Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 19

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 19

Joe Gavazzi

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Toronto Blue Jays
Play: Tampa Bay Rays

We continue to back Tampa Bay who was very good to us in their first half finish of 17-4 and 14-2. Rays starters have recorded 15 consecutive quality starts with a 1.91 ERA. In 3 starts since returning from the DL, Price has been a part of that. He has gone 2-1 with an 0.98 ERA including a pair of complete games. At this time, Price is 6-0 with a 3.38 ERA. After their 11-0 streak in June, Toronto finished the first half of the season on a 7-13 slide. Rogers was a part of that going 0-2 with a 4.70 ERA in his last 4 starts. Run line players take note: 44/55 Tampa Bay wins have come by 2 or more runs including 20/21 away. Consider making part of your wager on the run line.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 19

Alex Smart Sports

Oakland Athletics vs. Los Angeles Angels
Play: Los Angeles Angels

Athletics enter into this road tilt against their rivals the Angels having lost the cash for their betting backers in Griffins last 5 road starts. Angels have been money in the bank when their starter today goes to the hill in front of his home town fans against a quality opponent as is evident by a 40-17 mark in Weavers last 57 home starts vs. a team with a winning record. The veteran hurler is 4-0 in his last 4 starts vs. Athletics. LA Angels to win on the moneyline

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 19

Jack Jones

Los Angeles Angels -127

The Los Angeles Angels are showing excellent value as a small home favorite over the Oakland A's tonight. The Angels made a decent run over the past month or so to get back to 44-49 on the season, and now they must keep the pedal to the metal if they want any chance of making the postseason.

Rarely will you ever get Los Angeles ace Jered Weaver at this kind of price when pitching at home. Weaver is having another solid season, going 3-5 with a 3.63 ERA and 1.224 WHIP in 11 starts, including 3-2 with a 2.87 ERA and 1.195 WHIP in six home starts.

Weaver has absolutely owned Oakland throughout his career. The right-hander has gone 9-7 with a 2.36 ERA and 1.044 WHIP in 24 career starts against the A's. In his last two starts against Oakland, Weaver has gone 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA while pitching 16 shutout innings and allowing only 7 base runners in the process.

The Angels are 23-5 in Weaver's last 28 starts as a home favorite of -110 to -150. Los Angeles is 41-13 in Weaver's last 54 home starts. The Angels are 4-0 in Weaver's last 4 starts vs. A's, and 5-1 in Weaver's last 6 home starts vs. Oakland. Bet the Angels Friday.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 19

Steve Janus

Colorado Rockies -147

This may seem like a large a price to lay on the Rockies, but I strongly feel they are worth a small bet at home tonight. Colorado will send out lefty Jorge De La Rosa, who is 5-1 with a 3.15 ERA at home. The Rockies are an impressive 7-1 as a team in De La Rosa's eight home starts. On top of that, he's a perfect 3-0 with a 2.59 ERA in four career starts vs the Cubs. Chicago hitting just .233 with a .290 OBP in 37 games vs left-handed starters.

We also find some value here going against the struggling Jeff Samardzija, who has allowed 14 runs on 18 hits in his last two starts. Clearly something isn't right with the hard-throwing ace of the Cubs. The last place you want to start when things aren't going right is Coors Field and it gets even harder for Samardzija considering he's never started at Colorado.

Chicago is a miserable 1-18 in road games against NL West opponents over the last two seasons, while De La Rosa is 12-1 at home over the last 3 seasons and a perfect 9-0 at home with a total of 8.5 to 10 during that same stretch.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 19

