Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, July 8

Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, July 8

DUNKEL INDEX

MLB

LA Dodgers at Arizona
The Diamondbacks look to take advantage of a Dodgers team that is 1-7 in its last 8 games in Arizona. Arizona is the pick (-110) according to Dunkel, which has the Diamondbacks favored by 1 1/2. Dunkel Pick: Arizona (-110)

Game 901-902: Washington at Philadelphia (7:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Washington (Haren) 16.287; Philadelphia (Lannan) 14.748
Dunkel Line: Washington by 1 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: Washington (-120); 9
Dunkel Pick: Washington (-120); Under

Game 903-904: Atlanta at Miami (7:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Atlanta (Minor) 14.923; Miami (Slowey) 15.842
Dunkel Line: Miami by 1; 9
Vegas Line: Atlanta (-170); 8
Dunkel Pick: Miami (+150); Over

Game 905-906: Cincinnati at Milwaukee (8:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Cincinnati (Bailey) 15.592; Milwaukee (Lohse) 14.097
Dunkel Line: Cincinnati by 1 1/2; 7
Vegas Line: Cincinnati (-140); 8
Dunkel Pick: Cincinnati (-140); Under

Game 907-908: LA Dodgers at Arizona (9:40 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: LA Dodgers (Greinke) 15.591; Arizona (Delgado) 16.711
Dunkel Line: Arizona by 1; 10
Vegas Line: Arizona (-110); 9
Dunkel Pick: Arizona (-110); Over

Game 909-910: Colorado at San Diego (10:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Colorado (Chatwood) 13.980; San Diego (Volquez) 12.876
Dunkel Line: Colorado by 1; 7
Vegas Line: San Diego (-130); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Colorado (+110); Under

Game 911-912: NY Mets at San Francisco (10:15 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: NY Mets (Harvey) 13.912; San Francisco (Lincecum) 14.787
Dunkel Line: San Francisco by 1; 8
Vegas Line: NY Mets (-125); 6 1/2
Dunkel Pick: San Francisco (+105); Over

Game 913-914: Texas at Baltimore (7:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Texas (Holland) 15.609; Baltimore (Feldman) 14.729
Dunkel Line: Texas by 1; 8
Vegas Line: Baltimore (-120); 9
Dunkel Pick: Texas (+100); Under

Game 915-916: Detroit at Cleveland (7:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Detroit (Scherzer) 15.714; Cleveland (Kazmir) 16.294
Dunkel Line: Cleveland by 1/2; 10
Vegas Line: Detroit (-165); 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Cleveland (+145); Over

Game 917-918: Kansas City at NY Yankees (7:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Kansas City (Guthrie) 14.995; NY Yankees (Hughes) 16.566
Dunkel Line: NY Yankees by 1 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: NY Yankees (-150); 9
Dunkel Pick: NY Yankees (-150); Under

Game 919-920: Minnesota at Tampa Bay (7:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Minnesota (Deduno) 15.724; Tampa Bay (Hernandez) 15.430
Dunkel Line: Minnesota by 1/2; 10
Vegas Line: Tampa Bay (-160); 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Minnesota (+140); Over

Game 921-922: Boston at Seattle (10:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Boston (Lester) 16.281; Seattle (Hernandez) 15.109
Dunkel Line: Boston by 1; 6
Vegas Line: Seattle (-110); 7
Dunkel Pick: Boston (-110); Under

Game 923-924: Oakland at Pittsburgh (7:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Oakland (Colon) 15.182; Pittsburgh (Locke) 16.592
Dunkel Line: Pittsburgh by 1 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: Pittsburgh (-120); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Pittsburgh (-120); Over

Game 925-925: Chicago Cubs at Chicago White Sox (8:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Cubs (Garza) 14.554; White Sox (Santiago) 15.409
Dunkel Line: Chicago White Sox by 1; 9
Vegas Line: Chicago White Sox (-110); 8
Dunkel Pick: Chicago White Sox (-110); Over

