World Cup: Can England Solve Sweden’s Stalwart Defense?

England vs. Sweden, 10 a.m. ET, Fox

  • England -112
  • Sweden +390
  • Draw +225

Bet to Watch:

England To Win By 1 Goal +246 

After England won only their second of eight major tournament penalty shootouts, and first at a World Cup, the English media are starting to believe that anything is possible. “Football’s coming home” as far as fans of the Three Lions  are concerned, but if their team is to lift the trophy for the first time in more than 50 years, there are a few roadblocks still to overcome.

Sweden are, without question, a favorable quarterfinal opponent, but that’s not to say Saturday’s match in Samara will be plain sailing for Gareth Southgate’s men. It never is as far as England are concerned, nor is it when they come to blows with this weekend’s challengers.

England have, after all, won just one of their last eight competitive meetings with the Swedes, who have developed a liking for what has become a familiar underdog status under coach Janne Andersson. Indeed, since exiting Euro 2016 and waving goodbye to their greatest-ever player in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, there has been a realization that without a star name to call upon, the players have needed to accept their limitations and, in a roundabout way, turn that into a strength.

The Scandinavians have shown this summer and well beforehand just how difficult they are to break down, simply by sticking to their rigid positions when out of possession and sitting deep. In the past 18 months, they’ve beaten Portugal, France and Italy, so they aren’t to be underestimated, keeping five clean sheets in their last six matches.

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It’s relatively clear how the pattern of this match will play out, with Sweden having had a lower possession share (36%) at this World Cup than any of the remaining teams. Plus, they’re well-aware that England are struggling to create meaningful chances from open play.

England have the tournament’s top scorer in their ranks, and Harry Kane will know that if he can add to his six-goal tally, he may well wrap up the Golden Boot. While there are those who will point to his duties as the penalty-kick taker as the main reason for his success this summer, he’s taken the chances that have come his way. Plus, his performance against Colombia was arguably the Tottenham star’s best all-around display of the tournament.

Sweden may have conceded only twice, but they have allowed their opponents the most shots on goal (61) of the quarterfinalists, and Kane doesn’t need a second invitation to shoot or indeed score. With odds over evens on the striker to do so at any time, that’s a bet that’s well worth considering, but I like the winning margin odds for England in this one.

It’s never straightforward when they are involved, after all, and Southgate’s charges are the only side remaining that are yet to keep a clean sheet. While their quality should win out, you can bank on a tight result, so England to win by exactly one goal would be my tip.

Reds vs. Mets Odds, Preview, Prediction: Is New York Worth Bet as Favorite? (Saturday, July 31)

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Reds vs. Mets Odds

Reds Odds +100
Mets Odds -120
Over/Under 8.5 (-115/-105)
Time 7:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds as of Saturday and via DraftKings.

Behind homers from Joey Votto and Jonathan India, the Reds and their new-look bullpen dominated the Mets in game one of this series.

In fact, the Reds will be vying for their fifth-straight win tonight. Meanwhile, the Mets have lost three of their last four and are trying to stay atop the NL East despite devastating injury trouble.

Luckily, thanks to the trade deadline, the Mets have two new faces in the clubhouse to alleviate those worries.

So, can the revamped Mets come together and even the series tonight?

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Reds Added Bullpen Firepower

Votto is firing on all cylinders.

He just homered for the seventh straight game; the MLB record is eight. He has 42 RBIs over his last 45 games played, and is batting .311 with a 1.056 OPS in that timeframe. He’s been the leader of a Reds squad that has posted a .768 OPS and a .334 wOBA over the past 30 days.

However, he’s also the leader of a Reds squad whose playoff hopes have been dashed. The Reds are seven games out of the division and five out of the second Wild Card spot, and it seems impossible the Reds will make a big enough push to erase either deficit.

But the Reds still made improvements at the deadline. Specifically, in the bullpen, where they added Luis Cessa, Justin Wilson and Mychal Givens. Addressing bullpen depth is massive for a team that ranks 28th in reliever FIP this season (4.84).

Among that group, Cessa is the big name. As part of the Yankees bullpen, Cessa posted a 2.75 ERA in 28 appearances this season. Cessa’s batted ball statistics are particularly impressive, where his slider-heavy approach (Cessa throws a slider 60% of the time) has led to an average exit velocity (86.7 mph) and hard-hit rate (30.4%) that ranks among the top 10% of qualified pitchers.

The Reds need Castellanos back. He hasn’t played since July 19 – being held on the IL with wrist issues – but there have been reports that he began rehab. If the Reds want to win, the All-Star’s bat is of the upmost importance.

Starting pitcher: Wade Miley (LHP)

I am Wade Miley’s biggest fan.

Over his past 11 starts, Miley has posted a 2.83 ERA while averaging close to 6 1/3 innings per start. Predictably, the Reds are 8-3 in those contests.

While he largely pitches to contact (26th percentile in whiff rate, 18th percentile in strikeout rate), the southpaw’s cutter-changeup is limiting hard contact at league-high rates. He throws the cutter just 85 mph and the changeup 80 mph, but he’s limiting exit velocity on the two pitches to about 83 mph:

Thus, Miley’s 85.4 mph average exit velocity ranks among the top five percent of qualified pitchers. And, as you can see from his numbers, Miley is reaping the benefits.

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Did Mets Do Enough At Deadline?

There are some fun new faces on the Mets following the trade deadline. And, given the laundry list of injuries in Flushing right now, reinforcements are more than needed.

To address the Francisco Lindor injury (three-to-five week estimated return), the Mets acquired Javier Baez. The Baez-Lindor connection goes back to their childhood days in Puerto Rico, and then to being taken with the eighth and ninth picks in the 2011 draft, and now to playing side-by-side in New York.

Both shortstops are having down years, and Baez’s free-swinging approach (36.3% strikeout rate) leads to a low floor. However, the potential upside from pairing these two with Pete Alonso and Co. is tremendous.

To address injuries to starting pitchers (deep breath) Carlos Carrasco, Noah Syndergaard, David Peterson, Jordan Yammamoto, Joey Lucchesi and Jacob deGrom, the Mets went and bought today’s starter:

Starting pitcher: Rich Hill (LHP)

What does 41-year-old Rich Hill offer the New York Mets?

Exactly what the Mets need: a steady, middle-rotation arm. He averages five innings per start (100 1/3 innings pitched in 20 starts this season) with a sub-4.00 ERA and a sub-1.20 WHIP.

He’s no Jacob deGrom – who the Mets will desperately need come October – but he gives the Mets potentially revamped offense a chance to win. Which is what Hill did last Sunday, where he pitched five innings of three-run ball in a 5-4 Mets victory.

Hill throws a four-seam and a curveball more than 80% of the time, and while neither pitch will wow you, both have serious movement that tends to keep opponents’ numbers relatively low. Hill’s curveball has been particularly effective, holding hitters to a .194 BA and a .269 SLG.

Reds-Mets Pick

After a 6-2, dominant win yesterday, my initial lean in this game was the Reds. But after digging a little deeper, it’s clear the Mets are the pick in this game.

Mostly because in a lefty vs. lefty matchup, the Mets offense has the clear advantage. Against southpaws over the past 30 days, the Mets have posted an .818 OPS and a .357 wOBA, while their 128 wRC+ ranks fourth in MLB.

Meanwhile, against southpaws on the road over the past 30 days, the Reds have posted just a .686 OPS and a .301 wOBA, good for a measly 88 wRC+.

Plus, while the Reds bullpen is revamped and ready to roll, the Mets still have a clear advantage in the ‘pen. The Mets relievers have posted the fourth best FIP in MLB over the past seven days (3.07).

While I prefer Miley over Hill as a starting pitcher, everything else is pointing Mets in this matchup. Expect New York to even the series and bet them as a short favorite in this spot.

Pick: Mets ML (-120)

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MLS Odds, Picks, Prediction: Inter Miami vs. Montreal Betting Preview (July 31)

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Inter Miami vs. Montreal Odds

Inter Miami Odds +115
Montreal Odds +225
Draw +280
Over/Under 2.5 (-115 / -110)
Day | Time Saturday | 8 p.m. ET
How To Watch ESPN+
Odds updated Friday night via DraftKings.

Inter Miami hosts Montreal on Saturday night looking to avoid the embarrassment of a season sweep. 

Montreal won the two previous meetings — a 2-0 triumph interrupted by severe weather in South Florida back in May and a 1-0 victory played in northern New Jersey earlier this month.

Both were technically Montreal home matches. They were forced to play their early schedule entirely in the U.S. because of the pandemic.

Montreal return to South Florida in search of their first points in the finale of a three-match road trip.

Miami are winless in their last seven, though they snapped a six-match losing run with a 1-1 home draw against the Philadelphia Union at home on Sunday.

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Inter Miami’s Winless Streak Grows

Miami’s draw against Philadelphia marked a drastic improvement from a 5-0 midweek thrashing at the hands of a heavily rotated New England Revolution side.

Not only were the goals even against the Union, but manager Phil Neville’s side matched the defending Supporters’ Shield holders in chance creation and expected goal (xG).

Goal-scorer Robbie Robinson was at the heart of that with a season-high five shots in his third game back from a hamstring injury.

Even so, Miami couldn’t avoid another lapse in a season of them, conceding an 85th-minute equalizer to Kacper Przybylko.

That may have felt cruel for the home fans, but in the big picture Miami’s results have been deserved. They have failed to create more xG than their opponents in all seven matches of their winless run.

Midfielder Rodolfo Pizarro remains away with the Mexico national team after joining the CONCACAF Gold Cup squad ahead of the quarterfinals.

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Montreal Search For Momentous Win

For a Montreal side with low expectations entering 2021, even their two recent defeats have been impressive.

Montreal fell 1-0 at New York City FC and 2-1 at New England, two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

And they were particularly unfortunate in Foxborough, dropping all three points despite leading New England 1.47 to 0.87 in xG.

Their resilience after going two down was nonetheless impressive, with Djordje Mihailovic pulling a goal back in the 79th minute and the visitors creating a flurry of late chances in the final minutes.

If they can earn a result to close their trip, it would be a major momentum boost ahead of more matches back in Canada.

The league announced all three of its Canadian teams would be permitted to host its remaining matches back at its home stadium this week.

Honduras have been eliminated from the Gold Cup, but striker Romell Quioto remains out with a hamstring injury he picked up on international duty.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

If Miami’s match against Philadelphia was a referendum on the direction of the club, we might need a recount.

The performance was decidedly improved and suggested some resiliency. Yet it wasn’t enough to earn three points or even credibly claim hard luck over the result.

Now they face the challenge of building from it in a season where they’ve shown almost zero ability to string together back-to-back positive performances. 

Montreal have yet to concede a goal to Miami and have also won the xG battle by more than a full goal in both previous meetings. A reversal is certainly possible, but Miami’s modest improvement against Philadelphia alone isn’t evidence that one is coming.

Since the visitors generally don’t score a ton of goals, I’m playing Montreal +0.5 on an Asian Handicap wager at -137 odds and an implied 57.8% implied probability.

That bet earns you a payout with a Montreal win or draw. And without an obvious sign a Miami turnaround is coming, those are the only outcomes you can reasonably expect.

Pick: Montreal +0.5 (-137)

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Royals vs. Blue Jays Odds, Preview, Prediction: How to Back Toronto North of the Border (Saturday, July 31)

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Royals vs. Blue Jays Odds

Royals Odds +165
Blue Jays Odds -195
Over/Under 10
Time Saturday, 3:07 p.m. ET
TV MLB Network
Odds as of Friday and via DraftKings

After trading Jorge Soler and Danny Duffy but keeping most of their mediocre roster together, the Kansas City Royals continue their weekend series north of the border against the Blue Jays.

Unlike Kansas City, the Toronto Blue Jays went all-in, knowing their lineup is good enough to compete right now. The Blue Jays are back home in Toronto, while the Royals are on the road, having entered the series 17-31 away from Kauffman Stadium this season.

Let’s break down this matchup and see where the betting value lies:

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Royals Have Faded Since Hot Start

Since becoming a starter again before the 2018 season, Mike Minor has proven to be a reliable innings eater. He has registered xFIPs of 4.53, 4.60 and 4.50 entering this season, and he’s at 4.34 through 21 starts in 2021.

While that number is the lowest this season, his ERA is not. After registering 4.18 and 3.59 ERAs between 2018 and ’19 in Texas, Minor was at 5.56 last year and is 5.32 entering Saturday’s game in Toronto.

Minor has registered back-to-back quality starts, but those are coming off a four-start stretch that saw him allow 24 runs in 20 innings.

Bad news for Minor: The Blue Jays’ lineup is heavy with right-handed bats and has a .791 OPS against left-handers over the past 30 days.

Offensively, the Royals ranked 21st in MLB over the past 30 days entering the series opener on Friday with a .716 OPS.

Carlos Santana has disappointed this season, like much of the Royals’ lineup, although Jorge Soler, Salvador Perez and Hunter Dozier are showing signs of life lately. That trio isn’t enough to make up for everyone else’s woes, though. Andrew Benintendi had a .618 OPS over his previous 16 games entering this game and is a microcosm of this Royals season: started out hot but faded fast.

Blue Jays Order Among Best In Baseball

Through his first eight major-league starts, it’s pretty clear that Alek Manoah’s stuff plays in the show.

The right-hander wasn’t the arm that most thought would break through into the Blue Jays’ rotation this year — that was Nate Pearson — but he has provided a big boost in 2021.

Manoah has a 2.91 ERA and 3.98 xFIP through his first 40 1/3 big-league innings.

He has remained relatively steady throughout the season, although control was an issue his last time out. Manoah threw 88 pitches over just 3 2/3 innings, walking three while striking out nine and allowing three runs (two earned) against the Rays.

The Blue Jays’ lineup, meanwhile, is dangerous.

With a top five of George Springer, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Marcus Semien, Bo Bichette and Teoscar Hernandez, Toronto can mash with anyone in the majors. There’s some serious depth to that lineup, as well.

All five of those hitters are right-handed, so I’m looking to bet Toronto however I can when they face a southpaw.

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Royals-Blue Jays Pick

While the Royals didn’t go all out in selling at the trade deadline, they still have very little going for them, including Minor.

The Blue Jays, meanwhile, are trending in the right direction. They’re back at the Rogers Centre, starting with this series, and just acquired Jose Berrios and were clearly looking to buy at the trade deadline.

The Blue Jays have the advantage in every part of this matchup. I’ll back their run line at close to even money on DraftKings.

Pick: Blue Jays -1.5 (-120)

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UFC Fight Night Betting Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Best Bets for Chavez vs. Kamaka, Barberena vs. Witt and More (July 31)

This weekend’s UFC card saw a number of shake ups early in the week and on Friday afternoon at the weigh-ins, but the card will still go on. Middleweights Uriah Hall and Sean Strickland are still slated to headline Saturday’s action as each man hopes to climb the rankings, and the prelims will begin at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN.

So, where should you be looking to place your bets? Our crew is focusing on three fights in particular and see a few bets with value in those matchups. You can find their analysis and picks on those confrontations below.

You can also check out the moneyline and prop projections for every fight via Sean Zerillo’s betting model.


Moneyline Projections

Prop Projections

Sean Zerillo: Danny Chavez vs. Kai Kamaka III

Betting Analyst, The Action Network

Chavez wasn’t originally going to be my favorite UFC bet for this week; we arrived here by the process of elimination.

My two favorite betting spots on this card — on Ronnie Lawrence and Nicco Montaño — were canceled at Friday’s weigh-ins. I lean toward the lengthy Phillip Rowe as an underdog play in the first bout of the night, but he also missed weight. And I don’t see much moneyline value on the remainder of the card.

I have bet on both Chavez and Kamaka in the past, and their stylistic matchup likely amounts to a close or split decision where Chavez lands more damage, but Kamaka applies more pressure and volume.

Kamaka has upside to net control time on the mat. since Chavez hasn’t shown much ability to get off of his back. Still, Kamaka’s cardio is questionable in the late stages of three-round fights, and Chavez showed decent takedown defense against a much larger Jared Gordon (2-of-7 takedowns, 6:07 in control).

Chavez has higher finishing upside on the feet — and the power advantage in this fight — with the ability to chop down Kamaka’s legs with his brutal low kick game and potentially capitalize on a tiring opponent. He should be coming on strong at the end, and Kamaka’s finishing upside is relatively low.

I projected Chavez as a slight favorite (56%) in this matchup, so I like his moneyline at -115 or better (FanDuel has the best line at -102). I also show value on his odds to win by decision (projected +177, listed +260) and on the over 2.5 rounds (-200) or the fight to go the distance (projected -205, listed -175), which you could use as parlay pieces.

I would take some of Chavez’s decision prop alongside a moneyline play, but don’t blame me if the judges get this one wrong following last Saturday’s fiasco.

The Pick: Danny Chavez (-102) | Danny Chavez wins by Decision (+260)

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Billy Ward: Collin Anglin vs. Melsik Baghdasaryan

Contributor at The Action Network

There’s another fighter from Michigan making his professional debut this weekend, so if you’ve followed my writing at all, you know I’m all over it. Scorpion Fighting Systems’ Collin Anglin (8-1) makes his debut against Melsik Baghdasaryan (5-1), who is also stepping into the Octagon for the first time.

What’s intriguing to me here is that while both guys have excellent records, their “strength of schedules” both leave a little bit to be desired. Before their contenders series bouts, they had two (Anglin) and one (Baghdasaryan) win over fighters with winning records. This makes it challenging to evaluate how they will do against top competition.

To Melsik’s credit, he was a top-level (K-1) kickboxer before devoting himself to MMA, so we can expect his strength to be in the stand-up. Anglin is no slouch on the feet though, with five of his eight wins coming by KO or TKO.

For what it’s worth, his camp’s boxing coach John Chalbeck, is an undefeated pro boxer, bare knuckle boxer, and MMA fighter, who is known locally as being one of the best in the business. I still give Melsik a slight edge standing, but Anglin winning a stand-up war wouldn’t shock me.

What would shock me is Melsik winning a grappling contest. Anglin was a decorated high school wrestler who picked up a couple amateur wins by submission.

I’m not sure he will necessarily take the fight to the ground, as UFC debutants sometimes prioritize putting on exciting fights over picking up a W (with what the starting pay is for UFC fighters, a $50,000 bonus check is sometimes the difference between having to work a real job or getting to train full-time.)

If I were in Anglin’s corner, my game plan would have him feeling things out on the feet, but quickly turning the contest into a grappling match if the striking took a turn for the worse.

Either way, I see more paths to victory for Anglin, whom I would have listed as a slight favorite if I were setting the line. Since we’re getting him as a slight underdog, with the best line being FanDuel’s +116, he’s a good value here.

The Pick: Anglin moneyline (+116)

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Erich Richter: Bryan Barberena vs. Jason Witt

Contributor at The Action Network

UFC veteran Bryan Barberena (15-7 in his career) has delivered some very entertaining fights in his career. His opponent, Jason Witt, is 1-2 in the UFC with each loss coming within the first minute of the first round.

Witt has shown to not be able to absorb very many strikes. He is probably fighting for his UFC career on Saturday, another knockout loss could lead to him being cut. Witt’s durability is a major question mark coming in. His knockout losses have not aged well as neither fighter appears headed for contention.

That said, Witt’s best chance to win this fight will be in the grappling department. It is unclear whether he can even get that far. Even if he does, Barberena should be a competent enough grappler to survive and stay on the feet.

Barberena is +160 to win via knockout on Saturday. This is a bit too expensive for my blood so I will instead take his knockout or decision double chance prop. I projected this to be closer to his ML at -200. PointsBet has it at -150 which I think is very reasonable. It would be surprising to see Barberena submit Witt.

Furthermore, even if Witt shows a better chin this Saturday, Barberena should have enough volume to pick up the decision.

The Pick: Barberena by KO or decision (-150)

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How Jacob deGrom’s Injury Setback & Deadline Day Changed Mets’ Odds

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A wild July that saw the most All-Stars (10) in MLB history change teams in a single season will end on a somber note.

New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom is said to have suffered a setback during rehab for a forearm strain he sustained earlier this month, MLB.com reported Friday.

The publication said the soonest deGrom will likely return is in September.

Friday was supposed to be a day of mild celebration in Mets circles after the team acquired Javier Báez in a Trade Deadline deal with the Chicago Cubs.

Instead, Mets fans can only hope the injury doesn’t prevent deGrom from returning at some point this season.

New York is mired in a three-way race for the National East crown. Entering play on Friday, the Mets were 3.5 games up on the Philadelphia Phillies and four games ahead of the Atlanta Braves.

But the Phillies and Braves both also made moves to help their causes on deadline day.

The Phillies acquired starter Kyle Gibson and reliever Ian Kennedy to help their woeful pitching staff. Gibson has a 2.87 ERA over 19 starts so far this season while Kennedy has a 2.51 ERA through 32 1/3 innings.

Meanwhile, the Braves traded for outfielder Joc Pedersen earlier this month and made deadline day deals for outfielders Adam Duvall, Jorge Soler and Eddie Rosario along with reliever Richard Rodriguez.

It’s clear both the Phillies and Braves see the Mets as vulnerable.

Still, New York remains the clear favorite in betting markets to win the NL East.

The Mets were -270 favorites to win the NL East at FanDuel, -310 favorites at DraftKings and -275 favorites at PointsBet prior to deadline day.

After the Mets, Phillies and Braves made trades to bolster their rosters, New York became -300 favorites to win the division at FanDuel but stayed at the same odds at the other two sportsbooks.

Following the deGrom injury setback news, the Mets reverted to -230 favorites to win the NL East at FanDuel and -250 favorites at DraftKings. Their odds actually shortened nominally at PointsBet to -280.

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It’s important to note that the best — and likely the only — way for the Mets to make the playoffs will be by winning their division. If play stopped today and the Mets were thrown into the wild card race, New York would be four games behind the second wild card San Diego Padres.

For reference, FanGraphs gave the Mets a 73.3% chance to win their division but only a 1.4% chance to win a wild card spot heading into play on Friday.

As for World Series odds, the Mets were + 1000 at FanDuel, +850 at DraftKings and +900 at PointsBet to win it all prior to trade deadline day.

After the NL East teams made their gambles, the odds at DraftKings moved to +800 but did not change at the other books.

deGrom’s forearm setback lengthened the Mets’ chances to win the World Series substantially. FanDuel moved their lines to +1200, DraftKings upped them to +950 and PointsBet now has New York as +1000 underdogs to win their first World Series since 1986.

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Uriah Hall vs. Sean Strickland Odds, Pick & UFC Fight Night Prediction: Back Underdog Hall (Saturday, July 31)

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Uriah Hall vs. Sean Strickland Odds

Hall Odds +180
Strickland Odds -225
Over/Under 3.5 Rounds (-250 / +200)
Venue UFC APEX
Time Approx. 11:30 p.m. ET
Channel ESPN
Odds as of Friday at 5:30 p.m. ET and via BetMGM.

A pair of stand-up specialists square for Saturday’s main event in the UFC. The always explosive No. 8 Uriah Hall will take on No. 11 Sean Strickland in the middleweight division.

The winner of this fight should be a legitimate contender to get a shot against champion Israel Adesanya. Several of the fighters ranked ahead of Strickland and Hall have been beaten by Adesanya already or are currently battling injuries.

Both fighters are riding four-fight win streaks, but this Saturday’s matchup will put an end to one of them.

Below, I preview the matchup and odds for Saturday’s main event.

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Tale of the Tape

Hall Strickland
Record 18-9 23-3
Avg. Fight Time 9:11 12:06
Height 6’0″ 6’1″
Weight (pounds) 185 lbs. 185 lbs.
Reach (inches) 79″ 76″
Stance Orthodox Orthodox
Date of birth 7/31/84 2/27/91
Sig Strikes Per Min 3.34 5.14
SS Accuracy 51% 39%
SS Absorbed Per Min 3.54 3.64
SS Defense 53% 67%
Take Down Avg 0.67 1.14
TD Acc 38% 60%
TD Def 69% 82%
Submission Avg 0.2 0.4

This fight is unlikely to touch the mat unless someone is unconscious. Hall showcases unbelievable power in his punches and incredible athleticism.

These characteristics had him on the fast track to stardom in 2013 during his time on The Ultimate Fighter. He shockingly lost the finale of the show to Kelvin Gastelum — who ended up being a top-level competitor in the division for years to come.

Uriah has had an up and down career, but time has actually helped him. His losses against top contenders like Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa are no longer a black eye for his career.

Conversely, Strickland has been showing dramatic improvements in his game. He has proven himself to be on another level when compared to Krzysztof Jotko and Brendan Allen.

What is most impressive is his volume of strikes. Strickland lands 5.14 significant strikes per minute and defends strikes at an excellent 67% rate — good for tops in the entire middleweight division.

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Hall vs. Strickland Pick

Hall’s power is going to be a major difference here. He typically sits back and counterstrikes as he sees fit. This is showcased by his relatively alarming significant strike differential (-.20).

Against Bevon Lewis, Hall was getting beat up pretty bad. Hall was able to land a knockout late in that fight, but he was on his way to a three-round decision loss. Lewis struggled in the UFC, with a 3-3 record before being cut last year.

The biggest key to victory for Hall is his speed. In his wins, he utilizes great hand speed to land heavy shots. If he is unable to do this from the beginning, he is unlikely to pull off a victory.

Strickland’s incredible striking defense could be on full display this Saturday. Prefight if you are looking to bet Strickland, I do show value on Strickland to win via decision on PointsBet (+215 down to +195).

However, I see better value in Hall as a pretty big underdog of +180 on BetMGM. Hall has fought in a five-round fight in his career, unlike Strickland. Hall has incredible power and much better strength of schedule than Strickland.

Furthermore, In a stand-up battle — where it is unlikely to see either fighter grapple — we should know who is going to win this one after the first round. I wouldn’t be afraid to add another unit after round one at plus money if Hall is controlling the action or hedge if Strickland’s striking defense is holding up.

Overall, I think Hall as a+180 underdog is a gift prefight. This should come down after round one. I would bet his prefight moneyline down to +155.

The Pick: Uriah Hall ML +180 (Down to +155)

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How To Bet AFC East Futures Odds: Expect Josh Allen, Bills To Dominate Again In 2021

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Action’s Director of Predictive Analytics, Sean Koerner, simulated the 2021 NFL season 10,000 times to project win totals and playoff odds for every AFC East team in order to identify early value on their futures.


2021 AFC East Projections

Team 1st
Place
2nd
Place
3rd
Place
4th
Place
Buffalo Bills 63.1% 23.5% 11.3% 2.1%
Miami Dolphins 19.7% 33.8% 32.1% 14.3%
New England Patriots 15.5% 35.2% 37.5% 11.8%
New York Jets 1.5% 7.7% 19.3% 71.5%
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Bills Win Total Projections

bills-win-projections-2021

Average Wins 11.2
Make vs. Miss Playoffs 83.8% vs. 16.2%

Josh Allen is coming off a breakout season where he finished as runner-up for the 2020 MVP award.

Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll deserves a ton of credit for Allen’s Year 3 breakout. Not only did he turn the Bills into a pass-heavy offense (second-highest early-pass down frequency), but he also dialed up more play-action dropbacks for Allen (led the league with 217). Daboll created an offensive scheme that was able to unlock the young QB’s massive potential.

Neither Daboll nor defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was plucked away from another organization to become a head coach, meaning both will return to Buffalo for the 2021 season. That is a big reason why I lean on the Over 11 wins for the Bills. They maintain the continuity of being one of the best-coached teams in the league.

Their Pythagorean expected win total of 10.6 makes their 13-3 record last season seem a bit lucky. However, I like to also look at Game Time (Leading) that Football Outsiders tracks. Last season the Bills led for 38:02 of game time on average, translating to roughly 13.1 wins based on my expected wins metric. It’s likely the Bills played softer defense with the lead — which hurt their point differential — but were every bit as dominant as their 13-3 record would indicate.

Lean: Over 11 (-110) at FanDuel

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Dolphins Win Total Projections

dolphins-win-projections-2021

Average Wins 9.1
Make vs. Miss Playoffs 49.5% vs. 50.5%

Tua Tagovailoa’s rookie season was a disappointment almost any way you slice it. Here is where he ranked in a few key metrics I like to look at for QBs (out of 43 qualified passers):

  • ANY/A: 5.4 (32nd)
  • QB Rating: 87.1 (29th)
  • EPA/play: (31st)

Tua was a below-average quarterback as a rookie, but he was above average when comparing him to other rookie seasons. Since 2010, there have been 42 rookie QBs to attempt 200+ passes; here is how Tua stacked up against his peers:

  • ANY/A: 5.4 (18th)
  • QB Rating: 87.1 (13th)

Considering Tua was coming off a significant hip injury and entered the league with a COVID-deleted offseason, I’m willing to cut him some slack. However, I expect him to make considerable progress this year, especially with Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle added to the mix.

The Dolphins’ offensive line is a huge question mark considering they will have three second-year players in the starting lineup. It could prevent them from posting 10+ wins, but their above-average defense will keep them above .500 and they’ll finish 9-8.

Plays: Under 9.5 (+105) at DraftKings

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Patriots Win Total Projections

patriots-win-projections-2021

Average Wins 8.9
Make vs. Miss Playoffs 45.2% vs. 54.8%

The Patriots did not enjoy the first season of the post-Tom Brady era. They finished with a 7-9 record, failed to make the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade, and Brady won a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers 一 in their home stadium no less. Therefore it wasn’t surprising to see Bill Belichick go on a $170 million spending spree in free agency and use the Pats’ first-round pick on a QB (Mac Jones). 

They overpaid a handful of players in free agency. Nelson Agholor, Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith are all quality additions, but not enough to make this a 10+ win team. As a result, I’m projecting New England to finish under 9.5 wins 60.2% of the time.

Pick: Under 9.5 (+110) at DraftKings

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Jets Win Total Projections

jets-win-projections-2021

Average Wins 6.2
Make vs. Miss Playoffs 6.9% vs. 93.1%

The needle is pointing up for the Jets organization long term. Adam Gase is out and Robert Saleh is in. The coaching change will have an immediate positive impact on the team’s culture and decision making. However, I think this team is still a year or two away from ending its decade-long playoff drought. Zach Wilson comes into Year 1 oozing with talent but was a late bloomer in college and may need a year or two to adjust to the NFL. 

After ranking 28th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA against the pass last season, the Jets secondary remains a huge concern. It’s the main reason why I’m in line with sportsbooks and have the Jets with the third-lowest win total (six). 

The Jets will be a team to look out for in 2022 as they will have the third-most cap space entering next offseason, which should allow them to finish their rebuild as Wilson plays out his rookie contract. Therefore, I expect them to be a serious playoff contender as soon as next season. 

I’m passing on their win total.

Dolphins Super Bowl Odds, Win Total, More Futures: All Eyes On Tua Tagovailoa In Year 2

nfl-dolphins-futures-odds-super-bowl-koerner-2021

Action’s Director of Predictive Analytics, Sean Koerner, simulated the 2021 NFL season 10,000 times to project win totals and playoff odds for every AFC East team in order to identify early value on their futures.

Here’s how he sees things shaking out for the Miami Dolphins.

Dolphins 2022 Super Bowl Odds

Miami is sitting at +3500 to win it all in Super Bowl LVI this season as of July 30.

Super Bowl Odds at DraftKings +3500

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Dolphins Win Total Projections

dolphins-win-projections-2021

Average Wins 9.1
Make vs. Miss Playoffs 49.5% vs. 50.5%
Win Total at DraftKings Over 9.5 (+105) / Under 9.5 (-125)

Dolphins Betting Predictions

Tua Tagovailoa’s rookie season was a disappointment almost any way you slice it. Here is where he ranked in a few key metrics I like to look at for QBs (out of 43 qualified passers):

  • ANY/A: 5.4 (32nd)
  • QB Rating: 87.1 (29th)
  • EPA/play: (31st)

Tua was a below-average quarterback as a rookie, but he was above average when comparing him to other rookie seasons. Since 2010, there have been 42 rookie QBs to attempt 200+ passes; here is how Tua stacked up against his peers:

  • ANY/A: 5.4 (18th)
  • QB Rating: 87.1 (13th)

Considering Tua was coming off a significant hip injury and entered the league with a COVID-deleted offseason, I’m willing to cut him some slack. However, I expect him to make considerable progress this year, especially with Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle added to the mix.

The Dolphins’ offensive line is a huge question mark considering they will have three second-year players in the starting lineup. It could prevent them from posting 10+ wins, but their above-average defense will keep them above .500 and they’ll finish 9-8.

Plays: Under 9.5 (+105) at DraftKings


2021 AFC East Projections

There could be a real battle between the Dolphins and Patriots this year for second place in the AFC East.

Team 1st
Place
2nd
Place
3rd
Place
4th
Place
Buffalo Bills 63.1% 23.5% 11.3% 2.1%
Miami Dolphins 19.7% 33.8% 32.1% 14.3%
New England Patriots 15.5% 35.2% 37.5% 11.8%
New York Jets 1.5% 7.7% 19.3% 71.5%

Bills Super Bowl Odds, Win Total, More Futures: Expect Josh Allen To Dominate In 2021

nfl-bills-futures-odds-super-bowl-koerner-2021

Action’s Director of Predictive Analytics, Sean Koerner, simulated the 2021 NFL season 10,000 times to project win totals and playoff odds for every AFC East team in order to identify early value on their futures.

Here’s how he sees things shaking out for the Buffalo Bills.

Bills 2022 Super Bowl Odds

After Josh Allen’s breakout performance last season, the Bills sit at +1200 to win Super Bowl LVI as of July 30.

Super Bowl Odds at FanDuel +1200

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Bills Win Total Projections

bills-win-projections-2021

Average Wins 11.2
Make vs. Miss Playoffs 83.8% vs. 16.2%
Win Total at FanDuel Over 11 (-110) / Under 11 (-110)

Bills Betting Predictions

Allen is coming off a breakout season where he finished as runner-up for the 2020 MVP award.

Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll deserves a ton of credit for Allen’s Year 3 breakout. Not only did he turn the Bills into a pass-heavy offense (second-highest early-pass down frequency), but he also dialed up more play-action dropbacks for Allen (led the league with 217). Daboll created an offensive scheme that was able to unlock the young QB’s massive potential.

Neither Daboll nor defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was plucked away from another organization to become a head coach, meaning both will return to Buffalo for the 2021 season. That is a big reason why I lean on the Over 11 wins for the Bills. They maintain the continuity of being one of the best-coached teams in the league.

Their Pythagorean expected win total of 10.6 makes their 13-3 record last season seem a bit lucky. However, I like to also look at Game Time (Leading) that Football Outsiders tracks. Last season the Bills led for 38:02 of game time on average, translating to roughly 13.1 wins based on my expected wins metric. It’s likely the Bills played softer defense with the lead — which hurt their point differential — but were every bit as dominant as their 13-3 record would indicate.

Lean: Over 11 (-110) at FanDuel


2021 AFC East Projections

The Bills currently sit as my favorites to win the AFC East.

Team 1st
Place
2nd
Place
3rd
Place
4th
Place
Buffalo Bills 63.1% 23.5% 11.3% 2.1%
Miami Dolphins 19.7% 33.8% 32.1% 14.3%
New England Patriots 15.5% 35.2% 37.5% 11.8%
New York Jets 1.5% 7.7% 19.3% 71.5%

Patriots Super Bowl Odds, Win Total, More Futures: What To Expect After Busy Offseason

nfl-patriots-futures-odds-super-bowl-koerner-2021

Action’s Director of Predictive Analytics, Sean Koerner, simulated the 2021 NFL season 10,000 times to project win totals and playoff odds for every AFC East team in order to identify early value on their futures.

Here’s how he sees things shaking out for the New England Patriots.

Patriots 2022 Super Bowl Odds

In Year 2 of the post-Tom Brady era, New England is sitting at +3500 to win it all in Super Bowl LVI as of July 30.

Super Bowl Odds at DraftKings +3500

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Patriots Win Total Projections

patriots-win-projections-2021

Average Wins 8.9
Make vs. Miss Playoffs 45.2% vs. 54.8%
Win Total at DraftKings Over 9.5 (+110) / Under 9.5 (-130)

Patriots Betting Predictions

The Patriots did not enjoy the first season of the post-Tom Brady era. They finished with a 7-9 record, failed to make the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade, and Brady won a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers 一 in their home stadium no less. Therefore it wasn’t surprising to see Bill Belichick go on a $170 million spending spree in free agency and use the Pats’ first-round pick on a QB (Mac Jones). 

They overpaid a handful of players in free agency. Nelson Agholor, Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith are all quality additions, but not enough to make this a 10+ win team. As a result, I’m projecting New England to finish under 9.5 wins 60.2% of the time.

Pick: Under 9.5 (+110) at DraftKings

 


2021 AFC East Projections

There could be a real battle between the Patriots and Dolphins this year for second place in the AFC East.

Team 1st
Place
2nd
Place
3rd
Place
4th
Place
Buffalo Bills 63.1% 23.5% 11.3% 2.1%
Miami Dolphins 19.7% 33.8% 32.1% 14.3%
New England Patriots 15.5% 35.2% 37.5% 11.8%
New York Jets 1.5% 7.7% 19.3% 71.5%

Jets Super Bowl Odds, Win Total, More Futures: What To Expect During Rebuild Year

nfl-jets-futures-odds-super-bowl-koerner-2021

Action’s Director of Predictive Analytics, Sean Koerner, simulated the 2021 NFL season 10,000 times to project win totals and playoff odds for every AFC East team in order to identify early value on their futures.

Here’s how he sees things shaking out for the New York Jets.

Jets 2022 Super Bowl Odds

With a rebuild officially under way — equipped with a new coach and quarterback — the Jets sit at +15000 for a Super Bowl LIV win as of July 30.

Super Bowl Odds at DraftKings +15000

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Jets Win Total Projections

jets-win-projections-2021

Average Wins 6.2
Make vs. Miss Playoffs 6.9% vs. 93.1%
Win Total at DraftKings Over 6 (+100) / Under 6 (-120)

Jets Betting Predictions

The needle is pointing up for the Jets organization long term. Adam Gase is out and Robert Saleh is in. The coaching change will have an immediate positive impact on the team’s culture and decision making. However, I think this team is still a year or two away from ending its decade-long playoff drought. Zach Wilson comes into Year 1 oozing with talent but was a late bloomer in college and may need a year or two to adjust to the NFL. 

After ranking 28th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA against the pass last season, the Jets secondary remains a huge concern. It’s the main reason why I’m in line with sportsbooks and have the Jets with the third-lowest win total (six). 

The Jets will be a team to look out for in 2022 as they will have the third-most cap space entering next offseason, which should allow them to finish their rebuild as Wilson plays out his rookie contract. Therefore, I expect them to be a serious playoff contender as soon as next season. 

I’m passing on their win total.


2021 AFC East Projections

Like I said, 2021 may not be the Jets’ year as they are looking at last place in the AFC East. But keep an eye on them in 2022 once the rebuild starts to settle.

Team 1st
Place
2nd
Place
3rd
Place
4th
Place
Buffalo Bills 63.1% 23.5% 11.3% 2.1%
Miami Dolphins 19.7% 33.8% 32.1% 14.3%
New England Patriots 15.5% 35.2% 37.5% 11.8%
New York Jets 1.5% 7.7% 19.3% 71.5%

Patricio Freire vs. A.J. McKee Odds, Pick & Prediction: How to Bet Saturday’s Bellator 263 Main Event (July 31)

Patricio Freire vs. A.J. McKee Odds

Freire Odds
-115
McKee Odds
-105
Over/Under
2.5 (-135 /+105)
Venue
The Forum
Time
Approx. 11 p.m. ET
Channel
Showtime
Odds as of Friday and via DraftKings.

The biggest fight in Bellator history will take place on Saturday night at The Forum in Inglewood, California, as two-division champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire takes on A.J. McKee in the finals of Bellator’s $1 Million Featherweight Grand Prix.

Freire is a two-time champion in Bellator’s Featherweight division, and he has defended his belt five times on his current run, including three defenses since his 2019 victory over Michael Chandler, where he also secured Lightweight gold.

McKee, a second-generation Mixed Martial Artist, has fought his entire career in Bellator, amassing an undefeated record that includes nine first-round finishes.

Per Ranking MMA, Pitbull (No. 3) and McKee (No. 6) are two of the top 10 Featherweights globally — the only men’s weight class aside from Light Heavyweight where Bellator features two fighters in the top 10. Moreover, Freire also checks in at No. 10 in their pound-for-pound rankings.

McKee has all the potential in the world, but does he have the skills to compete with Bellator’s most decorated talent in his first five-round affair?

Below, I’ll analyze the stylistic matchup and the odds for Saturday’s contest.

Tale of the Tape

Freire McKee
Record 32-4 17-0
Country Brazil USA
Height 5’6″ 5’10”
Weight (pounds) 144 lbs. 144 lbs.
Reach (inches) 65.5″ 73.5″
Stance Orthodox Southpaw
Date of birth 7/7/87 4/7/95

McKee has massive physical advantages here — standing 4 inches taller, with an 8-inch reach advantage.

For context, UFC Featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski has a 71.5-inch reach, while Max Holloway has a 69.5-inch reach — and McKee’s frame and physique is unique for the 145-pound division.

McKee struggled to make weight on Friday, but returned to the scales a second time and hit the 145-pound limit. Freire has competed at 155, but he’s closer to a 135-pounder in terms of stature.

Still, he possesses massive power in both hands from his low center of gravity and is capable of shutting the lights off in any opponent:

Pitbull has faced a higher level of competition than McKee and fought for 25 minutes on five occasions (3-2 in those decisions). The championship rounds are uncharted territory for the challenger, and McKee looks like he should be able to maintain a solid pace for 25 minutes. Still, a difficult weight cut could serve to work against him in the late stages of this fight.

Freire does his best work off the counter, which should play well against McKee’s early pressure. However, McKee’s length advantage could pose problems since Freire tends to throw hooks as opposed to straight punches, so he’ll really need to step inside of that range and close the distance.

Since Pitbull fights from an orthodox stance, he’ll be exposed a bit against McKee’s southpaw/switch attack, particularly with body kicks. And if Mckee works kicks off of his jab, he could frustrate Pitbull quite a bit in the early going.

Both men are high-level jiu-jitsu practitioners, but I think Pitbull would prefer to keep this fight standing because McKee’s size on the ground potentially poses more of an issue than it does on the feet.

With his long limbs, he’s able to pull off submissions from positions that don’t seem possible:

Pitbull has a nasty guillotine choke of his own that he can sink into opponents if they try to change levels in fights. But mostly, I think the Brazilian would prefer to counter-wrestle McKee and try to put the hurt on an opponent who hasn’t faced much adversity in professional MMA.

The beauty and the curse of McKee’s early finishes (four first-round wins in his last six fights) is that we haven’t had a chance to fully see the improvements that he’s made over the past three to four years.

His striking has come a long way, but there are still some holes in his game – like a tendency to throw naked kicks – which could prove detrimental against an opponent of this caliber.

The tools are all there for McKee- but his overall skill set isn’t necessarily refined, and the application of his physical gifts may not be optimized.

Fighters who can counter McKee — like Pitbull — can take advantage of his pressure and recklessness. However, fighters like McKee — who can smother opponents on the ground or grind you down with size and strength — are the best archetype to defeat Pitbull.

The champion doesn’t necessarily have the best cardio — or fight in a way where he blows out opponents on the scorecards — but he is certainly resilient and battle-tested.

Even if McKee is the man with better cardio, he hasn’t faced true adversity in the cage, and Freire seems the man more likely to dig deep and stage a late comeback in the championship rounds.

Still, McKee may be a truly generational talent — the start of a new wave of MMA fighters — and nobody can stop this hype train.

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Freire vs. McKee Pick

Pitbull opened as a -125 favorite in this fight, and the line has come down to around a pick’em at the time of writing.

Based upon the public pick data that I scrape, McKee is the much more popular selection, with fans picking the challenger to stay undefeated at around a 63% clip, which would imply a line closer to -170.

I would have expected to see Pitbull lined closer to -150 (60% implied) before breaking down the fight at a deeper level.

Based on what we have seen and what we know about their respective careers, it’s hard not to make Pitbull the favorite in this matchup. After my assessment, I think the opening line closer to 55% (-122 implied) was more than fair.

A bet on McKee is a bet on his unlimited long-term upside, but this is still a massive step up in competition against a dominant champion who now seems to be suddenly underrated. At a pick’em price, all you are doing is planting your flag.

McKee could come out and absolutely dominate this fight and stamp himself as a potential generational star in MMA — and I would be fine with that result. He’s a terrific talent, and I’m excited to see his career play out.

Still, I see far more flag planting on the McKee side than I do on the champion’s side, and I’m happy to play against the public and snatch up some perceived line value.

Bet Pitbull here, up to -120, and try to find a plus-money price in the live market after the first couple of rounds, as McKee’s finishing upside wanes.

I also think there’s value on the over 2.5 rounds (-135) or the “Fight to Go the Distance” prop (Yes listed +165) since I only projected this bout to end inside of the distance 55% of the time (-122 implied odds).

However, this fight could play out in various ways – and could even end in the opening exchanges — so I would be much more cautious about sweating an over, as opposed to the moneyline.

The Pick: Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (-115, 1 unit) | Over 2.5 Rounds (-135, 0.25u)

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World Series Odds Update: How Did Contenders Odds Move After Wild MLB Trade Deadline?

world series odds-mlb-trade deadline

World Series Odds

Via DraftKings

Team 7/30 Odds (Evening) 7/30 Odds (Morning)
Los Angeles Dodgers +275 +320
Houston Astros +600 +600
Chicago White Sox +650 +750
New York Mets +850 +850
San Diego Padres +1000 +900
Boston Red Sox +1100 +1000
Milwaukee Brewers +1200 +1100
San Francisco Giants +1200 +1400
Tampa Bay Rays +1600 +1400
New York Yankees +1700 +1700
Oakland Athletics +3000 +3000
Toronto Blue Jays +3000 +3000
Atlanta Braves +5000 +4000
Philadelphia Phillies +5500 +5500
Cincinnati Reds +9000 +9000
St. Louis Cardinals +15000 +15000
Los Angeles Angels +15000 +13000
Seattle Mariners +15000 +25000
Cleveland Indians +18000 +13000
Chicago Cubs +20000 +13000
Washington Nationals +40000 +20000
Miami Marlins +40000 +40000
Minnesota Twins +80000 +80000
Colorado Rockies +100000 +100000
Pittsburgh Pirates +100000 +100000
Kansas City Royals +100000 +100000
Detroit Tigers +100000 +100000
Texas Rangers +100000 +100000
Arizona Diamondbacks +100000 +100000
Baltimore Orioles +100000 +100000

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The MLB Trade Deadline has come and gone, and the rosters we see now will be more or less the ones that teams take with them into the final two months of the season and the race to October.