SPORTS WAGERSFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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HOUSTON/Seattle over 8½ -110FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Joe Saunders’ 50% groundball rate this season is the best percentage that he’s ever posted over his career.  While that groundball rate growth is nice, it still only brings him up to mediocrity. Saunders has a lousy 33/61 BB/K split over 115 frames. His 1.40 WHIP and .283 BAA are both further proof that Saunders hasn’t discovered anything new. He’s also benefitted from pitching at Seattle’s Safeco Field. On the road, Saunders is 3-5 with a 5.28 ERA and 1.61 WHIP. He’s allowed 79 hits in 59.2 road innings while issuing 18 walks and striking out 24. The M’s have won Saunders’ last three starts but he had a ridiculous 89% strand rate over that span. Truth is, this is a marginal skill set at best, making Joe Saunders on the road, an implosion waiting to happen.
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In 11 home starts this season, Bud Norris is 4-3 with a 2.27 ERA in 71.1 IP. Don’t buy into those numbers for a second because Norris’s profile has more warning signs than swimming in Lake Ontario. Norris’s one weapon from previous years, the strikeout, has fallen off and the results tell us the caliber of pitcher he is without it. Recent back problems may have hastened the decline, but it was equally unimpressive in April. Pitching to lefties has never been his specialty, and he's getting pounded especially hard this year. We can't blame the results on a small sample size either (230 LHB total batters faced vs. 211 RHB). Left-handed hitters have batted .322 against Norris this year with a .378 OBP, a .491 SLG% and a .868 OPS. Those are sick numbers and that’s a big problem here against the M’s because of the nine hitters in Seattle’s line-up, seven or eight will bat left. Some serious ERA regression is coming in Norris’s second half and it’s time to capitalize on it.     
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L.A. ANGELS -1½ +165 over OaklandFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Enough is enough already and it’s time to stop the madness regarding the Oakland Athletics. The A’s .245 team batting average is the fourth worst in the AL and it’s also .001 points ahead of the Mariners .244 team batting average. In the AL, Oakland’s BA is ahead of only the Mariners, Yankees and Astros. Prior to the break, Oakland took two of three from Boston but had just 16 total hits in the three games. Prior to that series, Oakland had 13 hits in three games against the Pirates. The A’s are not going to keep winning with four hits a game. The baseball gods have been on the A’s side in the first half but it’s unsustainable. The A’s are not even an average team, they are below average and their second half record will prove so. Then there’s A.J. Griffin and his 8-6 record with a 3.68 ERA. That’s nice but like the team he pitches for, Griffin too, is bordering on average. Control is Griffin’s best asset but he also misses bats reasonably well with 94 K’s in 122 innings. However, Griffin has a 33%/49% groundball/fly-ball profile. He’s benefitted greatly from pitching at home but on the road, he is just 4-4 with a 3.94 ERA and an xERA of 5.22. He’s also given up 12 jacks in 61 road innings and that’s what happens at other parks with a huge fly-ball bias profile. 
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If you’re a regular reader of this space than you’re aware we’re not big supporters of Jered Weaver. This guy has been overvalued for years but in this case he’s not. As we start the second half, it’s the A’s misleading record that has this visitor way overvalued and they will be high on our fade list until the prices dictate otherwise. This one is all about fading the A’s weak lineup and with a nice take-back spotting the runs, the reward is worth the risk.   
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Chicago +135 over COLORADOFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Cubbies are playing some pretty good ball. They earned a split in a four-game set with the Cardinals before the break and have won 11 of their past 18 games. Jeff Samardzija has been whacked in his last two starts but he faced a hot-hitting Angels’ squad that took him yard four times but it should be of little concern because he was throwing well. Samardzija has some of the best skills in the league with 128 K’s in 124 frames to go along with a 50% groundball rate. Current Rockies have just 13 hits in 59 career AB’s (.220) against Samardzija and it would be of no surprise to see him thrive again to start the second half.
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Before missing almost all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, Jorge De La Rosa fell into the category of pitchers who were "one skill away" from turning the corner and becoming truly profitable. That one skill in De La Rosa's case was control. So far this season, the lefty has limited walks and improved results have followed but De la Rosa's post-TJ surgery skill set raises questions. His control has improved but at the expense of strikeouts. De la Rosa's improved ERA is a product of a lucky 81% strand rate. His hr/f is well below the levels established in two prior full seasons. By all accounts, De La Rosa is fully healthy again and his surface numbers are encouraging. But below the surface, a marginal strikeout rate, an historically low HR/9 rate and a reliance on stranding base runners raise questions about his ability to maintain the level of performance he's displayed so far. And if his control abandons him (4 walks and 4 K’s in his last start in 5 IP) there's a real potential for his second half to turn ugly. The window of opportunity to sell high on De La Rosa may not be open long so we’ll look to take advantage now.
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BOSTON -1½ +125 over N.Y. YankeesFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Yankees are a team in trouble. You’ll usually find that after the break the pretenders go away quietly and that’s precisely what we expect from this makeshift Yankees lineup. The Yanks limped into the break by losing two of three at home to the Twins, a team they previously slaughtered every time they played them. In that three-game set, the Yanks scored seven runs against the league’s worst starting staff. The Pinstripes have scored two runs or less in five of their last eight. Andy Pettitte’s career is winding down and we’ll continue to fade his struggling 41-year old arm that has over 3200 career innings in the regular season and 276 playoff innings. In his last start, Pettitte struck out one batter in six innings. Over his last three starts, he’s struck out seven in 16.1 frames. Overall Pettitte has a 4.39 ERA but an xERA of 5.30 over his last three starts to go along with a 1.57 WHIP tells us that he’s a huge second half risk.
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Meanwhile, Felix Doubront has a 1.91 ERA over his last five starts and has thrown four pure quality starts in the process. He has been outstanding against the Yankees over the last two seasons, as all five of his starts against them have been what we call dominant. The Yankees do not hit left-handed pitching well (.235 BA and .649 OPS). Doubront has posted some of the best skills of any starter the second and third time he goes through lineups (55% groundball rate and an elite strikeout rate) so the key is to get to him early when he’s inconsistent with his control. However, we’re not sure the Yanks are capable of getting to anyone early right now, especially a guy like Doubront, who possesses some nasty stuff. For the Red Sox, this is the perfect way to begin the second half, against a banged up Yankees team that is more ripe to get beat than they’ve been in a very long time.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 19

