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April 16, 2016

There are 3 picks today.

The baseball season, even more so than other sports, is a marathon and NOT a sprint. Each and every Major league club will play a total of 162 games! Seasonal results are what define success and we have no doubt that we'll do even better than last year when we profited over 35 units thanks to an outstanding 91-68 record!

Patience and discipline are all it takes.

1: Take Houston Astros (-128) on the ML against Detroit Tigers risking 3.84% to win 3%.
(McHugh and Verlander must start for wager to have action)

Prior to yesterday's opener against the Tigers, Houston had dropped 3 straight homes! They lost the final 3 matchups of the 4-game series to the Royals and were understandably feeling a bit anxious. For a team that is no longer flying under the radar as they were in 2015 at this time, there are lofty expectations this year. This is an ambitious young ball club that was feeling the effects of fan/media pressure and really needed a 'W' to regain its composure. Stepping in the batters' box with a calm and relaxed mind leads to quality at-bats and the Astros are no doubt calmer tonight than they were heading into their last few games.

Houston really needed a victory to snap that 3-game losing skid and turned to its ace, Dallas Keuchel yesterday. Keuchel delivered with 8 scoreless frames as the bats did just enough to secure the 1-0 win! The fact that Keuchel gave them 8 flawless innings meant the bullpen arms got a day of rest as only closer Gregerson was called upon for the final 3 outs. The Houston relief core has had some issues to start the season so it was important for them to get a day off and get their minds and bodies right. AJ Hinch and the coaching staff do an excellent job and this is a set of relievers that should do better as the season goes on. 

Colin McHugh will get the ball today and he's proven himself as Houston's second most consistent pitcher over the last few seasons. He won 20 games for the Astros in 2015 and looked back to his usual self in his last outing. He held the Royals scoreless for 7 innings and is comfortable pitching in this ball park, a place where he is 12-2 against teams with winning records over the last 3 seasons! Justin Verlander on the other hand looked a shadow of his former self against the Pirates and got hit hard! He gave up 7 runs in less than 5 innings and threw 111 pitches to get through them! He's still a decent pitcher but the veteran's best days are behind him and against an Astros lineup that will be feeling a bit more confident in itself tonight, his struggles could continue. Houston has had great success over recent season following a game where they shut-out the opposition and today should be no different.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Astros are 24-13 as a home favorite of -125 to -150 over the last 3 years!
  • This is the 12th straight game that Astros will be facing a right-handed starter!
  • Tigers are just 34-41 on the road when the total is set at 8 or 8.5 runs over the last 3 years! 

2: Take the UNDER 225 total points in Houston Rockets vs. Golden State for 3% of the bankroll.

There is no question that the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets are two of the most offensively proficient teams in the league. Golden State has averaged 114.9 points per game this season, which tops the league, while the Rockets have averaged 106.5. When two offensive teams meet up, there is no question that everyone, especially the betting public, expects a high scoring game. This is where we believe the value lies, not with the Over, but with the Under. You see, the oddsmakers expect the general public will be blindly betting the Over, simply because of the teams playing in this series. When this happens, the oddsmakers generally inflate the total by a couple of points, knowing that no matter the total, that the general public will still expect the total to go Over and that is a mistake.  

There is no question that both Houston and Golden State have the capability to light up the scoreboard and we expect both Steve Kerr and J.B Bickerstaff to know this. Neither coach wants to play into the strength of the other team and turn this game into an up and down track meet. We expect both teams to put an emphasis on contesting shots and playing a more disciplined style of defense in order to slow the pace of the game and limit their opponent’s ability to get easy buckets. It's not uncommon to see two high scoring teams play a low scoring battle where defense surprisingly is the star of the game. 

