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Thursday's MLB Tip Sheet

Thursday's MLB Tip Sheet

Thursday's Tip Sheet
By Josh Jacobs

Rolling into Thursday, three afternoon contests will set the 12-game card in motion.

Some surprising starts to the season are already creating hype and conversation throughout the MLB. A 6-1 Baltimore squad started April off with a bang. A 5-1 at home record has been complimented by Orioles’ first baseman Aubrey Huff’s 11 RBIs, relief pitcher Dennis Sarfate’s 2-0 record with a 0.30 WHIP and closer George Sherrill’s four saves.

Getting back to the breakdown here’s what’s going down on the docket.

Afternoon Action

Seattle (M. Batista, 1-0) at Tampa Bay (E. Jackson, 1-0) – 12:40 p.m. EDT

Tampa’s starting pitcher Edwin Jackson is coming off six innings of effective hurling in a win over the Yankees on Apr. 5 (6-3). Jackson surrendered only one earned run in six innings of work with four strikeouts to boot. The Mariners are trying to rebound after getting swept in a four-game series against Baltimore. Seattle’s starting pitchers where tagged for 27 hits and 11 earned runs, while giving up seven walks throughout the series. The real problem emerged from inside the batting box, where the M’s offense suffered with a .203 BA. The Rays finished 2007 with only three wins in seven meetings versus Seattle. has installed Tampa Bay as a $1.30 home favorite, with a total set at 10.

Cincinnati (A. Harang, 0-1) at Milwaukee (C. Villanueva, 1-0) – 1:05 p.m. EDT

The Reds may be up 1.24 units on the season, but getting outscored 8-5 in two straight losses against Philadelphia and Milwaukee puts the starting rotation under the microscope. Cinci’s right-handed starter, Aaron Harang has actually displayed some effective numbers (nine hits with five runs sacrificed in 13 innings of work) in his two outings thus far this season. The problem with the Reds is in clutch play, with the club dropping three of its four losses by two runs or less. Off to a better start then in the ’07 season, the Brewers are an impressive 6-1 this year. Milwaukee is giving up an average of 2.5 runs per game in its six wins, while the offense has racked up an impressive 41 RBIs with a .295 BA. The Brewers’ Gabe Kapler has two dingers on the season with six RBIs.

Most books have opened the Brewers as $1.20 favorites, while the total is sitting at 8½ runs.

Atlanta (T. Hudson, 1-0) at Colorado (J. Francis, 0-1) – 3:05 p.m. EDT

The Braves will attempt to escape from Colorado with a win on Thursday. While Atlanta has out hit the opposition with a .261 BA versus a .236 BA, all five of the team’s defeats have come from being outscored by only one-run. The Braves’ veteran Chipper Jones has started out on fire, hitting for .382 BA with eight RBIs. Colorado starter Jeff Francis will take his second walk to the mound. Francis invested 6.1 innings of work in a 7-2 loss against Arizona on Saturday, giving up five runs on 12 hits. A cry from last season, the Rockies are fanning at the plate for a .221 BA, while crossing the plate for only 15 RBIs (averaging two runs per game). has opened the Braves as -120 visitng favorites, with a total set at nine.

Evening Swing

Detroit (N. Robertson, 0-0) at Boston (T. Wakefield, 0-0) - 7:05 p.m. EDT

The Tigers starter Nate Robinson will enter this contest against the Sox with a 3-7 record in his last 14 starts (dating back to the end of July in ’07). Detroit was the pick of the litter in the AL Central by most experts and getting out to a horrible 0-7 start can be attributed to zero production from the offense. Only one player with more than 20 plate appearances is hitting over .300 (Carlo Guillen), and a total of 13 RBIs have been recorded.

The Red Sox have already produced two shutout wins this season (against Oakland and Detroit), and reliever Hideki Okajima has led the charge in the pen with a 1-0 record and a perfect ERA in four innings pitched. Boston’s knuckleball pitcher, Tim Wakefield will make his second start of the season, after chalking up a no decision in Toronto (six innings pitched, giving up six hits and three runs).

The Tigers closed out ’07 with a 4-3 record versus the Red Sox.

Detroit has been installed as a $1.30 visiting underdog by most books.

St. Louis (A. Wainwright, 1-0) at San Francisco (K. Correia, 0-1) - 10:15 p.m. EDT

Starting out with a 2-6 record and a -369 money line report is not a good way to begin a season, but that’s exactly how the Giants have set the wheels in motion. The good news for San Fran backers is last year’s 4-1 record versus St. Louis (an a 4-1 record on the run line).

