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Baseballs will be flying out of Cleveland, plus other best bets for Monday

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This past weekend was the first weekend of the year when I had a deep desire to watch football. I know that the USFL is going on, and while I wish everybody associated with the league the best of luck, I’ve taken a stance that I’m not going to invest any of my time into a spring league until one sticks. I’ve seen far too many come and go.

No, I’m talking college football and the NFL. I need them to get back as soon as possible. When they end, I still have soccer every weekend to fill that early morning/afternoon sports slot on the weekend. Now that the soccer season has ended, that’s gone. I woke up Saturday with nothing to watch, feeling an emptiness in my soul. All I wanted at that moment was a dreary afternoon game between Purdue and Minnesota on a cloudy day. It didn’t need to be a good game; I just needed it to be a game to watch.

Hurry back, football. The White Sox are terrible, and I need you. 

All right, let’s get to tonight’s winners.

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook

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The Hot Ticket

Rangers at Guardians, 7:10 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV

Latest Odds:

Over 9.5

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  • Key Trend: The over is 4-1-1 in the last six meetings.
  • The Pick: Over 9.5 (-105)

Sound the alarm! We’ve got a perfect storm brewing in Cleveland tonight! A perfect storm that should lead to the ball flying out of the yard with ease and plenty of runs being scored. While there’s some rain in the forecast that could mess it up for all of us, temperatures at game time should be in the upper 70s with the wind howling out to right-center.

Of course, the weather only plays one factor in our storm. There’s also the pitching matchup. Cal Quantrill starts for the Guardians, and he’ll bring his uninspiring strikeout rate of 15.1%. If that isn’t enough, he pairs it with an 8.7% walk rate that’s a little higher than the league average for starters. He’ll square off against Texas’ Jon Gray, who might feel like he’s back in Coors Field tonight.

As for Quantrill, while his hard contact rate is average, he allows a lot of fly balls, and his home run rate allowed is a lot lower than it should be, considering all the contact he gives up. You have to expect a course correction at some point, and well, maybe those winds will bring the correction with them. The only thing this perfect storm is missing is George Clooney and Marky Mark.

Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Projection Model has a lean toward the over as well, but what it and two SportsLine experts love is a play on the money line.


The Picks

NHL

Avalanche at Oilers, 8 p.m. | TV: TNT

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Latest Odds:

Edmonton Oilers
+115

The Pick: Oilers (+115) — Listen, the Avalanche are a juggernaut, and it’s shown in this series. They’ve won the first three games and outscored the Oilers 16-8, with six of Edmonton’s eight goals coming n the first game. It’s been 8-2 since. The Avs are going to win this series.

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But it’ll probably take them five games to do it.

Even though the Oilers will be without Evander Kane tonight thanks to his cheap shot on Nazem Kadri, Kadri is out tonight because of that cheap shot. The Oilers win that trade because as good as Kane has been for them, Kadri has been incredible for the Avs in the playoffs. So tonight, I think the Oilers pick up one last win before their season ends, with Connor McDavid putting the team on his back and helping them survive another couple of days.

Key Trend: The home team has won seven of the last nine meetings. 

MLB

Mariners at Astros, 8:10 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV

Latest Odds:

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Seattle Mariners
+160

The Pick: Mariners (+155) — Seattle got off to a nice start this year, raising the hopes and expectations of the fan base, but it’s gone 13-24 since an 11-6 start. Still, as bad as the Mariners have been, they’ve won four of nine against Houston, and they’re sending Robbie Ray to the mound tonight. The reigning AL Cy Young winner has been a disappointment since coming to Seattle, but the underlying metrics suggest he hasn’t been as bad as his 4.93 ERA suggests.

He’s allowing dingers at a rate that seems unsustainable and should rebound, and tonight he faces a Houston team that fares much worse against lefties (.297 wOBA, 98 wRC+) than righties (.323 wOBA, 116 wRC+). While Seattle will have trouble against Houston’s Cristian Javier, I think Ray can do enough to keep them in the game and give them a shot at the win more often than the +155 price suggests.

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Key Trend: The Astros have not hit lefties well at all this season.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Looking to get a little crazy tonight? The SportsLine Projection Model has identified a four-team MLB parlay tonight that’s paying 12-to-1.


Monday Night Strikeout Props

Not a whole lot to choose from tonight, but there’s some good value on these strikeout props.



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What Would It Take For The Nuggets To Win A Title?

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(Photo by Justin Tafoya/Getty Images)

 

The Denver Nuggets have assembled a very strong squad over the last few years.

They boast two-time reigning regular season MVP Nikola Jokic, a throwback wide-bodied center who is a load to deal with in the paint but can also handle the ball and facilitate a bit like some other modern big men.

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In the backcourt, they have Jamal Murray, who has become an All-Star caliber point guard and has shown some ability to go off in big games.

Denver also has Michael Porter Jr., a forward whom many feel has All-Star potential, plus strong supporting players such as Aaron Gordon, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Jeff Green.

Many expect the Nuggets to be one of the top teams in the Western Conference, assuming Murray and Porter, both of whom are coming off serious injuries, return to their pre-injury form.

But are the Nuggets legitimate championship contenders, or just a bit short of that category?

They can win it all, but there is a checklist of things that would need to happen.

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Jokic Needs To Maintain His MVP Form

Jokic, the 27-year-old Serbian native, is one of the most unique players ever, as he doesn’t just score and rebound at a high level.

He is also one of the league’s best passers, despite being a 6-foot-11, 284-pound center who isn’t too mobile.

