out of the lineup today, could still pinch hit late) have led the charge over this span, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez join in on the party against lesser pitching today.

* Final Score Prediction: Boston Red Sox: 10 – Toronto Blue Jays: 8 *

[4:10 p.m. EST] Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies (1.5-run line: +108)
MIA: Elieser Hernandez – R (0-2, 3.95 ERA/1.17 WHIP)
PHI: Vince Velasquez – R (2-4, 4.71 ERA/1.52 WHIP)

We’re not going with numbers on this one – straight gut.

After a dreadful performance on their recent road trip, and then again last night on Chase Utley Night, I fully expect this Phils team to break out in a major way tonight. They have lost nine of the last 11 games, including five straight – enough is enough.

Vince Velasquez should be highly motivated to give the Marlins plenty of fits today. The Phils have not been shy about needing help at the back of the rotation, and VV will be looking to give them a reason to not make a deal. Velasquez has been solid over his career against the Marlins, and their current roster owns a .167 batting average and .237 on-base percentage against him lifetime.

Elieser Hernandez takes the mound for Miami, and he’s been fairly effective in limited action this season. However, he does have a knack to getting beat up by left-handed bats and the Phils have no shortage of talent in that regard. Look for Bryce Harper, Jay Bruce and the red-hot Brad Miller to get Philly on the scoreboard early, thus leading the way to get into that Marlins bullpen which has the seventh-highest WHIP (1.48) in MLB over the last 14 days.

Once again, this is more of a gut call, in that this Phillies team is absolutely due for a win. With the Marlins being less of a power hitting team, those 12 mph winds blowing in from left field aren’t going to do them any favors.

* Final Score Prediction: Philadelphia Phillies: 8 – Miami Marlins: 3 *

[4:10 p.m. EST] Under 8.5 (-102) – Cincinnati Reds at Milwaukee Brewers
CIN: Luis Castillo – R (7-1, 2.26 ERA/1.11 WHIP)
MIL: Jhoulys Chacin – R (3-8, 5.60 ERA/1.52 WHIP)

I don’t understand the Brewers being favored in this game but it does lead me to believe that Jhoulys Chacin will finally have a good outing. Not to mention, the total going under has the highest grade in the SK Trend Confidence rating today, as Reds’ games have produced that result in 15 of the last 17 contests.

It was a positive sign for Chacin that he allowed only two runs and matched a season-high seven strikeouts in his last outing, a 2-0 loss at San Diego. He did pitch well against Cincy back on April 2, allowing only three hits, three walks and two runs while striking out six over 5 1/3 innings.

There’s also positive thinking in the fact that Chacin has much better numbers at Miller Park, as opposed to pitching on the road:

– Home: (5 starts) 2-1, 3.76 ERA/1.25 WHIP – .213 opposing batting average
– Away: (8 starts) 1-7, 6.94 ERA/1.71 WHIP – .295 opposing batting average

Luis Castillo doesn’t need any introduction, but I’ll give it to you anyway. Over his last 18 innings, the electric righty has allowed eights and four runs while striking out 21.

The knock, though, is that he’s allowed 12 walks in that span of innings. That could possibly be what Vegas possibly sees as the differentiator.

Nonetheless, Cincy’s bullpen is one of the best in baseball, and that’s a big reason why a lot of these totals have been going under.

* Final Score Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers: 4 – Cincinnati Reds: 2 *

MLB Betting Value Picks for Friday, June 21

By: Al Walsh – Follow him on Twitter @14AdotWalsh

* 2019 MLB Record: 114-96-4 (54.2%) *


[7:05 p.m. EST] Under 8.5 (-108) – Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies (1.5-run line: -128)
MIA: Sandy Alcantara – R (3-6, 3.73 ERA/1.39 WHIP)
PHI: Aaron Nola – R (6-1, 4.89 ERA/1.51 WHIP)

Both teams have been absolutely dreadful against right-handed pitching over the last 21 days, with the Marlins registering slightly worse numbers. Their .086 ISO in that split will certainly be hard to overcome, especially with 12 mph winds blowing in from left field.

If you think runs at Citizens Bank Park are always at a premium, that’s just not the case – eight of the last 12 games there have gone under the total.

Aaron Nola certainly hasn’t been at his best recently (and most of this season), but this matchup against the Marlins is one that he’s dominated in the past. Over his last five starts (33 innings) against Miami, the righty has allowed only six runs and a 1.00 WHIP. While the matchup lends some optimism, Nola has been much better at Citizens Bank Park over the course of his career. His numbers certainly signal that this season, as evidenced by the 3.51 ERA at home and 7.28 ERA on the road.

Philly’s offense really sputtered in the last game of the Atlanta series and then throughout the Washington series. As I mentioned at the top, their numbers aren’t great against right-handed pitching over the last 21 days – .280 wOBA and 25% K-rate. On the season as a whole, the Phils now own the eighth-worst wOBA (.309) against righties.

Sandy Alcantara was snake-bitten by his defense in a recent start, but he’s allowed one earned run or fewer now in four of the last six starts. The righty has only faced Philly twice in his career, with one glamorous outing and one bad outing – that one coming this season. However, given the Phils’ current state of affairs at the plate and the wind blowing in tonight, I’m not too worried about Alcantara getting beat over the head.

