Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, April 12

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, April 12

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Tampa Bay +102 over BOSTONFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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1st 5 innings. The Red Sox were rolling along before Joel Hanrahan blew a save opportunity on Wednesday. Boston subsequently lost again yesterday and suddenly things aren’t so peachy anymore. Felix Doubront maintained impressive strikeout numbers and xERA growth for the entire season a year ago after stepping into the rotation following some Boston injuries. However, real control gains remained elusive and gopheritis has killed him for two straight seasons. Doubront’s abysmal .894 OPS with RISP and .815 OPS at Fenway (.732 on the road) says there's work to be done. Doubront is the second best starter in this matchup.
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Alex Cobb went 11-9 with a 4.03 ERA in 136 IP for the Rays last season. The GBer acquitted himself well in extended trial with his 1H/2H splits being a little inconsistent due to shift in hit and strand percentages. However, skills were similar. Cobb had plenty of dominant starts mixed in with a few disasters but that’s not surprising for a young pitcher. Cobb has stepped up his game this year. He was completely dominant this past spring where he posted a 28/5 K/BB in 25 IP. Cobb followed that up with a gem in his season opener when he threw a seven-inning, four-hit, and no runs gem against the Indians. His elite groundball rate of 58% was second in the majors last season among qualified pitchers. Cobb has a better chance than Doubront of having the lead after five frames and that’s precisely the way we’ll play it.
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Houston +164 over L.A. ANGELSFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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1st 5 innings. The Astros have won two straight while scoring 24 runs over those two victories and it came at Seattle’s Safco Field. Overall, Houston has scored six more runs than the Angels while also allowing fewer runs than Anaheim and they come into this series in a much better frame of mind than the reeling Halos. The Angels have lost four straight and seven of their first nine games. At some point they figure to turn things around but until we see proof of that, they will remain high on our fade list at prices like this. Tommy Hanson’s partially torn rotator cuff last season led to a new delivery, which led to his worst MLB results. A high 2H hit rate adds to the concern and that cranky shoulder makes him a big health risk. Hanson has suffered back and rotator cuff injuries over the past two seasons and was barely breaking 90 mph when he was forced to shut it down for a couple of weeks last year in early August. In Hanson’s first start of the year in Texas, he put up some nice numbers but luck played a big role, as he only struck out four batters in six frames and had a GB%/FB% profile of 25%/60%. Hanson’s skills took a steep dive last year and it got progressively worse as the season wore on. His under the surface stats in his first game this year instills even more doubt and at prices like these, he’s a huge risk.
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Bud Norris’s ERA rose nearly a full run from 2011 despite carbon-copy skills. His dip in strand % drove the ERA spike. Norris's third straight year of sub-4.00 xERA underscores the strength of his skill set. In fact, Norris was nearly unhittable in 2012 when he faced RH bats. Likewise, he was one of the NL's best SP when pitching at home. He was bad against LH bats and he was bad on the road but being bad on the road doesn’t make a lot of sense. It remains to be seen how his transition to the AL will go, but there's a mid-3.00s ERA lurking here with a little more consistency. Even in an unsupportive environment, the percentage play is to bet that those skills will win out, making the reward here certainly worth the risk.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, April 12

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Ottawa +136 over NEW JERSEYFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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OT Included. The Devils current slide is the longest for New Jersey since 1985-86, and it coincides with Ilya Kovalchuk's injury against Florida March 23. Since then, New Jersey has not won in eight games and over that span they lost four games in a shootout or OT. That’s no surprise either, as these Devils are handicapped between the pipes with Martin Brodeur carrying a workload he’s not capable of enduring. He’s also a fraction of the goaltender he used to be. For a team that has been so well structured and has made so many good moves for 20 years and counting, it’s mind blowing that management didn’t address its goaltending issues. Brodeur is a second rate goaltender and has been for over two years. The Devils after will also be without defenseman Anton Volchenkov after he was suspended four games Thursday for elbowing Bruins forward Brad Marchand in the head
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Every time the Senators are written off for dead, they respond. Ottawa ended a season-high five-game losing streak with a 3-1 victory in Philadelphia on Thursday. The Sens are in sixth place, tied with the Islanders but they’re still just two points ahead of the eighth and ninth seeds, Winnipeg and New York. Don’t expect this determined Sens club to let up. They have a significant edge in net and that alone makes them a much better play taking back a tag than the Devils spotting one. Ottawa also gets a healthy body back tonight in Milan Michalek and his presence can only help. Should the game go into OT, a distinct possibility, again, give a big edge to the visitor. The Sens are 16-2-1 when scoring at least three goals. Facing Brodeur, we like their chances of netting three. 
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Dallas +115 over NASHVILLEFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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OT included. The Stars aren’t done yet. They have a game in hand on the eighth place Red Wings and they’re just three points back. Dallas is coming off a resounding 5-1 win over the Kings. The Stars have won three in a row and have scored five goals in back-to-back games. Dallas playing with a huge chip on their shoulders after they cleaned house and it’s paying off big time.
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Nashville is virtually unplayable right now. They’ve been shut out in two of their last three games and have scored just four goals in their last four games combined. The Stars scored more than that in two successive games. Coach Barry Trotz was quoted a week ago saying that Pekka Rinne would start the remainder of the games this season because “we have to go with our best chance of winning”. New flash: Chris Mason gets the start tonight. In other words, Trotz has thrown in the proverbial towel. Mason has a 3.55 GAA with a .866 save %. Both those marks are the worst in the NHL and in Mason’s one home game this year he allowed three goals in 16 minutes before being yanked. The Preds can’t score, the coach has thrown in the towel and Mason can’t stop pucks. The Stars are hungry, they’re playing well and they’re intent on making the playoffs. We also get a tag. Get in line.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, April 12

