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FRIDAY SERVICE PLAYS
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Jorge Gonzalez 25* Grand Slam Winner!
LAA Angels vs. Baltimore Orioles
Pick: LAA Angels
The Los Angels don’t look to be slowing down here in the second half of the season wining five of the six games they have played. They will be happy to be playing the Baltimore. The Angels have beaten the Orioles in 12 of their last 16 games. The Angels will go with starting pitcher Joe Saunders (12-5, 3.05). Saunders a native of Baltimore has a record of 3-0 against the Orioles. Baltimore will be using Brian Burres (7-6, 5.02) Angels as a team is 18-6 against lefties. The Angels are also the best road team in the majors with a record of 31-18. Take the Angels
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NL Total of the Week
Washington Nationals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
This pick falls into one of my top MLB systems and the O/U is 13-3 for the Dodgers in their last 16 games when favored by -175 to -200 at home including 4-1 this season. The Nationals are hitting .290 as a team over their last 7 games while averaging 5.1 rpg and the Dodgers are hitting .287 as a team over their last 7 games while averaging 6.4 rpg. Both of these starters have had trouble finding the strike zone with John Lannan (6-9, 3.29) walking 9 batters over his last 3 starts and Chad Billingsley (9-9, 3.32 ERA) walking 7 batters. The O/U is 8-4 the last 12 times these teams have faced each other and the O/U is 5-1 for the Nationals in their last 6 games played. Take the Over as my MLB NL Total of the Week.
AL Bookie Buster of the Month
New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox
Pick: New York Yankees
This pick falls into one of my top MLB systems and we are getting solid value tonight with the red hot Yankees who have won 6 straight. The Yankees are hitting .292 as a team over their last 7 games while averaging 5.6 rpg while Boston is hitting just .244 as a team while averaging just 3.4 rpg over their last 7 games played. Joba Chamberlain (2-3, 2.52) has pitched extremely solid on the road for the Yankees with an ERA of just 1.86 over 3 starts and Josh Beckett (9-6, 3.98) has struggled over his last 3 starts with an ERA of 5.68. The Yankees are 7-4 this season as a road dog of +100 to +125 and they are 11-3 over their last 14 games played. Take the Yankees as my MLB AL Bookie Buster of the Month
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San Diego at Pittsburgh
Pick: 2 units on Pittsburgh -1.5 runs +163
The Pirates have been a .600 team in their last 40 home games with a 25-15 record. They have also been on a bit of a run lately where they have now won their last four by outscoring the opponent 34-13. Zack Duke has not pitched well lately, but over his career has been a much better pitcher than Cha Seung Baek, where the Padres have amassed a 3-6 road mark in his nine starts outside of San Diego. The Padres are a bad team playing poorly with just one win to show for their last 10 games. In their last 17 losses the Padres have gone down by two runs or more in 13 of them, and in 24 of their last 33 on the road. We like the Pirates to come away with another easy win over the Padres.
Los Angeles at Baltimore
Pick: 2 units on Los Angeles -133
The Angels own the best record in baseball and are red hot. The Angels are winners of seven of their last eight. They also own the best road record by far at 31-18, and have been destroying LHP to the tune of a 19-6 record. The Orioles hung in their for a while, but are now on a 4-12 run and have been playing rather poorly even at home where they are now just 3-7 over their last 10 home games. Joe Saunders is on his way to a potential 20-win season, and the Angels are 14-5 in his first 19 starts as Saunders has not allowed more than three runs over his last six starts. After a good start and ERA of 3.18 into late May, Brian Burres has pitched to a 7.28 ERA over his last 10 starts and has been highly ineffective. We like the Angels to take the opener here.
Texas at Oakland
Pick: 2 units on Texas +110
The A's are quickly playing themselves out of wildcard contention and are now just 1-7 over their last eight as the offense has gone stone cold. Outside of an eight-run outburst against Tampa Bay, they have produced a total of 12 runs in the other seven games during this eight-game stretch. They will face Vicente Padilla who has pitched the Rangers to a 14-5 mark over his 19 starts including a league-best 10-2 on the road. The Rangers are a much improved team with a high-octane offense, especially against RHP where they are 41-29 on the season. We like the Rangers in this one.
Seattle at Phoenix
Pick: 2 units on Seattle +4.5
Outside of a 3-6 mark at midseason Seattle has gone 14-3 otherwise, and is currently the hottest team in the WNBA. Seattle has claimed victory in eight of their last nine contests, and has gone 2-0 against the Mercury already this season winning at Phoenix and at home in Seattle. Phoenix has been opposite Seattle in the fact that they have surrounded a midseason 8-3 run with a 3-11 mark before and after and the current run is 3-7. Although this team scores at will, so do their opponents, and all too often at a much higher rate. The Storm is just a half game behind San Antonio for the lead in the west, and we expect a big effort from them in this game.
