Padres vs. Athletics: The Floundering Fathers

Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres dodges a pitch. Denis Poroy/Getty Images/AFP

Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres dodges a pitch. Denis Poroy/Getty Images/AFP

 

The San Diego Padres are vulnerable without Fernando Tatis – but they’re the value MLB pick Tuesday night versus the Oakland Athletics.

 

San Diego Padres vs. Oakland Athletics

Tuesday, August 3, 2021 – 9:40 p.m. EDT at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum 

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Dodgers vs. Giants: Welcome to Valuetown

Starting pitcher Logan Webb #62 of the San Francisco Giants on July 21, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.   Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images/AFP

Starting pitcher Logan Webb #62 of the San Francisco Giants on July 21, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images/AFP

 

The L.A. Dodgers are the obvious choice for Tuesday’s MLB picks when they visit the first-place San Francisco Giants.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants

 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021 – 9:45 PM ET at Oracle Park

 

 

Is there any more over-rated statistic in baseball than the win? Okay, perhaps the save – or maybe the RBI. And in this case, I’m talking about team wins rather than pitcher wins. But still, when you’re making your MLB picks, you can often find good value by comparing a team’s won-loss record to their run differential. The betting public relies too heavily on the former, while the latter is a more reliable predictor of future performance.

 

 

This brings us to Tuesday’s big game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. At press time, the Giants have the best record in baseball at 62-37; they’ve also racked up the most profits thus far at plus-20.87 betting units. The Dodgers (61-40, minus-6.83 units) are two games behind San Fran in the National League West. Don’t be fooled, though. Los Angeles have played better ball this year, and they’re a value pick after opening as +105 road dogs on the MLB odds board at DraftKings.

 

Pythagorean Tuning

 

The key stat here, as I’ve already alluded to, is run differential. Baseball is about scoring more runs than you give up; the timing of those runs is largely out of your control. The Dodgers have outscored their opponents by a combined 146 runs this year, more than anyone else in the majors. They also have a 13-17 record in games decided by one run, and 1-9 in extra innings, situations where you’d expect a team to be closer to .500.

 

The Giants (plus-120 run differential) meet those expectations. They’re 15-13 in one-run games and 4-5 in extra innings, which suggests their won-loss record is more indicative of their actual performance level. Indeed, if you convert those run differentials to “Pythagorean wins” using Bill James’ formula (runs scored squared, divided by the sum of runs scored squared and runs allowed squared), you get an expected won-loss record of 63-36 for the Giants, and 66-35 for the Dodgers.

 

California Dreamin’

 

As for Tuesday’s contest itself, we’ve got a pretty good matchup on the mound. Julio Urias (3.63 FIP) is due up for Los Angeles, and he’s pitched very well this year, driving the Dodgers to a 15-5 team record for 3.15 units in profit. San Francisco respond with Logan Webb (3.32 FIP), enjoying a breakout campaign in his third season in the bigs; Webb has a team record of 9-3 for 6.36 units in profit.

Both these California clubs have strong batting orders and decent bullpens, although the Dodgers are ahead in both departments, judging by the WAR stats (Wins Above Replacement) at FanGraphs. This is a close contest on paper, closer than the MLB lines at press time would suggest, so bet accordingly, and enjoy the game.

 

MLB Pick: Dodgers +105 at DraftKings

Giants vs. Dodgers: King Josiah?

 

Josiah Gray #83 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches.  Harry How/Getty Images/AFP

Josiah Gray #83 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches. Harry How/Getty Images/AFP

Josiah Gray may or may not debut for the L.A. Dodgers this Tuesday when they host the San Francisco Giants. Does that alter our MLB picks?

 

San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Tuesday, July 20, 2021 – 10:10 p.m. ET at Dodger Stadium

 

The Los Angeles Dodgers have a hole in their starting rotation. Both Clayton Kershaw (strained forearm) and Trevor Bauer (administrative leave) are unavailable this week; David Price has been “promoted” from the bullpen into the No. 4 spot, but that leaves L.A. uncertain at press time who will start Tuesday’s game against their National League West rivals, the San Francisco Giants. DraftKings aren’t waiting around to find out who gets the nod. They’ve opened the Dodgers as –145 home favorites on their MLB odds board, which presents us with an interesting opportunity: Do we take L.A. at these odds, with the distinct possibility that they’ll hand the ball to Josiah Gray, their top pitching prospect in the minors? Or do we wait for confirmation on their starter, and deal with whatever odds come up at that point?