Wunderdog

Los Angeles Clippers at New Orleans
Pick: Los Angeles Clippers -8.5

Despite the fact that they own a .667 winning percentage, the Clippers would open on the road in the Western Conference playoffs as the No. 5 seed if the season ended today. They are within one game of securing the No. 4 seed, so the rest of their games carry tremendous meaning, and I would expect a spirited effort here in New Orleans tonight. It has again been a long season for New Orleans, and their last seven losses have all come by double-digits. The Clippers have done well in these games, as they are 7-1 TS in their last eight vs. a team below .400. The Hornets enter at 0-6 ATS after reaching the century mark in their previous game. Lay the points, and back the Clip Joint in this one.

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Hollywood Sports

Boston Celtics at Miami Heat
Prediction: Miami Heat

Miami (62-16) will be resting their Big Three once again as they await the playoffs next week -- but with veterans like Rashard Lewis, Shane Battier, Ray Allen and Mike Miller, this team has still won four in a row and six of their last seven. The Heat come off a 103-98 win at Washington on Wednesday as a 3.5-point underdog -- and they have covered the point spread in 4 of their last 5 games after both a point spread win and a straight-up victory. The Celtics are just 13-25 on the road this year -- and Miami has covered the point spread in 5 of their last 6 home games against teams with a losing record on the road. Boston (40-38) has lost four of their last six games after their 101-93 loss to Brooklyn on Wednesday. With a comfortable three-game lead over Milwaukee for the 7th slot in the Eastern Conference playoffs, head coach Doc Rivers will likely not play Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce which leaves this team depleted given the season-ending injury to Rajon Rondo. The Celtics have failed to cover the point spread in 4 of their last 5 games after a loss. And in their last 8 games on the road, Boston has failed to cover the point spread in 7 of these games. Lay the points with Miami.

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Michael Alexander

Charlotte Bobcats vs. Detroit Pistons
Play: Detroit Pistons 

The Detroit Pistons have notched back-to-back victories for the first time in two months as they host the road challenged Charlotte Bobcats tonight. Detroit defeated the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers in its last two outings to win consecutive games for the first time since Feb. 8-9. Charlotte has lost 13 consecutive road games and is 6-34 away from home. The Bobcats have dropped eight of their last 10 overall contests

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Freddy Wills

New York Knicks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Play: Cleveland Cavaliers     

I think this is a tough spot for the Knicks after playing in OT last night. They are already short handed as we saw last night. After losing their 13 game winning streak they will likely be a bit hung over here tongiht. They are a very tired team having to play against a young team on 0 days rest. The Cavs would like nothing better than to beat the #2 seed in the East before they end their season especially after losing by 1 and 5 points in their meetings this season.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, April 12

Teddy Covers

Milwaukee vs. Atlanta
Pick: Atlanta

My clients and I cashed a Big Ticket winner supporting the Hawks in their last game; a 124-101 blowout at Philly.  While tonight’s game doesn’t grade out as another Big Ticket opportunity, the situation favoring Atlanta remains strong as they face off at home against the slumping, injury riddled Bucks.

Hawks head coach Larry Drew was not amused following an ugly home loss to Philly last week.  Atlanta’s awful start defensively, allowing Philly to hit 16 of their first 22 shots, set the tone for the game, as Philly scored a season high 40 first quarter points.  Drew decided to rest center Al Horford, forward Josh Smith and point guard Jeff Teague on Saturday at San Antonio.  The Hawks lost the game by only two as 10.5 point dogs.