I like the Phils to get the victory, but it’ll have to come in a tight game. Philly is 5-2 against Miami this season, with a four of the seven games going under the total. The SK Trend Confidence rating is also high on the Phils to get this win on the 1.5-run line, and that plays right into the narrative.

* Final Score Prediction – Philadelphia Phillies: 5 – Miami Marlins: 2 *

[7:10 p.m. EST] Under 8 (-118) – Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians
DET: Matthew Boyd – L (5-5, 3.35 ERA/1.08 WHIP)
CLE: Trevor Bauer – R (5-6, 3.41 ERA/1.12 WHIP)

Vegas knows that a big-time pitching performance is coming from one of these studs tonight, as both teams had their IRTs decreased – Indians: -0.6, Tigers: -0.4. Also, it’s not an overwhelming sign, but it does help that there will be 7 mph winds blowing in from center field.

What Trevor Bauer did against the Tigers in his last outing will be greatly appreciated if he does it again. The quirky righty had his first complete-game shutout of the season in the eight-strikeout performance, en route to an 8-0 Indians’ victory. It does appear like Bauer could be finally getting back on track after a shaky start to the season. In Bauer’s previous outing, he allowed one run over 7 2/3 innings and that’s now back-to-back performances that notched Indians’ wins.

It’s also worth noting that Cleveland’s bullpen has the best ERA (3.36) in baseball.

Matt Boyd is coming off his worst performance of the season, which was quite shocking since it was against a Royals’ team that is woeful against left-handed pitching. I’m not going to write him off because he still has elite swing-and-miss stuff, notching 112 strikeouts in 88 2/3 innings this season. Boyd has actually held Cleveland to one run or fewer in four of his seven career performance – in three other games, Boyd held them to two, three and six runs. There’s a history of goodness here.

Cleveland is 5-1 against the Detroit this season, with under registering a 4-1-1 record in those games. The Indians have also outscored the Tigers 38-12 this season.

The total going under is the fifth-highest SK Trend Confidence rating on tonight’s slate.

* Final Score Prediction: Cleveland Indians: 5 – Detroit Tigers: 1 *

[8:10 p.m. EST] Under 8.5 (-118) – Cincinnati Reds at Milwaukee Brewers
CIN: Sonny Gray – R (3-5, 3.77 ERA/1.21 WHIP)
MIL: Chase Anderson – R (3-1, 4.05 ERA/1.39 WHIP)

There are very strong trends for the total going under in Milwaukee tonight, and it’s actually the second-highest graded pick in our system. It’s also good news that both teams have seen their IRTs decrease – Brewers: -0.2, Reds: -0.3 – since the open.

Five of the six Brewers-Reds games this season have gone under the total, and both starting pitchers have a great history against each team. Not to mention, 15 of the last 16 Reds’ games have gone under the total, while Brewers’ games have suffered the same fate in three of the last four.

Let’s start with Sonny Gray, who has allowed three earned runs or fewer in all but one of his 14 starts this season. In his last outing against Milwaukee, Gray matched a season-high nine strikeouts en route to a Cincy 3-0 victory. He could have another big performance like that one, considering the Brewers own a 31.3% K-rate against right-handed pitching over the last 21 days.

Behind Gray is the Reds’ bullpen, who has allowed the fewest homers (28) and second-lowest ERA (3.40) in baseball.

Chase Anderson doesn’t have a long leash, compared to most MLB pitchers, so we’re essentially relying on the Brewers’ bullpen for half the game. They have the 10th-best ERA (3.38) and are right around that same area for the season.

It’s not like Anderson has been getting crushed, but he should do just fine against a Reds’ lineup that owns a dreadful .266 xwOBA against right-handed pitching over the last 21 days. After that, the Brewers’ bullpen will pick it up from there.

I don’t necessarily like a side here, but a low-scoring game is certainly on the horizon.

* Final Score Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers: 3 – Cincinnati Reds: 2 *

[10:10 p.m. EST] Colorado Rockies at Los Angeles Dodgers (ML: -190/1.5-run line: +120)
COL: German Marquez – R (7-3, 4.57 ERA/1.23 WHIP)
LAD: Walker Buehler – R (7-1, 3.06 ERA/0.92 WHIP)

We’ve got a tale of two pitchers heading in opposite directions, and that’s why the SK Trend Confidence rating is the highest on the Dodgers tonight. LA’s moneyline and 1.5-run are the top trends of any other selections on the entire day’s slate.

Walker Buehler has been downright filthy, allowing one earned run or fewer in six of his last starts. The young righty has done some of his best work lately against some of the better bats in the National League – Cubs and D-Backs. Over his last 22 innings of work, Buehler has allowed one run and a ridiculous 0.45 WHIP while striking out 26 batters.

Sure, the Rockies have plenty of talented bats, but they have their fair share of games with a high strikeout total. Not to mention, their current roster has a combined .189 batting average and .267 on-base percentage against Buehler lifetime.

On the other hand, German Marquez is getting absolutely ripped by opposing hitters. Over the last three games/17 innings (Cubs x2, Padres), he’s allowed 22 hits (5 HR), seven walks and 19 runs. Yikes! A good number of these Dodgers’ hitters have a solid history against Marquez, and it’s setting up to be another good night for the boys in blue.