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N.Y. Mets -110 over SAN FRANCISCOFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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With a total of just 6½, we can’t recommend playing the Mets on the run-line but we surely can get on board with laying a small price with Matt Harvey opposing Tim Lincecum. Matt Harvey has flashed the second highest fastball velocity among starters at 95 mph, behind only Stephen Strasburg. He's more than a thrower though. His stats (2.26 ERA, 0.91 WHIP) are the product of these fantastic skills: 27/141 BB/K over 123 IP with a 43% groundball rate. What’s even scarier is that he’s getting better. Harvey’s line-drive rate over the past month was just 16% and his groundball rate increased to 45%. On the road, Harvey is 5-0 with an ERA of 2.36. He’s been equally as effective against both righties and lefties and overall, Harvey has a BAA of .194. Harvey is a gem and will face a Giants team that owns the league’s worst offensive numbers in several offensive categories over the past 50 games.
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Tim Lincecum posted a 3.60 ERA in five June starts, a marked improvement from his horrific May (6.37 ERA) but don’t let that ERA fool you into thinking that he’s corrected his problems. He has not. Lincecum’s 32% line-drive rate in June confirms just how lucky he was. Those hard hit balls, and there plenty of them, were hit right at people. That line-drive rate combined with a 1.55 WHIP over his last five starts is plenty of reason to steer clear of this former ace. Velocity loss combined with a complete lack of movement on his pitches makes it extremely unlikely that Lincecum will get back to his former levels. Even though the Mets are favored, with Harvey starting they’re undervalued here by a wide margin.
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PITTSBURGH -101 over OaklandFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Bartolo Colon story is still going strong but as we’ve pointed out in several posts this season, it cannot last. Over his last 36 innings, covering five starts, Colon is 4-1 with an ERA of 2.00. With 15 K’s in those 36 innings and a 36% groundball rate, how can that be? Colon is flashing the skills of guys that were sent down long ago. Colon’s xERA in his last start against the Cubbies was 6.47. His xERA over his last five starts was 4.89. Pitcher’s do not out-pitch their xERA by three runs over the course of a season but that’s where Colon stands right now. Colon is a sure thing for ERA regression and we’ll continue to fade him when he’s overpriced as he is here. Yeah, Oakland is playing very good but so are the Pirates. Colon favored on the road here is a bit preposterous.
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Jeff Locke is 8-1 with a 2.12 ERA and like Colon, regression is forthcoming. However, unlike Colon, Locke has flashed some elite skills that include a 52% groundball rate and a miniscule 14% line-drive rate over his last five starts. While Locke has below-average fastball velocity (90 mph), he has been able to keep hitters off balance due to his pitch movement. His four-seam fastball averages seven inches of horizontal movement and nine inches of vertical movement. Batters have managed only a .222 BA against that pitch and he’s been nothing short of brilliant against teams and hitter’s that have never seen him before. The A’s have never faced him and that has to work in Locke’s favor. 
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MILWAUKEE +126 over CincinnatiFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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We get to play an angle here that’s been a profitable one over the years and it’s also one that does not come up very often. The angle is to wager against a pitcher coming off a no-hitter and that applies to Homer Bailey. After about the fifth inning, pitchers that are throwing a no-no get a little more dialed in. Intensity increases after every batter. Focus intensifies too and by the seventh inning, every pitch to every batter is magnified. In the rare case that it does occur, the pitcher subsequently has to endure days of interviews, phone calls, email and text congratulation messages in which many of them have to be answered. A no-hitter takes a toll mentally and physically and to come back just five days later and pitch again is anti-climactic to say the least. To make matters more difficult, the Reds aren’t playing well, nor are they seeing the ball well.
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Over their past 20 games, Cincinnati is batting just .235 and have scored a meager 67 runs over that span. What’s even more disturbing about the Reds poor offensive showing is that they play half their games at one of the best hitter’s parks in the majors. In fact, over their past four home games, Cinci has faced Barry Zito, Aaron Harang, Joe Saunders and Jeremy Bonderman. That just might be the worst string of four consecutive pitchers in the history of MLB. The Reds scored twice off Zito, once off Joe Saunders and twice off Harang. In the unlikely event that Bailey does throw a good game, it still may not be enough because right now, the Reds are brutally awful. This is what fades are made of. Definite overlay.

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Craig Davis

As for today's free play I'm giving you the Chicago Cubs over the south-side White Sox as, believe it or not, the Cubbies are playing pretty good baseball and still not out of playoff contention in the NL Central.

Sure, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Cincy are sitting comfortably ahead of the Cubs in that division right now, but the north-siders have won six of their last 10 games including taking two of three from the team with the previous best record in baseball... the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Matt Garza (4-1, 3.45 ERA) gets the start for the Cubbies today, and he's trying to focus on the game at hand rather than all the media attention he's getting about which teams are pursuing him the hardest before the trade deadline.

He's pitching as well right now as he's pitched in his entire career, going 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA in his last four starts. He claims his name always comes up in trade rumors every year, but that can't concern him when he has a job to do.

