As somebody who grew up in Chicago during an era when Michael Jordan and the Bulls were dunking on the New York Knicks in perpetuity, there’s a part of me that would really like to carry on that tradition here. I want to remind Knicks fans that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are both coming to New York, but they’ll be playing in Brooklyn, not Madison Square Garden.
But it has been a rough 24 hours for Knicks fans already. Rubbing it in here would be more mean-spirited than jovial prodding, so I’m not going to do it. Instead, I’ll just tell Knicks fans that, while you might not have gotten what you wanted, as a Bulls fan I can vouch for Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis.
Taj might be reaching the end of his career, but he’s precisely the kind of guy you want on a roster full of young players who need somebody to guide them through life as a professional basketball player.
Bobby Portis is going to be a cult hero in New York, I promise you that as well. He has flaws, as most players do, but he’s going to show up every night and give you everything he has. And everything he has is plenty good a lot of the time.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do about James Dolan. You’re stuck with him.
All odds via William Hill.
1. Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates: Pirates +107
The Cubs have been a pretty mediocre team the past few weeks. Since June 13 they’re 7-10, and while five of those losses came against the Dodgers and Braves, the other five were against the White Sox, Mets and Reds. On Monday, they’re starting Adbert Alzolay, who has an ERA of only 1.93 this season, but this season has consisted of 4.2 IP, and his xFIP is at 6.56. In other words, the Pirates have the advantage on the mound tonight with Trevor Williams. The Cubs aren’t playing their best ball, so I like the Pirates as home dogs against a division opponent tonight.
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2. Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers: Angels +130
Mike Minor is probably the best starting pitcher going Monday. The Rangers hurler has an ERA of 2.40 and is 8-4 on the season, but I’m very interested in fading him in this matchup. Minor isn’t a high-strikeout pitcher as is, and his walk rate is about average. He’s facing an Angels offense that strikes out less often than any other offense in baseball, and while I mentioned his ERA is only 2.40, his xFIP of 4.31 suggests we could see some course correction heading his way. Against an Angels offense that makes contact in a park that punishes pitchers for allowing contact, I like the Angels at this price.
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3. San Francisco Giants at San Diego Padres: Over 8
I like the over here for a couple of reasons. One is that I’m not high on Jeff Samardzija, and while Padres starter Logan Allen is a top-100 prospect, he doesn’t project as a top-of-the-line starter. Also, the Padres offense is one of the hottest in baseball right now. Over the past week, the Padres are posting a wOBA of .403. Only the Yankees and Red Sox have been better, and their numbers are juiced from that Little League field in London over the weekend. The Giants offense has been pretty decent itself as of late. It’s wOBA of .320 ranks 13th in MLB in the past week, and while that’s not great, compared to a team wOBA of .286 on the season, it’s a nice step forward.
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