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Friday Service Plays

Friday Service Plays

SPORTS ADVISORS

NBA PLAYOFFS

EASTERN CONFERENCE

(2) Detroit (60-24, 46-37-1 ATS) at (7) Philadelphia (41-43, 43-38-3 ATS)

The Pistons, who bounced back in Game 2 after a stunning Game 1 upset loss at home, will try to regain home-court advantage when they travel to the Wachovia Center for Game 3 against the 76ers.

Detroit, which blew a 15-point, third-quarter lead to Philadelphia in Game 1, posted a resounding 105-88 victory Wednesday night to square the best-of-7 series and easily cover as a 10½-point home chalk. The Pistons moved to 5-1 SU and ATS in their last six starts, and the straight-up winner has cashed in each of Detroit’s last 10 games. The Sixers, on the other hand, dropped to 1-5 SU and ATS in their last six outings.

Despite the blowout loss on Wednesday, Philly is still 4-2 ATS against the Pistons this season (3-3 SU), including 3-1 SU and ATS in the last four clashes. The favorite in this series is on a 13-6-1 ATS roll, and the road team – again, despite Wednesday’s outcome – is 8-3 ATS in the last 11 matchups. Finally, while Detroit is 2-5 ATS in the last seven meetings overall, it is 4-1 ATS in its last five trips to the Wachovia Center.

Wednesday’s victory snapped an 0-5 SU and 0-6 ATS slide in the postseason for the Pistons. Additionally, Detroit is still in the midst of negative ATS trends of 6-11-1 in the playoffs since the start of the 2007 postseason, 6-16-1 as a playoff chalk (1-7 the last eight as a playoff favorite), 3-7 against the Atlantic Division, 4-10 as a road favorite and 2-7 overall on the highway.

On the positive side, Flip Saunders’ team is 10-3 SU in its last 13 overall (8-5 ATS) and has positive pointspread trends of 5-1 as a chalk, 5-1 on one day of rest, 15-6 as a road favorite of less than five points and 15-6-3 in first-round playoff games.

Philadelphia remains on positive ATS runs of 14-7-1 as a pup, 8-3 against the Central Division, 6-1 as a home ‘dog of less than five and 10-4-1 after a SU loss. However, the Sixers are just 4-12-1 ATS in their last 16 playoff games as an underdog, 5-11-3 ATS in their last 19 in conference quarterfinal games, 3-7 ATS in their last 10 when catching less than five points and 1-4 ATS in their past five at home.

Although Wednesday’s meeting sailed over the 178½-point posted price, the under for Detroit is still on streaks of 10-4 overall, 9-3 as a favorite, 12-3 against the East, 4-0 as a road chalk and 6-1 on the highway. Philadelphia, meanwhile, has seen the over-under alternate in its last nine contests overall, and the under is 4-1 in its last five at home, but the over is 11-5-1 in the 76ers’ last 17 games on Friday.

ATS ADVANTAGE: DETROIT


WESTERN CONFERENCE

(2) New Orleans (58-26, 51-31-2 ATS) at (7) Dallas (51-33, 35-45-4 ATS)

The Hornets, who continued to prove their worth as one of the best bets in the league by winning and covering in Games 1 and 2 at home, head west to the American Airlines Center for Game 3 against the Mavericks, who are in a must-win situation.

New Orleans followed up a 104-92 Game 1 win over the Mavs by running Dallas out of the gym Tuesday night in a 127-103 rout laying 3½ points. The Hornets are 3-1 SU and ATS in their last four starts going back to the regular season, and the straight-up winner has gotten the cash in eight of New Orleans’ last nine contest. Dallas, meanwhile, is 1-6 ATS in its last six starts (3-4 SU).

With New Orleans’ win Tuesday, the home team is now 6-0 SU and ATS this season in this series, and the favorite is 6-1 ATS in the last seven clashes overall (5-0 ATS in the past five). Finally, Dallas is 4-1 ATS in its last five battles with the Hornets at the American Airlines Center.

The Hornets, who sported the league’s third-best ATS mark in the regular season, are on a multitude of positive pointspread streaks, including 40-19-1 overall, 36-16-1 on two days’ rest, 6-1 in conference quarterfinal games, 9-3 against the Western Conference, 20-9 as an underdog and 31-15-2 as a visitor. On the downside, they are on ATS slides of 3-7-1 as a playoff underdog, 2-5 as a road pup of any price, 1-5 as a road ‘dog of five to 10½ points and 2-5-1 after a pointspread win.

Despite winning and covering against New Orleans at home in the regular-season finale nine days ago, Dallas is still on negative pointspread runs of 1-5 on two days’ rest, 2-9 following a non-cover, 4-10 against winning teams, 2-6 at home and 0-6 in first-round playoff games. On the positive side, the Mavericks are 37-17-1 in their last 55 against Southwest Division rivals and 4-1-2 ATS in their last seven on Friday.