Between Max Scherzer and Trea Turner going to the Dodgers, Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo going to the Yankees, José Berrios going to the Blue Jays, and a host of other trades along the way, many contenders beefed up their depth for the stretch run.

How did this affect those respective odds? Below, I’ve noted relevant odds movement from contenders on some combination of World Series, pennant and division races. Let’s dig in.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • World Series Odds Before Deadline: +380
  • World Series Odds After Deadline: +275

Odds from Thursday evening to Friday evening and via DraftKings

How does the favorite become a bigger favorite? Well, by acquiring a future Hall of Fame, three-time Cy Young winner. Oh, and an All-Star shortstop to boot.

The Dodgers swooped ahead of the rival Padres to acquire Max Scherzer and Trea Turner from the Nationals on Thursday, getting all their work done a day ahead of the deadline like the teacher’s pet they are.

They have been the World Series favorites all season long, and the moves they made only solidified their position.

San Francisco Giants

  • World Series Odds Before Deadline: +1400
  • World Series Odds After Deadline: +1200
  • Pennant Odds Before Deadline: +650
  • Pennant Odds After Deadline: +525
  • Division Odds Before Deadline: +280
  • Division Odds After Deadline: +225

Odds from Friday morning to Friday evening and via DraftKings

The Giants answered their rivals down south with a buzzer-beating deal on Friday to acquire Kris Bryant from the Chicago Cubs.

San Francisco got who many consider the best position player on the market, and he will help the Giants in a number of ways, whether it be at third base, in the outfield, or some combination of the two.

We saw some movement in those odds after the move, but not as drastic as one might think. It’s important to note that in baseball, no single player is going to swing odds very drastically, but it’s also hard for odds to swing when the main competition makes an even bigger move, as the Dodgers did.

Still, the Giants remain in first place in the division, and the acquisition of Bryant will help them solidify that standing. Whether they can stave off the behemoth Dodgers — not to mention the Padres — will be among the most interesting things to watch these final two months.

Chicago White Sox

  • World Series Odds Before Deadline: +750
  • World Series Odds After Deadline: +650
  • Pennant Odds Before Deadline: +300
  • Pennant Odds After Deadline: +250

Odds from Friday morning to Friday evening and via DraftKings

Shortly after acquiring Craig Kimbrel from the Cubs, the White Sox became the favorites to win the AL pennant, leapfrogging the Houston Astros, who made a few minor moves but nothing in the ballpark of what the White Sox did.

Prior to that trade, the White Sox were +300 and Houston was +250, but with the White Sox moving to +250, Houston dropped slightly to +270. It’s about as close to a coin-flip as you can get, with Boston next up at +425.

Kimbrel was the headline transaction, but the White Sox also added a much-needed second baseman in Cesar Hernandez from Cleveland, and more bullpen depth in Ryan Tepera, also from the Cubs.

New York Yankees

  • World Series Odds Before Deadline: +2500
  • World Series Odds After Deadline: +2200
  • Pennant Odds Before Deadline: +1400
  • Pennant Odds After Deadline: +950
  • Division Odds Before Deadline: +1300
  • Division Odds After Deadline: +1000

Odds from Thursday evening to Friday evening and via BetMGM

The Yankees made their biggest splashes before Friday in acquiring Joey Gallo from the Rangers and Anthony Rizzo from the Cubs, and they added starting pitching depth at the deadline on Friday in Andrew Heaney from the Angels.

New York entered the season with the second-lowest World Series odds and was the favorite in both the league and the AL East, but has since seen those odds drop over the course of an uneven first four months of the season.

The odds came down slightly after the deadline, but the Yankees still sit behind the Red Sox and Rays (both +1200) for the World Series. Boston (-125) and Tampa Bay (+130) still have the two lowest odds for the division, too.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • Division Odds Before Deadline: +2200
  • Division Odds After Deadline: +1800

Odds from Friday morning to Friday evening and via DraftKings

Thanks to the Yankees’ activity, the Blue Jays’ odds didn’t move all that much despite a solid addition in Jose Berrios, the second-best starting pitcher on the market next to Scherzer.

We haven’t seen any movement on Toronto’s World Series or pennant odds — at +3000 and +1400, respectively — but they did narrow the gap in the division slightly.

It’s worth noting that Toronto’s odds at DraftKings have been considerably lower than other books, so this could be a matter of them just catching up to the pack. Toronto, which has been seen as low as +1300 for the division at some books, still sits behind New York, Boston and Tampa in the AL East pecking order.

San Diego Padres

  • Division Odds Before Deadline: +525
  • Division Odds After Deadline: +700

Odds from Friday morning to Friday evening and via DraftKings

The one notable faller here among potential contenders is the Padres, who lost out on Max Scherzer and failed to move the needle in a meaningful way ahead of the deadline.

San Diego did acquire All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier from the Pirates in the days leading up to the deadline, and added depth pieces such as Daniel Hudson and Jake Marisnick, but the moves their NL West rivals made in Scherzer, Turner and Bryant dwarfed those in comparison.

The Padres saw minimal drops in their World Series and pennant odds, but the big drop came in the division. Already sitting in third, the Padres saw the gap widen between themselves and the Dodgers and Giants.

The Rest

The New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies bolstered their rosters a bit, but not enough to move the needle considerably. The Mets added Javier Baez from the Cubs in a deadline deal and Rich Hill last week, but missed out on a couple of the big targets they were reportedly in on, and didn’t see significant movement in either direction. New York remains NL East favorites (-300) and checks in with the second-lowest pennant odds at +450, via DraftKings.

Philadelphia paid a steep price in acquiring Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy from the Rangers for talented youngster Spencer Howard, and made a few other minor deals, but it remains on the outside looking in in both the division and wild-card races. The Phillies are +425 for the NL East and +3000 for the pennant, via DraftKings.

The Oakland Athletics, Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners made a flurry of minor moves, the biggest of which came earlier this week when Oakland acquired Starling Marte from the Miami Marlins. Houston bolstered its bullpen with Kendall Graveman from Seattle and the Mariners, in turn, got Diego Castillo from the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Boston Red Sox also remained quiet outside of a trade for Kyle Schwarber, and the Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves added a few depth pieces.

None of those trades moved the needle considerably from an odds perspective, although

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LA Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers Odds, Picks, Prediction: Friday MLS Betting Preview (July 30)

portland vs galaxy-mls-odds-bets-july-30

LA Galaxy vs. Portland Odds

LA Galaxy Odds -103
Portland Odds +245
Draw +270
Over/Under 3.5 (+125 / -175)
Day | Time Friday | 10 p.m. ET
How To Watch ESPN | fuboTV
Odds updated Thursday night via DraftKings.

The LA Galaxy look to rebound from their worst defeat of the season on Saturday night when they host a Portland Timbers squad finally getting healthy.

Playing a fifth consecutive match without Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and a few others, the Galaxy were beaten 4-0 last weekend at an FC Dallas side that entered losers of three in a row.

The same evening, Portland took an early lead through Felipe Mora before eventually succumbing to a 2-1 loss at Minnesota United.

This one could carry bad blood both ways.

The Timbers routed the Galaxy 3-0 in their previous meeting. But all three goals came after LA defender Derrick Williams’ challenge ended Portland midfielder Andy Polo’s season, resulting in a red card and subsequent six-match suspension.

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LA Galaxy Not At Full Strength

The Galaxy couldn’t find the back of the net in Dallas, but despite Chicharito’s absence with a calf injury, LA’s recent struggles have come more often on defense.

That reflects a longer absentee list than just Mexico’s all-time leading international goal scorer.

The United States’ Sebastian Lletget, and Mexico’s Jonathan dos Santos and Efrain Alvares are all at the CONCACAF Gold Cup. And when you take that chunk of a potential front four away, opponents are less concerned about getting caught with too many numbers forward.

That’s a bad formula when you’ve already struggled on defense at times this year, and it has resulted in LA conceding 11 times in its last five games.

Outside back Oneil Fisher (Jamaica) and Giancarlo Gonzalez (Costa Rica) are returning to LA from their own Gold Cup duty.

Fisher has made four appearances this year. Gonzalez has yet to see the field.

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Portland Victim Of Packed Schedule

The Timbers finally have Jeremy Ebobisse, Cristhian Paredes and Sebastian Blanco all available, but that doesn’t mean Giovanni Savarese has been able to field his ideal starting XI.

In their third match in eight days against Minnesota, Savaredse rotated his squad considerably as Ebobisse, Valeri and Blanco all began on the bench.

It’s still not clear if Blanco is fit enough to start having made a prolonged return from an ACL tear suffered last September.

The 2020 MLS is Back Tournament MVP has played no more than 17 minutes in any game this season, though he appeared in all three matches of Portland’s busy week.

Mora leads Portland with four goals. He’s one of five Timbers players to find the net multiple times.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

Starting at last year’s MLS is Back Tournament, this Timbers offense made of much the same personnel scored multiple goals in a stretch of 10 out of 12 games.

Between Blanco’s slow fitness build and striker Jaroslaw Niezgoda’s continued absence from his own ACL tear, this offense is clearly not at that level yet.

But there are growing echoes, and a match against the leaky Galaxy could be a good catalyst toward better attacking days.

That doesn’t mean a good day going forward earns a result for the visitors. Even this version of the Galaxy is capable of scoring.

Victor Vazquez has proven his ability to conjure individual brilliance in this league.  Samuel Grandsir and Kevin Cabral are both considerably underperforming their xG in their first MLS seasons. Ethan Zubak is a capable — if unspectacular — replacement for Chicharito at center striker.

But Timbers are the more dependable offense against one of the league’s least dependable defenses. I’m playing them to score at least twice at +130 odds and an implied 43.5% probability on the belief the Galaxy’s defending woes continue.

Pick: Portland team total over 1.5 goals (+130)

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MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Astros vs. Giants: How to Bet Matchup of Division Leaders in San Francisco (Friday, July 30)

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Astros vs. Giants Odds

Astros Odds +105
Giants Odds -125
Over/Under 7.5
Time Friday, 9:45 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds as of Friday and via BetMGM

Something’s got to give here with two division leaders coming in hot. The Astros and Giants are both trying to absorb some moves made by rivals and continue dominating on the field.

With a great matchup against a sinker-balling lefty, could the Giants surprise one of the best teams in baseball with yet another win?

Let’s see where the value lies in the numbers below.

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Houston Astros

Unfortunately for the rest of the league, it appears the Astros are back. They’ve now won seven of their last nine games, behind some masterful offensive performances. A lineup that had begun to slump has now posted a 114 wRC+ over the last two weeks, striking out just 22.1% of the time and returning to their contact-heavy ways. Houston has gotten a whopping five homers from Kyle Tucker over that span, and Michael Brantley and Jose Altuve continue to hit for average.

The best part about the Astros right now is their pitching staff has received some much-needed relief. The bullpen had long been the Achilles heel of this team, but with Kendall Graveman and Rafael Montero now in the fold, and the struggling Joe Smith gone, we as bettors no longer need to wonder what catastrophes lie ahead for the Astros in the late stages of the game.

Framber Valdez is another positive for the Astros entering this game, checking in with a 2.97 ERA across 11 starts and doing an exceptional job getting ground balls with his sinker. His average launch angle currently sits at -7 degrees, and his hard-hit rate has come back down to 42.6%. Hitters have an expected wOBA on contact of just .311 against Valdez, which is spectacular. His only issue has been walks, with over 10% of hitters who step to the plate against the lefty getting a free pass.


San Francisco Giants

Things couldn’t be going better for the Giants right now, at least on the field. The Dodgers did just assemble baseball’s version of a superteam with the acquisition of Max Scherzer and Trea Turner on Thursday, but as far as the standings and recent play are concerned, all is good with the Giants. They’ve picked up six of eight games against the Dodgers to maintain a three-game lead in the division, with a disappointing series loss to the Pirates sandwiched in between.

San Francisco has Kevin Gausman going again here, who is coming off a shockingly-bad performance against the Pirates but who has been great on the whole this year. Walks have begun to present an issue, with three or more in four of his last five starts, and 17 in total over that span. Other than that, he’s been fantastic at limiting the big hits, and good contact in general, with a barrel rate under 8%.

There are two things to look at here with the Giants. One is a wRC+ of 101 against lefties, which is pretty good, but not the best. Another is a 44.9% ground ball rate against southpaws, and a 40.5% ground ball rate in general this year, which ranks 28th in the league. This team is pretty good at getting the ball in the air, and average against lefties, which could help against Valdez.

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Astros-Giants Pick

The chances are that Gausman sees positive regression back to the mean here, with solid ERA indicators and a track record of handling even the most potent offenses in baseball. He’s been great this season at limiting big batted ball events, but as we mentioned above he’s had issues with walks.

The Astros are very contact-reliant and have walked around a league-average rate over the last couple of weeks and all year long. That should play into the Giants’ hands, as should the fact that they’ve generally been able to lift the ball this year and get to lefties. I’d make them heavier favorites.

Pick: Giants ML (-125)

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MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions for Royals vs. Blue Jays: Smart Money Eyeing Total in Toronto (July 30)

Royals vs. Blue Jays Odds

Royals Odds +188
Blue Jays Odds -225
Over/Under 10.5 (-104/-110)
Time 7:07 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV

The Royals head to Toronto to take on the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre on Friday evening.

Toronto came into Friday morning 4 1/2 games back of a Wild Card spot in the AL and will surely be looking to build momentum as they kick off this three-game set against the red-hot Royals.

Kansas City, while sporting an unimpressive 45-56 record entering Friday night, has been one of the hottest teams in baseball as of late. The Royals are coming off a series win over the AL Central-leading White Sox. Before the White Sox series even started, the Royals had already ripped off a five-game win streak.

A combination of some timely hitting and several great outings on the mound has powered Kansas City through both some tough and not-so-tough opponents post-All-Star break.

The Blue Jays will definitely fall under the “tough” category, with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the Toronto offense producing well all season. Toronto is coming off of a 13-2 blowout win over the Red Sox in which Guerror Jr. had a three-run homer.

Despite Toronto’s impressive showing of power on Thursday and the recent success of the Royals, our latest PRO Report still shows serious value on the total.

MLB Picks: Royals vs. Blue Jays

Sharp Action

The total for Friday’s AL showdown in Toronto opened up at 11 before it was driven down to 10.5 runs.

Since Friday morning, there have been two Action Labs Bet Signals triggered on the under, showcasing the line movement pushing down Friday’s total at the Rogers Centre.

Big Money

The 47% of bettors taking the under have generated 62% of the money wagered on Friday’s game. This 14% difference is yet another sign that the biggest bets being placed—the ones likely to be placed by expert bettors—are on the under.

Top Experts

One of the Action Network’s top MLB experts is betting on the under in Toronto.

PRO Report Pick: Under 10.5 (-110 at DraftKings and FanDuel)

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Why Not? How Westbrook to the Lakers Impacts Betting Value

how-westbrook-to-lakers-impacts-betting-value

If you had asked me “guess the year Russell Westbrook becomes a Laker” back in 2012 after the Thunder had lost the NBA Finals to LeBron James’s Heat, I would have guessed 2016. Maybe 2018.

Westbrook is from the LA area and has always held ties there. He’s a big-name superstar. He had opportunities to form his own superteam in LA and instead chose to stick it out with the Thunder until that had run its course.

Given how often players bail on teams like the Thunder in smaller markets like Oklahoma City, you might have assumed 10 years ago he’d already have been a Laker.

But instead, it’s 2021, and Westbrook has come home to LA in a deal agreed upon Thursday before the NBA Draft. The Wizards take on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma, and the 22nd pick in the draft, which they used to draft Isaiah Jackson.

US books were largely unfazed by the news. The Lakers were +500 at BetMGM to win the title before the news and moved to +400. That’s been the consensus across multiple US books Friday.

The Lakers were +450 when I wrote last week that it wasn’t the time to get the best value on them. Was I wrong, given that the odds have already gone down?

I don’t believe so.

The move for Westbrook obviously makes headlines. It also exists in a nexus in-between internet fervor for contrarianism and casual fan obliviousness.

The Twitter-world reaction is that Westbrook is a useless player whose lack of shooting makes him a liability, and that his triple-double production is a joke.

A casual fan’s reaction is, “He’s a superstar, right?!”

The truth is somewhere in the middle.

It’s true that Westbrook is a non-shooter. He was 19th, 22nd, and 26th percentile the last three seasons on points per possession on jumpshots, per Synergy Sports. His lack of shooting took one of the most dominant offenses in Houston and made them pedestrian even with James Harden and nothing but smallball shooters around them.

In LA, Westbrook complicates matters. The Lakers have struggled with spacing already. They were 24th in 3-pointers made per 100 possessions last season and were 24th the season prior.

It should be noted this did not stop them from winning the title fully healthy in 2020, in part because, well, they made more threes. They averaged two more makes per 100 possessions in the 2020 playoffs than any other time.

The teams in the 2020 playoffs that should have been able to outpace them from deep, the Blazers and the Rockets, simply couldn’t keep up with the brutal size advantage LA enjoyed. The Rockets made 15 3’s per game, shooting 37% from 3, and still got waxed (with Westbrook, notably).

So on some level, the spacing simply hasn’t stopped them in the postseason.

So what does Westbrook add?

Quite a bit, actually.

If you want to understand why the Lakers did this deal, think of it less in terms of addressing weaknesses to make the Lakers indomitable and more about doubling down on strengths that make them elite.

The Lakers’ model in winning a championship was: awesome defense, a relentless transition attack, and LeBron with some AD thrown in.

Defensively, Westbrook can be a disaster. But so much of that can be tied to effort and focus, two things that can be improved by a lower offensive usage rate. Simply put, if Westbrook’s not having to gear up and slam on the accelerator to get to the rim every play, that gives him more energy to stay locked in defensively. Frank Vogel has gotten players who were not considered great defenders to play great defense. That’s a team strength.

There may be no better weapon in transition than Westbrook, outside of Steph Curry pull-up 3’s or Giannis Antetokounmpo’s rim-wrecking. Westbrook is still, even after knee surgeries, lightning-fast. He gets downhill at a gear no player can keep up with.

You’ve got LeBron and Westbrook screaming downcourt on you 2-on-2. Good luck.

Westbrook isn’t a top-level passer. He’s a good passer, he’s just not as good of a passer as his annual assist numbers indicate. He doesn’t pass directly to pockets, he can’t reverse the ball to the opposite corner perfectly, he doesn’t marvel with control.

But Westbrook is great at creating assists, and those are two different things. If you’re a great passer, you’ll be great at creating assists. But you can be great at creating assists without being a great passer.

Westbrook has been top-four in assists per game each season since 2015 with the exception of the Rockets year where he was asked to play off-ball next to Harden.

“But,” you might ask, “won’t this year be similar with LeBron?”

Yes, it’ll probably fall somewhere in the middle between that Rockets year where they were still trying to be a Harden team with Westbrook jammed in, and his OKC and Wizards years.

However, the value is what he’ll do for the rest of the offense, and in particular, Anthony Davis.

Westbrook learned in OKC how to get his bigs easy buckets. He and Steven Adams would tear up teams in simple pick and rolls. He found Serge Ibaka constantly not only for dunks and layups, but short-range jumpers… which are an Anthony Davis specialty.

The Lakers have struggled at times when Davis has had to carry the team offensively. He’s a marvel in terms of his diverse skill set, but he doesn’t dominate anything but the smallest of mismatches in the post and is partial to those jumpers.

Davis was hurt last year, but he was also 15th percentile on jumpshots. The best way to maximize his impact is to get him in positions to catch the defense off-guard or in-between rotations, not going straight at them. That’s where Westbrook can create easy buckets. Stay home on Davis baseline and Westbrook is getting to the rim, with Davis and James crashing.

I’m not going to put lipstick on a pig here and tell you the fit with LeBron is good.

It’s not.

James is a fine jumpshooter at this point in his career; he’ll have nights where he tears opponents up with it and nights where it doesn’t fall. His 3-point shot has bounced between 33% and 36% the last half-decade. It likely won’t go down much or up much.

James likes gearing up, driving, and dishing to shooters when the defense helps. Westbrook likes gearing up, driving, and dishing to finishers when the defense helps.

Their games do not intermesh. Their games do not fit one another. If Westbrook suddenly decides he wants to commit to off-ball cutting? Then sure, that’s a whole different deal. For the moment, let’s assume that’s not the case, which means when the two are on the floor, it’s a whole lot of my-turn-your-turn.

The bigger reason Westbrook helps, honestly, before all this other on-court stuff?

He’s a floor raiser who helps LeBron rest or Davis miss time.

LeBron James will be 37 years old next season. Father Time may be having a harder time getting wins vs. NBA players than he used to, but he’s still undefeated. James said after his ankle injury last season, he would “never be 100 percent” again. That’s both weird and concerning.

Davis’ injuries are not his fault; I want to stress this. This is not a toughness issue; he tried to play with a seriously injured groin in the last game vs. the Suns. It is not a failing of Anthony Davis that he can’t stay healthy.

He can’t stay healthy.

He is constantly exiting games for maladies. Sometimes he returns, sometimes he doesn’t. He endures stretches of missing multiple games each season.

These two superstars are health-compromised.

Westbrook is a tank, still. Even after the knee surgeries, he comes back and goes 100 percent every game and plays in most. Westbrook has missed more than 16 games once in his career. In the last five seasons, Davis has played in 304 regular-season games. Westbrook has played in 356, 52 more.

When Davis and James went down last season, the Lakers fell apart. That led to them falling to seventh, having to play the Warriors to get into the playoffs, and then facing the Suns, who had homecourt advantage.

James needs to miss two weeks because his back (which has sometimes been an issue) needs a rest? No problem, Westbrook and Davis can carry them. Does Davis suffer some malady that keeps him out three weeks? James and Westbrook might lose to the top-end teams depending on the schedule.

This is crucial: securing a regular-season record that both affords you a better path to the Finals and homecourt while allowing you to rest is not about beating every team. It’s about beating most of the teams. Only four teams had a better than .500 record vs. the teams top-ten in point differential last season.

For the most part? You need to beat the teams you’re better than. The Lakers with two of the three stars can beat all but the top ten teams. The Lakers with one star can probably beat the bottom-10 teams.

Look at the Nets this year. Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving all missed significant time and they still finished with the 2-seed. You don’t have to be dominant to get the record you need.

The problem of course, is how in the playoffs your weaknesses are usually amplified. If the Lakers do not find any shooting, at any point, then yes, they are going to be a bad playoffs bet.

But Westbrook raises their regular season ceiling substantially just by his availability while still allowing them to dominate with their strengths.

There are all sorts of ways this goes wrong. If they try and turn Westbrook into a spot-up option, or Westbrook just decides he needs to shoot more 3’s, then that’s bad. If Westbrook’s competitiveness causes tension with James’s relaxed control or with Davis, then that can be an issue. Westbrook cannot and will not “turn it off” in terms of his mentality.

What if the Lakers re-sign Davis’s good friend Andre Drummond because he’s Anthony Davis’s good friend, and they are overrun by a team with the ability to simply outpace them offensively, even in slugfests? Or if simply, Davis and/or James cannot stay healthy or even if Westbrook’s knee causes issues, given that he’s well past 30 as well?

We’re on the precipice of free agency. Some team will make a move. And there’s a good chance the Lakers start slow as they try and figure out some things. There will be a better chance to bet the Lakers than +400.

However, I’ll be eying the regular-season win total with a focus on the over. Russell Westbrook may not make the Lakers better, but there’s a good chance he can stop them from being worse.

Kris Bryant Traded From Cubs To Giants: How The Move Alters San Francisco’s World Series Odds, Projections

kris-bryant-giants-trade-cubs-odds

Chicago Cubs outfielder and third baseman Kris Bryant has been traded to the San Francisco Giants, according to multiple media reports.

Bryant was a linchpin member of the Cubs team that won the 2016 World Series — the team’s first championship in 108 years. That season, he hit .292/.385/.554 with 39 homers and won MVP honors.

Despite Bryant’s obvious value, his offensive production has undoubtedly waned since 2019, which has played a large part in the Cubs’ willingness to let him go — and unwillingness to hand him an expensive extension.

Even so, he is still hitting a well-above-average .267/.358/.503 so far this season with 18 homers and a bWAR of 2.1. He was named a National League All-Star.

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The four-time All-Star will likely take at-bats away from outfielders Alex Dickerson and Austin Slater, who have each logged more than 220 plate appearances this season but with a below-average OPS+.

San Francisco is currently mired in a three-way dogfight for the NL West in what is by far the best division in baseball.

The Giants are three games up on the second-place Los Angeles Dodgers and 5.5 games ahead of the San Diego Padres as of Friday afternoon.

But, the Dodgers made a blockbuster trade for the Washington Nationals’ Max Scherzer and Trea Turner this week. Los Angeles also made a deadline day move for Danny Duffy. Meanwhile, the Padres improved with trades for second baseman Adam Frazier and pitcher Daniel Hudson.

The Giants needed to make a move and they pulled one off with just a few minutes to spare on MLB Trade Deadline day.

San Francisco’s odds to win the division were +280 at DraftKings, +270 at FanDuel and +275 at PointsBet before the Bryant trade news.

Their odds were +650 at DraftKings, +525 at FanDuel and +500 at PointsBet to win the National League pennant prior to the trade.

And the Giants were +1400 at DraftKings, +1500 at FanDuel, +1000 at BetMGM and +1200 at PointsBet to win the World Series.

If those odds change as a result of this trade, The Action Network will update this story with the relevant information.

The Giants had a 20.7% chance to win the division entering play on Friday despite their current division lead, according to FanGraphs. They had a 95.4% chance to make the playoffs entering Friday according to the same metrics.

The Cubs have become firm sellers this summer due to their precarious playoff position and with their World Series winning core of Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Báez eligible for free agency after the season.

All three of those players — and closer Craig Kimbrel – were traded this week.

The Cubs currently have just a 0.4% chance to make the playoffs, said FanGraphs.

Bryant had spent his entire career with the Cubs after he was selected overall in the 2013 MLB Draft.

 

BJ Cunningham’s Analysis

Adding Bryant to an already powerful Giants lineup is massive for San Francisco’s World Series chances. Evan Longoria is out for the season and Wilmer Flores has been maintaining the hot corner, putting up slightly above-average numbers at the plate (.320 xWOBA & 112 wRC+). Bryant will immediately take over for Flores and will be in one of the best lineups in all of baseball.

The Giants are top five in wOBA and wRC+ against right-handed pitching, but they have been pretty average against lefties (.319 wOBA & 100 wRC+). Bryant is one of the best hitters against left-handed pitching in MLB.

Kris Bryant versus Left-Handed Pitching in 2021: AVG: .342 (11th in MLB)

  • wOBA: .473 (1st in MLB)
  • wRC+: 113 (2nd in MLB)
  • ISO: .367 (5th in MLB)
  • Hard Hit %: 47.3% (7th in MLB)

Bryant also doesn’t have any weaknesses from a pitch value perspective, with positive run values versus every single pitch type. Bryant is especially good against sliders (+4.4 run value), which is a pitch the Giants are second to last in MLB against (-33.3 run value).

Bryant defensively, though, is a below-average defender with -5 DRS for his career at third base, but with that being said, this puts the Giants’ offense right on par with the Dodgers and the Padres.

Sean Zerillo’s Analysis

According to my projections, Bryant proved to be the most impactful acquisition at the deadline, upgrading the Giants by 3.1 wins in my power rankings — from an 82.9 win team to an 86-win team — if the season restarted tomorrow.

The move helps push back against the big trades made by their NL West rivals over the past week.

As a result, I would still place the Dodgers (103.1 True Talent wins) ahead of the Padres (94.1) and Giants (86) in an overall power ranking, but here is how that shakes out in my prorated predictions for 2021:

Updated 2021 Projection

  • Los Angeles: 98.9 Wins (NL West Champion)
  • San Francisco: 95.9 Wins (NL Wild Card No. 1)
  • San Diego: 93.1 Wins (NL Wild Card No. 2)

Since the Padres missed out on Max Scherzer, the Giants ultimately did more to improve their team at the trading deadline than the Friars. However, the Dodgers still made the most impactful move, acquiring a pair of All-Stars from the Nationals.

The NL West has been the most exciting division in baseball this season. It should only continue to captivate baseball fans with all three contenders improving for the season’s final two months.

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MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Cubs vs. Nationals: How To Bet Matchup of Depleted Rosters (Friday, July 30)

cubs vs nationals-odds-pick-prediction-preview-mlb-july 30-2021

Editor’s Note: Jon Lester was reportedly traded to the St. Louis Cardinals at the MLB trade deadline on Friday afternoon.

Cubs vs. Nationals Odds

Cubs Odds -120
Nationals Odds +100
Over/Under 9
Time Friday, 7:05 p.m. ET
TV MLB Network
Odds as of Friday and via DraftKings

This is going to be a fun series, mostly because we have no idea who will be on either team by the end of it.

The Nationals have sold half their roster and are looking to sell the other half. Meanwhile, the Cubs have dealt Anthony Rizzo as of Friday morning and are actively shopping Kris Bryant and Craig Kimbrel.

At the moment, these two teams are competing more in the trade market than on the field. So, in a battle between two sinking ships, where does the value lie?

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Chicago Cubs

The Cubs dropped three of four to the divisional rival Reds, and then proceeded to deal franchise cornerstone Rizzo to the Yankees.

The Cubs are dead.

After posting a 10-20 record in their last 30 games, the Cubs are 11.5 games out of the divisional race and nine games out of the wildcard. Over the past 30 days, the Cubs pair the eighth worst OPS (.720) with the second worst FIP (5.38).

The good news is Chicago should receive a boatload of prospects for their top guys. They already picked up two from the Yankees in RHP Alexander Vizcaino and OF Kevin Alcantara, both guys who are already ranked among the Cubs top 10 prospects on MLB.com. They should snag a few more intriguing names for Bryant, who’s posted a 133 OPS+ this season.

However, I’m most interested in seeing what the market is for Craig Kimbrel. Every team needs bullpen help, and Kimbrel has posted a .50 ERA while leading all qualified pitchers in strikeout rate (46.7%).

Starting Pitcher: Trevor Williams (RHP)

Williams is the epitome of the Cubs pitching staff this season — aggressively mediocre.

Williams has posted a 5.06 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP while averaging just under five innings per start. His fastball-slider combination has actually been somewhat effective, but his three complimentary pitches are getting smashed:

Pitch BA Allowed SLG Allowed
Curveball .320 .560
Sinker .407 .667
Changeup .375 .792

While he’s posted poor batted ball statistics, Williams is definitely due for some positive regression. His .343 BABIP should drop down to league average (.300) and his 9.36 K/9 and 2.28 BB/9 has helped produce a 4.01 xFIP.

The projection market has his ERA and FIP between 4.60 and 4.75 for the rest of the season. While that isn’t good, it’s serviceable for a team that’s given up on competing.


Washington Nationals

Personally, I’m upset at the Nationals fire sale.

While it was an outside one, the Nationals still had a shot at the NL East crown. The pitching had somewhat regressed, but it was still serviceable, and the lineup had posted the second highest wRC+ in June (118).

But, instead of making a push, the Nationals have dealt Max Scherzer, Trea Turner and Kyle Schwarber in the last 24 hours – three of the team’s top five leaders in WAR this season.

In return, however, the Nationals have pulled the Dodgers No. 1 and No. 2 prospects, according to MLB.com (C Keibert Ruiz, RHP Josiah Gray), and the Red Sox’s No. 19 prospect (RHP Aldo Ramirez).

Additionally, the Nats still have more pieces to deal. Josh Bell and Josh Harrison could be out the door soon, as well as Jon Lester.

I would love to know Juan Soto’s take on all this. Soto is putting together another unreal season, albeit quietly:

 

I can only hope he’s buying into the front office’s vision for the future. Otherwise, Soto may want to jump ship as well.

Starting Pitcher: Jon Lester (LHP)

If you’re a team looking to trade for Lester, what would you be getting?

Honestly – not much past an inning eater. The guy who once threw his fastball 95 mph and struck out 10 batters per nine innings is now a pitch-to-contact, ground-ball variance machine.

Unfortunately, this approach has not been effective. Lester has posted a 5.02 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP this season, while the Nationals are 8-8 in his starts.

He now throws his cutter as much as his four-seam:

But this fastball-heavy approach isn’t working. Even though he barely touches 90 mph with either pitch, opponents are slugging over .600 on both the pitches:

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Cubs-Nationals Pick

In a matchup between two of the biggest deadline sellers and two of the least effective starters in baseball, it becomes a bit tougher to project how the game will play out.

So, I’m instead going to follow our Action PRO projections in this one.

Our PRO model makes the Washington ML -103, yet the Nationals opened as a home underdog at some books. Despite losing some of their top guys, I actually quite like the Nationals chances today, as they’ve been playing much better than the Cubs in recent weeks.

If I can get the Nationals at +105 or better, I’m willing to make that play. As of Friday at noon ET, they’re +100.

Additionally, our PRO model makes the total 9.99, although the total opened at 9 at some books. As mentioned, these are two of the least effective starters in MLB. Plus, the Nationals own a 140 wRC+ at home in July and just sold off two of their relievers (Daniel Hudson and Brad Hand). The Cubs offense has been bad, but maybe Bryant or Javier Baez can smack Williams around a bit if they’re still around.

Therefore, if I can get the total at 9 juiced at -120 or less, I’m willing to make an overplay as well.

Either way, be very cautious betting this game recklessly. Given the Cubs and Nationals trajectories, anything can happen in this series.

Pick: Nationals ML (+105 or better) | Over 9 (-120 or better)

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Craig Kimbrel Traded To White Sox: How Acquisition Impacts South Siders’ World Series Odds, Projections

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Chicago Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel has been traded crosstown to the Chicago White Sox in yet another major trade for a reliever this deadline season, ESPN reported Friday.

The trade comes just a day after the Cubs sent Ryan Tepera to the White Sox for left-handed prospect Bailey Horn. The Cubs have now sent their two best relievers across town to join incumbent All-Star closer Liam Hendriks on the South Side.

Kimbrel is having career-best numbers in ERA (0.49), opponent slugging percentage (.146) and opponent OPS (.336) this season.

The 33-year-old has rebounded after rough 2019 and 2020 seasons in which he had a combined ERA of 6.00 over 36 innings pitched.

The White Sox are firm favorites to win the AL Central and entered play on Friday eight games ahead of Cleveland in the division.

Chicago has a 98.6% chance of winning the division and 98.8% chance to make the playoffs, according to FanGraphs.

Their odds to win the AL Central were -20000 at FanDuel, -3500 at DraftKings and -20000 at PointsBet prior to news of the Kimbrel trade.

Chicago’s odds to win the division actually lengthened to -10000 at FanDuel in the aftermath of the Kimbrel trade. Those odds stayed the same at both PointsBet and DraftKings as of Friday afternoon.

The White Sox’s odds to win the World Series were third-best across baseball at the three aforementioned sportsbooks before news of the trade. FanDuel had them at +650, DraftKings slated them at +750 and PointsBet had Chicago at +700 to win its first World Series since 2005.

Those odds did not move at FanDuel and PointsBet, but did reduce at DraftKings. DK now has Chicago at +650 to win it all.

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The Cubs have become firm sellers this summer due to their precarious playoff position and with their World Series winning core of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez eligible for free agency after the season.

Kimbrel, who was not a part of that 2016 roster, has a $16M team option with a $1 million buyout for 2022.

The Cubs entered play on Friday 11.5 games back from the Brewers in the NL Central and 9.5 games back from the second Wild Card spot. FanGraphs gives them a 0.4% chance of making the playoffs.

The Cubs received second baseman Nick Madrigal and reliever Codi Heuer in exchange for Kimbrel. Madrigal, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, has hit .317/.358/.406 in parts of two seasons with the White Sox. He is out for the remainder of this season with a torn hamstring. Heuer has a 3.75 career ERA in 62 1/3 innings across parts of two seasons on the South Side but has struggled this season with a 5.12 ERA in 38 2/3 innings.

Kimbrel is an eight-time All-Star and has earned Reliever of the Year awards in 2014 and 2017.

He started his career with the Atlanta Braves, who drafted him in the third round of the 2010 MLB Draft.

The reliever, with that distinct pre-pitch pose, was then traded in 2014 to the San Diego Padres, then the following year to the Boston Red Sox. There, he won a World Series in 2018 over the Los Angeles Dodgers and registered a save in Game 2.

BJ Cunningham’s Analysis

Craig Kimbrel heading across town boosts an already stout bullpen. The White Sox as a unit have a 4.05 ERA, 3.95 xFIP, 10.51 K/9 rate, and 3.48 BB/9 rate, all of which are top 10 in Major League Baseball.

However, Kimbrel immediately becomes their best reliever because at age 33 he’s not only having the best season of his career, but he’s been arguably the best reliever in all of baseball.

  • ERA: 0.49 (1st among qualified relievers)
  • xERA: 1.72 (1st among qualified relievers)
  • xFIP: 2.00 (1st among qualified relievers)
  • K/9 rate: 15.71 (1st among qualified relievers)
  • HR/9 rate: 0.25 (11th among qualified relievers)
  • LOB%: 81.3% (31st among qualified relievers)

Not only has Kimbrel not lost any velocity on his fastball, but hitters have barely been able to touch it, as its allowing a .218 wOBA and has over a 35% whiff rate. His curveball though has been untouchable. He’s throwing it over 40%, which is his highest usage rate of his career and has allowed a total of three hits on it this season, while accumulating a 59.3% whiff rate.

The question now is does he immediately become the closer? Hendriks has been outstanding in his first season in Chicago, posting a 2.26 xERA and 2.51 xFIP, while getting 25 saves in 30 attempts.

The White Sox also just traded for Ryan Tepera, so with those two acquisitions, Hendriks and Michael Kopech, they now have one of the fiercest bullpens in baseball.

Sean Zerillo’s Analysis

The White Sox already had one of the best bullpens in baseball before trading for Craig Kimbrel (1.72 xERA, 2.00 xFIP, 1.83 SIERA, 37.2% K-BB%), who is having the best relief pitching season in baseball by most expected indicators.

The White Sox relievers ranked fourth in xFIP (3.95), second in SIERA (3.56) and second in strikeout minus walk rate (18.3%) before the trade. The organization further solidified an area of their team deemed a strength, rather than adding depth to a league-average offense, with multiple position players returning from IL stints.

There’s no secret sauce to Kimbrel’s resurgence. Last season, batters stopped chasing his pitches outside of the zone (-6.6% vs. career) and made contact with those pitches more frequently (+7.6% vs. career) when they did chase.

This year, all of Kimbrel’s plate discipline metrics have regressed towards his career numbers – but there’s nothing in his pitch mix, spin data, or movement to indicate any noticeable changes from one year to the next.

Kimbrel’s presence improves the White Sox “True Talent” level by 0.7 wins in my power rankings, and he’ll give the Southsiders a formidable one-two punch alongside Liam Hendriks – the only man ahead of Kimbrel in K-BB% (38.2%) at the end of games.

The White Sox have the best rotation in the American League (3.80 xFIP, 3.78 SIERA, and now they may have surpassed the Rays for the best bullpen, too.

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MLB Odds, Expert Picks, Predictions: 4 Best Bets for Thursday, Including Brewers vs. Braves & Astros vs. Giants (July 30)

mlb best bets-picks-preview-prediction-odds-friday-july 30-2021

After the dust settles on the MLB trade deadline, there is still baseball to be played on Friday night.

After all the big names are traded and prospects moved around, our team of MLB betting analysts have identified four best bets in three games on Friday night, all including teams that are in the thick of a postseason push.

The Brewers open a three-game series in Atlanta, while Seattle looks to continue its improbable run toward a wild-card spot in Arlington. Lastly, two strong starters take the mound in the Bay Area when the Astros face the Giants.

Get our best bets for Friday night below:

MLB Odds & Picks

Click on a game to skip ahead
Brewers vs. Braves
7:20 p.m. ET
Brewers vs. Braves
7:20 p.m. ET
Mariners vs. Rangers
8:05 p.m. ET
Astros vs. Giants
9:45 p.m. ET

Brewers vs. Braves

Pick
Brewers -140
Book
BetMGM
Pitchers
Corbin Burnes vs. Touki Toussaint
First Pitch
7:20 p.m. ET

Brad Cunningham: Corbin Burnes has been one of the best pitchers in baseball that nobody is talking about.

Through 17 starts and over 100 innings pitched, he has an xERA at 1.82, has a K/9 rate at 12.88, a BB/9 rate at 1.59, and a HR/9 rate at 0.26. The reason Burnes has been so good this season is because he’s been dominating with his two main off-speed pitches of curveball and slider. Both are allowing an xwOBA under .165 and have a whiff rate over 47%. In fact, both have allowed a combined 11 hits this season.

Touki Toussaint may have pitched well in his first two starts of 2021, but he has a xFIP for his career at 4.72 and had issues with his control throughout his entire career, since his BB/9 rate in the majors is at 5.38. He’s been relying on his sinker way more often in 2021 than he ever has, which will be a bad matchup against this Brewers lineup, since they have a +6 run value against them.

I have the Brewers projected at -189, so I think there is some value on them at -140 and would play it up to -163.

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Brewers vs. Braves

Pick
Brewers First Five Innings -140
Book
BetMGM
Pitchers
Corbin Burnes vs. Touki Toussaint
First Pitch
7:20 p.m. ET

Sean Zerillo: Corbin Burnes has had a pretty ridiculous season. So much so that he’s the only pitcher whose expected indicators (1.82 xERA, 2.18 xFIP, 2.43 SIERA) come close to Jacob deGrom (1.57 xERA, 1.62 xFIP, 1.72 SIERA).

Even after a hot start to the year, Burnes has sustained his elite level throughout the entire season, pitching to a 1.53 FIP over the past two months (eight starts), with the second-best K-BB% (26.9%) over that period.

The righty throws his cutter 52.7% of the time this season, more often than any starter in baseball and an increase of 21.3% year over year. It’s also the hardest cutter in baseball by 2.5 mph (95.3 mph, vs. Nathan Eovaldi at 92.8 mph). Burnes’ cutter has netted more total value (+16.1 pitch value) than any other individual pitch in baseball, and it ranks fifth amongst cutters on a per-pitch basis.

Moreover, Burnes features an above-average slider (seventh on a per-pitch value basis) and curveball (sixth) as complimentary offerings.

Touki Toussaint has pitched very well in limited action for the Braves (13.2 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 15 K) and may finally be fulfilling his vast potential. Still, his velocity (average 92.6 mph) is down more than a tick relative to last season, and he hasn’t made any drastic changes to his pitch mix in his two recent outings.

As a result, it’s hard to project Toussaint as a significantly better pitcher than the market projections (FIP range of 4.25 to 4.49). At that level, the Brewers offer a substantial amount of value on Friday night.

I projected Burnes and the Brewers as a 67.4% favorite for the first five innings (F5) on Friday, and I would bet their F5 moneyline up to -180.

Furthermore, I projected their full game moneyline at 61.3% and would consider playing that line to -145; however, I show a much more significant edge on the Brewers F5 moneyline, and that’s where I’m allocating my entire bet on this matchup.

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Mariners vs. Rangers

Pick
Mariners -130
Book
DraftKings
Pitchers
Logan Gilbert vs. Kolby Allard
First Pitch
8:05 p.m. ET

Collin Whitchurch: Logan Gilbert has had a really solid rookie season for Seattle. His 3.81 ERA is backed up by a 3.58 xERA and 2.95 FIP. He’s striking out nearly 11 batters per nine innings and walking only two, which is extremely impressive for someone with only 12 MLB starts under his belt.

Kolby Allard was once a top prospect but has had a miserable start to his career. After a decent start to the season, he’s fallen on hard times of late and pitching more to his career norms. In his last three starts, Allard has allowed 16 runs in just 15 1/3 innings and allowed a whopping six home runs.

The Mariners are coming off two tough losses to the rival Astros but are still in the thick of the playoff hunt, while the Rangers are selling and will likely see some players removed from the roster between the time of this writing and the start of the game.

Even in Arlington, Seattle is the superior team with the superior starting pitcher, and I think they should be favored by more than the current line. I’ve seen some -125 out there but -130 is the most commonly found line as of Friday around noon ET, and I would bet the Mariners’ moneyline down to that number.

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Astros vs. Giants

Pick
Astros +114
Book
FanDuel
Pitchers
Framber Valdez vs. Kevin Gausman
First Pitch
9:45 p.m. ET

Mike Ianniello: Kevin Gausman has been one of the best pitchers in the league this season, sitting with a 9-4 record and 2.21 ERA. But Framber Valdez isn’t far behind him. The Astros’ lefty is 6-2 with a 2.97 ERA on the year.

Valdez started the season on the injured list but has already made a career-high 11 starts. His curveball has been nearly unhittable this season, allowing just a .089 batting average with a 46.1% strikeout rate. He has 47 strikeouts with his breaking ball and has allowed just eight hits.

Offensively, both of these teams have been excellent. Houston leads the league in wOBA and wRC+ this season. They have scored the most runs and have the best team batting average.

San Francisco has been good as well, ranking fifth in wOBA and sixth in wRC+. However, the Giants are significantly better against right-handed pitchers. Against Southpaw’s like Valdez, they rank 15th in wOBA and 13th in wRC+.

I think this game is pretty much a coin flip. In my opinion Houston has a larger advantage on offense than San Francisco has in starting pitching in this matchup so at +114, I will back the Astros and would play them at +105 or better.

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MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Brewers vs. Braves: Atlanta is Overvalued on the Road (Friday, July 30)

major league baseball-betting-odds-picks-predictions-atlanta braves-touki toussainte-friday-july 30

Brewers vs. Braves Odds

Brewers Odds -145
Braves Odds +125
Over/Under 8
Time 7:20 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds as of Friday afternoon via DraftKings.

