Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, June 15

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, June 15

John Ryan

Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles
Prediction: Boston Red Sox

The simulator shows a high probability that Boston will rebound from their 2-0 shutout loss and win this game this afternoon. Boston is still in first place in the division despite having some difficult times with the bats. Note that they are 8-0 (+8.2 Units) against the money line after batting .225 or worse over a 5 game span this season. Lackey starts for Boston and has gone 11-4 with a 3.35 ERA with a 1.250 WHIP in 19 career starts against Baltiore. Take the Red Sox.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, June 15

Freddy Wills

Chicago White Sox vs. Houston Astros    
Play: Houston Astros   

I think we are getting great value here. John Danks has a 6.30 ERA on the road and he's facing the Astros who are 11th in OPS vs. LHP. The Astros are actually scoring 5.77 runs per 9 vs. LHP for whatever reason. Lucas Harrell may be turning his season around as he's given up just 1 ER in his last 2 starts covering 14 IP. People forget this is a guy who had a 2.97 ERA over 18 starts. He'll get to face a Whitesox team that's ranked 26th in OPS vs. RHP. I think we get crazy good value here with the Astros and I'll role with them.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, June 15

Jack Jones

Seattle Mariners +105

Any time you can get Felix Hernandez as an underdog it's worth a look. I like Seattle's chances of winning again tonight after taking Game 1 of this series with the Oakland A's by a final of 3-2. Oakland is certainly ready for a letdown after sweeping the Yankees last series.

Seattle clearly has the edge on the mound in this one behind Hernandez, who is 7-4 with a 2.49 ERA and 1.044 WHIP through 14 starts this season. The right-hander is 5-2 with a 1.96 ERA and 0.964 WHIP in eight road starts, and 14-6 with a 2.70 ERA and 1.146 WHIP in 27 career starts against Oakland.

The Mariners are 6-1 in Hernandez's last 7 road starts with the total set at 6.5 or lower. Seattle is 5-1 in its last 6 road games with the total set at 6.5 or lower. The A's are 3-10 in their last 13 home games with the total set at 6.5 or lower. Seattle is 17-6 in Hernandez's last 23 starts vs. Oakland. Bet the Mariners Saturday.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, June 15

SPORTS WAGERS

San Francisco +181 over ATLANTA

The Giants are seeing beach balls right now. They’ve scored 42 runs over their last six games and they’ve outscored the opposition 16-0 over their past two games and that includes last night 6-0 win in the series opener. The Giants are a huge pooch here because Chad Gaudin is a 30-year-old veteran with a an unimpressive history. Gaudin hadn't started a game since 2009 until two weeks ago when he went from reliever to starter and took the hill in St. Louis of all places. He went six full, allowed four hits and two runs in a 4-2 Giants win. Next time out, in hitter-friendly Arizona, Gaudin again went six full and allowed just two runs on five hits in a 6-2 Giants win. Over those two starts, Gaudin struck out 12 and walked one. Including his relief appearances, Gaudin has 40 K’s in 42.2 innings and has allowed just 33 hits in 42.2 innings. Atlanta has trouble against pitchers with high strikeout rates because Braves hitters have struck out more than any team in baseball besides the Astros.

The Braves have dropped four in a row and six of their past eight. Mike Minor is 8-2 with a 2.44 ERA but has been greatly aided by an 82% strand rate. That’s not to say Minor isn’t deserving of his record or surface stats. The kid is certainly pitching great with a high strikeout rate and elite control. However, it’s not all glory and Minor is not in the elite pitcher category just yet. He has a xERA of 3.51 and that’s because his 82% strand rate is unsustainable. Minor also has a fly-ball bias profile (36%/45% - GB/FB) and those types of pitchers are susceptible to disaster outings or innings. The price is great, current form heavily favors the Giants and Chad Gaudin has pitched really well in two difficult assignments in St. Louis and in Arizona. Definite overlay.


HOUSTON +120 over Chicago

The White Sox can’t win with Chris Sale striking out 14 batters in Houston last night and they’re supposed to bounce back with John Danks on the hill? These White Sox are the worst favorite in baseball because they are tooth and nails to score a run. When they don’t get a brilliant pitching performance, winning games becomes even more remote. Don’t expect a gem out of John Danks. Last year, Danks’ season never got lift-off, as final start was May 19. His skills took a dive, fueled by shoulder issues that ended in arthroscopic surgery in August. Early reports said damage was minor and that we would be good to go in March but that didn’t happen either. Danks has made four starts this season and they are about the easiest group of four starts that a pitcher could hope for. Danks opened against Miami, and followed that up with games against the Cubs, Seattle and in Oakland.  Given diminished velocity and still some rust, John Danks and the South Side offer up nothing but misery as road chalk.