This is also the first game of a very important series and is the start of the playoffs. With so much emphasis and pressure to perform placed on the players at this point in the season, it's not uncommon for teams to go through a "feeling out" process in the early going. It takes time to establish a rhythm and get comfortable in such a pressure filled environment. With a total this high, both teams really need to put points on the board consistently quarter after quarter. Both teams need to score an average of 28 points (each) per quarter in order for this game to go Over the total. If either (or both) teams have 25 points or less quarter, it makes it extremely difficult to keep pace for the remainder of the game to allow the total to go 'over'. 

Let's not forget that this game is being played at the Oracle, a place where the Warriors have shown they can turn up the defense. They are holding opponents to just 101 points on this floor, which may seem like a lot but considering how efficiently and much they score above their opponents, it is a rather impressive defensive statistic. Again, this is the playoffs and we expect the Warriors to turn their defense up another notch in this contest. The last 6 times these teams have met on this court, the average total has been 217 and those meeting were during the regular season, where the stakes were not as high as they are now and 4 of those 6 meetings managed to go Under the total! 

While we have explained our reasoning for both teams, it’s important to mention that the referees can also have a huge impact on the total when it comes to calling fouls. The Houston Rockets are arguably not a great free throw shooting team, especially when it comes to the likes of Dwight Howard and Clint Capela. Sending either of those players to the line does not guarantee those "free" points from the charity stripe which could also contribute to this total falling just Under the 225 mark. 

We do expect quite a lot of points to be scored in this contest but the oddsmakers have inflated this number just a bit too much for the first game of the series. Expectations are high for a high scoring affair and while both teams are likely to crack the century mark, we don't believe it will be it will be the complete shootout that many are expecting. The Warriors should be able to limit the Rockets to right around 100 points.

3: Take Minnesota Twins (-122) on the ML against LA Angels risking 3.66% to win 3%.
(Weaver must start for wager to have action)

The Minnesota Twins had a nightmarish start to the season, going 0-9 before finally getting their first win of the season yesterday afternoon against these same Los Angeles Angels! A big part of the Twins struggles were on offense as their bats were as cold as the temperature outside. That changes yesterday as they exploded for 5 runs, which was enough to come away with a 5-4 victory. That first win of the season was significant for Minnesota in that not only did it get that "monkey off their back" but also relieved some of the pressure that comes from being winless on the season. There is no doubt that the players were trying especially hard in order to secure their first victory and that pressure likely caused some of their struggles on offense. With a victory under their belts, we expect that they will come out confident in this game and their offense will likely pick up from here on out. 

Like the Twins, the Angels have had their fair struggles on offense and are averaging just over three runs per game. That has to be extremely frustrating for a team that has huge power in their lineup with the likes of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. The Angels have had the advantage with that power as they have been able to overpower teams with the long ball. That has not happened this season. The Angels have only 3 homeruns thus far on the season and that has made it difficult for them to plate runs. The Angels are not a "fundamentally sound" hitting team in that they struggle when they are forced to advance runners. With the long ball not falling in their favor, if the Twins pitching can keep the ball in the yard, they should have an advantage in this contest. 

Jered Weaver, while a veteran pitcher, is not the same pitcher as he once was. At 33 years old his velocity has taken a dive and he has become an extremely hittable pitcher. The Twins offense should be able to muster up some hits against him this afternoon. Meanwhile, Twins pitcher Ricky Nolasco is coming off an extremely impressive outing where he went 7 strong innings, giving up just a single earned run and 3 hits against a very solid Kansas City Royals team. If Nolasco can muster up another outing like his first, it should be enough to guide his team to a victory. 

The Twins are not as bad a team as their record suggests and Paul Molitor is a very good coach. Due to their less than impressive start, they have been undervalued by the market and will likely be a profitable team to back in the upcoming weeks, until the market adjusts. There is a reason why they opened up as underdogs and the line movement has now shifted to show them as the slight favorites. The Twins have the capability to still make this a winning season and having just tasted victory, we expect that they will be hungry for more. In their home stadium we expect the Twins to come out confident, relaxed and will let the game come to them. This will likely be a closely contested matchup as the Angels are a dangerous team, but at these short odds, there is value backing the home team. 

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