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FRIDAY SERVICE PLAYS
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Houston Astros vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Were on a strong Matt Garza here Friday as he gave up only one run and three hits in seven innings of a 4-1 home win over Florida.He will be throwing at the Astros Weakest Position with Houston batting 45 Points less when they face a righty. Their lack of having success against righthanded pitching is even worse over the last 15 games, batting an astonishing 84 points less in this situation. They are nearly the same threat away from home at the plate as well and one of the reasons why they are 27-13 UNDER the Mark this year away from Houston.
Tb Rays are 30-13-1 @ home and they have a great Bullpen, play the under
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VEGAS RUNNER Comp
CUBS -129 (1*)
I Uploaded this wager into the System for Subscribers and although we should be looking at a handful of Bets for Tonight, I decided to pass this one along to the Forum Members since its a televised match-up and lets see if we can continue crushing MLB and start the Friday off with a nice 1* Winner...Best of Luck, VR...
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Los Angeles Angels @ Philadelphia Phillies
Pick: Los Angeles Angels +107
Ervin Santana has pitched his way up in the rotation for the Angels with an impressive 8-3 mark backed by a 3.40 ERA, and the Angels have picked up 5 road wins, in his 8 road starts. The Angle pitching has been superb, holding the opponents to 3 runs or less in 35 games already this season, and the Angels have been very good on the road of late winning 9 of their last 12. Adam eaton may be the weak link in the Phil's rotation. He pitches effectively at times, but over his career he has been nothing more than mediocre. The Phillies were a hot team for awhile, but have cooled down, as they have now lost 4 of their last 5. Like the Angels to take the series opener on the road.
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Baltimore Orioles @ Milwaukee Brewers
We cashed what turned out to be an easy 'over' ticket on the Brewers yesterday and there's no reason not to do it again today.
A pitching matchup of Radhames Liz and Jeff Suppan with a total less than double-digits puts me on the 'over.'
Milwaukee is averaging 6.1 runs in its last eight games. The Brewers have smacked 10 homers in their last four contests. Liz is a bad fit for hitter-friendly Miller Park and the Brewers' powerful free-swinging lineup being a fastball pitcher with bad command.
Baltimore should do damage, too, against Milwaukee starter Jeff Suppan. Yes, Suppan has been pitching well lately. He's been strong all season at home. But Suppan is who he is. He's a mediocre, right-handed innings-eater whose hot stretches don't last. He's due for a bad outing and that could come here against the Orioles.
Baltimore's lineup is built to take advantage of right-handers such as Suppan with lefties Nick Markakis, Luke Scott, Aubrey Huff and switch-hitter Brian Roberts.
The Brewers' bullpen has been shaky all season with the exception of closer Salomon Torres. But Torres has had to close games each of the last two days.
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Texas Rangers @ Washington Nationals
PICK: Washington Nationals
The Senators left the city of Washington D.C after the 1971 season to become the Texas Rangers. This will the Rangers' first trip back since that exodus. Texas will bring MLB's highest scoring team (5.51 RPG) to the nation's capital and one with MLB's second-highest batting average (.281). In contrast, the Nationals own the majors' lowest team batting average (.240) and are also the lowest scoring team (3.68) among MLB's 30 franchises. All that said, I'm willing to give the Nats a shot here, with Tim Redding on the mound. While Redding is far from being a dominant pitcher (4.10 ERA), he is 6-3 in his 15 starts this year and more importantly, the Nationals are 12-3 in those starts. The team has won his last seven starts (4.39 ERA during that stretch) and he's now plus-$1,148 on the year vs the moneyline, making him the second-biggest "money-maker" among MLB starters. Kevin Millwood will take the mound for Texas and since spending almost a month on the DL, has returned (May 30) to pitch well enough in his last four starts (4.50 ERA), to see the Rangers win all four of them. He's 5-3 with a 4.75 ERA in 13 starts this year (team is 8-5) and just this past Sunday, actually won a road game. Millwood allowed two ERs in six innings to win the first game of a doubleheader (8-7) over Mets. It marked his FIRST win in his last 15 road starts. He had dropped 10 straight road decisions since beating the Reds in Cincinnati back on June 17th of last year, with the Rangers going 1-13 in those 14 away games! So now he's supposed to win back-to-back road games? I think not. Take the Nationals.
