Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, June 20

Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, June 20

DUNKEL INDEX

NBA

San Antonio at Miami
The Heat look to follow up their 103-100 win in Game 6 and take advantage of a San Antonio team that is 5-11 ATS in its last 16 games after scoring 100 points or more in the previous game. Miami is the pick (-6) according to Dunkel, which has the Heat favored by 8. Dunkel Pick: Miami (-6)

Game 713-714: San Antonio at Miami (9:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: San Antonio 125.679; Miami 133.742
Dunkel Line & Total: Miami by 8; 193
Vegas Line & Total: Miami by 6; 189 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Miami (-6); Over

MLB

Tampa Bay at NY Yankees
The Yankees look to take advantage of a Tampa Bay team that is coming off a 6-2 win over Boston and is 1-6 in its last 7 games following a victory. New York is the pick (-120) according to Dunkel, which has the Yankees favored by 1. Dunkel Pick: NY Yankees (-120)

Game 901-902: Pittsburgh at Cincinnati (12:35 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Pittsburgh (Cumpton) 15.451; Cincinnati (Bailey) 17.187
Dunkel Line: Cincinnati by 1 1/2; 7
Vegas Line: Cincinnati (-185); 8
Dunkel Pick: Cincinnati (-185); Under

Game 903-904: Colorado at Washington (7:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Colorado (Oswalt) 16.148; Washington (Zimmermann) 15.048
Dunkel Line: Colorado by 1; 8
Vegas Line: Washington (-180); 7
Dunkel Pick: Colorado (+160); Over

Game 905-906: NY Mets at Atlanta (7:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: NY Mets (Niese) 14.870; Atlanta (Minor) 15.848
Dunkel Line: Atlanta by 1; 6
Vegas Line: Atlanta (-200); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Atlanta (-200); Under

Game 907-908: Chicago Cubs at St. Louis (8:15 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Cubs (Feldman) 15.556; St. Louis (Lynn) 14.434
Dunkel Line: Chicago Cubs by 1; 8
Vegas Line: St. Louis (-185); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Chicago Cubs (+165); Over

Game 909-910: LA Dodgers at San Diego (10:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: LA Dodgers (Fife) 15.047; San Diego (Marquis) 16.891
Dunkel Line: San Diego by 2; 6
Vegas Line: San Diego (-135); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: San Diego (-135); Under

Game 911-912: Miami at San Francisco (10:15 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Miami (Koehler) 16.246; San Francisco (Gaudin) 15.036
Dunkel Line: Miami by 1; 8
Vegas Line: San Francisco (-175); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Miami (+155); Over

Game 913-914: Chicago White Sox at Minnesota (1:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: White Sox (Danks) 15.572; Minnesota (Diamond) 15.044
Dunkel Line: Chicago White Sox by 1/2; 9
Vegas Line: Minnesota (-115); 8
Dunkel Pick: Chicago White Sox (-105); Over

Game 915-916: Oakland at Texas (2:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Oakland (Griffin) 14.213; Texas (Lindblom) 15.241
Dunkel Line: Texas by 1; 9
Vegas Line: Oakland (-115); 10
Dunkel Pick: Texas (-105); Under

Game 917-918: Boston at Detroit (7:08 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Boston (Lackey) 16.206; Detroit (Alvarez) 15.588
Dunkel Line: Boston by 1/2; 10
Vegas Line: Detroit (-125); 9
Dunkel Pick: Boston (+105); Over

Game 919-920: Tampa Bay at NY Yankees (7:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Tampa Bay (Moore) 14.814; NY Yankees (Pettitte) 15.901
Dunkel Line: NY Yankees by 1; 7
Vegas Line: NY Yankees (-120); 8
Dunkel Pick: NY Yankees (-120); Over

Game 921-922: Seattle at LA Angels (10:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Seattle (Hernandez) 14.480; LA Angels (Hanson) 15.464
Dunkel Line: LA Angels by 1; 8
Vegas Line: Seattle (-115); 7
Dunkel Pick: LA Angels (-105); Over

Game 923-924: Milwaukee at Houston (2:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Milwaukee (Gallardo) 16.599; Houston (Harrell) 14.973
Dunkel Line: Milwaukee by 1 1/2; 6
Vegas Line: Milwaukee (-135); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Milwaukee (-135); Under

