1. #1
    Point Blank
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    PB (3/28): Yes, Play Ball! But in the Beginning Play Small


    Yes, Play Ball! But in the Beginning Play Small…Welcome to Swings and Misses and Bombs, though those strikeouts aren’t just about high heat…Do the Cavaliers have an added cross to bear down the stretch…



    Point Blank – March 28, 2018


    Much like the Night Before Christmas, the Day Before MLB brings a special spark, the handicapping rhythms of that sport so much different than the other games that get charted across the rest of the year. I’ll bring that to the lead because there are so many early starts for Thursday that the thought processes should begin now, although part of that focus is on the wise notion of merely setting sail and letting the winds blow as the season unfolds, rather than looking to explode across the water.


    Item: MLB 2018 – Even in a sharp market there are profits to be made

    The starting point for the baseball marathon ahead is to accept patience as the virtue with the highest power rating. I believe this is the sharpest betting market of all, with precious few mistakes being made by the oddsmakers. But the edges are there, part of that stemming from what makes the markets so sharp – an incredible array of statistics that are used to break the sport down – being readily available to anyone. The velocity and location of every single pitch can be found, as well as the launch angle and velocity of the contact when made; it is a matter of who takes the time to work it the hardest.

    One of the keys for me in 2018 is understanding the nature of the sport itself, and how it has changed. There has been a progression of strikeouts and home runs, much of that going hand in hand, and to lay it out well let’s examine the last four seasons, first looking at ERA across the board to note the uptick:

    2014 3.74
    2015 3.96
    2016 4.19
    2017 4.36

    And then sort across the various categories to find the connection:

    AVG OBP SLG K% BB% SWS% HR/FB GB%
    2014 .251 .314 .386 20.4 7.6 9.5 9.5 44.8
    2015 .254 .317 .405 20.4 7.7 9.9 11.4 45.3
    2016 .255 .322 .417 21.1 8.2 10.1 12.8 44.7
    2017 .255 .324 .426 21.6 8.5 10.5 13.7 44.2

    Swings and misses are up, but note that when contact is made there hasn't been a change in rate of ground balls to fly balls. But when the ball has been in the air, yikes.



    There is a genuine debate going on across the sabermetric circles about whether the HR/FB counts are more about an altered baseball or the launch angle of the hitter, players openly talking about the latter in particular. You will also find discussions about strikeouts being up because there are more hard throwers on the mound, teams putting an emphasis on pitchers who can ramp it up, but note that while there has been a major advance in velocity over the past decade, in recent years it has leveled off. Let’s go to average fastball:

    2008 91.8
    2014 93.2
    2015 93.4
    2016 93.5
    2017 93.6

    Why are strikeouts climbing at a higher rate than velocity across recent seasons? Let’s go to a guy that knows a lot about them, Corey Kluber:“I’m not sure it’s as much me doing anything different as much as it is guys just don’t care about striking out. I think it goes hand-in-hand…Guys a lot of times don’t really make adjustments. They go up there swinging for the fences. More times than not (the breaking ball) is the best pitch to take advantage of that.”

    Kluber had his 4th straight solid season in 2017, topping 200 innings each time to create a good sample size, and those 2017 strikeouts do jump off the page:

    Kluber K%
    2014 28.3
    2015 27.7
    2016 26.4
    2017 34.1



    But it indeed wasn’t about ramping it up more on the mound, but instead taking advantage of those hitters. To isolate that, let’s look at his fastball velocity and usage across those seasons:

    MPH FB%
    2014 94.6 52.4
    2015 93.6 51.9
    2016 93.3 51.5
    2017 93.1 42.5

    Kluber accelerated his strikeouts but throwing fewer fastballs, not more, and with the velocity of them down a tick. There is an interesting tale behind that, and it works against some assumptions.

