Stephen Nover Stephen Nover
I have had only two losing season in pro football in my handicapping career. I have the best sources in the business thanks to more than 25 years as a sportswriter, handicapper and analyst.
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YESTERDAY'S PLAYS
Matchup Selection W/L
MLB  |  Apr 19, 2021
Brewers vs Padres
OVER 6½ -110 Lost
$110.0
Play Type: Premium

Brandon Woodruff is an excellent pitcher. Joe Musgrove has been a star in the early part of this season. 

 But this isn't a pitching matchup of Clayton Kershaw versus Yu Darvish.  So a total of less than 7 is not justified especially with the Padres nearing full strength with Fernando Tatis Jr. and Tommy Pham back in the lineup.  Christian Yelich is out. Yet if you discount a 6-1 loss to the Pirates, the Brewers have scored 19 runs in their last three games.  Woodruff is nearing ace level. I'm not nearly that sold on Musgrove, though. Right now I consider him a middle-of-the-rotation type starter although I certainly acknowledge his fast start and getting to play his home games at Petco Park.  I just believe this total is too low. Neither starter has an impressive history. Woodruff has a 4.50 ERA career-wise versus the Padres in three appearances, while Musgrove is 0-2 with a 6.14 ERA in five starts against the Brewers. 
  
Matchup Selection W/L
NBA  |  Apr 19, 2021
Cavs vs Pistons
Cavs
-2½ -110 at Mirage
Lost
$110.0
Play Type: Premium

Scared about asking the Cavaliers to win on the road? Don't be. Cleveland has won and covered three of its last four road contests. The Cavaliers still have playoff hopes, while the Pistons are in full rebuild.

 The Cavaliers have covered the last five in this series, including winning both games against the Pistons this season.  Detroit lost, 121-100, to the Wizards two days ago. The Pistons permitted the Wizards, whose guards usually do most of their damage, to score 74 points in the paint.     
Matchup Selection W/L
MLB  |  Apr 19, 2021
Rays vs Royals
Rays
+101 at pinnacle
Won
$101
Play Type: Free

The Royals have been an early-season surprise leading the AL Central with a 9-5 mark. Danny Duffy has contributed to this going 2-0 with an 0.75 ERA. 

 So is the 32-year-old, 11-year veteran Duffy suddenly turning to elite status after being so mediocre the past three seasons with ERA's of 4.95, 4.34 and 4.88?  I'm willing to say no by taking the underdog Rays, a superior team to the Royals, and their promising second-year pitcher, Josh Fleming.  The Rays pull into Kansas City fresh off a three-game road sweep of the Yankees. Baseball isn't basketball or football. The daily grind of playing just about every day prevents letdowns and hangovers.  I'll take the better team at this price with the confidence that Fleming is up to the task. He won't lack motivation with about 30-plus friends and family expected to attend the game as Fleming grew up near the Illinois/Missouri border.  Fleming was 5-0 with a 2.78 ERA in seven games last season, including five starts. Primarily a ground-ball pitcher, Fleming held the Rangers to one run in five-plus innings during his lone start this season. He had nearly a 65 percent ground ball ratio against the Rangers and his fastball was clocked at 92.2 miles, up nearly two mph from last season. The Royals have never faced Fleming, giving him the element of surprise.  Tampa Bay has enjoyed excellent success against Kansas City defeating the Royals in 12 of the last 15 meetings.    
Matchup Selection W/L
NBA  |  Apr 19, 2021
Suns vs Bucks
UNDER 235 -110 Lost
$110.0
Play Type: Top Premium

Both teams have something to prove each coming off bad losses. The Suns were blown out at home by the Spurs, 111-85, while the Bucks fell to the Grizzlies, 128-115, at home. Both of these losses occurred this past Saturday so the teams may have gotten caught peeking ahead to this marquee matchup. 