The Milwaukee Brewers are riding high on a three-game winning streak after sweeping the Pittsburgh Pirates, outscoring them by a 28-3 margin in the process.

Although it was a dominant performance bookended by shutout wins in the series, they’ll likely face a stiffer test against an Atlanta Braves team that still has its sights set on making a run at the NL East crown.

After all, Atlanta sits just four games out of first place behind the division-leading New York Mets.

Milwaukee will send Corbin Burnes to the mound, with Touki Toussaint set to oppose him for Atlanta. This will be the first start for both pitchers against the other, though each has made at least one appearance out of the bullpen.

Let’s take a look to see if there’s anything to glean from those head-to-head splits as we preview Friday’s series opener.

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Losing All-Star Frazier Created Letdown in Milwaukee

As impressive as the Brewers looked against the Pirates, one has to wonder if Pittsburgh was suffering from a bit of a letdown following the trade of All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier to the San Diego Padres.

The trade was announced Sunday as the Pirates were facing the Giants in San Francisco.

Pittsburgh actually looked good, though, winning two of three games against a San Francisco team with the best record in baseball.

It’s almost as if Frazier’s trade took a little bit of air out of the Pirates’ clubhouse. It could explain why they looked so lethargic when they returned home to face the Brewers.

That’s just some food for thought before diving into this matchup.

It’s hard to argue with anything that Burnes has done this season. The first-time All-Star is 6-4, with a 2.12 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. His advanced numbers show he’s been even better, considering his 1.82 xERA and 1.35 FIP. He’s allowed just three runs in 27 1/3 innings in July and had a quality start in four of his last five outings.

However, sometimes some teams tend to perform well against certain pitchers. I might have to count Atlanta as one of them when it faces Burnes.

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I previewed the Milwaukee All-Star earlier this year, and I was spot on with my tactics as part of my analysis was centered on his head-to-head splits with the Cardinals in the matchup.

It could prove sensible to use that same approach in this game.

While the Braves lineup only has 13 at-bats against Burnes, I’m not sure you can ignore their seven hits and eight RBIs during that span. Atlanta has a .538/.538/1.385 slash line with a .846 ISO against him.

Three of its seven hits were home runs, and that should give the Braves plenty of confidence heading into the game.

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Atlanta Getting Promising Starts From Toussaint

Toussaint needed to wait until July to make his season debut, but has looked sharp in both of his outings. The Florida native has registered a quality start in each appearance, going 1-1 with a 1.32 ERA and a 0.73 WHIP. What’s impressive about those starts was that Toussaint showed good command of his pitches against two teams (Padres and Phillies) in the top 10 in walks drawn this season.

In the past, the right-hander has been guilty of handing out free passes to first base. His lowest BB/9 ratio in three seasons was 5.62 in 2019. However, that number is down to 1.32 this year.

According to FanGraphs, Toussaint’s average fastball has actually dropped from 94.3 mph last season to 92.6 mph this year. I’m not sure if this is by design or whether the dip in velocity has to do with the shoulder strain that landed him on the 60-day injured list. It’s certainly possible that the drop in velocity has helped him locate his pitches better.

Another interesting thing about Toussaint is that he’s featuring his sinker more often in his two starts. Baseball Savant shows that he’s thrown it 58.6% of the time this year compared to 5.1% last season. This definitely seems like a conscious decision as his 2.29 GB/FB ratio is almost double that of last year.

The Brewers’ lineup only has nine at-bats across five hitters against Toussaint. Only one of those encounters resulted in a base hit as Milwaukee carries a .111/.273/.222 line into this matchup.

However, this version of Toussaint might be even better than the one they faced in the past, and that’s something that shouldn’t be overlooked going in.

Brewers-Braves Pick

It won’t surprise me if the Brewers are a bit overvalued for this series opener. I’m not going to place too much emphasis on their performance against a Pirates team that frankly looked shellshocked after the Frazier trade.

Atlanta is still the better hitting team, as evidenced by their wRC+ value of 99, while Milwaukee has 91 during its campaign.

In my research, I was able to find an interesting tidbit to encapsulate this Brewers’ recent run. Coming off a stretch of allowing no more than three runs in three consecutive games, Milwaukee is 103-125 for -34 units.

That said, I’ll take my chances here with the home underdog and perhaps a new, improved Toussaint on the mound.

DraftKings has the best price on the board with Atlanta at +125, so I’ll look to place my action there.

Pick: Atlanta ML (+125)

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Orlando City vs. Atlanta United Odds, Picks, Prediction: Friday MLS Betting Preview (July 30)

orlando city vs atlanta-mls-odds-picks

Orlando City vs. Atlanta Odds

Orlando City Odds -117
Atlanta Odds +290
Draw +270
Over/Under 2.5 (-129 / -105)
Day | Time Friday | 8 p.m. ET
How To Watch ESPN | fuboTV
Odds updated Thursday night via DraftKings.

As Orlando City hosts rivals Atlanta United on Friday night, both will be looking to rebound from somewhat jarring losses.

For Orlando, it’s the margin of a 5-0 defeat at New York City FC that will be the main surprise, since manager Oscar Pareja’s decided to more or less punt on the match by resting top scorer Nani and assist leader Mauricio Pereyra.

Atlanta will be more frustrated by not coming away with points in their 1-0 defeat to Columbus, having bossed most of the opening hour before going behind and eventually extending their winless run to 10 matches.

Atlanta dominated the first three years of this matchup before Orlando wrested control of it last year. They also played to a 0-0 draw on opening weekend of this season.

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Orlando City Must Recover From Defensive Nightmare

Despite Orlando traveling with a light roster to The Bronx, it took 40 minutes for the hosts to break through.

That burst the dam.  City not only scored four more after the break, they also achieved 4.9 expected goals (xG) in chances created, a rarity even in such blowouts.

There don’t appear to be any long-term injury issues for Nani or Peyera, nor for American attacker Chris Mueller, who also did not travel Sunday.

And fullback Ruan — as important to Orlando’s offense as its defense — appears ready to return to the starting XI after playing the second 45 against NYCFC. A lower-body injury had kept him out since May.

The picture is less clear on former Brazil international Alexandre Pato, who has been upgraded to questionable on the club’s injury report for a few matches but still hasn’t dressed since taking a knee injury in the season opener.

Even if available, it’s highly unlikely Pato would start in the No. 9 role even with Dike and Akindele at the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Instead it could potentially be Mueller with Nani and Pereyra playing just behind.

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Atlanta’s Attack Is Improving

Atlanta was seen off by a tactically superior Columbus side on Saturday via Jonathan Mensah’s 65th-minute header in interim manager Rob Valentino’s second match in charge.

The Crew absorbed pressure from a short-handed United side for most of the first hour, choosing their moments to counterattack with speed.

With more than a half-dozen players still out to injury or international duty, Atlanta faded late and Columbus took advantage.

That said, the eye test still reveals an improved attack since Valentino took over for Gabriel Heinze, with xG totals reflecting those games as two of the top three or four most dangerous attacking nights for Atlanta this season.

That’s especially impressive considering Valentino had virtually no training time after taking over during the second of three games in eight days. 

One obvious difference is Valentino’s trust in club all-time scoring leader Josef Martinez, who played all 90 minutes Saturday in his first start since late May. Martinez clearly faded late, but pushing his fitness could pay dividends on Friday.

Midfielder Jake Mulraney is questionable with a lower-body injury after leaving in the 32nd minute of the Columbus defeat.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

This Atlanta team still isn’t close to the dynamism of the 2018 MLS Cup-winning side, but their attacking improvement is real.

Offensively, Orlando has still been only shut out twice while averaging 1.75 goals in games when Nani plays. Defensively, they’re not the same team right now as they were when they kept four clean sheets in their first six.

If you’re asking me a winner, my lean is Orlando, but the absences of Dike and Akindele make me hesitant to play the three-way line.

I feel a little better about the idea of both relatively rested offenses snagging at least a goal here, with -141 odds and an implied 58.5% probability a fair price to pay. I wouldn’t go much lower than -150, though.

Pick: Both Teams To Score (-141)

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MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Phillies vs. Pirates: Crowe Could Struggle With Philadelphia’s Offense (Friday, July 30)

phillies vs pirates-odds-pick-preidction-preview-mlb-july 30-2021

Phillies vs. Pirates Odds

Phillies Odds -130
Pirates Odds +110
Over/Under 9
Time Friday, 7:05 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds as of Friday and via PointsBet

The Fightin’ Phillies sure have a flair for the dramatic this season. After falling behind 7-0 in the second game of yesterday’s doubleheader against the Nationals, Philadelphia came roaring back with three runs in the final frame to tie it before capping off the comeback with a walk-off grand slam.

It was the ninth walk-off of the season for the Phillies, the second most in MLB. Heading into the final weekend of July, Philadelphia might not want this month to end. They have gone 14-10 during July, tied for the most wins by any team this month.

On the other side of the Commonwealth, the Pittsburgh Pirates are just 2-8 in their last 10 games and with the second-worst record in the National League, they have started selling off assets. It could be a long end of the season for yinzers, but at least Steelers training camp is underway.

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Philadelphia Phillies

Part of the Pirates’ trade-deadline selling included trading pitcher Tyler Anderson, originally reported to have been traded to Philadelphia, before a medical issue squashed the deal. That move would have likely resulted in Vince Velasquez being bumped back to the bullpen, but instead he will remain in the rotation and start on Friday.

Through 10 starts, Velasquez had been surprisingly productive, posting a 2.95 ERA and allowing just a .191 batting average against. Well, the wheels have fallen off a bit as his ERA has risen to 5.54 with a 5.59 FIP. In his four starts in July he is 0-3 with a 10.91 ERA and teams are batting .333 against him.

Since the start of July, no team has scored more runs than the Phillies. They have the third highest wOBA this month and have hit the second-most home runs with 38 in 24 games.

Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins have both been red hot all month, with Harper hitting .342 with a 1.043 OPS and Hoskins at .310 and 1.163. Both of them left early on Thursday, and their status is something to monitor when lineups leading up to this game. Harper said he was playing, but Hoskins’ status is more up in the air.

Another guy having a strong campaign is former Pirates fan-favorite Andrew McCutchen. The 2013 MVP already has 20 home runs, which is the third most in his career prior to August. He has homered in three of his last four games, including an opposite-field three-run walk off blast on Monday.

This weekend will be just McCutchen’s second time back at PNC Park since he was traded, and his first time back since 2018. He ranks fourth all-time in Pirates history in home runs.


Pittsburgh Pirates

Pittsburgh will send 26-year old Wil Crowe to the mound on Friday against the Phillies. The Buccos acquired Crowe from the Nationals as part of the trade package for Josh Bell. He was ranked as Washington’s fifth-best prospect.

Entering the season with just three starts, Crowe has gone 2-5 with a 5.89 ERA and 5.79 FIP in his first season in the big leagues. The Pirates haven’t stretched Crowe out too much, he is averaging just shy of 4 2/3 innings per start and has completed six innings just once.

In his last outing, Crowe was able to rack up a career-best nine strikeouts against San Francisco and earn his second career victory.

The Pirates are clearly in a rebuilding mode and their lineup reflects that. They rank dead last in the league in runs scored and home runs. They are 29th in wOBA and last in wRC+.

Things could get even worse down the stretch since they just traded their best hitter in Adam Frazier to the Padres. The All-Star infielder leads the league in hits this season.

Without Frazier, the Buccos will rely on Bryan Reynolds and rookie Ke’Bryan Hayes to carry the load. So far, the Pirates have scored just three runs in three games since the trade.

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Phillies-Pirates Pick

Philadelphia is clearly the better team here but there are much better ways to spend a Friday night than betting on Velasquez.

If you want to make a play on this game, I would just back the Phillies’ offense. Since the start of July they have averaged 5.33 runs per game and rank third in the league in wOBA.

They should have a ton of momentum coming in off their thrilling comeback win yesterday. Crowe is still fairly inexperienced and has struggled giving up home runs early in his career. He has not lasted long in games this year and once he exits, the Pirates bullpen ranks 24th in ERA over the last two weeks.

McCutchen has been on fire, batting .346 with a 1.145 OPS and three home runs in the last week and should feel right at home in the ballpark he spent the first nine years of his career in.

I like Cutch and the rest of the Phillies offense to continue to hit the ball well, and be able to go over their team total today.

Pick: Phillies Team Total over 4.5 (-121)

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MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Reds vs. Mets: Does Carlos Carrasco Have Value in New York Debut? (Friday, July 30)

mets vs reds-mlb-odds-picks-july-30

Reds vs. Mets Odds

Reds Odds -110
Mets Odds -110
Over/Under 8.5 (-105/-115)
Time 7:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds as of Thursday and via DraftKings.

The Reds and Mets kick off a pivotal weekend series on Friday, as both continue their hunt for a playoff spot.

Cincinnati is starting to creep up on the Dodgers and Padres in the wild card, as they are only five games back heading into Friday. The Reds are a very interesting team because up until this point in the season, their offense has been incredible, their starting rotation has been solid, but they have the worst bullpen in all of baseball. However, they will send their best pitcher Sonny Gray to the mound in hopes he can give the bullpen a break.

The Mets are four games up in the NL East over the Braves and the Phillies entering this series and will hand the ball to Carlos Carrasco to make his 2021 season debut. Carrasco came over from Cleveland in the Francisco Lindor trade and has been injured up until this point in the season. If he can find his 2020 form, it could be a huge boost for the Mets, especially with Jacob deGrom currently on the IL.

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Offensive Matchup

Cincinnati Reds

The Reds have one of the most electric offenses in all of baseball. As a team they have a .327 wOBA and 101 wRC+, which is the sixth best mark in all of baseball. Joey Votto, Kyle Farmer and Jonathan India all have been crushing the ball over the past month, as they all have a wOBA over .400 and Votto himself has homered in six straight games. However, the Reds are currently without one of their best hitters, Nick Castellanos, who is currently on the IL recovering from a wrist injury.

The Reds should have a good matchup against Carrasco tonight, because most of their success has come against right-handed pitching (.334 wOBA, 105 wRC+), as well as fastballs (+43.2 run value) and changeups (+11.7 run value), which are two of Carrasco’s main pitches that he went to a combined 62% of the time in 2020.

New York Mets

The Mets offense since it has gotten healthy has been improving. Over the last 30 days they have a .338 wOBA and 116 wRC+, which is seventh best in MLB. Pete Alonso has been the catalyst, hitting 10 HRs and driving in 22 runs over that timespan as well. The problem for the Mets now is the injury bug has hit them again. Just as Lindor and Jeff McNeil started hitting the ball well, they both are now on the shelf for the next few weeks.

The matchup against Sonny Gray is going to be a difficult one for the Mets, because they do not hit right-handed pitching well (.307 wOBA & 86 wRC+), but they also have negative run values against three of Gray’s top four pitches.

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Starting Pitching Matchup

Sonny Gray vs. Carlos Carrasco

2021 Stats (via Fangraphs)

Reds Starting Pitcher

Sonny Gray, RHP

Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)

Sonny Gray is a positive regression candidate heading into August because his ERA is currently sitting at 4.50, but his xERA is at 3.79 and his xFIP is at 3.41. That positive regression should be coming on his sinker and curveball too, because although both pitches are allowing a wOBA over .330, the xwOBA allowed for both pitches is under .300.

One of the reasons Gray has been successful over his career is because he mixes his pitches incredibly well. He doesn’t throw a single pitch over 30% of the time, which allows him to pitch according to the lineup he’s facing. For Friday night, the Mets have negative run values against curveballs, fastballs, and sliders, but they have a positive run value against sinkers. So, I’d expect Gray to hold off on throwing a high percentage of sinkers and lean on his two main off-speed pitches.

Mets Starting Pitcher

Carlos Carrasco, RHP

2020 Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)

Carlos Carrasco had a solid year in 2020, posting a 3.79 xERA and 3.65 xFIP. All of his pitches were pretty effective, but his slider was by far his best pitch. Opposing hitters have managed only a .177 average against it, and it’s produced a 36.7% whiff rate. The Reds really struggle against sliders, as they have a -21.3 run value against them. Carrasco will need to be on point with his fastball and changeup because the Reds have a combined +54.6 run value against those two pitches.

Now, Carrasco is 34 and coming off a torn hamstring, so who know if we will be at the level he was in Cleveland.

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Bullpen/Defensive Matchup

The Reds bullpen is an unmitigated disaster. They are in the bottom five of baseball in xFIP, ERA, LOB%, and HR/9. Cincinnati hasn’t been able to find a closet because they’re third in Major League Baseball with 20 blown saves, when no relievers individually has more than four.

The Mets bullpen is the reason why they are in first place in the NL East. New York has a 3.97 and 4.04 xFIP as a group, which are both top 10 in Major League Baseball. So, they will have a massive advantage in the later innings.

Reds-Mets Pick

Given the fact that Castellanos is out of the lineup and just how bad the Reds bullpen has been, I think there is some value on the Mets tonight. Carrasco has looked good in his rehab starts, so we will see if it translates over to the Major League level.

Since I have the Mets projected at -135, I think there is some value on them at -110 and would play them up to -120.

Pick: Mets -110

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USA vs. Czech Republic Men’s Olympic Basketball Odds, Preview, Prediction: Who Will Punch the Second Ticket Out of Group B? (July 31)

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USA vs. Czech Republic Odds

USA Odds -23.5
Czech Republic Odds +23.5
Moneyline -5000 / +1400
Over/Under 183.5
Time 8 a.m. ET
TV NBC
Odds as of Friday at 11 a.m. ET and via FanDuel.

After their upset loss against France in the opening game of group play, the United States men’s basketball team bounced back with a 120-66 win over Iran on Wednesday afternoon.

Improving to 1-1 in group play, the US men’s basketball team has their sights set on Czech Republic as they look to advance to the knockout stage of the tournament. Czech Republic comes off a 20-point loss to France in their last game and to no one’s surprise, the US is expected to dominate with oddsmakers installing them as 23.5-point favorites with a total of 183.5 points.

Fortunately for the US, their 54-point win over Iran on Wednesday gave them some margin for error, allowing them the opportunity to make it into the knockout stage even with a loss in the event that lightning strikes and they lose to Czech Republic.

Of course, we don’t foresee that happening but let’s analyze both sides and find out where the betting value lies.

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Will Team USA Handle Another Inferior Opponent?

The US men’s basketball team made easy work of Iran with their 54-point victory on Wednesday afternoon. Portland Trailblazers guard Damian Lillard led all scorers with 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting (46.7%) with all of his field goals coming from behind the arc. Kevin Durant, Khris Middleton, Jayson Tatum, Zach LaVine and Devin Booker also scored double digits in a game in which the US never had to break a sweat.

Facing an Iranian team with no NBA players, the US was completely dominant, holding them to 37.3% shooting and forcing 23 turnovers along with 10 steals. The US scored 37 points off those turnovers and was able to get out in transition to score at will. As a whole, it’s tough to take much from this win given the talent discrepancy between the US and Iran.

Still, the US made some improvements after dropping their first game to France. Most notably, head coach Greg Popovich deployed a three guard starting lineup featuring Lillard-Jrue Holiday-Devin Booker-Kevin Durant-Bam Adebayo which allowed the US to get out in transition and play fast. The lack of chemistry on this team has been a concern, but it’s something we should expect to get better as they play more games together. The faster-paced transition game in which the US simply outruns teams should allow them to capitalize on their speed and athleticism over other teams in the tournament.

Even more importantly, the US recovered from their poor shooting in their game against France to make 19-of-39 (48.7%) threes. With the shorter three-point line, their performance against Iran feels a lot more sustainable than the 10-of-32 (36.2%) the US shot against France in their opening game.

While the US did lose to France, they held a seven point lead with three minutes to go before going cold late in the fourth. With multiple games under their belt and the experience of blowing a late lead, it’s tough to imagine the US letting another one slip against an inferior opponent.

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Can the Czech Republic Use Their Size Advantage to Pull the Upset?

Unlike Team USA, the Czech Republic wasn’t a shoe-in to make the Olympics. After finishing sixth in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Czech Republic had to win the qualifying tournament to get in, defeating Canada and Greece to get in.

Upon getting into the Olympics, the Czech Republic hasn’t been the type of team the US would fear. They defeated Iran by just 6 points, which says a lot considering this same team lost to Team USA by 54 points.

They also are coming off a 97-77 loss to France in their second game of Group play. This tells us this team is not in the upper echelon of teams in this tournament.

There’s a reason this team entered the Olympics as the 12th-ranked team in the FIBA world rankings.

Czech Republic has just one active NBA player on it’s roster in Chicago Bulls guard Tomas Satoransky who scored 14 points in their loss to France on Wednesday.

Forward Jan Vesely, who was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, is also a key contributor to watch out for on this roster as he comes off a game against France in which he scored 19 points, grabbing five rebounds and three assists. He could come up big against Team USA given their struggles with size in the front court.

As a whole, this is a very big Czech Republic team with bigs like Ondrej Balvin, Patrik Auda and Vesely all looking to take advantage of the lack of bigs Team USA has. Nonetheless, Whether their size advantage can overcome the speed and athleticism remains to be seen.

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USA-Czech Republic Pick

Team USA has had some speed bumps during these Olympics. Upset losses against Nigeria and Australia in the exhibition games as well as their opening group play loss to France. Their struggles can’t be understated, but at the same time it’s clear they’re superior to most of the teams within the tournament.

Even in their upset losses they held leads and had control of those games before ultimately failing to execute down the stretch. I’m not sure with the talent disparity on these two teams, the game will even come down crunch time where Team USA’s lack of cohesiveness and chemistry has hurt them against teams that have experience playing together.

Although Czech Republic’s size may cause some problems initially, as the game goes on, Team USA’s athleticism should reign supreme. Lay the points with the Americans.

Pick: Team USA -23.5 (-110)

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Latest State Updates on All 2021 Sports Betting Launch Hopefuls

latest-state-updates-2021-sports-betting-launch-hopefuls

10 states are expected to take their first legal sports bets before the end of 2021. Here’s the latest update on each (note: New York approved online sports betting in April but won’t take its first bet until 2022).

 

Arizona

Projected Launch: Sept. 9

Statewide Mobile: Yes

Note: Arizona officials are poised to approve the state’s first legal sportsbooks ahead of the 2021 NFL season opener, laying out a timeline that should allow legal sports betting and daily fantasy sports options for every pro football game this fall. Among the sportsbooks expected to launch on or shortly after the Sept. 9 go-live date include FanDuel, DraftKings, PointsBet, Barstool Sportsbook and WynnBet.

Connecticut

Projected Launch: September

Statewide Mobile: Yes (only three mobile sportsbooks permitted)

Note: DraftKings and FanDuel will likely be delayed from launching their retail and online sportsbooks until at least the second half of September. The third legal sportsbook, a soon-to-be announced partner with the state lottery, may have a chance to launch before the NFL opener.

Florida

Projected Launch: Oct. 15

Statewide Mobile: To be determined

Note: Federal officials are expected to rule on the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s new compact, which would allow the state’s lone legal sports betting avenue, in the next few weeks. The feds are expected to approve retail sportsbooks at the tribe’s seven casinos, but statewide mobile betting may not be permitted. In any scenario, neither online nor retail betting can begin before Oct. 15.

Louisiana

Projected Launch: September

Statewide Mobile: Yes (certain parishes excluded)

Note: Louisiana regulators are working on sports betting rules that, when approved, would allow operators to accept bets for most if not all of the upcoming football season, though no timeline has been announced publicly. Bettors in certain parishes will not be able to place bets, but that does not include any of the state’s largest population centers such as Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Shreveport. Bettors should expect many industry-leading books to go live this fall, including Caesars, which is investing millions in an updated New Orleans casino and naming rights for the Super Dome.

Maryland

Projected Launch: September

Statewide Mobile: Yes

Note: Maryland sportsbooks must go through a two-step licensing and approval process that could delay the first launch. No official timeline has been given, but state officials have said they expect an early fall launch. It’s unclear how many of the 60 potential online sportsbooks permitted by law will launch this fall (or ever), but Maryland bettors are well positioned for plenty of betting options after the go-live date.

Nebraska

Projected Launch: Fall

Statewide Mobile: No

Note: Several Nebraska pari-mutuel horse tracks are expected to open their first casino games this year, including retail sportsbooks. It remains to be seen when Nebraska bettors can place a legal bet as regulators are still working through final approvals. Only retail sportsbooks will be available and bettors cannot wager on in-state college programs when they play games in the state.

South Dakota

Projected Launch: September

Statewide Mobile: No

Note: South Dakota regulators have cleared many of the steps needed for the state’s first legal sportsbooks to open ahead of the 2021 NFL season opener. Bettors will only be able to wager in-person at certain Deadwood and tribal casinos.

Washington

Projected Launch: September

Statewide Mobile: No

Note: Washington regulators approved rules that will allow the state’s first tribal sportsbooks to open in early September. Assuming approval from the federal government, which is likewise expected in September, as many as 15 tribal sportsbooks could open before the first game of the 2021 NFL season, though statewide mobile wagering will not be permited.

Wisconsin

Projected Launch: September

Statewide Mobile: No

Note: The state’s first (and potentially only) retail sportsbook is expected to open at the Oneida Casino in Green Bay this fall, possibly before the Packers regular-season opener. A full range of professional leagues are expected to be offered, but bettors won’t be able to wager on in-state college programs.

Wyoming

Projected Launch: September

Statewide Mobile: Yes

Note: The nation’s second market that won’t require mobile sportsbooks to partner with an existing land-based facility, Wyoming has no cap on the number of online sports betting operators able to launch in the state. However, Wyoming’s small population may dissuade some smaller sportsbooks, and it remains to be seen how many will pursue licenses at the projected September go-live date.

Kyle Gibson & Ian Kennedy Traded to Phillies: How Move Affects Philadelphia’s Odds, Predictions

kyle gibson-ian kennedy-mlb trade deadline-phillies-rangers

The Texas Rangers have traded starter Kyle Gibson and reliever Ian Kennedy to the Philadelphia Phillies, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported on Friday.

Philadelphia entered play on MLB Trade Deadline day 3.5 games back from the New York Mets in the National League East, with pitching proving to be their downfall so far this season.

The Phillies’ team ERA entered the day ranked 19th in MLB at 4.47, and they had allowed the most runs of any team in the division (484).

Gibson is having by far the best season in his career and had as low as a 1.96 ERA earlier in July, although a couple shaky starts have that at 2.87 as of Friday afternoon. He made his first All-Star appearance this season and is 6-3 on the year.

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The 33-year-old has one more year of team control remaining at a $7 million salary in 2022.

Kennedy is in his third year as a full-time reliever and is thriving with a 2.51 ERA through 32 appearances over 32 1/3 innings. He’ll undoubtedly boost a lackluster Phillies bullpen.

Prior to the trade, the Phillies were +400 to win the NL East and +2500 to win the National League on BetMGM and FanDuel; +350 to win the division and +3000 to win the NL at PointsBet; and +475 to win the NL East and +2800 to win the pennant at DraftKings.

The Mets were -270 favorites to win the NL East at FanDuel, -310 favorites at DraftKings and -275 favorites at PointsBet.

New York was also +500 at FanDuel, +450 at DraftKings, +500 at PointsBet and +475 at BetMGM to win the National League pennant prior to trade deadline day.

If those lines change as a result of this trade — or the Mets’ trade for Javier Baez — The Action Network will update this story.

The Rangers, meanwhile, have virtually no path to the postseason. They entered Friday with a 36-66 record. They have a 0.0% chance to win the division or make the playoffs, according to FanGraphs. Texas has no plans to compete in the next few years.

The Phillies will send right-handed pitcher Spencer Howard and two other prospects to Arlington as a part of the deal. Howard had been 27th best prospect according to Baseball America prior to the season.

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Gibson had spent the first seven years of his career with the Minnesota Twins, who drafted him in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft. He signed a three-year contract with the Rangers in 2019.

Sean Zerillo’s Analysis

Acquiring both Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy improves the Phillies by 1.3 wins in my “True Talent” power rankings, up from 85.6 to 86.9 wins if the season restarted tomorrow.

However, I’m pretty high on Spencer Howard long-term. I think sacrificing five additional years of team control over Howard is not worth the risk of acquiring the two veteran pitchers, considering the Phillies have a remote chance of making the playoffs.

FanGraphs currently gives the Phillies a 20.3% chance of making the postseason and an 18.2% chance of winning the NL East. PECOTA places those odds closer 21% and 18%, respectively.

Howard projects for a FIP between 4.24 and 4.48 for the remainder of the 2021 season, for 25-32 innings pitched.

Gibson doesn’t represent a substantial improvement, clocking in between 4.28-4.53 for a 55-71 inning sample. His 2.87 ERA is due to regress towards his expected metrics (3.69 xERA, 4.15 xFIP, 4.46 SIERA).

Kennedy has been terrific out of the bullpen (3.25 xERA, 3.80 xFIP, 3.26 SIERA), but 92.6% stand rate should also regress towards his career figure (74.2%).

BJ Cunningham’s Analysis

Kyle Gibson sures up the fourth spot in the Phillies’ rotation and replaces a regressing Spencer Howard. Now, while Gibson is having a tremendous season, these are his best numbers since 2014:

  • xERA: 3.69
  • xFIP: 4.15
  • K/9 rate: 7.98
  • BB/9 rate: 3.47
  • HR/9 rate: 0.72

Gibson’s biggest improvement has been on his two main off-speed pitches of curveball and changeup, which are both allowing a wOBA under .220, and he has allowed a total of 23 hits on those two pitches.

The rest of the NL East really struggles against slider, and with the Nationals trading away some of their best hitters, none of the teams in the division are even in the top 10 in wOBA against right-handed pitching.

Gibson is an upgrade in the short term over a struggling Howard and will give the Phillies a slightly better chance at winning the NL East.

Ian Kennedy is in the same camp as Gibson, as he is also having the best season of his career with an xERA and xFIP below four. He’s 16 for 17 in save opportunities for the Rangers, which will be a much-needed boost for a Phillies bullpen that has blown the most saves in Major League Baseball.

I would assume he would take over that closer role and if he continues on his current pace the Phillies could very quickly catch the Mets in the East.

Javier Báez Traded to Mets: How Deal Impacts New York’s World Series Odds, Projections

javier-baez-trade-mets-cubs-mlb-trade-deadline-odds-predictions

Chicago Cubs shortstop Javier Báez has been traded to the New York Mets in the biggest move for a position player so far this MLB Trade Deadline day.

Báez has shown flashes of his usual abilities at shortstop this season, but it hasn’t exactly been on par with previous years. While he’s put up -1 Outs Above Average this season, he had 27 in the same stat in 2019, according to Baseball Savant.

The two-time All-Star has also struggled at the plate, though he hasn’t been appreciably worse than his career numbers.

This season, he is hitting .248/.292/.484 with 22 homers and a National League-leading 131 strikeouts. His career slash line is .262/.303/.474.

Báez will fill-in in the short-term for Francisco Lindor, who is on the 10-day injured list with a right oblique strain. Lindor is hitting .228/.326/.376 with a lower OPS+ than Báez.

Lindor has 12 Outs Above Average at shortstop this season compared to Baez’s -1, according to Baseball Savant.

After Lindor returns from injury, it remains to be seen how the infield will shape out with Báez in the fold. Báez has logged games at second base and third base before in his career, though he has not done so since 2018.

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The Mets were -270 favorites to win the NL East at FanDuel, -310 favorites at DraftKings and -275 favorites at PointsBet prior to the trade announcement.

New York is now -300 favorites at FanDuel. The division odds at DraftKings and PointsBet have been taken down as of Friday afternoon. We will update those numbers when available.

And before the Báez news, New York was +1000 to win the World Series at FanDuel, +850 at DraftKings and +900 at PointsBet.

The Mets are now +800 at DraftKings to win it all. The lines at PointsBet and FanDuel have not moved about an hour after the Baez trade was announced.

The Cubs have become firm sellers this summer due to their precarious playoff position and with their World Series winning core of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Báez eligible for free agency after the season.

Closer Craig Kimbrel, who was not a part of that 2016 roster, was also traded on deadline day to the Chicago White Sox.

The Cubs entered play on Friday 11.5 games back from the Brewers in the NL Central and 9.5 games back from the second wild card spot. FanGraphs gives them a 0.4% chance of making the playoffs.

Báez had spent his entire career with the Cubs, who drafted him ninth overall in the 2011 MLB Draft. He won the Gold Glove Award in 2020 and the Silver Slugger Award in 2018.

BJ Cunningham’s Analysis

Báez provides a nice boost for an improving Mets lineup. I’d imagine Lindor isn’t going to move from shortstop when he comes back from injury, but Báez is a versatile infielder who can play second or third base as well, with +7 DRS at third base and +13 DRS at second base.

Yet, Báez has one of this highest strikeout rates in the entire league and his production at the plate isn’t a big upgrade over the guys he would be battling for second and third base.

Additionally, Jeff McNeil has +3 DRS saved at second base so, if Báez replaces him it would make that much of a difference for the Mets.

The question now is does he replace J.D. Davis at third base? Davis has been a below-average defender for his entire career (-21 DRS at third base), but his hitting the ball much better than Báez.

So while Báez is obviously an electric personality and player to watch, this trade only really helps the Mets from a depth perspective, which for them is crucial given the amount of injuries they have and are currently enduring.

Sean Zerillo’s Analysis

The Báez acquisition improves the Mets “True Talent” level by 1.1 wins in my power rankings, from 91.7 to 92.8 wins, resulting from the trade.

That helps provide some more cushion in the NL East talent gap after the Braves and Phillies upgraded their rosters by a similar degree.

The Trevor Williams inclusion has no material impact on my projections for the Mets’ 2021 outlook.

Báez has had an up-and-down season, but he has surged in July (138 wRC+, .378 wOBA) despite his continued struggles with plate discipline (3 BB, 24 K in 76 plate appearances).

Báez is making contact with baseballs less frequently than ever before (61.9%, career 66.3%) in 2021. His swinging-strike rate (21.8%) and strikeout rate (36.3%) are the worst among qualified hitters.

Most worrisome: he’s still making contact on pitches outside of the zone (48.9%, career 49.5%), but he’s struggling to hit strikes (70.8% zone contact, career 78.2%), particularly fastballs.

However, Báez has continued to play excellent defense, ranking 10th among shortstops with 4 Defensive Runs Saved. He’s been an above-average defender at both second base and third base in past seasons, too.

He should help solidify the Mets infield depth, where Brandon Drury (.278 xwOBA) figures lose his bench spot, and he should take over for Francisco Lindor until he returns from the IL.

Still, since he’s ultimately splitting playing time with Francisco Lindor, Jeff McNeil, Jonathan Villar, J.D. Davis, and Luis Guillorme, Báez’s presence does not represent a substantial upgrade from a team perspective.

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Friday MLB Player Prop Bets & Picks: Total Bases for Nelson Cruz and Ryan Weathers’ Strikeout Total (July 31)

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After taking a good, long look at Friday’s pitching matchups using the Action Labs Player Prop tool, there’s one strikeout total I’m targeting on the schedule.

Additionally, there’s a position player prop that presents value while adding an extra sweat to the card.

Our Action Labs tool grades each prop on a scale from 1-10, and I’ll be sure to include the grade below my explanation.

MLB Player Prop & Pick

Ryan Weathers — Under 3.5 Strikeouts (+110)

Padres vs. Rockies Padres -235
Time 8:40 p.m. ET
Best Book DraftKings

Weathers is having a fine breakout season for the Padres, posting a sub-3.00 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP in 12 starts so far.

However, the Padres don’t consider the young Weathers much more than an opener yet. Weathers has pitched more than four innings in just four of those 12 total starts, and last time he faced the Rockies, he pitched just two.

Additionally, Weathers only struck out one batter in those two innings because the Rockies, with all their faults, are a disciplined baseball team. The Rockies have posted the fourth-lowest strikeout rate in MLB over the past 30 days (20.6%) and the seventh-lowest on the season (22.6%).

The Rockies know how to put the bat on the ball. They rank among the top 10 teams in both zone contact rate (81.3%) and chase contact rate (56.6%). Given Weathers ranks in the sixth percentile among qualified pitchers in whiff rate, it should prove difficult for him to miss bats today.

Between Weathers’s low strikeout rates, low innings potential and the Rockies offensive approach, I like the under 3.5 total in this spot. Our Action Labs player props tool is projecting him at 3.3 strikeouts, so there’s value on this number at plus-money.

Action Labs Grade: 10/10

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Nelson Cruz Over 1.5 Total Bases (+110)

Rays vs. Red Sox Rays -140
Time 7:10 p.m. ET
Best Book DraftKings

While he’s just 2-for-17 since making the move from Minnesota, I like the slugger’s chances against Martin Perez today. Cruz is 9-for-30 lifetime against Perez with a double and three home runs (.300 BA, .633 SLG, .447 wOBA).

However, he also posted a 96 mph average exit velocity in those ABs, which has resulted in a .383 xBA and a .744 xSLG. All-in-all, Cruz has posted a .514 xwOBA against Perez in his career.

There’s no reason to believe Cruz won’t continue to mash Perez. Perez is posting some of the highest batted ball statistics of his career, including an 88.5 mph average exit velocity (87.9 mph career average) and a 40.7% hard-hit rate (34.5% career average). Meanwhile, Cruz is having one of the better seasons of his storied career, especially against southpaws. Cruz has posted a 1.010 OPS against the left side this season, compared to .852 against the right.

Look for Cruz to mash his lefty opponent today and bet this prop on DraftKings at plus-money.

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Byron Buxton Trade Odds: Yankees, Astros, Phillies Favorites To Nab Center Fielder

byron-buxton-mlb-trade-deadline-odds-yankees

Byron Buxton has missed most of this season due to injuries, but that hasn’t stopped trade rumblings from barreling their way into the MLB trade deadline discourse.

PointsBet in Colorado has released odds on where the sportsbook thinks the Gold Glover might land before the July 30 deadline. If Buxton is not traded, all bets will be refunded.

Byron Buxton Trade Odds 

Odds according to PointsBet in Colorado only as of Thursday afternoon

Team Odds
Yankees +200
Astros +300
Phillies +425
Braves +500
Brewers +625
Dodgers +750
Red Sox +1000

Buxton has hit .282/.322/.581 over 153 games since the 2019 season including 33 homers and 92 RBI but has struggled to stay healthy.

The most games he’s ever played in a single season is 140, when he did so in 2017.

This season, he has missed 39 games with a strained right hip and is currently on the injured list with a fractured left hand, which has kept him sidelined since June.

He only lasted three days between injured list stints before suffering the fracture on a hit-by-pitch.

The Twins are considered sellers this summer despite being preseason co-favorites to win the AL Central. They’ve drastically underperformed their metrics to the tune of a 43-60 record — 17 games back from the Chicago White Sox for the division lead.

Minnesota has a 0.0% chance to make the playoffs or win the division as of Thursday, according to FanGraphs.

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The Yankees, who just acquired fellow outfielder Joey Gallo on Wednesday and Anthony Rizzo on Thursday, are +200 favorites to land Buxton. New York has struggled offensively this season and have lagged in the bottom half of MLB in runs scored and batting average.

The Astros are second-best favorites at +300, and could use Buxton’s power at the hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park. Houston’s current center fielder Myles Straw is slugging just .326 and has an OPS+ of 87. Straw and Buxton are about tied on Outs Above Average, according to Baseball Savant, even though Buxton has played 71 fewer games.

The team with the next-best odds are the Phillies, who also play their home games at a notoriously hitter-friendly ballpark. Starting center fielder Odubel Herrera has hit a paltry .240/.293/.386 this season over 271 plate appearances. Herrera also has the same amount of Outs Above Average as Buxton despite 41 more games played.

The Braves (+500), Brewers (+625) and Dodgers (+750) all could use more offensive production out of their center fielders, too.

For the Braves, Guillermo Heredia has been serviceable but decidedly below-average at the plate. He’s hit .240/.321/.386 this season with a -0.2 bWAR.

The Brewers have Jackie Bradley Jr. manning center field, and while he’s hit just .177/.253/.293 over 328 plate appearances, he makes up for it with his elite, elite defense.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger has had the worst season of his career two years removed from his National League MVP honor in 2019. He is hitting just .165/.272/.297 over just under 200 plate appearances. It’s been a two-year slump for Bellinger — including 2020, he’s hit just .208/.307/.388 with 17 homers over his last 101 games.

For reference, in 2019, Bellinger hit .305/.406/.629 with an 8.7 bWAR, 47 homers and 115 RBI.

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Buxton has one more year of team control after this season before he is eligible to become a free agent. He is currently on a one-year, $5,125,000 contract.

The 27-year-old has spent his entire career with the Minnesota Twins organization after he was drafted second overall in the 2012 MLB Draft.

The 2017 Gold Glove Award winner was named the No. 2 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America prior to the 2015 season.

2021 NFL Fantasy Defense Strategy: 2 Sleepers To Draft Late

2021-fantasy-football-draft-strategy-defense-special-teams-sleepers

I am not a fantasy football expert.

If you’re looking for the best fantasy football analysis and advice, I implore you to follow The Action Network’s Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon and Samantha Previte, as well as leverage our customizable fantasy draft cheat sheet.

However, if you’re looking to kill some time and read about sleeper defenses from a guy who’s good enough to make the playoffs in most of his leagues before eventually losing to his wife in the championship game, then I’m your guy!

To start, the point of this isn’t to convince you to wait on a defense (and please, draft only one) until the final two rounds of your draft.

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Assuming you’re playing in a standard-ish league, that has been accepted as the optimal strategy for a long time.

Still, someone is going to reach for a defense too early and start a mini-run, so let them, and when it comes time to finally fill your D/ST slot, take a short-term streaming approach.

So much changes in the NFL that a defense that looks great (or terrible) in Week 1 could quickly flip-flop in terms of its fantasy value.

Because of this, I research defenses being taken outside of the top 12 in average draft position (ADP), then find which of those have the best schedules in the first few weeks of the season.

Basically, use the draft to spot me some time, then I’ll figure it out from there.

Maybe I catch lightning in a bottle, then I’ll ride my drafted defense longer. If not, who cares? I drafted it late and won’t sweat dropping and moving on.

And after performing this “analysis,” two defenses popped out as ones to circle ahead of your draft.

Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Sleepers

Denver Broncos

This is the D/ST apple of my eye this season.

According to Fantasy Pros’ ADP, the Broncos are just the 14th defense to come off the board in drafts, falling right into my bargain-bin wheelhouse.

Denver finished a respectable 13th in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA last season, including 11th against the pass.

But it’s the Broncos’ early-season schedule that makes me so bullish on this team from a fantasy perspective.

In Week 1, the Broncos get turnover-prone Daniel Jones and the Giants, with a decent chance that Saquon Barkley may not be 100% at the start of the season.

Furthermore, this game has the lowest over/under (42.5) of any Week 1 matchup (click here for live NFL odds), showing that the betting market isn’t expecting much offensive fireworks, either.

In Week 2, the Broncos visit rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars.

Could Lawrence light up Houston in Week 1 and make this play a little less enticing? Sure.

But in NFL lookahead lines from the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, the Broncos vs. Jaguars over/under is just 43.5, one of the lowest totals of Week 2.

And remember, drafting Denver with late-round capital means we can simply drop and move on if they look terrible in Week 1 or if Lawrence is brilliant against the Texans.

In Week 3, the Broncos likely get another rookie in Zach Wilson when the Jets visit Mile High.

And yup, you guessed it, oddsmakers are not very bullish on Jets vs. Broncos being a high-scoring game as the total of 42.5 is the lowest in Week 3 lookaheads.

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Green Bay Packers

While the Broncos are my favorite defensive sleeper this season, the Packers will be my fall back if the one person who reads this article also happens to be in my league.

Similar to Denver, Green Bay (currently drafted 15th among defenses) wasn’t terrible on the defensive side of the ball last season, ranking 17th in DVOA and a slightly better 15th against the pass.

And just like the Broncos, the Packers have a delicious early-season schedule.

In Week 1, Green Bay gets New Orleans, which will start either Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill (or both) at quarterback while being without top wide receiver Michael Thomas.

The following week, the Packers get the Lions, whose offense includes Jared Goff and a bunch of used car parts that the Motor City is so famous for.

And in Week 3, the Pack visit the 49ers, which could also be a solid matchup once we get there.

If not, this defense goes right to the scrap heap in exchange for the newest shiny streamable object.

José Berrios Traded to Blue Jays: How World Series Odds Moved Following Deadline Deal

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In a market starved for starting pitching options, the Toronto Blue Jays landed a big one in José Berrios.

The Blue Jays acquired the right-handed starter from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for a prospect haul headlined by Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson.

For pitchers with more than one year of contractual control, Berrios was perhaps the best option made available. With the Twins’ disappointing season continuing throughout July, the franchise hit a bit of a reset by dealing their Opening Day starter.

The Max Scherzer trade, which appeared to be agreed to on Thursday, opened the door for teams to focus on Berrios.

The Blue Jays immediately place Berrios near the top of their rotation, as he’ll help not only a playoff push this year but will contribute next year as well.

In 20 starts this season, Berrios has a 3.48 ERA with 126 strikeouts in 121 2/3 innings.

Entering Friday, the Blue Jays were +3000 to win the World Series at DraftKings and +1400 to win the AL pennant. There was a big discrepancy in AL East odds between FanDuel and DraftKings, with the former posting the Blue Jays at +1300 to win the division and the latter coming in at +2200.

Toronto entered the day 9.5 games back of the Boston Red Sox and in fourth place in the division despite a +97 run differential, which ranks fourth in the AL. The Blue Jays are 4.5 games behind the A’s for the second wild card spot.

Berrios made his debut at 22 with the Twins in 2016, making 14 starts with an 8.02 ERA. But the former top prospect rebounded nicely in 2017 with a 3.89 ERA in 26 appearances (25 starts). He was an All-Star in 2018 and 2019.

The return for Minnesota is headlined by Martin, who was Toronto’s top draft pick in the 2020 draft. Martin was the No. 20 prospect on Baseball Prospectus’ Midseason Top 50 and No. 16 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100. Woods Richardson was the Blue Jays’ No. 6 prospect by BP and No. 4 by Pipeline.

BJ Cunningham’s Analysis

Berrios will be big for a Blue Jays rotation that has been pretty average to this point in the season. Their top four guys of Robbie Ray, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Alek Manoah, and Steven Matz all have an xERA under 4.30 and and xFIP under four. The biggest problem was the fifth spot in their rotation because Ross Stripling has been awful with an xFIP almost at six.