The Dodgers are 31-9 at home and 21-5 at home against teams with a right-handed starting pitcher this season.

* Final Score Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers: 6 – Colorado Rockies: 0 *

MLB Betting Value Picks for Monday, June 17

By: Al Walsh – Follow him on Twitter @14AdotWalsh

* 2019 MLB Record: 110-91-4 (54.7%) *

[7:05 p.m. EST] Over 10 (-108) – Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals
PHI: Jake Arrieta – R (6-5, 4.31 ERA/1.45 WHIP)
WSH: Patrick Corbin – L (5-5, 4.11 ERA/1.22 WHIP)

Vegas is loving some runs in this game, elevating the IRTs (implied run totals) for each team – Nationals: +0.7, Phillies: +0.3.

Jake Arrieta has not been at his best of late and the control has been a big reason why. The veteran righty has issued nine walks over his last two outings (10 2/3 innings), despite the Phillies getting the win in each of them. The road has not been kind to Arrieta either, as he’s allowed five runs in each of his last two starts away from Citizens Bank Park.

The Phils’ bullpen has been downright awful of late. After coughing up Friday’s game in Atlanta, three of their pitchers combined to give up 15 runs in Sunday’s loss to the Braves. Stretching it out a bit longer, the Phils’ bullpen has the second-worst ERA (9.27) in MLB over the last seven days.

Arrieta could very well find himself in a spot where he’s forced to pitch more innings, even if things aren’t going well.

Aside from a complete-game shutout against the lousy Marlins, Patrick Corbin has been brutal. Over his last three starts (12 2/3 innings), the lefty has allowed 22 hits and 20 runs (16 earned) – yikes!

According to the advanced metric xwOBA, the top six hitters in each team’s lineup have been making solid contact over the last 21 days against the handedness of starting pitcher on the mound tonight. Not to mention, five of the last six games for both teams have gone over the total.

FYI: This game might get off to a late start with a 50% chance of rain in the forecast from 7-9 p.m. I don’t see that causing any issues for either offense.

* Final Score Prediction: Washington Nationals: 8 – Philadelphia Phillies: 7 *

[7:05 p.m. EST] Under 9 (+100) – Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees
TB: Yonny Chirinos – R (7-2, 2.88 ERA/0.93 WHIP)
NYY: Masahiro Tanaka – R (4-5, 3.58 ERA/1.18 WHIP)

While Yankee Stadium isn’t exactly the place we usually look for the total going under, there is a nice matchup of dueling righties on the mound tonight.

The Spread Knowledge Trend Confidence rating has the under on this game as the highest grade of the evening. A big reason is that nine of the last 13 Rays’ games have gone under the total. Also, the total has dropped slightly from 9.5 to 9.0, and the Yankees’ IRT dropped from 5.2 to 4.8 – usually a good sign for the under.

Masahiro Tanaka hasn’t been at his best lately, but he does have fantastic lifetime numbers (0.96 career WHIP) against the Rays. That includes 13 innings of work against them this season, allowing only eight hits and one run while striking out 13 batters. In his last six starts against the Rays, Tanaka has allowed two runs or fewer in five of those – one run or fewer in four of them.

Yonny Chirinos has made a smooth transition to becoming a legit starter, and he’s allowed two runs or fewer in six of the last seven outings – one run or fewer in four of the last six. The electric righty has done a fine job of limiting runs against the Yankees, allowing no runs in two of his four career meetings – the latest coming at Yankee Stadium.

Both of these teams have incredibly-talented bullpens, so I certainly won’t bet against them. Look for this to be a low-scoring game that comes down to the very end.

* Final Score Prediction: Tampa Bay Rays: 4 – New York Yankees: 3 –*

[7:10 p.m. EST] Under 8.5 (-112) Houston Astros at Cincinnati Reds
HOU: Wade Miley – L (6-3, 3.14 ERA/1.16 WHIP)
CIN: Luis Castillo – R (6-1, 2.20 ERA/1.09 WHIP)

It’s a fantastic matchup of arms, as Wade Miley and Luis Castillo go up against one another, in a ballpark that usually makes pitchers weep. The total going under in this game is also one of the highest grades on the SK Trend Confidence rating.

Let’s start with Castillo, who has allowed one earned run in each of his last three starts. It’s quite telling that the Astros are underdogs, given that they’re 1-4 when having that label this season. Obviously, Castillo and his dominance play a big part in tonight’s line, but Houston is also coming off a 12-0 shellacking at the hands of Toronto yesterday. Sure, the Astros’ lineup is missing some key pieces, but you can’t be getting beat by the Blue Jays like that.

If, for some reason, Castillo doesn’t make it too deep into this start, no worries. The Cincy bullpen is leading a number of categories in advanced metrics over the last seven days.

Miley has been a pleasant surprise for the Astros this season, especially of late, allowing two runs or fewer in seven of the last nine starts. I don’t see him being as dominant as Castillo tonight, but certainly enough to not let this run total get out of hand. I’d be willing to bet that someone like Eugenio Suarez or Yasiel Puig tag him for a long ball, and that’ll ultimately be the difference.