    It is this ability to get inside the numbers that will open many doors over the course of the season, getting to the How’s and Why’s behind the scoreboard results. You just need to be patient with it and let the games unfold, in particular not being in a rush early because the players themselves aren’t, knowing how long the grind ahead is. And one of the keys over the next few days and weeks are how the weather comes into play.


    Item: They don’t hold spring training in Detroit

    Weather will be a significant handicapping factor all season, primarily wind, and for the early stages there should be a focus on the awkward transition that many of the teams will have to make. By pushing the start of the season into March, MLB makes for some sub-prime settings.

    The forecast for Thursday is sunny and a high of 88 degrees in Lakeland, Florida where the Detroit Tigers train. After more than a month of playing in similar conditions (a bit cooler overall, of course), it will be in the low-40’s at first pitch for Tigers/Pirates in Detroit, with a chance of rain. That means some culture shock for the players, in particular the guys sitting out in the bullpen who will have to warm up quickly despite sitting in the cold for a few hours.

    There are a lot of good sites you can use for the weather forecasts, but the one I prefer has a simple and easy layout, from the good folks at DailyBaseballData.


    Item: Do the Cavaliers have an extra cross to bear down the stretch

    There may be a major shift in the Eastern Conference this evening – should Philadelphia win again, and Cleveland lose, the 76ers will move into the #3 seed. Even if it doesn’t happen tonight I believe it will eventually; one of the difficulties facing LeBron James and the Cavaliers is that they are likely going to have to take the best punch their opponents can throw at them the remainder of the way. I believe that is the case tonight, and will use #506 Charlotte Team Total Over (7:05 Eastern) as the path, with 114 the upper limit on the value scale.

    Cleveland was dealt a tough blow on Tuesday with the loss of Kevin Love, who is a question mark for this one – he did fly with the team to Charlotte, but may be under the concussion protocol. While his status certainly matters in terms of who wins the game, his defense is a non-factor in the Hornets handicap, which is why TT Over is the path.

    I expect a lot of energy from Charlotte. While the current four-game win streak is among the least significant of the NBA season, those wins coming over the hapless quartet Nets, Grizzlies, Mavericks and Knicks, it can do wonders for a team’s confidence. The rotation gets a boost with the return of Nicolas Batum, and under the radar in general has been the pacing and offensive execution of the Hornets since the All-Star break:

    Off Pace
    Pre-Break #17 #11
    Post-Break #4 #7

    This is a playoff game for the Hornets, an opportunity for guys like Kemba Walker and Dwight Howard to vent some frustrations, and note that Howard has scored 22.1 PPG over the last 10 outings and should particularly enjoy the lack of rim protection from the current Cleveland defense.




    If you want to know when PB is ready to go each day, as well as following along for some of the most important Sports Betting news as it unfolds, make @Vegaspointblank a part of your routine.
    Last edited by Point Blank; 03-28-18 at 10:42 AM.

  2. #2
    MoneyWithNoCash
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    Diamond Days are here! Why am I so pumped up to fade the big Yankee prices or am I gonna end up in the same barn as constant Browns backers the last couple of seasons?

  3. #3
    Point Blank
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    Quote Originally Posted by MoneyWithNoCash View Post
    Diamond Days are here! Why am I so pumped up to fade the big Yankee prices or am I gonna end up in the same barn as constant Browns backers the last couple of seasons?
    Severino as high as -156 on the road already...

    Now all you have to do is actually win the bet against a Cy Young contender, a lineup full of bashers, and a strong bullpen. But the markets can't help but push these guys a bit too far.

  4. #4
    Regul8er
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    Thanks for the writeup.......and enjoyed your spot on the air this morning.

    Why the huge jump in the opener between Philly and Atlanta tomorrow? I had this game pretty much even....Atl opened at -112, now I'm seeing them as high as +114. That's a 26 cent jump in a couple hours...pretty insane, considering Atlanta is at home with Teheran, who looked great in his last Spring Training start. I watched the game, and he is in complete control, hitting his spots, and a bunch of whiffs.