Outside of 2018, Berrios is having the best season of his career:

  • xERA: 4.10
  • xFIP: 3.58
  • K/9: 9.32
  • BB/9: 2.37
  • Hard Hit%: 33%

Berrios has a four-pitch mix of curveball, sinker, fastball, and changeup and all of his pitches besides his fastball have been pretty effective, allowing a wOBA under .270. However, his fastball has been getting shelled to the tune of a .386 wOBA.

He’s also going to be facing much better competition in the AL East because the Red Sox and Rays are top six in wOBA against right handed pitching. Also, five of the current six playoff teams in the AL are in the top 10 in wOBA against right-handed pitching.

Berrios is an upgrade for the Blue Jays’ rotation over Stripling and will give them a legit five-man rotation as they make a push for the division or second wild card spot.

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Fantasy Draft Strategy For Beginners: How To Actually Use Rankings & Mock Drafts

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Fantasy football draft season is here. And whether you’re drafting for the first time or could use a refresher on the basics, our trio of analysts have you covered with how to use rankings and mock drafts to inform your strategy.


How To Draft with Fantasy Rankings

Chris Raybon: You have to factor in average draft position (ADP) when using rankings to draft.

If a player is ranked 90th but his ADP isn’t until the 150th pick, you should be waiting until at least the 130th or 140th pick to draft him. That’s how you start to build a team with plus-net expected value because you’re not just drafting based on rankings.

That’s where so many people go wrong: You shouldn’t draft based only on rankings, you want to use rankings to find value by comparing it to ADP.

Sean Koerner: Like Raybon said, one of the biggest mistakes people make when using my rankings is they use them to a tee. In those cases, people are typically drafting players they could get three or four rounds later.

When you do that, you’re actually destroying the value.

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Another thing to consider is that ADP can get pretty stale, so when you’re drafting in the coming weeks especially, you have to be aware of news.

A good example was back in 2017, when I was in the middle of a draft when Spencer Ware got hurt in the Chiefs’ third preseason game. At that point, Kareem Hunt’s ADP was reflective of the two months before that — not that moment — so I had to update on the fly where I wanted to draft him.

Be aware of which guys might have stale ADPs — it takes awhile for that data to catch up to breaking news.

Samantha Previte: Rankings and ADP are very important tools that can give you a general sense of how industry experts and the public perceive players, but there’s an important balance to strike to ensure you’re not leaning too heavily on these metrics.

First and foremost, I believe that understanding your league’s settings and draft day habits should carry as much weight as rankings (if not more) when it comes to developing strategy. Knowing that your league drafts tight ends early is going to be more valuable information than knowing that Logan Thomas is consensus-ranked as an eighth-round pick.

Second, it’s important to not rely on any single source for rankings. I like to average rankings across a number of different analysts and weight them based on previous accuracy, though there is no “correct” approach to this.

One way you can use both rankings and ADP is looking at the disparity between the two, which gives you a pre-draft lens into where there may be exploitable market opportunities. For example, if you notice that Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb is being drafted 10 spots above consensus rank, the general population may be overvaluing him due to factors such as name recognition, and you can appropriately hedge.

Lastly, building a roster is an art, not an exact science. If you rely on rankings alone to build a team, there’s a solid chance you’d end up with a positionally-imbalanced roster.

Don’t draft a sixth wide receiver just because he’s the highest ranked available player.


How To Use Fantasy Mock Drafts

Previte: Practice makes perfect, but not all practice is created equal.

Mock drafting on sites against strangers or against the apps themselves can be fun and valuable in terms of gaining muscle memory and training your brain to build teams and react on the clock. But they seldom provide actionable data points for your league’s specific draft.

People tend to not take these very seriously since there is nothing at stake — which skews how you’ll mock draft in turn — and drafting against an automated player only gives you insight into how the platform’s autodraft might pick.

Mock drafts with friends or people you know won’t troll you and take three kickers in the first three rounds can be useful tools that I encourage everyone to try. However, even these have low/no stakes and can be quite skewed from reality.

If you are really serious about getting reps in before the big day, I’d recommend doing some low-cost best ball drafts. Yes, the strategies vary slightly from best ball to redraft, but the entrants will be significantly more motivated than they would be in a mock, which will be a better reflection of an actual, competitive draft.

Remember: Perfect practice makes perfect.

Raybon: Mocks help you visualize how to actually execute during a live draft when under pressure.

Also, when you do a mock draft, it’s important to actually finish it. Drafts are won in the middle and late rounds, so when people only mock the first five rounds, it’s not useful.

A shortcut for those who don’t want to mock is to run through an upside-down hypothetical of your draft.

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Get a list of ADP, then start from the bottom: Which players offer value in the late rounds? If you’re looking at who is gonna be available in the 14th round of a PPR draft, for example, you can see that there will be wide receivers available. Then repeat that process all the way up to the top of the draft.

As we always say, you don’t want to go into a draft with too rigid of a strategy. A lot of trendy strategies are top-down strategies in which you’re focused on what to do early in the draft, not what you’re doing later. But when you have an idea of how the draft will unfold in the later rounds, you have a clearer idea of what to do with your early picks.

Koerner: The final point I’ll make is to remember that in live drafts, you have only a short time to make a pick, and you don’t want to panic. So if you don’t practice at all, it could turn into a disaster.

2021 Olympics Men’s Golf Round 3 Best Bets: How to Back Mito Pereira & Cameron Smith in Tokyo

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The weather once again played a big factor on the day at Kasumigaseki Country Club, as a lengthy delay caused the second round to spill into tomorrow with 16 players still on the course. Still, it was another exciting day of golf with more low scoring available, but also trouble lurking for errant shots. This track has proven to be a true risk, reward course, creating what will be an exciting weekend of golf as the players battle for gold.

Xander Schauffele was the star of the day on Thursday, matching Sepp Straka’s opening round 63 with an 8-under day of his own in the second round. Schauffele has taken the solo lead at 11-under on the week, with only Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz joining him in double digits under par, and one shot back.

Hideki Matusyama is the one player that could join them in that category. The Masters champion has moved to 8-under on the week and still has two holes to finish out his round. The Japanese star is currently in a tie for third alongside the aforementioned Straka, who had an even par second round. They are also joined by Chilean Mito Pereira and Swede Alex Noren at three shots behind Xander’s lead.

The leaderboard gets really crowded from there as nineteen players are 5-under or better through 36 holes. There is still a large number of players that can win gold, and certainly the battle for medals will be hard fought throughout the rest of the tournament.

Let’s take a look at who stands out heading into the weekend at the Tokyo Olympics.

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Mito Pereira +2000 to Win Gold (DraftKings)

There were questions coming into the week about how the players that teed it up last week in Minnesota for the 3M Open would adjust to the long travel and quick turnaround to tournament golf in Japan this week. Mito Pereira has answered the bell with seemingly little issue through two rounds as he followed a solid 2-under opening round with a strong 6-under 65 on Thursday.

The Chilean was second in strokes gained tee to green in his second round as he gained nearly five shots on the field. He now ranks fourth in the category on the week, and is gaining strokes in every metric through the first 36 holes. Pereira came into this week off of back to back top-six finishes on the PGA TOUR and earned his spot on the big tour through a special exemption off of his three Korn Ferry Tour victories within one year. He has proven to have the mindset and ability to win under pressure.

These intangible factors and his current form combine well to make him a play at a strong +2000 value to win gold on DraftKings.

[Bet Mito Pereira at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Cameron Smith +1400 to Win a Medal (DraftKings)

One of the best rounds of the day was coming together for Cameron Smith until he stumbled home with a double bogey on his final hole. The Australian was 6-under on his round coming into the 18th, when he dunked his second shot in the lake and ended up dropping two shots.

Smith has still put together two solid rounds this week, and that is clear in some of the statistics for the week as he leads the field in approach proximity. This has led to him ranking second in the field with his irons, gaining 4.7 strokes on approach. He confirmed following the round about how good his game feels this week, but that he still isn’t getting the most out of it just yet.

If he can keep this form throughout the rest of the weekend, and make a move in the third round, he will be in position to battle for a medal in the final round.

[Bet Sebastian Munoz at BetMGM.]

Sebastian Munoz +600 Top 5 (BetMGM)

Here I am again, chasing the hot and cold streaks of Sebastian Munoz. I don’t think I’ve made it a full week without mentioning the Colombian when he was in the field. Anyway, it’s hard to ignore what he’s done through the first two rounds at the Tokyo Olympics.

Munoz ranks second in the field at nearly six strokes gained tee to green on the week. He has gained more than 2.3 strokes on approach in each of the first two rounds, showing consistency with his ball striking to keep him in contention throughout the weekend. The biggest issue for Munoz on Thursday was a simply awful putter that lost more than two strokes on the greens. He is typically solid with the flat stick and if he can bounce back in that category this weekend, while maintaining his strong play tee to green, he can find himself with a shot to contend in the final round.

Yankees vs. Marlins MLB Odds, Picks & Predictions: Friday Night’s Betting Model Edge

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Yankees vs. Marlins Odds

Yankees Odds -165
Marlins Odds +145
Over/Under 7.5 (-105/-115)
Time 7:10 p.m. ET
TV BFSL

This 2021 New York Yankees team is something.

Just when we think it’s done, the Bombers do just enough to convince us that there’s still a glimmer of hope.

But then after taking two games from division rival Tampa Bay and with ace Gerrit Cole on the mound, the Yanks get steamrolled 14-0.

Yikes.

Still, the Yankees’ front office seems to believe in this team, evidenced by the recent acquisitions of Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo, and according to the latest MLB public betting data, bettors still believe in New York tonight despite the steep -165 price tag.

So, what is the correct way to approach this Jekyll-and-Hyde team tonight against the Marlins?

Is New York a savvy contrarian play following last night pummeling in Tampa?

Or is fading the Yanks with a big plus-money price too good to pass up?

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Yankees vs. Marlins Pick

Seventy-six percent of Yankees vs. Marlins bettors are laying the number with New York tonight, but our MLB PRO Projections suggest that the smart way to play this game is by backing Miami at home.

The Action Network’s MLB betting model projects the Marlins’ moneyline at +123 tonight against New York, which correlates to a B-minus graded, 4% edge when compared to the current market consensus of +145 (click here for the latest MLB odds).

Be sure to check out our MLB PRO Projections feature to not only track tonight’s Yankees vs. Marlins betting edge, but to also see the biggest edge of Friday’s slate, which comes from Rockies vs. Padres.

PRO Projections Pick: Marlins +145

10 Fantasy Football Auction Draft Tips To Dominate Your 2021 Leagues

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Auction drafts can be quite intimidating as they’re much more intense than your traditional snake drafts.

There are tons of great strategy pieces out there, but there’s honestly no greater edge in auction drafts than experience. I wish I could tell you to practice with some auction mock drafts, but they typically only help you understand how an auction draft works, not how to beat your actual league.

One thing to realize off the bat is that auction drafts are long. Think of the bidding process for a single player as almost an entire round of a snake draft. Some auction drafts can last three to four hours, if not longer. Because of this, most mock draft lobbies see 90% of the human drafts log off only to leave you drafting with auto-pick robots.

As someone who has done auction drafts since I was 10 years old, I’ll break down some of the top tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years to get you drafting like a pro.

Consider these the 10 commandments to dominating your auction drafts.


Fantasy Football Auction Draft Tips

1. Have Custom Auction Values
2. Gauge How Much Players Could Go For
3. Bid up to at Least 60% of Players’ Pre-Draft Auction Values
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Overbid for Top Players Early On
5. Draft Players Close to the Top of Positional Tiers
6. Take Your Nominations Seriously
7. Keep Track of Other Managers’ Roster Needs & Budgets
8. Don’t Panic If You’re Outbid Early On
9. Don’t Draft a Kicker/Defense
10. Stay Focused the Entire Draft

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1. Have Custom Auction Values

Having accurate auction values based on your league settings is one of the biggest edges you can have. Luckily, you can generate custom (!) values for your leagues using our Auction Cheat Sheet Builder.

It’s better to think of these pre-draft values as guidelines rather than gospel, but they give you a reference point as the draft unfolds to see how your league is valuing certain tiers within a position.

Go into the draft with a plan, but don’t be afraid to improvise a bit.


» Generate Custom Auction Values Now «


2. Gauge How Much Players Could Go For

First, look at the average cost players are going for on the site you’re drafting and compare them to your pre-draft auction values.

You can take a step further by flagging players you think your league could pay up for: If five of your league mates are Cowboys fans and are likely to overspend on Ezekiel Elliott, factor that in by tacking a few extra bucks onto his projected selling price.

After having a rough set of projected prices, create some mock teams to see what type of team/players you’re going to target. While the draft will throw you quite a few curveballs, making it unlikely to get exactly what team you want, it’s good to have a couple of sample rosters to build toward.

3. Bid up to at Least 60% of Players’ Pre-Draft Auction Values

I typically don’t go into an auction draft with a list of players I have to draft. Sure, there are players I’m hoping to get at a fraction of the cost, or players I’m willing to overbid a few bucks on. However, you can fall into traps if you’re dead set on drafting a handful of players.

That’s why I always stress letting the draft come to you if you can help it. For auction drafts, this can be done by bidding at least 60% of every player’s auction values.

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Jamie Squire/Getty Images. Pictured: Travis Kelce

Here’s an example: I’m not going into 2021 drafts saying, “I really, really hope I come away with Travis Kelce.” However, with his $40 pre-draft value in $200 budget leagues, I am certainly willing to bid at least $24 (60%) on him.

We really don’t know how much a player will go for until the timer runs out and the highest bidder is awarded that player, so it’s always worth having a bid in just in case he ends up going cheap.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Overbid for Top Players Early On

It’s important to understand that not all parts of the draft should be treated equally. It’s a given that the league will overspend early, be relatively fair in the middle, and players going later will be dirt cheap.

Saving too much of your money for the end of the draft is a losing strategy.

It’s critical to be willing to “overbid” on top players early in the draft because they’re all going to be a bit expensive in the opening stages. Think about the logic behind successfully purchasing a player: It requires you to outbid 11 other people (if you’re in a 12-team league), so you typically need to go a bit over the pre-draft value(s) to lock in top players early.

You can fantasize about the league somehow letting Dalvin Cook go to you for $15, but the reality is that everyone is aware of the top players at each position, so it’s a pipe dream to think you’ll get any of them as a “steal.”

Typically, the league won’t realize a player was a steal until the top tier is gone.

An example would be if DeAndre Hopkins is nominated first and the league lets him go to you for $35 — $8 less than your pre-draft value in $200 budget leagues. The league is willing to do this because other managers realize there are more wide receivers left in Tier 1.

However, the competition for the remaining Tier 1 WRs goes up with Hopkins off the board. This could result in the other WRs all going for $10-plus more than their pre-draft value. So looking back at how the market for the top WR tier went, Hopkins would look like a “steal.”

I’ve seen this occur year after year. And I’ll explain why in the next rule.

5. Draft Players Close to the Top of Positional Tiers

And try to avoid getting in spots where you’re bidding on a player at the end of a tier.

This is where my snake draft and auction draft strategies differ completely.

In snake drafts, I encourage people to always try to get players before an entire tier is off the board, resulting in a big drop-off at a position. But it’s important to understand how this can backfire for auction drafts.

There are certain tiers that are universally understood, which can cause people to panic and overbid to lock in the final player of a tier. Think about the tight end position. Let’s say Travis Kelce and Darren Waller are already taken and someone nominates George Kittle. The entire league will realize that the last remaining high-tier TE is about to come off the board and will likely overbid for Kittle in order to lock in a top TE.

I typically try to anticipate these situations and either snag the first Tier 1 TE or decide to punt that tier altogether if the asking price for the second is way too high.

This is why it’s key to take players when the tier they’re in is wide open and the market hasn’t been set yet.

Again, that’s a sound snake draft strategy, but I’m suggesting that this mindset actually allows early nominations to end up being a bit cheaper because there’s less demand for the position at that point in the draft.

6. Take Your Nominations Seriously

I take the strategy of nominating players very seriously and it’s the little things like this that can help give you an edge.

You’ll see plenty of advice out there telling you to nominate players you do not want. While I do agree with the advice in theory, I think the nomination advice should evolve as the draft goes on.

Here’s a rough approach to my nomination process:

  • Early in the draft: Nominate players you want at the top of a tier. I’ve mentioned the strategy of targeting players before their tier is down to one guy. You can control this with your nomination and try to lock in that player before the league goes into a bidding frenzy for the remaining players.
  • Mid-draft: Now you can nominate players you do not want. Consider nominating players at the end of a tier if you have that position locked up. If you’re in a league in which five managers are huge Packers fans, nominate Aaron Rodgers. Your goal is to get people to overbid while they’re still flush with cash. I also like to nominate specific players I might be assuming I can get cheap in the middle rounds but would rather find out sooner than later if I can get them before altering my draft strategy too much on that assumption.
  • Late in the draft: I typically don’t have much cash available since I view my bench as an extension of the waiver wire as opposed to a group of players I tend to hang onto all season. Be aware of the managers who have the most cash available and avoid nominating players you want at a position those managers are in need of.

7. Keep Track of Other Managers’ Roster Needs & Budgets

Being aware of each team’s budget and roster needs will help you strategize during the draft. It can help you identify which managers will be aggressive at a position and which you’ll be able to strong arm to get a specific player you want.

You can be extremely savvy with this later in the draft.

Here’s an example scenario: It’s very late in the draft and many managers only have a $1 max bid left. You nominate Dallas Goedert for $1 and someone bids $2 on him. You notice that your max bid at this point is $4 and their max bid available is also $4. If you bid $3 on him, you let your opponent decide if they want him for $4. So instead of bidding $3, I decide right then if I want Goedert for $4 or let the other manager get him for $2.

The more you realize and take advantage of the control you have in an auction draft, the better your team will be.

8. Don’t Panic If You’re Outbid Early On

If you’re in a 12-team league, there’s going to be at least one manager who still doesn’t have a player after the first 11 nominations.

If this happens to be you, don’t panic. I see time after time people get themselves into these situations, panic, then overbid for a player just to get on the board.

Some managers actually prefer this draft strategy as they wait to stockpile Round 2-3 type of players.

If your league is making outrageous bids on the top five to 10 players, it’s totally fine to shift your strategy to target as many players in the top 15-35 range as possible. Once the league has locked-in a stud or two, they’ll let you snag a ton of value in this range. Just make sure you do get as many top 50 players as you can because saving too much money to stockpile players outside of the top 50 is a sub-optimal strategy.

9. Don’t Draft a Kicker/Defense

Assuming your league allows it. (This advice applies to snake drafts, too.)

Instead of drafting a K/DEF, I typically like to just select two players who could see their stock shoot up in the final weeks before the season. Not just any player, either, I’m usually trying to stash a potential league winner.

The two players I targeted the most in 2018 were Chris Ivory and James Conner. LeSean McCoy’s and Le’Veon Bell’s situations were very volatile, so I wanted to have the two players who would directly benefit if either starting back were to miss time.

By planning on skipping out on K/DEF altogether, especially considering you will take anywhere from six to 10 players at $1, it really drives home the need to be aggressive in bidding on RB/WR/TE.

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10. Stay Focused the Entire Draft

Auction drafts can test everyone’s patience and ability to stay focused.

It’s important to use this to your advantage, especially if your league drafts in-person. I know how to have a good time chatting away over a few beers during the draft while secretly analyzing everyone’s behavior. There are times when the entire league can have a mental lapse and let a player go for extremely cheap. I can usually time this once or twice during a draft to get a player at a ridiculously cheap price.

Pay attention to when multiple people get up to go grab a beer or food. It’s times like this where people can be just distracted enough to let a Cooper Kupp go for $5.

Rule No. 3 — bidding up to at least 60% of a player’s pre-draft value — can help make sure you benefit from these moments that pop up during such a long, grueling draft.

[Create Custom Auction Values For Your Draft]

2021 Women’s Olympic Soccer Knockout Bracket, Schedule, Results: Semifinal Draw Set; USWNT to Face Canada

The semifinal round in women’s soccer at the 2021 Olympics is set.

Despite another underwhelming performance Friday, the United States survived and advanced on penalty kicks against the Netherlands. The Americans and Dutch played to a 2-2 draw through regulation and extra time before earning a 4-2 shootout.

Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher was the USWNT star, making three penalty saves in the game, including a crucial stop in the second half.

The U.S. will face rival Canada, which needed penalties as well to get past Brazil. The two sides played to a scoreless draw before the Canadians moved on with a 4-3 shootout win. The USWNT and Canada will play the first semifinal Monday at 4 a.m. ET, with the winner advancing to Thursday’s gold-medal match.

On the other side, Sweden cruised to a 3-1 win over Japan and Australia outlasted Great Britain in a 4-3 triumph. They will play in the other semifinal Monday at 7 a.m. ET in Tokyo.

The USWNT is holding firm as the gold-medal favorite, dipping below plus money at -125 at most books, with Sweden next at +175 odds. Sweden cruised to a 3-0 victory over the U.S. in their opening match of group play.

Below, we broke down group standings and scenarios for the knockout round, and we’ll continue to fill out the bracket as it develops in the tournament.

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Olympic Women’s Soccer Bracket

Friday

Quarterfinal Matchups

Game 1: Canada 0, Brazil 0 (Canada wins, 4-3, on penalties)
Game 2: Australia 4, Great Britain 3
Game 3: Sweden 3, Japan 1
Game 4: USA 2, Netherlands 2 (USA wins, 4-2, on penalties)

Semifinals

Monday, Aug. 2

Game 5: Canada vs. USA — 4 a.m. ET
Game 6: Australia vs. Sweden — 7 a.m. ET

Medal matches

Thursday, Aug. 5

Game 7: Bronze medal match — 4 a.m. ET
Game 8: Gold medal match — 10 am. ET

Group Standings

The 12 teams in the Olympic women’s soccer tournament are broken into three four-team groups. The top two teams will automatically advance, and two third-place teams with the most points will also reach the quarterfinals, with goal differential and goals scored as the next tiebreakers.

Group E

Team Points GD
Great Britain 7 3
Canada 5 1
Japan 4 0
Chile 0 -4

Japan needed a win to advance and got it. It’s the second of two third-place qualifiers, along with Australia.

Group F

Team Points GD
Netherlands 7 13
Brazil 7 6
China 1 -11
Zambia 1 -8

Group G

Team Points GD
Sweden 9 7
USA 4 2
Australia 4 -1
New Zealand 0 -6

The USWNT advanced with a draw and finished second, because of its goal differential tiebreaker over Australia.

2021 Olympic Women’s Soccer Schedule & Results

All four quarterfinal matches were Friday, with the semifinals and medal-round games set for Monday and Thursday. The gold-medal match will be at 10 a.m. ET and more viewable for the American audience.

Wednesday, July 21

Match Time (ET) TV Channel
Great Britain 2, Chile 0 3:30 a.m. Olympic
Brazil 5, China 0 4 a.m. NBCSN
Sweden 3, USA 0 4:30 a.m. USA
Japan 1, Canada 1 6:30 a.m. NBCSN
Netherlands 10, Zambia 3 7 a.m. Olympic
Australia 2, New Zealand 1 7:30 a.m. USA

Saturday, July 24

Match Time (ET) TV Channel
Canada 2, Chile 1 3:30 a.m. Telemundo
China 4, Zambia 4 4 a.m. None
Sweden 4, Australia 2 4:30 a.m. NBCSN
Great Britain 2, Japan 1 6:30 a.m. None
Netherlands 3, Brazil 3 7 a.m. Universo
USA 6, New Zealand 1 7:30 a.m. NBCSN

Tuesday, July 27

Match Time (ET) TV Channel
Sweden 2, New Zealand 0 4 a.m. N/A
USA 0, Australia 0 4 a.m. USA
Japan 1, Chile 0 7 a.m. Universo
Canada 1, Great Britain 1 7 a.m. N/A
Netherlands 8, China 2 7:30 a.m. N/A
Brazil 1, Zambia 0 7:30 a.m. Telemundo

Odds to Win Gold Medal

Odds via DraftKings entering the semifinal matches.

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Team Odds
United States -125
Sweden +175
Canada +800
Australia +900

U.S. Women’s Roster

Goalkeeper (2): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

Defense (6): Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit)

Midfielders (5): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage)

Forwards (5): Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press, Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign)

Olympic Men’s Basketball Odds, Picks, Preview: Best Bets for Italy vs. Nigeria, Team USA vs. Czech Republic & More (July 30-31)

olympic basketball-bets-odds-pick-prediction-preview-usa vs czech republic

It’s the final countdown in groups A and B for Olympic men’s basketball.

France can clinch the top spot in Group A with a win over Iran, while the United States faces Czech Republic in a crucial matchup in the other game. Down in Group B, Italy and Nigeria face off in a must-win game for both nations. Meanwhile, Germany looks to pull off an upset against Australia, which has won its first two group games.

Our team of basketball analysts have identified three bets for this round of games, starting Friday night and going into Team USA’s game Saturday morning, that bettors can find value in. Let’s take a look.

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NBA Odds & Picks

Click on a game to skip ahead
Iran vs. France
9 p.m. ET
Italy vs. Nigeria
12:40 a.m. ET
Team USA vs. Czech Republic
8 a.m. ET

Iran vs. France

Pick
France 1H -14.5
Book
PointsBet
Tipoff
9 p.m. ET
How To Watch
NBC Sports (stream)

Joe Dellera: France is incentivized to make quick work of Iran so it can secure its seat atop Group B heading into the knockout round. France, which defeated the United States and Czech Republic, controls its own destiny against one of the worst teams in the Olympics.

France is one of the best teams at the Summer Games and matches up well with Iran’s best player — center Hamed Haddadi — with an all-world defender in Rudy Gobert. After Haddadi, Iran has no other NBA talent on its roster, which will be problematic against a French team that’s rolling out multiple NBA starters in Gobert, Evan Fournier and Nicolas Batum. All should have strong impacts until this game is out of reach.

Iran has started off slow in both of its games so far, trailing Czech Republic by 16 at the half and the U.S. by 30. France has the NBA talent to put the pedal to the metal and run this score up early, then hopefully rest some of its starters heading into the knockout stage.

I’ll back France to take care of business early and lay the points in the first half as it wraps up Group B with an impressive 3-0 record.

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Italy vs. Nigeria

Pick
Total Over 173.5
Book
BetMGM
Tipoff
12:40 a.m. ET
How To Watch
NBC Sports (stream)

Brandon Anderson: Italy and Nigeria are playing in what is effectively an elimination game to round up Group B play. So, what have we learned about these teams so far?

Italy is 1-1 after playing in two close games. The Italians struggled against Germany for much of the opener, but closed the game on a big run to en route to a 92-82 victory. The Italians were big underdogs in their second game, but hung with medal favorite Australia all the way in a 86-83 defeat.

Both games were fast and high-scoring, in large part because Italy plays precious little defense. The Italians are led by Danilo Gallinari and Nicolo Melli, two big men not exactly known for their defense in the NBA. Italy’s modus operandi is to use its veteran savvy and out-shoot the opponent.

Nigeria is off to a disappointing 0-2 start. The Nigerians are playing for their lives, and a win might end up eliminating both teams. Nigeria got that huge exhibition win over Team USA, but has struggled to find its footing since. It was blown out in the Olympic opener against Australia, losing 84-65, and fought all the way against Germany but lost again in a 99-92 setback.

Nigeria has eight NBA players on its roster. This is a supremely athletic team that loves to get out and run, but the team has run hot and cold and the offense can go missing. That’s what happened against the Aussies, when the Nigerians shot just 39% from the field and under 30% on 3-pointers.

Italy isn’t a particularly athletic team and doesn’t even attempt to play much defense, so Nigeria should be able to get out and run and use its athleticism to its advantage. That’s just fine with Italy, who will surely think they can just out-shoot the Nigerians.

These teams have gone over the 173.5 total in three of their four games combined so far, and the one under involved outlier bad shooting from Nigeria.

As long as neither of these teams goes ice cold, I like the over 173.5 points. I’ll play to 175 in what should be a high-flying, entertaining game with both teams playing for survival.

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Team USA vs. Czech Republic

Pick
Team USA -23.5
Book
DraftKings
Tipoff
8 a.m. ET
How To Watch
Peacock Premium

Raheem Palmer: Team USA has had some speed bumps during these Olympics. Upset losses against Nigeria and Australia in the exhibition games, as well as its opening group-play defeat to France. The Americans’ struggles can’t be understated, but at the same time it’s clear they’re superior to most of the teams within the tournament.

Even in its setbacks, Team USA held leads and had control of those games before ultimately failing to execute down the stretch. I’m not sure with the talent disparity on these two teams the game will even come down to crunch time where Team USA’s lack of cohesiveness and chemistry has hurt them against teams that have experience playing together.

Although Czech Republic’s size may cause some problems initially, as the game goes on, Team USA’s athleticism should reign supreme. Lay the points with the Americans.

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2021 Women’s Olympic Soccer Knockout Bracket, Schedule, Results: Semifinal Draw Set; USWNT to Face Canada

The semifinal round in women’s soccer at the 2021 Olympics is set.

Despite another underwhelming performance, the United States survived and advanced on penalty kicks against the Netherlands. The Americans and Dutch played to a 2-2 draw through regulation and extra time before earning a 4-2 shootout. Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher was the USWNT star, making three penalty saves in the game, including a crucial stop in the second half.

The U.S. will face rival Canada, which needed penalties as well to get past Brazil. The two sides played to a scoreless draw before the Canadians moved on with a 4-3 shootout win. The USWNT and Canada will play the first semifinal Monday at 4 a.m. ET, with the winner advancing to Thursday’s gold-medal match.

On the other side, Sweden cruised to a 3-1 win over Japan and Australia outlasted Great Britain in a 4-3 triumph. They will play in the other semifinal Monday at 7 a.m. ET in Tokyo.

The USWNT is holding firm as the gold-medal favorite, dipping below plus money at -125 at most books, with Sweden next at +175 odds. Sweden cruised to a 3-0 victory over the U.S. in their opening match of group play.

Below, we broke down group standings and scenarios for the knockout round, and we’ll continue to fill out the bracket as it develops in the tournament.

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Olympic Women’s Soccer Bracket

Friday

Quarterfinal Matchups

Game 1: Canada 0, Brazil 0 (Canada wins, 4-3, on penalties)
Game 2: Australia 4, Great Britain 3
Game 3: Sweden 3, Japan 1
Game 4: USA 2, Netherlands 2 (USA wins, 4-2, on penalties)

Semifinals

Monday, Aug. 2

Game 5: Canada vs. USA — 4 a.m. ET
Game 6: Australia vs. Sweden — 7 a.m. ET

Medal matches

Thursday, Aug. 5

Game 7: Bronze medal match — 4 a.m. ET
Game 8: Gold medal match — 10 am. ET

Group Standings

The 12 teams in the Olympic women’s soccer tournament are broken into three four-team groups. The top two teams will automatically advance, and two third-place teams with the most points will also reach the quarterfinals, with goal differential and goals scored as the next tiebreakers.

Group E

Team Points GD
Great Britain 7 3
Canada 5 1
Japan 4 0
Chile 0 -4

Japan needed a win to advance and got it. It’s the second of two third-place qualifiers, along with Australia.

Group F

Team Points GD
Netherlands 7 13
Brazil 7 6
China 1 -11
Zambia 1 -8

Group G

Team Points GD
Sweden 9 7
USA 4 2
Australia 4 -1
New Zealand 0 -6

The USWNT advanced with a draw and finished second, because of its goal differential tiebreaker over Australia. It will face the Netherlands in the quarterfinals.

2021 Olympic Women’s Soccer Schedule & Results

All four quarterfinal matches were Friday, with the semifinals and medal-round games set for Monday and Thursday. The gold-medal match will be at 10 a.m. ET and more viewable for the American audience.

Wednesday, July 21

Match Time (ET) TV Channel
Great Britain 2, Chile 0 3:30 a.m. Olympic
Brazil 5, China 0 4 a.m. NBCSN
Sweden 3, USA 0 4:30 a.m. USA
Japan 1, Canada 1 6:30 a.m. NBCSN
Netherlands 10, Zambia 3 7 a.m. Olympic
Australia 2, New Zealand 1 7:30 a.m. USA

Saturday, July 24

Match Time (ET) TV Channel
Canada 2, Chile 1 3:30 a.m. Telemundo
China 4, Zambia 4 4 a.m. None
Sweden 4, Australia 2 4:30 a.m. NBCSN
Great Britain 2, Japan 1 6:30 a.m. None
Netherlands 3, Brazil 3 7 a.m. Universo
USA 6, New Zealand 1 7:30 a.m. NBCSN

Tuesday, July 27

Match Time (ET) TV Channel
Sweden 2, New Zealand 0 4 a.m. N/A
USA 0, Australia 0 4 a.m. USA
Japan 1, Chile 0 7 a.m. Universo
Canada 1, Great Britain 1 7 a.m. N/A
Netherlands 8, China 2 7:30 a.m. N/A
Brazil 1, Zambia 0 7:30 a.m. Telemundo

Odds to Win Gold Medal

Odds via DraftKings entering the semifinal matches

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Team Odds
United States -125
Sweden +175
Canada +800
Australia +900

U.S. Women’s Roster

Goalkeeper (2): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

Defense (6): Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit)

Midfielders (5): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage)

Forwards (5): Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press, Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign)

Blue Jays Return Home: Adjusting Game Total and Player Projections with Toronto Back at Rogers Centre

mlb-bets-toronto-blue-jays-park-guerrero

The Toronto Blue Jays will return to their home at Rogers Centre for the first time in nearly two years tonight, where they will begin a 10-game homestand and play their remaining 35 scheduled home games in front of their Canadian faithful.

The Jays weren’t necessarily disadvantaged by playing their home games in Dunedin, Florida and Buffalo, New York the past two seasons, where they have gone a combined 39-30 with a +66 run differential (Pythagorean record of 40-29), but I’m sure that their players will be happy to avoid their barnstorming ways and remain in the same city for an extended period of time.

Whether you’re a bettor or play fantasy baseball, the park change should have an effect on how you approach Blue Jays home games or value their players for the rest of the season.

Below, I’ll compare the Park Factors between Buffalo and Toronto, explain how that will change the game to game totals for Over/Under purposes, and evaluate how the change impacts Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s pursuit of the Triple Crown.

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Park Factor Adjustment

The Jays have accumulated roughly the same number of plate appearances at Sahlen Field in Buffalo over the past two seasons (2252 PA in 2020, 2254 in 2021).

We can take the average of their two years’ worth of Park Factor data in Buffalo and compare it to the rolling three-year sample from their home games at Rogers Centre in Toronto from 2017-2019.

Here’s how the two parks stack up, per Statcast Park Factors, with a figure of 100 representing league-average production:

Statcast considers the run-scoring environment at both parks to be roughly the same. However, the two parks still play a bit differently.

Most notably, Rogers Centre has a home run factor 7% higher than the MLB average, while Sahlen Field plays about 7% below average for homers. This likely is connected to the fact that Toronto has a convertible roof and is mostly protected from the wind. At the same time, Buffalo deals with a significant amount of wind in either direction depending upon the day.

You can see a similar differential concerning the number of singles in Buffalo vs. Toronto, which I assumed was related to the respective playing surfaces, but Rogers Centre installed an all-dirt infield in 2016.

The relative walk and strikeout factors are also flipped, which might be related to pitchers trying to nibble in an enhanced offensive environment in Buffalo, or it could merely be the result of a small sample size.

Adjusting Game Totals

I have found that the betting markets have generally set the totals for Sahlen Field 10% above league average (110 Park Factor), making it the second-highest park factor in my projections. Typically, the adjustment is due to strong winds which influence the action in the smaller Triple-A venue.

Rogers Centre ranks 18th according to my model-projected park adjustment rankings. Based on the long-term history at that park, I have the run-scoring environment rated two percent below average:

As a result, let’s investigate how a projected game total might compare for a matchup in Toronto instead of Buffalo, using Tuesday’s matchup between the Red Sox and Blue Jays, with Garrett Richards set to face Thomas Hatch, as an example.

I projected this game total at 11.12 runs, using the 110 Park Factor adjustment I listed, above. The total opened at 11 and has been bet up to 11.5 with a relatively neutral umpire (68-66 to the Over), swirling winds, and rain.

Furthermore, I set the first five innings (F5) total at 6.41 runs, and that number has stayed at 6.5 since open.

How would I adjust the total for a game at Rogers Centre, as compared to Sahlen Field?

I would downgrade the F5 and full game totals by roughly 11% in both halves, taking 0.73 runs away from the first five innings total and 1.2 runs away from the full game total.

That’s a pretty substantial adjustment, and I expect Rogers Centre to play closer to Miller Park or Target Field than Fenway Park in terms of the overall run-scoring environment.

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Player Projection Adjustments, and Vlad’s Quest for the Triple Crown

One player who the park switch may help, at least in the short term, is Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who currently ranks second in batting average (.328), second in home runs (31), and first in RBIs (78) in the American League, as he tries to become the first player since Miguel Cabrera (2012) to win the Triple Crown.

On the season, Vlad Jr. has hit one home run for every 12.55 plate appearances, which ranks fourth amongst qualified hitters behind Shohei Ohtani (10.65), Fernando Tatis Jr. (11.71), and Kyle Schwarber (12.12).

According to THE BAT projections, Vlad Jr. ranks seventh in projected home runs per plate appearance (14.95), over the remainder of the season.

He’s projected to play 68 of the Jays’ 71 remaining games, with 35 of those 71 games coming at Rogers Centre.

Assuming an average park environment in his remaining road games, here’s how Vlad Jr.’s projected batting line would compare while playing those final 35 home games at Sahlen Field as opposed to Rogers Centre:

Playing games at Sahlen Field would increase his likelihood of leading the AL in batting average. Still, the move to Rogers Centre bumps Vlad’s overall batting line by 14 points in terms of OPS due to the increase in power from the additional doubles and homers he’ll gain at Rogers Centre.

While it’s only a difference of 1.6 home runs over the course of a 35-game sample, that’s enough to move the needle, representing more than 3% of his full-season home run total.

As a result, while the average run-scoring environment is lower at Rogers Centre, compared to Sahlen Field, I think the park change actually enhances Vlad’s chances of securing the triple crown, since he has the most ground to make up in the home run category.

That said, I’m a bit concerned about my RBI leader ticket (+5000) from the preseason since Rogers Centre will reduce the overall run-scoring environment for his teammates.

It would be tough to deny Vlad Jr. the MVP award if he does secure the Triple Crown, but it has happened before (Chuck Klein in 1933, Lou Gehrig in 1934, and Ted Williams in 1942 and 1947).

Guerrero is still listed as high as +250 (DraftKings) to win the American League MVP. His only path to winning the award is to secure the Triple Crown since Shohei Ohtani (projected 8.8 WAR, combined) is still projected to clear Vlad Jr. (projected 7 WAR) and the rest of the AL crop by a significant margin.

Even still, winning the Triple Crown may not be enough to overcome Ohtani in the AL MVP race.

Penn State vs. Wisconsin Week 1 Odds, Picks: Sharp Early Action Moving This Big Ten Spread

penn state vs. wisconsin-week-1-odds-picks-sharp-betting-september-4-2021

Penn State vs. Wisconsin Odds

Penn State Odds +4.5
Wisconsin Odds -4.5
Over/Under N/A*
Date Sept. 4 
Time 12 p.m. ET
TV FOX

*The Penn State vs. Wisconsin over/under was not yet available as of July 30

The college football Week 1 betting market is picking up and this time it’s the Big Ten attracting the early attention.

On July 28, I highlighted Northern Illinois vs. Georgia Tech as an under-the-radar Week 1 matchup that has already landed market-moving money.

Now, we can add Penn State vs. Wisconsin to that list.

Using The Action Network’s college football betting tools and data, let’s break down the Penn State vs. Wisconsin sharp money move that most bettors have likely missed.

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Penn State vs. Wisconsin Pick

DraftKings opened the the Penn State vs. Wisconsin Week 1 spread at Badgers -3.5 on June 14, and the line sat at that exact number for nearly a month and a half.

However, that’s when wiseguy action started shaping this number.

Action Labs’ Bet Signals are reporting steam hitting Wisconsin late on the morning of July 28, forcing a spread adjustment from oddsmakers.

As you can see from the screenshot on the line chart above, the Penn State vs. Wisconsin spread did nothing for weeks before a 1-point adjustment. That coincides with a Steam Move trigger, pushing this number from Wiscy -3.5 to -4.5 (click here for the most recent college football odds).

Considering there’s still more than a month until this game kicks off, there’s no guarantee this line stays where it is or that respected bettors don’t buy back Penn State at a discount from its opener.

But based on the data that’s available to us right now, it’s clear that smart money is the reason for the early Penn State vs. Wisconsin line movement.

Updated 2021 Toyko Olympics Baseball: Schedule, Results, Group Standings, Bracket, Format

Olympic Baseball-odds-groups-schedule-July 21

Baseball returns to the Olympics on Tuesday, July 27.

This is the first time that baseball has been an Olympic sport since 2008. Baseball will not be an Olympic sport in the 2024 Paris Olympics, but there is still a chance it could be added to the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Without Major League Baseball players available, the host nation Japan is the favorite at +175 in the six-team field. Defending gold medalist South Korea (albeit from 2008) has the second shortest odds at DraftKings at +300, followed by Team USA at +350.

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Olympic Baseball Schedule

All times ET.

Tuesday, July 27

Game Time TV
Japan 4, Dom. Republic 3 11 p.m. NBC Sports App

Thursday, July 29

Game Time TV
South Korea 6, Israel 5 6 a.m. NBC Sports App
Dominican Republic 1, Mexico 0 11 p.m. NBC Sports App

Friday, July 30

Game Time TV
USA vs Israel 6 a.m. NBC Sports App
Japan vs Mexico 11 p.m. NBC Sports App

Saturday, July 31

Game Time TV
South Korea vs USA 6 a.m. USA

Olympic Baseball Group Standings

There are two groups of three teams in Olympic Baseball. No team will be eliminated after the group stage ends, but teams who finish at the top of their group will have a better chance of advancing to the gold medal game because they get a bye to the quarterfinals.

Group A

Team Points
Japan 2
Dominican Republic 2
Mexico 0

Group B

Team Points
South Korea 2
USA 0
Israel 0

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Olympic Baseball Bracket

All times ET.

Games with an asterisk (*) will have the home and away teams decided after Group play has concluded.

Round 1

Saturday, July 31
Game 7*: Group B third place vs Group A third place – 11 p.m.

Sunday, August 1
Game 8*: Group A runner up vs Group B runner up – 6 a.m.

Round 2

Sunday, August 1
Game 9: Game 7 Winner vs Game 8 Winner – 11 p.m.

Monday, August 2
Game 10*: Group B Winner vs Group A Winner – 6 a.m.

Round 1 (repechage): Tuesday, August 3
Game 11: Game 8 Loser vs Game 9 Loser – 6 a.m.

Round 2 (repechage): Tuesday, August 3
Game 12: Game 11 Winner vs Game 10 Loser – 11 p.m.

Semifinals

Wednesday, August 4
Game 13: Game 9 Winner vs Game 10 Winner – 6 a.m.

Thursday, August 5
Game 14: Game 12 Winner vs Game 13 Loser – 6 a.m.

Finals

Friday, August 6
Bronze Medal Game: Game 12 Loser vs Game 14 Loser – 11 p.m.

Saturday, August 7
Gold Medal Game: Game 14 Winner vs Game 13 Winner – 6 a.m.

Olympic Baseball Odds

Team Odds Probability
Japan +175 36.4%
South Korea +300 25%
USA +350 22.2%
Mexico +500 16.7%
Dominican Republic +550 15.4%
Israel +3000 3.2%
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Roster Format

Because we are in the swing of baseball season, Major League Baseball players will not be competing in the Olympics. Thus there are only six teams in the field compared to the 20-team format of the World Baseball Classic.

With some older baseball players unable to previously compete in the Olympic games, a handful of former MLB All-Stars will be participating.

Some former All-Stars include Adrian Gonzales (Mexico), Jose Bautista (Dominican Republic), Melky Cabrera (Dominican Republic), Ian Kinsler (Israel), and Masahiro Tanaka (Japan). The USA also has four former All-Stars: Todd Frazier, Scott Kazmir, Edwin Jackson, and David Robertson.

South Korea, the defending Gold Medal champs from 2008, is the only team without an All-Star on its roster.

While there are a handful of former major leaguers sprinkled in, the majority of players on these rosters are either minor league players or players in other professional leagues.

Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league is the second-best league in the world, and the home favorites will have the Olympics’ most talented roster full of NPB players.

The South Korean team will be without star players like Hyun-Jin Ryu as he and others are currently playing in the major leagues, but they are still favorites to medal as they have access to the top players in the Korea Baseball Organization, the third-best league in the world.

Netherlands vs. USWNT Soccer Odds, Picks, Prediction: Women’s Olympic Soccer Betting Preview (July 30)

tokyo olympics-womens soccer-betting-odds-picks-predictions-netherlands-united states-alex morgan-friday-july 30

Netherlands vs. United States Odds

Netherlands Odds +175
United States Odds +130
Draw +250
Over/Under 3.5 (+115 / -160)
Day | Time Friday | 7 a.m. ET
How To Watch NBCSN | fuboTV
Odds updated Thursday afternoon via BetMGM.

We have reached the “business” part of the Olympics, with things getting down to the nitty-gritty in the women’s soccer tournament.

Finding itself in an unusual position at these Summer Games is the United States, which entered the competition as the prohibitive favorite to claim gold in Tokyo. Well, a disappointing 1-1-1 (W-L-D) record in group play has many American fans and pundits alike questioning whether or not this squad can accomplish the task at hand.

Suffice it to say, we’ll find out pretty quickly if the USWNT is ready to make a serious run toward the top of the podium when it takes on the Netherlands in Friday’s quarterfinal matchup. Game time is set for 7 a.m. ET, which is more palatable for east coast viewers than other matches have been thus far.

Let’s take a look at these countries and see what could be on deck.

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Electric Offense, Shoddy Defense Define The Netherlands

Yes, that headline you just read perfectly encapsulates the Dutch. They featured the most explosive offense in the group stage, racking up an unreal 21 goals en route to a 2-0-1 record.

