2-0 Sunday start (won MLB 10* GOW on the Rays) and Best Bet Run-Line Rout (NYM). Larry goes for 3-0 MLB Sun sweep on ESPN. FOUR straight NBA 10* wins into Sunday. FIVE in row tonight? All NBA 68-50 +$13,647 s/Oct 30
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My 9* Run-Line Rout is on the NY Mets at 1:10 ET
I saw where Karl Ravech tweeted, "The Marlins story of 2020 is so unfathomable yet steering the ship on field and navigating the challenges off it Don Mattingly has been the perfect voice." It's hard to disagree but let's NOT forget that the 2019 Marlins went an NL-worst 57-105. Miami didn't play from July 27 through August 3, after 18 players tested positive for the coronavirus. However, the Marlins missed out on a chance to match the best nine-game start in franchise history on Saturday night, when their six-game winning streak was snapped as the Mets hit three HRs in an 8-4 victory. The victory was just New York's THIRD, in a 10-game stretch (Mets are just 6-9, while the Marlins are 7-2).
Pablo Lopez (1-0, 0.00 ERA) is scheduled to become the first Marlins pitcher to make a second start this season, as Miami is the first team in baseball history to start a different pitcher in each of the season's first nine games. The Mets will counter with two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom (1-0, 2.12), who is making his fourth start of the year. Lopez is in his third season with Miami and comes off a 2019 season in which he made 21 starts, going 5-8 with a 5.09 ERA (Marlins were 7-14 in his starts). He did earn the win in his season debut Tuesday, when the Marlins returned to action and he allowed two hits while striking out seven over five innings in a 4-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. He is 2-1 with a 6.75 ERA in three career starts against the Mets.
DeGrom is trying to become just the third pitcher, after Hall of Famers Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson, to win three straight Cy Young Awards. He has picked up where he left off last season, allowing just 12 baserunners in 17 innings. He owns a 2.12 ERA and an 0.71 WHIP (22-3 KW ratio), while holding opposing batter to a .153 BAA. Holding down an opponent is rarely the problem when deGrom takes the mound, rather it's the Mets' inability to get him runs in support. However, the Mets did give him SEVEN runs last Tuesday against the Braves (his 1st "W" of 2020) and I'm NOT 'buying into' the Marlins being a serious contender. I noted the team's 2019 record above and will add that Miami batted .241 as a team (25th) and averaged 3.8 RPG (29th of 30 teams) over the entire 2019 season. Expect deGrom to shut Miami down and for the Mets to give him enough support to 'cover' laying the 1 1/2 runs.
My 9* Situational Stunner is on the Cle Indians at 7:08 ET.
The Cleveland Indians won THREE straight AL Central titles from 2016-18 but despite winning 90-plus games for the fourth consecutive season in 2019, the Indians' 893 wins left them EIGHT games behind the 101-61 Twins. Cleveland's 7-1 Saturday win in Chicago over the White Sox, gives the team FOUR wins in its last five games and a 9-7 record (Twins have opened 10-5). The White Sox began this season's 60-game schedule having NOT made the postseason since 2008 (just two winning seasons in that 11-year span). However, the White Sox are a MUCH better team this season and have opened 8-7 (beat Cleveland 2-0 on Friday).
The two AL Central foes meet in the rubber match of the series, tonight. ESPN was set to feature the Chicago Cubs at the St Louis Cardinals but that series was postponed due to the Cardinals' ongoing bout with positive COVID-19 tests. The bright lights of ESPN's "Sunday Night Baseball" will now feature Cleveland at Chicago, with the White Sox last appearing in the Sunday night slot back on May 12, 2013! The pitching matchup is a good one, as Cleveland's Shane Bieber (3-0, 0.83 ERA) squares off against Chicago's Lucas Giolito (1-1, 5.17 ERA).
Bieber is looking to claim a FOURTH straight win. He enters Sunday with a major league best 35 strikeouts, the third-most in history through three starts. He has walked just THREE batters, while allowing only 12 hits over 21.2 innings (0.69 WHIP to go along with his 0.83 ERA and .160 BAA). Giolito had an 'ugly' 2020 debut, allowing seven ERs over just 3.2 innings of a 10-5 loss to the Twins. However, he has recovered from that rough outing on Opening Day, by holding Cleveland and Milwaukee to two runs on eight hits in 12 combined innings over his last two starts (1.50 ERA with 15 Ks).
Giolito posted a horrific 6.13 ERA in 2018 but turned things around in a big way last season, going 14-9, 3.41 ERA (he made the last year's All Star team). He opened the 2020 season as Chicago's ace. However, he currently can't match Bieber and I'm not ready to put Chicago in the same class of Cleveland, as a team. The Indians take the rubber game, as Bieber moves to 4-0!
