So how many of you spent most of your day "working" on your computer while really watching the first round of The Masters? You don't have to lie to me. I won't narc. It took me longer to write today's newsletter because I was watching The Masters while writing it. I'm one of you.
Hell, I recorded the Cover 3 Podcast this morning with three co-hosts who were all watching golf on secondary screens while doing the show. The NCAA Tournament may be over, but that doesn't mean the tradition of not working on a Thursday morning/afternoon because you're watching sports need to come to an end.
Nor does the tradition of catching up on the day's news. That's just being a responsible person who stays up to date on all the latest happenings in the world.
Now let's get to work on some bets.
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
- Key Trend: Betts is 7-24 with 3 home runs, a double and only two strikeouts in his career against Arizona starter Merrill Kelly.
- The Pick: Mookie Betts Over 1.5 Total Bases (+106)
While there are exceptions to the rule, by and large, how a hitter has performed against a pitcher in the past isn't a great predictor of future performance. Just because a player is 5-10 against a pitcher with a couple of home runs doesn't mean he will keep crushing the guy. Particularly if those other five at bats include a lot of strikeouts and weak contact. For all you know, the pitcher merely made bad pitches against the hitter and paid the price.
That said, some guys tend to see pitchers well. Mookie Betts has shown signs of seeing Arizona starter Merrill Kelly well. In 28 plate appearances, he's struck out only twice. That's a good sign. Betts hasn't swung and missed against Kelly often, and stats like xBA suggest he should have even better results than he's had based on the contact made against him.
Considering Betts is 7-24 with three homers and a double against him, perhaps we should take a chance on Mookie tonight?
What gives me more confidence is the start Betts has gotten off to in 2023. He enters the night with a slash line of .300/.440/.550. According to Statcast, Betts has a hard-hit rate of 64.3% to start the season and a 14.3% barrel rate. For context, the best numbers of Betts' career in those numbers have been 50.6% and 14.1%, respectively. Of course, we're only six games into the season. I'm merely saying he's seeing the ball well to start the season, and tonight he's facing a pitcher he's seen well his entire career.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: If you're looking for a more traditional play, the Projection Model has a B-grade on the money line tonight.
💰 The Picks
The Pick: Braves (-170) -- Longtime readers know I've never been afraid to fade Blake Snell. He misses a lot of bats. He also misses the strike zone far too often, leading to a lot of walks. Plus, when he does allow contact, it's often hard. That's not a great combination for a guy who walks too many hitters. It's an even bigger problem when facing a lineup as deep and dangerous as Atlanta's.
Now, on the other side of this coin, Atlanta starter Spencer Strider can get a bit loose with his command at times, too. The difference is Strider gets a lot more groundballs and allows a lot less hard contact overall than Snell. Plus, the San Diego bullpen has not gotten off to the best start. Considering how rarely Snell goes deep into games, the pen could find itself in more trouble tonight.
Blazers at Spurs, 8 p.m. | TV: NBA League Pass
The Pick: Over 227 (-110) -- Tonight we're looking at a situation where we can't be sure either the Spurs or Blazers -- at the organizational level -- are all that interested in winning a game. The Spurs have the third-worst record in the league, meaning they have a 14% chance of getting the first pick in the draft. The Blazers are in fifth and in full tank mode. Both teams are playing lineups "with an eye for the future" *wink wink nudge nudge know what I'm talking about?*
Yeah, so I have no idea who will win. Over the last five games, these have been the two worst teams in the league from a net efficiency standpoint, primarily due to terrible defending. There's a real chance that tonight's game devolves into an AAU game with minimal defensive effort and a bunch of guys looking to make their mark. It seems ripe for an over.