I’m giving the Reds the win in this one, on the strength of a dominant performance from Castillo. It’s also a good sign for him that Houston loses its DH playing in the National League park.

* Final Score Prediction: Cincinnati Reds: 4 – Houston Astros: 1 *

[10:07 p.m. EST] Baltimore Orioles at Oakland Athletics (1.5-run line: -114)
BAL: Andrew Cashner – R (6-2, 4.63 ERA/1.38 WHIP)
OAK: Mike Fiers – R (6-3, 4.63 ERA/1.14 WHIP)

We’ve got trends galore in our favor for the A’s over the Orioles tonight – listen up!

Oakland is favored by its highest moneyline of the season tonight at -230. The A’s have been favored by -200 or more only twice this season, winning both games and scoring a total of 20 runs. Vegas knows what they’re doing.

The A’s will face Andrew Cashner, who they’ve beat up on a consistent basis. The veteran righty has a 6.83 ERA/1.69 WHIP against Oakland lifetime, and a lot of the hitters on the current roster have fantastic BvP numbers against him.

Mike Fiers has been fantastic over his last nine starts, allowing three runs or fewer each time out. He’s been even better against the Orioles, with a 3-1 record and 2.08 ERA/0.88 WHIP lifetime. Fiers also has great numbers at home this season, going 4-2 with a 0.95 WHIP. Over the last two seasons, Fiers’ team is 19-5 when he pitches at home and 16-7 when he pitches against teams with a losing record.

Oakland has been relaxing here on the West coast, while Baltimore had to travel across the country yesterday for tonight’s game. Look for them to experience plenty of jet-lag and the A’s to get a comfortable victory.

* Final Score Prediction: Oakland Athletics: 7 – Baltimore Orioles: 2 *

NBA Finals and MLB Betting Value Picks for Wednesday, June 5

By: Al Walsh – Follow him on Twitter @14AdotWalsh

Game 3, NBA Finals: Toronto Raptors (+4.5, -105) at Golden State Warriors

It’s incredibly difficult to gauge this game without truly knowing the status of Klay Thompson. The part that is even more frustrating is that this decision likely won’t be up to him – rather, the Warriors’ training staff. Klay’s mobility will be tested out in pregame warmups, and a decision will be made at that time.

If Thompson is unable to go, it’ll be a huge advantage for the visiting Raptors, who actually won here in Oakland by 20 points back in December. Not only does he provide an unlimited outside range, but Klay’s defense is just flat out dominant. Losing two big aspects like that could be too much for even the almighty Warriors to overcome.

Aside from the first six minutes of the third quarter in Game 2, you can argue that the Raptors have controlled this series. Their length has proven to be difficult for the smaller Warriors, and if Klay does indeed miss tonight’s game, you have to believe the Raptors will throw box-and-1 and double-team defenses at him all night.

It is worth noting, the Warriors have either lost or won by single-digits in five of their seven home playoff games during this run. For the final score prediction, I’ll give it to Raptors with the assumption Klay sits out. If he’s in, I think the Warriors win, but without covering the spread.

* Final Score Prediction: Toronto Raptors: 108 – Golden State Warriors: 104 *


* 2019 MLB Record: 95-77-4 (55.2%) *

[7:10 p.m. EST] Minnesota Twins (ML: -130) at Cleveland Indians
MIN: Martin Perez – L (7-2, 3.71 ERA/1.40 WHIP)
CLE: bullpen game

By the way, I just want to mention how utterly furious I am at the onset. I had this gorgeous article written up for this game and how Carlos Carrasco was going to get beat over the head. Well, at about 3:00 p.m. EST, Carrasco was scratched and announced that he’ll be heading to the injured list.

Sigh. The life of a sports betting writer…

Our system has a B+ for Minnesota on the moneyline, and that was even when Carlos Carrasco was supposed to take the mound. Now, it’ll be a bullpen game for the Indians. Tyler Clippard will take the first inning and then it’s all up in the air from there. It is worth noting, though, that the Indians’ bullpen has the sixth-worst xFIP (expected fielding-independent pitching) over the last seven days. Oliver Perez is pretty much the only exception, but he probably won’t be used since he’s already pitched 4 2/3 innings over the last seven days, including throwing an inning last night.

Minnesota has been crushing baseballs all season, leading MLB in homers. Looking at it in a closer prism, though, the Twins’ projected lineup owns a massive .354 wOBA (weighted on-base average) and .278 ISO (power metric) against right-handed pitching over the last 14 days. I assume they’ll some mostly right-handers tonight.

Martin Perez’s last start was his worst outing of the season, allowing six hits and six runs over 2 2/3 innings. Prior to that disaster, Perez had allowed three runs or fewer in six straight starts, while averaging about 6 1/3 innings per outing over that span. It also helps that the Indians own the sixth-lowest wOBA in baseball against left-handed pitching.

Behind Perez is the Minnesota bullpen, which ranks in the top-three of MLB of most advanced pitching metrics over the last 14 days.

