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April 24, 2016

There are two picks today.

1: Take Atlanta Braves (+170) on the ML against NY Mets risking 3% to win 5.1%.

Jacob deGrom has established himself as one of the top pitchers in baseball but he's unlikely to be at his best today. That's because he's only had one start this season and that was back on April 8th! An injury sidelined him for awhile and then the birth of his son meant he was away from the team due to family reasons. Unfortunatley his son had certain complications after birth which meant he should remain in the hospital for another 5 days and Jacob chose to be with his family, understandably so, at an important time. Thankfully, all is well now but to say a lot has been on his mind and that his physical preparation for this contest isn't what it normally is would be an understatement. The All-Star likely needs a couple starts under his belt before he gets in his usual groove but the average MLB bettor does not recognize that. They simply look at the 'names' of the two starting pitchers and lay the heavy price with the favorite when the odds are in fact inflated and all the value is on the underdogs.

Aaron Blair is one of Atlanta's very best prospects and will be making his MLB debut today! The big right-hander can throw hard but there's more to his game than that. It's important for a young pitcher to be confident in his stuff when starting a first ever Major league game and that is the case for Blair given that he's coming off 7 shutout innings of no-hit baseball five days ago with Triple-A Durham! This is a different level obviously but that stellar outing should help him feel like he belongs in the big leagues and calm his nerves. One advantage he'll have over this Mets lineup is that they have never seen him before. None of the batters have ever stepped up to the plate against him and that gives the pitcher a distinct edge in the first few innings! It'll take the Mets a couple orders through the lineup to 'figure him out' and by then, it may be too late.

It also helps that the Mets lineup is missing a couple of important players this afternoon. Yoenis Cespedes and captain David Wright will get the day off to rest as they are both a bit banged up. Juan Lagares is a good defensive replacement but is not the same hitter that All-Star Cespedes is, meanwhile Flores has struggled at the plate to start the season and is also a defensive downgrade compared to the sure-handed David Wright. It wouldn't surprise us if the Mets committed a fielding error or two given that there has been some changes in the defense and deGrom being rusty.

The Braves hold all the value at such generous odds and if the bullpen doesn't throw away another lead, they may well cause an upset today! This game is also arguably more important to them than their opponents given that they are on the verge of being swept at home! Atlanta is not the team it used to be but veterans like Markakis, AJ Pierzynski and Kelly Johnson (former Met) have a lot of pride and will not want to be a doormat. On top of that, former All-Star Freddie Freeman finally broke out of his slump yesterday with an RBI-double and is showing signs of turning things around. Add to that some motivated young talents that are eager to make a name for themselves such as Daniel Castro and Mallex Smith and you have a team that is capable of surprising an opponent or two when they are overlooked! New York has already won this series as well as its last 5 games in Atlanta and might just be looking forward to returning home tomorrow when they start a homestand and a series against another division opponent. This matchup might be a lot closer than most anticipate as the Braves are a live underdog in this spot and will want to give their loyal fanbase something to cheer at last. They've gotten off to a very poor start at Turner Field and will want to squeeze out a 'W' one way or another.

2: Take Houston Rockets +9 spread against Golden State Warriors for 3% of the bankroll.

The Rockets managed to take Game 3 at home from the Golden State Warriors and will be looking to even the series this afternoon as these two teams square off in Game 4. The Rockets will certainly be in desperation mode this afternoon as a loss will almost surely seal their fate as the series shifts back to Oracle Arena. With the Rockets in nearly a must-win situation, the return of reigning MVP Steph Curry has undoubtedly inflated this spread. While Curry is no doubt a game changer when he is on the floor, he hasn't seen any action for the past 8 days and is the type of player who relies on rhythm to get his game going. His ankle also is near 100% so it will come into question exactly how effective he will be in this contest. Steve Kerr will be monitoring his minutes closely in this contest and at the slightest sign of struggles and he will likely be pulled from the rotation. The Warriors still have this series firmly in hand and we expect Kerr to be looking at the "bigger picture" and further into the playoffs as the Warriors will likely be playing the Thunder in the next round and Golden State certainly would need Curry in the lineup for that series.

The Rockets also regained a bit of their swagger coming off their victory in Game 3. Dwight Howard, who for the most part had been a liability in this series, put in a masterful performance and we wouldn't be surprised to see coach J.B Bickerstaff look to employ a similar game plan in this matchup. The three-ball was also falling for the Rockets in Game 3 after their 3 point shooting had gone cold at the Oracle. When the Rockets shots are falling, especially from long range, it is incredibly difficult for opposing teams to win by a healthy margin, especially when on the road, which is exactly what the Warriors would need to do. Houston had a lot of perimeter weapons that are able to cut into leads and even when teams do create separation on the scoreboard, the Rockets have shown that they can cut down even a double digit deficit in only a few possessions.

There is no question that Golden State is the better team, however to ask them to defeat a dangerous home team on the road by double digits, in our opinion, is simply asking too much of them. The stadium will no doubt be rocking this afternoon with the fans cheering on their team in an effort to even up the series. Even if the Rockets do happen to fall short of the outright victory, we believe they will do enough to keep things competitive and stay within this generous number when the final buzzer sounds.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Rockets are 10-5 ATS after two days of rest this season
  • Rockets are 95-41 at Toyota Center over the last 3 seasons!
  • Rockets have won 30 of 41 games after two days of rest over the last 3 years!

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