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MLB Season Opens July 23

Baseball is finally ready to start its season on Thursday night!

We posted our usual MLB Preview Guide a few weeks ago with the below win total predictions for the abbreviated MLB season. We are ready to go and could have our first pick on opening night!

Daily updates via email and/or text are included with our 2020 MLB Season Subscription available for only $199 – with the season from late July to the end of October that is just ~$60 a month!

Bobby Dalton also expects to post regular MLB updates and has his season package available with a great history of success on the diamond.

Here are the win totals we posted in early July:

NL EAST

BEST BET: UNDER 31½ – Philadelphia Phillies: A third of the games for the Phillies will be against the Nats and the Braves, clear NL contenders. Add in 10 more games with a formidable Mets rotation and wins will be tough to come by for a limited offensive team. The Marlins pitching staff even offers some promise while the AL East draw won’t do the Phillies any favors. New acquisition Zack Wheeler has already questioned being able to finish the season with his first child on the way while putting the DH in the NL isn’t likely to benefit the Philadelphia lineup as much as other teams in the division with better offensive depth. Aaron Nola regressed last season and returning to his 2018 form isn’t likely in a short season as he has been a very slow starter with a 5.68 ERA in March/April in his career. Rookie Spencer Howard is likely the leading candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation with Jake Arrieta and Zach Eflin at best average options after Nola. The Philadelphia bullpen is already littered with injuries for a unit that had limited promise to start with. 31½ doesn’t sound like an overwhelming figure, but the Phillies were just a .500 team in 2019 and haven’t topped .500 in a season since the 2011 campaign.  

NL CENTRAL

BEST BET: OVER 30½ Wins – Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers don’t have many household names in the rotation following rising star Brandon Woodruff but the Brewers should be well-suited for a short campaign as they can lean on the deep and versatile bullpen. Milwaukee is 55 games above .500 the past three years combined and last season made its great late season run without Christian Yelich. The Cubs and Pirates are surely candidates to decline in 2020 compared to last season while drawing a third of the schedule against the AL Central while completely avoiding the NL East and NL West teams is a huge plus for Milwaukee’s chances at returning to the playoffs for a third straight season. While Craig Counsell’s creativity may take a hit with the implementation of the DH in the NL this season, the Brewers have viable DH candidates in an aging Ryan Braun and defensively challenged Keston Hiura, while sluggers Ryon Healy and Logan Morrison are also in camp looking to possibly earn a spot behind new addition Justin Smoak. Another newcomer Avisail Garcia also could reemerge as a major contributor after battling injuries the past two seasons in Chicago and Tampa Bay.

NL WEST

BEST BET: OVER 31 – Arizona Diamondbacks: The Dodgers are certainly the favorites in the West but Arizona held its own in that series last season and went 39-32 after the All Star break in 2019 despite falling out of the playoff race with a mid-September slide. Madison Bumgarner is the high-profile addition to lead the staff but Robbie Ray, Zac Gallen, and Luke Weaver give the Diamondbacks a solid rotation top-to-bottom. The schedule will also work out well for Arizona with 30 games ahead vs. the Rockies, Padres, and Giants, division foes that Arizona could have done much better against last season. Houston and Oakland will be difficult draws from the AL but that division crossover will also bring four games with Seattle and will mean much lesser travel than the team is accustomed to. Arizona has had three consecutive winning seasons, even in years dealing with a historically great Dodgers team and a more formidable Colorado team than is expected this season. The Rockies have a bit of rebound potential this season but the Giants aren’t as likely to hang around as long this season, while San Diego remains a team with many question marks. The Dodgers will also lean on three ultra-young starters behind Clayton Kershaw which could mean some inconsistency and more work for the bullpen.