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Hawks vs. Bucks NBA Playoffs Game 5 Preview and Best Bet

Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks is injured against Clint Capela #15 of the Atlanta Hawks on June 29, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.   Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/AFP

Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks is injured against Clint Capela #15 of the Atlanta Hawks on June 29, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/AFP

 

The Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks have both been sideswiped by injuries, making the Under a viable choice for Thursday’s NBA picks.

 

Atlanta Hawks vs. Milwaukee Bucks

 

Thursday, July 1, 2021 – 8:30 PM ET at Fiserv Forum

 

And the hits just keep on coming. The Eastern Conference Finals, like just about every other series in the 2020-21 NBA playoffs, has been marred by injuries; Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo was the latest victim, hyperextending his left knee during the third quarter of Tuesday’s Game 4. The Atlanta Hawks were already winning handily when he went down, but this put the nail in Milwaukee’s coffin – they fell 110-88 as 9-point road faves on the closing NBA betting odds.

 

We don’t have an official word at press time on the status of Antetokounmpo, and we’re still waiting for an update on Atlanta’s superstar, Trae Young, who was a late scratch for Game 4 because of the bone bruise and sprained ankle he suffered in Game 3. No matter; the online betting sites have already posted their NBA odds for Game 5 on Thursday, including bet365, who have the Hawks available as 2.5-point road dogs after opening at +4.5. Is there still any value left with Atlanta?

 

Eyes Front

 

Given all the confusion surrounding these injuries, you might want to wait until Thursday’s shoot-around to see who’s likely to be in uniform before you jump on those NBA spreads. There’s another important player whose status is up in the air: Atlanta center Clint Capela, who got elbowed in the face on Tuesday and had to see the team ophthalmologist. Team officials are reportedly “optimistic” Capela will play in Game 5, but then again, Young felt the same way about Game 4.

 

If you don’t want to wait for the shoot-around to get your NBA picks in, maybe the Under is the way to go. With all these star players falling left and right, the Under has been the sharp default pick for a while now, going 5-2 in the week leading up to Wednesday’s action, and 25-20 (55.6 percent) over the past 30 days. The total for Game 5 opened at 220 points, but of course, the wiseguys have already pounded the Under, driving it down to 217.5 points at BetMGM and as low as 216 at other sportsbooks. Timing is everything.

 

This chaos might be a bit frustrating from both a sports betting and a journalism standpoint, and basketball’s a lot more fun with marquee players like Young and Antetokounmpo in uniform, but at least there’s some profit to be made anytime the NBA lines are moving back and forth. As a baseline, we already knew the Hawks were the value pick in this series, and as we saw Tuesday night, their value is robust without Young in the lineup. Can we say the same thing for Milwaukee sans Antetokounmpo? Maybe not. I’m officially sticking with the Under for this pick, but consider another bet on Atlanta if you like what you see on the news wires, and enjoy Game 5.

 

NBA Pick: Under 217.5 (–110) at BetMGM

Suns vs. Clippers NBA Playoffs Game 3 Preview and Best Bet

Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns and Mikal Bridges #25 celebrate. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns and Mikal Bridges #25 celebrate. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

 

The L.A. Clippers are in trouble, but they might be the smart NBA pick for Thursday’s Game 3 matchup with the Phoenix Suns.

 

Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Clippers

Thursday, June 24, 2021 – 9:00PM EDT at Staples Center

 

Everybody’s talking about that alley-oop. The Phoenix Suns were up against it Tuesday night, down 103-102 to the Los Angeles Clippers with less than a second on the clock. In-bounding from the left corner by the Clippers baseline, Jae Crowder found Deandre Ayton with the perfect lob, Ayton crammed it in, and here we are with the Suns up 2-0 in the Western Conference Finals.

The Clippers have been here before. They were down 2-0 to the Dallas Mavericks in the first round; they were down 2-0 to the Utah Jazz in the second. But the Clippers fought back to take both series, and really, all these games have been virtual coin flips between well-matched teams. The Clippers cashed in as 4.5-point road dogs on the NBA odds board for Game 2 of this series. Maybe they’re still the right choice for Game 3, after opening as 1-point home dogs at Unibet.

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