A possible MLB playoff preview in Toronto, plus other best bets for the weekend

Happy Friday! I’ve got a jumbo edition of the newsletter for you tonight, including an NFL preseason parlay only the truest degenerates will appreciate. Don’t worry; if degeneracy isn’t your goal, I’ve got a couple of MLB plays for tonight, and three soccer picks to get you through the entire weekend.

Before we get to the picks, let’s catch up on everything you might have missed while sitting at work waiting for your weekend to start.

Now let’s try to finish the week a lot better than we started it.

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook

🔥 The Hot Ticket

Guardians at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. | TV: MLB Network

Latest Odds:

Under 8.5

  • Key Trend: The under is 5-0 in Toronto’s last five home games and 4-0-1 in Cleveland’s last five.
  • The Pick: Under 8.5 (-110)

I’m telling you, football and soccer couldn’t have come at a better time because I’m currently mired in my coldest MLB betting run of the season. It’s not entirely unexpected, as my model usually takes a little time to adjust following the trade deadline. The problem is, I know that, so I’ve been avoiding most moneyline plays and sticking to totals because they aren’t as impacted by player movement.

But I’m not going to lose forever! I’m due for a win!

Of all the MLB games Friday, this is the one I have the most faith in. The Guardians have emerged as the favorite in an AL Central division nobody seems interested in winning. They’ve won five straight, seven of 10, and they’ve done it the same way they’ve done all year — pitching and defense. That will come in handy tonight against the Jays.

Cal Quantrill starts for Cleveland, and though he doesn’t miss many bats (a scary proposition against Toronto), he has excellent control and rarely walks hitters. Toronto has Jose Berrios pitching, and while his strikeout rate is abnormally low this year, he’s not walking anybody, either. He’s prone to the longball, but that doesn’t worry me as much against a Cleveland lineup that ranks 29th in MLB in HR rate. We’ve got a possible playoff preview in Toronto tonight, and it should look like a playoff game on the scoreboard.

Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Projection Model doesn’t like anything here, but SportsLine’s Matt Severance has a play on the moneyline, and he’s up 28.53 units over his last 447 MLB picks.

💰 The Picks



Dodgers at Royals, 8:10 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV

Latest Odds:

Over 9

The Pick: Over 9 (-115) — The Royals took three of four from the White Sox and are winners of eight of their last 12. I assume the Dodgers will put an end to the run this weekend, but the total is what I want to attack tonight. The weather forecast in Kansas City this evening bodes well for offense, as does the pitching matchup.

Los Angeles’ Tony Gonsolin has been outstanding this year with a 2.30 ERA, but his peripherals suggest some regression is in order. He allows a lot of flyball contact, which could hurt him in tonight’s conditions. Kansas City is sending Daniel Lynch to the mound, and he walks too many hitters and allows a lot of hard contact. That’s not great news against a Dodgers lineup that ranks third in MLB with a wRC+ of 117 against lefties.

Key Trend: The over is 8-2 in Kansas City’s last 10 interleague game. It’s a meaningless trend, but it makes me feel better.

⚽ Soccer

Getty Images

Arsenal vs. Leicester City, Saturday, 10 a.m. | TV: Peacock
The Pick: Arsenal (-185) — 
I promise this is not an overreaction to anything last week. If anything, it’s a reflection of my concern about Leicester City. Before the season began, I took out a future on Leicester to be relegated. It’s not a ticket I expect to cash, but it’s a possibility I find to be more likely than the odds offered.

Leicester hasn’t done anything in the transfer window except lose players from last season’s team, and it could lose more before the window closes. While it’s more of a long-term issue, it doesn’t do much to help the Foxes in the short-term, and while I’m not ready to declare Arsenal as a top-four team this year, I do think it’s a much-improved team over what we saw last year, and I like its chances of winning its home-opener.

Monza vs. Torino, Saturday, 2:45 p.m. | TV: Paramount+
The Pick: Monza (+155) —
Promoted teams don’t tend to fare well in Serie A, but Monza is not your typical newly-promoted team. It’s owned by former AC Milan owner and Italian president Silvio Berlusconi, who has put enough funds into the club to help it climb from Serie D to Serie A in five years. Since earning promotion, Berlusconi and Monza have added good players with plenty of Serie A experience in Stefano Sensi and Matteo Pessina. They’re also expected to bring in Andrea Petagna from Napoli soon.

Torino finished mid-table last season but saw Serie A Defender of the Year Gleison Bremer depart for Juventus. Andrea Belotti, who led the team in goals last season and six of the last seven seasons, is gone as well. While I don’t think Torino is in danger of relegation, replacing your focal point in attack and best defender in the same summer doesn’t usually lead to improvement. It definitely doesn’t early in the season. Monza is the promoted team most likely to stick around Serie A, and there’s a good chance the campaign begins with three points this weekend.

Chelsea vs. Tottenham, Sunday, 11:30 a.m. | TV: USA
The Pick: Tottenham or Draw (-160) — 
Early in the season, we don’t have much data to work off of, so there are a lot more vibes that go into my thought process, and I don’t like the vibes at Chelsea right now. Todd Boehly bought the club in May, and he’s giving me a bad impression. When you’re taking over a club from Roman Abramovich, I understand that you want to make the fans feel better by showing that you’re willing to spend money too, but I don’t understand Chelsea’s plan over the summer. There was interest in Ronaldo that made no sense, and then, after Marc Cucurella was linked to Manchester City all summer, Chelsea emerged late to snap him up. Cucurella is a good player, but why is Chelsea spending $73 million on a player who plays the same position as Ben Chilwell, whom they spent $55 million to get in 2020?

I’m getting strong Manchester United vibes from Chelsea at the moment, meaning that the plan seems to be “hey, I recognize that name, and other teams like him, so let’s buy him,” without regard for need or how the player fits. Meanwhile, Antonio Conte knows precisely what he wants and has forced Tottenham to get it for him since he took over, and as a result, Tottenham’s been the third-best team in the league since he stepped in. I think Tottenham will be the better team Sunday as well, but I’m going to hedge a little by taking it to get at least a draw.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: SportsLine’s team of NFL handicappers has broken down all 32 teams to come up with the best bets on win totals, Super Bowl odds, and even Week 1 games. And you can find all of it right here.

🏈 An entirely irresponsible NFL preseason parlay

Friday nights have always been the best night to make irresponsible decisions, so let’s do that. Tonight’s parlay pays +384 if you’re brave (dumb) enough to take it.

  • Arizona Cardinals (+115)
  • Green Bay Packers (+125)


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