AL EAST

BEST BET: UNDER 31½ – Boston Red Sox: The 2018 Red Sox were a historically great team with 108 wins and a World Series title. Last season Boston dropped to just 84 wins and the climb downward could continue in the abbreviated 2020 season. New York and Tampa Bay look like perhaps the top two AL contenders and those two teams will fill a third of Boston’s schedule, teams the Red Sox combined to go 12-26 against last season. Last season’s #5 starter for the Red Sox Eduardo Rodriguez is now the staff ace by default while Nathan Eovaldi and Collin McHugh back from injuries and an aging Martin Perez off a season overachievement will need to fill out the rotation. Subtracting Mookie Betts isn’t going to spell improvement as the lineup is much less intimidating and will also draw 20 games against the pitching-rich NL East as well, with Boston only 10-10 in interleague play last season. Boston went 21-11 vs. the AL Central last season and had a winning record against four of five AL West teams and now has all of those opponents erased. 31½ sounds low for a popular Red Sox team accustomed to being in contention but winning 32 games means a 53.3% winning percentage for at team that won at a 51.9% clip last season. 

AL CENTRAL

BEST BET: UNDER 34 – Minnesota Twins: Given that the Twins will play the Royals and Tigers 20 times and capable but not overly formidable Cleveland and Chicago squads 20 times, many will call for a great season in Minnesota. The Twins were clear overachievers last season with 101 wins however in a historically great home run season. Minnesota got unexpected starting pitching last season and now is turning to three veterans that have battled injuries and inconsistency in recent years to replace much of that success. Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi also are regression candidates at the top of the rotation and the short summer camp will likely mean more reliance on a bullpen that lacked quality depth last season. The NL Central draw is a tricky one with likely four quality teams in that group and the Twins were just 8-12 in interleague games last season. Minnesota still lost its season series with the Indians last year and was a fortunate team in one-run games with a 23-12 record. A huge 21-8 May buoyed the season with Minnesota a more average performer in the mid-summer months before another embarrassing playoff sweep. Josh Donaldson is a high profile addition but several returnees might struggle to match their 2019 pace.

AL WEST

BEST BET: OVER 28½ – Texas Rangers: The new ballpark will be an unknown factor but there remains a lot to like about the Texas lineup. Adding Corey Kluber gives the Rangers a potential ace to match with the quality results Lance Lynn and Mike Minor have provided while Kyle Gibson remains a pitcher with a tantalizing upside. The rotation is high on experience which could help to offset some of the uncertainty in the bullpen. The case for the Rangers also hinges on clear paths to decline from Houston and Oakland. The Astros will remain formidable but two expected starters in the rotation haven’t even reported yet and everyone will be looking to spoil Houston’s season. Oakland also has some regression potential after back-to-back 97-win seasons. The five projected starters for Oakland won a combined 30 games last season and while the bullpen can carry the team it may be a tougher path. Seattle looks like one of the worst teams in baseball this season as Texas could produce a much better record in that series this season. The NL West interleague draw also offers some matchup and travel benefits to the Rangers as this team that was 48-42 at the All Star break last season has the potential to be a sleeper in the AL playoff race. Texas should at least have a good shot for a .500 campaign following three straight losing seasons.

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Green Sheet Issue #5 in the SEC

This week’s Green Sheet release is all about the SEC. LSU delivered a historically great championship season last year to keep the conference on top of college football. The Tigers will return minimal experience in 2020 as there is likely to be a change at the top. 

Find out which three programs return top five experience ratings on both sides of the ball for 2020, one of which rates as a clear surprise candidate given its schedule with a 10-0 start very possible. We also have seven pages of coaching stats and team history, along with the 2020 schedules in this week’s issue. 
Find out which coach is a nearly 79% ATS proposition in his career as a road favorite, including going 4-0 last season in that role. What role has Nick Saban only covered at a 20% ATS rate in his tenure at Alabama? It is the same role that Gus Malzahn has covered at an 80% clip in his time at Auburn.