  5. #5
    Point Blank
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    Quote Originally Posted by Regul8er View Post
    Thanks for the writeup.......and enjoyed your spot on the air this morning.

    Why the huge jump in the opener between Philly and Atlanta tomorrow? I had this game pretty much even....Atl opened at -112, now I'm seeing them as high as +114. That's a 26 cent jump in a couple hours...pretty insane, considering Atlanta is at home with Teheran, who looked great in his last Spring Training start. I watched the game, and he is in complete control, hitting his spots, and a bunch of whiffs.
    It doesn't take a lot of $$$ to move since there are so few stores open, but that one has also moved into the value range. There are some folks who rightfully like Aaron Nola, but if part of this is based on Teheran's struggles at new SunTrust Park:

    Home 3-10 5.86
    Away 8-3 3.14

    I think they are on the wrong track - I would expect Teheran's numbers from this mound to pull back to his normal abilities (58-53/3.59), rather than to continue as an outlier.

    Now comes a big part of the early season - not just tracking the players, but the markets as well. There are chimes to the Braves that have already started ringing, but when does the trigger gets pulled?

  6. #6
    Regul8er
    Wordd
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    Thanks for the response, I appreciate it. I have a difficult time forgetting about the struggles Nola encountered in the 2nd half of 2017......quite frankly, he got smacked around.

    Excited to have bases back....just glad I don't football around to crush me on a weekly basis.

  7. #7
    goirishgo
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    Hi Dave - I always enjoyed Palmtree's thoughtful contribution in regards to baseball season win totals. He will be missed.

    Is there any team in baseball that you think may outperform relative to preseason expectations? I typically take an over on one team every year as I can root for that team for an entire season. It makes the season more enjoyable to me.

    I understand if you don't want to show your cards on this one.
    Last edited by goirishgo; 03-28-18 at 01:10 PM.

  8. #8
    Drew Martin
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    Crazy MLB Stat
    Across All MLB
    HR/FB Rate
    2014- 9.5
    2017- 13.7

    Great read today Dave!

  9. #9
    Point Blank
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    Quote Originally Posted by goirishgo View Post
    Hi Dave - I always enjoyed Palmtree's thoughtful contribution in regards to baseball season win totals. He will be missed.

    Is there any team in baseball that you think may outperform relative to preseason expectations? I typically take an over on one team every year as I can root for that team for an entire season. It makes the season more enjoyable to me.

    I understand if you don't want to show your cards on this one.
    There are several MLB Futures questions that have come up over the past week, and though I get tempted to answer to the best of my abilities, the simple truth is that I am not very good at it, whether it be for teams or individual players. There are some folks that are extremely good in this arena, as Palmtree was, and because there are so many baseball-only segments in the marketplace, much of it being driven by the Fantasy crowd, I don't even attempt to do much of the work. My focus he last few years has been on being as prepared as possible to react once the first pitches are thrown, which means building a foundation of understanding the teams/players, but not using that foundation to make long-term projections.

    Hence I would rather give no advice, than bad advice, to those looking for Future's opportunities. I will be right in the mix beginning tomorrow when it comes to the sorting of each game, and scouring the details for edges going forward, but to this stage have kept the development of opinions to a minimum.

  10. #10
    Point Blank
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    Since it was part of the lead today, note that Cleveland does now confirm that Kevin Love will not play against the Hornets tonight.

  11. #11
    peterose4hof
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    Quote Originally Posted by Point Blank View Post
    Since it was part of the lead today, note that Cleveland does now confirm that Kevin Love will not play against the Hornets tonight.
    Kidd-Gilchrist missed the shootaround due to food poisoning and may not play. This could actually help the over since MKG is much more of a defensive presence than an offensive one. If MKG is out, Lebron should have a field day against whoever replaces him.

    Might be worth exploring the menu of Lebron props.

  12. #12
    peterose4hof
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    Quote Originally Posted by goirishgo View Post
    Hi Dave - I always enjoyed Palmtree's thoughtful contribution in regards to baseball season win totals. He will be missed.