WNBA

Chicago at Tulsa
The Sky look to take advantage of a Tulsa team that is 1-7 in its last 8 games SU. Chicago is the pick (-5) according to Dunkel, which has the Sky favored by 9 1/2. Dunkel Pick: Chicago (-5)

Game 651-652: Chicago at Tulsa (12:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Chicago 114.188; Tulsa 104.845
Dunkel Line & Total: Chicago by 9 1/2; 156
Vegas Line & Total: Chicago by 5; 162
Dunkel Pick: Chicago (-5); Under

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, June 20

Marc LawrenceFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Tampa Bay Rays at New York YankeesFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Prediction: New York YankeesFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Yankees and Rays open a key four-game division series in New York Thursday evening where Andy Pettitte matches serves with Matt Moore in a battle of left-handers at Yankee Stadium. Pettitte takes the mound knowing he is 11-6 in his home career team starts against Tampa Bay and 8-2 in his last ten team starts during the month of June. With Moore in horrible current form with a 13.90 ERA his last three starts, including 11 walks and 11 strikeouts in that span, look for the Pinstripes to come up big here tonight. We recommend a 1-unit play on the Yankees.

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Rob Vinciletti

Boston Red Sox vs. Detroit Tigers    
Play: Detroit Tigers

The Tigers are scoring 5.6 runs and hitting over .300 at home. They have won all 3 times this season as a home favorite from -100 to -125 and are 5-1 off a home loss, vs an opponent also playing off a home loss. Boston is 1-8 as a road dog off a home loss in their last game. For the system in this game we want to play on home favorites like Detroit, that are off a home favored loss and scored 4 or less runs while getting 10 or more hits, vs an opponent like Boston that lost as a home favorite. These home teams have won 8 of the last 9 times. Boston has J. Lackey going tonight and he has been decent with a 4.46 road era but is clearly not the same pitcher he was a few years back. Detroit has J.Alvarez making his 2nd start of the season. In his first start he was sensational in 6 innings vs Cleveland allowing just 1 run on 3 hits. Look for Detroit to take the opener of the series.

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Jeffrey Brandes

Chicago vs. St. Louis
Play: Under: 7½

Pitchers:
CHICAGO CUBS: SCOTT FELDMAN (R) ERA: 3.05 W/L: 6-5
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: LANCE LYNN (R) ERA: 3.56 W/L: 9-1

We have a sweet piching matchup in this game as the Cubs' SCOTT FELDMAN takes on LANCE LYNN for the Cardinals. SCOTT FELDMAN was outstanding in his last start, going seven innings and giving up just one run on two hits with six strikeouts and a walk against the Mets. It was one of his best starts of the season. In his last 3 sarts he's 1-1 with a 3.79 ERA.

LANCE LYNN has dropped just one in ten decisions this year. He's 2-0 in his last 3 starts. Lynn has won eight straight decisions at Busch Stadium, and he is 5-0 with a 2.54 ERA at home this year.

Key Trends:
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Chi Cubs's last 5 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Chi Cubs's last 5 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Chi Cubs's last 5 games when playing St. Louis
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Chi Cubs's last 6 games when playing on the road against St. Louis

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Art Aronson

Colorado  vs. Washington
Play: Under 7

Roy Oswalt (0-0, 0.00 ERA) gets the call for the visitors; Oswalt makes his debut after signing with the Rockies in May and making five starts in Double-A where he posted a 2.16 ERA and 0.93 WHIP over his 33 1/3's innings of work. Oswalt will be opposed by Jordan Zimmermann (9-3, 2.44 ERA) who is coming off an outing to forget in which he gave up six runs off eight hits with a walk while striking out six over five innings of work, lucky to escape with a no-decision. Despite the sub-par effort, Zimmermann has of course been as solid as it gets this year and has allowed 13 runs of his last 26 innings of work (note that he's a perfect 6-0 with a minuscule 1.06 ERA in seven starts at Nationals Park). Colorado struggled to put runs on the board in Toronto and faces a buzzsaw in Zimmermann in the first game of this four game set. Oswalt comes into this contest in form; I definitely feel the table is set for these two competent starters to battle into the latter frames and for this one to sneak below the posted number.

