The greatest sign of maturity is your ability to avoid being annoyed by players on your favorite team being left off an All-Star team or losing a postseason award. Ladies and gentlemen, I remain immature.

I'm very annoyed by White Sox starter Dylan Cease being left off the MLB All-Star roster. I complain about the White Sox in this newsletter frequently, but Cease has been one of the things there's no need to complain about. He has an ERA of 2.45 and allowed only three earned runs in his last eight starts. His strikeout rate is one of the highest in the league of any starter, and he's got a mustache that makes him look like a cartoon villain who just finished tying somebody to the train tracks when he wears the White Sox' alternate uniforms.

He should be on the All-Star team. What makes it even more annoying is that Cease is scheduled to pitch Sunday before the break, so he can't pitch in the game, anyway. MLB could've easily named Cease an All-Star -- because he deserves to be one! -- and then replaced him with somebody else who made the team. At least that way, Cease could add "All-Star" to his resume.

I'm heated! While I attempt to regain my composure, you read these stories.

And another thing, did you know that San Francisco's Carlos Rodon was left off the All-Star team too? Do you know where Carlos Rodon spent his entire career before joining the Giants this season? That's right! The White Sox! Does MLB have an anti-White Sox agenda that it's pushing? It's pretty clear they do.

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook

The Hot Ticket

Red Sox at Rays 7:10 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV

  • Key Trend: The Rays have won 10 of the last 14 meetings in Tampa.
  • The Pick: Rays (-105)

There are so many factors at play here! We're getting the Rays as home underdogs, and if there's anything we love betting in this newsletter, it's the Tampa Bay Rays as underdogs. Since the start of the 2017 season, Tampa has gone 161-152 as an underdog. Against division opponents, the Rays are 92-87 as underdogs, including a record of 36-28 when at home.

Tonight the Rays are underdogs at home against a Boston team that played late into Sunday night in Boston and flew down to Tampa overnight. A Boston team that saw its bullpen cover 5.2 innings last night and has pitched 36.1 innings over the last week. Brayan Bello gets the start for the Red Sox tonight, and he made his MLB debut last week against the Rays. He lasted four innings and allowed four runs as the Rays won 7-1.

If all of that isn't enough, let's not overlook the human element. Not only are the Red Sox tired, but they're coming off two wins at home against the hated Yankees. It's hard to imagine playing at Tropicana Field will provide much electricity for the team tonight. It's a classic letdown spot.

Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Projection Model agrees with me that the Rays are a good bet, but it has a strong lean on the total and run line as well.

The Picks



Phillies at Cardinals, 7:15 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV

The Pick: Over 7.5 (-115) -- The total for this game is low because, on paper, it's an excellent pitching matchup between Philadelphia's Aaron Nola (3.15 ERA in 111.1 innings) and St. Louis' Miles Mikolas (2.72 ERA in 106 innings). The problem is, that's on paper, and if you leave that paper on the field for any length of time tonight, it could catch fire.

The weather for tonight will significantly impact how the game plays out. The forecast calls for temperatures in the mid-90s at first pitch and the wind blowing out to center. Busch Stadium is more of a pitcher's park than most, but in weather conditions like tonight, it plays a lot smaller. That's not great news for either of tonight's pitchers. 

Balls in play will not be good for either pitcher tonight, and it won't take much to get us past a total this low.

Key Trend: There really aren't any trends that support this, but that's only because trends don't have a weather app on their phone.

Mets at Braves, 7:20 p.m. | TV: FS1

The Pick: Mets (+110) -- This is an incredible pitching matchup to start a huge series in the NL East, and I would've led the newsletter with it if the Rays weren't such a tremendous value tonight. Still, while the Mets aren't the same value as the Rays, they have plenty of their own.

Max Scherzer's "weakness" has always been home runs allowed -- and the Braves have the second best home run rate in the league -- but just because it's his weakness doesn't mean he allows a lot of them. Scherzer's HR/9 is 26% better than the league average, and his hard-hit rate allowed is 21% better than league average. Combine that with a strikeout rate 46% better than the average and a walk rate 39% better, and it's almost as if he's pretty good at this whole pitching thing!

So is Atlanta's Max Fried, but what concerns me about him here is his lack of swing-and-miss, particularly compared to what Scherzer does. Plus, the Mets offense has a strikeout rate of 20.21% against lefties this year, which ranks eighth in baseball. Fried does a great job keeping the ball on the ground, but when you give up a lot of contact against an offense that makes a lot of contact, it just means there are more chances that things could go wrong.

Key Trend: The Mets have won 23 of their last 29 series openers. I'm not sure it actually means anything, but that's pretty impressive all the same, no?

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The Projection Model's strongest play of the night is on one side of a battle at sea between the Miami Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Monday Night Dingers

The Padres are at Coors Field against a guy with an 8.1% strikeout rate. What could go wrong? A lot! Let's bet on some dingers!