Wednesday, April 20, 2022 Los Angeles Angels vs. Houston Astros

The Houston Astros will host the Los Angeles in the finale of a three-game series on Wednesday. The Astros won the series opener 8-3 on Monday. The second game of the series was not complete at the time of this preview.

Ohtani Time

The Los Angeles Angels have not finished with a winning record since 2015, and have not reached the playoffs since 2014. The Angels entered this season expected to break that trend, with a projected over/under win total set at 84.5, and with three-time MVP Mike Trout, and reigning MVP Shohei Ohtani currently both healthy another losing season would be unacceptable for this franchise.

The Angels lineup has mashed an MLB best 16 home runs, and are tied for second with nine stolen bases through their first 11 games. Ohtani leads the team with three home runs, two stolen bases, and also has seven RBI. Harde Walsh leads the team with eight RBI and is also one of four Los Angeles batters with four home runs.

Ohtani will get to help his own cause on Wednesday as he is scheduled to make his third start of the season. In 2021, Ohtani went 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. This season has started rough for Ohtani on the mound and is 0-2 with a 7.56 ERA and 1.56 WHIP. In five career starts against Houston, Ohtani is 0-3 with a 5.56 ERA.

Astros win series opener but Altuve forced to leave game

After Monday’s home-opening win, the Astros have a half-game lead over the Athletics and Angels. Through the first 10 games, Houston has averaged 3.9 runs per game and allowed 3.5 runs per game. The Astros are fourth in MLB with 13 home runs, with nine different players who have gone deep this season.

Yordan Alvarez leads the team with three home runs and is second with six RBI. Alex Bregman leads the team with seven RBI and is tied with Kyle Tucker with two home runs. Rookie shortstop Jeremy Pena is off to a great start as he replaced Carlos Correa, who left for Minnesota in free agency. Pena leads the team with a .344 batting average and has added one home run and three RBI.

On Wednesday, the Astros will start Jake Odorizzi, who is 0-1 with a 6.48 ERA and 2.04 WHIP in two starts this season. In 24 starts last season, Odorizzi was 6-7 with a 4.21 ERA. Odorizzi has made nine career starts against the Angels and is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA and 1.60 WHIP.

Prediction: Houston Astros ML +120

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Angels may be an attractive team to back with Ohtani on the mound, but Houston has not been kind to Ohtani as a pitcher. In four career starts at Minute Maid Park Ohtani is 0-2 with a 6.50 ERA and 1.61 WHIP. The Angels bullpen has also struggled with a 4.88 ERA this season, which is the fifth-worst in MLB. Ordozzi has not been great this season either, but the Astros bullpen has been much better with a 3.11 team ERA. Houston has also controlled this rivalry recently with eight wins in the last 10 head-to-head meetings against Los Angeles.

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Prediction: Houston Astros ML +120

Prediction: OVER 8.5

Rating: 5 out of 5

Both of these lineups are lethal. The Angels are second in MLB hammering 1.47 home runs per game, and Houston is fourth with 1.21 home runs per game. Given the past track records and recent struggles of both starters, expect the Astros bats to jump on Ohtani early and for the Angels to also have success off of Odorizzi. In this rivalry, 14 of the last 19 head-to-head meetings at Minute Maid Park have gone over the total, and I expect to see a high-scoring game Wednesday.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022 Philadelphia 76ers vs. Toronto Raptors

Apr 18, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard
James Harden (1) is fouled by Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) while dribbling the ball during the fourth quarter in game two of the first round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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Playoff basketball continues on Wednesday night when the Toronto Raptors host the Philadephia 76ers in Game 3 of their first-round Eastern Conference series. After covering the spread with two double-digit home victories, the 76ers have a 2-0 lead.

Is this the year Philly competes the process?

The 76ers have been dominate through the first two games of the series, winning the opening game 131-111 and the second game 112-97. As a team, the 76ers have shot 51.6% from the floor and an NBA playoff-high 48.4% from three-point range. The 76ers now hit the road with a chance to go up 3-0. During the regular season, Philadelphia was 27-14 straight up in road games, and 21-19-1 against the spread.

Tyrese Maxey has broken out as a star this postseason, averaging 30.5 ppg, due to a 38-point Game 1, and 23 points, nine rebounds, and eight assist performance during Monday’s Game 2. MVP finalist Joe Embiid is averaging 25 points and 13 rebounds, and Tobias Harris has put up an average of 23 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks in the series. James Harden is averaging a team-high 40.5 minutes, and also leads the team with 10 assists and two steals per game to go along with his 18 ppg.