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Jim Feist

Rays at Yankees
Pick: Over

Tampa Bay's road trip continues and the over is 10-4-1 in the Rays last 15 road games vs. a team with a winning record. Lefty Matt Moore got off to a great start but has hit a wall, with an 0-3 record and a 13.86 ERA his last three starts walking 11 in 12 innings! The over is 33-16-3 in the Rays last 52 overall and 14-6-3 over the total in Rays last 23 on grass. New York is a strong hitter's ball park and aging Andy Pettitte has a 4.26 ERA his last three starts, so look for an offensive show.

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Don Best ConsensusFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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New York Mets at Atlanta BravesFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: Atlanta BravesFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Braves are 4-0 in Minors last 4 starts as a home favorite.Braves are 6-2 in Minors last 8 starts vs. Mets. Braves are 5-0 in Minors last 5 starts with 4 days of rest. Braves are 8-0 in Minors last 8 Thursday starts.

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Bruce MarshallFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Boston Red Sox at Detroit TigersFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: Detroit TigersFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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If Detroit’s rookie starter Jose Alvarez is a s good as he looked in his MLB debut last week vs. Cleveland, then the Tigers should not fear their assignment tonight against the Red Sox at Comerica Park. Alvarez was superb in that outing vs. the Indians, allowing just one run and three hits while striking out seven over six innings in that 4-1 win over Cleveland on June 9, when he also took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Alvarez, recalled again from AAA with Anibal Sanchez now on the DL with an elbow injury, gets to face a Bosox lineup that has cooled over the past week, scoring just 27 runs in the last nine games, five of those being Boston losses. The Tigers, embarrassed by that 13-3 loss to the Orioles on Wednesday, will take their chances against Boston starter John Lackey, who has posted a mediocre 4.46 ERA on the road this season.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, June 20

Will RogersFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Mariners vs. AngelsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: UnderFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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I'm going with the Under as the Mariners and Angels wrap up a four-game set Thursday. Runs have certainly been scarce the last two games, one a 3-2 Seattle win and last night's 1-0 victory by LA.  I see this one going the same way as Seattle sends out Felix Hernandez to help their cause.
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Here are my keys to the game:FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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1. Hernandez - He is coming off back to back very strong outings.  Both times he went seven innings and he's allowed just one run total.  He's allowed only 10 hits in 14 innings during that time, including a shutout effort vs. Oakland last Saturday (that the bullpen nearly blew). But facts are facts. Hernandez has a shiny 1.74 ERA in nine road starts this season. Earlier this year, he turned in another quality outing facing the Angels. He went 8 innings and gave up only one earned run. Expecting a quality outing here is more than reasonable.
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2. Seattle Offense - The reason Hernandez doesn't have a better record is because Seattle's offense isn't very good.  They were shutout Wednesday after scoring only three runs each of the previous two days.  Over the last 13 games, the Mariners have scored a total of only 30 runs.  They have not scored more than four in any game during that time.
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3. X-Factor - Talk about a bunch of rally killers.  The Angels have grounded into 77 double plays this year, most in all of baseball.  That includes 11 in the last five games.

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Bryan PowerFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Seattle vs. LA AngelsFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: SeattleFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Felix Hernandez was once again at his best last time out, tossing seven scoreless innings in a 4-0 win over the previously red-hot A's. Now, he gets a second crack at facing an Angels team he's already shut down once earlier in the season. With King Felix available in this price range, I have no choice but to back the Mariners in this spot.
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Hernandez has actually been more effective on the road w/ a 1.74 ERA in nine starts. His WHIP is 0.952 as he's 6-2.  For the year, he is 8-4 in 15 starts with a 2.32 ERA and 1.032 WHIP.  In 9 of his last 12 starts, he's allowed 1 ER or less.  As I mentioned earlier, he had no problems with this anemic Angels lineup earlier in the season, holding them to two runs, only one earned, on five hits. He went eight innings.
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Last night saw the Angels prevail 1-0, giving them a leg up through the first three games of the series.  But over the last two games, they've scored only three times.  That kind of production won't cut it going up against Hernandez.  Don't even get me started on how awful Josh Hamilton (.210) has been this year.  Hernandez should have no problem shutting the Angels down in this series finale.

