Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, May 27

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, May 27

Michael Alexander

Colorado Rockies vs. Houston Astros
Play: Colorado Rockies   

Rockies are 10-1 in their last 11 games vs. a team with a winning % below .400.

Rockies are 4-1 in their last 5 games vs. a right-handed starter.

Rockies are 7-2 in their last 9 after allowing 5 runs or more in their previous game.

Rockies are 16-5 in their last 21 games as a favorite of -110 to -150.

Rockies are 22-8 in their last 30 games vs. a starter with a WHIP greater than 1.30.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, May 27

Joe GavazziFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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St Louis Cardinals vs. Kansas City RoyalsSERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Play: St Louis CardinalsFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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In this contest, we are not about to back off winning money with the Cards hot streak and playing against the Kansas City losing streak. In a game where the YTD pitching numbers for Wainwright and Shields are a virtual mirror image, we need only look at the fact that Wainwright is 6-3 for the season while Shields is 2-5 for the year as a microcosm of the respective success of their teams. After a 7-10 start, the Royals are on negative slides of 4-16 and 1-9 in which they have scored a total of only 26 runs. In addition, KC is 0-8 on this field. St. Louis continues with the best record in baseball at 30-17 including 18-9 away. The Cards are 18-6 recently outscoring the opposition 118-75. St. Louis has owned this series of late with records of 16-7, 5-0 and 11-3 at this series site. Chicago Sky at Phoenix Mercury (-8) 5:00 ET ESPN2 10* Phoenix -8 Jump on Phoenix early as this line value will not last long. Even with the addition of Elena Delle Donne, Chicago figures to be headed for their 8th consecutive losing season in their history. Look for Phoenix, following an injury plagued 7-27 season, to be the biggest turnaround story in the league and contend for the WNBA title. Last year, the Mercury were without their 3 best players (Diana Taurasi, Penny Taylor and Candice DuPree for much of an injury plagued season. This year, those 3 premiere players return at full health to join Dewanna Bonner and top draft pick 6’8” Britney Griner to form the nucleus of a far superior defense as well as explosive offensive team. Get to this party early, it may not last long.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, May 27

Steve MerrilFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Indians vs. RedsFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Over 9FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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The battle for Ohio starts on Monday afternoon as the Reds host the Indians. Mike Leake is 4-2 in nine starts for Cincinnati with seven of those games going Over the total. Leake faced the Indians twice last season and he gave up 4 runs and 13 hits in just over 11 innings of work. The Indians’ lineup is averaging almost 6 runs per game over their last eight contests and they have gone Over in four of their last five games. The Cincinnati bullpen picked up their 10th loss of the season on Sunday against the Cubs. Cleveland’s Ubaldo Jimenez is 3-3 with a 6.04 ERA in nine starts with five of those games going Over the total. He hasn't seen the Reds since 2010 when he gave up 4 runs and seven hits in six innings. The Reds are averaging nearly 6 runs per game over their last eight contests and they are hitting right around .280 during that span. They have gone Over in 15 of their 25 home games. Cleveland's bullpen will most likely be without Chris Perez who got hurt on Sunday in Boston; that unit has blown 8 saves in 16 chances. These two offenses are clicking right now so we’ll recommend playing this game Over the total.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, May 27

Will RogersFREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Atlanta vs. TorontoFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: TorontoFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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I'm taking Toronto here against Atlanta.  Last night, I played the Run Line as I went against the Braves and took the Mets. Turned out it wasn't even neccessary as the Mets won the game 4-2, snapping Atlanta's 8-game win streak. After having their long win streak broken Sunday night, I'm going to call for the Braves to lose again Monday in Toronto.
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Here are my keys to the game:FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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1. Tim Hudson on the road - Atlanta's starter has not pitched well away from Turner Field this season, posting a 7.36 ERA in five starts with the team losing four of them. He's allowed a total of 11 earned runs his last two starts away from home and that's over just 8 2/3 innings. Though he did win his last start, his ERA over his last three is 8.56.
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2. Mark Buehrle - The veteran lefty starts today for the Blue Jays and has been steadily improving as he adjusts to his new digs. The southpaw has won two of three starts, including allowing only two runs over seven innings last start, a win over Tampa Bay. His lifetime TSR in Interleague Play is 31-12.
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3. X-Factor - Having to play on the road the next day off the Sunday night game always seems to put a team at a disadvantage.

