Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 26

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 26

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St. Louis at AtlantaFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: St. Louis -109FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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St. Louis may be the most complete team in baseball, and their record is certainly evidence of that. They are in a good spot behind Adam Wainright in this one. Wainwright had an off year last season after returning from arm surgery. He has built the arm strength back up, and once again is amongst the elite in the game. He has allowed 3 runs or less in 17 of 21 starts, and the Cardinals find themselves in every game in which he takes the mound. Opponents have scored a grand total of 60 runs in the 21 starts - less than 3 per contest, while the Cards' offense has delivered 114. Atlanta got off to a big start, but has been a .500 team since. The Braves have been miserable against qulity pitching, posting a woeful 1-8 mark in their last 9 vs. a pitcher with a WHIP of less than 1.15. Play on St. Louis.

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SPORTS WAGERSFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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WINNIPEG +5 over CalgaryFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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There are just too many questions marks surrounding this game to trust any bet and therefore we’ll sit it out. The identity of Calgary’s quarterback - Drew Tate or Bo Levi Mitchell is a game-time decision based on the performance of Tate’s wonky throwing arm in the warm-up. Mitchell remains on track to start for the Stampeders, but a final decision will be made before kickoff. If Mitchell does go, and our sense is that he will, it will be his first CFL start and not many before him have had success in their first start. Calgary coach, John Hufnagel is not confirming anything but we trust that’s just a ploy to get the Bombers focus off one or the other. In other words, Hufnagel is trying to get Winnipeg to prepare for both. Given his lack of steady playing time, Mitchell is an enigma, of sorts, for the Winnipeg defense.
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Winnipeg has locked in backup Justin Goltz for this game.  Regular Winnipeg starter Buck Pierce didn’t seem too pleased with the decision Thursday not that he didn’t wish Goltz well, but he said he feels healthy enough to play. Bombers head coach Tim Burke dismissed any suggestion the decision not to start him was related to anything other than his health. “If he was healthy, he’d be starting, but he’s not so he isn’t,” the coach said, suggesting that Pierce will insist he’s healthy enough to play “as long as he’s breathing.” Goltz came in last week against the Argos and finished the game for Pierce and acquitted himself pretty well, completing 13 of 15 passes for 170 yards. However, the game was out of reach at that point and so his numbers came in junk time. This is Goltz’s fourth season with the Bombers but first start. He was always No. 3 on the backup depth chart behind Alex Brink and Joey Elliott, both cut by the Bombers in the off-season, so it’s difficult to have any faith in him. This game can really go any way but we would feel very foolish if it’s a blowout and we’re on the wrong side. The home dog is 0-4 this year while the favorites are 13-4 against the number. That discrepancy will eventually even out but in this game, we can’t trust the Bombers to come up big with an unproven QB. Hold a gun to our heads and we’d take the points because a rookie making his first start at QB can’t be trusted either. To take any position in this contest is too risky and therefore we’ll pass.

