Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, June 21

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, June 21

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San Francisco Giants -158FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Marlins are 10-26 on the road this season and 13-40 in their last 53 road games dating back to last season. Ricky Nolasco has pitched well for the most part, but he's received no help from a poor offense. He's coming off a gem against the Cardinals, but the Marlins are 1-10 in his last 11 starts following a Quality Start in his last appearance. The Marlins are also 0-4 in his last 4 road starts and 1-5 in his last 6 starts in the second game of a series. The Giants are 54-19 in their last 73 games as a home favorite of -151 to -200. Tim Lincecum is no longer Cy Young-caliber, but the Giants are still winning with him on the hill. The Giants are 7-1 in Lincecum's last 8 starts in the second gameof a series, 7-2 in his last 9 starts versus a team with a losing record and 5-2 in his last 7 starts as a home favorite of -151 to -200. Take San Francisco.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, June 21

MLB Predictions

Houston Astros +164

The Astros are coming off of two straight series wins vs the White Sox and Brewers (5-2 over that span) which includes a 7-4 victory last night. They are just 28-46 on the season and 13-21 on the road, but will be facing one of the National League's worst teams in the Cubs who are 29-42 and 15-21 at home. Chicago is coming off a 7 game road trip where they managed to win the first two in New York against the Mets, but lost 4 of the last 5 to go 3-4 on the road trip. Over their last 5 games they've scored just 11 runs. Tonight's starter for Houston is Dallas Keuchel who is 4-3 on the year with a 4.23 ERA, .285 OBA and 1.45 WHIP. On the road he is 1-1 with a 2.66 ERA and in June he is 2-1 with a 1.96 ERA. Matt Garza will be on the rubber for Chicago and he is 1-1 with a 4.98 ERA over 6 starts. He has had two starts at home going 1-1 with a 8.25 ERA over those starts, and over 3 June starts he is 0-1 with a 8.10 ERA (although he is coming off 7 innings of shutout ball in New York). Take note that the Cubs are hitting just .232 against lefties as a team this season (22nd) and overall in June they are 30th with a team .203 batting average. Also note that the Astros are 5-2 in Keuchel's last 7 starts and 5-2 in his last 7 as an underdog. The Cubs are just 2-7 in their last 9 home games, 6-13 in Garza's last 19 starts overall, and 3-7 in Garza's last 10 vs a team with a losing record. Going against a lefty the Cubs shouldn't be favored by this much. I'll hop on the big afternoon underdog today.


New York Yankees -112

The Rays took the first of this series 8-3 last night which makes them 38-35 on the season and 17-19 on the road. The Yankees are 39-33 on the year and 20-15 at home despite some recent struggles. Tonight's pitching match up favors the Yankees big time in my opinion. The Rays have Roberto Hernandez going who is 4-7 on the year with a 5.02 ERA, .278 OBA and 1.38 WHIP. He is 1-4 on the road this year with 5.82 ERA and .298 OBA. He has three career starts at Yankee Stadium and over those starts his ERA is 7.88. Also note that over his las three starts he is 1-2 with a 5.50 ERA. The Yankees roughed up Hernandez in Tampa Bay for 5 earned runs over just 4 innings of work. On the other hand we have David Phelps on the mound for New York who is 4-4 with a 4.08 ERA, .244 OBA and 1.32 WHIP. He is 3-2 with a 4.15 ERA at home this year, which is nothing special but he held a 2.83 ERA at home last season over 16 appearances (7 starts). Over his last 3 starts he is 1-1 with a 2.50 ERA. He faced Hernandez in Tampa Bay and gave up 4 earned runs over 7.2 innings of work, and those runs all came after the Yankees were up 8-0 meaning he was probably trying to throw a lot of strikes. The Yankees won that game 9-4. Tampa Bay is 0-4 in Hernandez' last 4 as a road underdog, and just 2-6 in their last 8 following a win. The Yankees are 15-6 in their last 21 games as a home favorite of -110 to -150, 6-1 in Phelps' last 7 home starts and 5-0 in his last 5 starts vs divisional opponents. Overall the Yankees are 9-3 in his last 12 starts and he always seems to give the Yankees a chance to win. Take New York tonight to bounce back from a loss last night at a good price.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, June 21

Wunderdog

Washington at Phoenix
Pick: Phoenix -8.5

By record alone, Phoenix does not look to be a much improved team over a year ago at 3-4, but the schedule has something to say about that. They have a healthy Diana Turasi who is doing her thing, and sits atop the scoring leader board at 23.7points per game. They also have an enforcer inside with Brittney Griner who has made her presence felt, leading the league in blocked shots with 2.75 per contest. Washington is also an improved team at 4-2 on the season, but has yet to have a tough game on the road. The Mystics have been a dreadful 11-30-1 ATS in their last 42 on a pair of days rest, and 6-15 ATS in their last 21 encounters with the West. Lay the points and play this one on Phoenix.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, June 21

