Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 16

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 16

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Washington vs. San DiegoFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: WashingtonFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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I've had a lot of success with my free plays, cashing the Cardinals each of the last three days, yesterday doing so on the run line. With St. Louis playing during the daytime Thursday, I'm going to look elsewhere on the card for some value and I think I've found it here with Washington against San Diego.
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Here are my keys to the game.FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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1. Stephen Strasburg - The ace of the Nationals staff has had a tremendously disappointing start to the season. His TSR is just 2-6 in spite of a very solid 3.10 ERA. He gave up four unearned runs in an 8-2 loss to the Cubs in his previous start. His last win came on Opening Day, which sounds ridiculous considering he has 48 strikeouts over 42 1/3 innings.  The problem has been a lack of run support as the offense has given him just 13 runs of support during that same period of time.  Facing San Diego's weak offense should lead to a turnaround for Strasburg.
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2. Nats Offense - This obviously has to improve.  The Nats are averaging just two runs per game over the last five games while barely batting .200 and also striking out a total of 46 times. Facing Edinson Volquez (5.15 ERA) should help turn things around tonight.
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3. X-Factor -  Washington is 5-1 its last six visits to Petco Park

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 16

Dave PriceFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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SF Giants -109FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Giants have won 37 of their last 52 versus the Rockies, including 6 of their last 7 in Colorado. They'll have an excellent chance to continue their dominance with Matt Cain on the rubber. San Francisco has won his last 3 starts while he's posted an ERA of 2.95. It has also won his last 5 starts versus the Rockies, and he hasn't given up more than 3 earned runs in any of those. The Rockies are only 11-25 in Jhoulys Chacin's last 36 starts. They are 0-5 in his last 5 starts versus the Giants and 0-4 in his last 4 home starts against them. Take the defending World Series Champs with their ace on the mound at a nice price.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 16

Jimmy BoydFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Yankees/Mariners Over 8½FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Mariners are at their best scoring when playing against a left handed starter. They should make this game look like batting practice when they face a struggling Andy Pettitte today. Pettitte has posted a 6.61 ERA and 1.531 WHIP in his last three starts. In his career Pettitte is barely over .500 when facing Seattle in his career and has a 1.370 WHIP against them.
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The Yankees should also be able to take batting practice against Seattle’s starting pitcher. Aaron Harang has a 7.30 ERA on the season and he is 1-4 in his 5 starts. He has been horrible on the road posting a 0-2 record with an 8.43 ERA. While neither team has a great batting average they have both been able to score runs. With these two struggling pitchers on the mound the value is on the over for today’s game.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 16

Jeff AlexanderFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Tigers +101FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Detroit gets the call as my free play as it is showing value in the underdog role with arguably the best pitcher in baseball on the mound. Verlander has a 1.93 ERA on the season, and that number is down to 1.08 in 4 road starts. Darvish has been good, but his 3.60 home ERA doesn't stand up to Verlander's road work. Darvish beat Detroit 3 times last season, but he posted a 3.60 ERA in those contests. Verlander is more proven against the Rangers over a longer period of time. He's 8-3 all-time against them with an ERA of 2.50. Gotta go with the more proven Verlander and the Tigers in this one.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 16

Jack Jones

Detroit Tigers +101

It's rare that you get the opportunity to back arguably the best pitcher in all of baseball as an underdog. Well, that is what has been given to us tonight as Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers are a dog to the Texas Rangers Thursday.

I'll gladly take advantage and back Verlander at his best price of the season. The 2011 AL MVP & Cy Young winner has gone 4-3 with a 1.93 ERA and 1.208 WHIP in 2013. Verlander is also 8-3 with a 2.50 ERA in 13 career starts against Texas.

Yu Darvish has been putting up solid numbers in his own right, but he's no Verlander. Plus, Darvish has posted a 4.50 ERA in his last three starts. He has also given up seven earned runs over 13 2/3 innings in his last two home starts against Detroit for a 4.61 ERA.

The Tigers are 51-22 in Verlander's last 73 starts overall. Detroit is 37-14 in its last 51 games vs. a starter with a WHIP less than 1.15. The Tigers are 65-26 in Verlander's last 91 starts with 4 days of rest. Detroit is 8-3 in Verlander's last 11 starts vs. Texas. Bet the Tigers Thursday.