The “over” trends run particularly heavy for New Orleans, including 4-0 overall, 7-1 as a road ‘dog of any price, 5-1 catching 5 to 10½ points on the road, 26-8 on two days’ rest and 8-3-1 in Friday contests. For Dallas, the over is on streaks of a 4-1 overall, 4-0 on two days’ rest and 5-1 against the Southwest Division, but the under is on runs of 9-3 for the Mavs as a favorite, 8-2 for the Mavs as a playoff favorite and 6-2 for the Mavs at home.

Finally, the under is 11-4-1 in the last 16 clashes between these rivals and is 7-1 the last eight contests in Dallas, but the over has cashed in four straight matchups, including the first two games of this series.

ATS ADVANTAGE: DALLAS


(3) San Antonio (58-26, 38-44-2) at (6) Phoenix (55-29, 40-41-3 ATS)

The defending NBA champion Spurs carry a 2-0 series lead into U.S. Airways Center, where the Suns must find a way to win Game 3 or face the all-but-certain prospect of being knocked out of the playoffs by San Antonio for the second straight year.

For the second straight game in this best-of-7 series, Phoenix got out to a great start in building a 14-point lead on Tuesday, but San Antonio outscored the Suns 27-11 in the third quarter and held on down the stretch for a 102-96 win as a 1½-point favorite. The Spurs have won four in a row (2-2 ATS), though they are still just 3-6 ATS in their last nine overall. Meanwhile, the Suns, who have dropped two straight Western Conference games for the first time since March 7, have alternated spread-covers over the last six games, including cashing in Game 1 in San Antonio.

Phoenix is 4-2 ATS this season in the heated rivalry against San Antonio, and the underdog has taken the cash in five of the six meetings. Meanwhile, San Antonio, which took out Phoenix in last year’s conference semis by winning the series 4-2 (3-2-1 ATS), is 9-4-1 ATS in its last 14 visits to the U.S. Airways Center.

The Spurs are in the midst of ATS funks of 1-4 against the Pacific Division, 2-7 on two days’ rest, 3-8 as an underdog, 4-12 as a road pup and 0-4 on the highway. One positive for San Antonio is its 5-1 ATS run in first-round playoff games.

The Suns are on positive pointspread trends of 8-2 at home, 12-5-1 against the Western Conference, 6-0 after a non-cover, 6-1 on two days’ rest, 4-1 after a SU loss, 7-2 as a home favorite and 10-4-1 overall as a chalk.

The under cashed in all four regular-season meetings between these squads, but the over took the money in the first two in this playoff series, with Tuesday’s clash eclipsing the 191-point posted price.

For Phoenix, the over is on runs of 4-0 in conference quarterfinal games, 4-1 on two days’ rest, 10-4 as a playoff favorite and 11-5 as a home chalk. For San Antonio, the over streaks are 5-0 overall, 5-0 against the West, 4-0 following a SU win, 6-1 against the Pacific Division (including a current 4-0 run) and 7-2 with the Spurs catching points in the playoffs.

ATS ADVANTAGE: PHOENIX and OVER


NATIONAL LEAGUE

Atlanta (11-11) at N.Y. Mets (11-10)

The Braves send young right-hander Jair Jurrjens (2-2, 3.20 ERA) to the hill at Shea Stadium to open a three-game set against the Mets, who will counter with righty Mike Pelfrey (2-0, 3.18).

Atlanta snapped a modest two-game losing skid with Thursday’s 7-4 home win over the Marlins. Going back to April 17, the Braves are on a 6-2 run, as they’ve reached .500 for the first time since the opening week of the season. However, Bobby Cox’s club is just 3-7 on the highway this year, including 1-3 in the last four.

New York has followed up a five-game winning streak by losing three of its last four, including Thursday’s 10-5 setback at Washington. On the bright side, the Mets return home, where they are 6-3 this season, including three straight wins.

These two teams have already seen each other once this season, with Atlanta sweeping a two-game series April 4 and 5 at home, posting wins of 11-5 and 3-1, though neither of today’s starters were involved in those decisions. Last year, the teams split their 18 meetings, though New York won five of the last six.

The 22-year-old Jurrjens has had four solid starts, even in his two losses, but his best outing came Sunday in a 6-1 home win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, as he allowed one run – a solo homer -- on three hits in seven innings, with three walks and eight strikeouts. In his first major-league experience last year, Jurrjens went 3-1 with a 4.70 ERA in seven starts for Detroit.