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2.5-Unit Play. Take Atlanta (-135) over Seattle
The Braves fit nicely into a home favorite system that I believe they will cash with today. They've been stellar at home and have been slapping around left-handed starters. They are 35-16 in their last 51 home games and 14-6 against a southpaw at home. The Mariners have been on auto pilot for a couple weeks now and as they shake up the front office and the clubhouse they'll remain a 'play against'.
2.5-Unit Play. Take Milwaukee (-140) over Baltimore
I'm a little irked that I'm so late to the party on the Brew Crew but hopefully we can still squeeze some coin out of them. Jeff Suppan has been exceptional at home this year (1.67 ERA) and he has a 2.49 ERA in his last three starts. The Brewers are on a 15-6 tear and are 9-2 in their last 11 home games. The Orioles have been getting it done late, but eventually their luck will run out.
2.5-Unit Play. Take Minnesota (-110) over Arizona
1.5-Unit Play. Take 'Over' 8.0 Arizona at Minnesota
This total is about a full run too low. It's rare that I play Game 1 totals but this one is just juicy. The D-Backs aren't at all a turf team and this is their first game on the artificial surface in two years. That's an adjustment. The Big Unit has lost five straight starts and the Twins have just been getting hotter and hotter. They are 3-1 in Scott Baker's last four home starts, 17-5 at home in interleague play and 34-12 in their last 46 IL games.
1.5-Unit Play. Take Colorado (-125) over New York Mets
I still think the Rockies are ready to go on a nice run over the next couple weeks and they're facing a team that really never plays well in Coors Field. The Mets are just 1-6 over the last two years out in 'Rodo and they have a tall task against Aaron Cook today. Cook is 3-0 with a 2.14 ERA against New York in his career and the Mets have struggled against elite right-handed pitchers all year.
1.5-Unit Play. Take Boston (-175) over St. Louis
1-Unit Play. Take Boston (-1.5, -110) over St. Louis
The Cardinals have fallen apart without their two leaders (Pujols and Molina) and their de facto ace (Wainwright). The Red Sox will show no mercy, and they are an absolutely absurd 48-12 in their last 60 interleague games. Basically, if the Sox are matched up with an N.L. team, bet them.
1-Unit Play. Take Toronto (-150) over Pittsburgh
1-Unit Play. Take Kansas City (-110) over San Francisco
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Diamondbacks at Minnesota Twins
PICK: Minnesota Twins 4*
The Twins are playing much better baseball than the Diamondbacks right now, Scott Baker is better than Randy Johnson, and the home team has all key arms rested and ready from an outstanding bullpen. So given the dominance of American League home teams over their N.L. counterparts in Inter-League play this season, why is this one being priced so low? It shows that reputations still matter in the marketplace. Even when they no longer have merit.
Randy Johnson managed to put quite a good run together in late May, showing the guile that he still has, and what he can do when all of the pieces fall together. But in his last two outings he became a 44-year old pitcher again, getting knocked around by the Pirates and Royals, two uninspiring offenses. Snapping back is anything but an automatic, and we might even seem him drop to an even lower level. It must be noted that while his 4.76 ERA for the full season places him squarely as a below-average pitcher, it has also come against some weak competition - of the 121 pitchers that have worked at least 60 innings this season, his difficulty of batters faced checks in at #115. The bottom line? There is not all that much there, and the same can be said of the team behind him. Arizona is simply the best of a weak bunch in the N.L. West, with teams from that division now 35 games under .500 vs. outside competition.
