David Goldman / AP
Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021 | 2 a.m.
This will almost surely be the final Saturday betting column of the year that doesn't include football.
I figured a respite was in order after inundating recent weekend wager pieces with football futures and picking every NFL win total earlier this week. So, for one last time, let’s focus (mostly) on sporting events outside of football taking place this weekend.
There’s still a varied menu with plenty to choose from, so let’s attack some prices. Last week ended a big upswing, albeit barely with a 2-2 record on non-futures that resulted in a loss of $24.76. Time to get it back, and more.
Find all this week's picks below. Records are attached individually by sport, with the cumulative at the bottom of the page. The monetary figure is calculated by the assumption of a bettor placing a $100 wager on each pick. Any picks outside of the column will be linked and included in the record total. Odds are the best currently available in Las Vegas at publication time.
MLB (8-7, $123.85): Arizona Diamondbacks +140 at Colorado Rockies (BConnected Sports)
Don’t look now but the Diamondbacks are one of the hotter teams in the league after sweeping the Phillies to improve to 6-1 in their last seven games going into Friday’s series-opener at Coors Field. Yes, the Rockies are off of a sweep of their own against the Padres but this seems like a high price to pay for a team that’s been among the worst in the league all year. Outcomes are always more volatile at Coors, making it more appealing to take big underdogs. Arizona also has a pitching edge in today’s game with Zac Gallen slated to go against Colorado’s Kyle Freeland. The Rockies deserve to be the favorite, but not this big of one. I’d take the Diamondbacks down to +130.
UFC (14-14, $15.93): Kelvin Gastelum +125 vs. Jared Cannonier at UFC Fight Night (Circa Sports)
Stock has never been lower on Gastelum, the former The Ultimate Fighter winner. That means it’s a perfect time to buy on him going into his main-event bout tonight. Gastelum is a better wrestler and eight years younger than the 37-year-old Cannonier. This looks like a good spot for him to move him past a rough stretch that’s seen him lose four of his last five fights. It’s important to look at who the defeats have come against, though. They’re almost all against the top of the middleweight division, with champion Israel Adesanya and former champion Robert Whittaker among those who have bested Gastelum. Cannonier probably would have put up the same record against the same competition. He’s bigger and has more power, but Gastelum is the more well-rounded fighter. This should a pick’em at worst.
Soccer (10-6, $380.23): Manchester United -1 +110 vs. Southhampton (William Hill)
This is a much bigger mismatch than the odds imply. Southhampton might be the worst team in the Premier League; Manchester United might be the best. Both sides are likely to finish a few spots removed from those extreme positions, in fairness, but the point stands. And it was evident in EPL’s first match day. Manchester United blew out a decent Leeds side 5-1 while Southhampton was noncompetitive in a 3-1 loss to Everton. Laying a goal with Manchester United should require -110 or something in that neighborhood like it does in other sports books around town. A plus-price here is a gift.
NASCAR (17-17, $104.12): Kyle Busch to win Firekeepers Casino 400 at 8-to-1 (STN Sports)
It would be safer to just repeatedly keep picking matchups, but let’s take a homerun swing with this weekend’s Cup race in Michigan. These odds make it worthwhile. This year’s Cup schedule has gotten away from intermediate tracks like Michigan that Busch has made a career out of dominating. The only driver who should be at lower odds than him on Sunday is Kyle Larson. Busch hasn’t reached quite the level he’s been at in the past this season overall, but he’s been as strong as ever in the 550 horsepower package that’s in effect this weekend. Larson has been faster than Busch in the category, but he’s the only one in the field who could say that. Busch has a great chance to win his third Cup race of the season of the year this weekend, much better than these odds would lead you to believe.
Golf (17-10, $984.94): Jon Rahm to win the 2022 Masters at 12-to-1 (BetMGM)
Some will say it’s too early to wager on a golf tournament taking place next April, but those people are just turning down guaranteed value. This is almost surely the best golf bet on any board in town at the moment. Having to sit on it for eight months isn’t ideal, but if your bankroll allows, it’s worth it. Rahm has created significant distance between himself and any other golfer in the world, as he’s shown again this week by capturing the 36-hole lead at The Northern Trust in the first tournament of the PGA Tour playoffs. All of the world’s best golfers are concentrated in Jersey City, N.J., and so far, Rahm is laying waste to them. But this is not the only time he’s done as much. It’s been a constant whenever he plays the last couple months. The gap between Rahm and the rest of the competition is much wider than the market realizes yet. But it’s going to catch up soon, which is why it’s worth betting Rahm to win a green jacket and his second major now.
Weekend wagers all-time: 169-152, $5,266.44
Previous pending wagers: Nebraska -7 at Illinois in Week 0; UCF -3 vs. Boise State in Week 1; Texas over 8.5 wins +110; Los Angeles Chargers under 9.5 wins -125; Dallas Cowboys to win the NFC East +150; Georgia 10-to-1 to win College Football Playoff; Baltimore Ravens 20-to-1 to win Super Bowl; Texas 50-to-1 to win 2022 NCAA Tournament.