Pelfrey notched wins in his first two starts before getting a no-decision in a 5-4 loss at Philadelphia on Sunday. In that contest, he got beat up a bit, allowing four runs on 10 hits in five innings. But in two home starts prior to that, he allowed just two runs on 10 hits in 12 innings, including tossing seven shutout innings in a 6-0 win over Washington on April 15. Pelfrey is 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA in two career starts (three appearances) against Atlanta, all last season.

The over is 5-1 in Pelfrey’s last six starts at Shea, but the under is 3-1 in Jurrrjens’ four outings this year.

Furthermore, the “under” trends are heavy for both these teams, with the total staying low in six of the Braves’ last eight overall and four of the Mets’ last six overall. For Atlanta, the under is also 7-0 on the road against right-handed starters, 23-8 overall against righties and 5-1 in series openers. For New York, the under is 8-1 against losing teams, 6-2 against the N.L. East, 5-2 at home and 39-19-4 in Friday outings. Finally, the under is 6-2 in the last eight series clashes between these rivals and 3-1 in the past four meetings at Shea Stadium.

ATS ADVANTAGE: N.Y. METS and UNDER


AMERICAN LEAGUE

N.Y. Yankees (12-11) at Cleveland (10-12)

After a long night in the Windy City, the Yankees, head east to Cleveland to kick off a weekend series against the Indians in a rematch of last year’s American League Divisional Series. New York left-hander Andy Pettitte (3-1, 2.45 ERA) is set to toe the rubber at Progressive Field against Indians right-hander Paul Byrd (0-2, 4.43) in a battle of veteran hurlers.

New York jumped out to a 3-0 lead at the White Sox last night, then endured a lengthy rain delay. Shortly after play resumed, the Yankees fell behind 6-3 and battled back to the tie the game at 6 before eventually losing 7-6 in the bottom of the ninth to halt a three-game winning streak. Despite the loss, Joe Girardi’s club is still 5-3 in its last eight on the highway.

Cleveland is coming off Thursday’s doubleheader sweep at Kansas City, winning by scores of 9-6 and 3-0. That completed the Tribe’s three-game sweep of the Royals after Monday’s 15-1 rout. Returning home may not prove all that comfortable for the Indians, who are 2-6 in their last eight at Progressive since opening the season with two home wins.

This is the first meeting between these A.L. rivals since last year’s best-of-5 divisional playoff series, won by Cleveland 3-1. Prior to that, New York won all six regular-season meetings in 2007, outscoring the Indians 49-17. The Yanks are on an 8-0 regular-season run in this rivalry dating to 2006.

Pettitte struggled in his season debut at Tampa Bay, taking the loss after allowing five runs on eight hits in five innings in a 6-3 setback. But he’s rebounded to go 3-0 with a 1.74 ERA in his past three starts, most recently throwing seven scoreless innings in Sunday’s 7-1 rout at Baltimore, allowing just four hits, with no walks and five strikeouts. In his career against Cleveland, Pettitte is 6-7 with a 4.50 ERA in 16 starts, incluing 5-3 with a 3.72 ERA in Cleveland (1-0 last year).

The Indians are 0-4 with Byrd on the mound this season, despite the fact he has held his last two opponents (Boston and Minnesota) to a combined two runs (one earned) on 12 hits with no walks and nine strikeouts in 13 innings. In his only home start of the season on April 15, Byrd held the Red Sox to an unearned run over six innings, with Cleveland’s bullpen imploding in a 5-3 defeat.

Byrd is 1-4 with a 4.44 ERA in eight starts against New York, getting blitzed for seven runs on seven hits in just two innings in his lone outing against the Yanks last year.

The Yankees are on tears of 9-1 in Pettitte’s last 10 road starts, 24-7 in Pettitte’s last 31 starts against the A.L. Central, 37-14 in Pettitte’s last 51 starts in a series opener and 44-20 in Pettitte’s last 64 starts overall. The lone negative for New York: a 1-5 mark in its last six Friday outings.

The Indians are 21-9 in Byrd’s last 30 starts at Progressive Field. On the flip side, Cleveland is 2-5 in its last seven series openers, 1-5 overall in its last six against lefties and 0-5 in its last five against the A.L. East.

For the Yankees, the under is on streaks of 15-8 overall, 10-5 on the road and 5-0 when Pettitte starts. However, for Cleveland, the over is on runs of 9-1 in series openers, 10-4-3 against winning teams and 7-2-1 when Byrd starts at home. Finally, the over is 9-3-1 in the last 13 meetings between these squads.

ATS ADVANTAGE: N.Y. YANKEES and OVER

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VEGAS EXPERTS TIP OF THE DAY

Detroit Pistons at Philadelphia 76ers

The Pistons still have not forgotten their Game One meltdown. Keep in mind that they've outscored the Sixers by 30 points in the first half of Games One and Two, so Philly is lucky to be even at this point. Detroit has won five of six here in the City of Brotherly Love and can hang its hat on a 16-7 pointspread mark if coming off a double-digit win at home.