On the injury report, the 76ers are mostly clean. Matisse Thybulle (5.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg) is out for personal reasons, and Charles Bassey (2.3 ppg, 2.7 rbg) is out with a shoulder injury.

Do or die for Toronto

The Toronto Raptors beat the 76ers in three out of four games during the regular season. Due to the prior success, the Raptors came into the series as an attractive underdog with +165 odds to upset the 76ers in the first round. This series isn’t over yet, but if the Raptors cannot make some distract changes on Wednesday, it basically will be, as no NBA team has ever climbed back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series.

Toronto is not as healthy as Philadelphia. Rookie Scottie Barnes is listed as doubtful for Game 2, and Gary Trent Jr is questionable. During the regular season, Barnes played 74 games, averaged 15.3 ppg, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. Barnes had 15 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists in the 20-point Game 1 loss. Gary Trent Jr. played in 70 regular-season games and averaged 18.3 ppg. Trent was held to nine points in Game 1 and did not score in Monday’s loss in a little under 10 minutes of action.

The Raptors shot 45.6% from the floor and 37.1% from the three-point range in the first two games in Philly. Individually, OG Anunoby has led the team with 23 ppg, followed by Pascal Siakam with 22 ppg, and Fred VanVleet with 19ppg.

Best Bets for this Game

Prediction: Toronto Raptors +2

Rating: 5 out of 5

The 76ers have had the Raptors’ number in the first two games, and from the eye test looks like they are on their way to sweep, but as the old saying goes, “a series doesn’t start until a home team loses.” I’ll admit, I’ve never been a huge fan of that overused line, but it has some merit here, especially when considering that the 76ers have failed to cover the spread in five of their last six trips to Toronto.

The Raptors covered the spread in all four regular-season games against the 76ers, and even though this is the playoffs, the evidence is there; Toronto is capable of beating Philadelphia. The Raptors have a championship coach on their side and are tough to beat in Canada, as they have covered the spread in their last four games as a home underdog. I understand that Doc Rivers is a championship coach as well, but he has also struggled to close out several series’ as a favorite with the lead in the past. The 76ers have failed to cover the spread in their last five road games and I expect to see a drop-off in this game from Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris. To what extent James Harden shows up will also be interesting.

The season is basically over for Toronto if they don’t win this game, and as a small underdog, they can’t win this game without covering. Expect the North to rise up on Wednesday, with their role players playing better at home, and turn this into a series.

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Seattle Mariners vs. Chicago White Sox  Thursday, April 14, 2022 at 2:10pm EDT

The Chicago White Sox (3-1) will host the Seattle Mariners (2-3) on Thursday in the final game of their three-game series. Seattle took the opener 3-2 on Tuesday, and Wednesday’s game was not complete at the time of this preview.

Mariners bats struggle in third straight loss

After winning the first two games of the season against Minnesota, Seattle dropped its third straight game on Tuesday. Seattle left 11 men on base in that loss and went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position. Former Cincinnati Reds drove in both Seattle runs. Jesse Winker went 1 for 3 and drew two walks, and Eugenio Suarez went 2 for 4 and hit his first home run of the season.

Scoring has been an issue for the Mariners, who have not pushed across more than four runs in any of their first five contests.

Logan Gilbert, a 6’6 right-hander, will get the start on Thursday. Gilbert started 24 games as a rookie last season and went 6-5 with a 4.68 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. Last Saturday, Gilbert pitched five innings allowing three hits, one walk, and one run off a solo homer, and did not get the decision in Seattle’s 4-3 victory over Minnesota. Gilbert faced the White Sox once last season and tossed two shutout innings, allowing one hit and picking up three strikeouts.

White Sox playing well

The White Sox are huge favorites to win the American League Central this season and hope to contend for the AL Pennant as well. After opening the season with a 5-4 road loss to Detroit, where the Tigers scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth, the White Sox have responded with a three-game winning streak.

On Tuesday, the White Sox left six men on base and went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. Chicago scored two runs in the game on ground ball fielder’s choices and the other on a solo home run by Luis Roberts in the sixth inning.

