Sports BIT: Cards-Cubs, Rangers-Rays & 2017 NY Giants Preview

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On the Friday, July 21 Sports BIT show, Teddy Covers & Pauly Howard look at some updated props for the Mayweather-McGregor fight, Hugh Freeze's ouster at Ole Miss as well as Friday's series openers between the Cardinals-Cubs and Rangers-Rays. NFL previews continue with a look at Eli Manning's New York Giants.

 

St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs

The Cubbies are finally playing to expectations as they are 6-0 since the break in crushing the Orioles and Braves in three-game sweeps. They were 5.5 games behind first-place Milwaukee entering the break and now are just one game back. Chicago batters are hitting .316 with 16 homers in the season-high six-game winning streak. It’s Jake Arrieta (9-7, 4.17) on the mound here. He has settled down after bad start, but still not showing much upside as he’s struggling to keep the ball down, and getting tagged when he throws high in the zone. His ground-ball percentage is way down from the past two years and his home-run percentage way up. The Cards’ Carlos Martinez (6-8, 3.36) hasn’t won since June 16 but has a 1.93 ERA in two starts vs. Chicago this year.

Texas Rangers at Tampa Bay Rays

This series could have wild-card implications as the Rays hold down the AL’s top wild-card spot, while Texas is trying to hang in the race. If the Rangers have a bad week, they could look to trade ace right-hander Yu Darvish as he is set for free agency after the season. Darvish (6-8, 3.45) pitches the series opener Friday in St. Petersburg. The Rangers have lost his past six outings even though Darvish has had quality starts in four of them. He is 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA in five career starts against the Rays. Tampa’s Alex Cobb (8-6, 3.59) has won his past two starts, going 7.2 innings in both and surrendering just one run and eight combined hits. Cobb is 4-3 with a 2.64 ERA at home this season and 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA in four career starts vs. Texas.

Deep Dive on 2017 New York Giants

Under first-year coach Ben McAdoo, the Giants were 11-5 last season – the only team to beat Dallas twice – and reached the playoffs for the first time since upsetting New England in Super Bowl XLVI. However, Big Blue was routed at Green Bay in the wild-card game. New York’s defense was superb in 2016 after some big free-agent additions, but the offensive was below average. That leads one to wonder if 36-year-old quarterback Eli Manning is on his last legs – although the Giants got him a new toy this offseason in receiver Brandon Marshall. The Giants could have the best receiving trio in the NFL in Odell Beckham, Marshall and Sterling Shepard. They also drafted Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram with their first-round pick. The TV networks love the Giants as they are scheduled for only six 1 p.m. ET kickoffs all season. SBR’s top sportsbooks list the Giants at 8.5 wins, but money is pouring in on the ‘over’ and that number has risen to 9 at some books. 

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