Play on: Detroit

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Matt Fargo

Houston Astros vs. St Louis Cardinals
Play: Houston Astros   

Houston has now won five in a row and the momentum continues to build. The Astros started the season 3-8 but have gone 8-4 since then and the reason for the turnaround is obvious. The offense has improved dramatically as Houston has scored six runs or more in four of its last five games, averaging 8.2 rpg and you can see what the results are. The pitching has been hit or miss all season but the fact that the staff has allowed three runs in four of the last six games shows some great improvement.

The Cardinals are coming off a win at Pittsburgh but it was just their third in their last eight games. St. Louis is back home where it is 8-4 on the season but three of the last four at Busch Stadium have resulted in defeats and it catches a very hot team right now. The Cardinals are just 1-4 in their last five games following a win and they have not won back-to-back games in close to two weeks. Heading home could be thought of as a turnaround but the matchup is just not in their favor in this one.

Shawn Chacon has been the biggest surprise on this staff and one of the biggest in baseball. He has tossed four straight quality outings to open the season but he has nothing to show for it as he has yet to pick up a victory. As a matter of fact, the Astros have lost three of those four games but it is a different team now. Houston scored eight runs total in his first three starts but broke out with six runs last time out and with the way the offense is now, that production should continue.

It will also help to face a struggling Braden Looper. It has been the complete opposite for Looper who has pitched poorly yet St. Louis has won three of his four starts. He is coming off his worst effort of the season as he allowed seven runs on 10 hits in just three innings against the Giants. He started the season with a quality outing against Washington but none of his last three have been quality efforts. Houston has won five straight games against right-handed starters. Play Houston Astros 1.5 Units

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James Patrick Sports

Twins vs. Rangers

The Rangers return off the road and play host to Minnesota on Friday Night in Arlington. Kevin Millwood takes the mound and he has had little success against the Twinkies with an 0-5 career record and 9+ ERA. Our Friday complimentary selection in Major League Baseball action is on #973 Minnesota Twins. Elsewhere on this Friday, James Patrick is Red Hot in the NBA Play-offs and he cashed again last night with the Raptors and Cavs-Wizards Under the Total.

Marc Lawrence

Play On: L.A. Angels w/Santana vs Robertson

Note: The Angels open a weekend series with the Tigers in the Motor City behind Ervin Santana, who is in solid KW form (19 strikeouts; 4 walks) in his last three starts. With Detroit's Nate Robertson a miserable 1-6 with an 8.91 ERA in his career team starts in this series, look for Santana and the Halos to capture the opener here tonight.

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Jimmy The Moose

Game: New York Yankees at Cleveland Indians
Prediction: New York Yankees

Reason: Prior to last night game the Yankees had won 3 straight. New York is 6-2 in their last 8 games as a favorite. In their last 16 road games vs. a team with a losing home record the Yankees are 13-3. New York sends Pettite to the mound and he's 3-1 on the year with a 2.45 ERA. The Yankees are 9-1 in his last 10 road starts. Cleveland counters with 0-2 Paul Byrd. The Indians are 0-4 in his 4 starts this season. Cleveland has lost 6 of their last 8 home games. The Yankees are 9-3 in the last 12 meetings between the clubs. Play on the New York Yankees -.

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Big Al Mcmordie

Game: Minnesota Twins at Texas Rangers
Prediction: Minnesota Twins

Reason: At 8:05pm our member selection is on the Minnesota Twins over the Texas Rangers. Second-year righthander and 26 year-old Minnesota Twin Nick Blackburn is vying with with Oakland's Dana Eveland to be the best starter of 2008 that nobody has ever heard of. Blackburn is having an outstanding season so far with a 2.49 ERA and 1.22 WHIP and the only disappointment is his 1-1 record after four starts. However, three of Blackburn's outings have been against very good, high-scoring clubs (Detroit, Cleveland, Los Angeles) and tonight should be a bit of welcome reprieve against what could be the worst team in the American League right now. Texas may still have some decent bats like Michael Young, Ian Kinsler, and Josh Hamilton, but their pitching may well be at an all-time low right now. When you let guys like John Danks, Edinson Volquez, and Francisco Cordero go to other teams, you better have something in reserve to make up for it. But in Texas' case, whatever they thought they had either wasn't ready, or is on the DL. Consider a bullpen ERA of 6.30 on the year and an almost-incomprehensible 10.26 over their last three games going into Thursday. Righthander Kevin Millwood is one of the only bright spots on this pitching roster, but Millwood is not a nine-inning starter and he will eventually have to turn things over to the worst bullpen in baseball. The fact that they have to try and perform in one of the biggest hitters parks in the league does not help inspire confidence. Take the Twins.

