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Bookie Busters: The Astros, NBA, UFC and soccer

Bookie Busters: The Astros, NBA, UFC and soccer
Lance McCullers (left) and the Astros should be easy money. Elsa/Getty Images

This weekend is jam-packed with action. Let's cash some tickets!

MLB

Astros vs. Padres
Date: Friday, April 6, 2018
Time: 7:10 PM
Minute Maid Park, Houston Texas
Projected Pitchers: Luis Perdomo vs.Lance McCullers

The DEFENDING, REIGNING, CHAMPIONS of the world Astros, start a three-game series with the Padres with Lance McCullers taking the mound in the opener. The visitors come into this game looking for a change after starting the season an abysmal 1-6. San Diego was hoping for a better start to the 2018 campaign and a seven-game homestand to begin the season was the perfect antidote. Instead, the team only managed to claim one victory, while possessing a -9 run differential. In five of the six Padres losses this year, they were defeated by 2+ runs, leading them to a 2-4 Run line record.

Houston has done the exact opposite this year and started scorching hot and sit 6-1 atop the AL West, and 5-2 on the run line. In all but one of the Astros wins, they have managed to pull away and win by +2 runs. The Astros come into this game averaging 5.8 runs per game, while the Padres are surrendering 5.5 runs a game. Another thing working in favor of the Astros is that although they strike out 9.43 times a game, San Diego's pitchers have been struggling with striking out batters this year (6.83).

The Pick

Friday Night we get a pitching duel, with two pitchers that started the season in different directions. McCullers was able to put together a quality performance fanning 10 batters while allowing two earned runs on four hits. McCullers was able to shake off a ball that hit him on the ankle, giving a scare to the hometown faithful. The pitcher said he was fine, just slightly sore and "lucky" the ball hit the muscle part in between the shin and ankle. His counterpart had a less than stellar first start and got knocked around for five runs on seven hits and four walks. He was taken out after 96 pitches in only four innings of work after struggling all game. A solid start at home and some wins is what San Deigo was hoping for as they are 28-59 in their last 87 games as visitors attached to a  3-10 record in Perdomo's last 13 road starts. McCullers ankle soreness is somewhat of a scare, but I think he will be fine and the Astros offense should be enough to get the win. TGIF because the Champs love playing Friday nights, and are 21-8 in the last 29 games doing so.

Astros-1.5
Astros Total Runs over 5

NBA

Pelicans vs. Suns        Pelicans -10.5 O/U 220

The Pelicans are in the middle of a dogfight for the final playoff spots and will be needing this game like blood. With no room for error, New Orleans will be focused after finally getting a win, following a treacherous four-game skid. With their final three games being vs. the Warriors, Clippers and the Spurs, this is a must win if they want to stay in the race. In both matchups this season, the Pelicans scored 115+ points and won decisively,  going into both fouth quarters with double-digit leads. In those contests, New Orleans lit up the scoreboard in the first halves, and we will look for more of the same in a "must-win" for the Anthony Davis led squad.

Picks:

New Orleans Team Total Over 115
New Orleans 1st half -6
New Orleans  First quarter -3
*Projected Lines

UFC 223

Rose Namajunas vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk    
Pick: Joanna Jedrzejczyk -112

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Max Holloway
Pick: Under 3.5  -135

Soccer

Sunday 4/8
Manchester Utd vs. Manchester City
Pick: Over 2.5 goals -120

Real Madrid vs  Atletico Madrid
Pick: Under 3 -152


Tuesday 4/10
Champions League
Roma vs. Barcelona
Over 3 -118

For any questions or comments reach me at @JerryBoKnowz on Twitter.









 


 

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Astros on the hunt. Composite Getty Image.