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Southcoast Sports MLB Play of the Day!
Seattle Mariners vs. Toronto Blue Jays
Pick: Toronto Blue Jays -158 3-Units
The Seattle Mariners are coming off a 1-5 home stand, that saw them lose 5 straight at home, before heading to Toronto. To make matters worse, they went 1-2 at home against a struggling Cleveland Indian squad. John Parrish will be getting the start for the Blue Jays. Parrish struggled in his most recent outing against the Rays at Tampa, ginving up 4 earned runs over 3 innings of work. However, he has pitched well in his two home starts on the season, giving up 4 earned runs over 13 innings of work. Both of his home starts resulted in wins for the Rays. Opponents are hitting .237 against him this season, and he has shown that he has some control of the strike zone with a 1.25 whip. Parrish will be opposed by Miguel Batista of the Mariners. Batista has been used primarily in relief situations this season, but gets a another start after giving up 8 runs in two innings against Cleveland on Saturday. He will be facing a Toronto team that has put up 34 runs over their last 5 games, and have scored 4 or more runs in 12 of their last 15. On the other side, Batista will have a Seattle team backing him that has scored 3 or less runs in 10 of their last 15. The Blue Jays went 4-3 on their recent road trip, winning 4 of their last 5, and should have no problem at home against a struggling Seattle team.
Take the Toronto Blue Jays -158 for 3-Units!
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Robert Homyak UnderDog Play of the Week 4-1 L5
Chicago White Sox vs. Detroit Tigers
Pick: Chicago White Sox
Play On - Any team (CHI WHITE SOX) - with a starting pitcher whose WHIP is 1.200 or better on the season-AL against opponent with a starting pitcher whose WHIP is 1.500 to 1.600 on the season-AL.
(104-44 over the last 5 seasons.) (70.3%, +45.9 units)
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St. Louis +1.74 (3 Unit Play)
Baseball is a streaky kind of sport and it may be risky to take the Cardinals here tonight as they were just swept by Milwaukee but this price seems awfully high to me for the Mets here tonight. The Mets are off of a highly emotional series against the Philles and although the Cardinals are also off of a highly charged series against Milwaukee they failed while the Mets passed their test. The Mets will have Mike Pelfrey on the mound and he has been pitching well and has some solid home numbers but he was shaky his last time out facing the Reds and I am not sure he should be this large of a favorite against the Cardinals who are 27-22 this year on the road. The Cardinals received pretty good starting pitching in their series with Milwaukee but their bullpen failed them as it has a lot this year. They will hand the ball to Mitchell Boggs who was recalled from the minors but in two starts down in Triple A he went 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA and had a 1.08 WHIP. Ironically these two pitchers met a little earlier this season and the Cardinals were a favorite at home and the Mets won easily 11-1 so there seems to have been a big line discrepancy placed here tonight. I think the Cardinals are worth a play here tonight.
San Francisco +1.31 (3 Unit Play)
The Giants are off of a confidence building three game sweep of the Nationals and now take on the division leading Diamondbacks in a key three game series in the NL West. The Giants were expected to be one of the worst teams this year in the major leagues but they have went with a young team and have probably performed better than most expected. They will be taking on tonight perhaps the hottest pitcher in the major leagues tonight in Dan Haren who has been absolutely lights out lately but his numbers on the road are slightly higher and his numbers in his career against San Francisco are only a 4-4 record with a 3.86 ERA. The Diamondbacks are only 20-29 on the road and I am not sure how they are made road favorites often especially with the way that they have been hitting. The total on this game is set at 7 under so runs should be at a premium tonight. The Giants will have Jonathan Sanchez on the mound and although he has had a couple of rough outings recently he still has a 3.45 ERA at home this year and a 1.33 WHIP. The Giants got leadoff hitter Dave Roberts back yesterday for the first time since April and though he is not a great player it gives the young Giants a veteran in their lineup that they sorely need. I like the Giants at home tonight.