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VEGAS SPORTS PICS

NBA

New Orleans Hornets + 5 over (at) Dallas Mavericks
New Orleans has won the first two games of this series 231-195, despite getting outscored by 24 at the free throw line. The Hornets are an NBA fourth best 26-15 on the road.
   
Phoenix Suns - 6 over San Antonio Spurs
SA is 4-12 ATS last 16 games as a road dog. Suns are in "need to" win mode off losing the first two games of this series, at SA, by a combined eight points, blowing double digit leads both games.
   
MLB

St. Louis (Looper) -130** over Houston (Chacon)
St. Louis is 8-3 last 11 home games. Looper is 2-0 at home this season allowing two runs over 11 innings. He's 7-3 life vs. the Astros with a 2.74 ERA.

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Sportsbettingstats

San Antonio Spurs at Phoenix Suns

San Antonio leads best of 7 series 2-0

The Spurs come into the third game of their series with the Suns after beating them at home in game 2 102-96. The series moves to Phoenix, where the Suns need to win this game or the series may be over. After a close double overtime game in game 1, game 2 was also close, but the Suns fell apart in the 2nd half. The go to guy for the Spurs is Tim Duncan who scored 18 points and controlled the boards grabbing 17 rebounds. The game's high scorer was the Spurs Tony Parker, who went off for 32 points on 13/25 shooting. In that game the Spurs shot well going for 40/83 for a field goal percentage of 48.2%. The Spurs out rebounded the Suns in game 2 43-39. Steve Nash and the center tandem of Amare Stoudemire and Shaquille O'Neal lead the Suns. The Sun that shown the brightest in game 2 was Stoudemire going for 33 points on 13/25 shooting. Shaq had a great game as well, going for 19 points and 14 rebounds in the losing effort. In that game the Suns shot 37/80 for a field goal percentage of 46.3%.

Staff Pick:

The Suns have to win this game, as coming back from 3-0 against the Spurs will be nearly impossible. If it was not for Tim Duncan's first 3-pointer of the season in game 1 the series would be tied at 1 a piece. The Suns changed the dynamics of their team trading for Shaq and he played well in game 2, but the key to this game will be if the Suns can stop Tony Parker. Shaq and Stoudemire are playing well down low and if the Suns guards can guard Parker keeping him in check they have a great chance to win this game. If Parker has another huge night it will open up the defense of the Suns allowing Duncan to work his magic. The Suns will be at home and they will have to come out fired up and play inspired basketball. The Suns were in game 2 until the second half started. If they play like they did in the first half of game 2 and like they did in game 1 then they will be favored to win this game. The key for the game is if someone on the Suns can step up on D and guard Parker. Look for a better defensive effort in game 3 from the Suns and for them to win this game.

Suns 104 Spurs 98


L.A. Angles (14-9) at Detroit Tigers (10-13)

The Angles come into this game after beating the Boston Red Sox 7-5, while the Tigers won their last game against the Texas Rangers 8-2. The Angles are playing well and are in first place in the AL West and have gone 7-3 in their last 10 games. Detroit has bounced back after a horrendous start and has also gone 7-3 in their last 10 games. The Tigers are in 4th place in the AL Central 3 games behind the Cleveland Indians. Taking the mound for the Angles is Ervin Santana (3-0 2.67 ERA), who has started the season on fire and in his last outing was stellar going 8 innings giving up only 1 earned run getting the win. In the Angles win over the Red Sox they scored 7 runs on 9 hits and left 10 runners on base. On defense they gave up 5 runs on 10 hits to the Red Sox. Mike Napoli went deep for the Angels for his 5th home run of the season. Taking the mound for the Tigers is Nate Robertson (0-2 7.48 ERA), who unlike Santana has struggled in the early part of the season and if he does not start pitching better may be bounced from the Tigers rotation. In his last outing Robertson went 5 innings giving up 5 earned runs earning the loss. In the Tigers game against the Rangers they scored 8 runs on 10 hits and only left 5 men on base. On defense they gave up 2 runs on only 4 hits to the Rangers. Curtis Granderson, Magglio Ordonez, Brandon Inge, and Ryan Raburn all homered for the Tigers.

Staff Pick

Even though the game will be played in Detroit the Angles have to have the edge with the pitching match up. Nate Robertson is winless and has an ERA over 7, while Santana is 3-0 and has a solid ERA of 2.67. If both pitch like they have been for the year the Angles will easily win this game. The Angles are one of the best hitting teams in the American League ranking 2nd in team batting average (.295) and 3rd in runs scored (116). The Tigers score a lot of runs as they rank 2nd in the AL (119) but their team batting average is only .269. After a horrible start the Tigers are starting to play good baseball. Both teams are favored to win their respective divisions, so this may be a preview of a post-season match up. Even though the Tigers have turned things around they are facing a hot pitcher in Santana and a team that has hot bats. Nate Robertson has to pitch a great game for the Tigers to have a chance, but he has not had a solid outing in a while. Look for the Angles to jump on Robertson early and often and for Santana to have another solid outing.