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Chicago White Sox + over Kansas City RoyalsFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Kansas City is 12-6 so far in June for one of the best records in baseball, creeping up towards .500. The Royals have consistently struggled against left-handed pitching this season however and that is an area where the White Sox bring a lot to the table. Kansas City has won just a third of its games against left-handed starters despite appearing to feature solid numbers at the plate in those matchups, posting just six wins against a southpaw starter all season. Kansas City has also scored three or fewer runs in eight of the last 11 games as the recent stretch of wins has been mainly thanks to strong pitching. The Royals own some of the best bullpen numbers in baseball but the losses Wednesday and Thursday both featured struggles in the relief innings. This will be the first game back at home after a seven-game road trip for the Royals and few players have significant experience against Hector Santaigo who has recently made the jump back to a starting role. Santiago has not allowed more than three runs in any of his eight starts this season and he has a 2:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio with numbers that are just as strong away from home. Jeremy Guthrie ran into a great run of success late last season with the Royals that carried into the first month of this season. The honeymoon appears to be over however as Guthrie has allowed five or more runs in four of his last seven starts while surrendering a substantial amount of hits. Last season's 3.16 ERA certainly looks like an aberration amongst his career numbers and in just one more inning pitched with the Royals this season compared with his time in Kansas City last season he has allowed 10 more hits and 10 more home runs while striking out 12 fewer batters and walking 12 more batters. The White Sox are not a great hitting team but they have power and Guthrie has allowed 19 home runs in 14 starts this season.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, June 21

Jeff Alexander

LA Angels -162

There's a reason the Angels are this large of a favorite against a team with 10 more wins. That reason is Jered Weaver. The Halos have quietly won 6 of 8 and will have an excellent opportunity to keep streaking considering they are 6-0 in Weaver's last 6 interleague starts. The Angels are an impressive 80-39 in their last 119 interleague games. The Pirates are 12-53 in their last 65 interleague road games and 8-31 in their last 39 versus AL West opponents. The Pirates are 0-4 in their last 4 road meetings versus the Angels. Bet the Halos.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, June 21

Jack Jones

Kansas City Royals -132

Jeremy Guthrie remains one of the most underrated starters in the league. He has been nothing short of brilliant since joining the Royals last season. The White Sox have lost seven of their last eight games coming into this one.

Guthrie has gone 7-4 with a 3.72 ERA in 14 starts this season. He has been virtually untouchable at home, going 5-1 with a 2.79 ERA and 1.071 WHIP in six starts. Guthrie has only allowed 13 earned runs over 42 innings at home this year.

He has also had a lot of success against Chicago in his past. Guthrie is 6-5 with a 2.97 ERA and 1.073 WHIP in 16 career starts against the White Sox. In his last two starts against Chicago, both of which have come this season, Guthrie is 2-0 with a miniscule 0.60 ERA while allowing 1 earned run over 15 innings.

Chicago is 5-17 in its last 22 games overall. The White Sox are 3-13 in their last 16 games following a loss. The Royals are 10-1 in their last 11 games vs. a starter with a WHIP greater than 1.30. Kansas City is 12-1 in Guthrie's last 13 home starts. Bet the Royals Friday.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, June 21

Chris Jordan

My free winner for Friday night is on the Toronto Blue Jays, laying a cheap price to the Baltimore Orioles, as the American League East rivals open up a weekend set at Rogers Centre, where the Jays have been scorching hot.

I won't insist on listing pitchers in this game, but I will say I don't mind the fact R.A. Dickey is toeing the slab for the Jays tonight. The right-handed kncukleballer is in after struggling with movement of his specialty pitch in his last start versus the explosive Rangers, yet his poise still helped him limit Texas' lineup to just one run over 5-2/3 innings.

Back at home now, I like Dickey's chances to rebound nicely, as he's facing a struggling right-hander in Jason Hammel, who has posted an 0-2 mark and 6.32 ERA over his last three outings for the Orioles. That doesn't bode well for Baltimore's northpaw, as the Jays have won eight straight games.

The momentum is perfect timing too, as the Orioles have won four of their seven meetings with Toronto this season.