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SPORTS WAGERSFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Milwaukee +131 over COLORADOFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Rockies just lost three of four games to the Marlins at Coors Field and scored eight times in those four contests. The Rockies have scored one run or less in eight of their past 17 games and three runs or less in 13 of their past 17. To take that even a step further, over their past 33 games, Colorado has scored three runs or less in 24 of them. That’s some pretty sick looking numbers when you consider that they play half their games at the best hitter’s park in the league. Colorado is likely to be without Carlos Gonzalez here, as he reinjured (sprained) his right middle finger in yesterday’s loss. Tyler Chatwood is 6-3 with a 2.48 ERA and that provides us with another great opportunity to sell high. His 2.48 ERA is the product of his 80% strand rate and 4% hr/f more than anything else and there are plenty more red flags in this imposters’ skill set. Chatwood has 12 walks and 13 K’s over his past 32 innings. In 76 innings this season, he has a mere 48 K’s. This is not the profile of a pitcher with a 2.48 ERA and his xERA of 4.80 assures us that regression is right around the corner.
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We’re pretty sure Ryan Braun is at the cottage. This is a good opportunity for the Brewers to hit the road for the first time since Braun’s suspension and put that chaos behind them. They’ve always hit well at this park and they have their hottest pitcher going here. Wily Peralta has been one of the hottest pitchers in baseball recently with a 0.87 ERA over his last six starts. Luck has no doubt played a factor (94% strand rate), but solid skills over the last month indicate some real growth here. Peralta has an elite 55% groundball rate and his strikeout rate is trending the right way. Peralta has 28 K’s over his last 34 innings and his 94.9 mph average fastball velocity is one of the game's best. He’ll now face a Rockies team that is simply not hitting anything these days and that remain one of the most beatable squads in the league. Definite overlay.
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Chicago +148 over SAN FRANCISCOFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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0% disasters in 32 starts, top 10 in IP again. Career-low walks, career high Ks. This is the profile of an ace in his prime and we’re talking about what Matt Cain did last season. This season is a completely different story and one has to wonder if Cain is suffering through “dead arm” syndrome. Over his last 16 innings, Cain has walked 12 batters. Cain’s xERA over his last five starts is 5.38 and his 60% strand rate is the lowest in MLB. AT&T Park suppresses runs by 20% compared to other major-league parks, yet Matt Cain has a home ERA of 5.74. This is not the guy you want to back at -160.
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Edwin Jackson is not on anyone’s radar. His 5.11 ERA and 1.44 WHIP are two reasons why. That said, his base skills have been very decent.  Jackson has 20 K’s and just seven walks issued over his past five starts covering 30 innings. He has an elite 54% groundball rate overall and an even more elite 60% groundball rate over his last five starts. Jackson had a lousy first half but he’s definitely rounding into the form that made him Mr. Reliability over his entire career. There remains good profit potential on Jackson and we’re on it.
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MIAMI +146 over PittsburghFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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We could see a serious letdown from the Pirates in this series. Pittsburgh is coming off two exciting and intense series in Cincinnati and Washington. All seven of those games were close and they were all played in front of big crowds. The Pirates will now conclude their 10-game road trip after the All-Star break before hosting the Cardinals in a huge series beginning on Monday. There is little atmosphere in Miami and no doubt the Pirates will feel the difference. For Pittsburgh, it’s not going to be easy to be mentally ready for this series. The Pirates will also face a pitcher they’ve never seen in Henderson Alvarez. Alvarez fell off the map in 2012. His poor stats (4.85 ERA, 1.44 WHIP) were the result of unimpressive skills. What's easy to forget is that Toronto rushed him to the majors so last season was a consolidation year for him. He had only 88 IP at Double-A prior to his MLB promotion. With a 93 mph average fastball velocity and near-elite groundball tilt, Alvarez has the foundation to take a big step forward. He’s pitched four games for the Marlins and has allowed three runs or less in three of them and four runs in the other. Alvarez is coming off a seven inning, five-hit shutout in Milwaukee in which he induced 62% groundballs. He’s getting better with each start and could thrive again here.
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Jeff Locke personifies the underdog Pirates this season. The 25-year-old southpaw wasn't really on the radar this spring, yet he continues to rank among NL ERA leaders, earned a spot on the All-Star roster and owns a 9-2 record. However, Locke's skill set still says he's performing way above his ability. His calling card as a prospect and 2nd round draft choice was command and control. But he's walking four batters a game and 4.8 so far in July. Locke's 83% strand rate and 22% hit rate are both on the extreme side of lucky for a pitcher with 115 IP. A 52% ground ball rate is a big reason for his success and he's benefited from a strong defense and bullpen. Locke is the fantasy baseball equivalent of some of the dot-com stocks in the late-90s. Underlying numbers told you they couldn't continue to rise, but it was hard to let go. The Pirates southpaw likewise has outperformed some of the league's blue-chip names. He's has allowed 22 fewer hits than Clayton Kershaw in two fewer starts. And he's stranding a larger percentage of base-runners than Adam Wainwright or Matt Harvey. We know this can't last, but it's been a nice ride and even a 4.00 ERA the rest of the way will be lost in his full year stats. It’s “sell high” time on Jeff Locke.
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Kansas City -118 over CHICAGOFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Royals are still in this thing. They are just seven games back and have come out of the All-Star break with two series wins over Detroit and Baltimore. K.C. has won three in a row and five of seven and they figure to carry that momentum into this series. James Shields has been a model of unheralded consistency, save one hit%/strand%- induced blip in 2010. New team, same old skills from Shields, with one glaring exception: The groundball gains he made the prior two seasons have fallen off, and he's giving up more liners than usual. A hit% increase from 29% in '12 to 32% confirms, stuff-wise, he hasn't been quite as dominant. This hasn't affected his ERA, however, thanks to a hr/f% correction and a minor strand% jump. Shields' is matching his xERA from last season. His strikeout rate loss and control bumps aren't substantial enough to invoke much concern, as Shields’ command still remains in the elite range. Shields has proven to be the perfect target for the risk-averse bettor, as his skills have remained so consistently elite over the past four seasons that, at times, he can be downright boring to analyze (a good thing, in this case). Don't sweat the skills drop, as a 78%/6% dominant start/disaster start split proves he's still money in the bank.
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Lefty Jose Quintana has a respectable 3.61 ERA after 20 starts. However, only eight of his starts have been of the pure quality variety and the key to getting to him is to force him to pitch out of the stretch. With the bases empty, Quintana has posted good skills. With runners on he has been plagued by a 39% hit rate and 15% hr/f. The Royals .261 batting average against southpaws is sixth best in the league, they’re seeing the ball well and they’ve also had plenty of AB’s against Quintana. That suggests that K.C. should have its fair share of base-runners here. The South Side rarely has their fair share of base-runners.