Here are two key Drew quotes: “Going back to training camp ... we've had to be a team that is gritty, a blue-collar team, particularly on the defensive end. Somewhere along the line, we have forgotten who we are. ... I'm very concerned about the mentality of our team.”

Drew’s second quote is even more telling: “I actually had a meeting with Al, Josh and Jeff. Those three guys are the head of the snake for me. I need them playing at a very high level.  Hopefully, they can look at the San Antonio game and saw how the reserves came in and just competed hard and played hard. I need that type of effort from them as we move forward. They're all in agreement.”

The Hawks responded to adversity by beating up the Sixers.  I don’t expect any sort of a letdown here against a Bucks team expected to be without starting point guard Brandon Jennings and leading interior defender Larry Sanders.  The Bucks have lost 12 of 17 overall, stumbling down the stretch.  They’re riding an 0-7 SU and ATS run on the highway.  And they’ve lost all three previous meetings with the Hawks this year, failing to cover a single pointspread in defeat.  Expect more of the same tonight!

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Ryan James

Indiana -5.5

The Brooklyn Nets are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games when playing against teams winning 60% or more of their games on the season and they are 5-12 ATS in their last 17 games against any team with a winning record. The Pacers are allowing 88.8 points per game at home which means Brooklyn, a team that already struggles to get points on the board, is going to have a hard time getting enough points on the board to cover this spread. Lay the points on the Pacers.

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Dave Price

Arizona Diamondbacks +1.5 -120

The D-backs are up against Clayton Kershaw but are showing value catching 1.5 runs at this price consider each of LA's last 2 wins have come by a single run and considering Kershaw has lost his last 3 starts against the D-backs. He's also lost his last 3 in Arizona. Pat Corbin pitched well against the Dodgers last season, giving up just 2 runs in 2 starts spanning 11 1/3 innings. Corbin looked good in his season debut against Milwaukee and is 4-1 on the money line in his last 5 starts. The Dodgers are 2-10 in the last 12 meetings and 0-5 in the last 5 meetings in Arizona. Take the Snakes on the run line.

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Jeff Alexander

Washington Nationals -132

The Nats get the call at home, where they are 6-0, with Detwiler dealing. Washington has won 5 of the southpaw's last 7 starts versus Atlanta as he has limited the Braves to 2 earned runs or less in 5 of those. Detwiler was lights out against a very good Cincinnati club in his first start of the season while Teheran struggled in his first start against the lowly Cubs. Bet Washington.

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SPORTS WAGERS

New York -4½ over CLEVELAND

In their previous two matchups this season, the Knicks have not managed to beat Cleveland by more than five points but that was then and this is now. A lot has changed since then. New York just had its 13-game winning streak snapped last night in an overtime loss to the Bulls but can’t afford to take its eyes off this opponent. The Pacers, with two games in hand on the Knicks, are just two games back of New York for the coveted #2 seed in the East. If the Knicks lose this game (Indy is at home to Brooklyn), they could potentially be just one game ahead of the Pacers when they meet on Sunday at Madison Square Gardens. The motivation to maintain the second seed will ensure the Knicks stay focused against the injury riddled Cavs. The Knicks have played well in the second of back to back games this season with an 11-6 record both straight up and against the spread. Most recently the Knicks are 3-0 straight up and ATS in the tail end of back-to-backs. Fatigue and focus doesn’t figure to be a factor working against the Knicks and with all things being equal, they should have little trouble of disposing of this inferior enemy.


LA Clippers/NEW ORLEANS Over 192

Two of the three meetings between these clubs this season have gone over the number. Both teams also boast favorable over/under records this year in favor of the over and right now the Clippers are firing away on all cylinders. The Clip Joint games have gone over in four straight and in eight of their past 10. L.A. has won its last three games by 16, 14 and 25 points respectively, so it’s a style that is suiting them well. No reason to change it here against this uninspired host that has officially been eliminated from playing in the post-season.

New Orleans has played over the number in two straight while playing out the string. Intensity levels for the Hornets are way down because the games are meaningless. That allows them to be a lot more carefree and not worry about missing shots or playing defense. The Hornets have also gone over the total in their previous three home games and right now the focus for New Orleans is more on entertaining the fans than playing strong defense. The Clippers should be happy to oblige that style, as it’s been a winning one for them recently as they jockey for position in the playoff seedings.