Mike Leach and Lane Kiffin are well-traveled high-profile additions to the SEC this season and we have all of their past results broken down in Green Sheet issue #5, available now for just $12, or you can still sign up for the full season subscription for only $99, this rate will be going up to $149 soon, so don’t delay! 

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Free NCAA Pick Tuesday

#630 Texas Tech -9 over Oklahoma 8:00 PM CT

Beating Oklahoma State isn’t overly consequential this season but the Sooner bested their rival 82-69 on Saturday for an impressive home result, leading wire-to-wire and leading by 20 at one point in the second half. A lot went right with 12 3-point makes and a 50 percent shooting game overall against a Cowboys team that has slide to 0-8 in the Big XII. Oklahoma is 4-4 in league play but the wins have all come against the bottom half of the league. The Sooners have lost three straight road games and are 2-6 in true road games this season with the last road win nearly a month ago.

After last season’s near national title, Chris Beard had significant work to do this season at Texas Tech, needing to replace a number of key players. The Red Raiders have eight losses already but five of those defeats against top 20 caliber teams. The two home losses came by five points vs. now #1 Baylor and in overtime by two points vs. Kentucky. Last Saturday Texas Tech lost by only three in Lawrence vs. highly-ranked Kansas and in the last home game the Red Raiders blasted a highly ranked West Virginia team with 89 points.

The line on this game has been adjusted a bit too high but the Red Raiders have won by a combined margin of 63 points in three Big XII home wins and while these teams are both 4-4 in the conference the records and numbers suggest dramatically different teams. Texas Tech is a top four team in both offensive and defensive efficiency despite a much more difficult schedule so far and the Red Raiders are #1 in the Big XII on offense and defense in 3-point shooting percentage. That will be critical against a Sooners team that is second in the conference in 3-point attempts. The Red Raiders are five percent better at the free throw line and much better at creating turnovers as well. Some evening buy-back looks possible with this line jumping from 7.5 to 9 and if it slips back downward the Red Raiders may be play-able at more than a free pick level.

Nelly’s Basketball is 17-5 since January 21 for a huge run in the heart of the season. We won our first top play of the season last week and have another great college 2* opportunity ahead Tuesday night. Pay after you win for $25 or join us for the rest of February for $199. We’ve won in all three months this season and have a winning record in 12 of the past 15 months of February historically.

Bobby Dalton also had a big January and has won six consecutive 10* Best Bets – get a 10* as part of a Trips-2-Win offer for Tuesday night.

The Big E is on a big basketball run the past seven weeks, winning again last night. A 10* Biggie will be up for Tuesday before huge games Wednesday and Thursday. His 15* Game of the Month is scheduled for Wednesday (3-0 in 15* picks) and his 20* Big Sky Game of the Year is scheduled for Thursday (6-2-1 in 20* picks).

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Eliminator Final 2

Don’t miss the ELIMINATOR CONTEST picks this week with NFL selections for Sunday’s Week 10 schedule.

Scott Rickenbach and Victor King are dueling for the final two spots and with the success they’ve had the contest could continue for several more weeks!

Check out the single plays HERE or consider signing up for the Double Plays for only $9!

Congratulations to our final two contestants!

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Eliminator Contest Update

The contest is heating up with single plays collectively going 10-7 and Double Plays going 11-5-1!

Scott Rickenbach still leads the contest with a 7-1 record and just 1 point but Big E, Fairway Jay, Maximum Sports, and Victor King are all close behind with just 3 points.

Fairway Jay, ASA, Steve Merril, Bobby Dalton, Marc Lawrence, and Rocketman all went 2-0 last week in Week 4 of the contest!

Don’t miss this week’s picks – check out the WEEK 5 SINGLE PLAYS or get the Doubles for just $9!

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4th Quarter Covers – Week 2

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 2

09/11/2017

Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in the second big college football weekend. Each week there are several teams that cover despite not necessarily deserving it, as well as other teams that played much better than the final score shows.

