Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, May 26

Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, May 26

DUNKEL INDEX

NBA

Miami at Indiana
The Pacers look to build on their 6-0 ATS record in their last 6 home games. Indiana is the pick (+1 1/2) according to Dunkel, which has the Pacers favored by 2. Dunkel Pick: Indiana (+1 1/2)

Game 511-512: Miami at Indiana (8:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Miami 123.526; Indiana 125.393
Dunkel Line & Total: Indiana by 2; 186
Vegas Line & Total: Miami by 1 1/2; 181 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Indiana (+1 1/2); Over

NHL

Los Angeles at San Jose 
The Kings look to follow up their 3-0 win in Game 5 and build on their 5-1 record in their last 6 games following a victory. Los Angeles is the pick (+110) according to Dunkel, which has the Kings favored by 1. Dunkel Pick: Los Angeles (+110)

Game 59-60: Los Angeles at San Jose (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Los Angeles 11.925; San Jose 11.722
Dunkel Line & Total: Los Angeles by 1; 5
Vegas Line & Total: San Jose (-130); 4 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Los Angeles (+110); Over

WNBA

Seattle at Los Angeles
The Sparks look to build on their 6-1 ATS record in their last 7 games versus the Storm. Los Angeles is the pick (-14) according to Dunkel, which has the Sparks favored by 16. Dunkel Pick: Los Angeles (-14)

Game 601-602: Seattle at Los Angeles (8:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Seattle 109.941; Los Angeles 125.817
Dunkel Line & Total: Los Angeles by 16; 142
Vegas Line & Total: Los Angeles by 14; 145 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Los Angeles (-14); Under

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DUNKEL INDEX

MLB

Atlanta at NY Mets
The Braves look to build on their 15-3 record in their last 18 games versus the Mets. Atlanta is the pick (-130) according to Dunkel, which has the Braves favored by 2 1/2. Dunkel Pick: Atlanta (-130)

Game 951-952: Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati (1:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Cubs (Garza) 14.667; Cincinnati (Cueto) 16.627
Dunkel Line: Cincinnati by 2; 7
Vegas Line: Cincinnati (-175); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Cincinnati (-175); Under

Game 953-954: Philadelphia at Washington (1:35 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Philadelphia (Hamels) 15.730; Washington (Strasburg) 14.811
Dunkel Line: Philadelphia by 1; 8
Vegas Line: Washington (-160); 6 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Philadelphia (+140); Over

Game 955-956: Pittsburgh at Milwaukee (2:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Pittsburgh (Rodriguez) 15.224; Milwaukee (Gallardo) 13.769
Dunkel Line: Pittsburgh by 1 1/2; 9
Vegas Line: Milwaukee (-130); 8
Dunkel Pick: Pittsburgh (+110); Over

Game 957-958: Colorado at San Francisco (4:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Colorado (Garland) 14.389; San Francisco (Cain) 15.762
Dunkel Line: San Francisco by 1 1/2; 7
Vegas Line: San Francisco (-170); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: San Francisco (-170); Under

Game 959-960: San Diego at Arizona (4:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: San Diego (Marquis) 15.736; Arizona (Corbin) 14.790
Dunkel Line: San Diego by 1; 9
Vegas Line: Arizona (-185); 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: San Diego (+165); Over

Game 961-962: St. Louis at LA Dodgers (4:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: St. Louis (Miller) 14.973; LA Dodgers (Kershaw) 16.561
Dunkel Line: LA Dodgers by 1 1/2; 5
Vegas Line: LA Dodgers (-150); 6 1/2
Dunkel Pick: LA Dodgers (-150); Under

Game 963-964: Atlanta at NY Mets (8:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Atlanta (Teheran) 16.397; NY Mets (Marcum) 13.652
Dunkel Line: Atlanta by 2 1/2; 7
Vegas Line: Atlanta (-130); 8
Dunkel Pick: Atlanta (-130); Under

Game 965-966: Baltimore at Toronto (1:07 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Baltimore (Gonzalez) 15.063; Toronto (Jenkins) 15.354
Dunkel Line: Toronto by 1/2; 11
Vegas Line: Baltimore (-120); 10
Dunkel Pick: Toronto (+100); Over