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Jesse SchuleFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Pittsburgh vs. DetroitFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: DetroitFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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It's usually going to be expensive to back the Tigers, especially when Justin Verlander is on the mound. I think it's well worth the price to play on Detroit tonight, as they take on the Pirates and Francisco Liriano.
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Liriano (3-0, 1.00 ERA) has been impressive in his three starts since returning to the rotation, allowing just two runs over 18 innings pitched. Those numbers came against the Cubs, Brewers and Mets, and needless to say, the Tigers may present a much greater challenge.
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Liriano hasn't had a lot of success against Detroit in the past, going 2-6 with a 7.51 ERA in his last nine starts versus the Tigers.
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Verlander (5-4, 3.66 ERA) has been roughed up a bit on the road in recent starts, but he's been much better at home, posting an ERA of 2.73 in four starts.
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Andrew McCutchen is just 2-for-11 lifetime versus Verlander, and the Pirates offense ranks near the bottom of the Major Leagues in runs scored as well as batting average.
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Verlander is in a good spot to pick up the win at home this afternoon.

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Ben BurnsFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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St. Louis vs. Kansas CityFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: UnderFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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With both starters in excellent form, this figures to be a well-pitched affair.
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Shields has a 1.97 ERA and 0.719 WHIP in four home starts, three of which stayed below the total. For the season, he's got a 2.41 ERA overall, including a 2.35 ERA his last three starts, all of which produced five or fewer combined runs.
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Wainwright is 6-3 with a 2.38 ERA and 0.972 WHIP overall. That includes a 1.61 ERA and 0.672 WHIP his last three starts. Not surprisingly, two of those three games dipped below the number.
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While Shields has 69 Ks vs. 15 walks, Wainwright has 69 Ks vs. only six walks - serving up just two home runs. Both starters have 21 Ks vs. three walks their last three starts. Consider the Under.

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Sean MurphyFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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St. Louis vs. Kansas CityFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: UnderFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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This sets up as a terrific pitching matchup on paper and I expect it to play out that way on the field as well.
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The Cardinals are in a tough scheduling spot, traveling without a day off following a three-game set in Los Angeles.
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Meanwhile, the Royals can't get out of their own way, having lost 16 of their last 20 games, scoring just nine runs during their current five-game slide.
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Adam Wainwright gets the nod for the Cardinals. He's certainly lived up to his billing as staff ace this season, posting a 2.38 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. Perhaps most impressive is the fact that he's issued only six walks while giving up two home runs in 72 innings pitched. He doesn't figure to be the pitcher the Royals finally break out of their offensive slump against.
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Kansas City will counter with its own ace, James Shields. He's matched Wainwright pretty much pitch-for-pitch, recording a 2.47 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. His numbers are even better here at home, where he owns a 1.97 ERA and 0.72 WHIP in 32 innings pitched. Each of Shields' last four starts have totaled five runs or less. Not surprisingly, the 'under' is 7-3 in his 10 starts this season.
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We saw a number of high-scoring slugfests between these two teams last season, a big reason why we're seeing a total set north of 6.5 runs (where I believe the number should actually be) here today. That suits our purposes just fine this afternoon.

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Bryan PowerFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Colorado vs. HoustonFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: OverFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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I played against the Rockies all weekend (Fri-Sun), and wound up cashing 2 of 3 w/ the Giants. But Colorado has a far easier task starting Monday, despite having to stay out on the road, as they visit Houston to play the terrible Astros. My only concern is that starter Jhoulys Chacin has a 7.02 ERA his last three starts. Therefore, I'm going to look for the series opener to go Over...
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The Astros pitching staff is abysmal. I mean, historically bad.  They are allowing a shocking average of 6.6 runs per game at home. To put that number in perspective, they have allowed 36 more runs this season than any other the team. They have allowed 65 more runs than any National League team.  As a result, the Over has been highly profitable in Astros games this season, going 31-17-1 in all games, including 18-9 at home.  Starting today will be Bud Norris. He's actually been one of Houston's better pitchers, but also sports a 9.88 career ERA in three starts vs. the Rockies.
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Going back to the Astros' time in the NL, these teams have gone Over 12 of the last 14 times they have met. Colorado comes in averaging nearly five runs per game on the year and should have no trouble scoring runs against this staff this week, starting today.  As I mentioned though, Chacin has not been particularly sharp of late.

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Atlanta Braves -109FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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The Braves are 8-1 in their last 9 overall and 9-1 in their last 10 interleague games versus teams that have a losing record. They are also 8-1 in their last 9 versus the Blue Jays. Atlanta has won 5 of Hudson's last 6 interleague starts. Plus, Hudson is 11-3 (12-4 on the moneyline) with an ERA of 2.79 in 16 starts versus Toronto. Hudson has had an extra day of rest so I expect him to have some extra pop on his fastball. Extra rest for Hudson has meant good news for Atlanta as it is 40-16 in his last 56 starts on 5 days' rest. Buehrle is 0-3 on the moneyline in his last 3 starts versus the Braves and has a career ERA of 4.84 against them.

