Editor’s note: This is the Tuesday, March 28, edition of the “Game Day with Kevin Modesti” newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.
Good morning. Will the Dodgers extend their division dominance? Will the Angels end their playoff drought? Most Southern California News Group papers’ prognosticators’ answers to those questions are different from what oddsmakers are saying.
First, other reading for you today:
Lakers writer Kyle Goon, in his last article for the SCNG papers (see 280 CHARACTERS, below), has parting thoughts about the team, this year’s roster moves, Anthony Davis and especially what it has been like to observe LeBron James up close. Nicolas Batum was last night’s surprise Clippers star in a victory over the Bulls that made L.A. 2-1 while Paul George heals. The Ducks absorbed a loss to the Avalanche and an injury to leading scorer Trevor Zegras. Columnist Jim Alexander writes that San Diego State’s trip to the Final Four isn’t so much a surprise as something that has been coming for a long time. And Chargers (and ex-Rams) defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day said he was sexually assaulted by a Transportation Security Administration employee at a John Wayne Airport security checkpoint; the TSA said it is collecting information. Now, a closer look at our staff’s Major League Baseball predictions, one of the highlights of the preview packages you’ll find on our websites’ baseball page, with more analysis coming before the season opens Thursday.
I tallied up the predictions for the division races, playoffs and World Series by Dodgers writer Bill Plunkett, Angels writer Jeff Fletcher, baseball columnist J.P. Hoornstra, sports columnists Jim Alexander and Mirjam Swanson, baseball editor Todd Bailey and the guy who writes Game Day With Kevin Modesti. Then I compared our picks with the odds listed at VegasInsider.com. There are some serious disagreements.
This isn’t a suggestion that you drop everything and fly to a nearby state with legal sports gambling and back our predictions, but if you’re betting anyway, consider these opinions:
Angels: Oddsmakers and bettors expect the Angels to miss the playoffs for the ninth year in a row, the current line offering +164 odds if you think they’ll make it (meaning you’d bet $100 to win $164) and -205 if you think they won’t (bet $205 to win $100). But our forecasters give them a big chance to be playing games in October, five of the seven picking the Angels to finish second to the Houston Astros in the American League West and earn one of the AL’s three wild-card playoff spots.
“For whatever spring training is worth, the Angels actually looked pretty good,” Fletcher, who has been with them in Arizona, told me. “And one of these days they are bound to get even a little lucky in terms of staying healthy. If they can simply keep (Mike) Trout, (Shohei) Ohtani, (Anthony) Rendon and (Taylor) Ward on the field and get average production from the new guys, they could definitely finish second.”
Plunkett said: “I thought they did a good job of improving the roster around the edges – Tyler Anderson, Brandon Drury, Hunter Renfroe, etc., and the core of Trout and Ohtani is pretty good. They can’t keep missing the playoffs with those two guys, can they?”
Alexander added: “Simply, (the Angels have) a deeper roster, with guys who can actually produce rather than roster filler. I get the impression that (GM) Perry Minasian wants the same sort of depth and flexibility as the team up the freeway.”
Dodgers: Odds have them slight favorites (-120) to win the National League West for the 10th time in 11 years, with the San Diego Padres close behind (+115). But our forecasters disagree, six of the seven picking the Padres to finish first after a flurry of acquisitions.
Four of the seven pick the Padres to win the World Series. Odds as high as 10-1 are being offered against the Padres winning their first championship this season, making them sixth choice in the betting behind the Houston Astros, New York Yankees, Dodgers, Atlanta Braves and New York Mets.
Alexander is picking the Dodgers to win the World Series over the Yankees, both teams advancing as wild cards.
“We’ve seen over the years with (Dodgers GM) Andrew Friedman that the roster that ends the season is usually better than the one that begins it,” Alexander said. “And with three wild cards, is there – should there be – the urgency to go for another 100-plus win season and risk being worn down by October?”
AL East: The odds have the Yankees first (as low as +115 to win the division), the Toronto Blue Jays second (as low as +185 to win). But all seven of our crystal balls show the Blue Jays finishing first, and three show the Jays winning the AL pennant, for which we could get a price of +600 (6-1).
World Series: The odds favor the Astros (+600) to win it all for the second straight year and third time in seven years. But none of our prognosticators pick Houston. In addition to the four who pick the Padres and Alexander picking the Dodgers, Plunkett picks the Braves (+750), Hoornstra picks the Blue Jays (+1200).
If any of those pay off, you heard it here first.
Angels (Reid Detmers) host the Dodgers (Ryan Pepiot) in the final game of the Freeway Series and the preseason (6:07 p.m., BSSC, SNLA). Last night’s game report. Kings have a franchise-record 12-game points streak as they open a four-game trip at Calgary (6 p.m., BSW). Preview. BETWEEN THE LINES
Win-total over-under lines for the 2023 NFL season have been posted. The Rams are listed at 7½ wins (after going 5-12 last year and 12-5 the year before), third in the NFC West behind the 49ers at 11½ and Seahawks at 8½. The Chargers are listed at 9½ wins (they were 9-8 last year), second in the AFC West behind the Chiefs at 11½.
Best wishes to Lakers beat writer Kyle Goon (@kylegoon), who tweeted yesterday: “Hi folks, sharing some personal news: After five years, this is my last day covering the Lakers for Southern California News Group. Sunday was my final game on the beat. I’ll share more soon about my next chapter outside of L.A. But today I wanted to appreciate my time here.”
Launch Angel: Mike Trout connects with a 3-2 sinker from Noah Syndergaard for a two-run home run to left-center field in the first inning of the Angels’ 5-4 victory over the Dodgers last night at Angel Stadium. Photo is by Leonard Ortiz of the Orange County Register and SCNG.
Thanks for reading. Send suggestions, comments and questions by email at email@example.com and via Twitter @KevinModesti.
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