Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 30

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 30

Jack Jones

Texas Rangers -140

The Texas Rangers Thursday represent one of my strongest free picks in Interleague play for the entire 2013 season. After losing the first two games of this series at Arizona, I look for the Rangers to bounce back with a blowout victory at home in Game 3.

Texas gives the ball to Justin Grimm, who is one of the most underrated starters in the league, especially when pitching at home. Grimm has gone 2-1 with a 2.79 ERA and 1.293 WHIP in three home starts in 2013.

Brandon McCarthy has struggled in his first season with Arizona. The right-hander has gone 2-3 with a 4.36 ERA and 1.344 WHIP through 10 starts this year. McCarthy is also 2-3 with a 4.05 ERA in nine career starts against Texas.

Texas is 8-0 (+8.2 Units) against the money line at home when the total is 9 to 9.5 this season. The Rangers are 25-6 (+15.6 Units) against the money line in home games after a loss by 2 runs or less over the last 3 seasons. Texas is 19-3 (+13.7 Units) against the money line in home games after 2 or more consecutive losses over the last 3 seasons. Bet the Rangers Thursday.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 30

SPORTS WAGERSFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Chicago (AL) -110 over CHICAGO (NL)FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Travis Wood is off to an outstanding start on the surface, as in 10 starts he has a 2.73 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. All of his peripheral stats look the same as last season, except for one (HR/F). He has cut his HR/F in half, from 13% last season to just 6% this season. With the winds at Wrigley expected to be blowing out to left, and with Wood having a 56% fly-ball rate, it will be tough for Wood to keep the White Sox in the park here. Wood has an xERA of 4.28, which is 1½-runs higher than his actual ERA. Wood is also likely to walk some batters (22 BB in 66 IP), which is never a good thing with the winds at Wrigley blowing out. Regression is coming and it’s very likely to occur here.
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Jake Peavy continues to impress. Having missed a good part of 2009-2011 due to various injuries, Peavy is still under the radar and that presents a nice buy low opportunity here. While a high strand% indicates that his ERA will rise a bit, xERA (3.30) shows that his skill set remains solid. Peavy’s control is at an elite level with just nine walks in 61 frames. His strikeout rate (63 K’s) is at a level not seen since 2009. Peavy’s 89%/0% dominant-start/disaster-start split should not come as a real surprise, as he posted a 75/0 split last year and his last pure disaster start was in July 2011. We get a huge edge on the hill today with a strikeout pitcher going with the winds blowing out. The price does not reflect the mismatch and therefore the value tag is attached to Jake Peavy and the South side. Incidentally, the White Sox have a big edge in the pen too.
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Oakland/SAN FRAN Over 7½FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Overall, AT&T Park plays as a neutral park, with summer days favoring hitters (game time is 12:45 PM PST) but the damp nighttime air being particularly helpful to pitchers. As an open-air park by the Bay, the park is also quite subject to variable winds and that will come into play here also. The early weather report today has the wind blowing out to center at 25 MPH and that, along with it being a matinée affair, is bad news for these two pitchers. A.J. Griffin has a 3.84 ERA and 1.20 WHIP after 63 innings but his base skills have been very average. With an average fastball velocity of 89.3 mph and a horrible groundball/fly-ball split of 32%/46%, Griffin is walking a fine line between quality starts and disaster starts. His best weapon is his curveball, which is the only thing that allows him to at pitch at this level. When Griffin’s curve isn’t working well, he has no shot of success. Almost every ball hit off this guy is a screamer and chances are the Giants get to him for a few.
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It really is amazing. Baseball "experts" everywhere have been singing the praises of Barry Zito since the second half of last year. "Barry Zito is finally living up to his $126 million contract." "He's commanding his curve." "He's added a slider to keep batters off balance." Good thing you are reading this, because this is the only sentence you should believe. "This is still Barry Zito." Zito has been defying logic for too long but it’s finally starting to catch up to him. Zito has been tagged for 30 hits and 17 runs over his last 17.1 innings and overall, he has a BAA of .305 with an unacceptable WHIP of 1.52. His line-drive rate of 30% this year is the highest of any starting pitching in the big leagues with at least six starts. He has a groundball/fly-ball split of 37%/34% and now he’s beginning to walk more batters also. Zito’s skills are among the worst in the league. There is nothing in Zito’s profile, other than he’s a lefty, that can explain how he gets batters out. Amazingly, Zito’s home ERA is 1.38 but that’s actually good news because it’s unsustainable and now it’s time to see his home ERA implode as badly as his road ERA. One or both of these pitchers is very likely to get lit up here, sending this one over the low number.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 30