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Jimmy BoydFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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St. Louis Cardinals -114FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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The Cardinals will have a substantial advantage at the starting pitcher position today. Adam Wainwright has posted a 2.38 ERA and 0.972 WHIP this season. He has a 6-3 record and has been unbelievable solid in his last three starts. His ERA and WHIP improve to 1.61 and 0.672 respectively in his last three games and he has averaged 7.4 innings per start in that span.
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James Shields will get the start for Kansas City today. Shields is 0-3 in his last three start suffering losses to Houston, Oakland and a beat up Yankees team. He does not have the luxury of getting run support from his inconsistent team members. The Royals average just 3.7 runs per game at home with a .254 batting average and considering they will be facing one of the best pitchers in the league those numbers should only get worse today.

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SPORTS WAGERSFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Atlanta -109 over TORONTOFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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The Braves are a small price today because Tim Hudson comes in with a 4.98 ERA. However, Hudson’s high ERA is a direct result of a freakishly low 62% strand rate. What’s so odd about that strand rate is that Hudson remains one of the best groundball pitchers in the game with an elite rate of 55%. He also has 44 K’s in 56 frames while issuing just 15 walks. Hudson’s season so far has been nothing but pure bad luck but his xERA is 3,63 and his xERA over his last five starts is just 3.19. Hudson is pitching better than he has been in three years. His skills are at an elite level but the surface stats say otherwise and that provides us with one of the best “buy low” opportunities of the day.
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Analyzing Mark Buehrle is like re-watching a favorite movie; you know exactly what to expect: an overachieving xERA, low strikeouts and decent command. However, his first season in the AL East has been far afield from his usual work. After a career of astounding strand % stability, Buehrle's getting a taste of volatility, and his ERA has suffered. The move from pitcher-friendly Marlins Park to Rogers Centre (+24% RHB HR) has knocked his hr/9 out of whack. There are more red flags as well. The bump in Buehrle’s control and the dip in his groundball below 40% have also helped to increase his ERA. Because of his low strikeout rate, Buehrle's made a career out of pin-point accuracy and forcing ground balls, so seeing them both erode simultaneously is troublesome. Buehrle's slow start has some bad luck attached to it (61% strand rate) but the poor luck has been exacerbated by hitter-friendly surroundings and new, more formidable opponents in the AL East. That said, his upside is still limited once regression hits so it might be time to find a new favorite movie. Buehrle’s 5.91 ERA will regress some but his xERA is near 5 and it’s not likely to get better.
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Chicago (NL) -101 over CHICAGO (AL)FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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1st 5 innings. The White Sox have won nine of 12 and they just swept the Marlins but there are concerns. Against the Marlins this past weekend, the South Side scored 11 lousy runs in the three-game set after facing starters, Tim Koehler, Ricky Nolasco and Alex Sanabia followed by a shaky pen. The White Sox remain dead last in the AL in several offensive categories including runs scored, team batting average and drawn walks. Things don’t figure to get better for the White here against Jeff Samardzija. Samardzija broke out in the second half of 2012, posting a 2.58 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. He has continued those stats and skills so far in 2013. In 10 starts, Samardzija has a 3.25 ERA and 1.13 WHIP, as well as these fantastic skills: 72 K’s in 64 IP, a 50% groundball rate and a low 17 % line-drive rate. He is one of only three starters who have struck out at least one batter per inning while posting a groundball rate of 50% or higher. In addition, he has an average fastball velocity of 95 mph and is throwing a cutter more often, giving him four pitches that he throws at least 15% of the time. He has an elite strikeout rate against both LH and RH bats. Samardzija is one of the best pitchers in baseball but his 2-6 W/L record has him grossly undervalued here. If the Cubbies can score one time in the first five innings, this ticket is cashable.
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Jose Quintana has a nifty 3.48 ERA and 1.18 WHIP after 52 innings. His skills have been good too: 39 K’s 15 walks and a consistent 42% GB%. Quintana’s skills support a 3.50 ERA but whether he can reach it over the long haul is still up for debate because the sample size is too small and his history says beware. Quintana has wrung the most out of a series of just-above-tolerance stuff. He slipped off that tight rope in second half of last year and while he does have some value, Quintana has only four pure quality starts in nine attempts this season. Being young and right-brained, Quintana will get plenty of opportunity to grow but as a favorite pitching for an offensively challenged squad, he’s not that appealing. That applies here against Jeff Samardzija and so we’ll attempt to eliminate the pens and play the Cubbies in 5.
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SEATTLE -½ +120 over San DiegoFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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1st 5 innings. We’re going to play this one in the first five innings because it’s all about fading Clayton Richard. Richard hasn’t pitched since May 4 because of an intestinal virus that he picked up. Richard lost 12 pounds during that time and while he’s feeling better, he’s likely going to need a start or two to get back to being the below average pitcher he’s always been. It’s hard to tell how much health issues are responsible for Richard's 8.54/5.99 ERA/xERA combo. But a 5.07 career ERA on the road says he's always been a PETCO product and the park's new hitter-friendly dimensions may have just caught up with him. When the workers showed up to move the fences in at Petco, they discovered that this guy shackled himself to the fence somewhere around left-center field. Richard has allowed 37 hits in 26 frames this season. He’s also walked 17 while striking out just 13. Current Mariners have 25 hits in 82 career AB’s (.305) against Richard and being off three weeks surely can’t help him. The Mariners broke an ugly eight game losing streak yesterday with a win over the Rangers in 13 innings and one win does wonders to a teams’ psyche.
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Aaron Harang’s 8.58 ERA is almost identical to Richard’s 8.54 ERA. However, there is a huge difference between the two. Harang has 27 K’s in 28 innings while walking just five batters. Harang’s unlucky 47% strand rate has done in him this season but his 4.30 xERA is more than four runs lower than his actual ERA. That’s significant and it strongly suggests that Harang is more than due for some better luck and he may have found the perfect opponent here. Harang went 2-1 with a 3.09 ERA in six starts against the Padres last season while with the Los Angeles Dodgers and this park plays similar to that of Dodger Stadium. With that, we’ll step in and play the M’s in the first five innings because Clayton Richard might not make it past the third.

