Happy Friday, everybody. Welcome to the start of your weekend. I hope it's a glorious one, but I won't be around on Monday for you to tell me about it. No, you see, while today is the start of your weekend, it's the start of my vacation.

Yes, that's right. I'll be gone the next two weeks, but don't worry, the newsletter won't be going anywhere. You'll still be getting picks every afternoon, and while I hope they're all winners, I also hope they aren't.

I'm not trying to get Wally Pipp'd here.

Anyway, it's been a long time since I've gone on a vacation, but I'm glad to know that "Last Day Before Vacation Energy" still exists. You know how it goes. You've got a few things you need to get done before you can go, but those things all become giant obstacles that you no longer wish to do. Like, all I have to do for work today is this newsletter, and then I have a conference call afterward, and that's it. Still, in my head, I feel like I have to climb Mt. Everest and that it's ridiculously unfair that I'm required to do anything the day before vacation.

There should be a law saying all vacations start a day early.

All right, and now for tonight's picks. I'll see you again in a few weeks. Don't forget about me!

All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook

🔥 The Hot Ticket

Yankees at Astros, 8:10 p.m. | TV: MLB Network
The Pick: Astros (-135)
: Yankees fans are hilarious. First of all, it's incredible how many people I had been following on Twitter for a decade suddenly became die-hard Yankees fans in late 2017 after never mentioning them before, but I digress. I follow them now, and any time I check Twitter during a Yankees game, I'm inundated with tweets about how terrible the Yankees are.

Honestly, going off my Twitter timeline, you would think the Yankees were 20 games below .500 and entirely out of the playoff race.

In actuality, they're 44-42 and 4.5 games out of a wild card spot with half a season still to play. Now, that probably tells you more about how the world of social media works than Yankees fans themselves, but it still amuses me. Anyway, I guess the point I'm trying to make here -- assuming I have one -- is that the Yankees aren't an awful team. They just aren't a great team.

Houston might be a great team. We took a lot of Astros futures before the MLB season started in this newsletter because we thought they were being undervalued by the market. Now, in July, the Astros are tied with Boston (another team we have some futures on) for the best record in the American League, and they're still being undervalued often. Tonight in particular.

Key Trend: The Yankees are 5-11 in their last 16 road games as underdogs.

Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: Well you don't see this happen every day. The Advanced Computer Model and three SportsLine experts are all in agreement on one side of the money line tonight, but is it the same side I'm on?

💰 The Picks

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Pirates at Mets, 7:10 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Over 7.5 (-110) -- 
I'm a bit confused why this total is set so low. Taijuan Walker has been excellent for the Mets this season, but it's not as if he's some shutdown starter. His 25.9% strikeout rate is nice, but it's not elite, and he walks a lot of batters (8.0 BB%). He also allows a lot of flyball contact, which might not be in his best interest considering the weather conditions in New York tonight.

On the other side, J.T. Brubaker has been better than his 4.09 ERA suggests, but he's not a high-strikeout pitcher either (23.1%), and he has allowed a lot of home runs this season. While New York's is better, neither starter is backed up by an elite bullpen.

Key Trend: The over is 4-0 in the last four meetings.

Tigers at Twins, 8:10 p.m. | TV: MLB Network
The Pick: Tigers (+215) -- 
This is something of a principle play very much in line with what we've been doing in the NL East all season long. The Twins are 36-50 on the season with a run differential of -67, and there are very few teams they should be favored over -- particularly this heavily. I mean, while I'm not here to argue the Tigers are good, they do have a better record than the Twins (40-48) with a slightly worse run differential (-69). The only reason the Twins are so heavily favored is the pitching matchup between Kenta Maeda and Detroit's Matt Manning.

And I get that, but I also get that Maeda isn't untouchable. His 23% strikeout rate is ordinary, and his 7.6% walk rate is high. He's also allowed 11 home runs in 62.2 innings, and the Twins are only 4-9 in his starts because he's averaging fewer than five innings per start, and Minnesota's bullpen is awful. So there's a lot of value on the Tigers tonight, even if Minnesota will win more often than not.

Key Trend: The Tigers are 4-1 in their last five road games.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: SportsLine MMA analyst Kyle Marley has revealed his selections for Saturday's UFC 264 in Las Vegas.

💸 The DFS Rundown


Top Three Starters

Value Starter

Today's Top Stack

Value Hitter

 ⚽ Cups Runneth Over Parlay

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A little weekend parlay involving the finals of both the Euros and Copa America. It pays +524.

  • Brazil (+115)
  • Italy (+190)