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Indiana +7½ over MIAMIFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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We are double-dipping with our plays here for Game 5. For starters, the total has gone over in all four games of this series. Much of this is based off of the reasoning that Indiana can’t hang with the Heat offensively. While this was true in the first half of the season, the Pacers employed a top 10 efficiency ranking after the all-star break and have easily matched them in this series. This upswing in offensive efficiency is largely due to the improved play of Roy Hibbert, who has established himself as a legitimate scoring option for the Pacers and has justified the 4-year, $58 million extension he signed in the offseason. The Heat have absolutely no answer for him in the post. Chris Anderson is too small and not strong enough to contain Hibbert from doing whatever he wants on the court. Meanwhile, Chris Bosh has played like a guard all series long, having attempted almost as many three point shots (12), as he has grabbed rebounds (13). This astounding fact highlight’s how great of a job Indiana has done owning the paint without the Heat really establishing any sort of low-post presence. While LeBron James attacked relentlessly in Game 3 from the post, in what was arguably his greatest professional game operating out of the post, he was reluctant to attack from there in Game 4. Even if he goes back to the mode of attack in Game 5, the Pacers won’t be blindsided by Lebron going at George from the post and you can expect the Pacers to show some double-teams and mix different coverage at him to prevent the easy baskets he got in Game 3. Furthermore, whether the Heat wants to admit it or not, there exists real concern about the sub-par performances of Dwyane Wade, who has been noticeably absent in these playoffs. He only has one 20-point effort in the entire playoffs and has only been to the free-throw line 16 times this series. He doesn’t have the same explosiveness and drive to the basket that we are accustomed to seeing out of the two-time NBA champion. LeBron must certainly be having some real flashbacks to his Cleveland days, as his supporting cast just isn’t giving any help at all, outside of one good performance in Game 3. 
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Ultimately, Hibbert’s dominance in the post along with Paul George’s versatility, are going to keep the Pacers competitive in this game and give them a strong chance to pull off another win down in South Beach. Besides a near-perfect effort by the Heat in Game 3, the Pacers have hung tough with the Heat in the other three games and have played better than Miami in crunch-time in two of the three games. The Pacers have proven in the four games that they can score with Miami and will not back down from the challenge now that they are within two wins of an NBA Finals appearance. Ride with the team that will destroy the glass in Game 5, as they have done all series, and whom will continue to own the area within 15 feet of the basket. This game should again come down to the final few minutes of regulation, and those 7½-points of wiggle room, along with yet another low total, is a gift from the oddsmakers that we can certainly capitalize on.

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WunderdogFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Arizona at TexasFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: Texas -145FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Texas Rangers will have redemption on their minds when they take on Arizona this afternoon. The Rangers were swept in a doubleheader in Arizona, then got rained out yesterday. The Rangers have been very tough at home where they enter this contest at 15-7, and have a strong history here vs. the Diamondbacks where they are 10-4 in the last 14 meetings. The Rangers are very familiar with Brandon McCarthy as they have beaten him in four of his six starts against them. Justin Grimm has won his last three starts and has been very good at home with an ERA of 2.79. The D-Backs' 28-60 mark in their last 88 as a dog dos not bode well here. Take Texas.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 30

Bob BalfeFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Atlanta Braves -150FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Bluejays can't win on the road and their record is just 4-9 vs left handers. R.A Dickey is more proned to walking guys and giving up the long ball. Minor is having a great season and his strikeout ratio per inning is pretty damn good. The Braves are just too strong at home against an aging Dickey. Take Atlanta.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 30

MLB Predictions

San Diego Padres +109

The Padres have won 2 of 3 in this interleague series and two straight. Last night San Diego gave up a solo homerun in the top of the ninth to put Seattle ahead, but the Padres tied it and then won in extra innings. The Padres are now 24-28 on the season and have a winning 14-12 home record. The Mariners fall to 22-31 on the year and just 9-19 on the road. Seattle has their ace Felix Hernandez on the mound who is 5-4 on the season with a 2.51 ERA, .244 OBA and 1.09 WHIP. Over his last two starts he hasn’t made it into the 6th inning and has allowed 5 earned runs in each (19 hits over 10.2 innings). The Padres will have Andrew Cashner on the mound who has been solid with a 4-2 record, 3.38 ERA, .241 OBA and 1.22 WHIP. Over his last 4 starts he is 3-0 with a 2.63 ERA, and at home he is 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA. Despite Hernandez’ solid numbers the Mariners are just 5-6 when he takes the mound, while the Padres are 5-2 when Cashner starts. The Mariners are 28th in team batting average (.231) in May and 27th overall on the year. Take note that the Mariners are just 2-10 in their last 12 games overall and 7-19 in their last 26 road games. Surprisingly they are also just 5-12 in Hernandez’ last 17 starts dating back to last season. The Padres are 9-2 in their last 11 home games vs right handed starter, 13-5 in their last 18 home games overall, 4-0 in Cashner’s last 4 starts overall and 4-1 in his last 5 home starts. Give me the Padres as underdogs this afternoon.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 30