The Netherlands’ attack has been nothing short of fantastic up to this point. And if there was a Golden Boot competition, striker Vivianne Medina would have already secured top honors. The Dutch star has recorded eight goals and an assist through three matches, which is two more goals than the USWNT has scored the entire competition.

However, it hasn’t been all pretty tulips and aesthetically pleasing windmills for the Netherlands. Its defense has been anything but great. Actually, labeling its effort in that third of the pitch as “leaky” would be a compliment.

Now, I should have prefaced that opinion with the fact I take no issue with playing global star Marta and Brazil to a 3-3 stalemate. That’s fine. Yet, I do have major problems with the Netherlands conceding two goals to China and an eye-popping three goals against lowly Zambia.

Sure, that match against China was an 8-2 rout and the win against Zambia was a 10-3 blowout, but that sketchy defense has to be a concern for the Dutch considering the fact they suffered a 2-0 loss to the Americans the last time they met on home soil.

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United States Delivers Inconsistent Performances

Assuming you’ve been getting up in the middle of the night or crack of dawn — depending on where you live — to watch the Americans play at some ungodly hours, it has been pretty obvious to even the novice viewer the kind of performances we’ve seen thus far.

If you valued sleep more than 90 minutes (plus stoppage time) instead, let me break things down succinctly in as few words as possible. Simply put, the USWNT has struggled and looked like a shell of itself in two of its three games leading up to this tussle with the Netherlands.

The Americans, who thumped New Zealand in a 6-1 rout, bookended that result with a resounding 3-0 loss to Sweden in a match they were never in and a perplexing scoreless draw against Australia last time out. In the latter affair, the USWNT almost looked as if it was managing the match to avoid defeat since it knew there was really no chance at finishing ahead of Sweden.

Obviously, that isn’t a style we’re used to seeing the USWNT play. The Americans, led by world-class attackers Alex Morgan and Christen Press, usually swarm their foes from front to back. They’re absolutely relentless, never taking their feet off the proverbial gas until the final whistle.

Well, that didn’t happen against Sweden and was surprisingly the case in the draw with the Matildas. In fact, Australia held a 10-8 edge in total shots and wound up with a 5-3 edge on corner kicks.

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Line Movement Showing Interest in Underdog Dutch

When I first peaked at the odds Wednesday evening at BetMGM, the USWNT was sitting as a slight favorite on the three-way line at +120 odds. The Netherlands found itself at +190, with the draw locked in at +250 odds.

Since then, money has come in on the Dutch and tightened these numbers. As of Thursday afternoon, the Americans had floated up to +130 and seen their counterparts come down to +175 odds. The draw has held firm at +250, which points toward the public believing the Netherlands has a legitimate shot at dethroning the world’s top-ranked team.

More movement has occurred on the To Advance wager, with the USWNT going from -145 to -135 odds. Obviously, the Dutch have been taking the action there as well, shifting from +105 to -105 on the line. Yes, the Americans are still favored, but if you asked me prior to the start of the competition if we’d ever see the USWNT at these number I would have laughed.


Betting Analysis & Pick

If I had my own, personal soccer dictionary, the word “frustrating” would include a photo of the current USWNT standing on an Olympic pitch.

Bottom line, this team is virtually impossible to figure out at the moment after such mediocre, uncharacteristic performances in the group stage. Now, the Americans catch a Dutch outfit beaming with confidence, even though two of its victories came against global minnows.

As I mentioned, the action ahead of this match is coming in on Netherlands, and I can’t blame bettors for taking a stance against the USWNT. However, I’m not one of those jumping ship on this squad. They’re too deep, too talented to bow out in the quarterfinal round against a Netherlands side it dominated the last time they faced each other.

For those reasons, I’m keeping my seat on the USWNT train and backing it to triumph at +130 odds via BetMGM as my top selection. That is simply way too much value on the Americans to pass up in my opinion.

I will also play the USWNT to advance at -135 odds, which provides me some protection if this game somehow reaches extra time and penalties.

Picks: USWNT ML (+130) | USWNT To Advance (-135)

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Max Scherzer, Trea Turner Traded to Dodgers: How Blockbuster Deal With Washington Impacts LA’s Odds, Projections

Max Scherzer-Dodgers

After early reports that the Padres were on the verge of acquiring Max Scherzer, their rival Dodgers swooped in and stopped the San Diego party, reportedly acquiring the three-time Cy Young winner and All-Star shortstop Trea Turner from the Washington Nationals, according to multiple reports.

At the time of publication, the deal is pending medical reports.

Scherzer brought Cy Young awards, playoff appearances and a World Series to the Washington Nationals. His final parting gift in the last year of his contract will be delivering prospects on his way out.

Even at 37, Scherzer is still one of the best starters in baseball and provides an immediate boost to the Los Angeles rotation. In 19 starts this year with Washington, he has a 2.76 ERA with 147 strikeouts in 111 innings. He started on Thursday, showing he’s healthy.

Scherzer joins Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw atop the Los Angeles rotation and takes the place of offseason signing Trevor Bauer, who remains on the commissioners’ exempt list while facing an accusation of sexual assault.

Turner, who is currently on the IL after testing positive for COVID-19, made his first All-Star team this season and is hitting .322/.369/.521 with 18 home runs and 21 stolen bases. With Corey Seager due back as soon as Friday from a fractured hand, Turner is expected to play second base for Los Angeles.

To nobody’s surprise, the Dodgers were already the World Series favorites entering the day, at +380 on DraftKings and PointsBet, +400 at BetMGM and +430 at FanDuel. Los Angeles’ odds to win the NL pennant were +175 at FanDuel and +190 at FanDuel and BetMGM, and their odds to win the NL West ranged from -145 to -198 despite remaining three games behind the Giants in the division as of this writing.

As reports of the deal began getting solidified, FanDuel quickly dropped the Dodgers’ World Series odds to +330.

As part of the deal, the Dodgers sent top prospects Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz to D.C. Ruiz was the No. 39 prospect on Baseball Prospectus’ Midseason Top 50. Gray was No. 55 in their preseason Top 101.

Both top prospects are essentially major-league rest. Ruiz, a 23-year-old catcher, has gotten cups of coffee with the big-league team in each of the last two seasons. Gray, a 23-year-old right-handed pitcher, was originally acquired from the Reds in 2018 and made his major-league debut earlier this season with two appearances, including one start.

The Nationals are expected to receive two other mid-tier prospects as well.

Washington has always been reluctant to sell under general manager Mike Rizzo, but a recent sweep to the Orioles left him no choice with the Nats sitting in fourth in the NL East and more than 10 games out of a wild card spot.

The Nationals signed Scherzer as a free agent to a seven-year, $210 million back in 2015 and he more than lived up to his contract. He was an All-Star in all six years where the Midsummer Classic was held (it was canceled last season).

He won two Cy Young awards and finished in the top-three in voting two other times. He was the co-anchor of the World Series rotation with Stephen Strasburg, but proved to be more reliable than his teammate with at least 200 innings four different times.

Read below for more on the trade from our experts.

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Sean Zerillo’s Trade Analysis

Scherzer is likely the most valuable player that will move before this year’s deadline, and his acquisition improves the Dodgers’ “True Talent” level by 2.8 wins in my projections.

Moreover, Turner improves their projection by an additional 2.1 wins, bringing the net gain in True Talent from this trade to 4.9 wins, from 100.4 to 105.3 wins in my power rankings.

However, the trade signals that the Dodgers don’t expect to have Trevor Bauer (3.40 xERA, 3.70 xFIP, 3.46 SIERA) back anytime soon, and Scherzer (3.23 xERA, 3.37 xFIP, 2.91 SIERA) is seemingly more of a Bauer replacement than surplus quality for their starting rotation.

As a result, I’m not giving full credit to the Dodgers for the Scherzer acquisition. If the season restarted tomorrow, I would place the Dodgers (103.1 True Talent wins) well-ahead of the Padres (94.1) or Giants (82.9) in the NL West. This trade also increases their projected lead in the NL West race based upon prorated records:

Updated 2021 Projection

  • Los Angeles: 98.9 Wins (NL West Champion)
  • San Francisco: 94.2 Wins (NL Wild Card No. 1)
  • San Diego: 92.6 Wins (NL Wild Card No. 2)

The biggest obstacle the Dodgers may face from here is aligning their playoff rotation, with Clayton Kershaw (3.18 xERA, 2.92 xFIP, 3.06 SIERA), Walker Buehler (2.99 xERA, 3.58 xFIP, 3.62 SIERA), and Julio Urias (3.65 xERA, 3.59 xFIP, 3.58 SIERA) all having dominant seasons.

The Dodgers already have the best pitching staff in baseball, per xwOBA (.286, average .315), and they just added the No. 13 overall pitcher (Min 200 batters faced) in Scherzer (.279 xwOBA) to their illustrious mix. Turner (30.7 ft/sec) rates as the fastest player in baseball, and his speed on the base paths will also bring a new dimension to the Dodgers’ offense.

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Anthony Rizzo Traded to Yankees: How The Deal With Cubs Alters New York’s Odds, Playoff Projections

mlb-trade-deadline-rizzo-yankees-odds

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo has been traded to the New York Yankees, the YES Network’s Jack Curry reported on Thursday.

Rizzo has not been the same hitter at the plate over the last two seasons, but the Yankees made this move hoping that Rizzo can rebound to the form he had between 2014 and 2019, when he hit .284/.388/.513 with an average of about 30 homers per season for six seasons.

This year, the three-time All-Star is averaging .248/.346/.446 with 14 homers and 40 RBI — a far cry from his 2019 season, when he had a .405 on-base percentage with 27 homers and 94 RBI.

In 2020, he hit .222/.342/.414 with a drastically reduced hard-hit rate and exit velocity.

The move will allow New York to switch DJ LeMahieu back to his more natural position at second base in the short-term. The odd man out would be Rougned Odor, who has hit a respectable .232/.303/.454 in 62 games as a second baseman.

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Usual first baseman Luke Voit will return from his bone bruise injury some time in August, and it remains to be seen how playing time will be split among the two, should Voit stay with New York.

Rizzo has seven Outs Above Average at first base so far this season compared to LeMahieu’s two and Voit’s one, according to Baseball Savant.

Another possibility would be for Rizzo to join the DH carousel with Giancarlo Stanton and the newly acquired Joey Gallo.

Stanton has held the mantle as the Yankees’ designated hitter since he was acquired in Dec. 2017 and has not played the field since 2019. Stanton is hitting .258/.353/.454 with 16 homers so far this year.

Gallo has had a career year and is tied for 11th in MLB in Wins Above Replacement with 4.1, according to ESPN.

The 27-year-old is hitting .223/.379/.490 with 25 homers and an MLB-leading 74 walks.

Despite coming into the season as clear -223 favorites to win the AL East, the Yankees have drastically underperformed. They are currently nine games behind the Boston Red Sox for first place in the division and three games back from the Oakland A’s for the second Wild Card spot.

New York has a 44.5% chance to make the playoffs and a 5.3% to win the division, according to FanGraphs. Those marks were up from 41.7% and 4.2%, respectively, on Wednesday.

DraftKings slates the Yankees’ odds to make the playoffs at -110 yes, -110 no, up from +110 yes, -130 no on Wednesday.

The Yankees have 17-1 odds to win the World Series and 9-1 odds to win the AL East at DraftKings.

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The Cubs have become firm sellers this summer due to their precarious playoff position and with their World Series winning core of Kris Bryant, Rizzo and Javier Baez eligible for free agency after the season.

Chicago entered play Thursday 11 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers for the NL Central lead. They have a 0.8% chance to make the playoffs and a 0.4% to win the division, according to FanGraphs.

The Cubs will receive pitcher Alexander Vizcaino and outfielder Kevin Alcantara as a part of the deal.

Rizzo will enter free agency this fall for the first time in his career after his nine-year, $73 million deal expires.

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Sean Zerillo’s Projections and Analysis

The Rizzo acquisition improves the Yankees “True Talent” level by 1.8 wins in my projections, and combined with their trade for Joey Gallo on Wednesday, I have increased their full-season power ranking by four wins — from 88.3 wins to 92.3 wins — over the past 24 hours.

That ranking puts them two full wins clear of the Rays (90) and substantially ahead of both the Blue Jays (86.2) and Red Sox (83.5) in AL East roster talent.

Still, following their loss on Thursday afternoon to the Rays, I project the Yankees on the outside looking in concerning the American League playoff picture:

Updated 2021 Projection

  • Tampa Bay: 93.7 wins (AL East Champion)
  • Boston: 93.4 wins (AL Wild Card No. 1)
  • Oakland: 88.9 wins (AL Wild Card No. 2)

  • New York: 88 wins
  • Toronto: 84 wins

The Yankees have crushed both right-handed (122 wRC+, 4th in MLB) and left-handed pitching this season (115 wRC+, 2nd in MLB), but adding a pair of lefty bats in Gallo and Rizzo helps to balance out the righty-dominant presence of DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres, Gio Urshela and Gary Sanchez.

Moreover, Rizzo has been an above-average hitter against same-sided pitching for his entire career (116 wRC+), so this offense should dominate left-handed pitching.

Rizzo also brings a contact-heavy approach to the Yankee lineup and immediately becomes their least strikeout-prone bat (15.7%, 114th out of 136 qualified hitters) aside from LeMahieu (15.2%), which helps to alleviate some concerns provided by Gallo (32.2%), Judge (25.3%), and Stanton (28.8%).

BJ Cunningham’s Analysis

This trade is very interesting for a multitude of reasons. The first question I have is how is Rizzo going to slot into their lineup when Luke Voit is coming back from injury this week?

Giancarlo Stanton hasn’t played an inning in the outfield since 2019 and has only played right field, which is Joey Gallo and Aaron Judge’s primary position.

Presumably as things stand right now, unless Gallo moves to center, Judge moves to left (a position he has not played in big leagues) and Stanton moves into right field so the Yankees can get all five guys in the lineup. Otherwise, they are going to have to rotate on a game by game basis.

Rizzo’s has put up solid numbers at the plate this season:

  • wOBA: .343
  • xwOBA: .353
  • wRC+: 115
  • HR: 14
  • K%: 15.7%
  • BB%: 9.6%

The question is will he be an upgrade for the Yankees? He does have a better wOBA and xwOBA than Luke Voit in limited playing time, but his numbers are very similar to Stanton. So for him to be an upgrade, it’s going to be dependent on how the Yankees reconfigure their defense.

What he will provide is some stability to a lineup with a very high strikeout rate. Stanton, Judge, Voit, Sanchez and Gallo all have K%’s over 25%, while Rizzo consistently for his career is only around 15%.

He’s usually a solid defender with positive DRS in every season up until 2021, where he has -2 DRS and a -1.6 DEF rating on Frangraphs. DJ LeMahieu has been forced to play first base with Voit hurt, so getting Rizzo would guarantee that he can shift back to his natural position at second base. Voit has consistently been a below average defender at first base with -23 DRS for his career, so Rizzo would be an upgrade at first base defensively.

How Russell Westbrook’s Trade To Lakers Has Altered 2022 NBA Championship Odds

Russell-westbrook-trade-lakers-wizards-odds

With the news on Thursday that the Lakers have finalized a deal to acquire Russell Westbrook, betting odds for Los Angeles to win the 2022 NBA Championship shortened considerably.

The Lakers’ odds to win it all moved to as low as +375 at PointsBet before settling to its current mark at +450. The sportsbook had Los Angeles’ title odds as high as +650 earlier in the day.

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Westbrook will now join LeBron James and Anthony Davis for the third “Big Three” iteration of James’ career.

The Brooklyn Nets are still +250 favorites to win it all next season. The Lakers are second-best favorites at their current mark, and the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks are a distant third with +800 odds.

2022 NBA Championship Odds

Odds according to PointsBet as of Thursday night

Team Odds
Nets +250
Lakers +450
Bucks +800
Warriors +900
Suns +900
Jazz +1100
76ers +1200
Clippers +1400
Heat +2000
Nuggets +3000
Hawks +3300
Mavericks +3300
Celtics +4000
Trail Blazers +5000
Knicks +6000
Grizzlies +8000
Pelicans +8000
Raptors +8000
Wizards +8000

The Golden State Warriors — who have the seventh and 14th picks in tonight’s NBA Draft, which is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. ET — are tied with the Phoenix Suns for the fourth-best odds to win the title.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania first reported that Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope would head to D.C. in exchange for Westbrook. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski later added that the 22nd overall pick in this year’s draft would also headed Washington’s way.

Westbrook averaged 22.2 points, an NBA-leading 11.7 assists and 11.5 rebounds over 36.4 minutes per game last season.

His usage rate was eighth in the NBA with 38.7% — just above James, who finished in ninth with 38.6%, according to ESPN. Davis finished 40th in the league with a 32.2% usage rate.

Mexico vs Canada Odds, Picks, Prediction: CONCACAF Gold Cup Semifinal Betting Preview (July 29)

mexico vs canada-gold-cup-july-28-bets-picks

Mexico vs. Canada Odds

Mexico Odds -180
Canada Odds +475
Draw +285
Over/Under 2.5 (+110 / -150)
Day | Time Thursday | 10 p.m. ET
How To Watch FS1 | Univision | fuboTV
Odds updated Wednesday night via DraftKings.

Mexico continues its bid for its first back-to-back CONCACAF Gold Cup titles since 2009 and 2011 when it faces Canada in Houston on Thursday second semifinal.

Both teams enter this match following their best performances of the tournament. Mexico jumped all over a banged up Honduras early in a 3-0 quarterfinal win that should boost the confidence of an offense that performed unevenly in the group stage.

On the other side, Canada saw off Costa Rica in a 2-0 quarterfinal win in a contest that announced the Canadians’ intentions beyond this tournament and into upcoming CONCACAF World Cup qualifying fixtures.

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Pressure Mounts for Mexico

The public pressure on Mexico at the Gold Cup is far greater than on any other nation.

Like the United States, Mexico is expected to at least reach the final if not win the tournament. Unlike the U.S., El Tri is the singular lead story in Mexico’s sports media whenever they are playing.

The best analogy for American sports fans might be if you took the attention and expectations on the U.S. men’s basketball team at the Olympics and multiplied it by five or 10.

That dynamic perhaps explains the tentative nature of modest group performances. Mexico eventually won Group A but only after a narrow 1-0 win over El Salvador, needing a victory following a scoreless draw against Trinidad and Tobago to open play.

Their 3-0 win over Honduras was a different story, and easily Mexico’s best performance this tournament.

Rogelio Funes Mori opened the scoring with his third goal of the 2021 Gold Cup.

With Honduras missing attackers Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto, Jonathan dos Santos put the game effectively of reach with a wonderful volley to make it 2-0 after 31 minutes.

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Canada Lacking Option Up Top

Canada earned one of the most important results of their recent footballing history when they thoroughly outplayed Costa Rica in a 2-0 quarterfinal win.

But the victory should come with two caveats:

  1. The Ticos are a national team in transition relying on a core of players who are above 30 years old, much like the United States squad during the 2018 World Cup qualifying cycle.
  2. Canada now find themselves similarly limited to Honduras in attack as they prepare to face Mexico.

Strikers Ayo Akinola and Cyle Larin have been lost to injury. Lucas Cavallini will be suspended after picking up his second yellow card.

That leaves Tesho Akindele — only called into the squad before the quarterfinal — as the most likely starter up top, though manager John Herdman could push Junior Hoilett or Tajon Buchanan higher up the field.

Center back Steven Vittoria is also out due to card accumulation, leaving a back line that is already a weakness more vulnerable. Doneil Henry is his likely replacement.

More generally, three consecutive games against FIFA top-50 opposition represents an enormous step up in competition compared to the recent past.

Prior to this stretch, their last such match came in the fall of 2019 with two CONCACAF Nations League matches against the U.S.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

I’d favor Mexico to progress comfortably in most circumstances.

But these are the Gold Cup semifinals, a stage that very often proves difficult for El Tri.

While Mexico has progressed in five of its last seven semifinal appearances, it’s always been tough work, be the opponent Guadeloupe, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Jamaica or Haiti.

They required penalties once and extra time on three more occasions. They’ve been shut out in regulation on their last two occasions and failed to score multiple goals in 90 minutes across those last seven.

The total goals scored has also gone over 2.5 exactly once — in Mexico’s 2-1 defeat to Panama in 2013.

For such trends to inform betting there needs to be causation. I think there is here. Namely, the pressure regularly facing Mexico at this stage is even greater than in the final.

In the eyes of Mexican fans and media, there’s no direct good that can come from a win here. The expectation is to win a title. However, there are plenty of bad — even humiliating — possibilities that can come from a loss against another side that has played its way to the semifinals.

That psychological element might also explain why Mexico’s Gold Cup final performances are actually better than those in the semifinal round.

With Canada’s injuries and inexperience, I’m not inclined to bet El Tri to win in 90 minutes, but the draw, the total under 2.5 goals and the Mexico team total under 1.5 are all good value to me.

For sake of argument, I’ll take the team total at -108 odds and an implied 51.9% probability, if only because it’s the most consistent trend of them all.

Pick: Mexico Team Total Under 1.5 Goals (-108)

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Rockies vs. Padres Odds, Picks, Predictions: Why Colorado May Have Value as Road Underdog

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Rockies vs. Padres Odds

Rockies Odds +227
Padres Odds -280
Over/Under 8 (-114/+100)
Time 10:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB Network

The Rockies head to San Diego to take on the Padres in the first game of a four-game set. Colorado has lost four of its last five games, while the Padres are coming off of splitting a two-game set against the Oakland Athletics.

San Diego is comfortably in a NL wild card spot and just 5.5 games back of the first-place San Francisco Giants in the NL West. While the Padres boast a top-10 offense in terms of producing runs, the Padres have only averaged three runs per game over their last three losses.

Despite the Rockies being in the midst of a bad slide down the standings, they recently showed some impressive offensive pop in a 12-3 shellacking of the Los Angeles Angels on July 27.

Perhaps that game is what Rockies bettors are thinking about as we approach Thursday’s game. Let’s take a closer look at the value that Thursday’s Rockies-Padres game is providing in our latest PRO Report.

MLB Picks: Rockies vs. Padres

PRO Systems

Thursday’s Rockies-Padres matchup fits neatly into our Visiting Dogs vs. Better Divisional Opponent PRO System, which has a 38% win rate and a 4% ROI.

Top Experts

One of The Action Network’s top MLB experts is betting on Colorado.

PRO Report Pick: Rockies +227 (+235 at FanDuel)

MLB Odds, Expert Picks, Predictions for Thursday: 3 Best Bets, Including Brewers vs. Pirates & Athletics vs. Angels (July 29)

mlb odds-expert picks-brewers vs. pirates-orioles vs. tigers-athletics vs. angels-mlb-july 29

It’s getaway day in Major League Baseball, with a number of series’ wrapping up in the afternoon and several more getting underway under the lights.

Our analysts have found angles on three games from the night slate, including Brewers-Pirates, Orioles-Tigers and Athletics-Angels.

Here are our three best bets from Thursday’s MLB slate.

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MLB Odds & Picks

Click on a game to skip ahead
Brewers vs. Pirates
7:05 p.m. ET
Orioles vs. Tigers
7:10 p.m. ET
Athletics vs. Angels
9:38 p.m. ET

Brewers vs. Pirates

Pick
First Five Innings Under 4 (+100)
Book
DraftKings
Pitchers
Freddy Peralta vs. Chad Kuhl
First Pitch
7:05 p.m. ET

Collin Whitchurch: Two things are true:

  1. Freddy Peralta is one of the best pitchers in baseball.
  2. Freddy Peralta is the third-best pitcher on the Brewers.

It’s easy to forget just how good Peralta is when he sits behind Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes in the Brewers’ rotation, but he’s been electric all season long, with a 2.29 ERA, 2.46 xERA, 3.19 FIP and a miniscule .176 BABIP allowed.

Chad Kuhl isn’t as good as his 4.38 ERA. He walks five batters per nine and has a 5.38 FIP and 5.13 xFIP. The first inning has been a struggle for him as he’s walked 12 and allowed three home runs in the opening frame, but Kuhl is otherwise solid in the early stages of the game. Most of the damage done against him comes it Pittsburgh leaves him out there too long.

It’s for that reason that I like the under in the first five innings on Thursday night in Pittsburgh. I don’t see the Pirates’ hitters having a chance against Peralta, and Kuhl should be able to subdue the Milwaukee bats enough before the games are turned over to the bullpens.

I like under four for the first five innings at +100 and would bet it to -105.

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Orioles vs. Tigers

Pick
First Five Innings Over 5 (+100)
Book
DraftKings
Pitchers
Alexander Wells vs. Casey Mize
First Pitch
7:10 p.m. ET

Brad Cunningham: Alex Wells is getting only his second start in the big leagues after getting called up from Triple-A, but going off his numbers in the minors, he’s likely going to have a rough go of it. In 43 innings in Triple-A this season he posted an ERA over four and an xFIP of 4.82.

He is a left-handed pitcher who mainly throws a fastball/slider combination, but he does not throw hard, as his fastball doesn’t even average 90 mph. If Wednesdday against J.A. Happ was any indication, the Tigers are starting to figure out left-handed pitching.

Casey Mize is a big time negative regression candidate because his ERA is currently 3.63, but his xERA is all the way up at 4.86. He’s mainly been struggling with his fastball and sinker, as both are allowing a xwOBA over .325. Baltimore has been hitting the ball better over the past month, with a .318 wOBA and 101 wRC+, so some negative regression may come Mize’s way tonight.

I have 5.98 runs projected for the first five innings, so I think there is some value on Over 5.5 runs and would play it up to -105.


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Athletics vs. Angels

Pick
Over 9 (-115)
Book
DraftKings
Pitchers
Frankie Montas vs. Dylan Bundy
First Pitch
9:38 p.m. ET

Kenny Ducey: The Angels may not be out of the running for the AL West crown just yet, and a run of five wins in seven games will give them plenty of confidence heading into this one against Frankie Montas and the Oakland Athletics.

You haven’t really needed to be feeling your best to hit off of Montas this year, so the prospects of backing a surging offense here are absolutely fantastic. The Angels have ranked eighth in baseball with a 78.1% contact rate over the last two weeks, though many of those balls have been softly hit.

Enter Montas, who’s allowing a hard-hit ball 45.4% of the time. That’s a simply preposterous number for a sinker-baller, and one which should excite Angels fans. I always enjoy backing contact-happy teams against pitchers with quality contact issues, because they generally see plenty of upward mobility.

There’s one problem here, though, and that’s Dylan Bundy. The former Orioles top prospect has taken a massive step back this season and simply isn’t missing as many bats. That will really bite him against an Oakland team which is really only vulnerable via the strikeout. The A’s have plenty of exit velocity machines in that order and should tee off against Bundy, making the conditions here ripe for an over.

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2021 Tokyo Olympics Men’s Golf Round 2 Favorite Bets: Back Rory McIlroy to Win Gold for Ireland (July 29)

2020 Summer Olympics-Tokyo Japan-golf-betting-odds-picks-best bets-round 2-strokes gained-rory mcilroy

The only thing missing from the first round of Men’s Golf at the Olympics was the fans; everything else lived up to the hype.

The course in Tokyo is immaculate, and the athletes’ opening day performance was similarly spectacular: The field averaged 1.42 strokes under par during Wednesday’s opening round.

Sepp Straka of Austria posted an 8-under 63 in the opening tee time, which subsequently held up through the rest of the round. Straka enters play on Thursday as the leader through 18 holes.

Thomas Peters — Straka’s playing partner from Belgium — also excelled during the opening round of play with a 6-under round of his own.

Jazz Janewattananond was the only player besides Straka to achieve 7-under or better on Wednesday. Impressively, Janewattananond did so from one of the later tee times, which required navigating a mid-round weather delay.

The bigger names teeing it up in Tokyo this week had mixed results. Paul Casey performed the best among the world’s top-ranked golfers with an opening-round 67. Xander Schauffele, Patrick Reed and Viktor Hovland each achieved 3-under. Justin Thomas delivered one of the more lackluster performances among top-ranked players, making 18 pars to finish at even.

Even with some big numbers near the top, it is still a jammed-up leaderboard and wide open tournament entering the second round. We have limited access to statistics and Strokes Gained data provided via the Olympics site, but the format won’t allow for my standard charts between rounds this week. Instead, I’ll reference some of those numbers in my Round 2 best bets below.

GolfBet

Strokes Gained Explanation

Strokes Gained can give golf bettors, DFS players and fans way more detail on how a golfer is truly playing by measuring each shot in relation to the rest of the field.

Using the millions of data points it collects, the TOUR calculates how many shots on average it takes a player to get the ball in the hole from every distance and situation. If a player beats those averages, he’s gaining strokes on the field.

Every situation in golf is different — Strokes Gained measures how players perform relative to the situation.

In this piece, we’ll touch on a variety of Strokes Gained metrics:

  • Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
  • Strokes Gained: Approach
  • Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green
  • Strokes Gained: Putting
  • Strokes Gained: Ball-Striking (which is Off-the-Tee + Approach)
  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green (which is Ball-Striking + Around-the-Green)

In general, ball-striking and tee-to-green are the most stable long term, while putting is more prone to volatility.

You can often find live-betting advantages by identifying golfers who are hitting the ball well, but just not getting putts to drop. Likewise, players with high SG: Putting numbers may regress moving forward.

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Best Bets for Round 2

MacKenzie Hughes 3Ball over Jazz Jannewattananond /Alex Noren +185

Tee Time · 6:52 p.m. ET

MacKenzie Hughes (+185) is the player that stood out to me the most from a Strokes Gained perspective after the first round. He usually relies on his short game to carry his inconsistent ball-striking. However, uncharacteristically his putter held him back in the opening round at the Olympics.

The Canadian was sharp with his ball-striking — especially on approach. He gained more than two strokes on approach with his irons, which ranks sixth in the field for the round.

It’s always a good sign to see Hughes’ ball-striking in form. Furthermore, I remain confident that Hughes’ putter will come around and help him contend throughout the weekend. He ranks 24th in putting on TOUR but ranked 47th of the 60 players in the Men’s Golf Olympics field during the opening round.

I am buying in on Hughes in all formats going into Friday: He will be a favorite play for me in DFS, matchups and this 3-ball bet. Hughes is listed as the underdog of the three, but he could easily be regarded as the deserving favorite. Instead, his underdog status is largely due to opening-round results bias in the wake of Janewattananond’s and Noren’s early performances.

Two final bets intrigue me: Hughes +2000 to earn a medal (FanDuel); and Hughes +1100 for a top-five finish (BetMGM). Both price points offer value on a player that just finished tied for sixth at The Open two weeks ago.


Rory McIlroy to Win Gold +2000 (DraftKings)

Tee Time · 7:25 p.m. ET

The first round of play featured several low scores from longshots like Sepp Straka. As a result, odds have ballooned for nearly all of the presumed favorites before the tournament began.

Rory McIlroy is one such player. He is listed at +2000 to win gold on DraftKings despite a decent 2-under opening round.

McIlroy is notorious for getting off to slow starts. In fact, he ranks 170th on TOUR in opening-round scoring average. So, by comparison McIlroy actually got out of the gates pretty well in Tokyo.

However, one issue in particular held McIlroy back: His inability to take advantage of the Par 5s. He only made par on each of the course’s three par-5 holes on Wednesday. Looking closer at the stats, McIlroy ranked 22nd in Strokes Gained Off the Tee and ranked 17th on SG: Approach. Those metrics affirm that his ball-striking game was in form.

I expect to see a low second round score from the Irishman on Thursday. Furthermore, the course in Tokyo fits his game very well, which inspires confidence in McIlroy’s ability to contend through the rest of the weekend.


Ryan Fox Top-10 Finish +900 (BetMGM)

Tee Time · 9:47 p.m. ET

There aren’t many reasons for this to be the case — because I rarely get the chance to play him — but I have a soft spot for Ryan Fox. He’s a name that catches my eye any time he’s in the field, but this week his game really should be a great fit.

The New Zealander showed up on Wednesday with his ball-striking game in sharp form. He ranked sixth in the field in SG: Tee to Green, he ranked third off the tee and ranked 10th on approach.

Unfortunately for Fox, however, his putter completely failed him in the the opening round. He lost more than three and a half strokes on the greens, which ranked second-to-last in the field.

Fox makes for a great bounce-back second-round play in matchups and DFS, but I’ll take it a step further by betting on a top-10 finish. He salvaged a 1-under round despite his putting issues. If he keeps the ball striking form, he is capable of making a move heading into the weekend.

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Thursday CONCACAF Gold Cup Odds, Picks, Prediction: Qatar vs. United States Betting Preview (July 29)

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Qatar vs. United States Odds

Qatar Odds +330
United States Odds -110
Draw +255
Over/Under 2.5 (+110 / -135)
Day | Time Thursday | 7:30 p.m. ET
How To Watch FS1 | Univision | fuboTV
Odds updated Wednesday night via DraftKings.

The United States men’s national team looks to reach a third consecutive CONCACAF Gold Cup final when it meets guest nation Qatar on Thursday in a semifinal-round match in Austin.

The American men had to work hard for their 1-0 quarterfinal win over Jamaica, with Matthew Hoppe’s header deciding things in the 83rd minute.

Qatar also had its own nervy quarterfinal moments, nearly squandering a three-goal lead in a 3-2 victory over El Salvador. The 2022 World Cup hosts have been the tournament’s most productive offensive team, scoring 12 times in four matches.

The USMNT has also been solid at both ends of the pitch. The Americans boast a tournament-best +8 goal differential.

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Qatar Making Habit of Squandering Leads

The defending Asian Cup winners have backed up those credentials with some stylish attacking.

Almoez Ali is the tournament-leader with four goals, including a brace against El Salvador. Ro-Ro and Akram Afif are two of three players with three assists.

Yet Qatar rode their luck against El Salvador, helped by a soft penalty for a third goal that was upheld despite video review. That game echoed their group opener, when they thrice gave back the lead in a 3-3 draw with Panama.

Qatar hasn’t always had these defensive struggles, keeping clean sheets in six of seven matches en route to winning the 2019 Asian Cup on home soil. But they’ve conceded at least once in all seven matches against FIFA top-50 opposition since then — four times in friendlies and thrice as a guest side at the 2019 Copa America.

Theoretically their 2-0 group win over Honduras would suggest an ability to give a better defensive performance, but that effort came with Honduras missing star winger Alberth Elis from the start with an injury. Starting center forward Romell Quioto also left with an injury before the end of the opening half-hour.

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United States Emerged From Jamaica Scare

Although the closing line had the U.S. as overwhelming favorites against Jamaica, their narrow margin of victory shouldn’t have been surprising.

Jamaica has a history of recent Gold Cup success. The loss to the Americans snapped a run of three consecutive semifinal appearances, with Jamaica reaching the final in 2015 and 2017. Their roster is stocked full of players based in MLS and the English Football League Championship.

In fact, I’d argue the U.S. performance Sunday night was easily its best of the tournament, employing one of the best tactical plans of manager Gregg Berhalter’s tenure.

There were early scares. But the Americans clearly improved as the game wore on, thanks in no small part in strategic insertions of striker Gyasi Zardes and midfielder Cristian Roldan after halftime.

Berhalter also had a long leash on Hoppe, who had some ragged edges to his performance but also an undeniable emotional intensity that fueled the U.S. effort. It culminated in the 20-year-old’s first international goal.

Matthew Turner’s strong tournament in goal also continued, and he’s now saved the U.S. roughly four goals according to one xG compiler. That could also be taken as a warning sign for the American defense.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

The win-or-go-home nature of knockout play can often depress scoring. But not always. I am not sold it will here.

This is an American team assembled with an eye on learning lessons for upcoming World Cup qualifying matches, and a Qatar side attempting to prepare for its World Cup hosting duties. They’re going to try and play their best football first and adjust toward getting a result as the match progresses.

Even with their relative lack of experience, the U.S. getting a goal against Qatar is almost formality. And American squads of varying strengths have generally excelled offensively in the semifinals, scoring at least once in nine consecutive semis and at least twice in six of the last eight.

With Zardes, Roldan and fullback Reggie Cannon possibly moving from substitute to starting roles, the ingredients are there for multiple goals.

I’m slightly less sold on Qatar’s ability to find a goal against what will easily be the most competent defensive team they’ve faced this tournament. That said, it’s also true this is the best attacking team the Americans have faced, in part because of Canada’s injuries.

Yes on both teams to score at -105 odds and a 51.2% implied probability is a decent value. The team total on the U.S. over 1.5 goals at +100 and a 50% implied probability is a better one.

If you’re conservative, I could even advocate for the U.S. team total over 0.5 goals at -450 odds. That’s an 81.6% implied probability for an occurrence I’d  consider at least 90% likely.

Pick: United States Team Total Over 1.5 Goals (+100)

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NBA Draft Market Report: Bettors Moving Odds on James Bouknight, Davion Mitchell & More

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There has not been much drama at the top of the NBA Draft board leading up to Thursday night’s event, but bettors have been active on James Bouknight, Davion Mitchell among others.

ESPN confirmed what most believed to be true, which is Cade Cunningham will go No. 1 to the Detroit Pistons followed by Jalen Green and Evan Mobley to the Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers, respectively.

The wording left it open for something to change, and perhaps a trade could shake things up. But as it stands on Thursday afternoon, the drama starts at No. 4 with the Toronto Raptors.

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For BetMGM, worst case-scenario for one prop looks like it’ll happen. The most-bet prop with the highest liability was on the top three picks going Cunningham-Green-Mobley in order.

Now the focus is on players who’ve seen big line movements, including Bouknight and Mitchell.

No one has received more bets on their under draft position than Bouknight. The UConn guard opened at 10.5. That’s been bet down to 6.5 with the under juiced to -145. Along with Bouknight, Oregon’s Chris Duarte has seen his number move from 20.5 to 15.5 with the under at -140. He’s second at the book with most bets on the under.

A name who doesn’t figure to to find himself in the first round is Luka Garza. The Iowa big man has a total of 54.5, but is receiving the third-most bets on the under out of everyone in the draft.

Going the other way, bettors hammered Davion Mitchell’s over enough to move the line from an opening number of 8.5 to 12.5 with the over juiced to -150. Baylor’s guard is considered a risk because he’s 22, which is ancient in NBA Draft terms.

Others seeing significant action on their over is Keon Johnson and Sharife Cooper.

Oklahoma Football Odds, Preview, Prediction: How to Bet the Sooners as SEC Era Approaches

oklahoma sooners-college football-betting-odds-picks-big 12-sec

It won’t be long until Oklahoma is no longer a powerhouse in the Big 12. The Sooners and fellow Big 12 competitor Texas have opted to leave the conference, requesting to join the SEC beginning in 2025.

But until then, we can break down Oklahoma’s typical Big 12 season full of history, rivalries, and plenty of victories.

Collin Wilson does just that below and shares his favorite bet for the Sooners’ season up to this point.

Oklahoma Sooners Odds & Analysis

Team Rankings
Key Players
Total Off.
494.7 (1)
QB Spencer Rattler
Total Def.
350.6 (3)
WR Marvin Mims
Off. TARP
77%
LB Nik Bonitto
Def. TARP
69%
DE Isaiah Thomas

In a betting world saturated with content, it’s easy to find positive narratives in the offseason. Those narratives lead to lazy assumptions and subsequent wagers that do not have the proper analytics to back up the bet.

A rule of thumb with betting futures: Try to poke as many holes into the scenario as possible.

With the 2021 Oklahoma Sooners, it’s problematic to find holes in the coaching staff or roster. No team returns a better squad from an offensive Success Rate standpoint.

Heisman favorite Spencer Rattler has loaded weapons at the skill position from wide receiver Marvin Mims to tight end Austin Stogner.

Despite having the ability to pass in all quadrants downfield, Oklahoma has the most balanced attack from a rush versus pass perspective.

Running back Kennedy Brooks returns after sitting out 2020, while Tennessee transfer Eric Gray anchors an explosive attack. As a refresher, Brooks forced 51 missed tackles on 155 rushing attempts during the 2019 season.

Head coach Lincoln Riley has an offense that ranked eighth in standard downs Success Rate. In the rare event the Sooners found a passing down, the offense produced a Success Rate rank of 25th while owning a rank of 14th in Expected Points.

The disguise of the play-action pass will continue to play a role of major importance. Rattler produced 17 big-time throws in play-action situations against 15 in non-play action pass attempts. Teams without skill at the safety positions are in jeopardy, as Rattler threw between the hashes for 10 or more yards on 24% of attempts with an adjusted completion percentage of 74%.

The handicap on the Sooners comes down to a defense led by coordinator Alex Grinch. Washington State produced a Havoc ranking of 34th in 2015, signifying the start of the Grinch’s defensive footprint. Oklahoma ended 2020 on a long win streak as the defense finished seventh in Havoc and 16th in Success Rate.

There’s a strong correlation between defensive Success Rate and covering the spread, and there’s no reason to think the Sooners defense will not be one of the best in the nation.

With all the positive information surrounding the Sooners, is there a potential area of concern? The secondary loses both corners, but redshirt freshman Woodi Washington is already being touted as a shutdown corner.

While his coverage rating lacked in giving up a couple of explosive plays, Washington recorded just two missed tackles with 35 tackles and four pass breakups.

For Oklahoma to win the Big 12 and National Championship, the secondary must remain healthy.

What is the correct number to bet futures on the Sooners? Our Poisson distribution gives Oklahoma a 60% chance to go 9-0 during conference play. Considering the projected point spread against Iowa State, the true odds are more around +120 rather than the current market number. Its win total projection sits just above 10, with favored single-digit spreads projected against Texas, Iowa State and Oklahoma State.

A betting recommendation would be on the Sooners’ win total under 11 at any plus juice with probabilities favoring a 10-win season versus a schedule sweep.

The real value lies in the National Championship number at +800 or better. This was the first bet I made in the Action App to kick off the 2021 season, as the Grinch defense is talented enough to handle Clemson, Ohio State and Alabama in new quarterback territory.

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Thursday MLB Player Prop Bets & Picks, Including Freddy Peralta & Eduardo Rodriguez (July 29)

major league baseball-betting-odds-pick-player props-milwaukee brewers-freddy peralta-thursday-july 29

After taking a good, long look at Thursday’s pitching matchups using the Action Labs Player Prop tool, there’s two strikeout totals I’m targeting on the schedule.

Our Action Labs tool grades each prop on a scale from 1-10, and I’ll be sure to include the grade below my explanation.

MLB Player Prop & Pick

Freddy Peralta — Over 6.5 Strikeouts (+105)

Brewers vs. Pirates Brewers (-200)
Time 7:05 p.m. ET
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Fangraph’s SaberSim projections gave Peralta finishing with 7.13 strikeouts, while our Action Labs’ projections has him at eight flat. The Pirates are disciplined, and their lineup has been okay recently, but getting over 6.5 strikeouts at plus money is too much value to pass up.

Peralta is having an incredible season, recording a 2.29 ERA and a 3.71 xFIP thus far. There isn’t a weakness in his game, and he’s allowed less than .200 xBA on all three of his most-used pitches.

However, the most impressive part about Peralta’s game are his strikeout rates. He’s punching out 35% of batters faced and 12.35 per nine innings, which are numbers that rank among the top 6% of qualified pitchers.

With strikeout numbers like that, Peralta just has to make it five innings to hit the over 6.5 mark. And, in two starts against the Pirates this season, he’s pitched 11 innings and recorded 14 strikeouts.

I like Peralta to continue this trend and think over 6.5 provides tons of value in this showdown.

Action Labs Grade: 10/10

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Eduardo Rodriguez — Over 5.5 Strikeouts (-110)

Red Sox vs. Blue Jays Red Sox (-125)
Time 7:10 p.m. ET
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Rodriguez has had a tough season. However, he’s been extremely unlucky, as the difference between his 5.23 ERA and 3.66 xERA is one of the largest among MLB starters. A .355 BABIP will do that to a pitcher.

Overall, I have a lot of faith in Rodriguez’s future. A big reason is that he’s on track to post both the highest strikeout rate (10.56 K/9) and lowest walk rate (2.24 BB/9) of his career, which are stats that are often telling of how a pitcher is performing.

Combine those two figures with a half-decent home-run rate (1.31 HR/9) and Rodriguez has an xFIP all the way down at 3.34 in his campaign.

The Toronto Blue Jays boast a great lineup that performs well against southpaws and stays very disciplined. However, the Action Labs player prop tool is projecting Rodriguez with 6.1 strikeouts,and I tend to agree with that evaluation.

Therefore, I’m taking the value and playing the over 5.5 number on DraftKings as my other top selection.

Action Labs Grade: 8/10

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Thursday MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Orioles vs. Tigers: Precarious Pitching Situations Square Off in Detroit (July 29)

orioles vs. tigers-odds-picks-predictions-mlb-thursday-july 29-2021

Orioles vs. Tigers Odds

Orioles Odds +135
Tigers Odds -155
Over/Under 10 (+100 / -120)
Time 7:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds as of Thursday morning and via DraftKings.

The Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers meet for the first time this season on Thursday night. Both teams come into this series in decent form, with the Tigers winning six of their last 10 games while the Orioles has won seven of their last 10.

A big part of their recent success can largely be attributed to their offensive production. That offensive prowess was on display Wednesday as Baltimore plated eight runs at home only to be outdone by a 17-run performance by Detroit on the road.

Scoring 17 runs is always impressive. The problem for the Tigers is they also allowed 14 runs. They needed to use five pitchers out of the bullpen after Wily Peralta failed to make it out of the fourth inning. That puts Detroit in a tough spot on Thursday especially considering their starter, Casey Mize, will likely be on an innings limit.

I’ll touch on that and much more as I detail how yesterday’s game could carry into today’s action at Comerica Park.

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Early Signs Not Promising For Wells

Alexander Wells gets set to make his second career start and fourth appearance this season. The rookie left-hander is 1-0 after picking up a win in a relief role. He also carries a 4.35 ERA with a 1.55 WHIP. Though he’s only pitched 10 1/3 innings, his advanced numbers aren’t pretty as he has a 7.30 xERA and a 5.87 FIP. He’s also not a strikeout pitcher as his highest K/9 ratio was 7.74 in Triple-A.

Since his call-up, he’s had a 5.23 BB/9 ratio in the majors. I do, however, expect that number to come down with more games under his belt. He’s not a pitcher who has shown any signs of lingering command issues after 5+ years in the minors.