Game 967-968: Minnesota at Detroit (1:08 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Minnesota (Pelfrey) 14.853; Detroit (Scherzer) 14.276
Dunkel Line: Minnesota by 1/2; 10
Vegas Line: Detroit (-250); 9
Dunkel Pick: Minnesota (+210); Over

Game 969-970: Cleveland at Boston (1:35 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Cleveland (Kluber) 15.148; Boston (Doubront) 16.524
Dunkel Line: Boston by 1 1/2; 9
Vegas Line: Boston (-130); 10
Dunkel Pick: Boston (-130); Under

Game 971-972: NY Yankees at Tampa Bay (1:40 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: NY Yankees (Sabathia) 16.466; Tampa Bay (Cobb) 15.186
Dunkel Line: NY Yankees by 1 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: Tampa Bay (-130); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: NY Yankees (+110); Over

Game 973-974: Oakland at Houston (4:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Oakland (Colon) 14.218; Houston (Keuchel) 14.583
Dunkel Line: Houston by 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: Oakland (-175); 9
Dunkel Pick: Houston (+155); Under

Game 975-976: LA Angels at Kansas City (2:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: LA Angels (Williams) 14.697; Kansas City (Davis) 14.850
Dunkel Line: Kansas City by 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: LA Angels (-120); 9 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Kansas City (+100); Under

Game 977-978: Texas at Seattle (4:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Texas (Tepesch) 15.997; Seattle (Iwakuma) 13.793
Dunkel Line: Texas by 2; 8
Vegas Line: Seattle (-120); 7
Dunkel Pick: Texas (+100); Over

Game 979-980: Miami at Chicago White Sox (2:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Miami (Sanabia) 13.503; White Sox (Axelrod) 14.965
Dunkel Line: Chicago White Sox by 1 1/2; 7
Vegas Line: Chicago White Sox (-200); 8
Dunkel Pick: Chicago White Sox (-200); Under

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, May 26

JEFF BENTON

The teams have now been Over the total in their last 4 meetings, and 7 of 8 dating back to last year's postseason.

I don't see any reason to shift gears and play the Under, as Miami is now on a 4-1 playoff Over roll, while Indiana has played 4 of their 6 playoff games at home Over the total.

The close nature of this series through the first pair of games suggests another close one here on Sunday which means we could be seeing plenty of trips to the free throw line. Nothing like points added with no time coming off the clock!

I am also remembering how well the Pacers shoot the three-pointer on their home rims.

Game Three to once again go Over the total.

3* MIAMI-INDIANA OVER

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BRAD WILTON

Sunday's free play winner is the Under in the Padres-Diamondbacks finale.

Last night's game did make its way Over the total, but with Marquis and Corbin locked in, doubtful the runs will continue on Sunday.

Expect an Under today with Jason Marquis and Patrick Corbin working the mound.
Both pitchers have been near unhitable lately, as Marquis comes it with 3 earned runs allowed his last 19 innings of work, and a road ERA just over 2 for the season.

Corbin is an even better 3 runs allowed his last 29-plus innings pitched. For the season, Corbin has allowed no more than 2 earned runs in ANY of his 9 starts, and the Under has come through in each of his last 3 starts and 4 of his last 5 overall.

The Diamondbacks are on a 6-2-1 Under run their last 9 at home, while the Padres have played Under in 9 of their last 14 on the road.

If you are looking for a pitcher's duel this Sunday, look no further than Chase Field and the Padres-Diamondbacks.

4* SAN DIEGO-ARIZONA UNDER

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CRAIG DAVIS

Sunday free play is the Yankees over the Rays.

Though starter CC Sabathia has struggled recently vs. Tampa Bay, I'm siding with the Bronx Bombers in this one because of how poorly Tampa is playing as a team right now.

The AL East-leading Yankees have taken the first two games of this series, and that's a HUGE accomplishment considering they are 3-13 in their last 16 before that.

CC Sabathia (4-3, 3.43) clearly hasn't been himself this year and he's definitely not pitching well vs. the Rays in 2013, but you can't argue with the fact the Yanks are winning games they aren't supposed to and now they roll out their #1.

Sabathia has a lifetime ERA vs. Tampa of 3.30 despite the 10-10 record, and today he gets over the hump and gets back on the winning track.