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Jesse SchuleFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Tampa Bay vs. NY YankeesFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: OverFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Yankees host Tampa today in the Bronx, after splitting a double-header with the Dodgers yesterday. The Rays have just two wins in their last eight games, but they avoided a sweep in Boston with a 6-2 win last night.
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Tampa will send 24 year old Matt Moore to the mound tonight, and after starting the season 8-0, he's really struggled losing three straight decisions. Moore (8-3, 4.12 ERA) allowed five runs on seven hits, while walking four over just 5 1/3 innings in a 7-2 loss to the Royals his last time out. He's been torched for 19 runs over 12 1/3 innings while losing his last three starts.
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Ichiro Suzuki is 4-for-10 lifetime versus Moore, while Robinson Cano is 4-for-12 with a home run.
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The Yankees hand the ball to 41 year old Andy Pettitte, and he's coming off a loss his last time out. Pettitte (5-4, 3.94 ERA) has pitched well enough this season when healthy, but he didn't miss many bats against the Angels, allowing four runs on 11 hits in a 5-2 loss his last time out. He only made it through 4 2/3 innings in his last start at Yankee Stadium, allowing four runs on seven hits in a 7-4 New York win over Cleveland.
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Ben Zobrist has really locked in against Pettitte, going 9-for-22 with a pair of home runs in his career.
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This doesn't exactly look like a pitcher's duel is in the works, and it seems likely that both teams will put a few runs on the board.

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Ray MonohanFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Seattle Mariners vs. Los Angeles AngelsFREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Seattle MarinersFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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King Felix Hernandez is doing it again, putting up great numbers but not getting as many wins as he deserves. When he takes the hill the Mariners are almost always the favourite so you can actually consider the -110 a value play because Hernandez is so consistent - 11 of 15 quality starts delivered. Seattle is 4-2 when he starts against the AL West and 6-3 when he starts on the road. His lone start against the Angels this year was a win in which he yielded just 1ER over 8 innings. Hernandez is one of the most reliable pitchers in the game, just because he loses some games doesn't mean you should bet against him.

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Matt FargoFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York YankeesFREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Tampa Bay RaysFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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We won with Tampa Bay in this spot last night and we will come back with the Rays once again tonight. The wins have been few and far between for Tampa Bay of late but the offense put up six runs last night which was the most runs they have scored over their last eight games and I expect that momentum to continue. Matt Moore got off to a great start this season with a 2.18 ERA through his first 11 starts but he has struggled mightily of late. He has posted a 13.86 ERA over his last three starts all of which have been worse than any of those first 11 outings. Facing the Yankees may not seem like the ideal solution but their offense has done nothing and their .239 average is second worst in the American League. The Rays are 7-1 in Moore's last eight road starts while the Yankees are 0-5 in their last five games against starters with a WHIP greater than 1.30. New York is coming off a doubleheader split yesterday against the Dodgers and going back further, it has dropped six of its last eight games, averaging just three rpg over that stretch. The pitching has not been much better and we should see that continue tonight as Andy Pettitte has not been pitching well. He has allowed nine runs in 19 innings since coming off the disabled list and he has really struggled at home, posting a 5.74 ERA and 1.69 WHIP in five starts with just one of those being a quality outing. He has a 5.40 ERA in his last five home starts against Tampa Bay.

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Steve MerrilFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Pittsburgh vs. CincinnatiFREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Under 8FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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The Pirates and Reds wrap up a series in Cincinnati on Thursday afternoon. Brandon Cumpton is looking to build of his home debut last time out against the Dodgers. In that game, he allowed 3 runs and seven hits in five innings. The righty has struck out five and walked just one. He’ll face a Reds team that is in one of their downturns offensively. They have scored just 15 total runs in their last six home games and just 22 total runs in their last eight games overall. They have gone Under the total in six straight games. The Pirates’ bullpen did get the loss on Wednesday, but they still have a solid 3.04 ERA and 1.19 WHIP on the year.
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Homer Bailey is 4-5 with a 3.80 ERA in 14 starts. He has dominated the Pirates going 8-2 with a 2.51 ERA in 12 career starts against them. This includes a no-hitter last September 28th in Pittsburgh. Pedro Alvarez (0-9), Clint Barmes (5-22), Jose Tabata (2-12) and Neil Walker (5-20) all have poor numbers against the Reds’ starter. Pittsburgh is hitting .227 on the road while scoring just 3.6 runs per game. The Reds’ bullpen is now 10-7 at home. These two teams have played 25 Unders in their last 37 meetings, including 6 of 9 games this season. We expect another low-scoring game between the Pirates and Reds on Thursday afternoon.