My 10* Game of the Week is on the TB Rays at 1:10 ET.
The New York Yankees had a SEVEN-game winning streak (July 26-Aug 3) but will face the Rays on Sunday in the final contest of this four-game series, having lost FOUR of six. The Rays opened the season 4-1 (all games at home) but then lost FIVE in a row (all on the road). The Rays returned home and split two games with Boston and have now taken TWO of three to New York (loss came vs Gerrit Cole, who is 0-4).
The pitching matchup for the series finale will be New York's James Paxton (0-1, 13.50 ERA) and Tampa's Charlie Morton(1-1, 5.52 ERA). 2019 was Paxton's first with the Yankees and ended July just 5-6 with a 4.72 ERA. However, he then went 10-0 over his final 11 regular season starts (NYY were 11-0), posting a 1.05 ERA in five September starts. His 29 starts, 18 wins and 251 Ks were all career highs (held opponents to a .210 BA). Paxton was recovering from a back injury when MLB was shut down back in March but New York said he was fully recovered when play began in late-July. Then again, maybe not. He pitched just ONE inning in his season debut at Washington on July 25 (allowed five hits and three ERs) and in his second start (Aug 2 vs Boston), made it through just three innings while allowing five runs (three earned) on seven hits.
Morton turned his career around after signing with Houston in 2017, going 29-10 in 2017-18. That got him a two-year, $30 million deal with Tampa Bay and Morton went 16-6, 3.05 ERA in 2019 for the Rays. He made his second All Star team last year plus set career highs in wins (16), ERA (3.05), innings (?194.2) and in strikeouts (240). He also led all major league pitchers in HRs/9 innings pitched, at 0.694.. However, Morton allowed six ERs (4 IP) in his first start of 2020 and was better in his second, allowing two ERs over five innings. He then looked more like himself this past Tuesday against Boston, when he allowed one run in 5.2 innings Tuesday. He gave up a HR to Mitch Moreland in the second inning and then retired nine of the last 10 hitters (Rays won, 5-1).
The Yanks got bad news on Saturday, as Giancarlo Stanton tweaked his hamstring on a slide at second base during New York's 5-3 loss in yesterday's second game of the doubleheader. Here's the rub. The Rays are at home this season, giving them a 22-5 record in their last 27 regular-season home games! Paxton is pitching on six days' rest but is he really healthy? He has yet to complete three innings in each of his first two starts. As for Morton, he is 2-0 with an 0.77 ERA in two starts against the Yankees at Tropicana Field, where New York has lost SIX of its last seven!
My 10* Weekend Wipeout is on the Por Blazers at 6:35 ET.
The Philadelphia 76ers are 42-27, which currently leaves them as the East's No. 6 seed. However, they are just a halg0game back of Miami and Indiana, which are tied for the No. 4 seed. The bad news for Philly is that Ben Simmons suffered a dislocated left kneecap during Wednesday's victory over the Washington Wizards. Philadelphia announced that he will undergo a procedure to remove a loose body from the knee. There wasn't an immediate timetable announced but it's likely that the 76ers won't see Simmons on the floor again until the 2020-21 campaign. Portland suffered a costly 122-117 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, even though Kawhi was rested by LA. The loss drops them 1 1/2 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies (currently eighth-place team in the West). Just as much of a concern is that the Blazers are just a half-game ahead of the San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns plus one game in front of the New Orleans Pelicans for the play-in berth (9th-seed).
Yes, Portland is playing the second of back-to-back games but ALL the motivation lies with them. This is almost a "must-win." A victory for Portland would be HUGE, as Memphis is playing Toronto (Grizzlies are 7-point underdogs) plus the Spurs and Pelicans are playing each other (one team HAS to lose). Portland has seen the return from injury of two key performers. Center Jusuf Nurkic is finally back on the court and he's averaged 19.6-11.4-4-5.2 in five games. Also, PF Zach Collins is back, averaging 7.0 & 7.4 in about 27 minutes per game. Portland relies heavily on one of the NBA's best backcourts in Lillard and McCollum but don't dismiss the contributions of Carmelo Anthony. He's been a HUGE surprise all season. Then there is second-year pro Gary Trent Jr, who has a career average of 7.5 PPG, but is averaging 20.6 PPG "in the bubble."
Damian Lillard scored 22 points but was taking blame for Saturday's loss. He missed two free throws with the Blazers down by one with 18.6 seconds left and was off the mark with a three-pointer that could have tied the score with 9.5 seconds to play. Lillard tied his franchise record with 11 three-pointers and scored 45 points in Portland's 125-115 win over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night. Expect a HUGE game from him here and lay the 'short' price with Portland.
Age: 65 (turns 66 in November).