Apparently it hasn't affected him recently because I honestly haven't seen him pitch like that... EVER.

Chicago has a team-record 11 wins in Interleague play this season, owning a 2.99 ERA while hitting 23 dingers in 17 games vs. the American League.

Unfortunately for the south-siders, they are headed in the opposite direction, dropping nine of their last 11 and just suffering a sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays. As ugly as it is, I must also tell you they've scored nine runs in their last five contests. Yuck!!

There's nothing to get excited about with the Chicago White Sox, and that's why I'm giving you the Chicago Cubs as your free play of the day.

2* CUBS

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Sean Michaels


Last time Texas and Baltimore met the Rangers lost in September Wildcard game. Time for revenge tonight at Camden Yards with Derek Holland on the hill.

Holland is coming off six innings of two-hit ball versus Seattle last Wednesday in a game where he fanned a season-high 10 batters. He's 3-0 in his last six road starts with a 2.40 ERA and the Rangers are 7-2 in his nine road outings this season.

The Rangers went 5-1 on their last road trip against the Cards and Yankees to improve to 24-18 outside of Arlington this season. And Holland has bested Baltimore in each of his last his last three starts against the O's while compiling a 1.42 ERA.

Baltimore needed a dramatic ninth-inning homer off Mariano Rivera yesterday at New York to snap a three-game skid that capped a disappointing 2-4 road trip in which the Orioles scored a total of 16 runs.

Ex-Ranger Scott Feldman, making his second start for Baltimore after being acquired from the Cubs, will try to stop his former mates again after pitching seven shutout innings against them back on May 6. But Texas has been hitting the ball of late (five or more runs in last four games) and has dominated this series (10-2 last 12 regular season meetings).

3* TEXAS

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Jeff Benton

Your Monday freebie is the Colorado Rockies in the underdog role at San Diego.

One of these teams is going to end their skid, as Colorado was just swept at Arizona in a three game set, and have dropped 6 of their last 7 overall. San Diego meanwhile is seeking to end a 9 game skid of their own.

Lean towards the visiting Rockies based on the season series results thus far, as Colorado swept a three game set in San Diego earlier this year and the Rockies have also won 8 of the 10 season series meetings this year against the Friars.

Tyler Chatwood will work against Edinson Volquez, and while Volquez has been steady of late, his ERA for the year is still over 5, and the last time he faced the Rockies, he could not get out of the 3rd inning, as he was hammered for 9 runs on 11 hits at Coors Field just last month.

Back Colorado to get a win before San Diego does.

3* COLORADO

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Marc Lawrence

Boston Red Sox at Seattle Mariners
Prediction: Boston Red Sox

When the Red Sox send Jon Lester to the mound against Felix Hernandez and the Mariners in Seattle in the opener of this four-game series Monday evening, Boston will do so knowing Lester has bagged the cash in each of his last three starts against the M's. With Seattle just 6-10 in it's last sixteen games against left-handers, and just 2-10 in it's last twelve home games behind Hernandez, look for the Red Sox to improve to 8-4 at night behind Lester this season. We recommend a 1-unit play on Boston.

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Jimmy Boyd

Los Angeles Dodgers -102

The Dodgers have won five of their last seven games and they are scoring an average of 6.4 runs per game with a .314 batting average during that time. They will have Zack Greinke getting the start today and he brings with him a 6-2 record on the season. In his 12 starts the Dodgers have a 9-3 record.

Randall Delgado will take the mound for Arizona. Delgado has limited experience this season with just four starts and a 1-2 record in those games. The Diamondbacks have a .259 batting average on the road, and I expect them to struggle when facing Greinke. With the Dodgers as hot as they are, winning 10 of their last 13 games, they should have no problems beating up on the Diamondbacks today.

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Rob Vinciletti

Nationals vs. Phillies
Play: Over 9

This game fits a nice totals system that has played over 9 of the last 11 times when playing the over for road favorites like the Nationals with a total that higher than 8 that scored 10 or more runs as a home favorite, and are taking on an opponent that scored 5 or more runs at home like the Phillies did in their win vs Atlanta. In the series here 5 of the 6 have flown over the total. Washington has averaged nearly 7 runs per game the past week and have played over 6 of the last 8 times as a road favorite in this range. The Phillies have gone over in 4 of the last 5 vs winning teams and 7 of 10 on Monday. When the total is 9 to 9.5 in their home games 3 of 4 this year have gone over the total. Dan Haren is back and makes the start for R. Detwiler who was placed on the D.L. Haren has been horrible on the road and has a 5.79 era in away games. Lannan goes for the Phillies and he has a medicore 4.76 home era and a bullpen with a home era over 5 following him up. Based on the systems angles and pitching we will recommend the over.