At first glance, Lucas Harrell looks like a league average pitcher. A closer look shows he's electric with the bases empty but less so with runners on. Strikeout rate + groundball growth gives Harrell the skills foundation to take a giant step forward if he can solve his control issues and it appears he’s headed that way. Harrell is coming off back-to-back gems against Baltimore and Kansas City in which he walked just three batters in 14 frames. Harrell’s elite 56% groundball rate on the season is one of the best in baseball. The Astros don’t win a lot of games but at least they play with enthusiasm and the South Side is one of the more beatable clubs in the game because of their pathetic offense.


CLEVELAND +114 over Washington

After a brutal stretch, the Indians are back on track with three wins in a row and winning games is hugely contagious. Scott Kazmir had an okay 4.22 ERA and rough 1.44 WHIP in May, so he's not likely attract many, but his base skills that month were extremely good. Kazmir’s high strikeout rate was supported by a 10.2% swinging strike rate and we’re also seeing a progressively positive increase in his groundball rates. However, this isn’t about wagering on Kazmir as much as it is about fading the Nationals as road favorites.

The Nationals are another one of those teams that are too risky as a favorite because of an offense that has been seeing BB’s the entire year. Washington’s .211 road team batting average is the worst in baseball and so is its .209 BA against southpaws. They’ll now face a southpaw on the road. As long as he’s on the same team as a healthy Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann is not likely to be called an “ace.” The numbers since his Tommy John surgery in 2010 make a strong case for Zimmerman but he’s just not there yet and his numbers this season are better on paper than they are under the hood. Zimmerman’s 2.00 ERA has been greatly aided by a strand rate of 83%. There’s a bigger issue with Zimmerman that not many will know. Zimmerman has induced a below league average rate of both looking and swinging strikes and that’s hugely concerning. That alone makes him a strong sell high candidate and that’s precisely what we’re doing here. Zimmerman may look appealing today because of some sweet surface stats but our model says big regression is coming. You’ve been warned.

Pass NHL

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, June 15

SPORTS WAGERS

Alexis Davis wins inside distance over Rosi Sexton -121

his is a tough matchup for Rosi Sexton. She is moving up a weight class and will be giving up advantages in size and strength. Canadian Alexis Davis will walk through Sexton's punches and push the pace of this fight. Sexton will want to get this fight to the mat in which case she still won't be safe as "Ally-Gator" has 7 of her 13 wins by submission. Training out of Cesar Gracie's in California, Davis has the benefit of training with three male counterparts that have all recently had UFC title shots. Throw in the facts that Davis has fought the superior competition, Davis is the better striker and grappler, Sexton is travelling from the UK and will have been in Winnipeg only 4 days by fight day. And if that wasn't enough, Sexton hasn't fought for over a year while Davis has been kicking ass and taking names with 2 finishes in that time. This is the first UFC women's fight in Canada and Davis will defend her home turf in impressive fashion.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, June 15

Wunderdog

Chicago White Sox at Houston
Pick: Houston +120

There hasn't been a whole lot of winning going on in Houston over the last 3 years, but Chicago is 12-22 on the road, which is not much different than Houston's 11-23 mark at home. The bigger difference is that the Astros are suddenly 9-7 over their last 16 games. They are playing their best baseball in three years, while the Pale Hose have found the win column just four times in their last 16. The White Sox are now a Houston-like 1-10 in their last 11 road games, and do not fit the profile of a road favorite, especially against a Houston team that has to feel good having maintained a winning mark over the past two weeks plus. Houston is 5-1 in their last six at home vs. a team that is less than .400 on the road. Play on Houston.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, June 15

Jeff Scott Sports

3 UNIT PLAYS

Washington -123 over CLEVELAND: Yes the Tribe is 8-0 in their last 8 interleague home games, but they are also 3-12 in their last 15 games as a dog. Washington has struggled on the road of late, but they just may have the right starter on the mound to get the job done today. Jordan Zimmerman has been excellent for Washington this year, going 9-3 with a 2.00 ERA overall, but he has really excelled at night, going 7-1 with a 2.23 ERA and an 0.84 WHIP under the lights. He is just 3-3 on the road, but with a 3.09 ERA and an 0.94 WHIP. On the other side we have Scott Kazmir, who has struggled for the Tribe this year. The Tribe have won all 4 of his home starts, but they also have scored 8.25 rpg for him at home, and they won't come anywhere close to that here vs Zimmerman. Scott has struggled at night, going 1-4 with a 5.85 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP. I expect this struggling Washington offense to break out vs Kazmir, while Zimmerman keeps the Cleveland bats quiet for the 2nd game in a row.


