Thursday, May 19, 2022

Take advantage of the Rogers Centre’s reputation, plus more best baseball bets for Friday

Aaron Judge thinks he’s worth more than the Yankees do. The giant slugger said he wouldn’t negotiate after the start of the season, and the deadline was not met. The season has started, and no deal was agreed upon. Which isn’t to say the Yankees didn’t try.

General manager Brian Cashman told reporters today that the Yankees offered Judge an extension that would have paid him $213.5 million over eight seasons (including this year), but it wasn’t enough. The average annual value of $30.5 million would have been the most the Yankees have ever paid a position player, and remember, these are the Yankees. They gave Alex Rodriguez like a trillion dollars (rough estimate) not too long ago.

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Honestly, I can’t blame either side here. If I’m the Yankees, I’d be hesitant to offer much more to a player who turns 30 later this month, and if I’m Judge, I’d take my chances on the open market, too. God knows what the Mets will offer him in the winter just to stick it to the Yankees.

Elsewhere today:

Let’s start the weekend with some winners.

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook


The Hot Ticket

Rangers at Blue Jays, 7:07. p.m. | TV: MLB.TV

Latest Odds: Under 9

Powered by Caesars Sportsbook

  • Key Trend: The under is 13-6-4 in Toronto’s last 23 games as a home favorite.
  • The Pick: Under 9 (-105)

Toronto’s Rogers Centre has a reputation for being one of the most homer-friendly parks in baseball, and I love to take advantage of that fact by betting unders in Blue Jays home games. While the park might surrender plenty of dingers, overall, according to Statcast’s Park Factors, it’s one of the 10 friendliest parks in the league for pitchers.

So when we look at the park’s overall history and combine it with tonight’s pitching matchup, the under seems to be an enticing play. Plus, as I speculated last night, I think unders could be profitable early in the season thanks to the shortened spring training, and we got off to a good start yesterday with the under going 4-2-1 and there being an average of only 6.71 runs scored per game.

But, anyway, back to this game. Jose Berrios is always dependable because he strikes out a good number of hitters and doesn’t walk many. He also limits flyballs and home runs, which is extremely beneficial in Rogers Centre. As for Texas starter Jon Gray, this will be his Rangers debut, and while he’s facing one of the best lineups in baseball, he’s also free of Coors Field. Yet, despite spending so many innings in that hitter’s haven, he’s never been the kind of pitcher to allow many home runs, but his walk rate is somewhat problematic.

All in all, I don’t think this is going to be a 2-1 game, but I don’t think it’ll get too far out of hand, either.

Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Projection Model has a slight lean to the under, but doesn’t love it. However, SportsLine expert John Bollman does have a moneyline play he believes in.


The Picks

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MLB

Astros at Angels, 9:38 p.m. | TV: Apple TV+

Latest Odds: Houston Astros +105

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The Pick: Astros (+100) — We took the Angels last night and lost, so now we’re out for revenge! OK, it’s not about revenge; it’s simply a numbers play. Framber Valdez kept the Angels bats quiet last night, and now Jake Odorizzi will hope to do the same. He’s had mixed success against these Angels hitters in his career, as his strikeout rate is slightly higher against them than his career average, and he hasn’t allowed a home run to anybody on the current roster. Considering Odorizzi’s flyball tendencies, it’s a bit of a surprise.

Still, the value here is on the Astros against Angels starter Reid Detmers. Detmers has been iffy in a small sample size, and he’s a lefty. That hasn’t worked well against the Astros lately. Houston mashed against lefties last year, leading MLB in wRC+, and even without Carlos Correa, I don’t expect things will change much this season. Finally, while it’s only one game, based on what I saw of the bullpens last night, I have a lot more faith in Houston’s pen than Los Angeles’ at the moment, which makes Houston even more appealing.

Key Trend: The Astros have won 44 of their last 64 against the Angels.

Padres at Diamondbacks, 9:40 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV

Latest Odds: San Diego Padres -135

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The Pick: Padres (-140) — #TheRaceTo67 got off to an incredible start last night as the Diamondbacks scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat San Diego 4-2, but I don’t think they can rely on late rallies all season long. The Padres should rebound with a win tonight as Sean Manaea makes his San Diego debut after coming over in a trade from Oakland last week.