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Ray Monohan

Colorado Rockies +120

One of the reasons Colorado is in second and the Padres in last, in the NL west is the Rox 8-2 record against San Diego. The Padres are opening this series at home after flying cross country from Washington where the results were not great. Edinson Volquez in on the hill and the only positive thing you can say about him if that he is slightly less flammable at PetCo than on the road. He is 0-3 against Colorado this season and in two of those contests, one at home and one on the road, he didn’t even get through the 4th inning. Rox starter Tyler Chatwood is hardly scary but he has a 4-2 record and a 2.75 ERA. He has yet to face San Diego this season.

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Jeffrey Brandes

Cleveland Indians +150

Pitchers:
DETROIT TIGERS: MAX SCHERZER (R) ERA: 3.09 W/L: 13-0
CLEVELAND INDIANS: SCOTT KAZMIR (L) ERA: 4.87 W/L: 4-4

MAX SCHERZER is the first Major League starter since Roger Clemens in 1986 to start a season 13-0. He beat Cleveland twice in May with eight-inning outings.

SCOTT KAZMIR was charged with three runs on six hits in five innings of a no-decision against the Royals last Wednesday though two runs scored after his exit. The lefty is 1-0 with a 1.89 ERA in his last three starts. He's 4-0 with a 4.26 ERA at Progressive Field this season.

MAX SCHERZER would seem like the obvious choice but he can't continue at this pace forever. SCOTT KAZMIR is undefeated this year at home and very hot as of late. This looks like a great spot for the Indians to pull off the upset.

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Art Aronson

Mets vs. Giants
Play: Under 6½

Matt Harvey (7-2, 2.27 ERA) gets the call for the visitors; Harvey is coming off an outing to forget in which he gave up a season-high five runs while matching a season-high with nine hits allowed over his six frames of work in a 5-3 setback to the Diamondbacks on Wednesday. So is it time to hit the panic button if you're a Harvey fan? Obviously not. The 24-year old has just been named to the NL's starting rotation in the All-Star game and will take his ridiculous 5-0, 2.36 ERA road record into San Francisco to throw opposite Tim Lincecum (4-9, 4.66 ERA) who faced Homer Bailey and the Reds last time out, giving up three runs off six hits over 5 1/3's innings of work. It was a decent outing by any standards, but not enough obviously to overcome Bailey's eventual no-hit performance. Lincecum looks to get back on track in front of the home town crowd and improve upon his decent 3-3, 4.15 ERA record so far in San Francisco this season. Six of these teams last ten in the series have dipped below the posted number and with these two competent starters facing off in the opener of this three-game set, all signs point to this one following suit. Consider a second look at the "under".

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Steve Rosen

New York Mets -111

New York Mets ace Matt Harvey will try to enhance his chances of starting next week’s All-Star Game when he takes the mound in Monday’s series opener against the host San Francisco Giants. Harvey will be auditioning for Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who will select the National League's starting pitcher. The Mets have gone 13-9 in their last 22 games, while San Francisco has lost 11 of its last 13.

The Giants lost two of three against the Dodgers over the weekend and their struggling offense remains a concern. Right fielder Hunter Pence is mired in a 2-for-37 slump and third baseman Pablo Sandoval has three hits in his last 42 at-bats. The Mets’ offense has picked up since last month’s arrival of center fielder Eric Young Jr., who is hitting .300 with 10 RBIs in 18 games since being claimed off waivers.

Lincecum is 1-7 in his last nine starts, he's 3-3 at home and 3-9 at night.
Harvey on the other hand is 5-0 away and 3-1 at night!
The Giants have scored two runs or fewer in 12 of their last 16 games. And tonight will be no different.

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Bruce Marshall

Nationals at Phillies
Pick: Over

The Nats are pulling themselves back into the NL East race, but it sure helped this past weekend to be playing the skidding Padres, whom Washington swept. Things figure to get a bit tougher tonight in Philadelphia, especially since Dan Haren comes of of the DL to make his first start in over two weeks. Remember, Haren has struggled badly this season, with an 0-6 mark and 7.01 ERA in his last eight starts, with the Nats losing both of his previous outings vs. the Phils. Tonight Washington faces ex-Nat John Lannan, who has also been somewhat inconsistent for Charlie Manuel's team. The Phils are "over" 13-2 in their last 19 games, and the Nats "over" 5-1 their last six, and we suspect another high-scoring game is in the offing tonight at CBP.

