Here's something I never thought I'd ask: what if Rob Manfred is a genius? It seems crazy because Manfred has made everybody angry since becoming MLB's commissioner (to be fair, I think that's the job description of a commissioner), as he's implemented a lot of rule changes fans and players have taken exception to. The latest is cracking down on pitchers using foreign substances, which has led to pitchers being frisked on the field like prisoners returning to their cells after meeting with visitors.
Thankfully we haven't seen any cavity searches ... yet.
Anyway, while I think doing all of this during the middle of a season is ridiculous and potentially dangerous to the players, on Tuesday night, NBA and NHL playoff games were going on, as well as the NBA Draft lottery, but on my Twitter feed, I saw more talk about what was happening in MLB than I can ever recall seeing during June.
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So what if this is all Rob Manfred being an evil genius to capitalize on drama the same way the NFL and NBA have done so well in recent years? What if he figured out the best way to get the attention of the youth is to add a real #THISLEAGUE aspect to baseball to make it more interesting?
Maybe his next idea will be to replace the seventh-inning stretch with a mandatory benches-clearing brawl. The team that is deemed to have won the fight gets a run.
- Gary Parrish has released his first NBA mock draft now that we know who is selecting where.
- The top 10 safeties in the NFL.
- What a contract extension for Baker Mayfield might look like.
- I took an early look at win totals for the Big Ten in 2021.
All right, let's all take off our pants to be inspected for illegal substances before making tonight's picks.
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Hawks at Bucks, 8:30 p.m. | TV: TNT
The Pick: Trae Young Under 28.5 points (-105): These teams met three times during the regular season, but it isn't easy to find trends to take away from those games because Trae Young only played in one of them. That said, there is something in the way Young played in his one appearance and the way he's played against Milwaukee in general in his short career.
Young's lone appearance against the Bucks this season came during a 120-109 Milwaukee win in Atlanta on April 15, and Young was awful that day. He finished the game only 3-for-17 from the field with 15 points, nine assists and two rebounds.
It was the seventh time Young has faced Milwaukee in his career, and he hasn't been great in any of them. Young is averaging 18.9 points per game against Milwaukee while shooting 36.3% from the field and 29.7% from three. Compare those numbers to his career averages of 24.1 points per game, 43.1% shooting and 34.3% from three, and it's clear that the Bucks do as good a job as anybody at hemming Young in.
Furthermore, while the Hawks won three of the four games, Young is only shooting 35.3% from the floor and 31.6% from three over the last four games. So he comes into this series in a bit of a shooting funk.
Key Trend: In seven career games, Trae Young has averaged only 18.9 points per game against the Bucks.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: SportsLine's Mike Barner has gone 11-6 in his last 17 ATS picks involving the Milwaukee Bucks, and he has a play on the spread tonight.
💰 The Picks
Royals at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Over 9.5 (-115) -- We all know that Yankee Stadium is hitter-friendly on its own, but tonight's weather conditions in the Bronx could make the park feel even smaller. Temperatures will be in the 70s, with the wind blowing out to right-center. Also, Danny Duffy is starting for the Royals, and he's somehow figured out a way to keep opposing hitters in the park despite giving up a bunch of fly balls.
He's facing a Yankees lineup with a lot of right-handed thunder to take advantage of a lefty. For the Yankees, Michael King gets the start, and he doesn't miss many bats and walks too many hitters, so the Royals are going to have plenty of scoring opportunities of their own. It should be a high-scoring affair.
Key Trend: The over is 10-4 in the Yankees last 14 games.
Dodgers at Padres, 10:10 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Dodgers (+105) -- I'm of two minds here. On the one hand, there is some concern in the back of my mind about Trevor Bauer's possible regression with MLB cracking down hard on foreign substances. Not that I'm alleging Bauer has done anything untoward in the past, but, well, I mean, he probably has. He's not exactly shy about his interest in finding ways to improve his pitches.
That said, Bauer's no different than any other MLB pitcher right now, so if the rules affect him, they're just as likely to affect San Diego's Joe Musgrove. So this is one of those situations when I'm going to take the Dodgers because it's not often we get a chance to take them as the underdog with one of their better pitchers going.
Key Trend: The Padres are 5-11 in their last 16 games against right-handed starters.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: I'm on the over, but the Advanced Computer Model has an A-graded money line play in tonight's Yankees/Royals game too.
💸 The DFS Rundown
Top Three Starters
- Robbie Ray, Blue Jays
- Trevor Rogers, Marlins
- Trevor Bauer, Dodgers
- Rich Hill, Rays
Today's Top Stack
- D.J. LeMahieu, Yankees
- Aaron Judge, Yankees
- Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees
- Luke Voit, Yankees
- Jeff McNeil, Mets
🏒 Stanley Cup Parlayoffs
Tonight's parlay pays +255.
- Lightning (-145)
- Under 5 (+110)