 These are two of the best teams in the NBA. So I'm expecting an intense, playoff-type defensive effort. Yes, there are great scorers on the court. But each team is excellent defensively, too, with the Suns ranking fourth in scoring defense and fifth in 3-point defense, while the Bucks ranking fifth in defensive field goal percentage.  This is the Suns' first road game in 11 days. Discounting their away contest against the hapless Rockets, the Suns have averaged just 99 points during their last three road games.  Giannis Antetokounmpo will be playing for the third time since being out six games with a knee injury. The Bucks aren't rushing him. He played fewer than 30 minutes against the Grizzlies, which is down from his usual 34-minutes of court time.  The Under has cashed five of the last six times the teams have met in Milwaukee.  
PICKS IN PROGRESS
Matchup Selection W/L
NHL  |  Apr 20, 2021
Maple Leafs vs Canucks
Maple Leafs
-1½ -114 at pinnacle
Play Type: Premium
It was probably the biggest upset of the season. The Canucks stunned the Maple Leafs, 3-2 in overtime, two days ago. Vancouver hadn't played since March 24.  Braden Holtby turned in his finest Vancouver performance stopping 37 shots. Holtby was filling in for regular goalie Thatcher Demko, one of 22 Vancouver players to test positive for COVID-19. Holtby has a save percentage of less than 90 percent and his GAA is 3.44. He's past his prime.  The Maple Leafs are several tiers above the Canucks. I expect them to get their revenge in a big way here.  Tuesday Free Play Penguins at Devils Over 6 minus $1.05  These two teams just met on April 9 and April 11 in Pittsburgh. The Penguins won those games, 6-4 and 5-2.  So what's changed? Nothing.  The youthful, mistake-prone Devils still are in full rebuild mode and the Penguins still have a well above average offense ranking sixth in goals.  Pittsburgh has scored 3 or more goals in 10 of its last 13 games. The Penguins shouldn't encounter problems denting the net again versus the Devils, who rank 28th defensively and have the worst penalty kill in the league. New Jersey has surrendered a minimum of 3 goals in each of its last nine games.  The Devils aren't quitting, though. They came from three goals down to tie the Rangers during their last game this past Sunday before losing, 5-3.  The Penguins haven't been sharp defensively. They've given up seven power-play goals during their last eight games and are off a 4-2 loss to the lowly Sabres this past Sunday. 
Matchup Selection W/L
MLB  |  Apr 20, 2021
Blue Jays vs Red Sox
Blue Jays
+105 at Draft Kings
Lost
$100.0
Play Type: Top Premium
Eduardo Rodriguez has been a nice early story for the Red Sox going 2-0 after having missed all of last season due to health issues. Rodriguez's starts have come against the Orioles and Twins. Now he faces a Blue Jays team that has a number of exciting young offensive stars. This is Rodriquez's first home start in two years.  I'm not so much going against Rodriguez as I'm taking Hyun Jin Ryu at an underdog price. It's rare when Ryu is an underdog and this shouldn't be one of those times. Since 2018, Ryu has become an upper level pitcher with ERA's of 1.97, 2.32 and 2.69 last season. He's off to a great start this year with a 1.89 ERA and 0.89 WHIP in three starts. He has 19 strikeouts in 19 innings.  Ryu trumps Rodriguez and the Blue Jays have enough quality hitters to warrant trust. 
Matchup Selection W/L
MLB  |  Apr 20, 2021
Giants vs Phillies
Phillies
-151 at linepros
Lost
$151.0
Play Type: Premium

Zach Wheeler is a quality pitcher. Logan Webb is not. So I have no qualms about laying this price with the home Phillies, who have won seven of their 10 games in Philadelphia this season. 

 Webb has a career 5.30 ERA and 1.55 ratio. There was a glimpse of hope for him when he pitched well during spring training. But once the real season started Webb reverted back to form. He has a 4.76 ERA and 1.76 ratio. The Giants had pulled him out of their starting rotation until Johnny Cueto was put on IL.  Wheeler dominated the Braves in his opening start holding them scoreless for seven innings while giving up just one hit with a 10-to-0 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He wasn't as sharp in his next two starts against the Braves again and the Mets, but he wasn't terrible giving up three earned runs on each occasion. Now Wheeler steps down in class. The Giants rank 29th in runs and batting average. 
SERVICE BIO

Sports gaming writer for Las Vegas Review-Journal 1984-1997. Professional handicapper since 1999. Author of three books - Las Vegas Sportsbeat, Sportsgaming Beat, Winning Fantasy Football. Taught sports betting at UNLV. Former co-host of the Sunday Night Stardust Line sports gaming radio show. Was part-time oddsmaker and analyst for Roxy Roxborough. Recognized NFL expert with 21 of 23 winning seasons.