Angles 8 Tigers 3

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JEFFERSONSPORTS

NBA EARLY RELEASE

PHOENIX-6.5

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Ross Benjamin

Colorado (Jiminez) @ Dodgers (Kuroda)
Play On: Colorado +135

The Rockies are a perfect 7-0 in their last 7 meetings with the Dodgers. Colorado is 10-2 in the last 12 as a road underdog of 1.50 or less. The Rockies are 13-5 in the last 18 on the road versus a team with a winning home record. The Colorado starting pitcher Jiminez was 3-0 in his 3 team starts versus the Dodgers in 2007. The Dodgers starter Kuroda enters this outing in bad form off his last 3 team starts going 0-3 with a 1.64 WHIP allowing 23 hits and 6 walks in just 17.2 innings. The value is with the underdog in this spot. Play on the Colorado Rockies.

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Play By Play Inc

NBA

DETROIT at PHILADELPHIA Over 180

NEW ORLEANS at DALLAS Over 195.5

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John Fina

Selection: Atlanta Braves/New York Mets Under 9.5

Reason: Put us down on the Atlanta Braves/New York Mets Under 9.5 for our Free MLB Selection on Friday. Today we see a low-scoring game as the Atlanta Braves do battle with the New York Mets. One reason why we expect a low-scoring game is because both these teams will be sending to the mound solid starting pitchers. This says it all... The Atlanta Braves will send to the mound Jair Jurrjens. Jair Jurrjens has a solid 3.20 ERA on the season. The New York Mets will send to the mound Michael Pelfrey. Michael Pelfrey has a solid 3.18 ERA on the season. The Under is 3-1 in Jair Jurrjens 4 starts this season, while the Under is 2-1 in Michael Pelfrey's 3 starts this season. In addition, these teams have been known to play low-scoring games when they meet. In fact, the Under is 6-2 in the last 8 meetings between these teams. We expect to see another low-scoring game tonight! Take the Atlanta Braves/New York Mets Under 9.5

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JEFF BENTON

For Friday, well head to the American League and play the Twins as a road underdog at Texas.

The Rangers are an absolute mess right now, having lost seven straight games and 12 of their last 14, including five consecutive defeats at home. And although they just faced a couple of offensive juggernauts at Boston and at Detroit two teams with much more thump than the Twins, I do admit you can?t look past the fact that Texas lost all seven games by a combined tally of 67-24! And over their last 15 games, the Rangers have surrendered at least four runs 14 times. Yes, they do have their ace on the mound tonight in Kevin Millwood, but dont be overly fooled by his 2.53 ERA. Millwood has been doing it with mirrors, as hes allowed 50 baserunners (38 hits, 12 walks) in 32 innings.

And in his last home start, Millwood lasted just five innings against the Angels, giving up four runs and nine hits in five innings of a 7-4 loss. And if you go back to mid-September, the Rangers are 2-7 in Millwoods last nine starts with the two wins coming against the Orioles. Whats more, the Rangers are 0-3 in Millwoods three starts against the Twins since signing the righthander prior to the 2006 season. And if you go back to Millwoods days with the Phillies and Indians, Minnesota is 6-2 the last eight times theyve faced Millwood.

As for Minnesota starter Nick Blackburn, the rookie has been outstanding, giving up just seven runs with three walks and 12 strikeouts in 25 1/3 innings of work (2.49 ERA). In his most recent start against the Indians on Sunday, the righthander pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings, scattering eight hits (no walks) in a 3-0 victory. Although pitching in Texas is never easy, Blackburn seems to have the stuff to handle the task. Throw in the fact that the Twins won seven of nine against the Rangers in 2007, and they have one of THE best bullpens in baseball, and Ill take some plus money with the road dog and look for Minnesota to continue the Rangers woes.

5* MINNESOTA TWINS

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DCI

NHL

Eastern Conference Semifinals
Game 1, best-of-7
PITTSBURGH 3, N.Y. Rangers 2

Western Conference Semifinals
Game 1, best-of-7
SAN JOSE 3, Dallas 2

NBA

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Game 3, best-of-7
Detroit 92, PHILADELPHIA 91

Western Conference Quarterfinals
Game 3, best-of-7
PHOENIX 104, San Antonio 100
New Orleans vs. DALLAS: TOO CLOSE TO CALL

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Re: Friday Service Plays

Bobby Maxwell

The Blue Jays' A.J. Burnett (2-1, 6.85 ERA) dominated the Royals twice last season and Toronto has won three of his four starts this season so we're putting our money behind him in this one.

