February 24, 2023
SuperBook Sports Insider Rickie Ricardo weighs in on MLB futures
“I rank them Astros, Yankees and Dodgers. Until someone knocks off the champions they deserve to be favored.”
Those are the wise and unfiltered words of Rickie Ricardo, the Spanish radio play-by-play voice of the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Eagles. He’s also a sports talk show host on 94WIP in Philly and WFAN in New York. Not much that goes on along the east coast gets by Ricardo.
“The addition of Jose Abreu is bigger than the loss of Justin Verlander because the pitching staff is deep in Houston,” he says. “The Yankees rotation, with the addition of Carlos Rodon is very strong. The Dodgers lost some more key pieces to free agency and injury but are still dangerous – although the Mets, Phillies and Padres are right on their heels.”
That’s the rundown for the oddsmakers’ top six teams in baseball, the top three of which all come in at 7/1.
“At this point those odds reflect the opinion of most baseball experts,” Ricardo says.
His Yankees, like the Dodgers and Astros, enter virtually every season with massive expectations.
“I think the Yankees approach this off season still needs some questions answered,” he says. “Can Aaron Hicks have a bounce back season in left field? Will Oswald Peraza or Anthony Volpe impress enough to win the shortstop job? Who emerges as the closer with Chapman gone? The starting pitching and bullpen are solid and Judge returning is huge, but maybe one more move is in the making at some point. Brian Cashman does not sleep on the job.”
And just because Ricardo calls the Yankees games, he hasn’t forgotten about their neighboring Mets or last year’s runner-up Phillies.
“I believe 8/1 on the Mets is fair mainly for one big reason: Does Verlander replace a healthy Jacob DeGrom’s production? That’s the big question. There are others too, though. Can Buck Showalter finally get over the hump and into a World Series? Is the bullpen strong enough? Can Edwin Diaz repeat his stellar 2022 season? Will the pressure of having the highest payroll in the sport affect the team on a daily basis? I don’t think so, but it’ll be interesting to finally have a season where the back pages of the papers will have two teams with high expectations and headliners.”
Despite winning the National League, the Phillies have yet to catch the attention of the oddsmakers, now sitting at 14/1.
“I don’t know if you can consider the defending National League champions a ‘Dark Horse,’ but it seems like nobody is talking about the Phillies,” Ricardo adds. “Trea Turner is a huge addition along with Tijuan Walker and Gregory Soto. Will Castellanos bounce back? Will Harper’s absence due to injury drag the team down early? Can Rob Thompson repeat the outstanding job he did after replacing Joe Girardi? I like Philadelphia to keep pace with the Mets and Braves all season long.”
Only time will tell, but with Spring Training right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about the boys of summer. Ricardo clearly never stopped.
The Big Three
A trio of games worth considering on Friday night
Miami Heat at Milwaukee Bucks
Fiserv Forum – Milwaukee, WI
7:30 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Milwaukee -2
The Milwaukee Bucks are currently the hottest team in the NBA. Their 12 straight wins have leapfrogged them into second place in the Eastern Conference.
Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo has been a big part of the surge. Antetokounmpo is averaging 31.8 points per game and 12.2 rebounds. So, it goes without saying that he is the foundation of the Bucks franchise.
Unfortunately for Milwaukee, Giannis injured his right wrist in the final game before the All-Star break. He is unlikely to play on Friday, which is why the point spread is so tight.
Even without Giannis, though, the Bucks have some dynamic players. Jrue Holiday (19.4 PPG) was an All-Star reserve, and Khris Middleton (13.6 PPG) has been a major contributor despite having a down year.
The Giannis-less Bucks will face Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat, a team looking to make a push at first-round home-court advantage as the season comes to a close. The Heat are currently seventh in the East at 32-27. They are three games ahead of Atlanta and half a game back of the Knicks.
They have some ground to make up if they want to catch Cleveland, who currently holds the fourth seed in the East. Miami is 4.5 games behind Cleveland.