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Jim Feist

Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks
Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers

The NL West is the weakest division in baseball, evidenced by all but the leading Diamondbacks having a sub .500 record. Still, the LA Dodgers are the hottest team in the division, winners of seven of their last 10 games after Saturday's win over the Giants, 4-1. The Diamondbacks are holding onto first place, now 4 1/2 ahead of 2nd place LA and have won five straight games after losing five straight. The Dodgers have been sparked by right fielder Yasiel Puig, who has electrified this club that was doing nothing prior to his arrival. Puig is hitting .407 in 31 games for LA with eight home runs. Zack Greinke will start for the Dodgers with a 3-0 mark in his last three games and a 6-2 overall record and 4.30 ERA. Randall Delgado will toe the rubber for the D'backs, posting a 1-2 mark in five games for Arizona. The Dodgers are 11-3 in their last 14 games and 8-3 against the NL West the last 10. LA has also won five of the last six of Greinke's starts. Small dog here or even on the Dodgers is too much to pass with the hottest team in the division.

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Jesse Schule

Oakland at Pittsburgh
Pick: Under

The Pirates return home after suffering consecutive losses to the Cubs at Wrigley, and they open a three game series against Oakland Monday night. Game 1 features Jeff Locke, who ranks second in the NL with an ERA of 2.12, opposite Bartolo Colon who is third in the A.L. in wins with 11, and fifth in ERA (2.78). The 40 year old Colon is coming off a loss, ending an eight game winning streak. Colon (11-3, 2.78 ERA) allowed just a pair of runs on over seven innings, but the A's lost 3-1 to the Cubs in his last start. Two of his three losses this season have come in afternoon games, and he's been far better under the lights. He's 7-1 with a 2.15 ERA in 10 starts at night. Locke (8-1, 2.12 ERA) has won five straight decisions, and the Pirates have won seven of his last 10 starts. He's still undefeated (4-0) an PNC Park this year, although his ERA is slightly higher at home. The Pirates have seen the total fall short of the number in eight of their last 10 home games in inter-league play, and with two of the hottest pitchers in the majors facing off in a ballpark that favors the pitcher, we expect to see another low scoring affair tonight.

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Larry Ness

Boston Red Sox at Seattle Mariners
Pick: Seattle Mariners

Boston beat the Angels 6-2 Friday night, earning its NINTH victory in 10 games. However, the Red Sox blew a four-run, ninth-inning lead Saturday night, before eventually losing 9-7 in 11 innings. The team then fell 3-0 last night on ESPN, getting held to just five hits.

"I still like this team. Tonight, we didn't create a whole lot for ourselves, but this is a team that continues to battle," manager John Farrell told the team's website after the series finale. "There's a lot of good at-bats. We're going to put a lot of people on base. Tonight just wasn't one of them." Boston now heads to Seattle for a four-game series, losers of EIGHT of its last 11 road games (plays Friday-Sunday at Oakland).

The Red Sox own the AL's best overall record (54-36), as well as a 4 1/2-game lead in the East but the team will be tested here on the West Coast in this final week prior to the All-Star break. Jon Lester gets the nod tonight, coming off a strong outing that snapped an eight-start stretch of shaky performances. He allowed one run in seven innings of a 2-1 win over San Diego, though he didn't get the decision

In his previous eight starts, Lester was 2-4 (team was 4-4), which isn't all bad considering he posted a 6.99 ERA in that eight-start stretch. Lester was a splendid 65-32 (.747) for Boston from 2008-11 but like the entire team, suffered a ‘meltdown’ in 2012, finishing 9-14 with a 4.82 ERA.

That looked like thing of the past, when he opened 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA over his first nine starts in 2013 (Red Sox were 7-2). However, Lester struggled badly for an eight-start stretch (see above) and one good start doesn't have me convinced "everything is OK!"

Seattle went 4-2 in visits to Texas and Cincinnati last week. "It's a real good trip for us," manager Eric Wedge told the team's official website. "I think we would have liked to have won one more, but you don't get greedy this time of year. You work hard to win series. Our guys fought hard and played pretty good baseball." The Mariners will be home all this week, first vs the Red Sox and then with three games vs the Angels.

