Bryan Power Bryan Power
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YESTERDAY'S PLAYS
Matchup Selection W/L
MLB  |  May 24, 2018
Astros vs Indians
Indians
+1½ -144 at pinnacle
Lost
$144.0
Play Type: Top Premium

8* Run Line Cleveland (6:10 ET): Please note that this is a run line play only where I am backing the Indians at +1.5. It's a revenge spot for the Tribe, and specifically starter Mike Clevinger, who came out on the losing end to the Astros and Charlie Morton last Saturday. The same two starters face off again here as the teams will play four more against one another this weekend after the Astros won two of three in their home park last weekend. The "immediate revenge" situation is one of my favorites in MLB handicapping as you take the losing starter from the first meeting, figuring he (and the team) will be highly motivated. Add in the fact Cleveland is at home here and we can get an additional 1.5 runs to work with (at a decent price) and it's a "no-brainer" to me.

Houston's pitching staff has easily been baseball's best in 2018, but Cleveland is one of the few teams w/ the capability of matching them. Case in point, the Indians were able to win a game yday in Chicago despite scoring only one run. In fact, they held the Cubs to just one run total in two games at Wrigley. So is the fact they've allowed just 12 runs over the last six games. Clevinger has given up 3 ER or fewer in seven of his nine starts this season and that includes last week vs. Houston where he allowed three in 6 1/3 IP. Four walks (season-worst) did burn him. But it was also Clevinger's first loss of '18 after starting 3-0 w/ a 2.70 ERA. Be careful about criticizing Cleveland's .500 record as they've outscored opponents by 28 runs over the course of the season.

Houston has the best run differential in all of baseball (+110) and has won three straight after their own sweep of a NL opponent (Giants). Morton is 6-0 (6-3 TSR) w/ a 1.94 ERA and 0.934, which almost seems unfair given the other names in this rotation (Keuchel, Cole, Verlander). But winning by multiple runs in Cleveland should prove tricky for the Astros. The Indians are averaging a strong 5.8 runs per game at Progressive Field and aren't priced this way too often. Morton has also only had to make two road starts so far and his last one (5.5 vs. Arizona) was easily his weakest of the season as he finished w/ more walks than strikeouts and lasted just five innings. That was in a NL park as well w/ no DH. The Indians do no worse than a one-run loss in this revenge spot. 8* Run Line Cleveland (+1.5)

Matchup Selection W/L
NBA  |  May 24, 2018
Warriors vs Rockets
Rockets
+1 -110 at BetPhoenix
Won
$100
Play Type: Top Premium

8* Houston (9:05 ET): While the Eastern Conference Finals is being controlled by homecourt advantage, over in the West, the zig-zag theory has held firm as the loser of the previous game has stormed back to win each of the last three games. It was Houston's turn in Game 4 as they pulled the upset in Oakland, 95-92 as nine-point underdogs. I'm proud to say that I was on the dog there as the Rockets essentially "saved" their season following an embarrassing 45-point loss in Game 3 just two nights earlier. The zig-zag theory indicates tonight would be the Warriors' time to shine, however, the series has now shifted back to Houston. I've actually been on the Rockets in every game in the series, feeling that they're undervalued, and I'm not wavering from that viewpoint here in a spot where the "world" figures to be on Golden State.

We're certainly not accustomed to seeing final scores in the 90's from either the Warriors or Rockets, so the fact that Tuesday's game ended up 95-92 is definitely quite shocking. These are, after all, the two top offensive teams in the league (both in efficiency and points per game). The fact that the Rockets averaged just 90 PPG in the two games at Golden State and were still able to come away w/ a split should actually have them feeling quite well about themselves. Because they average 113.9 points per game at home and should be considered a virtual lock to improve upon the shooting of the last two games, each of which saw them shoot just 39 percent from the floor. In particular, we should see them improve from three-point range where they were just 23 of 72 the L2 games. In the two home games in this series, Houston scored 106 and 127 pts.