But it’s a new season and the Cardinals have been a pleasant surprise to start the season. St. Louis’ Rick Ankiel, Ryan Ludwick and Troy Glaus have combined to generate 16 RBIs with a .285 BA. All five of the Cards starting pitchers have posted one win on the season, while not one has been recorded a loss. Starter Adam Wainwright has already made one appearance this year in a 5-4 win over the Nationals. Wainwright went deep into the game, tossing eight innings and giving up eight hits with just two runs.

The Giants must work extra hard to end a weak beginning to ’07. Batting .221 with a combined 17 RBIs. San Francisco only has one player batting .300 in more then 20 plate appearances. The Giants are 6-2 in starter Kevin Correia last eight starts.

Most books have opened the Cardinals as $1.30 visiting favorites.

Pick of the Day

Florida (M. Hendrickson, 1-1) at Washington (O. Perez, 0-1) - 7:10 p.m. EDT

I’m striking while Florida’s iron is hot. The Marlins have now scored 24 runs in their last four contests, the bullpen has been responsible for three wins and starting pitcher Mark Hendrickson is coming off an impressive win over Pittsburgh (7-3). Hendrickson tossed 5.1 innings, giving up five hits and three runs on 90 total pitches.

The Nationals are trying to surface from a five-game slide in which they’ve been outscored 31-22. While the team is batting a .253 average, 34 RBIs on the season translates into 4.25 runs per game. Making his third outing this season, starting hurler Odalis Perez began the season against Atlanta. His five inning workout resulted in giving up only four hits and one run. A follow up contest in St. Louis didn’t prove to be as effective, with Perez sacrificing five earned runs in only four innings of action.

Washington’s Perez only posted an average of 5.3 innings per game last season in 26 starts for Kansas City. While the Marlins youth have plenty to prove on both sides of the ball, a win straight out in hostile territory is my favored play for the day.

Between Florida’s big four, Ramirez, Jacobs, Willingham and Uggla, I expect this club to produce just enough to put the Nationals’ Perez in a difficult position. The Marlins bullpen has been accountable for a 3-0 record with a 3.89 ERA so far this year.

The Marlins have been installed as mild +110 underdogs at most books, while the total has been set at 9½.

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Philadelphia (4-5) at N.Y. Mets (3-4)

The Phillies wrap up a three-game set at Shea Stadium by sending right-hander Adam Eaton (0-0, 3.52 ERA) to the hill against Mets righty John Maine (0-1, 9.00 ERA).

The Mets snapped a three-game overall losing streak and nine-game skid to Philadelphia with Wednesday’s 8-2 rout of the Phillies. Despite last night’s result, the Phillies – who won Monday’s opener 5-2 – are still 13-7 in their last 20 against New York and 8-3 in their last 11 at Shea Stadium. Also, Philadelphia is on runs of 11-6 on the road, 13-7 against right-handed starters and 35-18 against the N.L. East.

New York is still just 2-10 in its last 12 home games and 2-10 in its last 12 against right-handed starters.

Eaton, who went 10-10 with a 6.29 ERA in 30 starts last year, got a no-decision in his 2008 debut, allowing three runs on six hits in 7 2/3 innings in his team’s 4-3 loss at Cincinnati on Saturday. He’s had great success against the Mets, with a 5-0 mark and 2.68 ERA in seven career starts, including 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA in four outings last season – with both wins coming at Shea. Finally, despite a 6.12 road ERA last season, Eaton went 7-3 in 15 starts.

Maine, coming off a 15-10 campaign with a 3.91 ERA in 30 starts, struggled in his opener Saturday, allowing four runs on eight hits in four innings in an 11-5 loss at Atlanta. However, Maine is 4-0 with a 2.13 ERA the past two seasons against the Mets, getting a road win and two home no-decisions last year. Maine went an even 6-6 at home last year, with a 3.44 ERA.

Although last night’s game barely eclipsed the posted total, the under is still 8-4-1 in the last 13 head-to-head meetings overall and 8-3 in the last 11 matchups in New York. The under is also 10-5 in the Phillies’ last 15 games against right-handed starters, but the over is 12-4-2 in Eaton’s last 18 starts overall and 7-1-2 in Eaton’s last 10 on the highway.

For New York, the over is on runs of 17-5-1 overall, 18-6-1 against division rivals and 8-3 in Maine’s last 11 home starts.



Detroit (1-7) at Boston (4-5)

Having finally gotten into the win column, the Tigers will now try to make it two in a row when they send left-hander Nate Robertson (0-0, 9.0 ERA) to the mound in the finale of a three-game series at Fenway Park. The Red Sox are set to counter with veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (0-0, 4.50).