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Tony GeorgeFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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St Louis -109FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Anytime I can get Wainwright at this price, I am taking him, and only 1 road loss all season. In my opinion the Cards are the best team in Baseball as of this date. Cheap number...and as always the line value is crucial in any sport. The Braves have cashed 5 out of the last 7, I see the tide turning here and while Atlanta puts a good southpaw on the hill tonight, St Louis in their last 5 games have hit lefties at .324 as a team.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 26

Vegas Connection

Chicago Cubs at San Francisco Giants
Pick: Chicago Cubs

Both teams really slumping with the bats in fact since the All Break only the Cubs scored 7 runs once in a game. Cubs have rallied to get nearly 1o under 500. Must back the Cubs here.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 26

Greg ShakerFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Miami Marlins +152FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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They've been trying to put me in the insane asylum for years now but I just won't go and family members that are in the Will right now are not willing screw that up. One of the teams with the worst records in the National League plays one that has one of the best tonight, and I like the former. EGADS! Jason Locke is an Allstar with a 9-2 Overall Record this year and terrific ERA. But My God he must be the luckiest SOB in the World and has spent most innings pitching out of jams this year. That Bubble is going to Burst eventually and why not tonight as the Pirates travel again in what could be and should be a letdown situation for them after series in Cincy and the Nation's Capital. The Miami pitcher just ain't that bad and his last 5 games have been pretty darn good. He does not allow many balls hit to leave the ground and when you do that, you don't give up too many Dingers. I don't think that the Light Hitting Pirates have faced this guy EVER and that will be advantage to the guy born in Valencia. Valencia? That's got to be an advantage right there. Miami is a better team now than they have been all year, winning 3 of 4 at Colorado. They have been stroking left handed pitching of late, and their Pen has been doing the job, allowing batters just a .186 BA over the last 10 games. You can put me in The White Jacket if you like, but I playing Miami tonight and at a right pleasing number.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 26

Bob Balfe ‏

New York Yankees -110

Hellickson was supposed to pitch last night, but was rained out. I never like when pitchers get off their schedule. The Yankees made a great trade with the Cubs getting Soriano back which will give them a huge bat in a pretty weak line up right now. This is about time where the Yankees make their run. Take the Yankees.

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Jeff Scott SportsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Milwaukee/ Colorado Under 9.5: Wily Peralta has been on fire of late, posting an 0.28 ERA in his last 4 starts. That's right he has allowed 1 ER in his last 31.33 innings of work, plus he has allowed just 4 total ER's in his last 6 starts overall. Now he takes on a struggling Colorado offense that has averaged 2.8 rpg in their last 10 games overall and just 3 rpg in their first 7 games of this home stand. This offense just can't score right now and don't see them breaking out vs Peralta. The Colorado offense may be stuck in the mud right now, but their pitching staff has helped them stay in game of late. In their last 10 games Rockie starters have a 1.59 ERA, while the team as a whole has a 2.33 ERA of that stretch. Tyler Chatwood has been very solid for the Rockies of late, posting a 1.74 ERA in his last 3 starts, while in his last 10 starts he has allowed more than 2 ER's just once. Milwaukee did put up 8 runs on San Diego last night, but this is still an offense with problems and losing Braun certainly isn't helping. Just don't see them putting up many runs in this one. The Under is 20-8 in Milwaukee's last 28 as a dog, while the Under is 20-6 in Colorado's last 26 games overall. Let's go back to the well one more time and pay an UNDER in a Rockies home game.
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Pittsburgh -155 over MIAMI: Bad spot here for Miami as they are off a road trip and just took 3 of 4 in Colorado, so a letdown here should be in order. Pittsburgh also have a big series as they took 3 of 4 in Washington, but the difference between these teams is that Pittsburgh is in the middle of a playoff chase and can't afford letdowns, plus they lost game 4 of their series, while Miami won game 4 of their series. Pittsburgh will be sending out Jeff Locke, who has been awesome this year, posting a 9-2 mark with a 2.11 ERA overall, including a 5-1 mark and a 1.73 ERA on the road. Miami has had problems scoring all year and they do struggle vs lefties at home, hitting just .216 and scoring 3.21 rp/ 9 off of them. Henderson Alvarez hasn't pitched all that badly for the Fish, but in 2 home starts he is 0-1 with a 4.28 ERA and the Marlins are 0-2 in those two starts. Pittsburgh doesn't have great offensive numbers, but they do come in having put up 5 rpg in their last 5 games. Good bounce back spot for Pittsburgh here.
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Chicago/ San Francisco Over 7: Edwin Jackson comes in pitching pretty well, with a 1.73 ERA in his last 3 starts, but he still has a 4.80 ERA in his road starts overall, including a 6.26 ERA in his last 4 starts away from home. Edwin also doesn't have great numbers vs the Giants of late, allowing 4 ER's in each f his last 3 starts vs them, including 1 start this year.All 3 of those starts produced at least 11 runs. Matt Cain has been up an down this year, but mostly down. He comes in with a 5.00 ERA overall, including a 14.62 ERA in his last 3 starts. At home he has a 5.74 ERA with 9.64 rpg being scored, while his 11 home starts have gone 8-1-2 to the UNDER. Matt has pitched well vs the Cubs in his career, but he just isn't pitching well enough this year to think that he can do it again vs them. Neither offense is killing the ball, but the pitching in this one is bad and at the very least both teams should be good for no less than 3 runs. The Over is 12-3-2 in Cains last 17 starts as a home favorite and the Over is 10-2-1 in Chicago's last 13 games vs a team with a losing record. At Least 9 runs scored in this one.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 26