Now Golden State is going to improve upon its own 39% shooting from Game 4 as well. They shot better than 50% from the floor in each of the first three games. But I'm not sure they get to that level here. Even if they do, they still have to win, which is not easy to do for the road team in Houston. The Rockets are 40-9 SU at home this year, outscoring opponents by 9.2 PPG. They are also 52-14 SU this year when the trio of James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capella take the floor together. Consider that Golden State jumped out to a 12-0 lead in Game 4, led by 12 again in the fourth quarter and still lost. And that was at home! Those advantages won't be present here in Houston. While both may end up playing, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala (the latter being questionable) are not 100% and that has an impact on a shortened Warriors' rotation that really can't play its bigs due to the Rockets' "small-ball" lineups. 8* Houston

Matchup Selection W/L
NBA  |  May 24, 2018
Warriors vs Rockets
OVER 219½ -108 Lost
$108.0
Play Type: Top Premium

10* Over Warriors/Rockets (9:05 ET): While the Eastern Conference Finals is being controlled by homecourt advantage, over in the West, the zig-zag theory has held firm as the loser of the previous game has stormed back to win each of the last three games. It was Houston's turn in Game 4 as they pulled the upset in Oakland, 95-92 as nine-point underdogs. I'm proud to say that I was on the dog there as the Rockets essentially "saved" their season following an embarrassing 45-point loss in Game 3 just two nights earlier. The zig-zag theory indicates tonight would be the Warriors' time to shine, however, the series has now shifted back to Houston. Looking at tonight's total, it's significantly lower than any previous O/U line in the series and certainly lower than what it was for any of the regular season matchups. I'm on the Over in Game 5.

We're certainly not accustomed to seeing final scores in the 90's from either the Warriors or Rockets, so the fact that Tuesday's game ended up 95-92 is definitely quite shocking. These are, after all, the two top offensive teams in the league (both in efficiency and points per game). The fact that the Rockets averaged just 90 PPG in the two games at Golden State and were still able to come away w/ a split should actually have them feeling quite well about themselves. Because they average 113.9 points per game at home and should be considered a virtual lock to improve upon the shooting of the last two games, each of which saw them shoot just 39 percent from the floor. In particular, we should see them improve from three-point range where they were just 23 of 72 the L2 games. In the two home games in this series, Houston scored 106 and 127 pts.

Golden State is obviously no slouch on offense either. They shot better than 50% each of the first three games of the series before dipping down to 39% themselves in Game 4. This is a team that averages 113.0 PPG on the year w/ almost no dip on the road. Coming off an outright loss as a favorite, they are 13-8 Over this season. Their 14 assists in Gm 4 marked a series low and - shockingly - their assist percentage in the series is below that of the Rockets. That should start to change. Only Kevin Durant and Steph Curry scored more than 11 pts Tuesday and that's not likely to be the case again tonight. Both teams having two sub-20 pt quarters in Game 4 is something that certainly isn't likely to repeat itself again here. I'm taking advantage of this "low" number. 10* Over Warriors/Rockets

PICKS IN PROGRESS
Matchup Selection W/L
MLB  |  May 25, 2018
Twins vs Mariners
Mariners
-185 at pinnacle
Play Type: Top Premium

8* Seattle (10:10 ET): While I remain unsold on the Mariners long-term (too many one-run victories lately), it's tough NOT to like them here, or any time when James Paxton is starting, for that matter. Despite being only 3-1 (6-4 TSR), Paxton has certainly been one of baseball's best pitchers in 2018 w/ 1.021 WHIP and two complete game shutouts to his credit, one of them a no-hitter back on 5.8 @ Toronto. He again went the distance his last time out, this time allowing just three hits in a 7-2 win over the Tigers. Tonight, he faces a Twins team that is just 26th in runs scored. Outside the division, AL Central teams are a woeful 54-98 so far (.355 win percentage) and I just can't see Minnesota beating Seattle for a second time w/ Paxton starting. 