Burnett gave up three runs on four hits in five innings of a 5-3 win over the Tigers in his last start and opened his season on the road in New York giving up two runs on five hits in six innings of a 5-2 win over the Yankees.

In two starts against the Royals last season Burnett allowed two runs on six hits in 14 innings of 9-1 and 4-1 Toronto victories.

Zack Greinke (3-0, 1.24 ERA) is on the hill for the Royals and his first three starts were magnificent and then in his last outing on Saturday he allowed three runs on eight hits in five innings of a 6-5 loss in Oakland.

The Blue Jays are 6-2 in Burnett's last eight starts and 4-1 in his last five on the highway. And for some reason they enjoy Fridays, going 4-1 in their last five.

Meanwhile the Royals are 1-4 in their last five home games and 4-10 as a home underdog. And Against chamberlain.

A.L. East they are 28-65. Let's go with Burnett in this one. He'll get to job done on the road.

4* TORONTO

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Michael Cannon

Take the Pirates as the small home dog for the win over the Phillies.

Zach Duke will start for the Buccos and he was roughed up a bit in his last start, but I expect him to rebound with a solid performance tonight.

Duke looked good through his first three starts of the year, and I expect him to carry that over into tonight?s start.  The left-hander has suffered through a couple of down years since his sensational rookie season, but the Pirates coaching staff has worked diligently with him to regain the form he showed in 2005.

Adam Eaton will start for Philadelphia, and the Bucs have had success hitting him in his career.  The right-hander has a 9.74 ERA in four games against Pittsburgh, allowing 22 earned runs in just 20 1-3 innings.

Take the Pirates as they grab the home win.

3* PITTSBURGH

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THE POWER PLAY INDEX

NBA

Philadelphia* .5 over Detroit
Dallas* 2 over New Orleans
Phoenix* 4 over San Antonio

NHL

Pittsburgh* (-140) .5 over N.Y. Rangers (+140)

San Jose* (-116) even with Dallas (+116)

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ETHAN LAW

FLA: LHP Scott Olsen (3-0, 2.60 ERA) at MIL: RHP Yovani Gallardo (0-0, 1.29 ERA)

Well all good things have to come to an end and yesterday, was the end of a very impressive run for the Brewers. Going into yesterday game against Philadelphia, the Brewers were undefeated against left-handed pitching where they posted a mind boggling 6-0 mark +$690 with an offense that has been averaging an incredible 7.8 runs per game. Their success against left-handers this season is no deviation from prior years as they were equally impressive against left-handed pitching last season (averaging an impressive 5.6 runs per game) in all setting, while posting a ridiculous 14-6 mark +$645 against the southpaws in home/night games last season where their offense averaged a ridiculous 6.1 runs per game. My point you ask? Simply put, this is a team that is so dangerous against left-handers that even opposing managers change their pitching rotations to avoid the match-ups. According to MLB.com Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella already has altered his pitching rotation partly to avoid sending a southpaw (Rich Hill) against the Brewers next week. Even if you includes yesterday poor performance (where they only managed one run against Jamie Moyer) the Brewers are nevertheless still hitting .316 (50-for-158) this season against left-handed starters, who have a 7.17 ERA (30 earned runs in 37 2/3 innings) against Milwaukee. If you read the above, one might question why I didnt release Milwaukee on my card for this Thursday. As I have stated many times, the most important factor in considering a potential selection, is to play the numbers. What I mean by that is over the long hall we are looking for line value more then anything else. In Thursdays game against Philadelphia, Milwaukee went off at -$130 chalk, and considering I handicapped the true line to be -$125-130 I saw no value in the line despite what appeared to me almost a perfect situational and match-up situation. In contrast, my followers also know that I picked up a very nice +$127 profit on Milwaukee this past Wednesday when I set the line what I believed the true line to be +$110. So the difference between choosing this team in setting vs. playing them in another (even thought they are facing a left-hander in both settings) is completely predicated on the value of the line. From my point of view, when the match-ups add up its more of a bonus then anything else, and that bonus will be in full effect in tonights game. Since I didnt release a selection on Milwaukee (and I knew this was going to be a match-up) I was going to look into early in the week, I was quit happy with the Brewers loss yesterday. Why? Well if they were 7-0 against left-handers the value of tonights line might not be what it is tonight as this is one of the more favorable and value laden lines I have come across all season. Just to put one further addendum, this will be the first selection I am recommending this season of over -$120. The opening number in this contest opened with Milwaukee being a -$140 favorite and was quickly moved to -$145 within 15 minutes of the line being posted. I handicapped the true line to be from -$215 to -$220 so from the start, we are getting almost $80 of value, which would make this selection the second highest rated selection of this early season.   

