So the NBA is just taking a day off, huh? It decided that it needed a rest in the middle of its playoffs, which have raged for each of the last 19 days. That's fine. I can respect anybody deciding they deserve a day of rest and taking care of themselves, so I should show the same respect to the NBA when it makes that decision, but I would have appreciated more of a warning.
Seriously, it caught me off guard this morning. Before sitting down at the computer, I went through all my morning rituals to begin prepping for today's newsletter. I was breaking down numbers from recent games looking for plays that stood out in Bucks-Celtics series and Warriors-Grizzlies when I noticed they weren't playing tonight. In fact, after playing Tuesday night, they aren't resuming until Saturday.
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I guess there aren't any connecting flights between the cities, and the teams are traveling by covered wagon. Thankfully, we have plenty of baseball to bet on, and I've even included an NHL parlay for you if you dare follow. But first, let's catch up on the news.
OK, now before we get to the picks, I know the NBA is off because of TV scheduling conflicts. You don't have to email me and call me an idiot. There are plenty of other reasons to do that.
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
The Hot Ticket
- Key Trend: Seattle has won 13 of the last 16 meetings.
- The Pick: Mariners (+110)
I've made a lot of money blindly betting the Rays as underdogs over the years because they have long been undervalued on the market. Tonight the tide has turned. While I'm grateful for the winnings, I'm not going to allow myself to bet Tampa as a road favorite against a Seattle Mariners team that's been better than its 12-13 record suggests.
This is an excellent pitching matchup. While plenty of people are familiar with Robby Ray after winning the Cy Young with Toronto last season, Tampa's Shane McClanahan has been outstanding himself. There's a reason the total for this game is as low as it is, and we aren't likely to see a lot of runs tonight. That's what happens when you have two pitchers who miss a lot of bats and don't walk many batters. Especially this season, when I'm fairly confident they soak the baseballs in tubs of water for a week before putting them in play.
What's making the Mariners a value in my eyes tonight is what comes after the starters. Both teams have solid bullpens, but the Rays went through a lot of relievers during their three games in Oakland earlier this week. Meanwhile, Seattle's pen covered some ground of its own against Houston but spread the workload around a bit more. There will likely be fresher arms back there for the Mariners, so combine that with being at home (where Seattle is 7-2 this season), and getting them as the dog is too difficult to pass up.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: We have a couple of picks for this game tonight. First, SportsLine expert John Bollman is on the Mariners just like we are, but the Projection Model has an A-graded play on the total as well.
The Pick: Under 8 (+100) -- Houston's offense isn't nearly as good as it has been in recent seasons. Entering the day, Houston ranks 23rd in MLB in OBP, 18th in OPS, 19th in wOBA and 20th in run rate. While the Astros still hit plenty of dingers (6th in HR rate), it's been primarily dinger or nothing. That's not terrible news for them tonight, as they're facing a young starter in Detroit's Tarik Skubal, who has had problems keeping the ball in the park in his young career.
Of course, Skubal has also shown an excellent ability to strike hitters out and he limits walks, so a lot of those home runs are solo shots. Houston starter Jose Urquidy walks even fewer opponents but suffers from the same homer-prone tendencies as Skubal. But, again, they're usually solo shots. I don't mind solo shots. In fact, these two can feel free to combine for seven of them if they'd like, so long as no other runs are scored.
Key Trend: The under is 8-2 in Houston's last 10 games and 5-2 in its last seven home games.
The Pick: Padres (-110) -- This one isn't overly complicated. I'm fading Miami starter Jesus Luzardo more than anything. The Marlins got Luzardo from Oakland in the Starling Marte trade and view the 24-year-old southpaw as a bright spot for the future. He could well be, since in four starts this season he's posted a 3.10 ERA. However, I have concerns about Luzardo here. First of all, while the strikeouts are nice, Luzardo still walks way too many batters for my liking. His walk rate of 11.0% since the beginning of last season is 25% higher than the league average. He also allows a lot of flyball contact, and while it hasn't caught up to him much this season, it's only a matter of time.
And that time could be tonight. San Diego has done well against lefties this year. The Padres rank 7th in wOBA against them and have a home run rate of 4.39% this season, which is the third-highest in baseball. I'd take San Diego anywhere down to -125, so getting them at -110 is a steal.
Key Trend: The Marlins are 19-46 in their last 65 road games.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The Kentucky Derby is this weekend and horseracing expert Jody Demling has shared all of his picks.
🏒 Tonight's Parlay
It's a two-leg NHL parlay! It pays +130! It's guaranteed to win or lose!
- Rangers (-160)
- Flames (-240)