Jeffrey Brandes

Tampa Bay Rays -130

Pitchers:
TAMPA BAY RAYS: DAVID PRICE (L) ERA: 3.94 W/L: 3-5
TORONTO BLUE JAYS: ESMIL ROGERS (R) ERA: 3.27 W/L: 2-2

DAVID PRICE spent more than a month on the disabled list. But since his return, the left-hander has been dominant. The Cy Young winner tossed two straight complete games, allowing only three earned runs while striking out 18 in 25 innings since his return.

ESMIL ROGERS last pitched against Cleveland on July 10 and took a no-decision, despite pitching six innings of one-run ball, allowing only four hits and three walks with seven strikeouts. He has a 3.27 ERA as a starter, with one tough start in which he allowed seven earned runs against the Tigers.

Key Trends:
Tampa Bay is 10-1 SU in its last 11 games
Tampa Bay is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games on the road
Tampa Bay is 15-7 SU in its last 22 games when playing Toronto
Toronto is 2-4 SU in its last 6 games
Toronto is 2-4 SU in its last 6 games at home

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 19

Dave Price

Atlanta Braves -119

The Braves are showing value at this price against a Chicago club that has lost 13 of 18 overall and 7 of 9 at home. Tim Hudson has struggled on the road, but he shut down the Phillies in his last road start and he typically shines in July. The Braves are 31-16 in his starts since the beginning of last season. Also, his teams are 46-18 all-time in his July starts. The White Sox have dropped 6 of their last 9 with John Danks on the mound, and they are 3-16 in his last 19 Friday starts. Take Atlanta.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 19

Wunderdog

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati
Pick: Cincinnati -117

There is no doubt that the Pittsburgh Pirates have turned the corner. They must overcome the collapses they have experienced in the last two years where they had consecutive productive first halves. The challenge will be great in this series, as Cincinnati has put together a 30-16 mark at home where they have played well all season. Francisco Liriano has returned to his rookie season form, but has a career 0-2 mark vs. the Reds. Mike Leake has allowed 3 runs or less in 10 of his last 11 starts lowering his ERA to 2.69, and improving his season mark to 8-4. The Pirates are 91-210 in their last 301 games vs. a winning team, while the Reds are 40-19 in their last 59 as a favorite. Make the play on Cincinnati.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 19

Craig Davis

Free play of the day on the Baltimore Orioles over the Texas Rangers as they begin a three-game weekend set at the Ballpark.

Wei-Yin Chen (4-3, 2.82 ERA) gets the start for the Orioles and it should help having him on the mound to get this series started off the right way for the Birds.

He's a good sized lefty who has won both of his career starts against Texas including a 1.23 ERA after. In his last start against Texas Chen allowed one run and three hits in seven innings back on July 10.

Considering that that was his first outing after missing nearly two months with a strained right oblique, I'd say he didn't develop any rust with his time off.

The Rangers closed the first half of the season by losing four of their last five games... and it's no surprise considering they have 10 players on the disabled list.

Chris Davis is hitting everything right now and he'll surely be able to help his pitcher with some run support today in this launching pad.

Take the O's as your free play of the day.

2♦ BALTIMORE

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 19

Jeff Benton

Your Friday freebie is to play the Under in the Phillies-Mets meeting.

Both teams went to the break getting solid pitching, and playing them on the lower side of things, as Philly has held Under the total in their last pair of games, and 6 of their last 7 games overall to start up the second half.