Jeff Benton

Friday's freebie is a percentage play on the Under in the Rangers-Indians contest.

Texas was blanked 2-0 at home yesterday afternoon, as the Under moved to 9-1-1 the last 12 times the Rangers have stepped onto the diamond.

Couple that with Cleveland's 10-3 Under the total run their last 13 games, and you can see that the runs will likely be at a premium when Martin Perez and Corey Kluber take command of the hill.

Perez has struggled his last pair of starts, but the Under is still 5-2 in his 7 season starts this year.

Kluber's ERA is 0.95 for his last 3 efforts, and the Under has cashed in the last pair of times he has toed the rubber.

Not a lot of offensive action tonight. Texas and Cleveland to hold low on Friday.

3♦ TEXAS-CLEVELAND UNDER

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 26

Brad Wilton

Friday's comp play is the underdog Braves over the Cardinals in a meeting of division-leaders.

St. Louis is scorching hot right now - winners of a 4 in a row and 12 of their last 15 overall - but they must travel to face an Atlanta team that owns a righteous 31-15 mark at home this year.

The Braves are also on a 7-1 run their last 8 games following a loss, and will send Mike Minor to the hill to get them back on track. Minor has not lost consecutive games all season long, and is searching for his 10th win of the season as he opposes Adam Wainwright and his 13-5 record.

Wainwright has won his last 8 road decisions, but streaks are meant to be broken, and tonight is the night for that streak to come to a halt.

Atlanta has won 5 of the last 7 series meetings, and I like them to extend to 6 of 8 with the series opening win tonight.

1♦ ATLANTA

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 26

Brett Atkins

My free winner is the Over on the Minnesota/Seattle game, and besides the fact I think the Mariners can get to Scott Diamond and this could just as easily be a run line play on with Seattle handing Felix Hernandez the ball, I know the Twins have to hit the ball to support their horrible pitching staff.

Minnesota's starting rotation has the worst ERA in baseball, so the offense has no choice but to step up. Hernandez is 6-5 with a 2.17 ERA in 14 games against the Twins. His ERA is impressive, but the fact the Twins have beaten him almost as many times as he's beaten them should provide them with the confidence they'll need.

Again, this could be a run line play, but I'm not chancing a one-run game, or shocking upset, when I know this just as easily could be a high-scoring game.

Play this one high.

5♦ Minnesota/Seattle OVER

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 26

Chris Jordan

My free winner is on the New York Mets in the second game of Friday's doubleheader, in Washington D.C. against the Nationals. And in this game I want you to list Matt Harvey ONLY.

Last night the Nationals got a boost with Bryce Harper hitting the game-winning, walk-off shot. Now they have to endure a doubleheader, and I think there will be too much exhiliration for this team to have to face Harvey, who arrives after a dominant performance against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday.

Harvey allowed three hits while striking out 10 in seven innings, marking the sixth time he fanned at least 10 batters this season while giving him a National League-leading 157 strikeouts.