Scott Baker’s 2-2/3.71 does not raise a lot of eyebrows, and that works in our favor. His command has been outstanding, with a terrific ratio of 42 strikeouts vs. only nine hits allowed, and in terms of consistency, note that he has only allowed more than three runs once, a windy night in Texas in which Minnesota out-slugged the Rangers 12-6. We certainly do not hold that game against him. He is more than capable of keeping up that form against an Arizona offense that lacks patience (only two teams have more strikeouts), and also confidence away from Chase Field. So we are absolutely buying in at the right time with him, and do not be surprised if it is the first of many such investments to come.
Houston Astros at Tampa Bay Rays
PICK: Under 5*
Last week we wrote a couple of columns concerning Roy Oswalt, the first calling for him to be on an up-tick following his slow start, with a bullpen session and the advice of Lance Berkman leading to a turn-around. And the second came after we lost a 6* Under play with him against the Yankees, a game in which he would have left trailing only 3-0 in the 6th inning if not for a single bobble by Miguel Tejada on a routine force-out at second base, but ended up getting charged with seven earned runs because the scoring rules of baseball could not give Tejada an error on that play. So what does it all mean here? There is still a notion of Oswalt being in a correction mode, but the fact that Sunday’s box score ended up looking as bad as it did means that the value is excellent here. And with Matt Garza bringing value from his own misleading numbers, we have a great fit here.
Garza’s 5-3/4.06 for the full season does not even come close to measuring what we see from him. First, note that the ERA goes to 3.41 after he returned from that April injury, one that severely limited him in his first two starts (he sat out 17 days after those poor showings). Second, note that the numbers have been produced against some most difficult competition - of the 121 pitchers that have worked at least 60 innings so far this season, he checks in at #2. Third, take a look at this 4-0/2.19 from this mound. Then take a second look, and note that the sparkling numbers have come despite facing the Red Sox, Yankees, Marlins and Rangers, four offenses that pack a lot of punch.
We are not supposed to be seeing full 9’s for this one, but that is what happens when each side of the equation is under-valued. And with neither offense anything special right now, there is little fear of the kind of big innings that could cause difficulty for our purposes.
Toronto Blue Jays at Pittsburgh Pirates
PICK: Under 5*
It is absolutely no secret that Roy Halladay is good; his career marks and current 3.09 ERA through 107.2 innings, a span in which he has walked only 13 batters, is plenty of evidence for the marketplace to see. But there is still not a realization as to just how good he is. Having the statistics that he has are one thing, but to have compiled them against the 3rd most difficult slate of hitters of any pitcher in the sport (of the 121 that have worked at least 60 innings so far), is rather remarkable. Now he gets a chance to not only step down in class here, but also to face a team that has precious little experience against him - Doug Mentkiewicz is the only projected Pirate starter that has more than four career at-bats. Dial Halladay up for another strong outing in this one, and with all key arms rested and ready in a solid Blue Jay bullpen the windows remain shut for the latter innings as well.
But while Halladay is still under-valued because of that schedule difficulty, Zach Duke is also a fit for our purposes. Duke gets little respect because his stuff is not explosive - he only has 32 strikeouts in 85 innings. But he is working the strike zone well (24 walks), and is the kind of finesse lefty that can cause major problems against an opponent that has not seen him before. That will be the case with a struggling Toronto offense, with only David Eckstein having at least 10 career at-bats among the projected starters. He has worked to a 3.96 tune against non-division opponents, an example of how that style comes into play, and he has gone at least six full innings nine times in his last 10 starts. the only failure? Against a Cub lineup that was getting their fourth look of the season against him, an offense that has been one of MLB’s best against left-handers. The Blue Jays, meanwhile, have been one of the worst, and it shows again here.
Texas Rangers at Washington Nationals
PICK: Texas Rangers 4*
An awfully low price here to back the far better offense, and to fully appreciate the gap look at it this way - should a draft be held this morning going position-by-position across the field, a case could be made that catcher Jesus Flores would be the only National that would get picked over his Ranger counterparts (and even that is a clsoe call, since the current form of Flores at the plate may not last). So with Kevin Millwood showing that he is back to full health (has worked six full innings in every start since coming off of the DL, including that win over the Mets in Shea in his last outing), we have a bargain price range here.