Wells has a unique story in that he signed with the Orioles as an international free agent at 19 in 2015. He’s a native of Australia, so his baseball development would have been somewhat different from what we see here in America with travel baseball and even at the college level for young adults.

Oftentimes, we hear about pitchers who’ve made mechanical changes that increased velocity. As a teenager in Low-A ball, Wells would have had access to plenty of pitching coaches in the Baltimore organization who would aid him with his mechanics. So I am a bit surprised that at the age of 24, his fastball only averages around 88.8 mph.

For a pitcher who doesn’t necessarily strike out a lot of hitters, you’d at least hope to see a decent number of ground balls. But that’s not the case for Wells, as his GB/FB ratio has been below 1.0 in three of his last four seasons in the minors. And in his four appearances in the majors, he has a 0.50 GB/FB ratio. So essentially, we have a pitcher who is below average in terms of strikeouts and groundball rate.

That, to me, sounds like a very precarious situation.

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No More Than Four Innings For Mize

Casey Mize got off to a good start this season in his second year in the majors. He allowed one run in his first 11 innings of work in April and even picked up his first major league win on the road against a good Astros team. He then finished the month by losing his next three starts before getting back on track in May.

Mize carried that momentum into June and recorded a quality start in four of his five outings. But because he was pitching deeper into games, his innings count increased, and the Tigers decided they would reduce his workload for the remainder of the year. This would keep him from having a large jump in innings compared to last season.

The decision to limit his innings might adversely affect Mize because his performances appear to be more uneven of late. In July, he’s allowed eight runs in 15 2/3 innings, whereas in June, he allowed 13 runs in 30 2/3 innings. This is clearly an adjustment he has to get used to, and he might need to include some changes in his pre-game preparation.

Nonetheless, we can’t expect to see him pitch more than four innings, which means that Detroit’s bullpen will need to spring into action when called upon.

Red is the dominant color when looking at the Tigers’ bullpen usage over the last three days. Five pitchers have thrown at least 35 pitches, three have thrown at least 45, and their closer, Gregory Soto, has thrown 66 pitches. Derek Holland and Jose Cisnero have thrown 26 and 27 pitches, respectively during that span, while Daniel Norris has thrown six pitches, and Michael Fulmer has thrown seven.

If we look at who could potentially log some innings on Thursday, the options really aren’t in Detroit’s favor. Norris has a 5.89 ERA, and the Tigers have made a point to limit Fulmer’s workload. Thus, he’s unlikely to pitch multiple innings.

Holland has an 8.44 ERA, and Cisnero has been their eighth-inning pitcher, so he’d probably slide into the ninth inning if Soto is unavailable.

As a result, I’m not sure how Detroit can go unscathed in the middle part of this game, given the possible rest some of their pitchers might need.

Orioles-Tigers Pick

I’ve gone through a few drafts of this preview already because of all the moving parts with Detroit’s starter and their bullpen issues at the moment. My model had a heavy lean to the Tigers in this matchup, and it projects a total of 9.65 runs.

There’s certainly a lot to unpack with Wells making his second career start and Mize likely limited to no more than four innings. And when we add Detroit’s bullpen situation, I think this game has a good shot to go over the total.

Baltimore’s bullpen (4.84 ERA) is only slightly better than that of Detroit’s (5.15 ERA), so it clearly has some problems of its own. The wind could also be a factor with 9 to 10 mph gusts out to the right field.

I think all the aforementioned factors will lead to some crooked numbers on the board for the Orioles.

I’ll play their team total of over 4.5 runs.

Pick: Orioles Team Total Over 4.5 (+105)

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Texas Football Odds, Preview, Prediction: How to Bet the Longhorns as Big 12 Days Wind Down

texas longhorns-college football-big 12-betting-odds-picks

The time is coming when Texas and the Big 12 will no longer be synonymous. The Longhorns and fellow Big 12 competitor Oklahoma are set to leave the conference in favor of the SEC beginning in 2025.

But until then, we can break down Texas’ typical Big 12 schedule full of history and rivalries.

Collin Wilson does just that below and shares his favorite bet for the Longhorns’ season up to this point.

Texas Longhorns Odds & Analysis

Team Rankings
Key Players
Total Off.
475.4 (2)
RB Bijan Robinson
Total Def.
406.6 (7)
LB DeMarvion Overshown
Off. TARP
53%
QB Casey Thompson
Def. TARP
68%
TE Cade Brewer

Which part of past Texas football is an actionable item in 2021? That’s the great mystery of the offseason as Steve Sarkisian takes over as head coach with an excellent hire of Pete Kwiatkowski as defensive coordinator.

The latest Alamo Bowl showed the type of talent the Longhorns have on the roster. Casey Thompson was electric at quarterback with four touchdowns, as Bijan Robinson emulated a Tecmo Super Bowl game with 183 yards on just 10 carries.

Talent has never been the question at Texas, but plenty of other factors played a part at the end of the Tom Herman era. Player development was called out by recruits, boosters wanted Urban Meyer, and Herman’s coaching style was high on emotions.

Herman, now an analyst with the Chicago Bears, was known for straight-up wins as an underdog and straight-up losses as a favorite.

The Longhorns consistently started each season with numerous injuries, a result of over-demanding physical practices. There’s no question that establishing a new culture is the mission objective for Sarkisian, who has been kind to the bankroll of investors.

The Longhorns will look to replicate the 2020 offensive success of Alabama whether Thompson or Hudson Card is under center.

Defensively, the hiring of Kwiatkowski is similar to that of Grinch at Oklahoma from three years prior. Texas will throw multiple looks from three- and four-down defenses, as Kwiatkowski is known for having two nose tackles on the line during the same play.

One silent hire by Sarkisian is that of Terry Joseph as the defensive passing game coordinator, who will dictate coverage. Formerly of Notre Dame, Joseph’s pass defense was on full display in a cover against Sark’s Crimson Tide offense in the College Football Playoff semifinal. Those concepts that kept Alabama within the spread and led the Irish to a complete shutdown of North Carolina now reside in Austin.

Texas returns just 53% per transfer portal and returning players, but the key metric is Finishing Drives. The Longhorns were 13th in Points Per Opportunity and 22nd in Havoc allowed on offense. Sark will look to retain those numbers while amping up the Success Rate.

The defense finished top-25 in Havoc, but a Success Rate of 71st is the first order of business against a pass-happy Big 12.

There’s plenty of room for optimism in Austin, as a case could be made that the floor is six wins and a bowl versus a ceiling of College Football Playoff and a dark horse Heisman contender in Thompson.

A win total set at 7.7 is just short of the market at 8. The true odds on a conference title are 9-1, where most of the market resides. While a Thompson 100-1 would be needed to get my Heisman attention, the real value may lie in a season opener against Louisiana.

Our Action Network power ratings project the Longhorns at -10 with a current number at -9.5. This number opened widely at -16.5 and has taken nothing but Ragin’ Cajuns money.

With the highest number of returning experience coming back to Lafayette, Billy Napier’s squad is sure to be the underdog on everyone’s betting ticket.

Personally, this may be the last time to get Texas at value before we see the Sark and Kwiatkowski plan. I’ll be monitoring the Week 1 line for a further drop to buy into the Longhorns program.

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2021 NBA Draft Prop Bets Card: Intel-based Picks, Including James Bouknight, Davion Mitchell, More

2021-nba-draft-props-moore

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect reports of the Detroit Piston selecting Cade Cunningham first overall.

The NBA Draft is less than 36 hours away. Let’s bet some props.

Before we get started, a few things on this process.

This is messy. It’s a messy, ugly process. Not only do NBA teams not have a single guy they target, but they don’t want that information out there. Teams not knowing who they want helps with their ability to leverage not only trade offers but a commodity just as important: information.

I try and synthesize positions based on three elements.

  1. Analytics assessments from league personnel
  2. Scouting assessments from people who work with teams but don’t necessarily work for teams
  3. League intel in what I’ve come to call the information sewer

You’re trying to find information that matches all three targets. Here are the bets I like the most based off that framework headed into Thursday:

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Jaden Springer under 22.5

Springer is a favorite of draftniks and draft consultants, and he grades out well in analytics models.

He’s gone from being juiced over 22.5 to juiced under. The Hawks are reportedly in play at 20, but some have thought he’s off the board even before then. One interesting concept in play: Springer grades out similar to Jared Butler, only with more playmaking, while Butler’s thought to be a better shooter.

If Butler drops for some reason, or if a team reaches for him, the Knicks might be in line for Springer. New York has looked to trade up but hasn’t gotten anyone to bite.

Moses Moody under 11.5

I loved this one a month ago, grabbed it then and have bet it since. For him to go top 10 is +125. It was +135 just a few days ago.

The risk is that he’s not considered star potential and typically, the top 10 picks are guys who executives think could be stars. Moody is just solid. He is a good defender, has good size, has no medical red flags, interviews well, shoots the ball. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go seventh, eighth, or 10th.

You can get 11.5 with an extra pick if you want to play it safe. If Josh Giddey and Franz Wagner and James Bouknight and Jonathan Kuminga go in the top 10, then we’re down to just one spot for the top 10. But if you want to fade any of those players, Moody is the guy who jumps up.

I’m trying to resist the star concerns and focus on the fact that Moody is, by most measures, one of the better players in the top 15 of the draft and should go closer to sixth than 15th, which puts him square under with a slight variance to the under.

Keon Johnson over 12.5

Wild range for Johnson, but almost no one has mentioned him as a solid lottery pick. Part of the reason for the over is the crunch for the other guys. If Moses Moody doesn’t go top 10, he’s certainly going top 13. Same for Franz Wagner, Jonathan Kuminga, James Bouknight, and Josh Giddy. If we lock in the top five and add those, we’re at 10. Corey Kispert, Kai Jones, Davion Mitchell, and Alperen Sengun all have teams that are interested between 9 and 13.

It’s possible a team reaches for Johnson, but he’s not talked about in such terms as the other guys. He’s solid, and if you want solid, you’re likely taking Moody.

Davion Mitchell over 12.5

I’m surprised this number is still hanging this low. Indiana’s a possibility at 13 if they don’t move out. The Warriors are absolutely in play at 14.

But before that?

Mitchell’s 22 years old. Teams don’t like taking players older than 20, you lose two years of development time which cuts two years off a possible career. You’re trading them at an older age if you trade them, you’re committing money older, etc.

Multiple draft experts I spoke with both in scouting and analytics have Mitchell closer to 20 than 10.

Make sure you shop around. As of this writing, there are 12.5’s juiced at -150 (BetMGM) and 13.5 priced the same.

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Jalen Johnson over 14.5

I’m trying to make amends here. I reported last week that Jalen Johnson was thought of as a lottery talent. The board is no longer shaping up that way. The Spurs at 12 are a team that might take Johnson, so are the Pacers at 13 (though Indiana is as active or moreso than any team at trying to move their pick).

I think the variance, though, suggests that Johnson slides. There hasn’t been any word of anyone who was blown away by Johnson’s workouts or interviews.

I would recommend treading lightly in terms of unit play here, but I do think the value leans over for him at this point.

Ayo Dosunmu under 26.5

Dosunmu is 21, so he falls in that older player category. However, with any picks after the top 10 I’m usually looking for a little bit of breathing room. I’ve heard Dosunmu linked in the late teens with some thought he doesn’t go past 22 to the Lakers (though the Lakers have two other players just as high on their board). That still gives four spots of wiggle room.

Dosunmu gets sterling remarks for character and interviews; he’s thought to be a player you can trust, which is big in this range.

Top 4 picks: 1. Cade Cunningham, 2. Jalen Green, 3. Evan Mobley, 4. Scottie Barnes (+375), AND 1. Cade Cunningham, 2. Evan Mobley, 3. Jalen Green, 4. Scottie Barnes (+1400)

With Cade Cunningham going No. 1 to Detroit, Jalen Green is the most likely pick at 2, but Evan Mobley is in play and is the player many draft experts feel is even the “best” player in the draft. If Green goes 2, Mobley goes 3 to Cleveland, if Mobley goes second, the Cavaliers may trade out and Green would go third.

Toronto is higher on Barnes than Suggs. That’s been floating in the ether for a few weeks. The Raptors are considering a trade-out, which would put Suggs at 4.

However … trades are difficult to make happen. A good starting place is to assume trades won’t happen until they happen.

If the Raptors don’t trade out, Barnes is likely the pick at 4.

You hedge your bets with plus money on both 2. Green, 3. Mobley and 2.Mobley and 3. Green. You assume the Raptors don’t find a trade and they take Barnes.

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Josh Giddey props

The value evaporated on these props overnight. He is the fastest rising name this week, and like with Patrick Williams last year, usually the week of, there’s fire with the smoke.

The problem is that top 10 for Giddey is now -205, and 10.5 unders are as high as -270 at some places.

There’s no value now. The problem, of course, is that any lower and the over has value, so it won’t drop. The Grizzlies are commonly linked with Giddey, but the Warriors with pick No. 7 are thought to be in play as well. However, Golden State’s interest in Giddey coincided with several teams looking to move into space to add Giddey, including the Grizzlies.

It’s no surprise, then, that word surfaced Wednesday that the Grizzlies could be looking to parlay the 10th pick they got from New Orleans along with other assets to the Warriors at 7.

Except, of course, that the Warriors have also talked to Toronto about moving up.

What I’m getting at here is that a whole host of teams may reach for Giddey higher than expected. Watch the market on Giddey. If it moves multiple spots down, play the over, if the juice goes down on top-10 odds, play the under.

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James Bouknight

Look, the market says you shouldn’t touch this one. His number has dropped to 7.5, heavily juiced to the under. It’s 6.5 at some spots. His top-10 props are insane, including -1050 at FanDuel.

There’s a presumption that OKC takes him at 6. Bouknight said in an interview he had dinner with Sam Presti and it went great. So everyone kind of believes Bouknight goes sixth.

I just don’t get it.

For starters, Bouknight turns 21 before the season begins. A 21-year-old rookie for a team that isn’t planning on being in contention for several more seasons? Next, Bouknight shot 29.3% from 3 this season. A scoring guard who shot 29.3% to analytics-minded OKC?

Scouts love Bouknight. He had a killer workout at the combine, and there’s a belief that quite simply, he’s a better shooter than his numbers suggest.

I think that’s definitely possible. Oftentimes, college shooting numbers simply don’t translate to how good of shooters they will be in the NBA. Bouknight could be a sensational NBA player. (Every player in this draft could be, that’s how it works.)

However, someone with that profile being openly and blatantly connected to one of the most secretive organizations in the league? OKC is an Iron Curtain.

Is there any variance? Is there a chance Bouknight goes top five? Not really, there’s no reason to think Orlando would take him before Barnes or Suggs. So if the top five is set, and it’s just down to OKC on a 6.5 prop?

Even 7 seems dicey. Are the Warriors, who are shopping for immediate upgrades, going to take Bouknight instead of dealing him? If no deal comes available would they take him before a high-upside project in Kuminga?

Maybe.

I’ve bet the over 7.5 here at plus money. There’s so much smoke about him going under 7.5 that I can’t recommend it, but I did feel the need to bring him up and say I’m dubious about how the market has reacted over the past week.

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2021 NBA Draft Prop Betting Picks: Best Position Over/Under Bets from The Action Network Podcast

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The Action Network’s basketball analysts Matt Moore and Brandon Anderson broke down the upcoming NBA draft and shared some of their favorite draft bets on the latest episode of The Action Network podcast.

Check out their in-depth thoughts about some of the latest rumors, who is undervalued, who is overvalued, and what their strategies will be going forward when betting the draft.

All odds listed are via BetMGM and were listed at the time of recording on Wednesday.

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Cade Cunningham is -5000 at BetMGM to go first overall. Is there anyone else worth betting to go first?

Brandon: There’s no one else I want to bet on to go first. It’s possible he goes first to another team, but if the Pistons do choose that he’s not their guy, then it has to be a move down from the Pistons. If you want to play something, take Cunningham at +3500 to go second.

Is there any value on Scottie Barnes to go fourth at +225?

Brandon: If you’re playing Suggs not to go fourth, I like the value on him to go fifth at +425 much more than betting Barnes to go fourth at +225.

Matt: Suggs to go fifth at BetMGM is +425. The Magic will not let one of Barnes or Suggs go past them. Even if something crazy happens like Kuminga goes third, then the Magic will take Suggs at fifth because he is better than Barnes.

Who Will be Drafted Higher Than People Expect?

Brandon: Jaden Springer.

He is a very high floor prospect because he’s good at everything without being great at something, and those type of prospects tend to be undervalued. We love to talk about this guy’s jumper, or this guy’s defense or this guy’s [fill in the blank]. He doesn’t really fit that because he has a quieter, more rounded game.

He’s a very good defender who really locks in and plays with high energy on that end. He’s gonna be a good guard defender. He fits well in a lot of team concepts because he can play on or off the ball. His shooting numbers were good this year though not on super high volume – so there is a little concern there.

His free throws look good. The shot looks confident. He can dribble and pass. He can create for himself or others. He’s not great at any of those things. The one concern with him is that he’s not super bursty, so he’s not gonna beat his guy on his own to get to the rim consistently.

To me, Springer and Suggs are similar because of the understated nature of their game. Springer played hurt this entire season on a sprained ankle that he kept reinjuring. A lot of the reports from the combine were that he looked healthier, and he had that pop again. Of all the things we didn’t like about him, if it’s that burst, then that jives with a thing that would’ve been hampered by an injury.

The Tennessee offense didn’t have very good spacing whereas Gonzaga had great spacing. Springer is 15 months younger than Suggs. To me, if you give Springer 15 months to get better and ask if he can lead that Gonzaga team to the championship game, I think he can.

I have Springer in my tier with Suggs. I think he has a very high floor to be a very good contributor – think like a George Hill or a Malcolm Brogdon type of player. I think that is a median outcome, but there is a lot more upside. I have him fifth on my board, but his over//under is 22.5. There is a real cognitive dissonance somewhere here. Draft Twitter likes him a lot too, but not as much as me.

Matt: I bet Springer at Under 23.5 at -110 everywhere I could find it when the odds first dropped. Draft Twitter will all latch onto a guy and like him more than the consensus, but he won’t get drafted as high as they think he should.

Springer is a high-IQ player. He’s a good defender, he’s all-around, he’s productive, and he’s a playmaker. He makes other guys better. His shot release is painfully slow. Coaches believe that getting him to shoot more everyday will help speed that up. On BetMGM, his under is juiced to +110 at 22.5. I think this still has to be a best bet.

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Who is Another Player Who Will be Drafted Higher Than People Expect?

Matt: Moses Moody – Little Rock Lightning. I’ve got a lot of money on Moses Moody unders (his current over/under is 11.5).

He’s a high floor player. He’s gonna be good. He’s gonna score, play defense. He’s not gonna be your superstar, but if you’re saying we need to nail this pick, Moody is your guy.

Brandon: He’s another guy that draft Twitter is very high on. He’s young. He’s long. His shot is pure and looks great. He’s the exact 3 and D guy you want to slot in. He can easily become that kind of 16, 18, or 20 points a game guy in time once he gets more opportunity. What you’re hoping for with him is the Warriors at 7 or the Kings at 9 where a team isn’t looking to hit a home run but instead hit a double. This is a good fit for a team looking for someone who fit in right now and make a difference on my winning team. Why are you shaking your head at me?

Matt: I feel very confident that the Kings will pick either Franz Wagner or Sengun. If the Kings take someone who’s not one of those two guys there, it’s because someone fell to them whom they were not expecting to fall to nine. Kuminga would be someone that could fit that. I don’t think Moody goes to the Kings at nine.

Brandon: Moody’s over/under is 11.5. Your out with Moody is that you can put him on any team in the NBA because every team needs shooters on the wing who can play defense. He’s a potential pick for any team because he fits with any construct of a roster. He gives you a slight extra out at any spot after the top five, so I think that the under still makes sense.

Brandon, who do you like best among the International Players?

Brandon: I like Usman Garuba best. I like Garuba and am underwhelmed by Giddey and Sengun.

Garuba reminds me a little bit of Serge Ibaka because he’s a Spanish power forward. He’s already playing on the Spanish Olympic team (which is impressive because Spain would be the favorite if the USA falters). He’s already the best defender in the draft right now. I think he’s a classic four who can play five just like Ibaka eventually was. He can switch on the perimeter while also defending the rim.

Offensively, he’s more of a play finisher who can play in the dunker spot. I like that he moves naturally and gets into easy spots for good buckets. Being a center on offense isn’t a good thing, but he uses that ability well. He can pass in the short roll a little bit. He can play that center role well.

What I’m bummed about is that more NBA teams have an offensively skilled center, like Jokic, KAT, or Vucevic, but need help defensively at the four. I would love to see one of those teams get their hands on Garuba. I’m a Timberwolves fan, and I’d love to see Garuba next to Towns or Evan Mobley or Chet Holmgren.

Matt, who do you like best among the International Players?

Matt: Josh Giddey’s over/under is at 10.5 with the under at -200. Even despite that number, I think there might still be value on the under. Last year, Patrick Williams was another late riser, and I had his under in my props article, and he ended up going fourth to the Bulls.

It wasn’t just that the Bulls liked him, but there were four different teams that like him, and with Giddey there’s something similar. For example, I’ve heard the Raptors like him a lot, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him go fourth to Toronto.

Oklahoma at six is not someone I will remove from the equation for Giddey. Warriors at seven is in play. The rest is Orlando at eight – which they might trade. Kings at nine is still Wagner or Sengun. But at 10.5, he’s probably going to the Grizzlies at 10. I know you hate the juice, but at -200, I still like it.

Brandon: I don’t love the juice, but my quick case against him is that he’s an incredible passer who can make every creative pass, but I don’t trust him as a shooter, scorer, or defender. He’s kinda like the thing people thought LaMelo was going to be, but he turned out to be a much better scorer and a little better defender. The thing that people still think Ricky Rubio is, but Rubio is a solid defender. That’s my concern, but he’s very young and can improve in those areas.

He has a lot of those “you can’t teach it” sort of things going for him. Here’s the case for the under: international ball is taking over. Every team is terrified of missing on the next great Euro star, and that will push him up the boards. I think the international guys will go higher than expected because people don’t want to miss on him.

Thoughts on James Bouknight Over/Under 6.5?

Matt: Bouknight had an incredible 1-on-0 workout with a bunch of people in attendance at the combine and blew them away.

Brandon: Kinda like Yi Jianlian?

Matt: You’re the second guy to bring up a Yi Jianlian comparison.

The analytics hate him. He shot 33% on 3s last season, and there’s no evidence that he’s gonna be a quality shooter, mathematically. Draft Twitter isn’t high on him. The consultants aren’t high on him.

The execs are very high on him. Extremely high. He has said publicly that he had dinner with Sam Presti, which has a lot of people pencilling him in at six to the Thunder.

The over/under on him is 6.5. I will ultimately tell you that this is a stay-away. The under is -135, and the over is +110. The noise is so strong on him that i can;t recommend the under, but all of my analysis (or analysis-based sources) say over.

A lot of it comes down to this: he’s not going 1-4. At five: maybe? It’s possible the Magic take Bouknight over Barnes. There’s an assumption for him at six which I hate. Why? The worst kept secret is that Oklahoma City desperately wants to move up for a top-four pick. They don’t want 1800 picks; they would rather move up and get a better one. Does someone trade down to take Bouknight? It’s not impossible, but I have a hard time seeing it. The Thunder also have the tightest-lipped organization in the NBA. Sam Presti telegraphing what he does doesn’t sound right. I’m more concerned about Kuminga at six than Bouknight.

Brandon: I agree with everything you said. Bouknight at 6.5 makes no sense to me. We’ve been talking about how we know who the top five guys are. All that leaves left is just one spot for him to go under 6.5. It doesn’t make sense to Oklahoma City.

It doesn’t make sense that the Thunder would leak a pick – they always make these picks that don’t make sense to us. It seems so obviously that this is not a play, and it seems like a free money play. I’m seeing the “it’s a trap” meme in front of me, and maybe they know about a trade up that is lined up, and it’s more than I know. It makes sense, and I can’t do it.

What are your other Favorite Draft Bets?

Matt: Ayo Dosunmu Under 26.5. There was word earlier this week that he doesn’t get past the Lakers at 22. However, there are two other names associated with the Lakers, so maybe that’s just agent talk or they liked him and moved on. I do want some cushion with all these, so having four more spots after the Lakers gives me a little more breathing room.

Isaiah Jackson Over 20.5. I think that’s probably an over – it’s juiced at -120. I think he’s more likely to go Knicks at 21 more than anything higher. I just don’t think bigs are going to be in that big of a demand this year. 

Chris Duarte has slid. He was being talked about as a potential lottery pick. I think one of the reasons for this is because Davion Mitchell is sliding too. Mitchell’s over/under is 12.5, and I’m going to bet the over at +100.

Rokas Jokubaitis Under 43.5. He’s got a first round interest.

Brandon: I like the under on that one. I’ve seen him in a lot of high second round mock drafts where you can draft and stash guys.

Matt: Joshua Primo Under 27.5. Both sides on this at BetMGM are at even money, and I like the under.

Brandon: He’s the youngest player in the draft. I think there’s upside there.

Matt: JT Thor Under 31.5.

Brandon: Yeah I love JT Thor. I have him near late lottery. He’s definitely not gonna go late lottery, but I can see some Pascal Siakam development curve in him. He’s a guy with defensive skills and a deep skillset.

Are there any general strategies you’ll be using heading into the draft when looking for other bets?

Brandon: My M.O. is going to be looking for guys whose over/under is in the 6-20 range, and I’m gonna be looking for overs. Guys projected at the back of it might go sooner, and the guys who are projected at the top of it might slip. I think it’s gonna be a weird mix in the middle of the first round.

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Thursday MLB Odds & Picks for Reds vs. Cubs: Big Betting Value Thanks to Windy Wrigley Field Weather

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Reds vs. Cubs Odds

Reds Odds -126
Cubs Odds +107
Over/Under 7.5 (-102/-117)
Time 2:10 p.m. ET
TV Marquee Sports

Wind is always a factor at Wrigley Field for MLB bettors in the know.

No, this doesn’t mean that winds affect every single Cubs home game, but it’s something that experienced bettors know to check before taking a position on any game on Chicago’s north side.

In fact, oddsmakers often wait longer than normal to post over/unders for Cubs day games in Chicago in order to get the most accurate data as possible regarding how the breezes will blow at Wrigley.

And from a betting standpoint, this makes all the sense in the world.

Strong winds blowing out to the ivy-covered walls will increase scoring by turning long fly balls into home runs. However, breezes in the other direction can keep home-shots in the park, resulting in nothing more than warning-track outs.

As you can probably surmise from the headline, there will be very strong winds at Wrigley Field for Thursday afternoon’s Reds vs. Cubs matchup, and here’s how savvy bettors can take advantage.

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Reds vs. Cubs Pick

According to the National Weather Service, 15 mph breezes are expected Thursday at Wrigley Field with gusts of 30 mph possible.

But as we know, it’s not only the strength of the winds that matter, but also the direction.

Thanks to Sports Insights‘ weather data, we can see that these sustained 15 mph breezes will be blowing directly in towards home plate throughout Thursday’s entire Reds vs. Cubs matchup, which could certainly lower expected scoring.

In fact, when winds of at least 5 mph are blowing in at Wrigley Field, 59.8% of Cubs home games have gone under the closing total since 2005.

When those breezes reach double-digits, the win rate for unders improves to 66.2% while also maintaining a surprisingly large 160-game sample.

At 15 mph, the success of unders skyrockets even further to 71%, but please beware that just 33 games have reached the 15-mph benchmark at Wrigley over this span.

Wisconsin Sports Betting On Pace for Potential Early Fall Launch

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Wisconsin sports bettors may have at least one legal betting option for the Green Bay Packers’ season opener.

The federal Department of the Interior is expected to rule on the state’s newest gaming compact by August 16. Though that doesn’t guarantee legal sports betting begins in early September, it would clear the single major regulatory hurdle preventing the state’s first sportsbook opening.

On July 1, the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and Gov. Tony Evers announced the gaming compact, which regulates tribal gaming offerings. The deal, which will allow the tribe to open sportsbooks at its properties including its primary casino near Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport, was officially received by the Interior Department the next day.

The Oneida Nation has already begun work on a temporary sportsbook near the sports bar at its main Green Bay casino. The casino will feature betting windows and kiosks, officials said following the compact signing ceremony last month.

By law, the DOI has 45 calendar days to make a decision. If approved, the Oneida casino could potentially accept its first bet before the Packers take on the New Orleans Saints Sept. 12.

 

Wisconsin Sports Betting Details

Wisconsin’s potentially solitary sportsbook is still more than most industry observers expected heading into the year.

There was little public indication before July that Evers and any of the state’s gaming tribes were close to a new compact deal. The surprise announcement was only topped by the quick turnaround for federal submission; other states including Florida and Connecticut took weeks before formally submitting their compacts.

Along with the NFL, the new Oneida casino sportsbook will permit wagering on the NBA, NHL, MLB and many other professional sports. It is not clear if the tribe will partner with a third-party sportsbook operator.

The compact does not allow statewide mobile betting. Wagering on college basketball, football and other sports is permitted, but lines for in-state programs such as Marquette University or the University of Wisconsin will not be offered.

Wisconsin will be one of the first states to explicitly permit betting on awards shows such as the Oscars.

Possible Future Growth

No other Wisconsin tribe has announced a similar deal, but bettors shouldn’t be surprised if more of the state’s nearly two-dozen tribal casinos pursue sportsbooks of their own.

Under current federal law, gaming tribes are not permitted to accept online bets outside tribal lands. The Seminole Tribe of Florida has challenged this law and has submitted a compact that would permit statewide mobile wagering. A DOI ruling is expected early next month.

If the Seminole’s online sports betting components are approved, several hundred federally recognized gaming tribes could presumably pursue online sportsbooks of their own within their respective states. In that scenario, it remains to be seen how many would do so; many tribes use retail sportsbooks to attract in-person visits for more lucrative games or other casino amenities.

With the industry awaiting the Seminole compact ruling, Wisconsin’s first tribal sportsbook is steadily advancing. Work remains before the Oneida Casino can take a bet, but there is a clear path for Green Bay residents to place legal bets on every game of the Packers’ 2021 regular season.

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Thursday MLB Odds, Picks & Predictions for Yankees vs. Rays: AL East Showdown Popping With Contrarian Value (July 29)

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Yankees vs. Rays Odds

Yankees Odds -125
Rays Odds +105
Over/Under 7.5
Time 1:10 p.m. ET
TV BSSUN

The momentum is back with the New York Yankees.

The Bronx Bombers, who have taken the first two games of a three-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays, send ace Gerrit Cole to the mound Thursday in an attempt to complete the sweep.

Throw in the fact the team will reportedly acquire Joey Gallo and all things seem to be moving in the right direction for the Yankees.

So the right way to play Yankees vs. Rays is to ride the recent wave with New York, right?

According to our PRO betting tools, not so fast my friend…

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Yankees vs. Rays Pick

Sharp Action

Just 25% of Yankees vs. Rays bets have landed on Tampa Bay thus far and we can count the wiseguys as part of that minority.

Action Labs’ Bet Signals have tracked three instances of sharp action hitting the Rays, pushing this line down from Tampa Bay +130 to +105 (click here for live MLB odds) at PointsBet.

PRO Systems

With the overwhelming majority of bettors jumping on the Yankees, the Rays are offering oodles of contrarian value, as evidenced by The Action Network’s Betting Against the Public PRO Betting System.

Teams that match this system’s criteria, like the Rays in this instance, have produced a profit of 147.5 units since the start of the 2005 season.

The public is all over New York, but the data shows professionals are pivoting and locking in the value with Tampa.

Top Experts

Our experts are hand in hand with the sharps on this matchup, as two top MLB bettors are fading the public and on the home favorite.

PRO Report Pick: Rays +105

Kris Bryant Trade Odds: Mets Favored as Cubs Leave All-Star Out of Thursday’s Lineup

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There have been talks about correspondence between the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets about outfielder and third baseman Kris Bryant for about a month now and the odds definitely reflect that.

With Bryant out of the lineup on Thursday, the intrigue only builds.

The Mets are +200 favorites at PointsBet (in Colorado only) to land the former National League MVP before he becomes a free agent in the fall. They are currently 3.5 games ahead of the Phillies for the NL East division and owner Steve Cohen has indicated that he wants to make a move this trade deadline.

2021 MLB Trade Deadline

Kris Bryant Next Team (If Traded)

Odds according to PointsBet in Colorado as of Wednesday night

Team Odds
Mets +200
Athletics +300
Brewers +400
Red Sox +525
Braves +625
Mariners +700
Yankees +800
Dodgers +1200

Acquiring Bryant will allow the Mets even more flexibility across the diamond.

The four-time All-Star’s ability to play third base, first base and anywhere in the outfield will let him to fill in on rest days for Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto and others.

It’ll also permit New York to bump offensive liabilities out of the day-to-day lineup entirely.

The A’s, who just acquired outfielder Starling Marte on Wednesday, are second-best favorites at +300. They’re six games back from the Astros for first-place in the AL West and lead the wild card standings by a game and a half.

Oakland has a 37.9% chance to make the playoffs and a 5.2% chance to win the division as of Wednesday night, according to FanGraphs.

The Brewers are third-best favorites and, too, acquired another bat on Wednesday with the addition of Eduardo Escobar.

Milwaukee is in poll position in the NL Central and have a 91.8% chance to win that division, according to FanGraphs as of Wednesday night.

The Red Sox, Braves, Mariners and Yankees are other contenders to land the highly coveted 29-year-old.

The Cubs have become firm sellers this summer due to their precarious playoff position and with their World Series winning core of Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez eligible for free agency after the season.

The Cubs entered play nine and a half games back from the Brewers in the NL Central and eight games back from the second wild card spot. FanGraphs gives them less than a 2% chance of making the playoffs.

Bryant was a linchpin member of the Cubs team that won the 2016 World Series — the team’s first championship in 108 years. That season, he hit .292/.385/.554 with 39 homers and won MVP honors.

Despite Bryant’s obvious value, his offensive production has undoubtedly waned since 2019, which has played a large part in the Cubs’ willingness to let him go — and unwillingness to hand him an expensive extension.

While Bryant hit .284/.385/.516 with an OPS of +137 and an average of almost 28 homers per season from 2015-19, he’s hit .268/.363/.494 since with an OPS+ of 126.

Bryant had spent his entire career with the Cubs after he was selected second overall in the 2013 MLB Draft.

Updated 2021 Olympic Men’s Basketball Scores, Schedule, Group Standings: Slovenia Rolls Again

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The United States men’s basketball team won its first game in the 2021 Olympics, albeit as a 40-point favorite.

The U.S. dominated Iran 120-66 to get in the win column and put itself and great position to advance to the medal round.

Below, get everything you need to know about Olympic men’s basketball, including schedule and results, odds and more.

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2021 Olympic Men’s Basketball Schedule & Results

Both the men’s and women’s tournaments consist of 12 teams placed in three different groups. The top two teams in each group advance to the quarterfinals, as well as the top two third-place finishers.

A draw will then take place following the completion of the group-stage games to determine quarterfinal matchups. The winners of each group and the best second-place team will be placed in one pot and while the two remaining second-place teams and two best third-placed teams are placed in another pot. Teams from the same group cannot play each other in the quarterfinal round.

Saturday, July 24

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
Czech Republic 84, Iran 78 9 p.m. N/A

Sunday, July 25

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
Italy 92, Germany 82 12:40 a.m. N/A
Australia 84, Nigeria 67 4:20 a.m. N/A
France 83, USA 76 8 a.m. Peacock

Monday, July 26

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
Slovenia 118, Argentina 100 12:40 a.m. CNBC
Spain 88, Japan 77 8 a.m. N/A

Tuesday, July 27

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
Germany 99, Nigeria 92 9 p.m. N/A

Wednesday, July 28

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
United States 120, Iran 66 12:40 a.m. Peacock
Australia 86, Italy 83 4:20 a.m. N/A
France 97, Czech Republic 77 8 a.m. N/A

Thursday, July 29

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
Slovenia 116, Japan 81 12:40 a.m. N/A
Spain vs. Argentina 8 a.m. NBCSN

Friday, July 30

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
Iran vs. France 9 p.m. N/A

Saturday, July 31

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
Italy vs. Nigeria 12:40 a.m. N/A
Australia vs. Germany 4:20 a.m. N/A
United States vs. Czech Republic 8 a.m. Peacock

Sunday, August 1

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
Argentina vs. Japan 12:40 a.m. N/A
Slovenia vs. Spain 4:20 a.m. USA

Tuesday, August 3

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
Quarterfinal 1 12:40 a.m. USA
Quarterfinal 2 4:20 a.m. N/A

Thursday, August 5

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
Semifinal 1 12:15 a.m. Peacock
Semifinal 2 7 a.m. ET NBCSN

Friday, August 6

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
Gold Medal Game 10:30 p.m. ET NBC

Saturday, August 7

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
Bronze Medal Game 7 a.m. USA

Group Standings

Teams get two points for a win and one for a loss, according to FIBA’s official website.

Group A

Team Points
France 4
USA 3
Czech Republic 3
Iran 2

Team USA was -2000 to win the group but is already way behind the eight ball after losing to France in its opener.

Group B

Team Points
Australia 4
Italy 3
Germany 3
Nigeria 2

Group C

Team Points
Slovenia 4
Spain 2
Japan 2
Argentina 1

The 2016 bronze medalist, Spain, had -125 odds to win Group C, followed by Slovenia at +160.

Odds to Win Gold Medal

Odds as of Tuesday, July 27 and via DraftKings.

The United States entered the tournament as a -320 favorite to win gold, and dropped to -220 after their loss to France. That’s an 8% decline in probability.

Team Odds
United States -220
Australia +625
Slovenia +850
Spain +900
France +900
Italy +3500
Nigeria +5500
Argentina +7500
Czech Republic +10000
Germany +15000
Japan +40000
Iran +100000

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Team USA Roster

  • Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat)
  • Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns)
  • Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets)
  • Jerami Grant (Detroit Pistons)
  • Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
  • Jrue Holiday (Milwaukee Bucks)
  • Keldon Johnson (San Antonio Spurs)
  • Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls)*
  • Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)
  • JaVale McGee (Denver Nuggets)
  • Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks)
  • Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)

Coaches: Greg Popovich (head coach), Steve Kerr, Lloyd Pierce, Jay Wright

*LaVine entered health and safety protocol and did not travel with the team to Tokyo on Monday, but Team USA hopes to have the Bulls guard re-join before the first game.

2021 Olympic Women’s Basketball Standings, Results, Bracket, Schedule: United States Tops Nigeria in Opener

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Team USA women’s basketball goes for it seventh straight gold medal at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, which kick off Sunday night.

The U.S. topped Nigeria in its opener, 81-72.

Six of the 12 players have Olympic experience, combining for a total of 15 gold medals, including Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, who both return for a fifth Olympics.

The United States are heavy favorites to win gold (-1100), but it wasn’t a cake walk through their final exhibitions, as the Americans dropped two of their final three scrimmages (Australia and WNBA All-Stars), before beating Nigeria to close out the final tune-up.

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Both the men’s and women’s tournaments consist of 12 teams placed among three different groups. The top two teams in each group advance to the quarterfinals as well as the top two third-place finishers.

A draw will then take place following the completion of the group-stage games to determine quarterfinal matchups. The winners of each group and the best second-place team will be placed in one pot and while the two remaining second-place teams and two best third-placed teams are placed in another pot. Teams from the same group cannot play each other in the quarterfinal round.

Olympic Women’s Basketball Groups

Group Standings

Group A

Team Points
Spain 3
Canada 3
Serbia 3
South Korea 2

Spain and Serbia were favored to advance from this group, with +125 and +190 odds, respectively on DraftKings to win Group A.

Group B

Team Points
United States 2
Japan 2
France 1
Nigeria 1

France has the second best odds to win this group (+900) behind the U.S. (-5000).

Group C

Team Points
Belgium 2
China 2
Australia 1
Puerto Rico 1

Australia, who beat Team USA earlier this month, had -220 odds to win Group C but dropped its first game to Belgium.

Olympic Women’s Basketball Schedule

Sunday, July 25

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
Spain 73, Korea 69 9 p.m. N/A

Monday, July 26

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
Serbia 72, Canada 68 4:20 a.m. N/A
Japan 74, France 70 9 p.m. N/A

Tuesday, July 27

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
United States 81, Nigeria 72 12:40 a.m. USA
Belgium 85, Australia 70 4:20 a.m. ET N/A
China 97, Puerto Rico 55 8 a.m. N/A

Wednesday, July 28

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
Canada 74, South Korea 53 9 p.m. N/A

Thursday, July 29

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
Spain 85, Serbia 70 4:20 a.m N/A
Belgium vs. Puerto Rico 9 p.m. N/A

Friday, July 30

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
United States vs. Japan 12:40 a.m. USA
France vs. Nigeria 4:20 a.m. N/A
China vs. Australia 8 a.m. N/A

Saturday, July 31

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
Canada vs. Spain 9 p.m. USA

Sunday, August 1

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
South Korea vs. Serbia 8 a.m. USA
Nigeria vs. Japan 9 p.m. N/A

Monday, August 2

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
United States vs. France 12:40 a.m. USA
China vs. Belgium 4:20 a.m. N/A
Puerto Rico vs. Australia 8 a.m. N/A

Tuesday, August 3

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
Quarterfinal 1 8 a.m. N/A

Wednesday, August 4

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
Quarterfinal 2 12:40 a.m. USA
Quarterfinal 3 4:20 a.m. N/A
Quarterfinal 4 8 a.m. N/A

Friday, August 6

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
Semifinal 1 12:40 a.m. NBC
Semifinal 2 7 a.m. N/A

Saturday, August 7

Game Time (ET) TV Channel
Bronze Medal Game 3 a.m. CNBC
Gold Medal Game 10:30 p.m. NBC

Odds to Win Gold Medal

Odds as of July 20 and via DraftKings

Team Odds
United States -1100
Australia +1500
Spain +1900
France +1900
Serbia +2500
Canada +2800
Belgium +4000
China +9000
Japan +10000
Nigeria +10000
South Korea +50000
Puerto Rico +50000

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Roster

  • Ariel Atkins (Guard, Washington Mystics)
  • Sue Bird (Guard, Seattle Storm)
  • Tina Charles (Center, Washington Mystics)
  • Napheesa Collier (Guard/forward, Minnesota Lynx)
  • Skylar Diggins-Smith (Guard, Phoenix Mercury)
  • Sylvia Fowles (Center, Minnesota Lynx)
  • Chelsea Gray (Guard, Las Vegas Aces)
  • Brittney Griner (Center, Phoenix Mercury)
  • Jewell Loyd (Guard, Seattle Storm)
  • Breanna Stewart (Forward/center, Seattle Storm)
  • Diana Taurasi (Guard, Phoenix Mercury)
  • A’ja Wilson (Forward, Las Vegas Aces)

Coaches: Dawn Staley (head coach), Dan Hughes (assistant), Cheryl Reeve (assistant), Jennifer Rizzotti (assistant)

Thursday MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Braves vs. Mets: Back Underdog Atlanta to Snag Road Win (July 29)

major league baseball-betting-odds-picks-predictions-atlanta braves-drew smyly-thursday-july 29

Braves vs. Mets Odds

Braves Odds +125
Mets Odds -145
Over/Under 8.5
Time 12:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB Network
Odds as of Wednesday night via DraftKings.

The Atlanta Braves and New York Mets finish their five-game set Thursday with matinee baseball on Getaway Day. The NL East standings have tightened and become a three-team race.

The Mets earned a 2-1 win over the Braves in Wednesday’s thrilling contest, so that avoided the possibility of the visitors taking the last two games of the series. If Atlanta could have pulled that off, it would have put the New York fanbase (and management) on DEFCON 2, especially with the July 30 trade deadline approaching in Major League Baseball.

New York is eight games over .500 in day games, while Atlanta is five games under in them. Luckily, there’s more to break down between these teams entering this showdown.

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Atlanta Pitcher Smyly Showing Improvement

Drew Smyly isn’t going to be confused with a team ace at this stage of his career, but the veteran lefty has been a stabilizing arm for an injury-riddled franchise. Smyly has pitched better each month of the season, settling at a 4.30 ERA after starting 2021 well over 8.00 in the category.

His notable blemishes in July are 10 walks and a .403 slugging percentage in 20 innings pitched. However, he has navigated those problems and heads into his final July outing with a 2.66 ERA for the month. Smyly will have to limit the hard hits. He’s above his career average in Barrel and Hit Hit percentages.

Atlanta’s offense can support Smyly, though. The Braves have the second-best Hard Hit percentage against right-handers in road games, but will miss Ronald Acuna Jr.’s bat due to his ACL tear. Players such as Austin Riley have carried the power-hitting load, but the offense missing two of its better hitters (Marcell Ozuna is also unavailable) does keep a lid on some of their upside.

Atlanta has one of the lower GB/FB ratios, which is a good tie-in with the power hitting. That said, living and dying by the long ball is not sustainable.

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Walker Struggling Mightily for New York

It would also be tough to expect the Braves to take Taijuan Walker to task, as he has a 0.86 HR Per 9. Like Smyly, Walker is allowing more Barrels and hard hits than his career averages, but unlike the lefty, Walker has progressively gotten worse.

After a stellar first two months of the season, Walker’s ERA has climbed to 3.43 and his expected numbers have him north of a 4.25 ERA and xFIP. A 9.00 ERA in July has done the most damage. Walker also has .295/.411/.574 slash line against this month.

The Mets’ offense has not performed well against southpaws. Despite being 16th in wRC+ at home against lefties, New York has a -0.7 Weighted Runs Above Average (wRAA) and is 27th in Hard Hit percentage. The Mets not being able to take advantage of susceptible pitchers, especially in their division, is a good way to lose games and lead over their rivals.

New York is also 10-19 against left-handed pitching.

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Braves-Mets Pick

This game will be more entertaining than the pitching matchup indicates. Both teams have the ability to score runs, but only one of them has battled from the doldrums of the division and boasts a double-digit positive run differential. That franchise is also currently available at plus money.

I understand the Mets being favored, but at -145 odds it negates the regression that Walker is experiencing and their mediocrity against left-handed pitching.