While David Price was scheduled to get the start today for the Rays, he's coming off the DL and Joe Maddon didn't want to press the issue... that's why he's rolling Alex Cobb back out there.

Cobb (5-2, 2.73 ERA) is 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA in five home starts this season, but overall in day games he's very average. With New York playing better and the Rays still skidding, I'm happy go back the Yanks as your free play of the day.

1* N.Y. YANKEES

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Marc LawrenceFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Philadelphia Phillies at Washington NationalsSERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Prediction: Philadelphia PhilliesFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Phillies and Nationals put the wraps on a three-game set in the nation's capitol where Cole Hamels opposes Stephen Strasburg Sunday afternoon. Hamels toes the slab knowing he is 12-2 his last fourteen team starts against the Nats and 12-3 his last fifteen teams away team starts during the month of May. On the other side of the coin Strasburg is struggling to regain last year's form and is just 4-7 in his last eleven home team starts, including 0-3 the last three. He is also just 2-4 in day start this season. Grab Hamels at this attractive price here today. We recommend a 1-unit play on Philadelphia.

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Art Aronson

Atlanta Braves -125

Julio Teheran (3-1, 3.99 ERA) gets the call for the visitors; Teheran went 8 1/3 frames vs. the Twins on Monday, giving up just a single run and five hits while striking out four. The 22-year old continues to make the most of his time in the starting rotation and will be opposed by Shaun Marcum (0-5, 6.59 ERA) who gave up four runs off six hits with a walk over six frames in his team's eventual 4-3 loss to the Reds on Monday. Coming into Friday, Atlanta has won 13 of 17 vs. New York. Here's an awesome opportunity for Teheran to punch another one into the win column vs. this inconsistent Mets lineup. I definitely feel that Teheran is the superior starter and absolutely believe he is worth a second look in this matchup as Marcum's slide down the proverbial crapper continues in this nationally televised contest.

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Dave Price

LA Dodgers -146

I'll gladly get behind arguably the best pitcher in baseball at this price. Kershaw has a 1.35 ERA on the season, a 0.80 ERA at home and a 0.73 ERA over his last three starts. The Dodgers have won 17 of his last 21 day starts, and they are also 13-2 in his last 15 home starts when the money line is +100 to -150. Kershaw has won two of his last three against the Cardinals and hurled a complete game shutout the last time they faced him in L.A. He's in line to shut down the Cards again as they are batting just .218 against southpaw starters this season. The Cardinals are 1-5 in their last 6 games versus a left-handed starter and 3-7 in the last 10 at Dodger Stadium.

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Rob VincilettiFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Minnesota Twins vs. Detroit TigersFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Detroit Tigers -1½FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Tigers lost as a big favorite on Saturday as the Twins snapped their long losing streak. We can look for things to get back to normal here today. The Tigers are 4-1 as a home favorite in this range and the Twins 2-8 as a road dog in this range. The Twins have 27 losses on the season and 20 have been by more than one run. The Tigers have 27 wins with 22 by more than 1 run. Detroit has a solid pitching edge with Scherzer over Pelfrey. Scherzer is 4-1 at home and beat Pelfrey already here this season scattering 3 runs in 7+ innings. Pelfrey has a hideous 7.36 ERA on the road and has allowed 9 runs in 10 innings here. With Detroit averaging 6 runs per game here we will back them to light up the score board today.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, May 26

Jim Feist

Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee Brewers
Pick: Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates got out of the gate fast in April, going 15-10 their first 25 games. Despite a modest late April, Early May slump, the club has won 15 of the last 24 for a 30-19 record. As it turns out, the NL Central is a three-way race right now with St Louis in first, Cincinnati in second and Pittsburgh 1 1/2 back. Milwaukee is in fourth, but that's 10 games back of Pittsburgh. The Brewers are 3-7 their last 10 games, including a loss to the Bucs on Saturday, 5-2. Milwaukee's has allowed the most runs in the Central and 2nd most runs in the NL (227). The Brewers staff allows 4.83 runs/game (2nd worst in NL) and a 2nd worst ERA of 4.53. Conversely, the Pirates have the 2nd best ERA in the NL (3.24) and 2nd best in runs/game (3.44). Yovani Gallardo will start for the Brewers with a 3-4 record and 4.50 ERA. Wandy Rodriquez will counter for the Bucs with a 5-2 record and 3.40 ERA. The Bucs have gotten hot again and it's all because of solid pitching, something the Brewers lack. Rodriquez is a consistent starter who is 3-0 his last three starts with a nifty 2.37 ERA. I'm stick with the Bucs here on Sunday.