Two trends to look at heading into tonight:
– Twins are 15-4 after a loss this season
– Twins are 21-10 in road games this season

* Final Score Prediction: Minnesota Twins: 5 – Cleveland Indians: 2 *

[8:05 p.m. EST] Under 9 (-104) – Baltimore Orioles at Texas Rangers
BAL: John Means – L (5-4, 2.80 ERA/1.10 WHIP)
TEX: Mike Minor – L (5-4, 2.74 ERA/1.19 WHIP)

Two outstanding lefties take the mound at Globe Life Park tonight. I’m usually nervous about taking the under in Texas with humid conditions, but not with John Means and Mike Minor going toe-to-toe.

Let’s start with the homey Minor, who owns a 2.50 ERA in six home starts this season. Unfortunately, he would’ve had better numbers, but a trashy fifth-inning defensive performance and a homer that scraped the foul pole in his last outing thwarted that. Discredit that one bad inning and ride Minor to a low total tonight. Yeehaw!

On the other side, Means has allowed three runs or fewer in six of his seven starts since being placed in the starting rotation. In fact, he allowed only run in four of those starts. Means has already pitched well in environments like Camden Yards, Coors Field, Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium – so what’s the big deal adding some Globe Life Park to the mix? Not to mention, the Rangers have a putrid .280 xwOBA and .139 ISO over the last 14 days against left-handed pitching.

Even with the humid conditions, Vegas dropped the IRTs for both sides (Orioles: -0.2, Rangers: -0.3) while the game total went from 9.5 to 9.0 as well. Neither team’s bullpen is one that I want to trust, but I’ll give the Rangers the edge at home after dropping one last night.

* Final Score Prediction: Texas Rangers: 4 – Baltimore Orioles: 3 *

[8:15 p.m. EST] Over 9.5 (-102) – Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis Cardinals
CIN: Anthony DeSclafani – R (2-3, 4.97 ERA/1.34 WHIP)
STL: Dakota Hudson – R (4-3, 3.94 ERA/1.58 WHIP)

Weather permitting, we should have ourselves a good ole fashioned slugfest at Busch Stadium. The conditions are great for hitting, with temperatures in the upper-80s and humidity playing a big factor.

Vegas has taken notice, increasing the IRTs for both sides (Cardinals: +0.7, Reds: +0.4) and the game total from 8.5 to 9.5. Both of these teams have been playing to a lot of totals going under of late, so it makes the Vegas movement even more intriguing.

Anthony DeSclafani, from the great state of New Jersey, has been getting ripped over his last five starts. The righty has allowed 31 hits, 19 runs and nine over the last 23 1/3 innings of work. The heart of the Cards’ order has hit DeSclafani well over the course of their careers, so look for that to continue on Wednesday.

Dakota Hudson has been doing a good job of keeping the ball on the ground, but a lot of these Reds’ hitters can still make life difficult on him. Cincy did put eight baserunners (seven hits, one walk) up against him in their previous meeting. Not to mention, they have a fantastic .347 wOBA and .213 ISO against right-handed pitching over the last 14 days.

* Final Score Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals: 7 – Cincinnati Reds: 5 *

MLB Betting Value Picks for Sunday, May 26

By: Al Walsh – Follow him on Twitter @14AdotWalsh

* 2019 MLB Record: 78-59-4 *

[2:15 p.m. EST] Under 9.5 (-118) – New York Yankees at Kansas City Royals
NYY: Domingo German – R (9-1, 2.60 ERA/0.98 WHIP)
KC: Danny Duffy – L (3-1, 3.45 ERA/

Domingo German has been just what the Yankees needed this season, given all their injuries. It is interesting, though, that this KC team is the only one to hand him a loss this season. German still pitched well in that game, allowing three runs over six innings, but I would look for him to have added motivation in this matchup.

Danny Duffy has been much better since the start of May, with a 3-0 record and 3.04 ERA in four starts. It’s crazy, but Duffy has actually been much better against right-handed batters this season, allowing an opposing batting average of .229 and .690 OPS.

Given the recent performances of both starters and the talented Yankees’ bullpen, I’m going with the under in this game. Ultimately, that should be the difference in the game as well.

* Final Score Prediction: New York Yankees: 4 – Kansas City Royals: 3 *

[2:20 p.m. EST] Under 7.5 (-110) – Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs
CIN: Tanner Roark – R (3-3, 3.51 ERA/1.42 WHIP)
CHC: Jose Quintana – L (4-3, 3.30 ERA/1.22 WHIP)

After two games with double-digit run totals, Vegas placed a 7.5-total on this game featuring two crafty veteran pitchers. The weather won’t be inducive to offense, as the temps will be in the upper-50s with the wind blowing in at about 10 mph. Also, the opening total dropped from 8.0 to 7.5, with the team’s IRT subsequently dropping as well – Reds: -0.3, Cubs: -0.2.

Given the microscopic run total, I’m banking on Jose Quintana to have a huge start today. Cincy’s offense has been struggling mightily against left-handed pitching over the last 14 days, with a .198 wOBA and .087 ISO. Quintana has been legit over his last eight starts, not allowing more than three runs in any of those starts.

In Quintana’s last three starts, the game total has only maxed out at seven.

On the other side, Tanner Roark has been solid in the month of May with an ERA just under 3.00. What is particularly appealing about Roark is the fact that he’s only allowed two homers in 51 1/3 innings of work this season.

I’m trusting the numbers from Vegas and the SK Trend Confidence rating, which is the highest on the slate, for this total going under.

