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THURSDAY PREMIUM SERVICE PLAYS
Re: THURSDAY PREMIUM SERVICE PLAYS
Dr. Bob Thursday
Thursday 2 Star Selection
**TCU (-2.0) 26 BYU 16
05:00 PM Pacific, 16-Oct-08
BYU is 6-0 straight up, but the Cougars are just 2-3 ATS, have yet to play a better than average team, and are a bit overrated. TCU has beaten a better than average Stanford team by 17 points and the Horned Frogs’ only loss was at Oklahoma. BYU is a good team, but TCU is even better. Cougars’ quarterback Max Hall has averaged an impressive 8.6 yards per pass play (against teams that would allow 6.8 yppp to an average quarterback), but BYU’s poor rushing attack (4.4 yards per rushing play against teams that would allow 5.0 yprp to an average team) could be a problem in this game against a fierce TCU defense that will get to the quarterback if the opposing team can’t keep them from charging with a solid rush attack. Hall has only been sacked one time all season, but Oklahoma had given up any sacks prior to giving up 4 to TCU. BYU’s offense rates at 0.9 yards per play better than average with Hall in the game (6.7 yppl against teams that would allow 5.8 yppl to an average team), but TCU’s defense is my #2 rated unit and has yielded just 3.8 yppl to a schedule of teams that would combine to average 5.4 yppl against an average team. The Horned Frogs also average 4.0 sacks per game and have had 3 or more in every game, so Hall will be facing pressure for the first time all season. TCU’s offense is currently in the hands of veteran backup quarterback Marcus Jackson, who isn’t a great passer (just 5.6 yppp against teams that would allow 6.8 yppp to an average QB), but is an excellent runner that has tallied 364 yards on 60 rushing plays in about 2 ½ games of action. Jackson has also thrown just 4 interceptions on 155 career passes, so he takes care of the ball. The Frogs rate at 0.7 yppl worse than average with Jackson at quarterback and BYU’s defense is 0.4 yppl better than average. BYU has a 1.1 yppl advantage over TCU’s offense while TCU has a 0.7 yppl advantage over BYU’s offense, but my math model actually forecasts TCU with a slight advantage in total yards in this game after factoring in the home field advantage and the Horned Frogs are superior in special teams and my math model favors TCU by 4 ½ points in this game. TCU is tough to beat at home, where they 23-7 ATS in games when not favored by more than 13 points, so they usually win games against other good teams here. The Horned Frogs also apply to a very strong 61-15-2 ATS statistical profile indicator that plays on very good defensive teams at home against other good teams. That angle has applied to TCU twice since Gary Patterson has been the head coach and the Frogs won by scores of 37-7 and 26-3 while being favored by 3 points and 6 points in those games. I’ll take TCU in a 2-Star Best Bet at -2 ½ points or less and for 3-Stars at +1 or more.
Re: THURSDAY PREMIUM SERVICE PLAYS
5* ALC SERIES BEST BET TOTAL
Tampa Bay at Boston Red Sox
Pitchers: Daisuke Matsuzaka vs. Scott Kazmir
Umpire: Alfonso Marquez (19-13, 1.72)
Conditions: Rain; 55 degrees at first pitch with the wind blowing out to left field at 10 mph
Like the Phillies on Wednesday night, the Tampa Bay Rays are one win from the World Series. And while the pitching matchup somewhat resembles last night's righty-lefty battle that took place in Dodger Stadium, the pendulum swings in favor of the Red Sox. However, while everyone believes this game will be played close to the vest, low scoring per se, we don't believe that for a minute. Especially with a hitter-friendly umpire behind home plate.
Note: The Rays are hitting the cover off the ball, and the Red Sox finally get a left-hander they can pound.
Boston is 7-0 when facing elimination in the ALCS. The Red Sox came back from an identical deficit in last year's ALCS against Cleveland, and rallied from 3-0 down in 2004 to stun the New York Yankees in seven games. They went on to win the World Series both times. So calling the 3-1 lead by Tampa Bay a coup, could be premature.
Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-0, 2.25 ERA) took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning of Boston's 2-0 victory in Game 1 last Friday. He struck out nine, gave up four hits and walked four in seven-plus innings, but consider the contest a learning experience for the Rays' hitters. That was the first game, a situation that was rather overwhelming for young Tampa troupe.
Dice-K can't continue to strand runners at the rate he has this season, especially against a confident team with a small strike zone. Opponents were hitless in 14 at-bats with the bases loaded against Matsuzaka in the regular season, and he got Cliff Floyd to ground out in that situation in the first inning of Game 1. He wiggled out of another jam in the seventh as the Rays stranded seven total baserunners.
Since the poor performance against the Sox in Game 1, Tampa Bay's offense has dominated the series. The Rays have racked up 31 runs and 39 hits - including 10 homers - to win the last three games while getting contributions from up and down the lineup. Eleven Tampa Bay players have scored runs in the ALCS and six have homered, led by third baseman Evan Longoria, who's gone deep three times.
Scott Kazmir (0-0, 10.38), who starts for the Rays, has been average at best in the last handful of starts. His dominating slider has quit sliding and the lefty has all but abandoned the pitch. Kazmir is also the only Tampa Bay starter to pitch poorly in this series. He lasted 4 1-3 innings in Saturday's Game 2, yielding five runs, six hits - three homers - and three walks.
Kazmir is 6-7 with a 3.86 ERA in 22 starts versus Boston, but 0-2 with a 9.27 ERA in five outings this season.
The OVER is 6-1 in Rays last 7 road games vs. a right-handed starter, 20-6 in Rays last 26 games vs. a right-handed starter, 5-0 in Kazmir's last 5 starts with 4 days of rest; 4-0 in Kazmir's last 4 starts vs. American League East, 6-1 in Kazmir's last 7 starts and 5-0 in Kazmir's last 5 starts vs. Red Sox.
The OVER is 6-0 in Red Sox last 6 League Championship home games.
Home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez is without question a hitter-friendly vest. His strike zone is QuesTec small and he doesn't give pitcher much room to wiggle around the knees. A serious detriment to the success of Boston starter Dice-K. The OVER is 5-2 in Marquez's last 7 games behind home plate and is 4-1-1 in Marquez's last 6 games behind home plate vs. Boston this year.
5 UNIT Play on the OVER