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WunderdogFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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San Francisco at OaklandFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: Oakland +105FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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A tough situational stretch begins for the defending champs. They play 14 of the next 18 on the road, and against excellent competition. San Francisco is just 9-13 on the road and will play against contenders such as Oakland, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Atlanta. With starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong (hand) out for the next four-to-six weeks, they are bringing up a No. 5 starter, all of which will put more pressure and innings on the pen. And despite a nice home stand, the Giants are just 4-4 the last eight games. The Giants are 14-31 in their last 45 interleague road games vs. a right-handed starter and face righty Dan Straily, who doesn't walk anyone (12 walks and 32 strikeouts in 33 innings), and they've never faced him before. Straily has also allowed fewer hits than innings pitched. The Athletics are 20-6 in their last 26 home games vs. a team with a losing road record and 16-5 following a road trip of seven or more days. San Francisco lefty Madison Bumgarner has a 6.00 ERA against Oakland, and the Athletics are 16-6 in their last 22 interleague home games vs. a left-handed starter. Play the Oakland A's.

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Big Kat SportsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Chicago Cubs vs. Chicago White SoxFOR SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Take: Chicago White Sox -115FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Chicago White Sox will look to keep up their strong play when they take on the Cubs tonight at US Cellular Field in Chicago. The Sox have won 9 of their last 12 games and enter tonight’s contest off a weekend sweep of the lowly Marlins while the Cubs come into the game off a come from behind victory over the Reds on Sunday afternoon. Jose Quintana, who has pitched well this season, will get the call on the mound for the Sox. He is 3-1 with a 3.48 ERA on the season and took a no-hitter into the 7th inning in his last start, earning a victory over the Red Sox. It was his first win since April 24th, but has pitched well enough to earn a few more wins, including 3 starts without allowing a run. Quintana will be opposed by Jeff Samardzija, who will be on the hill for the Cubs. He has pitched well despite his 2-6 record as he has a 3.25 ERA. The Cubs just don’t score any runs when he’s on the hill. Samardzija has struggled a bit in his career against the Sox, posting a 0-2 record with a 3.27 ERA, losing his only start. The White Sox, who have lost the season series to the Cubs just 3 times since interleague play started in 1997 have been very good in the spot they are in here this evening. They are 39-15 in their last 54 interleague games when listed as a favorite and have won 6 of their last 7 games played at US Cellular Field. They have also been excellent in games after Quintana had a quality start in his last appearance, winning 12 of 13. The Cubs, who are sitting in the cellar of the NL Central have really struggled in the situation they find themselves in here versus the Sox. They are just 10-24 in their last 34 games against teams from the AL Central and have lost 40 of their last 55 games on the road when listed as an underdog. They have also lost 5 straight games on the road when Samardzija is the starting pitcher. Pair those numbers with the fact that Sox have won 8 of the last 11 games between these two teams and we’ll lay the small price with them at home to get the win.