With the Astros' surge from 10 games out of first place to within two games of Seattle, catching and going past the Mariners has naturally become the top objective. It's no given to happen but it's right there. In the final series ahead of the All-Star break, while the Mariners are in the midst of four games with the lowly Angels, the last two World Series champions renew (un)pleasantries at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros enter the weekend five games ahead of the Rangers. They lead the season series with the reigning champs four wins to three. While the Astros can't quite finish off the Arlingtonians by sweeping them in this three game set, shoving them eight games back (even further back of Seattle and the current Wild Card teams) and clinching the tiebreaker would seem close to a death blow. Taking two out of three would be fine for the Astros. If the Rangers win the series, they are clearly still in the American League West and Wild Card races coming out of the All-Star break.

Last year the Rangers had the best offense in the AL. So far in 2024 they rank a mediocre eighth in runs per game. Nathaniel Lowe is the lone Ranger (get it?!?) regular playing as well as he did last season. Corey Seager has been fine but not at the MVP runner-up level of last year. Marcus Semien is notably down, as is 2023 ALCS Astros-obliterater Adolis Garcia. Stud 2023 rookie Josh Jung has been out with a broken wrist since ex-Astro Phil Maton hit him with a pitch in the fourth game of this season, though fill-in third baseman Josh Smith has been the Rangers' best player. 21-year-old late season phenom Evan Carter largely stunk the first two months this season and has been out since late May with a back injury. Repeating is hard, never harder than it is now. Hence no Major League Baseball has done it since the Yankees won three straight World Series 1998-2000.

Chasing down the Division at a crazy clip

From the abyss of their 7-19 start, the Astros sweep over the Marlins clinched a winning record at the break with them at 49-44. Heading into the Texas matchup the Astros have won at a .627 clip since they were 7-19. A full season of .627 ball wins 101 games. If the Astros win at a .627 rate the rest of the way they'll finish with 92 wins, almost certainly enough to secure a postseason slot and likely enough to win the West. Expecting .627 the rest of the way is ambitious.

With it fairly clear that Lance McCullers is highly unlikely to contribute anything after his latest recovery setback, and Luis Garcia a major question mark, what Justin Verlander has left in 2024 grows more important. With the way the Astros often dissemble or poorly forecast when discussing injuries, for all we know Verlander could be cooked. Inside three weeks to the trade deadline, General Manager Dana Brown can't be thinking a back end of the rotation comprised of Spencer Arrighetti and Jake Bloss should be good enough. The Astros have 66 games to play after the All-Star break, including separate stretches with games on 18 and 16 consecutive days.

All-Star MIAs

Viewership for Tuesday's All-Star game at Globe Life Field in Arlington will be pretty, pretty, pretty low in Houston. One, All-Star Game ratings are pitiful every year compared to where they used to be. Two, the Astros could be down to zero representatives at Tuesday's showcase. Kyle Tucker was rightfully named a reserve but had no shot at playing as he continues the loooong recovery from a bone bruise (or worse) suffered June 3. Being named an All-Star for a ninth time was enough for Jose Altuve. He opts out of spending unnecessary time in Texas Rangers territory citing a sore wrist. This despite Altuve playing four games in a row since sitting out the day after he was plunked and highly likely to play in all three games versus the Rangers this weekend. Yordan Alvarez exiting Wednesday's rout of the Marlins with hip discomfort and then missing Thursday's game seem clear reasons for him to skip, though he has indicated thus far he intends to take part. Yordan is the most essential lineup component to the Astros' hopes of making an eighth straight playoff appearance.

Ronel Blanco should have made the American League squad on performance, but pretty obviously his 10 game illegal substance use suspension was held against him. As it works out, Blanco will pitch Sunday in the last game before the break which would render him unavailable for the All-Star Game anyway. Blanco is eligible to pitch, but given the career high-shattering innings workload Blanco is headed for, no way the Astros want him on the mound Tuesday. Just last year the Astros kept Framber Valdez from pitching in the game.

While waiting, and waiting, and waiting on Tucker's return, the Astros have also been waiting on Chas McCormick to get back to something even faintly resembling the hitter he was last year. McCormick routinely looks lost at the plate. He has four hits (all singles) in his last 32 at bats with his season OPS pitiful at .572. During the break the Astros should seriously weigh sending McCormick to AAA Sugar Land and giving Pedro Leon a try in a job share with Joey Loperfido.

*Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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