Our value key comes from the 6-3 record of Tim Redding, a rather good mark when toiling for a team that is a dismal 29-45. But note that Redding has been most fortunate. How about this for a baseball pendulum - despite pitching for the worst offensive team in the National League, he actually leads all N.L. starters in run support, getting a nifty 6.0 per outing. Naturally, that can not last. And even more natural is the fact that it has led to a misleading record that significantly impacts this line. Consider his last five starts - a 5.97 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP, with six home runs allowed in only 28.2 innings. If you do that with the N.L.’s worst offense behind you what is the bottom line? An 0-5? Maybe a 1-4? Not even close - Washington won all five games, scoring 37 runs, and bailing Redding out each time. It has been a pure case of Baseball Roulette, and it is why we can play at such a short price when the lineups are such a mismatch.
The Rangers are growing in confidence, and will get Milton Bradley back into the lineup tonight. A market that is slow to pick up on their improvements leaves us with a bargain.
Cardinals (RL) at Boston (RL)
PICK: Boston (RL) 6*
In the first cycle of Inter-League play this season we twice went to the well with these Red Sox at 6* Ratings for Run Line plays against Milwaukee. They brought both home, and the run the past four seasons at home in Inter-League play is now 20-10 as -1.5. That is quite a statement about not only the quality of the team, but also how difficult Fenway Park can be for opponents that are not accustomed to playing in these confines. Tonight we expect more of the same, and the fact that we can get an underdog return takes this to a high level again.
The Cardinal offense is taking on water without Albert Pujols; it was just going to be a mater of time. Only once in their last seven games were they able to score more than three runs, and in five of those contests were held to two or less. The 0-3 home collar vs. Kansas City leading up to tonight was an outright embarrassment, with only four runs scored throughout that entire series. Now they have to step way up in class here, and we do mean way up - in a rather remarkable scheduling layout, Milwaukee is the only team with a winning record that they have played on the road all season. And over the past month, 25 of 28 games have come against teams that currently sport losing records.
The marketplace rarely evaluates such scheduling matters properly, because they are so rare. That is one of our keys to getting such good value tonight, and the other is the 8-2/3.77 of Kyle Lohse, which includes a current run of 5-0/2.03. Nice numbers, of course, but naturally they have come against weak competition (of the 121 pitchers that have worked at least 60 innings this season, he checks in at #113 in terms of difficulty of batters faced). The bottom line is that his stuff is simply not good enough to maintain the current pace very long, and we believe this is the ideal time to step in. For a guy that supposedly brings such great current form the confidence level is not going to be all that high - he has worked to an 0-3/6.49 in his career against the Red Sox, and also to a 5.04 in all road games this season. But best of all is that fact that he threw a season-high of 116 pitches in beating Philadelphia in his last outing. He has made 15 starts the last three seasons after throwing 105 pitches or more, and it has been an ugly 6.92 over 80.2 innings in those games.
The challenge for Lohse is made more difficult by the return of Kevin Youkilis for Boston tonight, and the slumping St. Louis offense runs into its own problems against Tim Wakefield, who has worked to a 2.17 tune over his last tour starts, lasting 29 innings in that span, and posting a solid ratio of more strikeouts (23) than hits allowed (19). As always, he brings an advantage with his knuckler against a lineup that lacks experience against the pitcher (Troy Glaus and Adam Kennedy are the only Cardinals with any track records, and they are a combined .220 over 50 at-bats). And with all key arms rested and ready from the bullpen, the latter innings do not give anything away either.
