Jay Wright has salt & pepper good looks and two national championship. Meanwhile, I went bald at 19. Life just isn't fair.
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True to my word, I did not bet on the national championship game last night. But if you did, and you followed my advice on going under the posted total of 144.5, congrats on the extra money in your bank account today.
To be honest, the Free Pick is on a little bit of a streak right now. If you're following our leans, you know we're on a nice little 5-0 run. As the new baseball season continues to unfold, I plan to keep that going.
If you're new to the column, here's everything you need to know: every day, I give out one or two bets to look at that may have been off your radar. In this space, value and process is much more interesting to me than anything else, so don't expect me to highlight, say, Chris Sale's upcoming game with the Marlins. At -250, that game isn't worth talking about here.
Instead, you can expect more under-the-radar plays. I love MLB runlines, NBA total plays and (when you can get it) collegiate softball. Consider this as a daily lean to add to your research schedule before locking in your picks. It's an extra consideration.
Okay, enough with the chatter! We've got two more really strong picks today.
Cubs at Reds, 3:35 p.m. EST
Jon Lester (0-0, 8.10 ERA, 1 Start) vs
Cody Reed (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0 Appearances)
The Cubs have looked a little underwhelming through five games this season, but that actually makes this a perfect spot to bet them. Cincinnati looks like it might be the worst team in the NL Central this season. To make things worse, the Reds are sending out young Cody Reed for a spot start today.
If you don't know who Cody Reed is, then you're in good company. He's a lefty who went 0-7 in 2017 with a 7.36 ERA; in three career appearances against the Cubs, Reed is 0-3 with a 16.20 ERA. The HERO Sports research team has informed me that those numbers are, in fact, bad.
Lester didn't exactly have a great start to the season himself, only going three and a third in the Cubs' opener in Miami. But I expect a decent rebound here against a Reds batting order that really doesn't do much for me. The Cubs Moneyline is skyrocketing up toward -200, for obvious reasons. Get in on the runline early, though, and you'll find much stronger value. Right now, it's floating right around -110 or -115, depending on the book.
Pick: Cubs -1.5 -110
Orioles at Astros, 8:10 p.m. EST
Mike Wright (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0 Appearances) vs
Justin Verlander (1-0. 0.00 ERA, 1 Start)
Here, we have an even more extreme version of spot starter vs established guy. I don't need to tell you much about Verlander — as a professional athlete who is married to Kate Upton, I assume the guy is living what is probably the greatest life in human history. (If you really want to know, he fanned five and pitched six scoreless innings on Opening Day last Thursday.)
Mike Wright, meanwhile, is more of an early relief guy who's getting a spot start. In three years in the majors, he's never posted an ERA under 5.00. He hasn't recorded a start (or a win) since 2016.
Speaking as an Orioles fan, Wright is a decent arm to have in the clubhouse. That doesn't mean he's likely to find much success in Houston, though. The Orioles gave up six runs to the Astros in Monday night's season-opener, while they themselves have only scored six runs all season. The Astros runline is the play here. The variance between books is pretty great, as you can find it (as of noon on Tuesday) from -115 all the way up to -135.
Frankly, there's great value on this pick at any of those lines. I'm considering Houston -2.5 +135.
Pick: Astros -1.5 -115