Thursday was a huge day for sports betting news. First, we saw Arizona officially become the 27th state to legalize sports betting. Now more than half the states in America (54%) have legalized betting since the Supreme Court overturned PASPA in 2018. Yesterday we also saw the NFL ink its first-ever sports betting partnerships with three US sportsbooks: Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel. Just a few short years ago the NFL remained staunchly opposed to legalized betting. This speaks to what a massive shift we've seen from the pro leagues over the past few years. They are all now fully embracing legalized betting and see it as a vehicle to generate more revenue and fan engagement. Lastly, we also saw the news yesterday that FanDuel will open up a sportsbook at the Phoenix Suns arena, the first-ever sportsbook in the city of Phoenix. The new sportsbook is set to open for the 2021-22 NBA season. It will remain open all year long for bettors to sweat games and place wagers, not just during Suns games.
Now it's on to Friday, where we have a loaded betting slate filled with 15 MLB games, 11 NBA games and 5 NHL games. For an updated breakdown of Friday's action, including the top line moves, systems plays and sharp contrarian bets, be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted at 1 p.m. ET. I will also be joining Patrick Meagher and Michael Lombardi on The Lombardi Line at 1:30 p.m. ET to offer a market update.
In the meantime, let's discuss a handful of MLB games receiving notable sharp action today...
7:05 p.m. ET: St. Louis Cardinals (6-6) at Philadelphia Phillies (6-6)
Both of these teams have struggled as of late, with the Cardinals 1-4 in their last five and the Phillies 1-5 in their last six. In tonight's series opener the Cardinals send out Carlos Martinez (0-2, 6.30 ERA) while the Phillies counter with Zach Eflin (0-0, 3.46 ERA). This line opened with Philadelphia listed as a modest -120 home favorite. Respected money has rushed to the window to lay the chalk, which has driven the Phillies up from -120 to -135. Teams with steam of 10-cents or more in their favor are 50-44 (53.2%) this season. We've also seen some under money show up, dropping this total from 9 to 8.5. When the total is 8.5 or higher, the under is 58-46 (56%) this season. The weather calls for low 50s with wind blowing in from left field at 10 MPH. Both of these teams have been roughly equal at the plate (Cardinals hitting .228 and Phillies .229). The difference may come on the pitchers mound. Philadelphia's team ERA is 4.09, which ranks 13th in MLB. The Cardinals team ERA is 5.09, third-worst in baseball. The Phillies are 5-1 at home this season.
8:10 p.m. ET: Toronto Blue Jays (6-7) at Kansas City Royals (7-4)
The Royals beat the Jays 7-5 in last night's series opener, cashing as short -118 home favorites. In tonight's rematch, the Jays give the ball to lefty Steven Matz (2-0, 1.46 ERA) and the Royals will start fellow southpaw Mike Minor (1-0, 4.50 ERA). This line opened with Toronto listed as a modest -135 road favorite and the Royals a + 125 home dog. Sharps have pounced on the steaking Royals getting plus money, forcing oddsmakers to drop Kansas City from + 135 to + 110. The Royals have value as a dog off a win (13% ROI this season), a dog with a line move in their favor (10% ROI) and a "Sweet Spot" dog + 140 or less (24% ROI). There also seems to be some liability on a higher scoring game as the total is 8.5 with the over juiced to -115 or -120 depending on the shop. The Royals are 5-2 at home this season. The Jays are 3-4 on the road.
10:10 p.m. ET: Houston Astros (6-6) at Seattle Mariners (8-5)
These AL West rivals are trending in opposite directions. The Astros have lost five straight games while the Mariners have won two straight. In tonight's series opener the Astros trot out Jose Urquidy (0-1, 5.23 ERA) while the Mariners counter with lefty Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 3.75 ERA). This line opened with Houston listed as a short -120 road favorite. We've seen this line tumble down to Houston -110. This signals wiseguy money grabbing Seattle as a home dog (+ 110 to + 100). Seattle matches several profitable betting systems this season, including a dog with a line move in their favor (10% ROI), a dog off a win (13% ROI) and a divisional dog (9% ROI). The big elephant in the room here is that the Astros will be missing several key players due to COVID protocols, including Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez and Martin Maldonado. The total is 8 in this game. Both teams have been profitable to the over, with the Astros 8-4 and Mariners 8-5.