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Dave CokinFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Atlanta Braves at New York MetsSERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: Atlanta BravesFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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One of my occasional liabilities as an analyst is that I will get overly locked in on making sure I avoid public sides. In terms of almost always assuring value, that's a good thing. But it can also keep me away from simply jumping all over a good thing, square or not. The Sunday night Brsves-Mets hookup is a good example.
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Atlanta is blazing hot, eight straight wins. The Mets are in another funk, with five straight losses. Braves rookie Julio Teheran is in a pretty good groove right now. Mets starter Shaun Marcum has actually thrown it pretty well in his last couple of starts, but is definitely not getting lucky and consequently cannot buy a win. The Braves are killing it at night, the Mets are just the opposite. The Mets also have the series with the rival Yankees coming up, and in what is already a lost season, that's probably of much more interest to them.
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In other words, there just isn't much doubt about who ought to win this contest, at least on paper. Yet the number on the game is certainly in the manageable range as far as the favorite is concerned. I can guarantee that with this being the stand alone Sunday night game, there are going to be a load of wagers, and that the whopping majority of those tickets will be on the Braves. It's therefore the type of game I will generally avoid, as I don't like jumping on obvious chalk that I know all the squares are going to love. That said, right now, however, those bettors are rolling in clover, and I like their chances of cashing in here as well. I'll join in with the masses this time and will back the Braves to polish off the Mets once again.

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Bruce MarshallFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Oakland Athletics at Houston AstrosFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: Oakland AthleticsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Nobody has been happier about the Astros' move to the AL than Oakland, which has used Houston to prop up its own season to date. To wit: the A's are a staggering 8-0 against the Astronomicals (as Marty Brennaman likes to call them) to date after Saturday's 11-5 romp. Five of those wins have come at Minute Maid Park, and over the last two nights, Oakland has scored 17 runs. Which looks like bad news for Houston starter Dallas Keuchel, who has been surviving a bit better of late with some extra run support but still isn't fooling many opposing hitters, especially at home, where his ERA is a very soft 5.93. For the A's, starter Bartolo Colon has been pretty reliable this season, allowing three runs or fewer in seven of nine starts, and his solid WHIP of 1.10 confirms he is not overloading the bases with opposing runners. Colon also held Houston in check on April 17 at the Coliseum when allowing just 4 hits and 1 run in 6 IP of an eventual Oakland win. Play A's on Run Line

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Sean MurphyFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Baltimore vs. TorontoFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: BaltimoreFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Orioles have taken the last two games in this series after dropping the opener on Thursday, and will try to wrap up a series victory on Sunday afternoon.
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I like their chances.
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Baltimore checks in with an impressive 16-10 road record, which is far better than what the Blue Jays bring to the table here at home, having gone 12-15 this season.
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That's not to mention the fact that the O's bring excellent form into this one, having won four of their last five games, scoring a whopping 31 runs in the process. The Jays on the other hand, despite scoring 11 runs in the last two games have come up empty in both, failing to deliver those clutch hits with runners in scoring position - a problem that has plagued them all season long.
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Miguel Gonzalez will get his second start since returning from the D.L. for the O's on Sunday. He's been the picture of consistency since joining the big club last season, but did get off to a bit of a tough start here in 2013. The good news is, he looked terrific in his most recent outing, holding the Yankees to only five hits and two earned runs over seven solid innings. Going back to his last start before he went on the D.L., Gonzalez has now allowed only five earned runs while striking out 10 and not walking a single batter in his last two outings, spanning 11 innings of work. He's already faced the Jays once this season, tossing six strong innings in a 4-3 Orioles victory in Baltimore.
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Chad Jenkins will counter for the Jays. He was sharp in his first big league start this season, limiting the Red Sox to only two earned runs in five innings at Fenway Park back on May 12th. I'm still not sold on the young right-hander, however. In four career MLB starts, he's yet to work beyond the fifth inning, allowing eight earned runs in 18 2/3 innings pitched. He's allowed a home run in all but one of his four career starts and that doesn't bode well as he prepares to face a tough Orioles lineup that has mashed nine long balls in the first three games of this series.
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The Orioles bullpen has been a bit of a disappointment this season, and nearly coughed up a 6-3 lead in the eighth inning yesterday afternoon. I liked what I saw from closer Jim Johnson, who has had his share of struggles this year, as he slammed the door with a 1-2-3 frame. I believe the best days are ahead for this O's relief corps, which was one of the best in baseball last season.
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Even with their highly disappointing start to the season, I still feel the Jays are an overvalued commodity. We won with the Orioles yesterday, and we won't hesitate to make the same play, albeit at a less remarkable price on Sunday afternoon.