* Final Score Prediction: Chicago Cubs: 4 – Cincinnati Reds: 2 *

[3:00 p.m. EST] Baltimore Orioles at Colorado Rockies (1.5-run line: -152)
BAL: David Hess – R (1-6, 6.75 ERA/1.41 WHIP)
COL: German Marquez – R (5-2, 3.38 ERA/1.11 WHIP)

Sometimes the numbers speak to you… and sometimes they scream right in your face. The Rockies have a 7.9 IRT today, and that’s a +0.6 increase from the initial number, which was at 7.3. That current number is clearly the highest IRT of the MLB season. Colorado also had a moneyline increase from -262 to -316, the largest on the slate.

There’s a good reason for that zaftig IRT, as the Orioles have allowed 113 homers – 20 more than any other team in MLB. Baltimore’s starter David Hess has been ripped consistently, allowing nine homers in his last 15 innings of work. Not to mention, Hess has a K-prop of 4.0, with the juice on the under at -150 – that’s basically saying he won’t last long today.

You very well could take the over (11.5, -118) in this game, considering Rockies’ starter German Marquez has allowed at least seven hits in five of his last seven starts. Marquez did have his best outing of the season last time out against the Pirates, but that was at PNC Park.

At Coors Field this season, Marquez does have a 5.34 ERA and 1.67 WHIP in five starts and Baltimore hasn’t necessarily been terrible with the bats. Over the last 14 days, the Orioles have a .350 wOBA and .225 ISO against right-handed pitching.

Although it’s more money to lay, I do have more faith in the Rockies totally thrashing the Orioles today. Let’s take Colorado on the 1.5-run line.

* Final Score Prediction: Colorado Rockies: 9 – Baltimore Orioles: 3 *

MLB Betting Value Picks for Thursday, May 16

By: Al Walsh – Follow him on Twitter @14AdotWalsh

* 2019 MLB Record: 61-38-4 (61.6%) *

[6:10 p.m. EST] Under 9 (-104) – Baltimore Orioles at Cleveland Indians (1.5-run line: -152)
BAL: Dan Straily – R (1-3, 8.23 ERA/1.83 WHIP)
CLE: Trevor Bauer – R (4-2, 3.02 ERA/1.11 WHIP)

Dan Straily has actually been solid away from Camden Yards this season. Only two of his seven starts have come on the road and they were against the Red Sox and Twins, two of the better offenses in baseball. Straily allowed only one earned run over nine innings in those games.

It’s not like today’s opponent has been crushing the ball either. The Indians rank third-worst in all of MLB with a .282 wOBA (weight on-base average) against right-handed pitching. Over the last 14 days against righties, Cleveland’s projected lineup owns a .320 wOBA and .099 ISO – both of which, are not good at all. Not to mention, seven of the last eight Indians’ games have gone under the total.

Now, the real reason for the total going under is Trevor Bauer in a fantastic matchup against the Orioles. Bauer had a fantastic outing in Oakland last time out after two uncharacteristically-bad starts against lesser teams (MIA, CHW). This is still one of the best pitchers in baseball taking the mound against an offense that has scored three runs or fewer in seven of the last 10 games.

Just like the majority of Indians’ games coming in under the total, Orioles’ contests have suffered the same fate in 12 of their last 16, including each of the last four. Also, like Cleveland, Baltimore’s projected lineup is struggling against right-handed pitching with a .257 wOBA and .119 ISO over the last 14 days.

The SK Trend Confidence rating has the under in this game as the top MLB play of the night, and the zaftig juice (-152) on the 1.5-run line is a pretty good indicator that the Indians will get the comfortable win.

* Final Score Projection: Cleveland Indians: 6 – Baltimore Orioles: 2 *

[6:40 p.m. EST] Under 8.5 (-114) – Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati Reds (moneyline: -135)
CHC: Jose Quintana – L (4-2, 3.50 ERA/1.25 WHIP)
CIN: Luis Castillo – R (4-1, 1.76 ERA/0.99 WHIP)

This may seem like a scary proposition with an 8.5-run total at one of the best hitting parks in baseball, but we do have two elite pitchers in solid form. The total has decreased incrementally in each game of this series, so we are trending in the right direction here.

I’m expecting a big performance from Luis Castillo, given the fact that Cincy’s moneyline odds have the second-highest increase (-110 to -135) of the day. The electric righty has been efficient in every split this season, especially with a 2-1 record and 1.65 ERA in five home starts, while going 4-0 with a 1.23 ERA in six nighttime starts.

Chicago had a streak of six straight games with the total going under snapped last night. Even though they posted five runs on Wednesday, four of them came via the home run – they won’t have that fortune tonight against Castillo.

Jose Quintana will be able to keep this Reds’ offense off the scoreboard for most of the night. Against tough competition (MIL, STL, ARZ, LAD), the lefty has been able to hold these team to three runs or fewer in each of the last four starts. Cincy has done fairly well against left-handed pitching over the last 14 days, and that is likely how they get the win, but I think JQ at least holds them to around three or four runs.

The SK Trend Confidence rating likes the under more than any other outcome in this game, but the massive moneyline increase for the Reds is quite telling here as well.