Pick: Braves ML (+125 — play to -115)

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Yankees vs. Rays Odds, Preview, Prediction: Will Gerrit Cole Pitch New York to Sweep in Tampa Bay? (Thursday, July 29)

Yankees vs. Rays Odds

Yankees Odds -140
Rays Odds +120
Over/Under 7.5
Time 1:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds as of Wednesday night and via DraftKings.

Both the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees are looking up at the Boston Red Sox in the AL East standings. If they can’t catch Boston, they will likely be battling each other for a Wild Card spot and both teams have made recent moves to add a power bat to their lineup.

Tampa Bay went out and acquired Nelson Cruz from Minnesota last Thursday. Last night, it was reported that the Yankees traded for left-handed slugger Joey Gallo from the Rangers. The two have combined for 46 home runs this season, now joining the AL East.

In the last 10 games, the Yankees have gone 7-3 and are 2.5 games out of a wild card position. New York took the first two games of this series in Tampa Bay, including a 3-1 win in 10 innings on Wednesday night.

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New York Yankees

The Yankees will turn to their ace and Cy Young favorite Gerrit Cole (RHP) to secure the series sweep on Thursday. Now despite Cole being named to his third consecutive All-Star game, there are two ways you could look at his season.

A glass-half-full person would say that Cole is 10-5 this season, has the third most wins in the league and has an excellent 2.74 ERA and 2.81 FIP. He leads the league in strikeouts and ranks in the top 10% of the league in xERA, xwOBA, Chase Rate and BB%.

Now if you’re a glass-half-empty person, you would point to Cole’s drop off during the season. Since June 1, Cole is just 4-3 and has an ERA of 3.98 and a FIP of 4.18. His K/9 rate is 11.43 (12.35 before June) and HR/9 is up to 1.82 (from 0.64).

It is easy to point to the crackdown on sticky stuff as the cause for this drop off and production, but Cole has shown signs of being dominant even since the crackdown. On July 10, Cole had the best outing of his season, allowing just three hits and racking up 12 strikeouts in a complete-game shutout. He followed that up by allowing just one run with 11 strikeouts over six innings against Boston.

I think the answer likely lies somewhere in the middle. He might not be as dominant as he was at the start of the season, but he is still clearly an elite pitcher and one of the best in the game.

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Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Judge.

It has been an underwhelming season for the Yankees on offense this year, but also pretty unlucky. New York ranks just 13th in the league in wOBA this year, however they are fifth in the league in xwOBA.

The Yankees got the welcomed return of Aaron Judge and Gio Urshela to the lineup on Tuesday for the first time since the All-Star break. Judge has been terrific this year, batting .282 with a .895 OPS and 21 home runs. He leads the team in runs, home runs, RBIs and walks.

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Tampa Bay Rays

Luis Patino (RHP) will get another spot start on Thursday and the last couple opportunities have not gone great for the 21-year-old. Patino has made seven appearances this season, five of them starts, and has a 5.26 ERA. In his five starts his ERA is 6.10 and he has allowed at least four runs in three straight outings.

Patino began the season as Tampa Bay’s No. 2 prospect and has a 3.07 ERA in seven Triple-A starts this season. With Rich Hill being traded to the Mets last week, Patino could find himself holding a spot in the rotation for the rest of the season – or at least until Chris Archer and Tyler Glasnow return.

The Rays have been working to stretch Patino out more recently, he has pitched into the sixth inning in each of his last two starts, but has yet to complete that sixth frame. Patino throws his fastball in the high 90s and has really improved his slider with the taxi squad.

Patino faced the Yankees back in May and suffered a loss despite a solid outing. He went four innings and allowed two runs, although the only earned run of the outing came via a Judge homer.

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Julio Aguilar/Getty Images. Pictured: Wander Franco.

The Rays have been just average offensively, but that is usually enough with their pitching. They rank 14th in wOBA and eighth in wRC+. The struggle for Tampa has been making contact, as the Rays lead the league in strikeouts this season.

There isn’t any standout superstar on this offense, but they have a deep lineup of above average hitters. After a slow start to the season, Brandon Lowe has really gotten going lately. Since the All-Star break he is batting .342 with a .994 OPS.

Yankees-Rays Pick

While I am not overly worried about Cole in the long run, and I still believe he is one of the best pitchers in the game, he is clearly not as infallible as he looked early in the season.

Cole will be facing the Rays for the fourth time already this season and he has had some struggles with them in the past. In 10 career starts vs. Tampa Bay he is just 1-5 with a 3.82 ERA.

While Tampa Bay’s offense has really struggled against lefties this season but has been solid against right-handers. They rank 10th in the league in wOBA and sixth in wRC+ against right-handed pitchers.

The Yankees offense is capable of putting runs up on anybody, especially a struggling rookie like Patino. Over the last two weeks, the Bronx Bombers rank ninth in wOBA and eighth in wRC+. Judge is back in the lineup and DJ LeMahieu has gotten on-base in 37 straight games, the longest streak in the league since 2018.

I think there is value on the over 7.5 in this game and would play it to -115.

Pick: Over 7.5 (-110)

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Olympic Men’s Basketball Odds, Preview, Prediction for Spain vs. Argentina: How to Bet Medal Favorite Spaniards

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Spain vs. Argentina Odds

Spain Odds -8.5
Argentina Odds +8.5
Moneyline -425 / +310
Over/Under 162.5
Time 8 a.m. ET
TV NBCSN
Odds as of Tuesday and via PointsBet.

Argentina takes on Spain in a must-win game after the Argentinians dropped their opening contest to Luka Doncic and the Slovenians 118-110.

Spain is the second in the FIBA rankings, and Argentina is fourth. This is a tough game between two teams that have medal aspirations, if not gold medal aspirations, at these Olympics.

Spain has the opportunity to deal a critical blow to the Argentinians and drop them to 0-2 and avoid a potential rematch in any of the knockout rounds. Can they take care of business as the favorites outside of the Americans or will Argentina put up a fight?

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Veteran Spanish Squad Has Deep Bench

The Spaniards are headlined by a host of NBA names including a starting lineup of Ricky Rubio, Rudy Fernandez, Juan Hernangomez, Victor Claver and Marc Gasol. They are complemented by a bench of excellent depth including NBA champion Pau Gasol.

A staple of Spanish basketball is continuity. They are the reigning World Cup champions, and they’ve medaled in the last three Summer Olympics. They secured a silver in 2008, a silver in 2012 and a bronze in 2016. This level of continuity and chemistry is invaluable in these international games.

Think about it, in crunch time, you have both of the Gasol brothers manning the floor at the same time, and neither needs to be particularly mobile due to the international rules that allow for defensive 3 seconds.

They can dominate the paint, both can shoot 3s, and they are excellent passing big-men. Then you have Ricky Rubio who might as well transform into Steve Nash on the international stage. This team is poised for a strong Olympics, and if they can essentially eliminate another likely medalist in the group stage, they will take full advantage.

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Argentina Has Disappointed Lately

Argentina is no slouch team, and they have their own dossier of familiar NBA and international players between the wizard of a passer in Facu Campazzo, long-time NBA talent Luis Scola, and the newest member of the New York Knicks, Luca Vildoza.

This team has struggled of late and dropped every exhibition game in Las Vegas and their first game of the Olympics against Slovenia. While they have some strong leadership and fundamentals, they just are not the Argentinian team that won gold in the 2004 Olympics.

They’re relying on Luis Scola, a 41-year-old, and Facu Campazzo to lead this team against much stronger talent. Facu took 10 3’s in their loss to Slovenia while making just 3 of them, but there’s potential for him to put up a big game against a Spanish team that surrendered a 40.7% 3-point percentage to the Japanese National Team.

On the defensive side, one issue that’s plagued Argentina is they have allowed their opponents to just outshoot them. Their only close game was against Australia where they gave up a shooting percentage of just 38%, but in their other games they surrendered percentages of 50% (Slovenia), 51.4% (USA), and 48.1% (Nigeria). If they cannot clamp down on defense against Spain they will be in for a long game.

Spain-Argentina Pick

These teams are seemingly mirror images of each other. They both are built around pass-first guards with some aging NBA bigs, but the Spaniards simply do it better.

Spain is the best team in this matchup, and if it were not for the United States, they’d be a dynasty on the international stage. Spain has the advantage here, and against this Argentinian team that has allowed their opponents to score seemingly at will, they should be able to take care of business as they prepare for their final group showdown against Luka Doncic and Slovenia.

Pick: Spain -8.5

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Craig Kimbrel Trade Odds: A’s, Yankees, Mets Favorites To Acquire Closer

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Chicago Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel has been linked to a move out of Chicago due to his impending free agency and the Cubs’ precarious playoff position.

The Cubs entered play on Wednesday 9.5 games back from the Brewers in the NL Central and eight games back from the second Wild Card spot. FanGraphs gives them less than a 2% chance of making the playoffs.

They’re firm sellers and their World Series winning core of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez are on the block, too. All three are eligible for free agency after the season.

Kimbrel, who was not a part of that 2016 roster, has rebounded after a tough first two seasons with the Cubs.

In 2019, he had a 6.53 ERA over just 20.2 innings pitched. The following season, he had a 5.28 ERA in 15.1 innings over a pandemic-shortened year.

This season, he’s has a 0.49 ERA over 36.2 innings with 23 saves and made his first All-Star appearance since 2018. Kimbrel is tied for 34th among pitchers in WAR with 2.3, according to ESPN.

Naturally, with those factors in mind, teams have been calling Chicago about his availability. As of Wednesday, the Oakland A’s are slim favorites to nab the eight-time All-Star at +325.

Craig Kimbrel Trade Odds

Odds according to PointsBet (Colorado only) as of Wednesday night

Team Odds
A’s +325
Yankees +350
Mets +400
Red Sox +500
Astros +550
Phillies +550
Brewers +625
Padres +800
Dodgers +800
Rays +900

The A’s are six games back from the Astros for first in the AL West and lead the Wild Card standings by a game and a half.

Oakland has a 37.9% chance to make the playoffs and a 5.2% chance to win the division as of Wednesday night, according to FanGraphs.

The Yankees are second-best favorites to acquire Kimbrel at +350. New York is clearly a buyer at the deadline after a shaky start to the season and acquired Texas Rangers outfielder and first baseman Joey Gallo on Wednesday night.

While the Yankees entered the season -223 favorites to win the AL East, they are 8.5 games back from the first-place Boston Red Sox as of Wednesday. Their odds to win the division were 11-1 at DraftKings, 15-1 at PointsBet, 14-1 at BetMGM and 13-1 at FanDuel before their move for Gallo.

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New York’s regular closer, Aroldis Chapman, has struggled mightily this season and has blown four saves. Chapman has a 4.04 ERA over 35.2 innings so far this year.

The Mets are third-best favorites to land the right-hander with +400 odds. Their main ninth-inning specialist, Edwin Diaz, has also four blown saves and has a 3.98 ERA over 40.2 innings so far this year. While Diaz has shown flashes of the brilliance that warranted that splashy 2018 trade for Jarred Kelenic, the flashes have been wildly inconsistent.

The Red Sox are next up with +500 odds, but they have a serviceable closer in Matt Barnes, who has thrown 42 innings this season with a 2.36 ERA and 22 saves. Still, the more bullpen help the better, especially in that tight AL East race. As of Wednesday, they’re just 1.5 games up on the Tampa Bay Rays.

Kimbrel started his career with the Atlanta Braves, who drafted him in the third round of the 2010 MLB Draft.

The reliever with that distinct pre-pitch pose was then traded in 2014 to the San Diego Padres, then the following year to the Boston Red Sox. There, he won a World Series in 2018 over the Los Angeles Dodgers and registered a save in Game 2.

2021 Tokyo Olympic Men’s Golf Best Bets: Outrights and Sleeper Picks to Win Gold

The PGA TOUR is taking a break this week to make way for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. The men’s golf tournament features a 60-man field with Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, Justin Thomas, Viktor Hovland and Rory McIlroy at the top of the oddsboard. The five favorites are joined by a host of other big names like Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama and Patrick Reed, who will try and take home gold at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

Here are our favorite outright bets and longshots for the 2021 Olympic Men’s Golf Tournament:

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Outrights

Jason Sobel

Justin Thomas (+1100)

If we’re talking about flushers from the U.S., then it’s fully fair that Collin Morikawa’s name is now mentioned before that of Thomas, who simply hasn’t been as proficient as his countryman lately with an iron in his hands.

Even so, it’s not as if JT can’t fire some darts at flagsticks. At nearly twice the price of Morikawa and with some motivation to not only represent his country, but salvage a bit of a lost season, I really like him to make a serious run at the gold this week.

I’ve often warned bettors to take professional golfers’ social media posts with a grain of salt. Read too many of ‘em and you’ll believe every player is dialed in and ready to win; nobody ever posts that they’re a few months away from playing their best golf and are probably a poor bet for that given week. That said, Thomas sucked me in with his initial posts about playing for his country and how much it means to him.

There’s obviously no stat to measure “strokes gained: motivation,” but that’s a major theme for my plays this week.

Results of 21st-MC-19th-40th in the majors will be a lot more palatable for JT if he can add a medal to his Players Championship victory.

[Bet Justin Thomas at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Josh Perry

Joaquin Niemann (+2200)

I started my card with Joaquin Nieman in this range. Niemann is great with his irons and, on his day, has the potential to contend in any field. He hasn’t popped up during a big event yet, but his results are slowly improving and he’s trending towards a signature win.

[Bet Joaquin Niemann at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Matt Vincenzi

Rory McIlroy (+1200)

After the Open Championship, Rory McIlroy made some discouraging comments about his upcoming trip to Tokyo for the Olympics, expressing a lack of desire to represent Ireland at Kasumigaseki Country Club: “I don’t know if there is much to look forward to, it is obviously going to be a very different environment.”

While that may be a potential concern, there is a lot to like about Rory McIlroy this week. His iron game has really come around as he ranks third in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach. Kasumigaseki Country Club on paper is a perfect course for Northern Irishman.

A Tom Fazio design, the layout of the course is very similar to both Quail Hollow and Firestone Country Club; two courses where Rory has had incredible success. McIlroy’s best golf often comes on long and classical tree-lined layouts, and if further evidence is needed after his win at Quail Hollow back in May, he ranks first in the field in Strokes Gained: Total on Tom Fazio designs in his past 36 rounds.

The 32-year-old has also had success playing in no-cut events in Asia, as he won the 2019 WGC-HSBC Champions in 2019 at Sheshan Golf Club in Shanghai, China.

With the favorite Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau out due to COVID-19, I see a lot of value backing Rory McIlroy to bring a Gold medal home to Ireland.

[Bet Rory McIlroy at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

Rob Bolton

Collin Morikawa (+700)

Frankly, I’m surprised that his line is this favorable. He just dazzled in his debut at The Open Championship and he’s a short-lister to be Player of the Year.
It’s a limited field at the Olympics and it’s top-heavy. There are maybe only a dozen legitimate threats to win gold.

The absence of a cut benefits all, but it also fuels the likelihood for separation between the names you know and the names you don’t.

Kasumigaseki Country Club’s East Course is an unknown, it’s soft and it has large greens. Parts of this shootout will include hot putting – they always do – but the narrative likely will be supported by quality ball-striking. It always is on unfamiliar greens.

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Si Woo Kim at the 2020 RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links.

Longshots

Jason Sobel

Thomas Detry (+8000)

We’ve been on the topic of all-or-nothing players in the wake of Cameron Champ’s third career PGA TOUR victory this past weekend. Detry has yet to win a European Tour event, but holds the same type of high-floor/low-ceiling potential, as evidenced by two runner-up finishes and three MCs in his last five starts.

I like taking a shot here and hoping that ceiling outweighs the floor.

[Bet Thomas Detry at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Josh Perry

Mackenzie Hughes (+7000)

Hughes has worked his way up on leaderboards in the U.S. Open and Open Championship.

It’s usually all short game with him, but the irons have been strong in recent events and the driver is hovering around field average. If weather plays a factor and this turns into a scramble-fest on an unknown course, we may get an outsider like Hughes to take this down.

[Bet Mackenzie Hughes at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Matt Vincenzi

Si Woo Kim (+5500)

Who doesn’t love a good narrative?

A medal for Si Woo Kim would mean avoiding military service after the 2022-2023 season. The South Korean has had a very promising career thus far with three PGA TOUR wins including a PLAYERS Championship victory in 2017. We saw how devastating a mandatory two-year military service can be to a young golfer’s career with fellow South Korean Sang-moon Bae back in 2015, so it is crucial for Si Woo to avoid the same fate.

Although he has had an up and down season, Kim often has risen to the challenge in the big events. This season the 26-year-old has a 9th at Memorial, 12th at the Masters and a 9th at the PLAYERS in addition to his victory at The American Express. When in form, few golfers can get as hot with the irons as Si Woo. This week in Japan would be a perfect time for him to catch fire.

[Bet Si Woo Kim at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Rob Bolton

Jhonattan Vegas (+7000)

With only a handful of bona fide contenders to win, the board is starkly reflective of the relativity of the others. There’s a rapid ascent into guys in the small second tier like the Venezuelan who is positioned in my Power Rankings at PGATOUR.com.

He’s recorded a trio of runner-up finishes among six top 20s over the last five months. It’s impossible to determine if he’s sustained the groove because his second appearance in the Olympics was on the horizon – the only other two of his countrymen with greater than zero Official World Golf Ranking points slot outside the top-1,650 – but we can’t rule it out.

The form checks one important box, his fit checks another.

He profiles primarily as a long hitter who attacks pins with regularity, and it’s exactly the reason why he descended in Tokyo on this wave. Since the runner-up finish at the Puerto Rico Open in late February, he’s climbed 75 spots to 33rd on TOUR in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, shaving three-and-a-half strokes per tournament in the category.

2021 Olympic Men’s Golf Best Bets & Preview: Justin Thomas a Top Play for Gold in Tokyo

Before I break down my favorite betting possibilities for this week’s men’s golf competition in the Olympics, I have a confession to make: I’m still not totally sold on this whole idea.

Or perhaps more specifically, I’m not totally sold on many of the details around it.

Call me old-school, but I still like the idea of a group of unknown amateurs competing for country and pride, whether the event is basketball, track and field or anything else. The United States’ men’s hockey victory in 1980 (“Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”) wouldn’t hold quite the same place in our collective hearts if it was achieved by a bunch of NHL all-stars.

I understand, though, that I’m in the minority here. Television rights are massive and there’s a thirst to showcase the world’s best players. If these players are into it – and so far, it’s been a mixed bag; some elite players are all-in, others are completely apathetic or don’t want to adjust their schedules – then I can be into it for them.

There’s something about watching elite pros compete for non-monetary rewards that warms the heart a bit. We obviously won’t witness Ryder Cup-level intensity, but the romanticism of playing for pride remains.

Speaking of the Ryder Cup, I also wish there was a different format to this competition.

Both this week’s men’s event and next week’s women’s tourney will be played as a 72-hole stroke-play format. Yawn.

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Here we have four years (OK, five in this case) of build-up leading to a special event that will look … just like every other event we watch every week.

It would’ve been fun to watch some sort of team competition – especially if that team competition included a mixed component, with men and women competing together. Of course, this probably isn’t fair to the qualifier who is the lone world-class player from his country and would be hamstrung by not having a relevant partner, though I suppose you could say the same thing about the elite basketball star who isn’t surrounded by similar talent.

If nothing else, maybe it could’ve been a different individual format than stroke play. As much as I chafe at the far-flung idea of match play at something like the PGA Championship or to determine a FedEx Cup champion (these events are TV shows and this format is often an inverted pyramid, offering less excitement as the week progresses), I think it would work here, with the added bonus that the usual meaningless third-place consolation match would actually be for a bronze medal.

OK, enough of my old-man, get-off-my-lawn grousing about this thing. Despite the desire for some changes in the details, I really am fired up for this thing.

The event will be begin on Wednesday night around 6 p.m. ET at Kasumigaseki GC, about an hour outside of Tokyo, which plays as a par-72 at 7,466 yards. I’m not going pretend I know much about the course, but some have suggested a visual comparison to Augusta National (which plays just nine yards longer on the scorecard), which has me leaning toward those who have enjoyed some success at the Masters and are strong second-shot players.

Let’s get to the picks, starting with one of the best iron players in the world.

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Thomas.

Gold: Justin Thomas (+1100)

If we’re talking about flushers from the U.S., then it’s fully fair that Collin Morikawa’s name is now mentioned before that of Thomas, who simply hasn’t been as proficient as his countryman lately with an iron in his hands.

Even so, it’s not as if JT can’t fire some darts at flagsticks. At nearly twice the price of Morikawa and with some motivation to not only represent his country, but salvage a bit of a lost season, I really like him to make a serious run at the gold this week.

I’ve often warned bettors to take professional golfers’ social media posts with a grain of salt. Read too many of ‘em and you’ll believe every player is dialed in and ready to win; nobody ever posts that they’re a few months away from playing their best golf and are probably a poor bet for that given week. That said, Thomas sucked me in with his initial posts about playing for his country and how much it means to him.

There’s obviously no stat to measure “strokes gained: motivation,” but that’s a major theme for my plays this week.

Results of 21st-MC-19th-40th in the majors will be a lot more palatable for JT if he can add a medal to his Players Championship victory.

[Bet Justin Thomas at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Silver: Sungjae Im (+2800)

Oh, did I mention something about motivation?

Nobody in this week’s field will be more motivated than the South Korean contingent of Im and Si Woo Kim. Winning any of the three medals this week will offer a release from mandatory two-year military service for their country. How much would that mean to them? Well, enough that they each recently skipped The Open Championship in order to fully prepare for this week.

Of course, too much motivation can often be an impediment. Think about regular PGA TOUR events. We often explain that the player most dangerous is the one “competing with nothing to lose” or “playing with house money.”

While some competitors might be able to play some offense this week, firing at flagsticks with the knowledge that it’s either top-three-or-bust, it’ll be tougher for Im and Kim to feel that level of freedom with so much on the line.

That said, I still like Sungjae’s chances this week. He’s an elite-level ball-striker who played well at Augusta National last November. I’ll give him a furious final-round rally for a 65 and a medal – and even if it’s not the gold, it’ll be the best story of the competition.

[Bet Sungjae Im at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Bronze: Cameron Smith (+2800)

If we learned anything from mid-career Mario Lemieux (not to mention teammate Jaromir Jagr), it’s that an exquisite mullet can lead to athletic excellence.

Smith made headlines yet again this past week – on social media, at least – by taking his hairstyle even further and shaving “AUS” into the sides. That photo alone led to plenty of “Cameron Smith by 100” jokes, but the truth is, I’d still like him here with a crewcut.

In his short career representing his country, the 27-year-old Australian has tended to thrive in these situations. He also thrives at the Masters, with three top-10s in the past four years. And he’s a guy who’s had multiple victories with multiple partners at the Zurich Classic, showing he just might be more motivated by something a little different from the weekly rigors of PGA TOUR play.

Smith will receive plenty of early-week attention for his business-in-the-front-party-in-the-back style, but expect the late-week focus to be on his ascendancy up this leaderboard.

[Bet Cam Smith at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]
2020 corales puntacana picks
Jamie Squire, Getty Images. Pictured: Thomas Detry

Sleepers

I’ll readily admit that my plays above aren’t exactly longshots, but I do feel that the nature of this competition will bring out the best in some of the more talented players.

That said, like every stroke-play event, most books are offering top-five wagers this week as opposed to only wagers for the three medals. These bets can help us get a little more exposure to a few of those longshots.

Corey Conners (+2800)

At the same price as Im and Smith, it was a toss-up for me to pick two of the three, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Conners finishes highest. Anytime ball-striker is (or at least, should be) at a premium, he’s a guy that we should target.

Thomas Detry (+8000)

We’ve been on the topic of all-or-nothing players in the wake of Cameron Champ’s third career victory this past weekend. Detry has yet to win a European Tour event, but holds the same type of high-floor/low-ceiling potential, with two runner-up finishes and three MCs in his last five starts. I like taking a shot here and hoping that ceiling outweighs the floor.

Mito Pereira (+10000)

A few years ago, I don’t think we would’ve believed that Chile had two candidates for medals here (Joaquin Niemann is 22/1), but Pereira’s in-season promotion and recent strong play in the big leagues should have us giving serious consideration to him this week.

Adri Arnaus (+18000)

With Jon Rahm out of the competition due to a positive COVID-19 result, Arnaus is likely Spain’s best chance at a medal. (Jorge Campillo is a late fill-in for Rahm.) A player with some offensive firepower, this would be a nice spot to asset himself amongst some of the game’s big names.

Sepp Straka (+25000)

Simply put, this number is too big, as the PGA TOUR regular is priced behind guys such as Rasmus Hojgaard and Yechun Yuan. I’d probably stay away from an outright play, but 12/1 for a top-10 sounds pretty tasty.

[Bet the Olympics at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

2021 Olympic Men’s Golf Odds, Picks & Preview: Joaquin Niemann, Mackenzie Hughes Are Perry’s Favorite Plays in Toyko

Golf betting comes to the Olympics for a second go around.

It ended up being a dual between Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, two of the top three favorites last time, with Rose coming out ahead. Meanwhile, Matt Kuchar pulled a classic Matt Kuchar move, shooting a final-round 63 to backdoor the bronze medal.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 is playing a prominent role in the Men’s Olympic golf field this week, forcing the withdrawal of two of the favorites, Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau.

To the surprise of no one, Patrick Reed was more than willing to fill the American void and will hop on the first bald eagle available and fly over after the 3M Open to represent Team USA in Bryson’s stead.

Spain doesn’t appear as lucky, and it looks as if they won’t have enough time to replace their star.

Even without Rahm and Bryson, we’re still getting a stronger field than the 2016 Rio games, so there’s plenty to look forward to this week.

Olympics Betting Preview

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The Course

Kasumigaseki Country Club plays host this week. It measures in at 7,466 yards for a par 72.

I’ll dabble with some Japanese Tour bets from time to time, but this course is a complete unknown to me heading into the week. It’s not a regular stop on their calendar, and the last time it was used for an event of note was in 2010 for the Asian Amateur Championship, won by Hideki Matsuyama who went on to claim the low amateur honors at Augusta that next spring. A couple other TOUR pros took part that week as well. KH Lee came in fourth, just 11 shots behind Matsuyama, while Satoshi Kodaira was 22nd.

Courses on the Japan Tour tend to have difficult rough and tree trouble waiting off the fairway, putting the emphasis on precision off the tee coupled with strong iron play. That’s what I’ll expect to see this week as well. Iron play will be the focus.

For course comps over here, Jazz Janewattananond compared it to TPC Southwind on Twitter, which would be good news for Justin Thomas, who won there last year.

The Favorites

With no Rahm, it’s the newly-minted Open champion Collin Morikawa at the top of the odds at +700. This course should be perfect for him, so if he can avoid a major hangover, he’s a real threat to backup the Open win with a gold medal.

Xander Schauffele comes in next at +900 with Justin Thomas right behind at +1000. Thomas would be my play of the top group of Americans. This should be more of a second-shot course, and Thomas is one of the best in the world with the irons.

Rory McIlroy (+1100) and Hideki Matsuyama (+1200) are next in line. No one will know this place better than Matsuyama. If he had any form coming in, he’d probably be the favorite, but he still hasn’t had a top 20 since winning the Masters.

Viktor Hovland (+1400), Paul Casey (+1600) and Patrick Reed (+1800) close out the top part of this range. Casey is probably the most interesting to me, although I’d rather have a bet on him just to medal, not win. His ball-striking has been excellent for all of 2021, even for Casey. He’s put up six top 10s this year, losing strokes putting in three of them.

None of the medalists were lower than +2000 in 2016, so it’s probably wise to focus in on this area and find one play. I’ll start my card just below this range though with Joaquin Niemann at +2500 on PointsBet. Niemann is a great iron player on his day and can contend in this field. He hasn’t popped up during a big event yet, but his results are slowly improving.

2021 memorial tournament-pick-prediction-betting
Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Collin Morikawa.

The Mid-Tier

I’ll take one stab here with Mackenzie Hughes at +7000 on DraftKings. Hughes has worked his way up on leaderboards in the U.S. Open and Open Championship.

It’s usually all short game with him, but the irons have been strong in recent events and the driver is hovering around field average. If weather plays a factor and this turns into a scramble-fest on an unknown course, we may get an outsider like Hughes to take this down.

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The Longshots

No play in this range for me, but if we get place bets for top-10 or -20 markets like a normal week, keep an eye on Rikuya Hoshino. Hideki will draw all the Japanese media attention, so Hoshino will fly under the radar this week in his home country.

But he’s won three times in the last 10 month in Japan and was 26th in the U.S. Open last month. He’s boom or bust over there and will miss cuts on courses he doesn’t like, but if this place fits his eye, he’ll be inside the top 20 given the weakness in the bottom half of this field.

GolfBet

Men’s Olympic card

  • Joaquin Niemann +2500 (1.32 units)
  • Mackenzie Hughes +7000 (.47 units)

Total Stake: 1.79 units

2021 Olympics Men’s Golf Betting Preview: Rory McIlroy, Si Woo Kim Could Win Gold in Tokyo

The PGA TOUR will step aside this week to allow the Tokyo Olympics take center stage.

The Tokyo Olympics will play host to 60 golfers this week and will be a no-cut event. Some notable golfers making the trip to Japan include Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Collin Morikawa, Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Paul Casey, Xander Schauffele, and Viktor Hovland.

A Tom Fazio redesign (2016), Kasumigaseki Country Club is a 7,466-yard, par-71. The course features elevated bentgrass greens. Kasumigaseki has a classical layout and it is evident that Tom Fazio had both Quail Hollow and Firestone in mind when re-designing the course.

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5 Key Stats For Kasumigaseki Country Club

Let’s take a look at five key metrics for Kasumigaseki Country Club to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds.

1. Strokes Gained: Off The Tee

Kasumigaseki Country Club definitely seems like a golf course that favors good drivers. It is a long track with reasonably wide fairways that should give an advantage to longer hitters.

SG: OTT Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Jhonnatan Vegas (+22.5) (+8000)
  2. Abraham Ancer (+17.0) (+2000)
  3. Viktor Hovland (+16.4) (+1400)
  4. Corey Conners (15.5) (+2800)
  5. Justin Thomas (+15.1) (+1100)

2. Strokes Gained: Approach

There is no surprise that proximity to the hole on approach shots will play a major factor at the Japan Olympics. We have consistently seen golfers who come into an event with impressive approach numbers sit atop the leader board at week’s end.

Strokes Gained: Approach Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Collin Morikawa (+41.6) (+750)
  2. Paul Casey (+25.9) (+1600)
  3. Rory McIlroy (+24.5) (+1600)
  4. Hideki Matsuyama (+24.1) (+1600)
  5. Shane Lowry (+19.0) (+2200)

3. Strokes Gained: Par 5

Although there are only three par 5’s on the course, they will play a major factor in the event. Each of the three measure between 590-640 yards, which will be a challenge for the shorter hitters.

SG: Par 5 Past 24 rounds:

  1. Paul Casey (+21.0) (+1600)
  2. Xander Schauffele (+18.9) (+1000)
  3. Collin Morikawa (+17.6) (+750)
  4. Viktor Hovland (+17.1) (+1400)
  5. Henrik Norlander (+13.0) (+13000)

4. Strokes Gained: Putting (Bentgrass)

The course will feature pure bentgrass greens which should create an advantage for the bentgrass specialists this week. Golfers will need to make crucial putts down the stretch if they want to capture a gold medal in Japan.

Strokes Gained Putting (Bentgrass) Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Xander Schauffele (+18.2) (+1000)
  2. Alex Noren (+14.8) (+6500)
  3. Cameron Smith (+11.7) (+3500)
  4. Sebastian Munoz (+11.7) (+10000)
  5. Joaquin Niemann (+11.6) (+4000)

5. Strokes Gained Total: Tom Fazio Designs

Tom Fazio re-designed this course in 2016 and seemed to have quite an impact. Drawing comparisons to Quail Hollow and Firestone, I am targeting golfer’s who have previous success on other Fazio designs.

Strokes Gained: Total (Fazio Designs) Over Past 36 Rounds:

  1. Rory McIlroy (+63.8) (+1600)
  2. Justin Thomas (+59.1) (+1400)
  3. Tommy Fleetwood (+37.1) (+4000)
  4. Paul Casey (+39.3) (+1600)
  5. Jhonnatan Vegas (+32.5) (+8000)

The Japan Olympics Model Rankings

Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: OTT (27%), SG: Approach (22%), Strokes Gained: Par 5 (17%), Strokes Gained: Putting Bentgrass (17%), and Strokes Gained: Total Fazio Designs (17%).

  1. Justin Thomas (+1400)
  2. Viktor Hovland (+1400)
  3. Jhonnatan Vegas (+8000)
  4. Xander Schauffele (+1000)
  5. Paul Casey (+1600)
  6. Collin Morikawa (+750)
  7. Joaquin Niemann (+4000)
  8. Abraham Ancer (+2000)
  9. Rory McIlroy (+1200)
  10. Hideki Matsuyama (+1200)
2021-john deere classic-odds-picks-predictions-longshots-outrights-props-matchups
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. Pictured: Jhonattan Vegas

Tokyo Olympics Best Bets

Rory McIlroy (+1200)

After the Open Championship, Rory McIlroy made some discouraging comments about his upcoming trip to Tokyo for the Olympics, expressing a lack of desire to represent Ireland at Kasumigaseki Country Club: “I don’t know if there is much to look forward to, it is obviously going to be a very different environment.”

While that may be a potential concern, there is a lot to like about Rory McIlroy this week. His iron game has really come around as he ranks third in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach. Kasumigaseki Country Club on paper is a perfect course for Northern Irishman.

A Tom Fazio design, the layout of the course is very similar to both Quail Hollow and Firestone Country Club; two courses where Rory has had incredible success. McIlroy’s best golf often comes on long and classical tree-lined layouts, and if further evidence is needed after his win at Quail Hollow back in May, he ranks first in the field in Strokes Gained: Total on Tom Fazio designs in his past 36 rounds.

The 32-year-old has also had success playing in no-cut events in Asia, as he won the 2019 WGC-HSBC Champions in 2019 at Sheshan Golf Club in Shanghai, China.

With the favorite Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau out due to COVID-19, I see a lot of value backing Rory McIlroy to bring a Gold medal home to Ireland.

[Bet Rory McIlroy at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Shane Lowry (+2200)

Another Irish golfer has grabbed my attention this week.

Shane Lowry comes into the Japan Olympics in excellent form. In his past five starts, he is gaining 5.4 strokes tee to green on average along with 3.4 strokes on approach. Those numbers do not include his strong performance at The Open Championship where he was quite impressive; finishing in 12th-place despite the pressure of being defending champion.

There is also much to like in terms of course fit for Lowry at Kasumigaseki Country Club. Shane has already won a no-cut event on a course designed by Tom Fazio: The 2015 WGC-Bridgestone at Firestone Country Club. The Irishman is a major champion who often shows up on the biggest stages. A gold medal to go along with his claret jug would certainly fit the bill.

[Bet Shane Lowry at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Si Woo Kim (+7000)

Who doesn’t love a good narrative?

A medal for Si Woo Kim would mean avoiding military service after the 2022-2023 season.  The South Korean has had a very promising career thus far with three PGA TOUR wins including a PLAYERS Championship victory in 2017. We saw how devastating a mandatory two-year military service can be to a young golfer’s career with fellow South Korean Sang-moon Bae back in 2015, so it is crucial for Si Woo to avoid the same fate.

Although he has had an up and down season, Kim often has risen to the challenge in the big events. This season the 26-year-old has a 9th at Memorial, 12th at the Masters and a 9th at the PLAYERS in addition to his victory at The American Express. When in form, few golfers can get as hot with the irons as Si Woo. This week in Japan would be a perfect time for him to catch fire.

[Bet Si Woo Kim at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

 

Olympic Men’s Basketball Odds, Picks, Preview: Best Bets for Slovenia vs. Japan & Spain vs. Argentina (July 29)

2021 olympics-men's basketball-odds-pick-prediction-preview-july 29-2021

All Olympic basketball eyes will be on Group C Thursday morning as it takes center stage with a pair of intriguing matchups.

Following a sensational debut at the Summer Games, Luka Doncic leads Slovenia as a heavy favorite against Japan, while international basketball powers collide in the later game when Spain takes on Argentina.

Our team of betting analysts have highlighted their favorite plays for these matchups and explain them below.

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Olympics Men’s Basketball Odds & Picks

Click on a game to skip ahead
Japan vs. Slovenia
12:40 a.m. ET
Japan vs. Slovenia
12:40 a.m. ET
Argentina vs. Spain
8 a.m. ET

Japan vs. Slovenia

Pick
Japan +21.5
Book
BetMGM
Tipoff
12:40 a.m. ET
TV
NBC Sports (stream)

Joe Dellera: This spread is just far too large for a team that defeated France and played within 10 points of Spain.

While it took until the second half for it to make a push and keep it close, Japan shot well from 3-point range (40.7), and that is something that can give an underdog life. With both teams reliant on the 3-ball — Japan took 42% of its shots from beyond the arc against Spain and Slovenia took 52% of its shots from deep against Argentina — this is a game that screams shooting variance.

Luka Doncic is undoubtedly the best player on the floor, but Japan has two established NBA players in Rui Hachimura and Yuta Watanabe.

I expect a deluge of 3-point attempts to be taken during this game, and due to variance, I want to avoid the high total (183.5). However, this gives me a reason to back the hosts.

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Japan vs. Slovenia

Pick
Japan +21.5
Book
BetMGM
Tipoff
12:40 a.m. ET
TV
NBC Sports (stream)

Raheem Palmer: After making its first Olympics and defeating Argentina, 118-100, in its first game behind Luka Doncic’s 48 points, five assists and 11 rebounds, Slovenia’s power rating has increased substantially.

Once thought to be behind Spain and Argentina in Group B, Slovenia showed it’s well ahead of Argentina and has a real chance of winning a medal in its first Olympics.

That said, how much can one team’s power rating increase before it becomes expected value to fade that team? I think that spot is here with Japan, which is led by the Wizards’ Rui Hachimura and the Raptors’ Yuta Watanabe.

While this roster isn’t particularly stacked by any means, neither is Slovenia’s, which is highly dependent on Doncic. Japan upset Belgium and France in the exhibition games and played Spain tough in the first game of the Olympics.

As a whole, I think the host country can do enough to keep it within the number.

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Argentina vs. Spain

Pick
Spain -4.5 1H
Book
PointsBet
Tipoff
8 a.m. ET
TV
NBCSN

Roberto Arguello: Spain and Argentina have been two of the elite international teams over the last 20 years, but the sun is setting faster on Argentina than Spain.

Argentina has had a handful of great basketball players, including Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, Fabricio Oberto, Carlos Delfino and Andres Nocioni. Aside from being Argentinian, all of these players were born before 1983.

Scola is the lone player from the golden generation remaining, and although he can still get buckets with his step-back jumper, there isn’t much else he can do at 41 years old that affects winning at this level of competition.

Facundo Campazzo might be the best player on this team, but asking him and Scola — the only two players who scored more than 20 points in the opening loss against Slovenia — to carry the load against Spain is a tall task.

The Spaniards are simply a better version of the Argentina team. They have experienced bigs in Marc Gasol and Pau Gasol who can score, but Marc also plays high-level defense. They have an experienced NBA point guard in Ricky Rubio, who is an accomplished international player and elite passer.

Spain also has more athleticism and more players who can impact the game defensively — Argentina was exposed when it gave up 118 points to Luka Doncic and Slovenia.

I like Spain to win and cover as 8.5-point favorites, but I like the money on the first-half spread at -4.5 more. I will bet this up to -5.5 at -130 or better.

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Joey Gallo Traded to Yankees: How the Deal with Texas Impacts New York’s Projections

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Texas Rangers outfielder and first baseman Joey Gallo has been traded to the New York Yankees, The Athletic’s Levi Weaver reported on Wednesday.

Gallo is having a career year and is tied for 11th in MLB in Wins Above Replacement with 4.1, according to ESPN.

The 27-year-old is hitting .223/.379/.490 with 25 homers and an MLB-leading 74 walks.

The 6-foot-5, 250-pound lefty has put up close-to-career-high numbers in on-base percentage and OPS+ thus far this season.

He was named to his second All-Star team a few weeks ago and also participated in the Home Run Derby.

Gallo has one more year of team control remaining before he’s set to become a free agent after the 2022 season.

With the acquisition, the Yankees will undoubtedly bolster their lineup, which has been sputtering in the bottom of the pack in runs scored and batting average all season.

Despite coming into the season as clear -223 favorites to win the AL East, the Yankees have drastically underperformed. They are currently 8.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox for first place in the division and three games back from the Oakland A’s for the second wild card spot.

New York has a 41.7% chance to make the playoffs and a 4.2% chance to win the division, according to FanGraphs.

The Yankees have 17-1 odds to win the World Series at DraftKings, 25-1 odds to win it all at PointsBet and 30-1 odds at FanDuel.

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Their odds to win the AL East are similarly lengthy, with lines at 11-1 at DraftKings, 15-1 at PointsBet, 14-1 at BetMGM and 13-1 at FanDuel.

The Action Network will update this story if their various odds change as a result of this trade.

DraftKings slates the Yankees’ odds to make the playoffs at +110 yes, -130 no.

The Rangers, meanwhile, have virtually no path to the postseason. They entered play Wednesday with a 36-65 record and a 0.0% chance to make the playoffs or win the division, according to FanGraphs.

For reference, their odds to win their division at DraftKings is 1000/1.

Sean Zerillo’s Analysis

Gallo is a massive acquisition for the Yankees, and his presence in the Bronx upgrades New York’s “True Talent” level by 2.2 wins to that of a 90.5 win team in my projections — up from 88.3 wins before the trade.

Before the trade, I projected the Yankees’ for 86.3 wins at the end of the season. The Gallo addition upgrades that projection by 0.9 wins to 87.2.

However, that still falls short of my prorated projection for the Athletics (88.5), who I have slated to lock up the final playoff spot in the American League. And they have plenty of ground to make up on Tampa Bay (projected 93.8) and Boston (93.4) in both the AL East and wild card hunt.

One area of potential frustration: the Yankees already strike out a ton (24.4%, 21st in MLB), and Gallo (32.2%) has the second-highest strikeout rate in the majors.

He’ll provide big-time power to the middle of their lineup, alongside high-strikeout sluggers in Aaron Judge (24.9%) and Giancarlo Stanton (29.2%),  who rank first and second in baseball in both average and maximum exit velocity.

Gallo has toned down his swing to cut down on his strikeout rate, but I couldn’t imagine a better landing spot in terms of park effects. It’s a potential fantasy team in the making, with Gallo’s left-handed swing in Yankee Stadium complimenting a righty-heavy Yankee lineup, and they’ll have him under contract for one additional season.

Gallo is also a tremendously underrated defender, ranking as the best defensive right fielder in baseball (+13 and +14 in Defensive Runs Saved) over the past two seasons. And he can play scratch defense in center field, too.

Trevor Story Trade Odds: Yankees & Braves Top Board to Land Rockies Star Shortstop

trevor-story-trade-odds-yankees-braves-favored-rockies

Odds to Acquire Trevor Story If Traded

Odds via PointsBet

Team Odds
Yankees +200
Braves +300
Brewers +425
Phillies +500
Mets +625
Mariners +750
Padres +800
Dodgers +1000
Red Sox +1100

It’s been assumed since Nolan Arendo was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals that Trevor Story was next. With two days to go, his market isn’t publicly robust but betting odds suggest the New York Yankees could be ready to pounce.

The Yankees and Atlanta Braves — two teams on the outside looking in of playoff spots entering Wednesday — are the betting favorites at PointsBet (Colorado only) to acquire the Rockies’ shortstop should he be traded before the deadline.

New York needs to make a splash and can move struggling shortstop Gleyber Torres to second base to accommodate Story. Meanwhile, the Braves have Dansby Swanson at short, but either he or Story could play third base with Austin Riley moving to the outfield for the rest of the season.

Atlanta is 7.5 games out of a Wild Card spot and 4 games behind the Mets in the NL East. The Yankees are 3 games back for the second Wild Card spot in the American League.

The Brewers acquired one shortstop earlier this year in Willy Adames, but they’re third on the board to push for Story. Milwaukee holds a comfortable 7-game lead in the division but may see a window to make a deep run in the postseason with another impact bat.

It’s assumed the Mets will make a big move before the deadline, and with Francisco Lindor sidelined with an injury a shortstop could be in play. But at +625, New York is behind Philadelphia (+500) on the board.

The Rockies may elect to keep Story, offer him a qualifying offer in the offseason and receive draft pick compensation when he departs via free agency.

2021 Big 12 Conference Odds, Preview, Predictions: Futures & In-Season Bets to Make for Oklahoma, Texas, More

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Welcome to possibly the last Big 12 college football preview ever.

The Big Eight Conference was created in 1907 and lasted until 1996 when conference realignment saw Oklahoma swap Nebraska for Texas as a peer. Although teams like Drake and Iowa passed through the Big Eight, the conference was considered a powerhouse thanks to national championships from Oklahoma, Nebraska and Colorado.

Following Texas and Oklahoma’s expected move to the SEC, Big Eight originals Iowa State, Kansas State and Oklahoma State may not have a home after 2021.

Iowa State returns more than 82% of players on both sides of the ball after a trip to the conference title game. Generally, teams returning a heavy amount of players from a successful team are marked on opponents’ calendars, but the potential departure of Texas and Oklahoma has taken the spotlight ahead of the 2021 season.

Every consumer of college football should enjoy one last round of Air Raids being countered with the 3-3-5 in the Big 12 as the Sooners, Longhorns and Beef Ref are all set to leave the conference.


Click any logo below to navigate to that specific team’s breakdown, and click the Big 12 logo to return to the top.

Note: All photos are via Getty Images.



Big 12 Conference

Oklahoma Sooners

Team Rankings
Key Players
Total Off.
494.7 (1)
QB Spencer Rattler
Total Def.
350.6 (3)
WR Marvin Mims
Off. TARP
77%
LB Nik Bonitto
Def. TARP
69%
DE Isaiah Thomas

In a betting world saturated with content, it’s easy to find positive narratives in the offseason. Those narratives lead to lazy assumptions and subsequent wagers that do not have the proper analytics to back up the bet.

A rule of thumb with betting futures: Try to poke as many holes into the scenario as possible.