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Jeff AlexanderFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Cincinnati Reds -1.5 +120FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Reds have won 5 in a row with the last 4 wins coming by at least 3 runs. The Cubs have dropped their last 6 with the last 3 defeats coming by at least 2 runs. The Reds have rattled off 6 consecutive wins against the Cubs, and the last 4 of these have come by 2 runs or more. Johnny Cueto has been dominant against the Cubs, allowing a total of 3 earned runs in his last 5 starts against them. The Reds won all 5 of those starts with 4 of the victories coming by at least 2 runs. Bet the Reds on the run line.

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Jack JonesFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Los Angeles Dodgers -137FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Getting Clayton Kershaw at this kind or price at home is an absolute gift from oddsmakers. I'll gladly take advantage Sunday and back the Dodgers at an excellent price at home.
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Kershaw is 5-2 with a 1.35 ERA and 0.819 WHIP through 10 starts and one relief appearance in 2013. He is also 4-1 with a 0.80 ERA and 0.756 WHIP through six home starts in 2013.
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Kershaw is 13-2 (+10.4 Units) against the money line at home with a money line of -100 to -150 over the last 3 seasons. Kershaw is 17-4 (+11.6 Units) against the money line in day games over the last 3 seasons. Bet the Dodgers Sunday.

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Wunderdog

Miami / Indiana Under 91 1st Half

This will be a slow, defensive game, especially in the first-half. Paul George has been the primary defender on LeBron James and has done a very good job. Indiana plays its best defense at home and will be sky-high for this one. The Pacers out-rebounded the Heat 55-36 in the first meeting here in January, and Miami shot just 41% while Indiana shot 36 percent. That was a season low in points for the Heat going UNDER the total by 23 points. In that meeting Miami was limited to one fast break point to Indiana's five. In the rematch a month later, Miami had six fast break points, the Pacers 12, as both teams dictated tough defense and a slower pace. With even more at stake now the pace will be even slower, and you will see a monster defensive effort from both sides. The Pacers are 37-17 to the first-half UNDER following a win this season. Take Indiana and play the first-half UNDER.

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Sam MartinFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Miami at IndianaFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Prediction: OverFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Both of the first two games of this series easily went over the total, and we look for these teams combined for another high-scoring game with this series shifting now to Indiana. The Pacers outright win Game Two not only gives the Pacers a boost of confidence heading home, but also serves as extra motivation for the Heat who will be playing to take back home court advantage. With this low total we're basically looking for both teams to eclipse 90 points each, and with Miami averaging 99 points per game on the road as well as the Pacers scoring 98 ppg at home on the season, we look for this one to sail over the total with ease midway through the fourth quarter. Miami has seen 16 of their 21 games fly Over when the total was set between 180 to 189.5 points, and with both teams shooting very well in Miami the first two games, that hot shooting carries over to tonight's Game Three.

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Jimmy BoydFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Milwaukee Brewers -119FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Brewers carry a huge advantage in today’s game against Pittsburgh. Wandy Rodriquez has a 6.11 ERA on the road and he is averaging just 4.4 innings per start in those games. That spells big trouble for the Pirates considering they have averaged just 2.7 runs per game with a .209 batting average over the past seven games.
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Milwaukee is has a .270 batting average at home and going against a pitcher that struggles on the road is just what the Brewers need to pick up their second win in this three game series. Yovani Gallardo is 10-2 in his career against the Pirates with a 2.31 ERA and a 1.161 WHIP. His team is 14-2 in all starts Gallardo has made against Pittsburgh.