As for the Mets, they have been Under the total in 3 in a row to reach the All-Star break.

Kyle Kendrick is 3-1 with an under 2 ERA in his last 4 starts at Citi Field, while his counterpart Jeremy Hefner is on a 3-0 run his last 6 starts, and also sports an ERA under 2.

The Under is 7-3 the last 10 times Kendrick has started against the Mets, while the Under is also 2-1 Kendrick's last 3 starts overall.

As for Hefner, the Under has connected in each of his last pair of starts, and the Under is an overall 5-1 the last 6 times Hefner has made the start.

Bats slow to start here in the first game of the second half, take the Under in the Phillies-Mets for Friday night.

2♦ PHILADELPHIA-N.Y. METS UNDER

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 19

Brad Wilton

7-1 run with my comp plays, and Friday night I will look for the Yankees and the Red Sox to play Over the total in their big division rivalry meeting at Fenway Park.

This play is all about Andy Pettitte's inability to limit the offense, as the aged-vet comes into this start having allowed a rather large 25 total runs, and 49 hits his last 37 innings of work. Not surprisingly, the Over is on a 4-0-1 run the last 5 times he has made the start.

Boston's Felix Doubront has found a rhythm, as he is 2-0 his last 3 starts with an ERA just over 2, but he does own an ERA over 4 for his night starts this year, and his season ERA is also still quite close to 4.

Get the feeling the Red Sox are going to get their licks in against the struggling Pettitte, and the Yanks will also have some success against Doubront.

I am playing this Yankees-Red Sox contest Over the total on Friday night.

3♦ N.Y. YANKEES-BOSTON OVER

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 19

Brett Atkins

My complimentary winner for tonight is on the L.A. Angels with Jeff Weaver over the Oakland Athletics and A.J. Griffin, as the two American League West rivals open the second half of the season in an important series in Anaheim.

I really I can't stand the way that sounds - as a side note, a team called L.A. playing in Anaheim - but I do like the value I see with the Angels and their ace right-hander.

I know Weaver is 3-5 this season, with a 3.63 ERA, but he's been much better over the past month and a half. In fact, he was settling into a very nice groove, allowing two runs in a 20 2/3-inning stretch over three starts, but the northpaw was tagged for four runs in 5-2/3 innings in a loss at Safeco Field to finish the first half.

There's a sense of pride with this guy, who pitches so much better at home, where his father still attends every start, and still meets with him about every start after the game. That's a fact, and he just seems to fare well at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, in big games.

As for Griffin, I know he's been pitching well and I know he's pitched spectacular against the Halos, but the due theory is in effect for me with this game, as I believe we're going to see the Angels finally get to him.

3♦ L.A. ANGELS

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 19

Chris Jordan

My free winner in Major League Baseball tonight is the Cleveland Indians over the Minnesota Twins, and in this game I want you listing Scott Kazmir ONLY, over the Twinkies.

I really like the way the Cleveland left-hander has looked the past month, and with a chance to take a breather and get ready for the second half, while soaking up his success, I think Kazmir will be ready to help the Tribe make a run.

In five outings since June 21, spanning five starts, Kazmir is a perfect 2-0 with a 2.32 ERA. Over that span, the southpaw has struck out 25 and walked just seven in 31 innings. Kazmir has done a good job at keeping the ball in the yard, limiting foes to just two home runs and a bleak .182 average during that stretch.

He's a mediocre 4-4 with a 3.71 ERA lifetime against the Twins, but that doesn't bother me. He'll have his best stuff for in Minnesota tonight.

Take Cleveland

1♦ CLEVELAND

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 19

Scott Delaney

My complimentary winner for Friday night is on the Detroit Tigers against the Kansas City Royals, and it's going to be straight action with this game, as I don't want you listing either pitcher.

The reason I don't care about either Anibal Sanchez or Ervin Santana is because both have too much work for themselves, and I wouldn't necessarily mind if either is scratched, and could care less about who is on the mound. This is about which is the better team, and who needs to start off the second half in better shape: the Tigers.

Though the Royals hold a 3-2 advantage over the Tigers this season, the boys of bankrupt-Motown have an eight-game lead over the Royalsin the American League Central. And the Royals come into this weekend series after suffering through a five-game losing streak before the break, a skid that dropped them to six games under .500.

I'm going to look for a big series by Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera, who leads the Major Leagues with 132 hits through 94 games. Take Detroit tonight and don't bother listing either pitcher.

2♦ DETROIT

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