This game will mark the fourth matchup between these two teams. Miami leads the series 2-1. However, the last game between the two, which was on Feb. 4, went in Milwaukee’s direction.
Giannis scored 35 points in that one, though. Without him, it’s going to be tough for the Bucks to pull through.
Miami getting points with Milwaukee’s best player out feels like a gift. The Heat will beat the Bucks for a third time this season.
Jason Schlefsky’s pick: Miami M/L (-105)
Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors
Chase Center – San Francisco, CA
10:00 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Golden State -9.5
Steph Curry may be out of the lineup, but that certainly won’t stop the Warriors from laying the hammer down on the Rockets on Friday night. Golden State is 29-29, ninth in the Western Conference. And yet, they are still a 9.5-point favorite without their best player. If that doesn’t speak volumes about the substandard play of Houston, nothing will.
The Rockets are 13-45 and are dead last in the West. The Spurs are just above them at 14th. San Antonio has lost 14 in a row and they’re still above Houston.
The Rockets have 24 games left to play and are 15 games back of the Thunder (10th place in Western Conference). They have a -8.4 PPG-OPPG differential and have lost seven straight games.
In other words, they are hopeless. They are the worst team in the league and their draft pick this year will likely surpass any player on their current roster within a week. Picking the Rockets to win a game is essentially just giving money to Vegas.
So, the advice is easy in this one: Pick the Warriors. Golden State is averaging the second most PPG in the league and have beaten the Rockets twice already. In basketball terms, this one is a layup. Take the Warriors.
Jason Schlefsky’s pick: Golden State -9.5 (-110)
Colorado Avalanche at Winnipeg Jets
Canada Life Centre – Winnipeg, MB
8:00 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Winnipeg -110
The reigning Stanley Cup champions are hurting and they are hurting bad. Captain Gabriel Landeskog and last year’s Conn Smythe winner, Cale Makar, are both out due to knee and head injuries, respectively. That’s two huge pieces for the Avalanche and two guys who are hard to win games without.
Luckily, the Avalanche still have one of the best players in the league in Nathan Mackinnon and another great player in Mikko Rantanen. But the Avs will have a tough time against a Jets team that has been playing some great hockey this year.
Winnipeg is 35-22-1 and are second in the Central Division. They are 20-8 at home, which is only more bad news for Colorado. The Avs are fourth in the Central Division and are barely hanging onto a playoff spot with the current standings.
They aren’t out of it, by any means. They are just two points back of the Wild and only five points behind the Stars. But it’s games like these, against the second-place Jets, that are huge when it’s all said and done.
Both the Avalanche and Jets have -110 lines to their name, meaning it is essentially a pick ‘em game. The Jets have gotten the best of the Avs in their two meetings, with the last one being a 5-0 drubbing in which Blake Wheeler had a hat trick. That one was in Winnipeg and so is this one.
In a game that matters for both teams, the healthier one usually comes out on top. That pattern will likely continue on Friday night. The Avalanche are just too banged up to come away with the win. Take the Jets to win.
Norm LaChatlier’s pick: Winnipeg M/L (-110)
Today’s best packaged deal
When I see hockey favorites anywhere south of -150, I bet those confidently. The money line payoff on a straight up bet isn’t great, but when you find three of them, it’s time for a parlay.
- Florida Panthers M/L -182
- Toronto Maple Leafs M/L -200
- Carolina Hurricanes M/L -245
Norm LaChatlier’s Three-Leg Parlay = +227
Denver Nuggets to win the NBA title (13/2)
They have the best record in the Western Conference, by a whopping six games. They’re only a game behind the Celtics for the top spot in the entire NBA. They have a deep roster, one that offers a lot of flexibility for head coach Michael Malone. And they boast the back-to-back Most Valuable Player, as Nikola Jokic is about to become the first player to win the award three years in a row since Larry Bird. Yet, they aren’t the favorite to win the championship? They aren’t even the best odds in the West? That makes no sense. Hop on the Nuggets bandwagon!