John Ryan

Boston Red Sox at Philadelphia Phillies
Prediction: Philadelphia Phillies

The Phils have won two of the first three games and held on last night for a very important win. That win gets them to just one-game under the .500 level. However, they need more than to just attain that even record as they are still significantly away from a wild card birth and actually are closer to the NL East leading Atlanta Braves. Despite their injuries again this season and playing without Michael Young (bereavement list) and the injury riddled Utley, the Phillies are starting to come together as a team. Brown now has 13 home runs and is second in that category in the NL. It is the younger players, like Brown, that are taking advantage of the opportunity and becoming the next generation of team leaders. The simulator shows a high probability that Supporting this graded play is a proven system posting a 79-41 mark for 66% winners since 1997. Play against road teams in May (BOSTON) after 3 consecutive games playing an interleague opponent. Phils are installed as slight dogs for this game and they have been a money making 13-7 (+8.7 Units) against the money line as an underdog of +100 to +150 this season. Take Philadelphia.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 30

Jeff Alexander

St. Louis Cardinals -162

The Royals have lost 8 in a row and 12 of their last 13 while the Cardinals have won 4 straight and 7 of their last 8. The Cards have also won 6 straight versus Kansas City. Jeremy Guthrie's magic appears to have worn off as he's 0-3 with an ERA of 7.92 over his last 3 starts. I'll fade the struggling Royals here.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 30

Bryan Leonard

White Sox -110

Jake Peavy takes the mound against a team he's had a lot of recent success against while Travis Wood takes the hill for the Cubs. The White Sox have played pretty well over the last two weeks and they're looking to salvage a getaway day game in Wrigley this afternoon. Peavy is 5-1 with a 1.33 ERA over his last six starts against the Cubs and he's really throwing the ball well this season with 63 K in 60.2 innings and a 2.97 ERA over nine starts. The White Sox are 6-3 in his nine starts and seven of them have been quality outings. Peavy has seen an uptick in his ground ball rate, something that should benefit him on a balmy day at Wrigley.

Travis Wood has been overachieving and the regression that we're looking for began last start and could certainly continue over to today. Wood has a BABIP of just .211, despite a career mark of .264. That indicates a lot of luck, especially when you consider that his strikeout percentage is below his career average. His line drive rate is nearly 5% lower than his career number and when you look at all of the stats that need to normalize, you're looking at a pitcher who is due for some serious regression. Wood posted a 14.0% HR/FB rate at Wrigley Field last season and this season it is at just 3.5% because the weather has stayed relatively cool. As temperatures warm up, Wood's ERA and HR rate will go up. With temps expected to be in the 80s with humid conditions and winds blowing out to left at a pretty good clip, today looks like a good bet to be the day that Wood morphs back into the pitcher he's expected to be. His ERA is 2.73, but his FIP is 3.76 and his xFIP is 4.59. The bottom will fall out soon and the weather conditions, and an opposing lineup with a good amount of power, should be triggers.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 30

Joe Gavazzi

Atlanta -145

Out of nowhere last night, Rogers authored a 3-0 victory for Toronto. That changes tonight! The Blue Jays are just 7-15 / win while Atlanta enters on a continuing 9-3 surge with a record of 15-6 on this field (highest home won/loss % in MLB). Minor has been immaculate this season with a record of 6-2, 2.47 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 61/14 KBB. For Minor, those numbers improve to 1.85 ERA in May, his previous outing saw him allow 3 hits with 10 Ks in 7 1/3 IP of a 6-0 victory vs. the Mets. Last year's Cy Young winner, Dickey has authored a record of 4-6 with a 4.65 ERA. His most recent outing saw him allow 6 runs in 6 2/3 IP of a 6-5 defeat to Baltimore. In 5 starts at this site, Dickey has a 6.67 ERA. That includes allowing 13 runs in 9 1/3 IP of 2 outings last year in his Cy Young season. Run line players take note: 26/31 Atlanta victories including 12/15 on this field have been by 2 or more runs this season. Consider including the run line proposition among your risk.

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