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SPORTS WAGERSFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Chicago +166 over CINCINNATIFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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1st 5 innings. The price here dictates the play, as Matt Garza is too good and too focused to ignore this take-back on him in the first five frames. We mentioned last time out that Garza, just off the DL, might be the most sought after free-agent pitcher on the market in the off-season. That means cash and plenty of it if he can prove that his pre-injury performance over the past two years wasn’t a fluke. With millions and millions of dollars staring Garza in the face, all he did was go out and one-hit the Pirates in in his season debut in five innings. Garza will be on a strict pitch count again here and thus, the five inning wager. There is not a pitcher in baseball with more at stake than Garza and he’s very aware of his circumstances. He’s focused, determined and oh yeah, he’s also brilliant when he’s on his game. Garza’s solid groundball rate has increased each of the last three years from 40% in 2010 to 46% in 2011 and to 48% last year. Against Pittsburgh in his first start, 70% of batted balls in play were hit on the ground. That level is unsustainable but it is an indication of his dedication to improving his already good skill set.
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Johnny Cueto avoided the DL and nagging injuries last year to notch his first 200+ IP campaign, as season-long control gains and second half strikeout rate spike fueled a career year. He held much of his groundball advance from 2011, while making one-time gopheritis problems seem like long ago. Entering a prime age, there was little to criticize about Cueto’s performance a year ago. This year may tell a different story. Cueto has been out since leaving in the fifth inning of his third start April 13 with a strained back muscle, later aggravated by oblique soreness. In his first game back against the Mets, he struck out eight batters in five frames but he also walked four and gave up three runs. Cueto has also been tagged for three jacks in 3½ games and his line-drive rate this year is 25% and that was right in line with the exact same line-drive rate he had in his first game back against New York. His groundball rate in that game was just 33%. The road back and the timing for both these starters is very similar. The difference is that Garza was much sharper in his return and while the Reds are certainly the superior squad here, the Cubbies have a very good chance to be leading after five innings.
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St. Louis +126 over LOS ANGELESFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Clayton Kershaw needs no introductions. Kershaw has been one of the best and most consistent (85% dominant starts the past two seasons) pitchers in the game. Even with three 200-IP seasons, workload is not an issue, as pitch counts were well managed and he’s off to another great start this season. Clayton Kershaw always gives the Dodgers a great chance of winning. However, he has just five wins in 10 starts because in order to notch wins your offense has to score some runs and the bullpen has to hold up. Both those things could work against the Dodgers here and anytime we can take back a price like this on the Cardinals with Shelby Miller going, you can pencil us in and we make no exception here.
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Miller also has five wins in one less start than Kershaw. He has 62 K’s in 57 frames with just 15 walks issued. Miller has a 1.74 ERA to go along with a 0.94 WHIP. Miller has fulfilled his ace potential so far, both on the surface  and beneath it and the best news is that current Dodgers have just four career AB’s against him, meaning most of them have never faced him before. By contrast, the Cardinals have seen plenty of Kershaw and current Cardinals have 29 hits in 118 career AB’s against Kershaw for a combined BA of .246. This one has all the makings of a pitcher’s duel that is very likely going to be decided in the late innings or by the pens. That alone makes the Cardinals worthy of a bet and even if Kershaw throws a gem, Miller is very capable of matching it. Definite overlay.
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L.A. Angels -1 +106 over KANSAS CITYFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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It’s very difficult to like the Royals chances here. K.C. has dropped four in a row and eight of its last nine games with only win over that span occurring against the Astros. The Royals have been outscored in the first three games of this series by a count of 17-6 and things don’t figure to get better here. Wade Davis has thrown two quality starts in nine attempts this season and he couldn’t have picked a worse time to face the hot-hitting Halos. Davis has trouble throwing strikes, he has a disturbing 1.95 WHIP and a just as disturbing 5.91 ERA. Davis’s skills are getting worse too. 15% of his batted balls hit in the air have gone yard. His profile is even worse than that with 38%/31%/31% groundball/line-drive/fly-ball rates. Davis’s confidence is shot and now the Royals have to rely on him to snap an ugly losing streak. That’s unlikely.