* Final Score Prediction: Cincinnati Reds: 5 – Chicago Cubs: 2 *

[10:10 p.m. EST] Under 7.5 (-110) – Pittsburgh Pirates at San Diego Padres (moneyline: -125)
PIT: Trevor Williams – R (2-1, 3.40 ERA/1.15 WHIP)
SD: Eric Lauer – L (2-4, 5.75 ERA/1.45 WHIP)

Eric Lauer is coming off his worst start of the season, which was a very tough road matchup at Coors Field, but the guy comes through when gifted with favorable matchups. The Pirates head to San Diego with MLB’s worst ISO (.091), third-worst wOBA (.266) and fifth-highest K-rate (28.2%) against left-handed pitching. Over the last 14 days, Pittsburgh has a .023 ISO – for reference, that’s a level or two above stepping to the plate without a bat.

San Diego’s offense hasn’t been much better, striking out at a 33% clip against right-handed pitching over the last 14 days – the highest of any split on the day. Trevor Williams needs all the help he can get, after allowing 25 hits over his last 19 innings of work. The righty has been able to keep runs off the board, for the most part, but those baserunners could ultimately be the determining factor in who wins tonight.

The game total has dropped a half-run, while the Padres (-0.2) and Pirates’ (-0.3) IRTs have dropped as well. Look for the Padres to take a close, low-scoring game.

* Final Score Prediction: San Diego Padres: 3 – Pittsburgh Pirates: 2 *

MLB Betting Value Picks for Monday, April 29

By: Al Walsh – Follow him on Twitter @14AdotWalsh

[7:10 p.m. EST] Cincinnati Reds at New York Mets (-1.5, +122)
CIN: Tanner Roark – R (1-1, 3.24 ERA)
NYM: Zack Wheeler – R (2-2, 4.85 ERA)

The key to success for Zack Wheeler this season has been simple – don’t face the Nationals.
* WSH (twice): allowed 10 hits, 8 walks and 11 runs with 9 Ks over 9 2/3 innings
* PHI (twice)/ATL: allowed 16 hits, 6 walks and 5 runs with 24 Ks over 20 innings

Wheeler registered a quality start in each of the last three outings. His most impressive effort came in that last outing against the Phillies, throwing seven innings of a shutout ball while striking out 11 – a season high. Tonight, the Reds’ -0.4 IRT (implied run total) decrease is the largest on the board, and that’s just a further indicator that Wheeler is locked and loaded for his matchup.

Tanner Roark will face a familiar opponent, just doing in a different jersey this time around. The former Nationals pitcher has an 8-4 record with a 3.07 ERA in 22 appearances (16 starts) against the Mets lifetime. In fact, Roark has pitched very well in his last three starts, allowing only earned run in each of those.

Unlike the game you’ll read about below, I have more confidence in the Mets -1.5 run-line because of the recent performance of these respective bullpens. In terms of those fancy advanced metrics we all hate/love so much, the Mets’ bullpen ranks first in xFIP (expected fielding independent pitching) and second in SIERA (skill-interactive earned run average) over the last seven days – The Reds rank ninth-worst in xFIP and fifth-worst in SIERA over the same span.

* Final Score Prediction: New York Mets: 5 – Cincinnati Reds: 1 *

[7:20 p.m. EST] San Diego Padres at Atlanta Braves (-164)
SD: Nick Margevicius – L (2-2, 3.60 ERA)
ATL: Mike Soroka – R (1-1, 1.69 ERA)

Lots of good trends for the Braves in this game, so let’s get a tomahawk chant going! The trends that stood out above all:
* Braves moneyline increase from -140 to -164 – highest on the slate
* Braves have the highest wOBA [weighted on-base average]: (.391) vs left-handed pitching
* Padres have the third-highest K-rate (27%) vs right-handed pitching

Mike Soroka takes the hill for Atlanta, and he has been fantastic in each of those two starts this season. The young righty has allowed only two runs over 10 2/3 innings while fanning 13 batters in the process.

Nick Margevicius goes for San Diego, and he is also another talented young hurler. However, his 1.08 WHIP looks a lot prettier due to two matchups against the Giants. In fact, Margevicius has come back down to Earth over the last two starts (vs. SEA, vs. COL), allowing 11 hits, six walks and seven runs over his last nine innings.

I would love to go with the Braves on the -1.5 run-line, but their bullpen is an absolute disaster right now. Without boring the non-traditional baseball fan to death, one of the best metrics (SIERRA) ranks Atlanta’s bullpen as the second-worst in MLB. For that reason, we’ll keep it simple with the ATL moneyline.

* Final Score Prediction: Atlanta Braves: 5 – San Diego Padres: 4 *

[7:40 p.m. EST] Houston Astros (-1.5, -108) at Minnesota Twins
HOU: Justin Verlander – R (4-0, 2.61 ERA)
MIN: Jake Odorizzi – R (2-2, 4.37 ERA)

Sure, the Twins lead MLB in homers per game (1.96) but they’ve had six matchups against Orioles’ pitching to thank for that. Tonight, Minnesota will face one of the best pitchers in baseball who has absolutely owned this current lineup.