NY Yankees +1.32 (4 Unit Play)
Here we go baseball fans, the Yankees and Red Sox are playing a key series late in July. The Rays were the story of the first half but with them faltering I don't think there is anybody who doesn't feel that these two teams will ultimately decide who wins the AL East. The Yankees will go to Joba Chamberlain for the first game of this series and I will be the first to admit that I have been playing against him whenever possible because he has been overpriced but he has value here tonight. Chamberlain is settling in to his starters role nicely and on the road he has a 1.74 ERA in 31 innings of work with a 1.23 WHIP. He has also faced the spotlight against the Red Sox as he pitched a couple of weeks ago on Sunday Night Baseball so this start should not faze him at all. The Red Sox will have Josh Beckett back on the mound and although he is 8-4 in his career against the Yankees he still has a 4.84 ERA in those starts. Beckett has not been very effective at home this year as well as he has recorded a 4.82 ERA in 46 2/3 innings but has a nice WHIP of 1.16. The Red Sox will welcome Big Papi back tonight and he will make a difference in the lineup but even he admits he is not 100% yet and although he belted three home runs in the minors he only had 2 other hits in 18 total at bats. Manny Ramirez is questionable as well and the Red Sox are in off of a three game sweep of the Mariners but there bats have been very quiet while the Yankees have been ripping the ball. The Yankees are the play tonight regardless.
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15* AL Game of the Week (174-87 two-year regular season run!)
My 15* play is on the LA Angels at 7:05 ET. The Angels hit .284 as a team last year (4th-best in MLB) and averaged 5.1 RPG. The team dominated right-handed pitching along the way, positing a 75-47 mark. So far in '08, the Angels are batting just .261 as a team while averaging only 4.4 RPG, plus are a more-modest 44-33 vs righties. However, as July nears its end, the Angels own MLB's best record at 62-39. It's also noteworthy to point out that while no other division leader has more than a 2 1/2 game lead, the Angels enter Friday's play with a whopping 10-game lead over the second-place A's in the AL West. The Angels open a three-game series tonight in Baltimore against the Orioles, who are just 48-53. With the Rays (59-42), Red Sox (60-43) and Yankees (56-45) in their division, the Orioles' playoff chances are slim and none (slim has already left town!). Starting tonight for the Angels is lefty Joe Saunders, who is one of the major reasons the Angels have done so well in '08. Despite being constantly shuttled back and forth from the minors to the majors in each of the last two seasons, Saunders handled that very difficult challenge very well. His two-year mark in '06 and '07 was 15-8, with the Angels going an impressive 21-10 in his starts. However, he opened this year in the regular rotation (Colon gone / Lackey on the DL) and has been the team's steadiest pitcher. He enters tonight's game with a 12-5 mark and a 3.05 ERA, with the Angels going 14-5 in his 19 starts. The team is 8-2 in his home starts and 6-3 in his road starts but while Saunders' ERA is 3.80 in Anaheim, it's more than a 1 1/2 runs lower on the road (2.23). More good news comes LA's way in that the Orioles are just 10-16 vs lefties this year, following back-to-back seasons in which they've had all sorts of trouble vs left-handed starters (went 19-27 last year and 16-33 in '06). Getting the nod for Baltimore is Brian Burress, another lefty. Burress is 7-6 with a 5.02 ERA and believe it not, is the team leader in wins. He's been around since '06, when he made just 11 relief appearances, pitching only eight innings. He went 6-8 last year with a 5.95 ERA in 37 appearances, which included 17 starts (team was 6-11). He's made 20 appearances this year (18 starts), with the Orioles going 9-9. Burress has been a much better pitcher on the road however, posting a 3.91 ERA away from home, while his ERA in Camden Yards is 6.04 (72 hits allowed in 53.2 IP). In the Angels, he's facing a team with MLB's best road record (31-18) and one which has been excellent against lefties all season, going 18-6 (including 8-2 on the road). AL Game of the Week 15* LA Angels.
