Happy Monday, everybody. I hope you enjoyed your holiday weekend. I would also like to say hello to everybody in and around my neighborhood setting off fireworks until at least 3 a.m. last night.
Shout out to my dog, Frankie, who is not bothered by fireworks in the slightest. I know how lucky I am to be able to say that.
But back to the subject of my neighborhood, while out walking Frankie this morning, I saw a man walking his bird. Now, when I say he was walking his bird, I mean the bird — I’m not sure what kind of bird it was, I only know that it was large and white — was perched on his arm as he strolled down the street. I did not approach the man with the bird because if I had, he might have wanted to start talking to me about his bird, and that wasn’t a conversation I was interested in having with him or anybody.
Now, this seemed strange to me, but stranger still is that this man was not the first man I’ve seen walking a bird. No, a few weeks ago, while walking around the neighborhood, I saw a different man with a different bird — a parrot — perched on his right shoulder. Now, I have lived in this neighborhood for nearly 10 years, and I have been walking my dog around it daily for the last seven years. I had never seen anybody walking a bird before, but now I’ve seen two in the last six weeks.
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Is this a thing now? Have bird owners been instructed to begin taking their birds on daily walks? What’s going on here? If you know, please, let me know. I need to get to the bottom of this.
Onto tonight’s festivities.
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Lightning at Canadiens, 8 p.m. | TV: NBC
The Pick: Lightning (-160): OK, so this newsletter’s history of betting the NHL hasn’t been great. We’ve won a few bets and hit some parlays, but the list of losers has been longer. In other words, if I were to compare this newsletter’s history with NHL picks to this year’s Stanley Cup Final, we’d be the Canadiens.
But you know what? The NHL season is likely to end tonight, and we’re finishing the season with a winner! I don’t know how closely you’ve watched this series, but the Lightning look to be playing a different sport than Montreal for the most part. The Canadiens are a great story, as they finished the season in fourth place in their division and had the lowest points total (59) of any playoff team. But it didn’t matter. They got hot at the right time and stormed their way to the Final.
Unfortunately for them, they’ve come back down to Earth against the defending champions. The Lightning have outscored Montreal 14-5 through three games. Also, as I was writing this, I saw a tweet that said the Lightning could become the 27th team in NHL history to win back-to-back titles, and 10 of them have pulled off sweeps for the second title, so now it just feels like fate.
Key Trend: Tampa Bay has outscored Montreal 14-5 in the series.
Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Advanced Computer Model has an A-graded play on the money line tonight, and it’s one that both Matt Severance and John Bollman agree with too. But does the triumvirate agree with me?
💰 The Picks
Brewers at Mets, 7:10 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Over 7.5 (-105) — In recent weeks, something that’s been of interest to me is MLB totals staying low when aces are pitching, even though we’ve seen baseball crackdown on the substances pitchers are allowed to use. Now, some pitchers have dealt with this better than others, but there’s been a pretty clear difference in spin rates from a lot of the top pitchers, and they’ve become a bit more hittable. Woodruff hasn’t seen a sharp decline like other top pitchers, but his spin rates have decreased in recent starts. I don’t expect him to get rocked by any stretch, but he’s not as untouchable as he was, as he’s allowed 6.6 H/9 in his last five starts compared to 4.2 over his first 11.
On the other side, the Mets are starting Tylor Megill. Megill has a walk rate of 10% through his first 9.1 innings this season and has given up a lot of fly ball contact. Woodruff’s recent slip, Megill’s fly ball tendencies, and the weather in New York tonight all lead me to believe we’re going to see a higher-scoring affair than this total wants us to believe.
Key Trend: The over is 5-2 in Milwaukee’s last seven against a right-handed starter.
Phillies at Cubs, 8:05 p.m | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Over 11 (-110) — We’re betting on Wrigley being Wrigley tonight, and I’d bet this as soon as possible if I were you because there’s a strong chance the total gets even higher. The forecast for tonight’s game calls for temperatures in the upper 80s at game time, with strong winds blowing out to right-center. As I’ve gone over here many times, Wrigley Field’s dimensions do not change, but the way the park plays shifts dramatically depending on the weather. Tonight is one of those nights when the ball is going to seem juiced, and neither of tonight’s starting pitchers has a strikeout rate above 17.6%. The MLB average for a starting pitcher this season is 23.3%.
Key Trend: The over is 8-3 in the last 11 meetings at Wrigley Field.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: We already have a play on the total, but the Advanced Computer Model has an A-graded play on the money line in tonight’s game between the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies too.
💸 The DFS Rundown
Top Three Starters
- Brandon Woodruff, Brewers
- Joe Musgrove, Padres
- Max Fried, Braves
- Rich Hill, Rays
Today’s Top Stack
- Willson Contreras, Cubs
- Kris Bryant, Cubs
- Anthony Rizzo, Cubs
- Andrew Benintendi, Royals
⚾ Monday Night Parlay
Tonight’s parlay pays +202 and is guaranteed to win unless it doesn’t. And if it doesn’t, it’s the players’ fault, not ours.
- Dodgers (-153)
- Red Sox (-105)