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If you played Little League Baseball as a child, there was one kid in your league who was head and shoulders above everybody else. They hit the ball harder and father more often than anybody, and then they would get on the mound and strike everybody else out. Every single league had that kid. Hell, it might've been you.

Of course, what normally happens is that kid continues to grow older and progresses, and as he does, the gap between them and the rest of the players in the leagues they play in tightens. Whether the journey ends in high school, college, or any level of professional ball, once you start to weed out the lesser talents, life gets difficult.

Unless you're Shohei Ohtani, anyway.

I'm not familiar with the Little League situation in Japan, but whatever kind of youth baseball is played there, Ohtani was definitely that kid. What's crazy now is that he still is. He's reached the highest level of baseball that we know of (maybe Neptune's league is phenomenal), and he still stands out as the best player on the field.

He's making his first start in New York tonight against the Yankees, and he's already homered three times in the first two games. Tonight he'll be pitching too, as he enters the evening with an ERA of 2.58 and 82 strikeouts in 59.1 innings. Every kid who loves baseball in this country grows up hearing about Babe Ruth and how the greatest hitter of all time started as a pitcher.

Well, we're witnessing Babe Ruth right now, except this one hasn't stopped pitching, and he's one of the best pitchers in the league too.

Now, let's pick some dang winners.

All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook


🔥 The Hot Ticket

Suns at Clippers, 9 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Under 214.5 (-110)
: You probably thought you were going to see another Deandre Ayton prop here, didn't you? It's OK, you can admit it. It's fine. We're all fooled sometimes.

No, I'm leading today's newsletter with a play on the total tonight instead. We've reached the point of seemingly every NBA playoff series when the two teams know more about the other than they know about themselves. They know what plays they're going to run and when. They know which mismatches they'll try to attack. They know everything.

And when that happens, the scores tend to decrease. Nor does it hurt that it's seemingly all on the line. The Suns want to end this series as quickly as possible and not have to go back home for a Game 7. The Clippers have to win, or their season is over. The defensive intensity should not be in question tonight, so I'm expecting an uglier, slower-paced game than we might typically see with these two.

Key Trend: The under is 5-2 in the last seven meetings, and 3-2 in this series.

Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: SportsLine's Zack Cimini is on a heater right now, going 12-6 ATS in his last 18 NBA picks. He's also 17-10 in his last 27 picks involving the Clippers, and 5-2 in his last seven Phoenix picks. And he's got a spread play on tonight's game waiting for you.


💰 The Picks

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🏀 NBA

Suns at Clippers, 9 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Deandre Ayton Over 27.5 points & rebounds (-120) -- 
Ha! I did fool you! We're not abandoning our Ayton props!

Sure, we didn't win on Monday night, but I put that more on Chris Paul and Devin Booker than I do Ayton. It felt like Paul and Booker were trying to win the game all by themselves, which was a terrible strategy. Remember, Ivica Zubac didn't play in Game 5, which meant that the tallest Clipper on the floor was Marcus Morris for most of the night, and he's a full three inches shorter than Ayton. 

There was a point in the game when the Clippers went on a run, and Monty Williams called a timeout. The Suns then immediately ran a play where they got the ball to Ayton with Morris on him, and he scored easily. It was pretty obvious that Monty Williams saw the mismatch and wanted to take advantage of it. Then, even though it worked, Booker and Paul went back to ISO-ball, and the Suns lost.

I think the Suns are going to make a point of establishing Ayton early and often tonight.

Key Trend: Ayton is averaging a total of 31.2 points and rebounds per game in the series.

⚾ MLB

Mariners at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Mariners (+215) -- 
While I find plenty of value on the Mariners at this price, this is a bit of a gut play as well. The Blue Jays are the better team, and on paper, Toronto starter Steven Matz has been better than Seattle starter Justus Sheffield. However, what's important to note is that Matz is returning from the IL and will be making his first start since June 12. He wasn't performing all that well before the IL stint, and it could be interesting to see how he performs in his first start in 18 days. It'll also be his first start since MLB decided to start cracking down on the sticky stuff.

Seattle has a better shot of winning this game than the price on it suggests.

Key Trend: The Mariners are 8-3 in their last 11 games as an underdog.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Shohei Ohtani has impressed in New York this week with his hitting, and tonight he'll be taking the mound to pitch, but should you be betting on the Angels or Yankees? Both the Advanced Computer Model and SportsLine expert Jeff Hochman have A-graded plays on tonight's money line.


💸 The DFS Rundown

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Getty Images

Top Three Starters

  • Aaron Nola, Phillies
  • Shohei Ohtani, Angels
  • Luis Garcia, Astros

Value Starter

  • Joe Musgrove, Padres

Today's Top Stack

  • Tommy Pham, Padres
  • Fernando Tatis, Padres
  • Jake Cronenworth, Padres
  • Manny Machado, Padres

Value Hitter

  • Jean Segura, Phillies

💰 Blowout Parlay

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As you know, in this newsletter, we Fade Matt Harvey. I want to keep that tradition alive, but honestly, just betting it straight up isn't nearly as fun as parlaying it with another possible blowout tonight. No disrespect to any of you subscribers north of the border, but I think the Montreal Canadiens have met their match. Don't feel bad. You're Canadian. You never had a chance against a team from the hockey hotbed of Florida. So this parlay adds a bit more value and spice to fading Matt Harvey alone, and it pays +275.

  • Astros -1.5 (-150)
  • Lightning -1.5 (+125)