Manaea doesn’t have much history against the current Diamondbacks, but the Padres have seen plenty of Arizona starter Merrill Kelly, and they like what they’ve seen. While the power numbers aren’t prodigious, the Padres have made a lot of contact against Kelly and have been a little unlucky with results based on the quality of contact made. I’m taking the Padres to win, and I’ll have some more action involving this game coming up later in the letter.

Key Trend: The Diamondbacks are 17-47 in their last 64 division games.

⚽ Soccer

Manchester City vs. Liverpool, Sunday, 11:30 a.m. | TV: USA

The Pick: Over 2.5 (-145) — 
My natural inclination when it comes to matches like this one is to lean toward the under. I’ve seen this story play out too many times already. Neither side wants to be the one to make a mistake that could end up costing them the league, so they get conservative and play not to lose rather than to win, and the rest of us are forced to spend two hours watching the players kick the ball back and forth hoping the other team screws up. If the history between these two is any indication, however, that’s not what will happen in this match.

Going back to the 2018-19 season that saw these two finish a point apart in the final standings, the last eight matches have averaged 3.0 goals. That includes a scoreless draw in the first meeting in 2018 and a 1-1 meeting in the Community Shield to start the 2019-20 season, which is a glorified preseason scrimmage. Now, none of this is to say that this match doesn’t have the possibility of becoming the boring snoozefest we often see in situations like this. While matches between the two haven’t played out that way, none had as much on the line. Still, given who Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are and how they’re just as much ideologues as they are managers, I don’t think it’ll be the case Sunday.

Key Trend: The last eight matches between these teams have averaged 3 goals.

Arsenal vs. Brighton, Saturday, 10 a.m. | TV: Peacock

The Pick: Under 2.5 (-125) — 
Arsenal’s 3-0 loss to Crystal Palace on Monday night was a shocker, as Arsenal had been playing so well lately, and it looked like ArsenLOL again for a match. Palace picked it apart, and it made you wonder if Arsenal had turned back into a pumpkin. Now, there’s some reason to think this could be the case. While Arsenal has been playing very well, it’s also been playing one of the easier stretches of its schedule. The results could be something of a mirage. Still, I’m not sure how much more difficult things will be on Saturday.

Brighton cannot score goals. Seriously, Brighton has scored only one goal in its last seven matches. As I’ve gone over before, Brighton is great at making you think it can score and never scoring. Its last match against Norwich might have been its masterpiece, as Brighton finished with an expected goals (xG) of 2.8 and the match finished 0-0. Given Arsenal’s problems defensively against Crystal Palace, it’s not hard to figure out what manager Mikel Arteta will have been drilling into his team all week.

Key Trend: Brighton has scored one goal total in its last seven matches.

Napoli vs. Fiorentina, Sunday, 9 a.m. | TV: Paramount+

The Pick: Napoli (-130) — 
Fiorentina has been one of the more pleasant surprises in Serie A this season. The team got off to an excellent start, but after selling their superstar goal-scorer Dusan Vlahovic to Juventus in January, it was expected their level of play would drop off. It hasn’t. Thanks to a few beneficial results elsewhere, the Viola are fighting with Roma, Lazio and Atalanta for a top-seven finish and the European competition spots that come with it. Unfortunately, the thing that could end that dream is their performance away from home.

This season, Fiorentina has managed 32 points in 15 home matches but only 18 on the road, as their defense isn’t nearly as stout outside Florence. They’ve managed only two wins in their last 11 road matches. Meanwhile, Napoli has been outstanding at home and is in an all-out brawl with AC Milan and Inter Milan for the league title, so it will throw everything it has at Fiorentina, and I expect it will be enough.

Key Trend: Fiorentina has won only two of its last 11 road matches.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The Projection Model’s favorite play of the night is in the NHL as it’s leaning heavily toward one side of the game between the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild.


⚾ Friday Night Dinger Props

We’re betting on each of these players to hit a dinger tonight!

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