Larry Ness' Rivalry Showdown-NYY/Bos (35-19 MLB run since June 30)
My Rivalry Showdown is on the Bos Red Sox at 7:05 ET. The Red Sox open this three-game series with the Yanks in Fenway at 60-43, in a virtual first-place tie with the Rays (59-42). The Yankees, who have won all six of their games since the All-Star break, are at 56-45 (three games back). The teams have met nine times this season, splitting six games in Yankee Stadium, while the Red Sox have taken two of three in Fenway. The Yankees have not hit like last year, as after leading MLB with a .290 average and 6.0 RPG in '07, those numbers have dropped to .269 and 4.7 per in '08. New York remains without Hideki Matsui (knee) and Jorge Posada (shoulder) and the team's road mark is just 23-23 (4.3 RPG). That does not bode well against the Red Sox, who are a ML-best 36-11 at home, outscoring opponents 5.83-to-3.72 RPG. The Red Sox expect David Ortiz back for this game. "I'm not going to lie to you. I'm not 100 percent, but I'm close to it," said Ortiz. "I think I am where I would like to be." However, Manny Ramirez's status is uncertain. He missed Wednesday's 12-inning, 3-2 win over Seattle due to a sore knee. That being said, the Red Sox went 26-19 without Ortiz and have kept themselves right in the race, so whether or not Ramirez plays here or not, I'll stick with the Red Sox. Joba Chamberlain (2-3 with a 2.52 ERA) gets the start for New York and the converted reliever will be making his 10th start. His debut in the staring rotation came back on June 3 vs Halladay and the Blue Jays. He lasted just 2.1 innings in that one (just one hit but four walks) but he's pitched into the sixth inning in SIX of his last seven outings (Yanks are 6-3 in his nine starts / 2.64 ERA as a starter). He's had one start vs Boston this year, going six innings while allowing four hits, four walks and three ERs on July 6 (Yanks came back to win that game, 5-4 in 10 innings). While I like Joba, winning here in Fenway is asking a lot. Not only are the Red Sox 36-11 at home but they are also 27-9 at home vs right-handed starters. It's especially tough to win in Boston when matched up against Josh Becklett. Beckett has not dominated the Yankees this year, as he's allowed three ERs in all three of his starts (3.92 ERA). However, Beckett's gotten the win in all three of his '08 starts vs the Yanks, as the Red Sox have prevailed 4-3, 7-5 and 6-4. My Rivalry Showdown is on the Bos Red Sox.
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Scott Spreitzer's #1 MLB BEATDOWN GAME OF THE WEEK! *20-6, 77% Run!
I'm laying the price with the Reds in the matchup between Volquez and Cook. As good as Aaron Cook has been overall this season, he has not had his best stuff in road action. In fact, the Rockies are just 2-4 in his last six road outings, where Cook sports an ERA of almost five along with a hefty, 1.61 WHIP, allowing 59 base runners (50 hits) in 36 2/3 innings pitched. Cook has been lit-up in his five career appearances (four starts) against the Reds, allowing 15 earned runs and 39 base runners in just 19 IP. That adds up to a horrible, 7.11 ERA & 2.05 WHIP, to go along with a .390 BAA! Making matters worse for the Rockies has been their lack of hitting in this situation. They're 9-19 in road night games against righthanders, scoring an average of only 3.7 runs per game. Edinson Volquez has been outstanding in home night starts for Cinci. The Reds are 3-1 in those four trips to the bump and Volquez owns a 2.59 ERA. In fact, they're 7-3 in his 10 home starts, overall, helped out no doubt by the righthanders' 2.82 ERA. Cinci is actually 11-6 in their last 17 outings and I believe they'll get to Cook early in this one. With the Rockies' road scoring woes, I expect a big win for the hometown Reds. My #1 Beatdown of the Week is a play on Cincinnati on Friday.
Scott Spreitzer's MLB FRIDAY NIGHT KNOCKOUT! *20-6, 77% Winners!
I'm laying a rare price on Friday with the Blue Jays. The Mariners roll into Rogers Centre off of an incredibly disappointing homestand, that ended with a five game losing skid. Seattle started the post-all star break well enough, scoring 15 runs in their first two games. But in their last four, they have scored 2, 0, 2, and 3 runs. The offensive troubles start at the top of the lineup. Ichiro has been in a big-time slump as of late, with just two hits in his last 16 at bats. They'll face John Parrish on Friday. The southpaw may not be long for a regular spot in the rotation, but the Jays have won all three of his starts, including both outings at home where he sports a 2.77 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. While the M's find the going tough, I expect Toronto to lite-up Miguel Batista. Seattle has not been able to figure out what they really want to do with the righty. One minute he's in the pen, the next he's in the rotation. So far this season, Batista has been rocked for a 5.40 ERA in four road night starts, and the Mariners are 1-3 in those games. The Jays will be licking their chops to get at him. Several players, including Roy Halladay commented on how professional things have been in the clubhouse since Cito Gaston donned the managerial role. The team is 9-4 in their last 13 overall, and 8-2 in their last 10 at home. They are scoring almost six runs per game in their six July home games, and just piled up 22 runs in their final three tilts at Camden. Toronto is a fired-up team with Cito Gaston back at the helm, while Seattle looks to have packed it in, for the most part. Every once in a while there is value with a favorite in this range. I truly believe Toronto should have opened better than a $2 favorite, and I'll gladly lay the price the books have posted. The Blue Jays are my Friday Night Knockout.