Now I will conceded that some bettors may have be cautious laying that kind of chalk against an on paper elite left-hander pitcher, but as I will discuss, Olsens 2008 season is a substantial deviation of what his numbers will be when its all said and done. I have discussed the idea of parody a lot just like how for weeks I told you all Detroit would begin to blow people away sooner then later. Similar to that theory, Olsen will not continue his early season success. At 3-0 with a 2.60 ERA few could argue that Olsen has had an impressive season. Although, it should be noted that two of his four starts were against the hapless Nationals team (who was not scoring against anybody early in the season) one was against the lowly Pirates, but to give Olsen credit, he did pitch well against the dangerous Atlanta offense on April 15th. With that out of the way, Olsen is still a pitcher that was a poor 10-15 with a whopping 5.81 ERA last season. Really the only difference between last season and this season, is the fact that Olsen has gotten ahead of hitters early and throwing a very high percentage of strikes. Unfortunately, for Olsen he is not striking out hitters at the rates he did previously as he has just 13 strikeouts in 27.2 innings pitched this season. The lack of strikeouts is alarming for Olsen (or any pitcher for that matter) and the fact that he has allowed only just 19 hits is more of a sign of dumb luck more then anything else. Indeed, pitchers with Olsens K/BB ratio traditionally have ERAs of over five. So one of two things is in store for Olsen, ether 1) he will revert back to his wild self and walk a plethora of batters or 2) all the balls being put into play will start falling for hits and not out. Ether one is bad. Even worse news is the fact that this is a Milwaukee team that punished first pitch strikes and given their success against left-handers it will be all bad news for Olsen tonight. Milwaukee will counter with right-hander sensation in the young Yovani Gallardo. The 22-year-old made his season debut in the hitter friendly confines of great American Ballpark where he held the Reds to just a single run on four hits in seven innings. Gallardo was especially good at Miller Park last season, going 5-2 with a 2.77 ERA. A concern however, is the fact that Florida has been very impressive so far this season against right-handers on the road as they are 5-1 +$555 where they are averaging an incredible 7.8 runs per game. Our only other concern is the fact that Floridas bullpens is a full run better in the early season then Milwaukees, so lets just hope Gagne does not factor into the outcome of this one tonight.

From the technical perspective, we have absolute domination by the Brewers, which should give us the warm fuzzy feeling before going to the window to place our wagers. For starters, the Brewers come into this contest with an impressive 33-10 +$2010 in home games against national League teams with an on base percentage .325 or worse over the last 2 seasons, with an average win margin of 2.2 runs per game! Now I mentioned the quality (and concern) about the Florida bullpen, but I did not mention that they are currently the third most overused bullpen in the National League so they have many tired arms waiting to be exposed. That fits into a situational trend that states to play against any road team with an overused bullpen that pitches more than 3.2 innings per game (Florida bullpen averages 3.7 per game)  with a hot starting pitcher with a WHIP less then 1.000 over his last 3 starts. The trend is an incredible 135-79 +$6330 over the last 5 seasons. In addition to that monster trend, there are also 5 additional trends all over 62% in favor of Milwaukee in tonight setting. What something even better? This game also fits into a super situational trend that states to play on home teams that are batting .225 or worse of their last 15 games (Milwaukee) against an opponent starting a pitcher who gave up less than 2 earned runs in his last 2 outings. That situational trend is a mind boggling 34-11 +$2550 (75.6%) over the last 5 seasons. Considering that all three of my forecast models have Milwaukee winning this game by 4 runs or more we have no other choice but to also take a shot at the run line to reduce our risks of a hug vig hit. Milwaukee rolls!

Verdict: Florida 2, Milwaukee 7
PLAY 1/2* UNIT (1%) ON MILWAUKEE -$145;
PLAY 1/2* ON MILWAUKEE (-1.5) +$130

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Re: Friday Service Plays

JIM FEIST

Take LA Angels

A big edge on the mound and in the bullpen for the visitors. Young LA starter Ervin Santana is harnessing his great stuff at 3-0 with a 2.67 ERA. He's tough to hit and has a sizzling 22-6 K/BB ratio. Tigers starter Nate Robertson doesn't have it, at 0-2 with an ERA over 7. He averages 5 innings per start, which is worse when you throw in Detroit's bullpen struggles. Robertson is also 0-4 with an 8.91 ERA against the Angels. An excellent spot for the visitors. Play the Angels!

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Re: Friday Service Plays

DAVE COKIN

Atlanta righty Jair Jurrjens is on a roll and he's catching a decent price to boot as the Braves open a weekend set at Shea against the Mets. Mike Pelfrey got knocked around in his last start and continues to be little more than a stopgap back of the rotation type. The Mets are being flat out overpriced right now as they're playing .500 ball and the dog has the better pitcher going in this contest. Jurrjens and the Braves are the choice

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