Unless you’re a baseball fan, you probably woke up Friday morning with a sense of dread. The NBA season came to an end on Thursday night only 24 hours after the NHL season did the same. While there’s plenty of baseball on, the football season is roughly 2.5 months away.
That’s a long time to wait.
It’s not as bad as you might think, however! First of all, baseball is great, and you should watch it. Secondly, soccer is pretty wonderful too. The Women’s World Cup is still in its group stage, and if you haven’t watched yet, you should. America is good at women’s soccer, and it’s fun to root for an American soccer team that is expected to win the match it’s playing.
There’s another soccer competition beginning on Friday night that’s worth your time as well: Copa America. What’s that? Well, I’m glad you asked. It’s basically the World Cup of South America. It follows the same format as your World Cup tournaments, as well as the Euros, where there’s group play and then a knockout stage. It’s also extremely entertaining soccer, as the event is filled with great teams and the matches are played in terrific atmospheres. As a soccer fan, it is one of my favorite events to follow. And if you need something to bet on to make it more interesting, while it’s not an official pick, I’d recommend the Over 3.5 in tonight’s opener between Brazil and Bolivia.
Oh, and there’s one other sport going on this summer that’s nice to bet, and that’s where my first pick for this evening comes from. As usual, all odds are via William Hill.
1. Los Angeles Sparks at Phoenix Mercury: Mercury -3
I have a simple philosophy when it comes to betting WNBA games. You see, while sportsbooks have the NFL, NBA and MLB nailed for the most part, making it more challenging to win consistently over the long haul, the same cannot be said for the WNBA. The sport isn’t as popular as those others, and as a result, it doesn’t draw nearly the same amount of gambling attention. On a night when there’s only one WNBA game going, it might receive roughly a fifth the number of bets as any MLB game on a 15-game slate. This results in bookmakers paying less attention to it as well, and you tend to get softer, more beatable lines because of it.
So, when this is the case, trust the people who know what they’re doing, and follow the line movement. The sharps are betting WNBA games because they have a more significant advantage there, so when you see that a game between the Mercury and Sparks opened as a pick ’em, and the line has moved a full three points in only a matter of hours, that should tell you something.
SportsLine MMA guru Kyle Marley is up more than $21,000 on his MMA selections in the past year, and he just released his selections for Friday’s Bellator 222 card. Get the edge with Marley’s picks only at SportsLine.
2. Los Angeles Angels at Tampa Bay Rays: Angels +155
If you’ve been following my picks for a while, you know what I’m doing here. I like to look for spots where I can find some excess value on underdogs going against an ace. I think we have one here. Blake Snell is starting for the Rays, but the Angels offense has been hot of late, and it’s been one of the best contact offenses in baseball all season long. No team strikes out less often than the Angels, which could negate some of Snell’s advantage. Furthermore, Andrew Heaney is starting for the Angels, and while his first few starts of the season haven’t been great overall, his xFIP of 3.06 and SIERA of 2.35 suggests he’s pitched much better than his ERA suggests. Heaney’s strikeout rate is also 85 percent above league average to this point, and he’s facing a Rays offense that strikes out 24.4 percent of the time.
SportsLine expert Zack Cimini is 24-10 in his last 34 MLB plays, and he’s locking in three best bets for Friday’s action, including the White Sox to topple the Yankees. Find out why, plus the rest of his picks, over at SportsLine.
3. Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves: Under 9.5
Atlanta starter Max Fried is underrated in my estimation, and I understand why. In an era of everybody throwing 95-plus with a bunch of strikeouts, his strikeout rate isn’t overly impressive. But what he does exceptionally well is throw strikes and get ground balls. In the age of launch angle, it’s much harder to do the latter than ever before. Still, I don’t like the Braves at their price on the moneyline, but I do like this under because Phillies starter Nick Pivetta is a similar pitcher to Fried as far as the kind of results they get. So I think this total is a little too high.
DFS millionaire Mike McClure is building his optimal tournament lineups for Friday’s MLB action, and you’re going to want to see his selections before you lock in your picks. Find out who McClure is backing over at SportsLine.