The White Sox will send Jimmy Lambert to the mound first Thursday. Lambert will be making his 2022 debut, and the bullpen should see plenty of work. Chicago’s bullpen is 12th in MLB with a 3.38 ERA through the first four games. Over the last two seasons, Lambert has appeared in a total of six games, making three starts and throwing only 15 total innings. He has a 5.40 career ERA and a 1.60 WHIP. Lambert is also 1-1 lifetime with 12 strikeouts.

Full-Game Side Bet

Rating: 4 out of 5

The White Sox are sixth in MLB in slugging (.432) and runs scored (5.55 per game) and ninth in MLB in OPS (.734). The pitching has been excellent and ranked fifth with a 2.52 team ERA and has only allowed two home runs through their first four games, tied for the fewest in baseball.

Seattle is 28th in scoring (2.57 runs per game), 23rd in OPS (.590), and 28th with a .291 slugging percentage. The Mariners have also not pitched quite as well as Chicago ranking 13th with a 3.64 team ERA and have allowed 10 home runs, which are the second most allowed.

Although Seattle has the starting pitching advantage, with the way the Mariners have been struggling offensively, Lambert should be able to keep this game close through the first three innings. As the games go on, the Sox bullpen and offense will be too much for the Mariners.

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Prediction: Chicago White Sox ML -110

April 7 Orlando Magic at Charlotte Hornets Preview

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The Charlotte Hornets (40-39) will host the Orlando Magic (21-59) on Thursday. In three head-to-head meetings this season, Charlotte has beaten Orlando twice, but the Magic have managed to cover twice. The last meeting took place on January 14, when the Magic upset the Hornets in Charlotte 116-109 as an 11.5-point dog.

Magic last in the Eastern Conference

Orlando is 36-44 against the spread this season and has a 40-39-1 over/under record.

With two games remaining, you have interest in the Magic if you bet the over or under on their wins total before the regular season, which was set at 22.5 by BetMGM. Otherwise, the last two contests are relatively meaningless, as Orlando is one game ahead of the Rockets in the race to avoid the worst record in the NBA.

The Magic snapped a six-game losing streak on Tuesday by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 120-115. Mo Bamba led the Magic with 21 points and 12 rebounds in the victory. For the game, Orlando outshot Cleveland 50.5% to 48.8% from the field, 45.7% to 44.4% from three, and overcame making five fewer free throws. Ignas Brazdeikis added a season-high 20 points off the bench.

This season, the Magic have been abysmal on offense, ranking 29th in scoring and 28th in field goal and three-point field goal percentage. The team’s leading scorer and assists man, Cole Anthony (16.3 ppg, 5.7 apg), is out for Thursday’s game with a toe injury. The following two leading scorers, Franz Wanger (15.2 ppg) and Wendell Carter Jr. (15 ppg), are also out with injuries. Amongst the healthy players, rookie Jalen Suggs is averaging 11.9 ppg and 4.4 assists.

Charlotte has been embarrassed in last two games

The Charlotte Hornets are on their way to the play-in tournament, but their fate has not been decided. With three games left, the Hornets are 10th in the East and trail the Nets and Hawks by 1.5 games for the 8th and 9th spots. If the season ended today, Charlotte would need to win consecutive road games in the play-in tournament for the right to face the Miami Heat.

The Hornets’ last two games have been ugly. They were blown out at Philadelphia 144-114 on Saturday and at Miami 144-115 on Tuesday. Miles Bridges, who scored 29 points on Tuesday, has led the Hornets in scoring in each of the last four games and leads the team with 20.4 ppg for the season. LaMelo Ball averages 19.9 ppg and leads the team with 7.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game, followed by Terry Rozier with 19.2 ppg.

The only player on the Hornets’ injury report is Gordon Hayward (15.9 ppg in 49 games), who is doubtful with a foot injury.

Unlike Orlando, the Hornets have shined on offense, ranking fifth in the NBA in scoring and ninth in three-point percentage. The defense has been more of a struggle. Charlotte ranks 28th in points allowed, 20th in field goal percentage, and 23rd in three-point field goal percentage allowed.

 Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

Rating: 3 out of 5

The biggest question coming into this game is what is the motivation on both sides. The Hornets did face Eastern Conference contenders on the road in their last two games, yet still, the effort was pathetic. After losing consecutive games in such embarrassing fashion and having two full days off to sit on it, Charlotte should be motivated to bounce back, even though the odds of them moving up higher than 10th in the East are not favorable. On the other side with their top three scorers out with injuries, the Magic have a young group of players who have a lot to prove right now when it comes to their futures in the NBA.  Still, the Magic “should” get annihilated “if” the Hornets bring a strong effort.