5♦ TORONTO

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, June 21

Craig Davis

Friday night free play will be the New York Yankees over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Believe it or not, the Yankees are the league's worst offense after Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira have gone back on the DL. New York is batting just .216 while scoring 71 runs since May 25... and they've gone just 9-15 since that point.

Give them credit for at least hanging around during that time period, but overall this team just isn't the same as when their stars are healthy.

After hitting .301 with 10 homers through May 15, Vernon Wells has batted .118 without a home run in 29 games. Travis Hafner has hit .105 since Granderson's trip to the DL, though he has 11 home runs on the season.

It's kinda like these veterans had something to prove early and carried the Yankees offense for a while. But the "newness factor" has worn off and now they are returning to old form. Not good.

Last night Evan Longoria homered twice for Tampa Bay, just one night after posting three hits in a 6-2 win vs. Boston. But he hasn't been able to get his teammates to follow his lead as this Tampa offense has been fairly bad too.

Just a .199 batting average with two runs per game over a 1-6 stretch in seven games before two straight wins in their last two.

David Phelps (4-4, 4.08) will shoot for another win against Roberto Hernandez after facing off against him last month.

Phelps allowed just one run and four hits through his first 12 innings of June and continues to be a pleasant surprise for the Bronx Bombers.

Even though Tampa holds a 4-3 series lead over the Yankees this year, I'm taking New York to bounce back at home tonight as your free play of the day.

3♦ N.Y. YANKEES

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, June 21

Scott Delaney

My free play for tonight is on the Kansas City Royals over the Chicago White Sox, as I think it's worth it to lay the big price on the home team in this American League Central Division rivalry.

Forget about the pitching mismatch, as the Royals hand the ball to Jeremy Guthrie and the White Sox hand the ball to Hector Santiago - this has nothing to do with it.

Quite simply, and real quickly, this has to do with the White Sox mired in a three-game losing streak and the fact they've lost seven of their last eight games. The South Siders were just swept by the Minnesota Twins, and now have to go into Kansas City, where things aren't going to be any easier.

The White Sox have been bleak on offense, ranking near the bottom of the American League in hits, runs and batting average. That doesn't bode well against a Kansas City team that has allowed the fewest earned runs on the junior circuit, with 234.

Take the Royals in this series opener.

5♦ KANSAS CITY

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, June 21

Brad Wilton

My free play for Friday is the underdog Pirates to get the win against the Angels.

Jered Weaver has been rocked in his last pair of starts, and he is going up against rookie Gerrit Cole who grew up pretty darn close to Anaheim, pitching both in high school and in college in southern California.

Cole is off to a 2-0 start in his young career, and I expect him to be extra jacked-up as he makes the start so close to where he grew up.

The Halos have won 6 of their last 8 games, but they are still well under the .500 mark for the year, while the Bucs come into this game a full 13 games over .500 and very much in contention for a postseason spot as we head to the All-Star break.

I like the value Cole and the underdog Pirates bring to the table tonight.

Take Pittsburgh.

2♦ PITTSBURGH

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, June 21

Brett Atkins

My free winner is on the Seattle Mariners over the Oakland Athletics, as I delve into American League West action, and I want you listing both pitchers in this one, as I like Hisashi Iwakuma in revenge over Bartolo Colon, who won his only start against the Mariners this season, back on June 16 against Seattle's Tokyo-import. While Colon allowed two runs on eight hits in seven innings pitched, Iwakuma gave up four earned runs and eight hits over five innings.

Now I know Oakland's veteran right-hander is 5-2 with a 3.12 ERA on the road and is 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA in three June starts, but this is going to be a tough one for him, as I think Seattle's crafty northpaw will be out for revenge.

Those five innings tossed on Sunday matched his shortest outing of the season, as he fell to 7-2 on what has been an All-Star-caliber season thus far.

List both and play the Mariners.

5♦ SEATTLE

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, June 21

Joe Gavazzi

Pittsburgh +145

LAA came from 7 down vs. King Felix to beat us last night 10-9 for their 6th win in 8 starts. But this line is based on perception rather than reality. That reality includes a 33-40 record for the Angels who send Weaver to the mound with a record of 1-3 and 4.41 ERA. In his first 2 starts off the DL (broken elbow), Weaver looked solid. But he has busted in his last 2 outings allowing 9 runs in 11 2/3 IP. Following a split with the Reds, Pittsburgh enters on an 8-5 run, 43-30 for the season. IN his 1st 2 MLB starts, Cole showed command, control and poise well beyond his 22 years. Now, he returns to his home town for his first road start. In a pair of home outings, Cole allowed 5 runs on 14 hits in 12 IP with a 3/0 KBB. Play the Pirates as big dog at a value price.

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