Chicago/ Houston Under 8:  last night I had the Under between these teams and I will go right back with it tonight. The Houston offense is really pathetic right now, having scored 2 runs or less in 7 of their last 8 games. Overall in their last 10 games this tam has hit a mere .207 and have scored just 2.7 rpg over that stretch. They will be taking on a struggling John Danks, but despite his 4.12 ERA on the year, he does have an 0.96 WHIP, so he really is not pitching all that bad. The Sox offense has looked better of late, but they did put up just 1 run vs this staff last night and getting much more than that will be difficult vs Lucas Harrell, who has a 1.93 ERA i his last 3 starts. Lucas has a 6.15 ERA at home but a closer look shows that had just 3 bad home starts on the year, with 2 of those rough starts vs a good Oakland offense and the other one vs a powerful Detroit offense. In those three starts he allowed 22 ER's, but in his other 5 home starts vs Baltimore, Seattle, the Angels, Texas and Cleveland he allowed a TOTAL of 6 ER's.  Overall on the year Lucas has 4 games in which he allowed 5 ER's or more, 1 game where he allowed 3 ER's and 9 games in which he allowed 2 ER's or less. Tonight should be another strong outing for him vs a weak Chicago offense, while Houston's offense will have their own troubles scoring as well. Look for 5 or 6 runs at most here.


LA ANGELS -113 over New York: The Yanks may have a slight edge on the mound, with Phelps over Hanson, but at the plate the clear advantage goes to the Halos. LA is beginning to get their offense going as they have scored 14 runs in their last 2 games and have averaged a solid 4.6 rpg in their last 10 games. The Yanks come in really struggling offensively as they have averaged just 3.2 rpg in their last 10 games, hitting just .211 over that stretch. In their last 10 games they have also hit just .190 and have scored just 2.75 rp/9 off of righties in those games. Making matters even worse for this offense is the fact that Youkilis is now on the DL, with Granderson, Jeter and A-Rod, plus Teixeira and Wells are a combined 7-57 in their last 7 games. THis offense has no pop and the Angels are getting better, so I look for then to take game 2 of this series tonight.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, June 15

MLBPredictions W/writeups

Toronto Blue Jays +113

The Blue Jays are winniners of 6 fo their last 8 games whih includes going 4-1 against the Rangers over that period. The Rangers have fallen off a bit losing 7 of their last 9 games and scoring 3 or fewer runs in all of those losses. The Rangers are hitting just .216 as a team in June which is 27th in the MLB, and they are doing an awful job with runners in scoring position as well. Today's starter is R.A. Dickey who is 5-8 on the season with a 5.11 ERA, .253 OBA and 1.36 WHIP. He is slightly better on the road this season with a 4.63 ERA. Dickey has been two different pitchers this season allowing 2 or fewer runs against in 4 of his past 7 starts, but in those other 3 games he allowed 6+ runs. Texas is struggling at the plate right now and I expect a good start from the Jays ace. Texas will send out Josh Lindblom for his 3 start of the season. he is 0-1 with a 5.91 ERA, .273 OBA and 1.41 WHIP. He has gaven up 12 hits and 7 earned runs over 10.2 innings of work (all at home). I like the Jays as underdogs today.


San Francisco Giants +181

After a 6-0 win last nig ht the Giants have improved to 4-2 over their last 6 games and they've scored 42 runs over those 6 games (7 runs per game). The loss was Atlanta's 4th straight and 6th in their last 8 games. So far in June the Giants are 5th in the MLB with a .285 team batting average, while the Braves are 24th with a .234 team batting average. Tonight's starter for San Francisco is Chad Gaudin and I expect a solid start from him today against a slumping Braves lineup who were shutout last night. Gaudin has appeared in 20 games (2 starts) this year with a 2-1 record, 2.32 ERA, .209 OBA and 1.13 WHIP. Over his two starts he has worked 6 innings in each giving up 4 hits and 2 earned runs in St Louis and 5 hits and 2 earned runs in Arizona (two good hitting ball clubs). The Braves counter with their most consistent starter in Mike Minor who is 8-2 on the season with a 2.44 ERA, .205 OBA, and 0.94 WHIP. Today Minor will be facing the MLB's 2nd best left handed hitting team in the Giants who have a team .287 OBA and .330 OBP against lefties. The Giants have won 4 of their 5 meetings this season with Atlanta and given the way they are swinging the bats right now with a solid starting pitcher on the mound I think we have a very generous price on them this afternoon. Take the Giants as big underdogs.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, June 15