When it comes down to it, I am going to back the Hornets. The last two losses were on the road, and home cooking against a bad team should be a recipe for Charlotte to get its confidence back. The Hornets are 16-6 ATS in their last 22 homes games against a team with a road winning percentage of under .400. Laying the 13.5 points is a lot, but three of Orlando’s last four road losses have been by at least 16 points or more. With Bridges, Ball, Rozier, and Kelly Oubre Jr. all healthy, the Hornets’ offensive skill and athleticism will be too much for the Magic.

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Prediction: Charlotte Hornets -13.5

Full-Game Total Pick


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MLB AMERICAN LEAGUE CONTENDERS

Title: MLB American League contenders
Author: David Marotta
Date: April 6, 2022

Apr 2, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Aaron Hicks (31) is congratulated by New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) as he scores a run s2i against the Atlanta Braves during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the leading contenders for the American League Pennant, along with the odds according to BetMGM.

Toronto Blue Jays +450
Last season Toronto won 91 games but ended up being the team with the best record to not qualify for the postseason. Even though the Blue Jays lost some key players from last year’s squad, including Marcus Semien, Randal Grichuk, and Robbie Ray, the roster still has plenty of offensive firepower, led by triple crown threat Vladimir Guerrero. They also upgraded their bullpen, which was a weakness last season. Only time will tell if Toronto is worthy of being the AL favorite.

Houston Astros +475
The Astros are favored to win the American League West and will be in contention again for the AL crown. Houston lost Carlos Correa and Zack Greinke in free agency, but this team is still loaded. Houston led all of MLB in runs scored last season and returns seven of their top eight position players. Houston also re-signed Justin Verlander, who was impressive in Spring Training after missing the entire 2021 season.

New York Yankees +550
Every season is World Series or bust for the Yankees, and with the current roster built to win now, the trend of five straight playoff appearances should continue. The lineup is loaded, and the Bronx Bombers will head into the opening day with 16 pitchers, led by their ace Gerrit Cole.

Chicago White Sox +550
After losing their opening playoff series in consective years, the White Sox are favored to repeat as AL Central Division Champions, but with the current roster, the expectations are to win contend for the World Series crown. The White Sox are probably the most balanced amongst all the contenders. Chicago finished second in the AL in ERA last season.

Although they lost Carlos Rodon in free agency, with a rotation led by Dylan Cease, Lance Lynn, and Lucas Giolito, the White Sox will be a tough matchup for any team in the AL playoffs. Chicago’s offensive depth also rivals any team in the league,

Tampa Bay Rays +650
Regardless of what the roster looks like on paper, the Rays always find a way to contend. The Rays won 100 games during the regular season in 2021, and, with their young core still intact, Tampa Bay is a great value bet in what should be a competitive AL race.

Correa to Twins, doesn’t feel right

After making five straight appearances in the ALCS, which includes winning a World Series in 2017, Carlos Correa decided to leave the franchise that drafted him back in 2012 for the Minnesota Twins this off-season. After reports stating that Correa had turned down a five-year $160 million deal with the Houston Astros, I was surprised to hear that the two-time All-Star decided to sign with the Twins for (only) three years and 105.3 million. With Scott Boras representing him, I believe this has alot to do with the option to opt out after only one season and then test the free-agent market again next season.

Mar 27, 2022; Fort Myers, Florida, USA; Minnesota Twins shortstop Carlos Correa (4) returns
to the dugout after the first inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox during spring training at CenturyLink Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros have been great at rebuilding and likely wanted to plan for the future. I’m sure the Astros would have loved to have had Correa back on the five-year deal, but going through this again with Correa next season as a free agent is not something the Astros had an interest in. Nevertheless, as a fan of the game, seeing Correa sign with the Twins was disappointing to me, but due to the terms of his contract, a reunion between Correa and the Stros in 2023 is not impossible.

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Dallas Mavericks at Detroit Pistons Preview for Wednesday April 6, 2022

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The Detroit Pistons will host the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday as the NBA regular season continues to approach the finish line. Dallas is preparing for a playoff run, and the Pistons are rebuilding mode with the lottery in their future. Dallas protected its home court beating Detroit 116-86 in the only head-to-head match-up this season on February 8.