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Jimmy BoydFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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San Diego Padres -129FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Jason Marquis has been lethal in his career when facing the Dodgers. He has an 8-4 record with a 2.76 ERA and 1.126 WHIP. Marquis is on fire coming into this game going 3-0 in his last 3 starts with a 3.05 ERA. He has been getting some quality run support from is Padres teammates and I don't expect that to change considering they are at their best in division games batting .267 and scoring 4.4 runs per game.
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The Dodgers will have Stephen Fife getting the start today. Fife has seen limited action this season and his performances on the road have been horrible. He has a 5.58 ERA and 1.758 WHIP. The Dodgers bullpen has not been very good this season which makes the Padres an even stronger play considering Fife is averaging just 4.8 innings per start on the road.

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SPORTS WAGERSFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Miami +156 over SAN FRANCISCO (5 innings)SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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1st 5 innings. Chad Gaudin is a reliever that was pressed into an emergency start, which subsequently has turned into three straight starts, making this his fourth in a row in that role. The good news is that this career middle reliever come in with a 2.83 ERA. The bad news is pretty much everything else. The next question is, "Do we get hazard pay for looking at numbers like this?" In 787 career innings, Gaudin has walked 358 batters, has a 1.50 WHIP, a 4.52 career ERA, two saves and four blown saves and a 28% groundball rate, by far the lowest groundball mark of any pitcher with over 350 career innings. Gaudin is used to pitching to one or two batters and sometimes a full inning. Now he’s been asked to stretch out. Gaudin was whacked in his last start in Atlanta and although this is the Marlins, his chances of success remain as low as any starting pitcher in baseball.
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In seven starts for the Fish, Tom Koehler is 0-5 with a 5.09 ERA. Those are some of the most misleading numbers in the game and it’s due to an unreasonable 60% strand rate. Koehler has a very respectable 3.78 xERA. He also has an elite groundball rate of 53% in those seven starts and his fastball is up to 93.5 MPH. Koehler isn’t overpowering by any means but he does have above average offerings and can get hitters to chase his curveball. His repertoire consists of an 87-93 mph fastball that he generally locates to both sides of the plate, a cutter, curveball, and solid-average change-up. Koehler changes speeds well, but doesn’t have much deception in his delivery. He has the ingredients to be a durable, back-of-the-rotation starter. What we know for sure is that regardless of what happens in this game, fading Chad Gaudin at prices like this has tremendous profit potential over time.
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Tampa Bay +101 over N.Y. YANKEES (5 innings)SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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1st 5 innings. This same Yankees team would not be favored in this spot if they were wearing any other uniforms. The Yanks are close to being a complete mess. They do not have a single .300 hitter in the line-up. At least five of the nine hitters they will send to the plate today are batting under .240. Batting cleanup with either be Thomas Neal (.211 BA – 0HR’s, 2 RBI’s) or Vernon Wells and his .225 BA. The Yankees have sunk to third place in the AL East after a hot start and they’re likely going to be overtaken by both the Rays and Jays soon. Since coming off the GL to start on June 3, Andy Pettitte has been hammered in two of three starts by the Indians and Angels. In between those, Pettitte threw a gem at Seattle but that park could make Bob Barker look good. Pettitte is 41-years old and in one inning shy of 3200 career innings. His health, age, arm mileage and recent struggles all say he is never going to regain the form that made him one of the most reliable and big-game pitchers ever. Pettitte is now pure fade material pitching for this depleted Yankee squad.
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Matt Moore is starting to see his surface stats match his more wobbly skill base. His current 4.12 ERA is still lower than his 4.60 xERA. His control becomes extremely volatile when he pitches from a full windup but it's a lot better with runners on base, suggesting he’s an adjustment away from being the 8-0 pitcher with a 2.29 ERA that he was after his May 19th start, Earlier in the year, Moore faced the Yanks and a threw an eight-inning, two hit beauty. We’re not expecting anything like that but at least Moore has that game in his mind and you can expect him to be much better than his past few pitching lines.   
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Los Angeles +117 over SAN DIEGO (5 innings)SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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The Padres went on a serious run recently with 10 wins in 12 games but it appears to be over. San Diego is coming off back-to-back losses in San Francisco and with injuries to key starting personnel that include Everth Cabrera, Carlos Quentin, Cameron Maybin, Jedd Gyorko and Yonder Alonso, the Padres could be in trouble. With those injuries and Jason Marquis starting, San Diego is a huge risk as the favorite. Marquis has no value whatsoever. His skill set is worse than ever so don’t buy into that misleading 3.63 ERA. A true measure of his skills can be fund in Marquis's 5.34 xERA, which is one of the worst xERA's in the bg leagues. Marquis used to get by with a decent control rate decent but even that has abandoned him this year with 47 walks in 83 frames. He's maintaining his usual weak strikeout rate and his success so far has hinged entirely on an 81% strand rate. That won't last. Everything in Marquis' skill set screams to avoid. The combination of more walks, few K’s and more home runs spells some huge disasters down the road and it’s probably going to come sooner than later.
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Stephen Fife was a third round selection of the Red Sox in ’08 before being sent to Los Angeles at the trade deadline in ’11. He has all the potential in the world and reached the majors in ’12 and started five games. Fife offers a big and durable frame along with the ability to induce groundball outs. In 22 innings this season, his groundball rate is outstanding at 64%. He throws with loose arm action that gives him some projection, but he hasn’t realized his true velocity potential. He generally sits in the 88-93 mph range with his quality sinker and he can sometimes touch 95 if he has to. Fife works ahead in the count consistently and rarely puts hitters on base via the walk. He has 21 K’s and seven walks, which is a solid 3-1 ratio. An opportunity opened up for Fife at the beginning of this month and the kid has responded with three solid outings. Fife’s chances of out-pitching Marquis and leading after five frames are probably in the 80%/20% range. Wrong side favored.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, June 20