"King Felix" is headed to his fourth All-Star game a week from Tuesday and takes the mound tonight. He's won his last three decisions but also has three no decisions since his last loss, with Seattle losing two of those three. He's 8-4 on the season but the Mariners are just 9-9 in his 18 starts. However, he remains a dominant pitcher, allowing 113 hits in 123.2 innings (130-24 KW ratio), while posting a 2.69 ERA.

Hernandez is 6-2 (3.18 ERA) in 12 career starts vs Boston (Mariners are 8-4) and I like him here vs a Boston team which is struggling on the road recently (3-8 its last 11).

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Will RogersFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Boston vs. SeattleFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: SeattleFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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One night removed from being shutout by Jered Weaver of the Angels, the Red Sox have the unenviable task of having to go up to Seattle and deal with Mariners ace Felix Hernandez.  This is no small order, even for the team with the best record in the American League. The Mariners are returning home from a 4-2 road trip that saw them take two of three from both the Rangers & Reds.
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Here are my keys to the game:FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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1.  Hernandez - King Felix seems to be in fine form once again. Though he didn't get the win either time, he is coming off back to back outings where he went seven innings and allowed only two runs.  For the year, he is 8-4 with a 2.69 ERA and 1.108 WHIP, but we all know the record would be better if he were to consistently get better run support.  Only once in the last two seasons has Hernandez faced Boston and he was spectacular in that one outing, tossing a complete game shutout with 13 strikeouts last June.
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2.  Jon Lester -  I think it's interesting that Lester enters Monday's game with the same 8-4 record as Hernandez, yet has an ERA nearly two full points higher.  The difference is he (Lester) gets plenty of run support typically, but w/ a 5.48 ERA on the road, he may need more than the Boston bats are able to produce against Hernandez.
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3.  X-Factor - This is the Red Sox' first West Coast road trip of the season.  With no rest and off the Sunday night game, I'd say they are at a significant disadvantage here.

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Bryan Power

Texas vs. Baltimore
Pick: Texas

All eyes will be on Scott Feldman Monday night as he makes his second start for the Orioles since being acquired from the Cubs, this one against his former team the Texas Rangers.  But it's the Rangers own Derek Holland who I believe will the steal the spotlight.  I'm backing the small underdog in this game...

Holland is having an exceptional season for Texas. He has a 3.13 ERA and 1.232 WHIP in 17 starts this year and has actually done his best work on the road where he's got a 7-2 TSR and 2.95 ERA (1.098 WHIP).  Last time out, he had 10 strikeouts, but the team lost 4-2 to Seattle at home.  But the start before that was a complete game shutout of the Yankees on the road.  In night time starts, his team start record is 9-3.  He has won the last three times he's started against Baltimore.

The Orioles were very lucky to escape Yankees Stadium with a win yesterday as Mariano Rivera blew the save opportunity, which does not happen often.  Prior to that, they'd lost three straight games.  Now they're running into a Rangers team that has won 12 of its last 17 games, including a 5-4 win over Houston Sunday.  I think Texas is the better team here, plus they have revenge from last year's Wild Card game.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, July 8

Tony George

NY Yankees -131

Kansas City is off a bad bad Sunday and now travel to NY.  They have won just 12 out of 51 at Yankees Stadium on the road.  Guthrie's last 3 starts have resulted in over a 7 ERA for KC.  Yankees had a 6 game win streak snapped by the O's on Sunday and will be ready for a win tonight.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, July 8

Ben Burns

Cubs vs. White Sox
Pick: White Sox

Burns is a perfect 5-0 with his last five free plays, games which had lines of -120, -104, -130, -120 and +100.

Today's Cubs/Chisox "make up" contest also falls in that range ...

The Cubs swept the Sox at Wrigley back in May. Not that they should need it, but that may give the Sox some added motivation here.

While he didn't get much in terms of run support, Santiago was very sharp last time out. Through seven innings, he limited the Orioles to two runs. He gave up just five hits while striking out nine. In 10 starts, he's quietly posted a solid 3.36 ERA and 1.261 WHIP. He gives up less than a home run per outing (7 in 10 games) and has 64 Ks in 56 innings as a starter.

Granted, Garza has been very good lately. Note that he's just 2-4 (teams were 2-6) with a poor 5.07 ERA and 1.556 WHIP in eight starts vs. the Sox though.

The Cubs, 21-40 (-17.2) the past couple of seasons, as road underdogs in the +100 to +125 range, haven't swept the season series vs. their crosstown rivals in 15 years. I have a hunch its not going to happen this year either. Consider the White Sox.

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