The right-hander is 1-0 in two starts against the Nationals this year, including an 11-strikeout performance on June 28 in which he received a no-decision.

Take the Mets in the nightcap and list Harvey only.

3♦ METS

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Scott Delaney

My free winner for Friday night is going to be on the Detroit Tigers laying the hefty - but value - price against the Philadelphia Phillies, who make their first trip to the Motor City since 2002, and arrive on a five-game losing streak.

This could end up being a rough series for the Phillies, who are dealing with offense issues, having only scored nine runs during its skid.

On the other hand, the Tigers are about to receive a huge boost to the lineup, with superstar Miguel Cabrera returning to the lineup. Cabrera missed the team's last three contests of Detroit's seven-game road trip with a sore left hip flexor.

I won't list Cole Hamels or Doug Fister, cause I don't think it matters who goes for either team, the Tigers are simply poised for a big weekend while the Phils are in the wrong spot a the wrong time.

4♦ DETROIT

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Chase DiamondFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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New York Mets vs. Washington Nationals
Play: Washington NationalsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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This game features the Mets at 45-53 and the Nats 49-53. I'm taking the Nationals in game one and game two today the Nationals need to turn things around and the Mets are just the right team they need. Matt Harvey has been near the best pitcher in the league but flying under the radar is Ross Ohlendorf he is 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA this season and is ready to prove he deserves a spot tonight. Public is backing the Mets in game 2 at a rate of 62% yet the line went from -134 to -121. Let's back with the sharps tonight with a 9* play on the Nats to win for plus money.

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Joe GavazziFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Yankees
Play: Tampa Bay RaysFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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With multiple starters still missing from the Yankee lineup, Jeeter not expected to return until Saturday and the A Rod fiasco still hanging as a dark cloud, it is tough to back the Yankees against the red hot Rays. NYY is 1-4 in the last 5 starts by Sabathia. That includes 0-3 recently where Sabathia has a 5.61 ERA. And in a trio of outings vs. the Rays this year, Sabathia has a 7.29 ERA. Far prefer our meal ticket Tampa Bay whose recent long term run of 46-24 still has them ½ game behind Boston in the role of “Hunter”. More recently, the Rays are 19-3 outscoring the opposition 104-51 while twirling a 2.17 ERA. The Rays have won Hellickson’s last 6 starts in which the youngster has gone 5-0 with a 2.19 ERA. In 5 recent starts vs. NYY, Hellickson is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA.


Kansas City at Chicago White Sox
Play: Kansas City

Quintana has been solid in the month of July with a 2.36 ERA in his last 4 starts. But we have long ago abandoned the White Sox whose bad defense, bad hitting and bad attitude have resulted in a recent record of 16-35. Far prefer the resurgent Royals and veteran starter Shields. Playing against solid winning teams Detroit and Baltimore, KC has a post break record of 5-2 including a 3-0 sweep of Baltimore. Shields is one of the most consistent pitchers in MLB with YTD numbers of 3.24 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 122/40 KBB. Shields has been even better on the road with 2.74 ERA. Ride the resurgent Royals.

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Jeff AlexanderFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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KC Royals -118FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Royals have won their last six as chalk. They've also won eight of Shield's last 10 starts, including his last five as chalk. Shields has been outstanding on the road where he has a 2.74 ERA and the Royals have won four of his last five starts. Chicago's Quintana has pitched well for the most part but hasn't been on Shield's level. The Sox have dropped three of his last four starts versus Kansas City. The White Sox are 16-35 in their last 51 overall, including 5-11 in their last 16 at home. Bet the Royals.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 26

Jack Jones

Texas Rangers +120

The Texas Rangers are showing solid value as a road underdog to the Cleveland Indians tonight. I'll gladly back them at this price as they look to build on their impressive 27-22 road record in 2013.

Martin Perez has given Texas' rotation a very good boost in limited action this year. Perez has gone 3-3 with a 3.40 ERA in seven starts in 2013.

Corey Kluber is getting too much respect from the books tonight. Cleveland's right-hander has gone 6-5 with a 3.79 ERA in 16 starts this season.

Texas is 21-7 (+13.8 Units) against the money line in road games with double revenge - 2 straight losses against opponent over the last 3 seasons.

This play falls into a system that is 57-33 (63.3%, +38.2 units) over the last 5 seasons. It tells us to bet on road underdogs with a money line of +100 to +150 (TEXAS) - revenging 2 straight losses where team scored 2 or less runs, with a winning record on the season playing another winning team. Bet the Rangers Friday.

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