Detroit, which entered Wednesday’s game at Boston as the only remaining winless team in baseball, rode Jeremy Bonderman’s strong pitching performance to a 7-2 victory last night. The Tigers, who mustered just 15 runs in their first seven games, easily set a season high for runs. On the downside, they’re still just 2-6 in their last eight on the road and 0-6 in their last six against right-handed starters.

The Red Sox have now dropped three of their last four. However, they’re still 58-32 at Fenway since the start of the 2007 season (55-25 as a home favorite), and they’re 18-6 in their last 24 home games against Detroit. Additionally, Terry Francona’s club has won five straight games against left-handed starters.

Robertson, who went 9-13 with a 4.76 ERA in 30 starts in 2007, got pounded Friday in his season opener, allowing five runs on seven hits in five innings in an 8-5 loss to the Chicago White Sox. He is 2-3 with a 6.42 ERA in seven lifetime starts against Boston, winning at home and losing on the road in two outings last season.

Robertson was 4-9 with a 5.38 ERA in 14 starts on the highway last season, and the Tigers are 7-19 in his last 26 on foreign turf.

Wakefield, who went 17-12 with a 4.76 ERA in 31 starts last season, got a no-decision in his first start of 2008, allowing three runs on six hits in six innings as Boston lost 6-3 Friday at Toronto. The Red Sox are 1-4 in the veteran’s last five outings. However, Wakefield went 10-4 in 15 home starts in 2007, despite a beefy 5.27 ERA.

Wakefield is 13-10 with 4.50 ERA in 32 appearances (20 starts) against Detroit, and the Sox are 8-3 in his last 11 against the Tigers. However, in his lone start against Detroit last year, Wakefield got tagged for nine hits and five runs in a 7-2 home loss.

The first two games of this series have stayed under the total, making the under 8-2-1 in the last 11 series meetings. Also, for Detroit the under is on runs of 20-6-1 in Robertson’s road starts, 7-2 with Robertson as a road underdog, 7-2 against the A.L. East and 4-1 against right-handers. Also, the under is 22-8-1 in Wakefield’s last 31 starts when going on five days’ rest, but the over is 7-1 in his last eight home outings and 9-4 in his last 13 as a favorite.


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This week's streaks & slumps

Baseball’s a game of streaks and most professional handicappers will tell you it’s a lot easier to hop on them than to bet against them. Your other option is to spend the entire season looking for streak-snapping spots while your football bankroll bounces.

All stats are current through Tuesday's games.


Baltimore Orioles (6-1)

What's up with the Orioles, you ask? Lots of offense, that's what. Baltimore ranks among MLB’s top 10 clubs in runs per game, batting average, home runs, OPS, and stolen bases.

Take a glance through the Orioles’ batting order and you’ll end up wondering how this is possible. Right now four regulars are hitting better than .400, with Luke Scott topping the lot at .500 (10-for-20), while Aubrey Huff has cashed in 11 base runners already. It doesn’t hurt when your bullpen has allowed only two runs over 24 1/3-innings, either.

Betting forecast: Play them while they’re hot because it won’t last forever. Baltimore’s offense doesn’t have the bats to keep up this kind of production over the long haul and the club’s starting pitching is mediocre at best. The O’s are in the middle of a three-game visit with the Texas Rangers before traveling to Tampa Bay.

Milwaukee Brewers (6-1)

The Brewers proved they were no joke last season and picked up where they left off this year - well, mostly. Last season they lived and died by the long ball as Prince Fielder cracked 50 long flies, while four other Brewers had more than 20. This year the offense is still producing the third most runs per game in the league and leads the show in batting average, but they rank 14th in home runs and Fielder is still stuck on zero.

Betting forecast: Milwaukee is tough enough now as it is, but look out once the Brew Crew start jacking. Eric Gagne might still be a bit of an enigma, but if he’s one of your biggest concerns with the pitching staff, that’s saying a lot. Milwaukee has two more games at home against the Reds before heading to the Big Apple for an interesting matchup with the Mets. Might be some decent value on some Brewer bets once they get to New York. 

Arizona Diamondbacks (6-2)

Hard to find many faults with Arizona’s quick start out of the gate. The Diamondbacks rank first in the show in homers, second in OPS and runs per game, and they're among the top five in four major pitching categories (ERA, WHIP, strikeouts, and quality starts). That’s some serious balance.

It’s not that they’re just winning either - they’re dominating teams and are up almost eight units for runline bettors.