With the 2021 Oklahoma Sooners, it’s problematic to find holes in the coaching staff or roster. No team returns a better squad from an offensive Success Rate standpoint.

Heisman favorite Spencer Rattler has loaded weapons at the skill position from wide receiver Marvin Mims to tight end Austin Stogner.

Despite having the ability to pass in all quadrants downfield, Oklahoma has the most balanced attack from a rush versus pass perspective.

Running back Kennedy Brooks returns after sitting out 2020, while Tennessee transfer Eric Gray anchors an explosive attack. As a refresher, Brooks forced 51 missed tackles on 155 rushing attempts during the 2019 season.

Head coach Lincoln Riley has an offense that ranked eighth in standard downs Success Rate. In the rare event the Sooners found a passing down, the offense produced a Success Rate rank of 25th while owning a rank of 14th in Expected Points.

The disguise of the play-action pass will continue to play a role of major importance. Rattler produced 17 big-time throws in play-action situations against 15 in non-play action pass attempts. Teams without skill at the safety positions are in jeopardy, as Rattler threw between the hashes for 10 or more yards on 24% of attempts with an adjusted completion percentage of 74%.

The handicap on the Sooners comes down to a defense led by coordinator Alex Grinch. Washington State produced a Havoc ranking of 34th in 2015, signifying the start of the Grinch’s defensive footprint. Oklahoma ended 2020 on a long win streak as the defense finished seventh in Havoc and 16th in Success Rate.

There’s a strong correlation between defensive Success Rate and covering the spread, and there’s no reason to think the Sooners defense will not be one of the best in the nation.

With all the positive information surrounding the Sooners, is there a potential area of concern? The secondary loses both corners, but redshirt freshman Woodi Washington is already being touted as a shutdown corner.

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While his coverage rating lacked in giving up a couple of explosive plays, Washington recorded just two missed tackles with 35 tackles and four pass breakups.

For Oklahoma to win the Big 12 and National Championship, the secondary must remain healthy.

What is the correct number to bet futures on the Sooners? Our Poisson distribution gives Oklahoma a 60% chance to go 9-0 during conference play. Considering the projected point spread against Iowa State, the true odds are more around +120 rather than the current market number. Its win total projection sits just above 10, with favored single-digit spreads projected against Texas, Iowa State and Oklahoma State.

A betting recommendation would be on the Sooners’ win total under 11 at any plus juice with probabilities favoring a 10-win season versus a schedule sweep.

The real value lies in the National Championship number at +800 or better. This was the first bet I made in the Action App to kick off the 2021 season, as the Grinch defense is talented enough to handle Clemson, Ohio State and Alabama in new quarterback territory.



Iowa State Cyclones

Team Rankings
Key Players
Total Off.
436.3 (3)
RB Breece Hall
Total Def.
340.4 (2)
TE Charlie Kolar
Off. TARP
90%
DE Will McDonald
Def. TARP
82%
WR Xavier Hutchison

Despite racking up more total yards and holding Oklahoma to 1-of-11 on third-down attempts, Iowa State could not cash in during the Big 12 Championship game.

In three drives past the Sooners’ 40-yard line, the Cyclones managed just one score with an interception and missed field goal ending the other two drives.

After a halftime score of 24-7, things got interesting in the fourth quarter, but Iowa State played itself out of a conference championship after finishing 15th in offensive Success Rate and 10th in Finishing Drives.

All the stars return for the Cyclones on both sides of the ball.

Wide receiver Xavier Hutchison has the most returning receptions from 2020. Running back Breece Hall had 25 runs of 15-plus yards while racking up 63 missed tackles in 280 rushing attempts. Then, there’s quarterback Brock Purdy, who is famously known for “Brocktober” to winning sports investors everywhere.


The 3-3-5 defense is anchored by defensive end Will McDonald, who is a one-man havoc train. McDonald returns the third-most tackles for loss and most sacks from the 2020 season.

Opposing quarterbacks have issues against a loaded Iowa State secondary, but McDonald off the edge has the ability to disrupt any offensive tackle in the nation.

The pandemic-shortened 2020 season may have shown Iowa State’s ceiling, as the program has achieved nine wins just three times in school history.

There’s a tremendous gap in recruiting between Iowa State and its Big 12 peers. The Cyclones have recruited just three 4- or 5-stars since 2016, per 247Sports. In comparison, Oklahoma has recruited 84 players of that caliber in the same time period. The question is whether or not their market has fair value.

Iowa State will be favored by six points or more in every game outside of Oklahoma. Its projected win total sits at 9.6 with Texas, Iowa and TCU serving as the underdogs with spreads in the single digits.

Purdy has a chance to shine once again in October with a schedule that consists of Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and West Virginia. The November schedule is problematic, as the four most explosive offenses in the conference await.

While there’s no play on the win total or conference odds, a national title ticket must be 40-1 or better to hold value.

Matt Campbell has yet to beat Iowa, and if that trend continues, the best time to buy a futures ticket may come after Week 2.



Texas Longhorns

Team Rankings
Key Players
Total Off.
475.4 (2)
RB Bijan Robinson
Total Def.
406.6 (7)
LB DeMarvion Overshown
Off. TARP
53%
QB Casey Thompson
Def. TARP
68%
TE Cade Brewer

Which part of past Texas football is an actionable item in 2021? That’s the great mystery of the offseason as Steve Sarkisian takes over as head coach with an excellent hire of Pete Kwiatkowski as defensive coordinator.

The latest Alamo Bowl showed the type of talent the Longhorns have on the roster. Casey Thompson was electric at quarterback with four touchdowns, as Bijan Robinson emulated a Tecmo Super Bowl game with 183 yards on just 10 carries.

Talent has never been the question at Texas, but plenty of other factors played a part at the end of the Tom Herman era. Player development was called out by recruits, boosters wanted Urban Meyer, and Herman’s coaching style was high on emotions.

Herman, now an analyst with the Chicago Bears, was known for straight-up wins as an underdog and straight-up losses as a favorite.

The Longhorns consistently started each season with numerous injuries, a result of over-demanding physical practices. There’s no question that establishing a new culture is the mission objective for Sarkisian, who has been kind to the bankroll of investors.

The Longhorns will look to replicate the 2020 offensive success of Alabama whether Thompson or Hudson Card is under center.

Defensively, the hiring of Kwiatkowski is similar to that of Grinch at Oklahoma from three years prior. Texas will throw multiple looks from three- and four-down defenses, as Kwiatkowski is known for having two nose tackles on the line during the same play.

One silent hire by Sarkisian is that of Terry Joseph as the defensive passing game coordinator, who will dictate coverage. Formerly of Notre Dame, Joseph’s pass defense was on full display in a cover against Sark’s Crimson Tide offense in the College Football Playoff semifinal. Those concepts that kept Alabama within the spread and led the Irish to a complete shutdown of North Carolina now reside in Austin.

Texas returns just 53% per transfer portal and returning players, but the key metric is Finishing Drives. The Longhorns were 13th in Points Per Opportunity and 22nd in Havoc allowed on offense. Sark will look to retain those numbers while amping up the Success Rate.

The defense finished top-25 in Havoc, but a Success Rate of 71st is the first order of business against a pass-happy Big 12.

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There’s plenty of room for optimism in Austin, as a case could be made that the floor is six wins and a bowl versus a ceiling of College Football Playoff and a dark horse Heisman contender in Thompson.

A win total set at 7.7 is just short of the market at 8. The true odds on a conference title are 9-1, where most of the market resides. While a Thompson 100-1 would be needed to get my Heisman attention, the real value may lie in a season opener against Louisiana.

Our Action Network power ratings project the Longhorns at -10 with a current number at -9.5. This number opened widely at -16.5 and has taken nothing but Ragin’ Cajuns money.

With the highest number of returning experience coming back to Lafayette, Billy Napier’s squad is sure to be the underdog on everyone’s betting ticket.

Personally, this may be the last time to get Texas at value before we see the Sark and Kwiatkowski plan. I’ll be monitoring the Week 1 line for a further drop to buy into the Longhorns program.



TCU Horned Frogs

Team Rankings
Key Players
Total Off.
411.0 (7)
CB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson
Total Def.
350.9 (4)
WR Quentin Johnson
Off. TARP
86%
QB Max Duggan
Def. TARP
89%
DE Khari Coleman

There were plenty of hurdles for TCU in 2020 from Max Duggan’s heart condition to the Texas Bowl cancellation due to COVID-19.

Despite the challenges, this was a 6-4 team that lost two games by one score while putting up the most impressive defensive splits in the conference.

TCU returns over 86% to both sides of the football, but the defense ranked third in Success Rate and fifth in Havoc.

Defensive ends Khari Coleman and Ochaun Mathis are the best edge-rushing duo in the Big 12. The combo paired for 17 tackles for loss and 12 sacks and return to a defense that will be one of the best in head coach Gary Patterson’s tenure running the 4-2-5.

The question for the Horned Frogs is not what can be done on the defensive side of the ball, but how it can find complementary weapons for Duggan on offense.

Whether it’s play-action or RPO, Duggan is a force in space. The quarterback logged 22 scrambles for 167 yards to go along with 482 yards on designed runs in 2020.

Wide receivers Taye Barber and Quentin Johnson will benefit from what Duggan is capable of doing, but it might be the departure of offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie that accelerates the offense.

Doug Meacham moves from position coach to offensive coordinator and is not expected to change the offense. Meacham was quick to move former TCU quarterback Kenny Hill from analyst to quarterbacks’ coach. Patterson has been quoted saying that the move from Cumbie to Hill focusing on Duggan has been seamless.

The win total projection for TCU is 8.1, higher than the market of 7.5, indicating that the over is the play.

The Iowa State game at the end of the season should represent a conference championship play-in game, as the Cyclones come off Oklahoma the week prior.

Although taking the win total over is the preferred bet, finding TCU to make the Big 12 Championship game at any number over +450 is where the best value can be found.



Oklahoma State Cowboys

Team Rankings
Key Players
Total Off.
426.8 (5)
QB Spencer Sanders
Total Def.
379.0 (5)
LB Malcolm Rodriguez
Off. TARP
66%
S Tre Sterling
Def. TARP
86%
OL Josh Sills

The offseason conversation has quickly moved to the future of the Pokes if the Sooners indeed leave the conference.

Will Oklahoma State continue in a modified version of the Big 12 or seek to join the AAC if another Power Five conference doesn’t call? Plenty of questions remain outside of Stillwater, but the questions inside are all about two units heading in opposite directions.

Oklahoma State returns 86% to a defense led by coordinator Jim Knowles. That group finished 11th in Success Rate and 10th in Havoc and has Malcolm Rodriguez and Tre Sterling set to return.

This unit proved to be the best third-down defense in the nation in 2020 and should not have a severe drop-off with the loss of Amen Ogbongbemiga.

The Pokes offense is heading in the opposite direction, and the losses continue to pile up.

Both running back Chuba Hubbard and wide receiver Tylan Wallace have moved on, leaving quarterback Spencer Sanders looking for new contributors.

Oklahoma State finished 2020 outside the top 100 in Success Rate on offense, along with a Havoc allowed rank of 81st. This has been a downward decline since the departure of Mike Yurcich as coordinator.

Sean Gleeson took over the coordinator role for a year before heading to Rutgers, leaving the position to be filled by long-time Cowboys assistant Kasey Dunn.

From the offensive line to the progression of Sanders in a crowded pocket, the offense is sputtering.

The schedule dictates the season could go sideways early.

After an opener with Missouri State, the Cowboys will take on two of the better defenses from a Group of Five perspective in Tulsa and Boise State.

The Golden Hurricanes lose all-everything Zaven Collins but still have 87% of a defense that ranked sixth in Success Rate and 14th Finishing Drives. Boise State will host Oklahoma State, as the Broncos should be stout with the return of Andy Avalos at head coach. Boise State finished 2020 with a Success Rate of eighth on defense and returns 80% of that unit this season.

The win total projection places head coach Mike Gundy at eight wins, but a downward projection cannot be ignored.

The offensive line returns plenty of pieces to the two-deep but ended 2020 with a rank of 116th in Line Yards. A clean pocket has always been needed for Sanders, who finished with a 66% completion rate with no pressure and 39% when pressured.

Until the Cowboys resolve the offensive trench and identify explosive skill positions, this is a win total under to bet.



West Virginia Mountaineers

Team Rankings
Key Players
Total Off.
412.6 (6)
RB Leddie Brown
Total Def.
291.4 (1)
WR Winston Wright
Off. TARP
77%
DT Dante Stills
Def. TARP
75%
S Alonzo Addae

After two seasons of Neal Brown as head coach, the building continues in the quest to be conference contenders.

The West Virginia defense carried the water in the 2020 season, ranking top-20 in Success Rate, Finishing Drives and Havoc.

Defensive tackle Dante Stills returns after posting 8.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. Just 75% of production returns on the defensive side, but Akheem Mesidor returns after leading the team in sacks.

The vulnerable area on the Mountaineers defense is the loss of Tykee Smith, a leader in the secondary who transferred to Georgia.

Brown has troops in the pipeline, finishing fourth in Big 12 recruiting over the past two signing periods. The results have been a pleasant surprise despite the firing of coordinator Vic Koenning before the 2020 season. Jordan Lesley will continue his key role in the Mountaineers defense as coordinator.

If West Virginia is going to make noise, it’s the offense that needs to improve.

Quarterback Jarret Doege — who played his first season at Bowling Green in 2017 — returns as one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the nation.

Doege has the luxury of 1,000-yard running back Leddie Brown returning to lead the ground game. The offensive line must improve after a disastrous 2020 season that saw the unit allow 76 tackles for loss.

West Virginia ranked 113th in tackles for loss per game. Brown averaged 2.9 yards after contact and may be asked to create highlight yards as a result of an offensive line that is starting multiple freshmen.

The win total for the Mountaineers is set for 6.6 with a market number at 6.5.

The futures are a pass from an investment perspective, but all eyes will be on the opener against Maryland. The Terrapins finished 103rd defensively in Line Yards. If the West Virginia offensive line is unable to get a push against Maryland, it will be another season of the defense leading the charge.



Texas Tech Red Raiders

Team Rankings
Key Players
Total Off.
429.5 (4)
QB Tyler Shough
Total Def.
444.9 (9)
WR Erik Ezukanma
Off. TARP
74%
CB DaMarcus Fields
Def. TARP
81%
P Austin McNamara

The transfer portal delivered for Texas Tech, bringing former Oregon quarterback Tyler Shough to Lubbock. The sophomore played under offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead during the 2020 season, as the first three games showed an explosive weapon on the ground and through the air.

Shough finished with an 8:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio through games against Stanford, Washington State and UCLA. A handful of explosive gains through the running game complemented the Ducks quarterback.

The production tailed off in the remaining schedule, as Oregon opted to give Anthony Brown more looks at quarterback.

With highly-touted freshmen expected to get playing time this season, the writing was on the wall for Shough and his near 2,000 all-purpose yards to find a new home.

New offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie moves over from TCU and should have plenty of success managing a player of Shough’s ability. Cumbie will have the Texas Tech offense throwing often, as TCU had one of the lowest offensive rush rates during his tenure.

Keith Patterson continues to act as the defensive coordinator after joining head coach Matt Wells from Utah State. The unit’s Success Rate improved from outside the top 100 in 2019 to 83rd last season. More than 80% of production returns to the defense that struggled in Points Per Opportunity. The Red Raiders finished 2020 ranked 105th in defensive Finishing Drives.

How Turnover Luck Could Impact CFB in 2021

The schedule sets up for success on the defensive side of the ball, as Houston, Stephen F. Austin and Florida International present offenses that struggle in Success Rate. Cornerback DaMarcus Fields was also fifth in the nation last season in pass breakups

The Action Network win total projection comes in at 5.6 versus a market that sits at 5, leaving room for an over on the win total.

The key stat comes with the defensive performance against the rush. When Texas Tech has held opponents to 130 yards rushing or less, the Red Raiders have gone 23-3 straight up since 2013.

Texas Tech should have a nice warmup in non-conference before conference play, but rankings outside the top 100 in Finishing Drives on both sides of the ball must improve for Wells and the Raiders to get to the postseason.



Kansas State Wildcats

Team Rankings
Key Players
Total Off.
337.4 (8)
QB Skylar Thompson
Total Def.
444.7 (8)
RB Deuce Vaughn
Off. TARP
76%
PR Philip Brooks
Def. TARP
70%
OT Cooper Beebe

Kansas State enters year three of the Chris Klieman era post-Bill Snyder. The results have been mixed with a Liberty Bowl loss in 2019 and a 4-6 record last season.

The issue remains the same on both sides of the ball: The Wildcats live and die on explosiveness numbers.

Super senior Skylar Thompson returns at quarterback with experience in backup Will Howard. The offensive line is deep in experience but must improve ranks of 101st in Line Yards and 90th in Havoc allowed.

Those numbers may result in persistent issues with Success Rate, as the Wildcats finished 112th in keeping the ball on schedule.

However, Thompson is rejoined by all-purpose back Deuce Vaughn, which should give the Wildcats a boost on the ground and through the air.

Vaughn added 434 receiving yards on top of 642 rushing yards to make him one of the most dangerous players in the conference. The issue is that Vaughn cannot take every snap and Thompson’s health is dependent on his protection.

The defense had similar issues with Success Rate and explosiveness. A rank of 74th in both categories on defense played a key part in five straight losses to end the season.

The projected win total of 5.1 is short of the market at 5.5. There are two clear victories on the schedule in the form of Southern Illinois and Kansas, but then a half-dozen coin flips hit the schedule.

If this is a team that can overachieve on the win total side, then the opener against Stanford is a must-win. The Trees ranked outside the top 100 in defensive Line Yards, Havoc and pass explosiveness.

The best bet is to take Kansas State in Week 1 with the points in lieu of a team total future.



Baylor Bears

Team Rankings
Key Players
Total Off.
310.2 (9)
LB Terrell Bernard
Total Def.
383.4 (6)
KR Trestan Ebner
Off. TARP
59%
DB Jalen Pitre
Def. TARP
75%
WR RJ Sneed

Baylor’s defense overachieved in the wake of Year 0 for new head coach Dave Aranda, finishing 54th in Success Rate but 101st in Finishing Drives. The concepts Aranda can bring to a program can be tough for defensive personnel, as players are asked to maneuver through a 3-2-6 scheme with plenty of blitz calls.

There are a few defenders that excelled in the new scheme. Jalen Pitre recorded 10.5 tackles for loss, while Terrell Bernard had 3.5 sacks on the season. The defensive Havoc rank of 66th is expected to improve with both players returning to Year 2 of the Aranda scheme.

The offensive roster isn’t loaded with highly-recruited talent.

Gerry Bohanon and Jacob Zeno are expected to compete with a handful of underclassmen for the starting quarterback position. Running back Trestan Ebner returns after creating 14 missed tackles in just 51 rushing attempts in 2020.

Outside of those players, Baylor returns just 59% of an offense that was 119th in Success Rate and 113th in Havoc allowed.

The biggest acquisition of the offseason is new offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes from BYU. The Cougars posted one of the biggest offensive seasons of all teams in 2020, with much of it coming from Grimes’ game plan. Although BYU had one of the more explosive passing attacks behind quarterback Zach Wilson, Grimes had an even distribution of run versus pass.

Grimes got to work in getting help from the transfer portal on an offensive line that is a complete teardown.

Our Action Network win total projects 5.6, and the market sits on 5.5. The non-conference schedule is conducive to Grimes getting game experience for the offensive line against Texas State and Texas Southern.

A date with BYU could be considered an auto-Baylor bet with Grimes fresh out of the Cougars program.

The question remains whether or not the Bears can rack up three wins out of conference. Kansas projects as a double-digit underdog, but West Virginia and Kansas State are coinflips.

With so many questions in the trench for Baylor, the formula is simple. We will pass on team futures but consider game total unders with the defense continuing its ascent.



Kansas Jayhawks

Team Rankings
Key Players
Total Off.
259.2 (10)
DE Kyron Johnson
Total Def.
459.2 (10)
KR Kenny Logan
Off. TARP
77%
WR Kwamie Lassiter
Def. TARP
67%
OT Earl Bostick

Rock Chalk has shaken up the system with athletic director John White and head coach Les Miles getting a pink slip. Kansas then made the best move available by pulling Lance Leipold out of Buffalo.

Instead of previewing the dreadful advanced statistics this squad put up in 2020, it may be more use of seeing how Leipold may try to rebuild the Kansas program.

When Leipold arrived in Buffalo during the 2015 season, he was able to maintain the five wins achieved by the program the year before. In 2016, the Bulls dipped to 2-10, which can be attributed to Leipold just beginning to implement his schemes. One thing Leipold is known for is turning a low recruiting class into conference contenders.

Kansas has finished in the bottom-three in Big 12 recruiting since 2017. Buffalo has been dead last in MAC recruiting since 2017 and still managed to be the class of the conference on the field.

Despite the recruiting scores, Leipold finished with the best against-the-spread mark of all FBS coaches since 2017 at 31-15. Keep in mind that running back Jaret Patterson was the highlight of the MAC but was recruited by Leipold out of the state of Maryland as a two-star athlete.

The question remains how to bet the Jayhawks, and the answer may be in the staff and personnel.

Collin Wilson’s 2021 CFB Betting Power Ratings

Andy Kotelnicki follows Leipold from Buffalo and fills the offensive coordinator role. Buffalo ranked fifth in rushing rate, meaning we may see a ground-first approach from the Jayhawks in the 2020 season. Offensive linemen were a theme in the transfer portal, indicating that Kansas games may move at a snail’s pace offensively.

A handful of quarterbacks are expected to compete for the starting job. Freshman Jalon Daniels, junior college transfer Miles Kendrick and North Texas transfer Jason Bean are all in the mix to fill the role of game manager under center. 

But the transfer portal giveth and the transfer portal taketh, as the front seven on defense was decimated by player exits.

Safeties Kenny Logan and Rickey Thomas should limit explosive plays, but expect an uptick in defensive Havoc. Logan is one of the premier special teams players in the Big 12.

New defensive coordinator Brian Borland also joins from Buffalo. The Bulls led the MAC in sacks and defensive total yards in 2020. Borland and Leipold are longtime peers, as both came through the coaching ranks at Wisconsin-Whitewater in the 1990s.

The win total of 1.5 market-wide is a tough one to handicap. The Action Network projection comes in at 1.3, as the opener against South Dakota features an 85% win probability with a spread close to two touchdowns in favor of the Jayhawks.

Other potential victories may come at Duke or as double-digit underdogs to Baylor, Kansas State or Texas Tech off a bye week. I am certainly a Lance Leipold buyer, and paying juice on over one win is more favorable than a +150 on under 1.5.



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What Eduardo Escobar Trade Means for Milwaukee Brewers

eduardo escobar-milwaukee brewers-trade deadline-mlb

The Milwaukee Brewers entered the day with a seven-game lead in the NL Central and further solidified their lineup with the acquisition of All-Star Eduardo Escobar on Wednesday night, according to multiple media reports.

Escobar, who has split time between second and third base during parts of four seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks, is hitting .246/.300/.478 this year with 22 home runs and a 105 wRC+ (meaning his offensive production is 5% better than a league-average hitter).

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He will join a Brewers infield that entered the season in flux. The team swung an earlier trade for shortstop Willy Adames, and Escobar will presumably slot in at third in place of Luis Urias while occasionally spotting Kolten Wong at second base.

Milwaukee entered play as a heavy favorite to win the NL Central at -800 according to DraftKings, with the closest competitors, the Cincinnati Reds, sitting at +1100. The Brewers had the fourth-lowest odds to claim the NL pennant at +525, behind the Dodgers (+175), Mets (+425) and Padres (+450). The Brewers’ World Series odds were the seventh-lowest at +1200.

The Brewers have been carried all season by their pitching, with Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta fronting a rotation that is tied for the National League lead in xFIP at 3.72 as a unit. Their offense has lagged behind, however, as their team wRC+ of 90 ranks just 10th in the league.

Escobar and his above-average production should help boost their offense for the stretch run.

Sean Zerillo’s Trade Analysis

The Escobar acquisition doesn’t significantly impact the Brewers’ 2021 outlook, but it certainly gives them a slight bump in my projections — by about 0.4 wins in terms of True Talent level.

Before the trade, I had the Brewers as an 88.9 win team in my power rankings. If the season started tomorrow, I would project them at 89.3 wins.

My prorated projection for 2021 has Milwaukee finishing at 92.6 wins, well clear of the Reds at 82 wins (79.9 wins of True Talent), Cardinals at 80.5 wins (82.4 wins of True Talent), or the Cubs at 79.8 wins (80.6 wins of True Talent) in their division.

Escobar fits nicely into the Brewers’ defensive identity because of his ability to play average defense at both second base (0 DRS in 42 Games) or third base (+1 in 65 games played).

Though he’s a switch hitter, Escobar primarily excels against southpaw pitching (career 104 wRC+, 126 in 2021) and will boost the Brewers’ offense (96 wrC+, 19th in MLB) against left-handed pitching.

However, Milwaukee has performed even worse against right-handed pitching (88 wRC+), so getting a productive left-handed bat could still be a priority.

Max Scherzer Trade Odds: Dodgers, Padres & Mets Favored to Acquire Nationals’ Starter

max-scherzer-trade-odds-dodgers-padres-nationals

Max Scherzer’s Next Team if Traded Odds

Odds via PointsBet

Team Odds
Dodgers +200
Padres +250
Mets +425
Brewers +500
Astros +600
Red Sox +700
Yankees +800
Athletics +800
Rays +800

Max Scherzer reportedly prefers a west coast team with a chance to win a World Series, so it makes sense the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres are the betting favorites to land the Cy Young winner.

According to odds released by PointsBet (in Colorado only), the NL West foes top the board to acquire the Nationals’ starter. Scherzer owns a no-trade clause, which means he has some power to dictate where he goes.

The Nationals are officially in sell-mode sitting 11.5-games back of the Padres for the second Wild Card spot in the National League. Scherzer became the top starting pitcher option on the market once Washington was swept by Baltimore last week.

The Dodgers are looking for another starting pitcher to replace Trevor Bauer, who is on administrative leave due to a pending sexual assault case. At this point, it seems Bauer is unlikely to return to Los Angeles this season. Meanwhile, the Padres are chasing both the Dodgers and Giants in the division, and A.J. Preller is one of the most aggressive general managers in the game with a deep farm system to use.

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After the west coast teams, the Mets come in at +425. It’s not known if Scherzer would accept a trade to the east coast, but owner Steve Cohen seems to want to be aggressive in competing for a championship this season. The Mets hold a 3.5-game lead over the Phillies in the NL East entering Wednesday night.

The rest of the contenders on the board include the Brewers, Astros, Red Sox, Yankees, Athletics and Rays as the starting pitching market is the thinnest of all positions with just two days left before the deadline.

2021 College Football Conference Odds: Ohio State, Oklahoma, Alabama Become Bigger Favorites

2021-college-football-conference-odds-ohio-state-oklahoma-alabama

With college football season around the corner, let’s take a look at the odds for each team to win their conference.

Squads like Ohio State, Oklahoma and Alabama have become even greater favorites to win their respective conferences relative to a few months ago.

And, no, Texas and Oklahoma won’t be in the SEC odds pile — that won’t happen until at least 2025 (unless they pay about $80 million in exit fees or the Big 12 collapses before then).

The two teams actually aren’t even the biggest liabilities at BetMGM to win the Big 12 this season — that honor goes to Iowa State, whose odds to win its conference have moved from an opening mark of +600 all the way to +275.

2021 College Football Conference Odds

Big 12 Conference Odds

Futures from BetMGM as of Wednesday

Team Odds
Oklahoma -175
Iowa State +275
Texas +900
Oklahoma State +1200
TCU +1400
West Virginia +2500
Kansas State +4000
Baylor +5000
Texas Tech +6600
Kansas +25000

Oklahoma opened as -130 favorites before moving to its current post at -175. They will deploy second-year starter Spencer Rattler, who is the early +650 favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. Rattler will look to become the third Oklahoma quarterback in the last five years to take home the trophy after Baker Mayfield (2017) and Kyler Murray (2018) did so before him.

Iowa State firmly sits with the second-shortest odds after a breakout 2020 season in which they won the Fiesta Bowl over Oregon and beat Oklahoma in the regular season. 19 of 22 starters from last season will return, so expectations are high for the Cyclones to make another run at the Big 12 chip, which they lost to the Sooners in a closely contested 27-21 game in 2020.

Texas is +900 to win their first Big 12 title since 2009. The team has only finished with 10 or more wins once since that title, but there’s optimism in the Austin air with new head coach Steve Sarkisian at the helm — and news of an impending move to the SEC.

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Atlantic Coast Conference Odds

Futures from BetMGM as of Wednesday

Team Odds
Clemson -900
North Carolina +850
University of Miami +900
Virginia Tech +2800
Louisville +3000
Pittsburgh +4000
Boston College +4000
NC State +5000
Florida State +5000
Wake Forest +5000
Virginia +6600
Georgia Tech +10000
Syracuse +25000
Duke +25000

Clemson is by far the biggest favorite among Power Five schools to win their conference at -900. That line opened at -900 and has stayed there since. Despite losing Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne, the Tigers have the second-shortest odds to win another national championship at +450. It looks like DJ Uiagalelei will get the nod at quarterback — the 20-year-old filled in admirably for Lawrence when the No. 1 overall pick was out with the coronavirus against Notre Dame last season. Their season ended with a loss to Ohio State in the College Football Playoff Semifinals.

Pittsburgh at +4000 is the conference’s largest liability at BetMGM. The team returns fifth-year starter (!) Kenny Pickett and a decent number of NFL-worthy players looking to bounce back from a topsy-turvy 6-5 season in 2020.

Big Ten Conference Odds

Futures from BetMGM as of Wednesday

Team Odds
Ohio State -225
Wisconsin +650
Penn State +800
Iowa +900
Michigan +2000
Indiana +2000
Minnesota +2500
Northwestern +4000
Nebraska +4000
Maryland +8000
Michigan State +10000
Purdue +10000
Illinois +15000

Ohio State’s line has lengthened the most out of any conference favorite, having opened at -150 before settling at its current mark of -225. A key factor is how new 19-year-old starter CJ Stroud will adjust to his role. Stroud has not started a college football game in his career. Luckily for him, the Buckeyes’ No. 1 receiver from 2020, Chris Olave, decided to stay. Olave led Ohio State with 50 catches for 729 yards and seven touchdowns last season. The Buckeyes beat Clemson in the CFP semifinals before falling to Alabama in the national championship game.

The Buckeyes are the conference’s largest liability at BetMGM.

Wisconsin is another notable mover. Their odds have dipped from +1000 at the beginning of the year to +650 now. They went a disappointing 4-3 last season, but a lot of that can be chalked up to their terrible running game. They hope to revamp their rushing attack with Jalen Berger — who will no longer have to split as many carries as he did last season — and Clemson transfer Chez Mellusi. Their O-Line is still solid, as is their linebacking corps, which is among the best in the nation.

Pac-12 Conference Odds

Futures from BetMGM as of Wednesday

Team Odds
Oregon +250
Washington +350
USC +400
Arizona State +400
Utah +600
UCLA +1200
Cal +2800
Stanford +4000
Washington State +4000
Colorado +4000
Oregon State +5000
Arizona +8000

Oregon have moved from co-favorites to favorites since these lines opened. The Ducks are coming off of a Pac-12 championship, but it was a trophy won during a rather tumultuous 4-3 season. Though they have pedigree at every position, the team will be mired in a quarterback competition between Boston College transfer Anthony Brown and freshmen Robby Ashford, Ty Thompson and Jay Butterfield.

Utah are BetMGM’s largest liability and their odds have moved from +2000 to +600 since opening. The Utes did not start their season until November 21 last season due to the coronavirus — two weeks later than the rest of the conference — so it’s hard to pin their 3-2 record on a lack of talent. They return 10 starters on offense — all except the quarterback. There will be a quarterback competition in Utah, too. This one will be between returning starter Cameron Rising (who was injured in last season’s opener and missed the rest of the season), Baylor transfer Charlie Brewer and Texas transfer Ja’Quinden Jackson.

SEC Odds

Futures from BetMGM as of Wednesday

Team Odds
Alabama -165
Georgia +230
Texas A&M +1100
Florida +1600
LSU +2200
Ole Miss +2800
Auburn +3000
Missouri +4000
Kentucky +5000
Tennessee +6000
Mississippi State +12500
South Carolina +15000
Arkansas +15000
Vanderbilt +50000

Alabama opened as -105 favorites to win their 29th SEC Championship and have since moved to -165. The defending national champions are also favorites to repeat at +250, but are decidedly a team in flux, with just about half their starters returning from last season. Still, though, it’s Alabama, and all those replacements are four- and five-star recruits. This team will undoubtedly be lights out next season.

Georgia is the conference’s biggest liability after opening at +250. They will deploy JT Daniels at quarterback, who will finally have a full season to show why he was a five-star recruit coming out of high school. The USC transfer ran the offense with solid efficiency after replacing Jamie Newman following losses to Alabama and Florida. Georgia won out with Daniels at the helm.

MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Dodgers vs. Giants: Will San Francisco Win Back-to Back Games? (Wednesday, July 28)

giants vs. dodgers-mlb-odds-betting-picks-predictions-july 28

Dodgers vs. Giants Odds

Dodgers Odds -140
Giants Odds +115
Over/Under 7.5 (-115 / -105)
Time 9:45 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds as of Wednesday afternoon and via BetMGM.

The Dodgers continue to struggle, losing their sixth game of the past nine last night, and now find themselves slipping in the NL West standings.

With one of their stronger starters taking the ball in Walker Buehler, will the bleeding finally stop? Is there still value left in the Giants as home underdogs? Let’s find the answers to those questions and more as we go through the numbers for both sides.

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Dodgers Continue to “Disappoint”

It’s weird to say about a team that’s 20 games over .500 and right in the thick of the division race, but the Dodgers are a sorely disappointing ballclub at the moment.

Their wRC+ over the last two weeks sits at a pedestrian 102, thanks to a gaudy 24.7% strikeout rate and an abnormally low 7% walk rate. This team has lived off of walks and big blasts, but without the former, the latter really doesn’t mean a whole lot.

It’s crazy that the Dodgers have hit 19 home runs over that span to rank fifth in the league, yet have been so bad at producing runs. They just haven’t had many baserunners.

That’s compounded some lackluster starts, errors in the field and some blown saves from Kenley Jansen.

The team will at least hope that Walker Buehler can make life a little easier on the offense in this one. The righty has been effective for the Dodgers on the surface with a 2.31 ERA, but it’s concerning that he’s seen a downturn in a few areas.

Buehler’s spin rates have taken a massive hit since the league’s crackdown on foreign substances, and even before that, he was just a bit off the pace he set for himself in 2019 and 2020. He’s now seen his strikeout rate dip for a second straight year to 26.4%, and his hard-hit rate has risen for a second straight year.

His overall profile isn’t a bad one, and he’s even limited his walks. But those figures, combined with a 3.08 xERA, hint that there’s just something less dominant about Buehler.

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Are the Giants Pulling Away

The Giants are beginning to really take the NL West race with force. After taking 3-of-4 in Los Angeles just last week, they’re back with a series-opening win to push their lead in the division to three games over L.A. and San Diego.

The opportunity to grab a second consecutive series win over the defending champs looms large, and it sets them up well for the next month. Momentum will be key with Houston coming to town this weekend, and if the solid play can continue just until Sunday, the schedule is about to get much easier. San Francisco has 10 games against the Diamondbacks and Rockies and a three-game set with the Brewers mixed in.

In that way, it does seem like taking at least two out of three here could prove to be a big blow to the Dodgers with so many winnable games on the horizon heading into the last month of the year and just one more series against L.A. remaining. This series means a lot more than a late-July three-game set normally would.

Anthony DeSclafani will take the ball for San Francisco against a very familiar opponent. It’s true that DeSclafani allowed 10 runs against the Dodgers in April, but it’s also true he’s been lights-out since that start and has limited the Dodgers to eight runs across 15.2 innings in his three starts following the clunker.

DeSclafani profiles well against Los Angeles because of his low walk rate, which should really be lethal given the lack of free passes for the Dodgers lately. He walked just one Dodger to go along with seven strikeouts in his last start, and that type of ratio will play perfectly.

Dodgers-Giants Pick

San Francisco has hit as many homers as Los Angeles over the last week, and has a nearly-identical ISO (.209 vs. .210). The difference is a walk rate that’s 1.8% higher, which has led to slightly more fruitful innings.

Still, there aren’t many things separating these two offenses, meaning the pitching matchup will likely dictate the outcome. Buehler led L.A. to a victory over DeSclafani last week, but I’m not sold he’ll do it again.

The lack of walks lately for the Dodgers is very concerning, and against a pitcher who’s expertly prevented walks and limiting barrels to a decent extent, things probably won’t change for the better here.

There are also concerns for L.A. on the defensive side of things, and the bullpen has slipped up just a little bit. Too much is working against the Dodgers, and I can’t pass up DeSclafani and the Giants at this price.

Pick: Giants ML (+115)

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MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: 3 Prop Bets, Including Kris Bryant, Patrick Corbin & Jorge Lopez (July 28)

mlb-player props-strikeout totals-jorge lopez-patrick corbin-kris bryant-july 28

After taking a good, long look at Wednesday’s pitching matchups using the Action Labs Player Prop tool, there’s two strikeout totals I’m targeting.

Additionally, there’s a position player prop that I believe might provide some value while adding an extra sweat.

Our Action Labs tool grades each prop on a scale from 1-10, and I’ll be sure to include the grade below my explanation.

MLB Player Prop & Pick

Jorge López — Over 4.5 Strikeouts (+105)

Marlins vs. Orioles Orioles +100
Time 7:05 p.m. ET
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López has been hovering around this number for a while, posting 16 strikeouts over 16 innings in his last four starts. I think the Marlins offense is going to tip him over the line today.

While the Marlins have posted big numbers over the past few days, they still boast a below-average lineup, and they’ve struck out a lot recently. Over the past 30 days, the Marlins boast a 96 wRC+ with the third-highest strikeout rate – 26.2%.

López is not a good pitcher. In fact, he’s probably one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball. However, he does love to throw the sinker (34.3% of the time) and the Marlins struggle with that pitch, recording the third-worst weighted sinker runs created in MLB (-7.9).

The Action Labs player prop tool is projecting Lopez at 5.1 strikeouts today, so hold your nose and play the value at plus-money.

Action Labs Grade: 9/10

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Patrick Corbin — Under 4.5 Strikeouts (-120)

Editor’s Note: Wednesday’s game between the Nationals and Phillies has been postponed because of a COVID-19 outbreak within the Washington organization.

Nationals vs. Phillies Nationals +185
Time 7:05 p.m. ET
Best Book DraftKings

Corbin is lost right now. Here’s his last four starts:

  • 7/1 vs. LAD: 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 2 K
  • 7/7 @ SDP: 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 3 K
  • 7/17 vs. SDP: 5.1 IP, 6 ER, 10 H, 4 BB, 3 K
  • 7/23 @ BAL: 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 4 K

The Phillies aren’t the Dodgers or Padres, but they play much better at home (30-20 home record) and boast an above-average lineup. Plus, they’re striking out at the eighth-lowest rate in MLB over the past 30 days (21.7%).

I’m expecting Corbin to struggle again today. Whether he fails to miss bats or gets pulled early, look for a lot of balls in play today.

Action Labs Grade: 8/10

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Kris Bryant Over 1.5 Total Bases (-105)

Cubs vs. Reds Cubs -105
Time 8:05 p.m. ET
Best Book DraftKings

Kris Bryant: Fastball killer.

This season, Bryant is slugging a whopping .628 against four-seam fastballs while posting a .310 xBA. His hard-hit rate on the pitch is nearly 50%, and smashing fastballs is a big reason why he’s having a great year.

His opponent today, Tyler Mahle, loves to throw the fastball. He tosses a four-seam more than half the time, and that’s probably why Bryant has had so much success against him in the past. Bryant is 7-for-18 lifetime against Mahle with two doubles and three home runs.

Mahle is having a pretty good season, but he’s also allowed 10 runs on 15 hits over his past 16 1/3 innings. He’s also struggling with his control, as he’s walked 15 batters in his past four starts.

I like Bryant’s chances to knock a couple hits or snag extra-bases against Mahle’s fastball tonight. You can snag this prop on DraftKings for -105, but I would be weary betting it at a worse number than that.

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Nationals vs. Phillies Odds & Pick: Bet Philadelphia on the Run Line (July 28)

major league baseball-betting-odds-picks-predictions-philadelphia phillies-zack wheeler-wednesday-july 28

Editor’s Note: Wednesday’s game between the Nationals and Phillies has been postponed because of a COVID-19 outbreak within the Washington organization.

Nationals vs. Phillies Odds

Nationals Odds +185
Phillies Odds -225
Over/Under 8 (-120 / +100)
Time 7:05 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds as of Wednesday afternoon via DraftKings.

The Philadelphia Phillies are having their best month of the season, going gone 13-9 during July so far. And because of that run, Philadelphia has climbed into second place in the NL East and sit 3.5 games behind the New York Mets.

After a fantastic June, the Washington Nationals have hit a wall and slid to 6-16 this month, falling to fourth in the division. Washington did snap a five-game losing streak Tuesday in their 6-4 victory over the Phillies.

These teams are now 5-5 against each other this season and the first two games of this series have been terrific. We got a walk-off home run by the Phillies on Monday, and the Nationals holding off their foes with the tying run at the plate in Tuesday’s showdown.

Will we see another exciting contest Wednesday and who has the advantage? Let’s take a look at what might be in store in this latest meeting.

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Corbin Struggling on Mound for Nationals

A two-time All-Star with Arizona, Patrick Corbin was terrific during his first season in Washington, but has since seen his production decline rapidly.

In 2019, Corbin went 14-7 with a 3.25 ERA to help the Nationals win the World Series, but wound up just 2-7 in 2020 with a mediocre 4.66 ERA. Through 19 starts this year, Corbin is 6-9 with a 5.71 ERA and 5.12 FIP. His K/9 rate is just 6.92, down from 10.60 during his 2019 campaign.

Over his last four starts, Corbin has a 7.17 ERA. He has allowed 17 earned runs and totaled just 12 strikeouts. His most used pitch is his slider at 36.3% and that has actually been pretty good this year. However, his sinker, fastball and changeup have been crushed.

The good news for Washington is Juan Soto is on fire. Any notion the Home Run Derby screws up your swing is now dead thanks to Soto. Since the All-Star break, Soto is batting a blistering .375 with a .510 on-base percentage and 1.460 OPS. He has seven home runs and 16 RBIs in 11 games, both of which lead the league. In Tuesday’s win, Soto went 2 for 4 with a home run, two runs scored and three RBIs.

The Nationals’ offense was dealt a huge blow, though, with Trea Turner testing positive for COVID-19 and being pulled during Tuesday’s game. Turner is having an excellent season, batting .322 and leading the team in hits, runs and stolen bases.

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Wheeler Maintaining Dominant Form for Phillies

Is it an overreaction to say Zack Wheeler (RHP) is now the ace of this Phillies staff? Aaron Nola has struggled and Wheeler has an ERA two full runs lower at 2.37 this season. His ERA, as well as his 2.29 FIP, are the best marks of his career and helped him earn his first All-Star selection.

Wheeler has a great pitching mix, throwing a fastball averaging more than 97 miles per hour. Plus, he possesses a fantastic slider and sinker, as well as the occasional curveball. The most obvious improvement for Wheeler has been his strikeout numbers. Despite a good season last year, his K/9 rate was just 6.72. This year, he has boosted that number to 10.85 K/9. Wheeler has the second most strikeouts in the league this year behind only Gerrit Cole.

The best part about Wheeler is he has kept the struggling Phillies’ relief pitchers in the bullpen as long as possible. He’s averaging 6.6 innings per start this year, plus he has lasted at least six innings in 16 of his 20 starts and gone at least seven innings in 12 of them. Wheeler has allowed just eight home runs all season, the fourth-lowest among qualified starters.

Offensively, only two teams have scored more runs than Philadelphia in July. The Phillies have the sixth-best wOBA in the league this month. Bryce Harper, who is batting .378 since the break with a 1.142 OPS, is having a great season, along with Rhys Hoskins and Jean Segura.

Another guy having a strong campaign is one of the game’s best personalities in Andrew McCutchen. After tearing his ACL in 2019 and having a down 2020, the former league MVP already has 19 home runs, which is the third most in his career prior to August. McCutchen has an .852 OPS this year, his best mark since 2015. He has homered in back-to-back games, including an opposite field three-run walk off blast in Monday’s contest.

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Nationals-Phillies Pick

The Phillies have a huge pitching advantage in this game. Wheeler has pitched like Philadelphia’s ace and looked like one of the best pitchers in baseball this year. He ranks in the top 4% of the league in xERA, xwOBA and HardHit percentage. Wheeler also leads all pitchers in WAR this season.

For Washington, Corbin is in the bottom 11% of the league in xwOBA and xERA, plus the club has lost four of his last five starts.

As hot as Soto has been, losing Turner is a devastating loss, as he has been the Nationals’ do-it-all man all season. The Phillies’ lineup is much deeper than Washington’s group and has been better at home.

Philadelphia’s biggest weakness is its bullpen, which is kind of negated by Washington. The Nationals have the worst reliever ERA in the league over the last 30 days, sitting at more than a full run more than the Phillies’ bullpen.

Philadelphia opened at -200 odds, which is a price I am never going to play for a baseball game. However, I am comfortable backing the Phillies on the run line here at +110 and would play it at anything +100 or better.

Pick: Phillies -1.5 (+110)

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MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions for Wednesday: 4 Bets For Yankees vs. Rays, Reds vs. Cubs, More (July 28)

mlb-odds-picks-predictions-bets-blue-jays-red-sox-reds-cubs-wednesday-july-28-2021

Our rotation of baseball betting analysts continue to grind through the second half of the season, with an eye on value for Wednesday’s MLB slate.

Find their four favorite bets below, including three first-five inning angles and one full-game favorite.

MLB Odds & Picks

Click on a game to skip ahead
Marlins at Orioles
7:05 p.m. ET
Yankees at Rays
7:10 p.m. ET
Blue Jays at Red Sox
7:10 p.m. ET