SCOTT DELANEY

My free winner for tonight is the Tampa Bay Rays, fresh off an upset in Boston, to get it done with their ace Matt Moore in Yankee Stadium against the New York Yankees.

I know Moore has struggled of late - he's seen his ERA rise from 2.18 to 4.12 over his last three starts - but this is a big game and I think he'll arrive for it. He also is looking to avenge previous outings in the Bronx, as he's allowed five earned runs in eight career innings at Yankee Stadium.

I'd rather take the plus-money over Andy Pettitte, who is looking to get back on track against the Rays after allowing four runs on a season-high 11 hits against the Angels last Friday. And I can't help but point out how the veteran southpaw has been inconsistent since coming off the disabled list, surrendering nine runs over 19 innings.

Take the road dog and list both.

4* TAMPA BAY

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, June 20

CHRIS JORDAN

My free winner is on the Boston Red Sox over the Detroit Tigers in American League action between division powers. The Red Sox lead the East, and the Tigers lead the Central. And while this one is in Motown, yes, I think the Red Sox are the better team right now and cannot rightfully back the Tigers.

Boston gets a chance to open the series with a win by jumping all over Jose Alvarez, who just recently made his MLB debut, and will struggle in a big game like this. I know Alvarez carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning of his Major League debut, but this is too big for him to perform.

Trust me on this, take the Red Sox.

4* BOSTON

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, June 20

BRETT ATKINS

My free play is on the Giants to destroy the Marlins tonight, as it's a good spot for a blowout by the defending World Series champions.

The Marlins have the fewest road wins in the majors, and even though there are some who like to believe their performances in the Bay Area will make a difference in this series. Miami is horrendous, while the Giants are contending for another division title.

So forget about the seven-game win streak the Marlins boast in Frisco, it's irrelevant. The Giants will avoid an eighth straight home loss to the Marlins, and I think the defending champs will do so with a four-run blowout - at least.

Miami can't even score, let alone win ball games, of late. The Marlins have scored just six times on meager 16 hits over their last three games.

Take the Giants in a rout tonight.

4* SAN FRANCISCO

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, June 20

JEFF BENTON

Your Thursday freebie is the Padres over the Dodgers.

San Diego has been cooled off just a little, as they have lost their last pair of games, but they are in a good spot tonight, as they are at home, and do catch the Dodgers fresh off playing a double-header at Yankee Stadium yesterday.

Have to believe that Los Angeles may be just a little jet-lagged when they hit the field tonight.

Jason Marquis is going for his 9th winning decision in a row, and his 4th in a row over the Dodgers. His team has also won 4 of the last 6 meetings in the series, and will go against Stephen Fife who is making just his 5th start of the season.

Fife's lone win thus far in the rotation comes at the expense of the Friars back on June 3rd. Look for the Padres to turn the tables tonight with Marquis once again baffling the tired LA bats.

Padres to win the weekend opener.

4* SAN DIEGO

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