Oregon (-11) 42, Nebraska 35: The line on this Pac-12/Big Ten clash dropped from as high as -14 but it didn’t look like it mattered at halftime as Oregon led 42-14. Nebraska put together a good fight in the second half to climb within 14 in the first seven minutes before scoring halted on both sides with Oregon ending successive drives with an interception, a failed 4th-and-short, and a missed field goal. Nebraska wasn’t able to take advantage as it looked like Oregon would be able to run out the clock. With just over five minutes to go the Ducks fumbled in their own territory. Many watched with great interest as Nebraska went for it on 4th-and-4 from inside the Oregon 20-yard-line in the final minutes, converting and eventually finding the end zone for the backdoor cover. Nebraska actually got the ball back in decent field position with about two minutes to go but any hopes of tying the game ended quickly with an interception.

Old Dominion (-3½) 17, Massachusetts 7: Old Dominion had a 10-0 lead at halftime but two offensive plays into the second half the Minutemen were within three and within the spread with a 60-yard passing touchdown. Seven consecutive punts followed before the Monarchs seemed ready to put the game away but a 16-play, 93-yard drive came up empty with Massachusetts getting three straight stops on the one-yard-line. Pinned deep the Minutemen couldn’t advance and in great field position after a short punt Old Dominion would find the end zone again, going up by 10 with just over six minutes to go in the game. Massachusetts entered Old Dominion territory on its final two possessions but could not add points, falling to 0-3 S/U and ATS on the season despite three competitive games.

Michigan (-33) 36, Cincinnati 14 (49½): As a heavy favorite Michigan was never a threat to cover, leading by only three points well into the second half before pulling away. The total however brought some fourth quarter excitement with a number that fell from just above 50 to just below 50 by kickoff. There were just 24 points at halftime but 38 points through three quarters. Michigan settled for a very short field goal with about nine minutes to go and then scored twice on defense in the final seven minutes with a safety and the team’s second interception return touchdown of the game for the scoring to close right on 50.

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Louisville (-11½) 47, North Carolina: Louisville led by 13 early in the third quarter, past a road favorite spread that reached as high as -12½. That lead didn’t last long as the kickoff was returned for a touchdown to bring the Tar Heels within six and later in the third quarter North Carolina took a 28-27 lead. Louisville would score three touchdowns in a 10-minute span in the fourth quarter to lead by 19 with about three minutes to go but North Carolina scored a touchdown with 31 seconds remaining to make the final margin 12, right near the number.

Iowa (-3½) 44, Iowa State 41: This rivalry game lived up to the billing with an exciting back-and-forth contest. Iowa had a 21-10 lead halfway through the third quarter but Iowa State scored three consecutive touchdowns to take a 31-21 lead early in the fourth quarter. Iowa tied the game with the help of the lone turnover in the game getting a short field goal to knot the game at 31-31 with about five minutes to go but Iowa State quickly hit a 74-yard pass play to go up by seven. With just over a minute to go Iowa hit a 46-yard pass to force overtime. The Cyclones went first in the extra session and had to settle for a field goal, Iowa was able to convert a big 3rd down play and hit for the game winning score, not needing the extra-point that those on the Hawkeyes needed for the closing line cover, though a push was certainly a common result.

Colorado (-37) 37, Texas State 3: The Buffaloes were in command with a 31-3 edge through three quarters but they settled for a field goal with about 10 minutes remaining to sit short of the hefty favorite spread. A Texas State fumble handed Colorado the ball right back at the Texas State 24-yard-line but the Buffaloes again had to settle for a short kick, leaving them just short of the elevated spread. Colorado would get the ball back and opted to go for it on 4th-and-6 from deep field goal range, falling a yard short and winding up just short of the number.