Dallas is in the playoffs, but final seeding has not been settled

There are three games left on the regular-season schedule, and Dallas is fourth in the Western Conference. The Mavericks are just one game behind Golden State for the third spot and two games ahead of the fifth-place Denver Nuggets.

Against the spread, Dallas is 44-34-1, and their over/under record is 29-49-1.

Dallas is has won four of its last five games and is coming off a 118-112 road win against the Milwaukee Bucks. Luka Doncic led Dallas with 32 points and 15 assists and grabbed eight rebounds. He has now led the team in scoring in the last six games and averages 28.3 ppg, which is fourth in the NBA, and 8.7 assists which ranks fifth.

The Mavs are 26th in scoring averaging 107.2 ppg, 20th shooting 45.8% from the floor, and 23rd making 34.5% from three. On defense, Dallas is second holding opponents to just 104.8 ppg. Opponents are shooting 45.8% against them which ranks 5th, and 34.1% from three which is fifth.

On the injury report, Maxi Kleber (7 ppg, 5.9 rebounds) is questionable for Wednesday.

Pistons going for 4th straight win

Detroit has the third-worst record in the NBA but has not given up. The Pistons are on a three-game winning streak after beating the 76ers 102-94, Thunder 110-101, and Pacers 121-117 on Sunday. Saddiq Bey led the victory over the Pacers with 31 points. Bey is the only Piston player who has played in all 79 games this season and is averaging 16.3 ppg.

Straight up, the record is not impressive, but the Pistons have performed very well against the spread with a 45-34 record, which includes coverage in their last five games in a row. The team’s over/under record is 37-39-3.

The Pistons are 28th in scoring averaging 104.8 ppg, and 29th shooting 43.1% from the floor and 32.8% from three-point range. They are 13th making 78% from the free-throw line. Jerami Grant (19.2 ppg), the team’s leading scorer, is out of the rest of the season with a calf injury, and the team’s second-leading scorer Cade Cunningham (17.3 ppg), is questionable for Wednesday. The Pistons also have three other role players who are questionable: Luka Garza, Cory Joseph, and Marvin Bagley III.

Full-Game Side Bet

Rating: 4 out of 5

Detroit has lost alot of games, but they are 20-12-1 against the spread as a home underdog this season. Detroit has also been sensational down the stretch, regardless of the situation covering the spread in 19 of their last 22 games overall. Expect the Pistons to keep this game competitive as well and cover.

MLB WORLD SERIES CONTENDERS AND ODDS

Here are the favorites to contend for the 2022 World Series crown, along with the odds according to Sportshandicapper.com.

Los Angeles Dodgers +500
The favorite to win it all has made five NLCS appearances in the last six seasons, including winning the World Series in 2020. The starting rotation is strong again, and offensively, this should be the best team in baseball.

Toronto Blue Jays +900
The East Division is highly competitive, but the Blue Jays are the favorite out of the American League despite finishing in fourth place last season. The Blue Jays led all of MLB with 262 home runs last season, and with triple crown threat Vladimir Guerrero leading the way, this team is a force to be reckoned with.

Houston Astros +1000
You can’t overlook the team that has been to the ALCS five straight years and appeared in the World Series three times during that stretch. The Astros led all of MLB in runs scored last season. According to WAR, they also return seven of their top eight position players and ranked third in MLB with 76 team defensive runs saved in 2021.

New York Mets +1000
The Mets finished eight games below .500 last year but will be much better this season. New York finished ninth in ERA last season, despite Jacob deGrom only making 15 starts due to injury. After adding Max Scherzer and Chris Bassitt to their starting rotation, if the Mets can stay healthy, they can beat any team in a series.

New York Yankees +1100
The Bronx Bombers have made the playoffs in each of the last five seasons, and that trend should continue. The Yankees are loaded with talent and have a front office that will not be afraid to take chances to upgrade the roster during the season.

Chicago White Sox +1100
Chicago has a good balance. In 2021 the team finished fifth in ERA and seventh in runs scored. Defensively there is room for improvements, as they finished 28th in team defensive runs saved.

Atlanta Braves +1200
They lost Freddie Freeman in the offseason, but after winning the World Series without Ronald Acuna Jr due to injury, the Braves are a contender to repeat with Acuna Jr back and healthy.

Others to watch:
Tampa Bay Rays 1400, Milwaukee Brewers 1600, San Diego Padres 1600

| Title: MLB World Series Contenders and Odds
| Author: David Marotta
| Date: April 1, 2022