    Is there any team in baseball that you think may outperform relative to preseason expectations? I typically take an over on one team every year as I can root for that team for an entire season. It makes the season more enjoyable to me.

    I understand if you don't want to show your cards on this one.
    Although some of the value is already out of the number, I think a decent case could be made for the Toronto Blue Jays win total Over.

    Additions of Granderson and Grichuk plus a (presumably) healthy Aaron Sanchez and a full season from Josh Donaldson should help. They interleague against the NL East which is favorable. They have a solid/proven bullpen. Happ & Smoak seem to be getting better with age and Vlad Jr could give them a late season boost.

  13. #13
    goirishgo
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    Thanks pete rose!!! I will give Toronto a long look.

  14. #14
    Forearm Shiver
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    Quote Originally Posted by peterose4hof View Post
    Although some of the value is already out of the number, I think a decent case could be made for the Toronto Blue Jays win total Over.

    Additions of Granderson and Grichuk plus a (presumably) healthy Aaron Sanchez and a full season from Josh Donaldson should help. They interleague against the NL East which is favorable. They have a solid/proven bullpen. Happ & Smoak seem to be getting better with age and Vlad Jr could give them a late season boost.
    Other than Granderson, I agree. This team has gotten overlooked. Definitely could be a wild card contender.

  15. #15
    omarlittle
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    Hey Dave ,
    With dame lilliard attending the birth of his child , and a weary Portland club playing for a 3rd time in 4 days , do we look under 202 at Memphis tonight ?

  16. #16
    Jaycee
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    Season win totals

    Quote Originally Posted by goirishgo View Post
    Hi Dave - I always enjoyed Palmtree's thoughtful contribution in regards to baseball season win totals. He will be missed.

    Is there any team in baseball that you think may outperform relative to preseason expectations? I typically take an over on one team every year as I can root for that team for an entire season. It makes the season more enjoyable to me.

    I understand if you don't want to show your cards on this one.
    on VISN this morning Mark from Clear Data Sports gave out St.Louis over as one of their best picks of the year.
    any thoughts on Clear Data Sports as a service or any other recommended service for a small player?

  17. #17
    Point Blank
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    Quote Originally Posted by peterose4hof View Post
    Kidd-Gilchrist missed the shootaround due to food poisoning and may not play. This could actually help the over since MKG is much more of a defensive presence than an offensive one. If MKG is out, Lebron should have a field day against whoever replaces him.

    Might be worth exploring the menu of Lebron props.
    And a +1 on the Kidd-Gichrist, who has basically given up on every developing a perimeter shot (0-2 on 3-pointers for the full season), although his toughness has made him positive on the defensive end (the Hornets PP100 defense goes up 2.6 per 100 possessions when he is off the court).

  18. #18
    Point Blank
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    Quote Originally Posted by omarlittle View Post
    Hey Dave ,
    With dame lilliard attending the birth of his child , and a weary Portland club playing for a 3rd time in 4 days , do we look under 202 at Memphis tonight ?
    On my stuff the adjustment has gone a little too far. Although admittedly a rating that I don't attach a high degree of confidence too, I would have needed a 204 to go. The Grizzlies have played respectable defense since that embarrassment at Charlotte, but I still don't want to trust them too much to show up with a sense of purpose on that end.

  19. #19
    ibetbaseball
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    Great insight

  20. #20
    nri77
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    Dave - any thoughts on Lakers Mavs under 215.5? Thomas won't play after having surgery today and INgram returns tonight which could throw their offense a little bit more out of sync as they look to incorporate him back. Mavs coming to LA after playing in Sacramento last night too.