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Meanwhile, the Angels have reeled off seven in a row and have scored five runs or more in every game. Over that span, the Angels have outscored the opposition 54-18 and they allowed nine runs in one game. Since moving into the rotation covering three starts, Jerome Williams has allowed just four earned runs in 20.2 innings. Williams comes in with a 1.08 WHIP and a 2.53 ERA and has the full skills support of those numbers. In 46 innings overall, Williams has allowed just 38 hits while striking out 29 and walking just 12. His groundball rate his last game was 65% and his overall groundball rate is a solid 48%. The Royals haven’t been able to hit these Angels starters all weekend while the Halos are teeing off on K.C.’s pitching. Hot versus cold gets the call again.
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Baltimore -½ +116 over TORONTOFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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1st 5 innings. How do you belt out 30 hits over two days and go 0-2? Just ask the Blue Jays, who have seen their bats get hot but against Baltimore, the Jays have not been able to throw the knockout punch against two horrible pitchers over the past two days and as a result, they lost Friday and Saturday. The Blue Jays have also been falling behind early in the game and even in Thursday’s win in the opener of this series, the Jays were down 4-0 early. Baltimore scored nine times in the first three innings on Friday and five runs in the first three innings yesterday. The O’s have now pounded out 112 hits (.301) over their past 10 games to lead the majors in that category. 22 of those hits have left the park and that, too, is tops in the majors. The O’s are obviously seeing the ball well at this venue and have another great chance of putting up some early crooked numbers against Chad Jenkins. Jenkins is just coming off a shoulder injury, which has limited him to only one start this season at New Hampshire (AA) and one start with the Blue Jays. He saw his first big league call-up in '12 and fared reasonably well with a 4.50 ERA in 32 innings. He has a durable 6'4" 230-pound frame with good arm action and mindset on the mound. His fastball and slider are his best pitches, while both his curveball and change-up need further development. Jenkins’ pitching line against Boston last week looks decent on paper but luck played a big role, as many balls were hit hard (27% line-drive rate) but they were hit right at people. He still allowed seven hits in five innings and struck out just two batters. Jenkins is very hittable because his repertoire features two slightly above average pitches and at this level, that’s not good enough. Against these hot-hitting Orioles, Jenkins will play a price.
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At age 29, the perseverance Miguel Gonzalez has showed to get to the big leagues is commendable and he has demonstrated that he has enough talent to stick in the Oriole rotation. Gonzalez just came off the 15-day DL (blister) and subsequently five-hit the Yankees in seven frames and it took just 92 pitches to get there. Over his past two starts covering 13 innings, Gonzalez has struck out 10 and walked none. Gonzalez is throwing better than he was last season. His xERA over his past three starts is 3.00. Gonzalez’s line-drive rate is just 16% and his groundball rate is 49%. There is not a pitcher in baseball with more heart and determination than this right-hander and if you ever get a chance you should read his story here. All of Gonzalez’s skills are trending strongly in the right direction and he’s grossly undervalued here in this pitching mismatch. It’s for that reason we will play the Orioles in the first five innings as oppose to spotting a tag in the full game.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, May 26

Jesse SchuleFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Philadelphia vs. WashingtonFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: WashingtonFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Nats lost to the Phillies in Game 2 of this series yesterday, and the rubber match goes this afternoon. Stephen Strasburg faces off against Cole Hamels.
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While neither pitcher has an impressive win/loss record, Strasburg (2-5, 2.66 ERA) has been pitching very well of late. He allowed a single run on five hits over seven innings, but ended up on the wrong side of a 4-2 loss to San Francisco. Prior to that he allowed two runs on three hits over eight innings in a 6-2 win over the Padres. He's now only allowed a pair of earned runs over his last three starts, but only has one win to show for it.
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Hamels (1-7, 4.45 ERA) hasn't been much better than his record indicates. He
had a decent outing his last time out, allowing two runs over six innings and recording 10 strikeouts, but that was against Miami. He didn't fare so well against a much better Cleveland team, allowing five runs on six hits, including a pair of home runs, losing 10-4.
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I'm giving the edge to the Nats at home with Strasburg appearing to be the better of the two pitchers at the moment.

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