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Penn State (-18½) 33, Pittsburgh 14: The Nittany Lions jumped out to a 14-0 lead but they couldn’t pull away from rival Pittsburgh, leading just 21-6 through three quarters before scoring early in the fourth quarter to get past the spread with a 28-6 edge. The line on this game reached as high a -20½ before dropping before kickoff and the timing wound up being rather critical as Pittsburgh closed the margin to 14 points with a touchdown and a two-point conversion before Penn State added a late safety and a short field goal to win by 19 despite posting only 312 total yards in the game. Pittsburgh had a chance to convincingly steal the cover on any price but in the final seconds Ben Dinucci was sacked and fumbled on 4th-and-goal from the 8-yard line.

Navy (-8) 23, Tulane 21: This game featured a line as high as -14 before steadily falling all the way down to a closing number of -8. The middle was momentarily there with Navy leading by 10 heading into the fourth quarter after scoring nine points on defense in the third quarter. Tulane scored two minutes into the final frame and hit the two-point conversion for a two-point game having to play much of the way with a back-up quarterback. The Wave failed on a pair of fourth down attempts late in the game as Navy was able to run out the clock for the win.

Tulsa (-14) 66, UL-Lafayette 42: Tulsa led by just three points late in the third quarter but wound up scoring four touchdowns in the final 19 minutes, including a rush with their starting quarterback with less than a minute to go for an eventual 24-point final margin, slipping past the favorite spread in a game where the yardage edge wasn’t dramatic with Tulsa posting 667 yards compared to 596 for the underdog Ragin’ Cajuns.

Toledo (-11) 37, Nevada 24: Toledo led by 17 on three separate occasions but Nevada hit a 75-yard pass play late in the third quarter to climb within the spread trailing by 10 entering the fourth quarter. The Rockets missed a field goal but Nevada had turnovers on its next two possessions, allowing the Rockets to get three with a short drive with just over four minutes remaining. It looked like the favorite cover was in jeopardy as Nevada reached the red zone on its final possession but failed on 4th-and-2.

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Houston (-1½) 19, Arizona 16: Finally on the field for the first time this season Houston started strong at Arizona taking a 17-10 lead into halftime and adding an early third quarter safety to lead by nine as a very slight road favorite.  Arizona had a great late third quarter drive but ultimately had to settle for a short field goal to trail by six. Midway through the fourth quarter an interception helped Arizona cut the margin in half with another field goal and the Wildcats had the ball back after forcing a quick Houston punt. With a fresh set of downs at the Houston 32-yard line Khalil Tate was intercepted with fewer than four minutes remaining and Houston was to pick up a first down and shift the field position to hold off the Wildcats for a narrow win and road favorite cover.

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Nelly’s Free MLB Pick Thursday

 

#923 Tampa Bay Rays (Archer) -115 over Pittsburgh Pirates (Taillon) 6:05 PM CT

Chris Archer is back to being one of the better right-handed starters in the AL this season after a down 2016 campaign. Archer has pitched even better than his solid traditional numbers appear as he owns the fourth lowest FIP among all 77 qualified MLB starters at 2.88 even if his ERA is a full run higher. Archer has the second best K/9 in the AL and while the Pirates are a better hitting team vs. right-handed pitching they still boast just a .718 team OPS vs. right-handers which is the fourth worst mark in the NL. Tampa Bay is crushing right-handed pitching with a .809 OPS that barely trails the Astros and Yankees on top of the AL. The Rays are 32-22 vs. right-handed starters while going 6-2 so far in interleague games. Jameson Taillon has made three June starts after a six week absence due to a cancer diagnosis and while his future looks bright he is overvalued in a matchup against one of the top established pitchers in baseball. Taillon owns steady numbers but a FIP a half a run higher than his ERA is a red flag as is a very high strand rate and an unusually low home run rate. Taillon actually hasn’t pitched that well at PNC Park with a 4.22 ERA on the season and right-handed batters own a .278 average with a robust .845 OPS against him this season. Ultimately getting the Rays vs. a right-handed pitcher at near-even pricing with Archer on the mound is a great opportunity even with a bullpen edge for the Pirates and a slight losing road record for the Rays on the season.

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