  21. #21
    jakedittler
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    Dave, you hit the nail on the head today on two topics. At least ones I can speak from experience from. First the weather. "Culture shock" is a great way to describe it. My first experience with cold weather was truly a culture shock. I'll never forget it. 40 degrees and misty. So barely raining. It is so tough to get warmed up and stay that way, but there is an added benefit. The batters are really cold too. The now manager of the D back, Torrey Lovullo would say that "I used to walk away from at bats (with guys that had good movement) and say, see you in a month". So the movement part is big early on. Guys are literally afraid on some level to get a stinger by hitting the end of the bat or getting jammed. Second one is actually been pretty comical. Launch angle. I belong to a private Facebook group made up of former and current MiLB and MLB players. Guys ranging from one year in the minors to some of the biggest names you would recognize. And it's almost a daily debate. Somebody posts a video of an instructor teaching angle with some weird drill, and half the people go nuts, and half saying it truly is the best path. The truth is I do believe trying to get angle also is a big factor in the amount of balls missed. It used to be taught that the bat should be on the plane the whole swing to maximize contact. Now the new launch angle swing goes up through the zone, which requires a high degree of precision. But when hit, it travels. And we see that with the guys breaking the strike out records year after year. It is now ok to hit .200 with 200 plus strike outs, as long as you hit 40 bombs. It is truly a different league it seems sometimes. And your numbers bear that out for sure. Should be an interesting season for sure.

  22. #22
    Point Blank
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    Quote Originally Posted by nri77 View Post
    Dave - any thoughts on Lakers Mavs under 215.5? Thomas won't play after having surgery today and INgram returns tonight which could throw their offense a little bit more out of sync as they look to incorporate him back. Mavs coming to LA after playing in Sacramento last night too.
    It isn't easy guessing as to how much focus we get from a pair of also-rans this late, especially in the setting - the Lakers are playing with one one day off after a road trip, which can confuse matters a bit, while the Mavs have the rarity of a back-to-back on the west coast, but it also only being a 2-0 game road trip. But while on Monday I tried to make the case that the Laker total was a pinch high because the defense would be better, and the offense worse, without Isaiah Thomas, there does appear to be some adjustment this time - when these teams played on this court a month ago the total closed at 222, LAL winning 124-102. I don't have a go at anything less than 218.

  23. #23
    Point Blank
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    Quote Originally Posted by jakedittler View Post
    Dave, you hit the nail on the head today on two topics. At least ones I can speak from experience from. First the weather. "Culture shock" is a great way to describe it. My first experience with cold weather was truly a culture shock. I'll never forget it. 40 degrees and misty. So barely raining. It is so tough to get warmed up and stay that way, but there is an added benefit. The batters are really cold too. The now manager of the D back, Torrey Lovullo would say that "I used to walk away from at bats (with guys that had good movement) and say, see you in a month". So the movement part is big early on. Guys are literally afraid on some level to get a stinger by hitting the end of the bat or getting jammed. Second one is actually been pretty comical. Launch angle. I belong to a private Facebook group made up of former and current MiLB and MLB players. Guys ranging from one year in the minors to some of the biggest names you would recognize. And it's almost a daily debate. Somebody posts a video of an instructor teaching angle with some weird drill, and half the people go nuts, and half saying it truly is the best path. The truth is I do believe trying to get angle also is a big factor in the amount of balls missed. It used to be taught that the bat should be on the plane the whole swing to maximize contact. Now the new launch angle swing goes up through the zone, which requires a high degree of precision. But when hit, it travels. And we see that with the guys breaking the strike out records year after year. It is now ok to hit .200 with 200 plus strike outs, as long as you hit 40 bombs. It is truly a different league it seems sometimes. And your numbers bear that out for sure. Should be an interesting season for sure.
    Thee is another element of cold days that I would like to explore, but there isn't a database set up anywhere that I know of to sort through it - are defenders just a fraction of a step slow; perhaps needed an extra stride to get to speed? It would be interesting if there was a way to chart BABIP based on temperature, but for now I am not aware of anyone that has access to that kind of tracking.

    For now Nationals/Reds are already postponed in Cincinnati for tomorrow, and it it looking iffy that Pirates/Tigers get their seasons opened.