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Jeff Scott Sports

4 UNIT PLAY

San Diego/ Colorado Over 7: They moved the fences in at Petco and after the first 2 gams played there I can see an uptrun in scoring in this park. Thursday night there wasn't much scoring, but I see this one being much like the first two played here in which San Diego and LA combined for 19 runs and 45 hits, especially with a good hitting Rockies squad coming to town. The Rockies are 10th in scoring at 5.22 rpg, and 2nd in the league in hitting at .287 and last year Colorado did score 21 runs in their last 3 games played in this park and remember last year's park was bigger. Tyson Ross had a rough opening start for the Padres, allowing 3 ER's on 3 hits and 4 walks in just 4 innings, giving him a 1.75 WHIP for that start. I know it's just 1 start, but he is used to high WHIPs as his career WHIP is 1.61 and that goes along with his career 5.61 ERA in 54 appearances (22 Starts). Well some can say that he has way more pen appearances than starts, but let's also note that in 22 career starts he has a 5.35 ERA and a 159 WHIP and I feel the Rockies can knock him around some tonight. The Padres offense is dealing with some injuries but they still hit very well in the Dodgers series and they should continue that vs Jon Garland, who has a career 4.60 ERA on the road and a career 4.756 ERA during the 1st month of the season. He does have a 3.22 ERA in this park, but that was when it was a bigger park and he does have a 3.60 ERA vs the Padres. 7 Is just to low in the park, especially with at least 1 top notch offense and 2 shaky pitchers on the mound. Like above I expect no less than 9 runs in this one.

3 UNIT PLAYS

Detroit/ Oakland Over 7.5: This Oakland offense is just amazing right now. They come in ranked 1st in scoring and 5th in hitting and as I right this they have 12 more hits and 6 runs through 6 innings vs the Angels. Now they come home where they put up 14 runs in their last 2 home games vs Seattle and face Max Scherzer, who is not a great pitcher on the road. Max has a 4.15 ERA in his career road starts,including a 5.56 ERA in 2 starts in this park, plus he is also a slow starter, posting a 4.66 ERA in 21 career starts during the 1st month of the season. That continued in his last start as he has a 7.20 ERA through 1 start and that doesn't figure to improve vs the hottest offense in the league. Bartolo Colon has a nice ERA in this park (3.15), but not good numbers vs the Tigers, posting a 5.60 ERA in 24 starts vs them. The Over is 10-4 in the A's last 14 off a trip of 7 or more days, while the Over is 5-0 in Scherzer's last 5 as a favorite. Scherzer is not a good pitcher on the road and the fact that Detroit is favored on the road vs this white hot offense is an indication to me that Detroit will put sum runs up, while Oakland will also get their far share of runs as well. Look for 9+ runs here.


Houston/ LA Angels Over 8: Bud Norris has had two very nice starts this year so far, but both of those starts were at home, where he has a career 3.50 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. Tonight he is out on the road where he has struggled Mightily in his career. In 49 career road starts, Bud is 11-23 with a 5.39 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP, plus teams have hit .279 vs him away from home. Big difference between home and road for him. I don't expect the numbers to improve tonight vs a very angry Halos squad tat was just swept at home vs the A's. This is an offense with an abundance of hitting and they should explode vs a pitcher who is horrible away from home. Tommy Hanson allowed 3 ER's in his first start at Texas and may give up a run or two more vs a Houston squad that put up 24 runs in their last 2 games vs Seattle. Houston has put up at least 3 runs in 5 of their last 6 games and If they get at least 3 in this one then I don't see how we don't get at least a push in this in, because I do not expect the Halos to be held below 5 runs here. One other thing I haven't touched on is the fact that both pens are horrible, which should give us late runs as well. I look for at least 10 in this one.


Texas -142 over SEATTLE: In keeping with my late night theme for my top plays I will go with Tthe Rangers and Darvish in this one. Yu has struggled some with Seattle, going just 2-2 with a 6.65 ERA in 4 career starts vs them, but he had three really bad starts vs them and they were all before the middle of July. In his last 9 starts last year the Rangers were 7-2 and he didn't allow more than 3 ER's in any of those games. He did face Seattle once in that stretch, allowing just 1 ER in 9 innings in that start. So far this year Yu has picked up where he left off late last year, posting a 2-0 mark and a 1.98 ERA, with 20 K's and just 4 walks in his 2 starts thus far. Hishashi Iwakuma has not had good numbers ver Texas, going 1-2 with a 4.67 ERA in 3 starts vs them and while he has had a couple of opening starts I just don't see him getting it done vs  a Texas team that has shown it can still score even without Hamilton. Look for Texas to take game 2 here behind another strong performance from Darvish.

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