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Sports BIT: Cubs-Nats, Angels-Dodgers & NBA Props

Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals

It would surprise no one if this were an NLDS or NLCS preview. The Nationals are running away with the NL East Division, and the Cubs are still widely expected to take the NL Central again even though they are aren’t playing to expectations yet and are just a game over .500. The Cubs are short-handed in the outfield with Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward on the DL and Kyle Schwarber trying to work out his struggles in Triple-A. Washington has three MVP candidates in Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy and a great rotation, but the bullpen is a major issue – especially at closer. It’s lefty Gio Gonzalez (7-1, 2.96). He’s off to his best start since 2012, his first season in Washington. Gonzalez is sixth in the NL in ERA despite also ranking fourth in walks. He is one strikeout away from 1,500 in his career. Chicago’s Eddie Butler (3-2, 4.19) is essentially filler in the No. 5 spot until Theo Epstein can trade for another starting pitcher. He’s near the bottom of the majors in strikeout percentage (15.1) and in walk percentage (12.7). Generally a pitcher needs either strikeouts, ground balls or pinpoint control to be successful, and Butler hasn’t brought any of that.

Los Angeles Angels at Los Angeles Dodgers

It’s Game 1 of the Freeway Series, although it loses a bit of luster with Angels star Mike Trout out injured. The Dodgers likely will be without shortstop and reigning NL Rookie of the Year Corey Seager as he’s dealing with a strained right hamstring. He was hurt Friday but could pinch-hit. Seager leads the Dodgers in runs scored (56), hits (79), doubles (19) and walks (45). It’s lefty Rich Hill on the mound for L.A. Hill (4-3, 4.73). He has made nine starts this season and hasn’t gone six innings yet. In fact, he’s first pitcher in MLB history to open a season with nine straight starts of five innings pitched or fewer. He’s walking 5.9 batters per nine inning, which is the worst mark in baseball in the past five seasons. The Halos start Ricky Nolasco (2-9, 5.23). He has struggled to limit the long ball this season, allowing an American League-high 23 homers in 2017. Nolasco has allowed at least two homers in 10 of his 15 starts.

Deep Dive On NBA Season Props

Now that the 2017 NBA Draft has come and gone, the sportsbooks have begun rolling out some unique 2017-18 season props. For example, after the Lakers drafted Lonzo Ball at No. 2 overall, Ball’s loudmouth father LaVar said on television that L.A. would make the playoffs. Sorry, LaVar, oddsmakers don’t agree as they are -700 to miss again. Minnesota made the biggest trade at the draft in acquiring Bulls All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler and it is now -260 to make the postseason, which the franchise hasn’t since 2003-04. Philadelphia drafted Markelle Fultz at No. 1 overall to go with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid and Philly is -125 to make the playoffs. But as usual, it’s all about the Golden State Warriors, who have a wins total of 66.5 and are -240 to win the title again with the field at +200.