These teams have already met three times before, all in the Twin Cities. Two of those games were played in early April, then a rainout was made up on 5.14. Back in one of the early April games, the Twins beat the M's w/ Paxton on the hill. Paxton went only five innings and allowed two runs in a no-decision. (Twins won 4-2 in a very cold home opener). Paxton has made eight starts since and seven of them have been quality, including each of the last five. Over those five consecutive quality outings, he's allowed just seven runs total in 37 IP. He has a ridiculous 45 strikeouts during that time as well. He's been particularly great at home where his WHIP is 0.975. He won't have to worry about the cold weather this time around and still has a 2.91 ERA in four career starts vs. Minnesota. 

Facing a pitcher who has a 0.542 (which Paxton does) over his L3 starts is problematic enough for a team. That's what the Twins are dealing w/ here and they're just 2-5 as a road underdog of +125 to +175 on the ML this season (29-46 L3 seasons in that range). They send Fernando Romero to the bump on Friday and while he's unbeaten (2-0) in four starts (2-2 TSR though), he's off his weakest effort to date as he gave up four runs in five innings against Milwaukee on Sunday. The Twins lost that game, 5-4, and while they "recovered" to win their next three, they're off a home loss here to Detroit on Wednesday. Playing after an off-day, the team is only 2-5 this season, so I don't think the rest advantage matters here. Seattle had won five in a row (four by one-run) before losing by one-run yday afternoon in Oakland. Paxton leads them to victory at home tonight. 8* Seattle

Matchup Selection W/L
MLB  |  May 25, 2018
White Sox vs Tigers
White Sox
+103 at 5Dimes
Lost
$100.0
Play Type: Top Premium

8* Chi White Sox (7:10 ET): As most though it would be, the American League Central is very bad this year. Despite being only a .500 team entering Friday, Cleveland figures to run away w/ the division as I don't believe any of the other four teams figure to finish w/ a wining record at season's end. Collectively, the AL Central has a win percentage of .355 outside the division (54-98 overall) and the last place White Sox have been the biggest "offenders" w/ a 9-23 mark in such games. They were also swept at home by the Tigers very early on in the season and tonight have their shot at avenging that. The theme of this three-pack has been taking teams looking to avenge a prior sweep and I won't deviate from this game plan here!

The White Sox have the fewest number of wins in all of baseball (15), but have played better of late as they've won five of their last eight, even after a loss yday. That loss resulted in four-game split w/ fellow cellar-dwellars Baltimore, that coming after taking three of four from the AL's other last place team, Texas. It's not much of a step up in class facing the Tigers, who ended an ugly five-game losing streak w/ a win at Minnesota on Wednesday. The last time Detroit scored more than four runs in a game was 5.15 vs. Cleveland. That bodes well for Chicago starter Reynaldo Lopez, who didn't allow any runs in his last start. He went eight innings against the Rangers on 5.20, allowing only two hits. It was the seventh time in nine starts this season that Lopez allowed 2 ER or fewer. So, he's certainly deserving of better than a 3-6 team start record. Sure enough, he has a 2.98 ERA and 1.160 WHIP. 

Lopez has lost only three decisions and one of them was in that previous series vs. Detroit. But in his start there, he allowed only an unearned run in 7 IP. Note that he was priced at -170 on the ML for that matchup, so it's solid value on him in the revenge spot. Again, he'll be matched up against Michael Fiers, who threw six innings of shutout ball in that first meeting. But Fiers has been quite inconsistent so far this season, including his last time out where he allowed four runs, which is far too many when facing James Paxton. Despite owning the better TSR, Fiers has an ERA that's a full point and a half higher than Lopez and his WHIP is higher as well. While the Tigers are a respectable 14-11 in day games this season, they are only 7-17 at night. Make it 7-18. 8* Chi White Sox

Matchup Selection W/L
MLB  |  May 25, 2018
Cardinals vs Pirates
Cardinals
+109 at 5Dimes
Lost
$100.0
Play Type: Top Premium

8* St. Louis (7:05 ET): Taking the woeful Reds out of the equation, the NL Central may be shaping up as baseball's toughest division in 2018. Entering the weekend, the two clubs here find themselves involved in a four-team race where everyone is separated by just 3.5 games. Milwaukee currently has the lead, but I'm not really buying into them as their record is being propped up by a somewhat fortunate 12-5 mark in one-run games. For my money, the Cubs are probably the division's best (confirmed by a +62 run differential?). That brings us to the two teams in question here, St. Louis and Pittsburgh. The Cardinals enter in off B2B disappointing losses to Kansas City (had yday off) while the Bucs have lost five of six, all of the setbacks coming at the hands of San Diego or Cincinnati at home, no less. The Cards have revenge here for getting swept here at PNC Park back in April and I'm on them in the series opener. 