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MLB Predictions

Detroit Tigers -1.5 +115

The Pirates won their final two vs Milwaukee over the weekend and have now won 6 of their last 7 games to improve to 31-19 on the season (13-10 on the road). They will now head to play some interleague against one of the best American League line ups in the Detroit Tigers, who won 3 of 4 over the weekend vs Minnesota and are 28-20 on the season and a solid 16-8 at home. The Tigers will send their ace to the mound this afternoon. Justin Verlander is 5-4 on the season with a 3.66 ERA, .261 OBA and 1.37 WHIP. He has had some struggles lately, but has faced two very tough lineups in Cleveland and Texas. Returning to home should get Verlander back on track as he is 1-2 with a 2.73 ERA at home this season. In 2012 he was 9-2 with a 1.65 ERA at home. Verlander has 3 starts vs the Pirates and he is 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA over those starts, which included 2 complete games. The Tigers will be facing Pirates starter Francisco Liriano who is 3-0 over his first three starts with a 1.00 ERA, .206 OBA and 1.11 WHIP. He hasn't faced an opponent like Detroit yet, with his starts coming against the Mets, Brewers and Cubs. Liriano has posted a 6.18 ERA vs the Tigers in 11 career games. Pittsburgh is just 11-52 in their last 63 interleague road games, while the Tigers are 51-18 in their last 69 interleague home games. The Tigers are 55-17 in Verlander's last 72 home starts, and 21-7 in his last 28 interleague starts. The Tigers are first in the MLB with a team .284 average, while the Pirates are 24th with a team .243 average. Detroit has scored 5+ runs in 6 of their last 7 games and I expect them to keep that up today and give Verlander enough cushion to win by a few runs in a solid start. Take the Tigers on the run line getting a good price.


Toronto Blue Jays +101

The Braves had won 8 straight before a loss last night on Sunday Night Baseball as they blew a 2-1 lead in the 8th inning. The Braves struck out 14 times and only had 5 hits last night as a struggling Shaun Marcum put up a great outing vs Atlanta. The Braves are now 30-19 on the season but just 15-14 on the road. They head to Toronto for some interleague action against a Jays team that scored 4 runs in the bottom of the ninth yesterday for a walkoff victory. The Jays are 21-29 on the season after a very rough start and 13-15 at home. Toronto's bats have started to come around and if they can get quality pitching they should start to get on a roll. The Blue Jays are 7th in team batting average in May with a .273 team average, and 6th in team OBP in May. The Braves rank 21st in the MLB in team batting average in May and 15th in OBP. Tim Hudson will take the mound for Atlanta and he is 4-3 on the season with a 4.98 ERA, .260 OBA and 1.29 WHIP. After a solid start to the season Hudson's ERA is 6.86 in May with a .299 OBA. Southpaw Mark Buehrle will take the mound for Toronto and he is 1-3 on the season with a high 5.90 ERA, .279 OBA and 1.41 WHIP. While Hudson has started to struggle as of late, Buehrle has started to come around for Toronto. He has posted a 3.60 ERA over his last 3 starts and it was only really one rough inning that kept that ERA from being very low. The Braves are 0-4 in Hudson's last 4 road starts and just 4-9 in their last 13 vs the AL East. The Blue Jays have won 7 of their last 10 home games, and are 5-0 in their last 5 interleague home games. I'll go with Toronto here at home as underdogs.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, May 27

Dr. Bob

Opinion

San Antonio / Memphis Under 180½

Game 2 and game 3 were both under the total heading into overtime and this series has averaged only 177 points per 48 minutes. The pace of the first 3 games has been lower than expected and using the average pace (possessions per 48 minutes) of the first 3 games of this series, with expected scoring efficiencies (points per possession) would yield a predicted total of just 173 points. I’ll lean Under 179 points or higher.

I think the side is tough to pick in this game. Memphis is still 55-22 ATS at home when not favored by 7 points or more (18-6 ATS this season) but teams down 3 games to 0 in a playoff series are just 23-35-3 ATS in game 4, including 2-12-2 ATS as a favorite. However, I don’t see the Grizzlies giving up like most teams do when they’ve lost the first 3 games. My ratings favor Memphis by 2½ points, so the line is pretty fair. I have no opinion on the side.

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