He averaged 7.9 assists per game last season, and the year before that he put up 8.3 dimes a game.

Outside of perhaps Wilt Chamberlain, who actually led the entire NBA in assists one year, and Bill Walton, Jokic is probably the best passing big man ever.

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One thing Jokic can and should improve on is his 3-point shooting, which has fluctuated throughout his seven-year career.

In the 2021-22 season, he made just 33.7 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc, but the year before, he shot a robust 38.8 percent from deep.

 

Murray Needs To Be His Best Self

In the 2019-20 season, his last fully healthy season, Murray put up fine regular season numbers of 18.5 points and 4.8 assists per game.

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But during the playoffs, he went into volcano mode, averaging 26.5 points a contest on 50.5 percent overall shooting and 45.3 percent from 3-point range.

In that postseason, he had four 40-point-plus games, as well as two 50-point outings.

When Denver upset the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 7 of the second round and overcame a 3-1 series deficit, Murray led the way with 40 points on 15-of-26 shooting.

He improved to 21.2 points a game the following season while significantly boosting his 3-point shooting accuracy before an ACL injury ended his year late in the schedule.

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For the Nuggets to win the world title, Murray has to continue where he left off in 2021 while putting up huge playoff games when they really need him to.

 

Better Depth

The Nuggets are not a particularly deep team, and so, they will need some unheralded men to step up.

The backcourt and wing rotations look solid, but they could use some better depth up front.

As of now, Jokic’s main backup will be DeAndre Jordan, who is 34 and coming off a season with the Los Angeles Lakers in which he looked washed.

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If Jordan doesn’t cut it, Denver will be at a sizable disadvantage when Jokic is resting.

The team could also use one more serviceable forward with legitimate forward height.

As of now, Bruce Brown is slated to be its backup 3, and even though he’s a solid 3-and-D player, he is just 6-foot-4.

The post What Would It Take For The Nuggets To Win A Title? appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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The Dodgers Are First To An Impressive 2022 Mark

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(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

 

Thanks to the recent slide of the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers now have the best record in all of baseball and are dominating everybody in their path.

After signing Freddie Freeman, the Dodgers became instant favorites to win another World Series title, just as they did in 2020.

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They’re in a good position to potentially do that again.

Last night, they opened up a series against the struggling Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field.

They had learned of some tough news earlier in the day when it was revealed that Walker Buehler would be out for the rest of the season.

But that didn’t stop Julio Urias, who dominated the Brewers for five innings and led the way as the Dodgers became the first team in all of baseball to reach 80 wins.

 

80 Wins For The Dodgers

Once again, these Dodgers are at the top of the heap.

Even with all of the injuries they have dealt with, they remain as one of the top teams in all of baseball.

Even more impressive, they’ve picked up their 80th win before they even reached 40 losses on the year.

They expanded their lead in the NL West to 17 games.

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They’ve effectively buried the San Diego Padres and the San Francisco Giants.

The new “Evil Empire” resides in Los Angeles now.

This is one of, if not the best team in all of baseball from top to bottom.

The wins keep piling up.

Despite the end of their 12-game winning streak, they remain hot and are showing no signs of slowing down.

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The Dodgers are going to be a tough team to deal with come October, which is where they always shine the brightest.

The post The Dodgers Are First To An Impressive 2022 Mark appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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Ravens’ J.K. Dobbins ‘continues to improve’; John Harbaugh not ready to commit to RB’s Week 1 status yet

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J.K. Dobbins continues to progress in his rehab from last season’s ACL injury that took away his entire sophomore season in the NFL. The Baltimore Ravens are still being cautious with Dobbins, giving him two off days to rest up the knee before ramping things back up Monday. 

Dobbins looked good when he participated in team drills, yet didn’t take any snaps against a live defense. John Harbaugh still liked what he’s seen from his starting running back. 

“He looked good. He’s kind of back on track, and I thought he looked a little better than he did before – last week,” Harbaugh said Monday. “So, he continues to improve, and we’ll see where it goes.”

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Are the Ravens going to ramp things up every practice to get Dobbins ready for the season? Harbaugh still doesn’t have a timetable if Dobbins will be ready for Week 1, staying noncommittal amid the rehab process. 

“I think it depends on the injury and just the improvement with it – the progress he makes from one day to the next,” Harbaugh said. “That remains to be seen.”

Dobbins returned to practice a week ago, and insisted he’ll be ready for the season opener against the New York Jets on Sept. 11. He’ll be a vital part of the offense when he returns. 

Dobbins was dominant in his rookie season, leading all NFL running backs in yards per carry (6.01) while setting a Ravens’ rookie record with nine rushing touchdowns (third amongst all NFL rookies). His 805 rushing yards were also third among rookie running backs as Dobbins finished with a franchise-record seven consecutive games with a rushing touchdown. 

Dobbins closed out the regular season with six consecutive games of 50-plus rushing yards and a rushing touchdown, tying Eric Dickerson (1983) and Franco Harris (1972) for the longest rookie streak of its kind since the AFL-NFL merger. Dobbins is one of just six running backs to have 800 rushing yards, nine rushing touchdowns, and 6.0 yards per carry in a season — and the first rookie to accomplish the feat. 

The Ravens are deep in running back depth with Gus Edwards, Mike Davis, Justice Hill, and Tyler Badie — yet having Dobbins at 100% would be a game changer for a team that’s expected to compete for the AFC North title. Baltimore is taking a cautious approach with Dobbins with the depth of its running back room — and can afford to be patient in order to get Dobbins ready for Week 1. 

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