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3 STAR: (970) MILWAUKEE (-$138) over Baltimore
(Listing Suppan only) (Risking $414 to win $300)
3 STAR: (972) MINNESOTA (-$111) over Arizona
(Listing Baker only) (Risking $333 to win $300)
1 STAR: (956) PITTSBURGH (+$141) over Toronto
(Listing Duke only) (Risking $100 to win $141)
1 STAR: (966) WASHINGTON (+$104) over Texas
(Action) (Risking $100 to win $104)
1 STAR: (977) FLORIDA (+$182) over Oakland
(Action) (Risking $100 to win $182)
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LUCKY LEPRECHAUN SPORTS
Yankees/ Reds Under 9
The Under is 6-1-1 in Reds last 8 interleague games vs. a right-handed starter and 9-3 in Reds last 12 when their opponent allows 2 runs or less in their previous game, while the Under is 21-8-1 in Yankees last 30 games as a favorite of -110 to -150 and 7-1 in Mussinas last 8 starts with 5 days of rest. Edison Volquez has been one of the better pitchers in the league, posting a 1.64 ERA overall, including a 1.44 ERA on the road and a 1.65 ERA at night. His games have been mostly low scoring a s just 7.6 rpg has been scored in his starts overall, including 6.4 rpg on the road and 5.6 rpg in his 8 night starts this year. Mike Mussina has been good this year for the Yanks as he has a 3.87 ERA in his last 3 starts, including a 4.14 ERA at home and 2.79 ERA in his last 4 starts overall. He will be facing a stuggling offense as the reds have scored just 2.3 rpg over their last 9 games and just 1.5 rpg in their last 4. The Reds have scored just 3.5 rpg in interleague pay, with those games averaging 7.7 rpg, and 4.1 rpg vs righties, plus their last 7 overall have averaged just 7.6 rpg. The Yankee bats are hot right now but they don't do well when facing a pitcher for the first time (like yesterday vs Banks). Edison should be able to keep the Yanks from scoring too many, while Cincy should have a tough time vs Mussina. This one should easily stay Under the total.
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Houston Astros at Tampa Bay Devil Rays - Under 9 Unit Value: 2
Handicapping Baseball Totals is all about picking good spots and then hoping that the cards fall as expected. This is a good spot for an UNDER to happen with the Astros Thrower coming off a very poor performance at New York and the Tampa Bay Thrower being dominent here at his home park. Oswalt has been off and on all season, and he followed his best performance with the one verses the Yankees, allowing 7 runs over 5.2 innings of work. He was somewhat the victim of shotty Astro Defense with just 3 of those runs being earned. This guy is a competitor and is apt to put together a nice effort at any time. With his team losing 17 of their last 20 games, it will not be because of lack of effort tonight by Roy if the Astros lose again. His K/BB Ratio of 3 to 1 is very good, denoting he still has good stuff, but his focus has not been at times. They probably will lose again though since the DRay Thrower and his team have been Possessed here at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay has been nearly unbeatable at home, winning 25 of its last 29. Matt Garza has posted a 0.92 ERA in winning his last four home starts. On Saturday, Garza gave up one run and three hits in seven innings of a 4-1 home win over Florida. Garza was a Homer at Minnesota and once again he liking the Seafood Chowder down here in Tampa. Because of the way he has been throwing here, we have not seen a Garza Pitched game top the Posted Total we have for tonight in his last 5 home starts. He will be throwing at the Astros Weakest Position with Houston batting 45 Points less when they face a righty. Their lack of having success against righthanded pitching is even worse over the last 15 games, batting an astonishing 84 points less in this situation. They are nearly the same threat away from home at the plate as well and one of the reasons why they are 27-13 UNDER the Mark this year away from Houston. Interestingly the Rays are 26-13-1 UNDER here at this park and it is all due to their throwing staff which has posted an ERA of just 2.88. The Bullpen is even better here at 2.05. I sort of get the feeling that if I lose this one, it will not be because of the Astros hitting skills. There is a good chance that one of these guys topping the hill tonight will have a better than average performance. That is all that we are probably going to need as it takes 10 to beat us and more times than not, that is not going to happen.
Baltimore Orioles at Milwaukee Brewers - Brewers -1.5 +140 Unit Value: 3
Note: I am playing this game at 1/2 Runline and 1/2 Moneyline which cuts are risk in half and gives us a push with a 1 run win..
LOS (-112) vs CLE
Analysis: MLB: Cleveland Indians at Los Angeles Dodgers - Dodgers -112 Unit Value: 2
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