Betting outlook: Stable. These Diamondbacks are for real. They have excellent pitching, a sneaky-good batting order, and they all come to work everyday. The fantastic runline record they have probably won’t hold out much longer, but they’ll be a strong straight up bet throughout the year. Arizona finishes a series with the Dodgers today before welcoming in the Rockies for three games. Then the D-Backs are off to lowly San Francisco.


Detroit Tigers (0-7)

The Tigers brought in some big names in the offseason so an early-season slump shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise, but this is pushing it. There are some big time concerns, namely everybody except Carlos Guillen, though there’s no way this team will finish where they are now - in the bottom quarter of just about every major offensive and defensive category. This team is just too talented.

Betting outlook: Well, it can’t get much worse, but there’s no reason for you to be betting this team. Detroit has already lost more than 11 units for moneyline bettors and seven units for runline bettors. Oddsmakers gave this club way too much credit coming out of the gate and you’ll still see reasonably high lines because of Detroit’s marquee names. The Tigers are at Fenway for two more games before visiting the White Sox.

San Francisco Giants (2-6)

No real surprises from the Giants – they are what they are. They aren’t going to score many runs and there will be days they won’t be able to keep their opposition off the base paths.

Betting outlook: If you must bet on San Francisco, at least pick your spots and give yourself a chance with some runline bets. The Giants finish a set with the Padres on Wednesday before the Cardinals come to town for a four-game set.

Total streakers (O/U)

New York Yankees (1-7 O/U)

With that ridiculous lineup, Yankees bettors just love their overs so oddsmakers don’t have much choice but to boost daily totals when they’re against middle-of-the-road pitching. New York has a strong defense though and a bunch of pitchers that love to keep the ball down.

Betting outlook: A good rule of thumb might be to give a hard look at the under if the total is around 10, but this offense will wake up soon. The Yanks finish off a series at Kansas City before continuing their road swing at Boston and Tampa Bay.

Florida Marlins (6-1 O/U)

This total trend is pretty easy to figure out with a Marlins pitching staff that hasn’t had a quality start yet this season and is working on a 6.19 ERA.

Betting outlook: This might be a trend that sticks around as long as oddsmakers keep rolling out similar totals. The Marlins consistently see O/U numbers under 10 and this pitching staff is a threat to allow nearly that many on most nights. Florida finishes its series in Washington’s new park before heading to Houston for the weekend.

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MLB Research for Thursday
By Indiancowboy

Cincy vs. Brewers

Amazing price here on Harang, this is the Reds ace in my opinion, he has yet to pick up a win this year, he pitched very well in his last start giving up just 2 earned runs in 7 innings, while Villa gave up 8 hits in 5 inns to a poor hitting San Fran team, the Reds picked up their bats yesterday and typically I don't like going against the Brew Crew, but I just think Harang is much more talented than this kid here.

Atlanta vs. Colorado

Francis gave up 12 hits last time out in Arizona and has over a 7 ERA, Hudson has just a 3 and change ERA and won in his last start, look for Francis to have a big bounce-back game today, Hudson should pitch well as well, both team with similar records, tough to find value here, I lean on the under, but no thanks.

Cubs vs. Pirates

Hill picked up a ND against Houston in his last start, he pitched very well against Houston, but a ton of juice here, Morris is horrible, but the Pirates are avoiding a sweep here so they should show up, this gaem is likely to go over as the bullpens are exhausted from the previous 2 days of extra innings, I lean on the over here, but I hate anything to do with either of these teams.

Florida vs. Washington

These teams have been putting up runs with great ease of late, Florida actually has a winning records, I think the Nats do very well on a bounce-back here with Perez who got roughed up in his last start, I have learned not to trust Hendrickson but I'm likely to stay away and just go with a side that I like in baseball as my only play for today.

Phillies vs. Mets

Eaton went nearl 8 innings and has a 3.5+ ERA which is a far cry from how terrible he was last year, Phillies come off a tough error-filled loss last night to the Mets who blew them out, Maine got roughed up by the Braves in his last start for a 9 ERA so he will be bouncing-back today, I lean on the Mets RL here but I hate the RL to begin with by principle, so I will likely stay away.

St. Louis vs. San Francisco

If I do make a 2nd play today, it will be here as Wainwright went 8 inns and gave up 2 runs in his last start to the Nats while although the Cards offense is great, the face Correia who has talent and struggled in his last start against Milwaukee, and you saw the starts yesterday for San Fran in a 1-0 ballgame, this team has little to no offense so I would expect yet another under here, something similar to a 4-2 St. Louis win as the Giants have potentially a worse offense than Houston and 2 of 3 of the Houston vs. St. Louis series went under, look for the same here in these matchups and consistent 8.5 lines.

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