Harry Bondi

CLEVELAND (+120) over Washington

Our free pick record is now on an 13-4 run in baseball, including eight underdog winners, and today we'll look to cash in on another home dog. Cleveland starter Scott Kazmir has taken a liking to his new home park, winning his last three starts on this field and he'll continue to thrive tonight against a Washington lineup that has been erratic without the services of Bryce Harper. Nats starter Jordan Zimmermann is a bit overrated and shouldn't be laying this kind of price on the road. The Tribe cashes in!

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, June 15

Bryan Power

Milwaukee vs. Cincinnati
Pick: Cincinnati

I don't see the Reds having much trouble with Milwaukee this afternoon.  They will have Homer Bailey pitching, and he's been in good form of late, while the Brew Crew typically never find good form when playing outside of Miller Park.  Cincinnati took yesterday's series opener, 4-3.  Look for them to make it two straight.....

Homer Bailey is aptly named because he always seems to pitch better here at Great American Ballpark. In six starts here this season, he has a 2.61 ERA and a 1.079 WHIP.  He has not allowed a single home run (knock on wood!) in those six starts while producing a solid 46-14 KW ratio. Most importantly, the team has won five times when he's gotten the baseball at home this year.  Overall, the Reds are 23-11 in home games.

Milwaukee is not a good road team as evidenced by an 11-19 record (just 4.0 runs per game).  That includes an 0-4 record here in Cincinnati where they've been outscored 26-14.  Starter Yovani Gallardo went eight scoreless innings last time out, but that was against Miami, so it can be pretty much disregarded here.  He'd allowed 5 ER in B2B starts prior to that.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, June 15

Joe Gavazzi

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres
Play: San Diego Padres

This is a bit of a perception/reality play. Everyone knows that Arizona has been overachieving this year at 37-30 including 20-16 on the road. Quietly playing under the radar has been a San Diego team who, since starting 5-15, has gone 28-19 to pull within 1 game of .500. Most recently, the Padres have won 4 straight over which time the starters have a 1.71 ERA. Expect more of the same from Marquis today who, in his last 9 starts has gone 7-0 with a 3.15 ERA. In addition, Marquis is 5-0 with a 2.50 ERA in 6 home starts. That compares favorably to his mound opponent today. Miley is a disappointing 4-5 with a 4.89 ERA. In 6 starts vs. the Padres, Miley is 1-4 with a 7.52 ERA.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, June 15

Jeff Keim

New York Yankees +104

Having a defined role has certainly benefited New York right-hander David Phelps as he is 3-2 with a 3.37 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in eight starts this season. While Phelps has been an unheralded prospect out of the Yankees' farm system, he has demonstrated a solid skill set this season that makes him a must start against a scuffling Angels' squad. Indeed, after a disappointing outing against the Mets on May 29 (4 ER; 0.3 IP), Phelps has bounced back by going 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP in his past twelve frames (13 strikeouts). Let's also note that Phelps has garnered a 2.73 ERA and 0.94 WHIP on the road and a 1.37 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in three day games in 2013. Phelps is also supported by a very good New York bullpen that owns a 3.26 ERA and 1.25 WHIP, including a 2.63 ERA and 1.29 WHIP on the road and a 1.61 ERA over its last seven games.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles starter Tommy Hanson has been underwhelming to say the least as evidenced by his pedestrian 4.12 ERA and 1.52 WHIP this season. Hanson also owns a 4.84 ERA and 1.70 WHIP at home, a 4.50 ERA and 1.62 WHIP in day games and a 4.96 ERA and 1.77 WHIP over his last three starts. Hanson is also plagued by a poor Los Angeles relief staff that owns a 4.64 ERA at home and a 4.34 ERA over the last seven games. From a technical standpoint, New York is a profitable 26-13 (+13.7 units) in road day games and 50-29 (+17.6 units) following three or more consecutive road games, whereas the Angels are a money-burning 12-19 (-12.2 units) as favorites of -150 or less and 21-29 (-16.7 units) versus right-handed starters. Take New York at a very good price and invest with confidence.

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