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TAMPA BAY -1½ +148 over BostonFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Red Sox are coming off a 9-2 win last night but that was just their second win in their past eight games. Felix Doubront is set to return to the rotation after being temporarily moved to the bullpen. In his last two appearances, one of which was out of the bullpen, Doubront has allowed 23 hits and 12 earned runs over nine innings. His strikeout rate and control are all almost identical to last season but his confidence has slipped and so has his velocity. In three starts versus Tampa Bay last season, he was hit pretty hard and the Rays have been hitting left-handed pitching well this season, to the tune of a .286 BA and .790 OPS. Additionally, The Rays are 14-7 at home and against southpaws at home they are 7-2.
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Alex Cobb had an extremely unusual start in his last time out, striking out 13 in just 4.2 innings, while throwing 117 pitches. That is an example of how dominating this right-hander has the potential to be. The Rays have won four of Cobb’s last five starts and all of those win were by three runs or more. Cobb is 3-0 at home with an ERA of 1.95. He’s always enjoyed pitching at home, where he has a career 3.32 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 127.1 IP. Cobb is on the verge of something special with a sinker that he’s beginning to master. Batters had a .333 BA and .523 SLG % against his sinker in 2012. They have a .143 BA and .179 SLG % against it so far in 2013. He also has a 52% groundball rate and, 46 K’s in 47 innings and a very impressive 3.03 xERA. This one sets up perfectly for Cobb to dominate and for the Rays to continue to thrive at home against lefties.
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Milwaukee +130 over PITTSBURGHFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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1st 5 innings. Francisco Liriano made his season debut last week against the Mets in New York and it was a nice looking pitching line. Liriano threw 5.1 innings, allowed six hits and struck out nine batters. He also was credited with the win and now his pitching form says 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA. What his pitching line on paper doesn’t reveal is that every ball was scorched. 42% of the batted balls were line-drives and just 25% of batted balls were hit on the ground. It was pure luck that the Mets didn’t score six or more off him. Liriano’s high-wire act has grown tiresome. Last season, neither a temporary move to bullpen nor change of scenery helped him find the plate and his GB% continues to fade. Liriano has topped 160 IP once in four seasons. Two straight years of an atrociously high percentage of disaster starts makes 2010 feel like a distant memory. Liriano is not back and offers up tremendous profit potential as a constant fade and that’s precisely what we’re going to do.
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Hiram Burgos has made just four starts and he comes in with a 1-1 record to go along with an ugly 6.86 ERA. However, that inflated ERA is due to one bad start in Cincinnati, where Burgos lasted just three innings and surrendered 1o earned runs. In his other three starts against the Cubbies, Dodgers and these same Pirates, Burgos allowed just 13 hits and six earned runs in 18 innings.  Burgos has been in the Brewers system since 2009 but struggled to find consistent success, never moving behind High-A in his first three minor league seasons. He really turned the corner in 2012, when he had the third lowest ERA of any minor league pitcher, posting the following numbers across three levels: 10-4, 1.95 ERA and .210 oppBA. Burgos does not have dominant stuff but he can throw five pitches—fastball, slider, change-up, cutter, and curveball—with good control in any count. Burgos will not be rattled over that last start in Cincinnati. He’s always shown the ability to bounce back after a rough start in the minors and he’ll also have some comfort in knowing he pitched his best game against these Pirates on May 1. This choice is not about backing Burgos, it’s all about fading a Liriano and it’s for that reason, we’ll play this one in the first five innings only.

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SPORTS WAGERSFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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LOS ANGELES -½ +118 over San JoseFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Regulation only. A lot of folks were concerned that the Kings may have worn themselves out in that brutally difficult series with the Blue Notes. In Game 1 of this series, the Kings didn’t come out strongly but withstood some early San Jose pressure and L.A. got progressively better with each passing minute. By the second and third period, that 2-0 Kings’ lead felt like 6-0. Another day off, another victory, a little more momentum and the Kings are in a better position this game than they were in Game 1. Los Angeles is a powerhouse. They are now 21-6 over their past 27 playoff games. They have won 11 straight games at home and this isn’t the St. Louis Blues they’ll be facing. These are the playoff soft, San Jose Sharks.
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The Sharks have some nice pieces but what they don’t have is a money goaltender or the playoff grit it takes to keep advancing. San Jose had a chance to win Game 1 but when they couldn’t produce that first goal, they regressed to being the same beatable team in the playoffs that they’ve always been. They now come into Game 2 with less confidence, knowing they failed to produce a single goal in Game 1. Seeing Jonathan Quick between the pipes doesn’t help the Sharkies either. Quick ended Round 1 with a 1.58 goals against average, a .944 save percentage and one shutout and he improved those numbers after a another shutout in the first game. The Sharks were feeling pretty good after defeating the Canucks in four games. Suddenly, San Jose is not feeling so confident anymore and if the Sharks think that the first game was difficult, we can assure you that as good as the Kings were in Game 1, they will be better in Game 2.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 16

Rob Veno

Cincinnati at Miami
Play: Under

Sometimes you have to roll with plays that look simplistic and this game shapes up as one of those. Starting pitching figures to dominate here as the Mat Latos takes on young gem Jose Fernandez. Despite the fact that Latos’ history against Miami shows an 0-3 record, he had tremendous success earlier this season when he threw seven strong innings and allowed only one earned run and posting a 10:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. That game was in the hitter friendly Great American Ballpark so look for Latos to be just as effective tonight inside spacious Marlins Park. Miami’s offense continued its abysmal season last night getting shutout by the Reds 4-0 and they now own an MLB-worst 110 runs scored, .224 batting average, .322 slugging percentage, .224 OBP, and .608 OPS. While Fernandez certainly faces the superior lineup, he’s been brilliant over his last couple starts. He’s pitched a combined 13 innings and permitted only 12 base runners while striking out 16 and walking three. For the season he owns an extremely solid 1.16 WHIP. Bullpens are deep enough and strong enough to keep the back third closed here even if Aroldis Chapman doesn’t pitch due to his 26 pitches last night. Despite the low 7 number currently posted, this one sets up nicely for a play on the under.

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