Justin Verlander has held the Twins’ current roster to a combined .167 batting average, .210 on-base percentage, .325 slugging percentage and .535 OBP – yikes! In fact, the veteran righty just held Minnesota to one run while striking out eight batters over eight innings in his last outing. Verlander has allowed four or fewer hits in four of his six starts, including each of the last three. Not to mention, if Verlander slips in the slightest, the Astros’ bullpen ranks first in SIERA and xFIP this season.

All in all, this is just a flat-out mismatch of talent between the two starting pitchers this evening. Granted, Odorizzi did get the win in his last outing against these same Astros, but he did allow eight hits and found himself in trouble for most of the evening. I expect Houston to make him pay for those misfortunes this time around.

I’m going with the -1.5 run-line in this game because of that mismatch of starting pitchers, and the Astros have won by two runs or more in four of Verlander’s six starts this season.

* Final Score Prediction: Houston Astros: 6 – Minnesota Twins: 2 *

[9:45 p.m. EST] Over 8 – Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants
LAD: Kenta Maeda – R (3-2, 5.20 ERA)
SF: Jeff Samardzija – R (2-1, 3.00 ERA)

Giants’ pitching was absolutely ripped in the three-game series against the Yankees over the weekend, allowing 24 runs, and life won’t get any easier with the Dodgers coming to town. Oracle Park is one of the worst venues for offense in all of MLB, hence why we’ve only seen one eight-run total there this season. The eight-run total in this game is quite interesting, considering it never got any higher than 7.5 in the three-game series at Dodger Stadium at the beginning of the month, but there is some solid reasoning to think we’ll see the fourth straight total go over the mark at Oracle Park.

The Dodgers do have the second-best wOBA (.356) vs right-handed pitching this season and three of the last four games that Jeff Samardzija has pitched in produced a double-digit number of runs.

On the flip side, the Giants have four batters with a .294 lifetime average or better against Kenta Maeda. Just like Samardzija, Maeda’s starts have been producing a lot of runs, with four of the five surrendering nine runs or more.

* Final Score Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers: 6 – San Francisco Giants: 5 *

MLB Betting Value Picks for Sunday, April 28

By: Al Walsh – Follow him on Twitter @14AdotWalsh

[1:10 p.m. EST] Over 8 – Milwaukee Brewers at New York Mets
MIL: Gio Gonzalez – L (season debut)
NYM: Steven Matz – L (2-1, 4.03 ERA)

Two very hittable southpaws go up against one another at Citi Field, and even though Vegas has lowered the total on this game, I see it going the other way. What’s interesting here too is the wind that’ll be blowing in from right field. The way Citi Field is designed, that actually creates a Jetstream off the wall behind home plate out to left field.

That’s a perfect scenario for runs, considering the Mets rank fourth in weighted on-base average (wOBA) while the Brewers are eighth.

To be honest, I have no idea why the Brewers brought Gio Gonzalez back. He didn’t pitch well enough in the minors for the Yankees to add him to their minor league roster, but perhaps Milwaukee sees something we don’t. Believe me, I’ll keep searching.

Aside from one start in Philly, Steven Matz has actually been very good this season. However, with all these power righty bats that the Brewers have, I’m not feeling too optimistic about his chances in this one.

* Final Score Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers: 6 – New York Mets: 5 *

[2:15 p.m. EST] Under 7.5 – Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis Cardinals
CIN: Sonny Gray – R (0-3 3.65 ERA)
STL: Jack Flaherty – R (2-1, 5.25 ERA)

This is my favorite play of the day, as we have two very underrated pitchers going up against one another. And Vegas has taken notice, dropping the game total from 8.5 to 7.5 – subsequently, the IRT dropped -0.5 for each as well. The weather also comes into play today, with the wind blowing in from right field at about 10 mph.

Jack Flaherty had plenty of tough matchups this season – three against the Brewers, one against the Dodgers, and his easiest came at home against the Padres. Against the Brewers, Flaherty has allowed 13 runs over 13 innings – against everyone else, he has allowed one run over 11 innings. His record and ERA just don’t match up to the type of power-pitcher this guy is, and you can thank the Brewers for that.

Apparently, Sonny Gray really did need to get away from the Yankees. Finally, he is coming back around to be the pitcher we all thought he was. Despite pitching at another hitter’s haven, Gray has only allowed one homer this season – and it didn’t even come in Cincy! The righty actually has 18 strikeouts over his last 11 1/3 innings of work, and it came against good competition (at Dodgers, vs. Braves).

* Final Score Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals: 3 – Cincinnati Reds: 2 *

[4:10 p.m. EST] Chicago Cubs (-110 ML) at Arizona Diamondbacks
CHC: Jose Quintana – L (3-1, 3.21 ERA)
ARZ: Luke Weaver – R (2-1, 3.33 ERA)

The Cubs have a combined .407 batting average and 1.076 OPS in 100 career plate appearances against Luke Weaver. All of that comes from his days with the Cardinals, but it’s certainly something to consider for today’s matchup.

Perhaps, the main reason for loving the Cubbies today is Jose Quintana, who has allowed 14 hits, three walks and two runs while striking out 25 batters over his last 21 innings of work.

Keeping it short and simple, fly the W flag – Cubbies win!

* Final Score Prediction: Chicago Cubs: 5 – Arizona Diamondbacks: 2 *