  24. #24
    jakedittler
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    Quote Originally Posted by Point Blank View Post
    Thee is another element of cold days that I would like to explore, but there isn't a database set up anywhere that I know of to sort through it - are defenders just a fraction of a step slow; perhaps needed an extra stride to get to speed? It would be interesting if there was a way to chart BABIP based on temperature, but for now I am not aware of anyone that has access to that kind of tracking.

    For now Nationals/Reds are already postponed in Cincinnati for tomorrow, and it it looking iffy that Pirates/Tigers get their seasons opened.
    for sure. And it's not completely actionable, but guys that take longer, work slower and have trouble throwing strikes will exasperate those struggles on d. Not to mention the unfortunate soul who's first up after a long inning in the field, who didn't get some heater time. A true nightmare playing baseball at this time. Can't imagine the fans liking it either. Something could be done eventually. I wonder how feasible it would be to make as many games as possible played in domes, west coast, and southern states for the first month. Ha.

  25. #25
    HurryUpAndDrink
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    Agree OP... all previous stats and data is nice but BB requires some settling down, beginning the season picking your spots is best, same in playoffs. Once may/june hits I start playing daily plays, several. Other than that is 1 or 2 a few days a week...

  26. #26
    klemopixx
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    Taking the under in cold weather games in April has been a money maker for years.

    Jus sayin, y'know?

  27. #27
    puffkit
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    dave....a good spot to grab clev /char o213.5? a bit of a lull and thats 10+pts off closing.

  28. #28
    Point Blank
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    Quote Originally Posted by puffkit View Post
    dave....a good spot to grab clev /char o213.5? a bit of a lull and thats 10+pts off closing.
    I have not been tracking that one closely, this being an evening with MLB charts all over the desk (there is a lot to be learned from studying the marketplace in their first opportunity to play out their hands), so I can't be of any help there.
    Last edited by Point Blank; 03-28-18 at 07:53 PM.

  29. #29
    dianacorral
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    fyi embiid out second half vs knicks ...

  30. #30
    Point Blank
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    Quote Originally Posted by dianacorral View Post
    fyi embiid out second half vs knicks ...
    Embiid and Fultz bumped heads in the first half, and it looks like he may end up in the concussion protocol. Not terrible for long-term 76er plans, but it matters over these final 24 minutes, a game they can't afford to let slip away the battle for that #3 seed.

  31. #31
    dianacorral
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    definitely could be a homer and I'm heading to the game, but I like what the Padres have done with the addition of Hosmer and another year for the young players like Margo / Renfro/ Hedges. Do you think Richards can take advantage of the big park, sellout crowd and stronger line up and send the home crowd home happy ...for once?

  32. #32
    Point Blank
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    Quote Originally Posted by dianacorral View Post
    definitely could be a homer and I'm heading to the game, but I like what the Padres have done with the addition of Hosmer and another year for the young players like Margo / Renfro/ Hedges. Do you think Richards can take advantage of the big park, sellout crowd and stronger line up and send the home crowd home happy ...for once?
    The price may become fair by first pitch - Milwaukee had a big following in the Season Over/Under market, and now I see the Brewers as high as -120 already for tomorrow. I get Padre chimes at +120 or better, and I would not be surprised if we see that, but because Richard is who he is, a journeyman who can eat innings without any real upside, the investment amount won't be much more than a couple of fish tacos.

  33. #33
    dianacorral
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    thank you ! And they never are ...

  34. #34
    puffkit
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    3 of top 4 scorers out for phoenix ....yet team total 106? chance for an under.......

  35. #35
    rickste
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    Betpoints: 21385

    Good morning Dave.
    Interested in your thoughts re Ind Sac under current line 203.5
    Ind has really turned up the defense as they fight for home court adv in playoffs.
    This should be a win and move on for Ind with Lac Den on the road upcoming.
    Sac is 29th at home scoring offense.
    Thanks

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