Losing twice in a row to Kansas City at home is pretty unforgiveable, if you're St. Louis, or really any other team for that matter. The Cards didn't score much in either game (just three runs total) and lost the series finale in extra innings Wednesday. They're just 4-7 the L11 games, but I look for them to turn it around here as they give John Gant the baseball. Gant is off a strong showing w/ a career-best seven strikeouts (in just 4 1/3 innings). In the rotation only due to an injury to Adam Wainwright, Gant is -sadly - still looking for his 1st win (as a starter) since 2016. He got a no decision his last time out and the offense failed to score for him in his first outing. Tonight though, he faces a Pittsburgh offense that has scored three runs or less in five of the last 10 games and topped five just once during that same span.

The Pirates counter w/ Joe Musgrove, who is making his '18 debut. He was considered the prize in the haul acquired for Gerrit Cole in the trade w/ Houston. Truthfully, he wasn't all that great w/ the Astros last season as he finished up in the bullpen (after failing as a starter) and went 7-8 w/ a 4.77 ERA. The Pirates' rotation will be relying on him from here on out, which perhaps "speaks volumes." Musgrove started in four different places in Pittsburgh's minor league system while working his way back. But even though the Redbirds struggled at the plate the L2 games, they'll present Musgrove w/ a greater challenge than he's faced in a while. I like the revenge angle and the visitors here. 8* St. Louis

Matchup Selection W/L
MLB  |  May 25, 2018
Angels vs Yankees
Angels
+1½ -110 at pinnacle
Won
$100
Play Type: Top Premium

8* Run Line LA Angels (7:05 ET): Please note that this is a run line play only where I'm backing the Angels at +1.5. I've written about this in previous discussions about the Angels, but they've really struggled when taking on the American League's top teams. Against Boston, Houston and the Yankees, they're a combined 3-9 w/ all three wins coming against the Astros. They're 25-13 against "everyone else." They were swept by both the Red Sox and Yankees back in April. They get a chance to avenge the latter tonight and even though they are rather massive underdogs on the money line, I see them having a shot to pull it off. Certainly, they'll do no worse than a one-run defeat here. Take the +1.5. 

Now I am by no means attempting to minimize the accomplishments of Yanks' starter Luis Severino. Two years removed from an 0-8 record as a starter, Severino is now the most profitable pitcher to bet on (so far) here in 2018. He's got a 9-1 team start record (+8.0 units) and absolutely deserves it, given a corresponding 2.35 ERA and 0.969 WHIP. He's had only one non-quality start and that was the loss in Boston back on April 10th. He did face the Angels in the previous series and held them to three runs over seven innings. However, that was still only a one-run victory as the Yankees needed runs in the 9th and 10th innings to come out ahead. In fact, two of the Yankees' wins in that three game sweep last month were of the one-run variety. We can live w/ that result here.

The Yankees may have scored 10 or more runs in three of the last four games, but for just the second time in the last month, they're coming off B2B losses. Those came at Texas of all places. A big reason I feel that the Angels are a tremendous value here is their 16-5 road record is the best in baseball and they are averaging an impressive 5.9 runs per game. Shohei Ohtani will no longer be starting in this series, but he'll still hit and he's coming off a strong game yday where he had two doubles, leading an 8-1 win at Toronto. Andrew Heaney will be the one starting Friday and getting hit for four unearned runs his last time out snapped a string of four consecutive quality starts. He's allowed five or less hits in five straight starts, giving up just 4 ER total. Note that the Yankees are just 5-5 the L10 games after going 17-1 their previous 18. It makes sense that they're cooling off following such a ridiculous run and that cooling off period should extend into this weekend. 8* Run Line LA Angels (+1.5)

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