Years in handicapping: Larry entered his 36th year as a professional handicapper in August of 2019.
Achievements in handicapping: 1985 Castaway’s Pro Football Challenge Champion, then the most prestigious handicapping contest in Las Vegas; 1999 Stardust Invitational semi-finalist.
A member of the original cast of Proline (began in 1985), the nation’s longest running pre-game handicapping show on the USA-TV network (also hosted Sports Desk on the same network from 1996-98). In then joined the panel of The Winning Edge in the early 2000s. Although well-known on TV for his expert game analysis and no-nonsense handicapping style, Larry may be best known for his radio work. He hosted his own syndicated call-in radio show, Sports Central. It aired live from Bally's Casino in Las Vegas in the early to mid-90s and at one time was heard in more than 100 markets.
Systems used for handicapping a game: Fundamental and statistical analysis. "I'm not typically a trend and system kind of guy," Ness says. "I look at team strengths and weaknesses and compare them. It’s an all-encompassing thing and over 35-plus years, you get good at it."
Star Ratings: 9 and 10*s are considered "Best Bets." All other plays are rated between 6 and 8*s, depending on strength and/or price.
Release Times: Larry releases "daily sports" (MLB, NBA, NCAAB and NHL) on the day of the game. His full card is almost always available by 10:00 ET (save Late-Breaking games). In the FB season, Larry begins releasing plays as early as Tuesday. His full CFB card is typically complete by Thursday (on Friday, at the latest) and his full NFL card will be mostly complete by Friday (definitely by Saturday at 3:00 ET). 36-Club Play: It represents Larry's 36 years in the business and gets his highest star rating (10*s). Expect no more than one of these plays per month, per sport during the regular season. LEGEND Play: Larry's often been referred to as a Las Vegas legend and he's 'borrowed' the title for his other "signature play.". Larry's LEGEND Plays were previously available to only a select group of private clients but they are now available to all, via the internet. Like his 36-Club plays, expect no more than one play per month, per sport (rated 10*s). Game of the Month and Game of the Year Plays: Always rated 10*s. Las Vegas Insider: Throughout his 36 years "in the business," Larry has become known as "the ultimate Las Vegas insider." The contacts he's developed over more than three decades (on both sides of the 'counter'), are arguably "unmatched!" He confers daily with 'his 'friends' and when "all the stars align on the same game," Larry releases an exclusive Las Vegas Insider (rated between 7 and 10*s). Oddsmaker's Error Plays: Larry uses this term with "great respect" (and not very often), as he counts among his very closest friends many of Las Vegas' most famous and respected Sport Book directors (past and present). However, when Larry feels "the line is significantly off," he'll release one of these "not to be missed" plays (rated 9 or 10*s). Situational Stunners: Larry's a fundamental handicapper at heart but he does pay attention to team and situational trends (especially in MLB). When his fundamental handicapping and a strong trend or situation match up, he releases a Situational Stunner. He began releasing these plays in MLB '09 and he's expanded them since,to all sports (rated from 7-10*s, based on strength and/or price for moneyline sports). PERFECT STORM: Larry just added these plays the last few years and his accompanying expert analysis makes these popular plays self-explanatory (typically rated 9 or 10*s but moneyline sports may be rated 7 or 8*s due to price). Weekly and Weekend Wipeout Winners: Larry added this self-explanatory moniker just a few years ago. They've become immensely popular and why not? Who wouldn't want a game that has "blowout written all over it," supported by Larry's expert analysis (rated between 7 and 10*s, depending on strength and price). Superstar Triple Play: Over the years, many of Larry's regular clients have clamored for more three-game reports. You asked for it and Larry's responded. Back in the late 1980s and into the mid 1990s, 900-numbers became "the rage." While a panel member of Proline (see above), Larry created the Superstar Triple Play. One call got you three Superstar Triple Plays (in a particular sport). For almost a decade, anywhere from 1,500 to 3,500 callers responded each weekend, when Larry offered his famous "Superstar Triple Play" pitch on Proline. Starting in 2009, Larry began going "Back to the Future!" Look for 3-game reports this FB season on Saturday (college) and Sunday (NFL). Get three plays on a single report from Larry (many will be TV games), the originator of the "Superstar Triple Play!". Late-Breaking Plays: Larry will always go back and take a "second look" at each day's card, after posting all his games. When he finds something he missed the first time around, he'll release a Late-Breaking Play. These plays are more prevalent in sports like baseball and basketball than football (typically rated at 8 or 9*s).
Quote: "No one works any harder and my work-product speaks for itself," Ness says. "I have a no-nonsense style and my logic is easy to follow. Anyone buying my plays will know exactly what I was thinking when I made the selection. After 34 years, the Larry Ness brand is instantly recognizable and my analysis ranks with the best in the industry."