Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, April 1

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, April 1

NellyFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Tigers / Twins OverFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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As great as Justin Verlander has been the past two seasons he has not had brilliant starts to the season. In his 2011 MVP season Verlander allowed at least three runs in six of his first seven starts including 11 runs combined allowed in his first three road starts. Last season he allowed 10 runs in his first three road starts of the season. Intuitively the chilly opening day conditions in Minneapolis would provide an advantage to pitchers and low scoring but this is an incredibly low number and the Minnesota pitching staff could really struggle this season. Vance Worley was a key acquisition for the Twins but he struggled last season and this spring and remains a huge gamble for Minnesota and certainly one of the least accomplished opening day starters for this franchise, even amongst a group that includes Pete Redfern, Bob Tewksbury, and Scott Baker. Target Field was a very low scoring park in its first few seasons but that all changed last year as batters hit .270 in Minneapolis with nearly 9.7 runs scored per game. Minnesota and Detroit were both among the top seven hitting teams in the American League last season and both should be capable at the plate again this year. Conventional wisdom suggests playing 'under' in many situations early in the year but this total has been greatly deflated and value is with the 'over'. Starting pitchers are not likely to go deep into the game in these conditions and both teams have bullpen questions to address this April. Don't expect Verlander to be in his mid-season form just yet and this Minnesota lineup has had plenty of experience against the Detroit ace.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, April 1

Wunderdog

Colorado at Detroit
Pick: Detroit -170

The Avalanche had a shinning moment when they ended the Blackhawks long streak, but that was on home ice and the shinning moments on the road have been few and far between. Colorado heads to Detroit and they are a dismal 2-12-3 on the road on the season. Detroit has a long standing reputation, well earned at home, where they have accrued a 348-155-16 record. Put them on any ice vs. a bad team, one that is less than .400, and the Wings have reigned supreme at 149-69-12 over their last 230. The odds here are very short under the circumstances, so lay the chalk and play on Detroit, who has taken 24 of the last 35 in this series.

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Bruce Marshall

Cleveland vs. Atlanta
Pick: Atlanta

After dropping two of three vs. Cleveland earlier this season, Atlanta might finally have the advantage over the Cavs, who are a depleted bunch these days with key Gs Kyrie Irving (shoulder) and Syracuse rookie Dion Waiters (back) both on the shelf, perhaps for the rest of the regular season.  Their losses appear to be the last straw for Byron Scott’s now-shorthanded bunch, who have completely fallen part in their absence the last two weeks, losing eight in a row SU, including blowing a 14-point lead deep in the 4th Q vs. the Celtics on March 27. Irving’s absence could be particularly felt by Cavs vs. this foe after Kyrie scored a whopping 61 points combined over the last two meetings vs. Hawks.   Atlanta has clinched its sixth straight playoff berth, although Larry Drew’s team probably isn’t content to settle for sixth seed in East and should continue to play hard with 4th seed and homecourt edge in first round of playoffs still a possibility.  Late word is that C Al Horford should also give it a go after being sidelined by illness over the weekend, but even if big Al's contributions are minimal, Atlanta worth a look vs. stumbling Cavs.

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Will Rogers

Anaheim vs. Dallas
Pick: Anaheim

Anaheim is mired in its worst stretch of the season having dropped five of six, including a 2-1 overtime loss in Columbus Sunday. With no rest, they have to head into Dallas tonight where they'll find a Stars team also coming off a loss yesterday, theirs coming at the hands of the Kings 3-2 in regulation time. This will be the third time these division foes have met this season, all in Dallas, and they have split the first 2.

Here are my keys to the game.

1. Previous Result - While both teams lost yesterday, I liked what I saw from the Ducks (who I had). They outshot the Blue Jackets 30-18, including 17-1 in the third periord, they just couldn't find the back of the net. And don't sleep on what Columbus is doing right now; they're at hot home team right now. Meanwhile, the Stars were pretty thoroughly dominated by the Kings, getting outshot 40-15 (34-9 until final 5:00).  Making matters more depressing is that LA was in the second night of back to backs and still controlled the game from start to finish.

2. Rankings - Anaheim is a top 10 team in both goals scored and against, while Dallas ranks 12th and 23rd in those respective departments.  That's why these two teams are currently separated by 16 points in the standings.

3. X-Factor - Look for the Ducks power play to get back on track here.  They are in a 1 for 23 slump with the man advantage.  Ranking 6th in league with a 22.1 percent conversion rate, they are due.

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Jeff Alexander

Atlanta Braves -106

The Braves have won 11 of their last 15 meetings with the Phillies, and I expect them to continue their success in the series on Opening Day with Hudson on the hill. The Braves have won 8 of his last 11 starts versus Philly and are 5-0 in the last 5 meetings when Hudson faces Hamels. Bet the Braves on the money line.

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Michael Alexander

San Francisco Giants +138

The Giants send Matt Cain to the hill today. Cain was their ace last season sporting a 2.79 ERA in 32 starts. He is going up versus a Dodgers team that was horrible versus right handed starters. Last season the Giants crushed left handers going a stellar 22-9 outside of ATT park. Nice price to take a chance on

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