Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 2

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 2

Jesse Schule

Houston Astros at Minnesota Twins
Pick: Houston Astros +1.5

The Twins have lost four straight, and they were just swept at home by the Royals. They host the Astros in the opening game of a three game set at Target Field tonight, and they will be a significant favorite in this fixture. Rookie right-hander Jarred Cosart will get the nod for Houston, and the 23 year old has been lights out in his first three big league starts. Cosart (1-0, 0.86 ERA) flirted with a no-hitter in his major league debut, and would allow just two hits over eight scoreless innings in a win over Tampa Bay. He's allowed just two earned runs in three starts, and Houston has won two of those three games. The only exception was a 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays in his last start, he allowed one run on four hits over six innings. Samuel Deduno will toe the rubber for the home side, and he's been very sharp in three straight starts on the road. Deduno (7-4, 3.18 ERA) tossed seven scoreless innings allowing just three hits in a 4-0 win over the Mariners at Safeco his last time out. He has allowed only three runs while winning three straight on the road, but he wasn't so sharp in his last home start. He allowed five runs on 10 hits, including a pair of home runs in a 7-3 loss to the Yankees. I don't expect Deduno to make it easy for the Astros, however he might find himself a victim of the Twin's poor defensive play. They looked awful fielding the ball against the Royals, consistently throwing the ball away and missing the cut-off man. I had originally circled this play with my eye on the Twins going up against Dallas Keuchel, but with Cosart taking his spot, and the Twins recent defensive woes, I believe the value lies with a play on the Astros RL.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 2

Steve Merril

Seattle vs. Baltimore
Pick: Over

These two teams played three Overs in Seattle earlier this season and we expect another high-scoring game in Baltimore on Friday night.

The Mariners are licking their wounds after a rough series in Boston where they blew a few late leads.  Now they’ll head to Baltimore to take on the Orioles.  Aaron Harang is horrible on the road going 1-4 with a 6.03 ERA and 1.53 WHIP in six starts with four of those games going Over the total.  The Orioles are scoring 4.9 runs per game against right-handed starters and they should make life miserable for Harang.  He will be backed by a Seattle bullpen that has a 5.57 ERA on the road and 20 losses as a unit on the season.

Chris Tillman has a 3.62 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 21 starts for Baltimore.  He has a 3.93 ERA in 12 starts at home.  Seattle’s offense has scored 4 runs or more in three of their last four games.  They have put up at least eight hits in each of those games as well.  Baltimore’s bullpen has 14 losses and 15 blown saves on the year.  These two teams played three Overs in Seattle earlier this season and we expect another high-scoring game in Baltimore on Friday night.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 2

Steve Janus

Cleveland Indians -102

This may seem like a perfect spot for the Indians 8-game winning streak to come to an end, but I think the streak will continue. Miami sends out their ace in Jose Fernandez, who is 7-5 with a 2.71 ERA in 20 starts. However, Hernandez is a lousy 0-2 with a 6.08 ERA and 1.725 WHIP in three interleague starts this season. Cleveland won't be intimated as they have beat the likes of Darvish and Sale during their hot streak.

The other key here is that Indians don't figure to need a whole lot offense to sneak out a victory. It's no secret that Miami is one of the worst offensive teams in the league and they come in hitting just .207 as a team over their last 7 games. Cleveland starter Ubaldo Jimenez has been at his best on the road this season, where he's 4-2 with a 3.30 ERA in 11 starts (just 8-5 with a 4.17 ERA overall). Given we are basically getting Cleveland at even money, I think it's well worth the risk.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 2

Wunderdog

Los Angeles at Tulsa
Pick: Los Angeles -8.5

This sure looks like a boat load of points here, but there is a boat load of talent differential between these teams. And with Los Angeles just 2.5 games behind Minnesota in the West, three in the loss column, this is one they won't let get away. The Sparks have won twice against Tulsa this season, the last was a convincing 16-point win right here in this same arena. Tulsa has won three of their last four games, but three of their last four have come against losing teams. Tulsa has suffered since moving from Detroit, and despite strong draft positions from poor seasons, they simply have not turned the corner with just six wins on the season. The Shock are 1-5 ATS following a loss in their last six, so make the play on LA.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 2

Sports Wagers

Hamilton +140 over EDMONTON

The Ti-Cats have been a bankroll killer this season. Not only are they 1-4 but Hamilton is 0-5 against the spread and that includes a 30-20 loss to these Eskimos back in Week 2. That game was in Hamilton as the Tiger-cats were a 7-point choice. Now, just three weeks later, the difference in the point-spread is 10½-points, as the Ti-Cats go from a 7-point favorite to a 3½-point pooch. That fits right into our buy-low, sell high philosophy and we’re absolutely buying low here. So, while the Ti-cats have not impressed, they are damn close to putting forth a big game and it could come here. There are many encouraging and positive signs surrounding Hamilton. They were defeated 32-20 last week by the juggernaut Riders but they got off to a 10-0 start and had it not been for a failed 3rd and goal from the one-yard line, that game may have turned out differently. The Hamilton secondary features four players in their first year in the Canadian Football League, making them spectacularly inexperienced (halfback Dee Webb is in his fourth season). However, these guys are showing a lot of promise, as they held the high-powered Saskatchewan offense to just six points in the second half in last week's loss. That defense takes a huge step down in class when facing the Eskies. Edmonton is last in the CFL in time of possession while the Tiger-Cats have held the ball over 30 minutes in three of their five games. Also note that Hamilton has led by 10 points or more in two of their four losses this season. Throw in the experience and passing ability of Henry Burris combined with Hamilton’s improving defense and it’s only a matter of time before these well-coached Cats come up with something big.

Edmonton is not improving. In fact, they are getting worse. The Eskies continue to get penalized an alarming number of times every contest. Both the offense and defense of the Eskimos have regressed. Edmonton’s defense has allowed 32 and 31 points against in the past two weeks against two struggling offenses in B.C. and Montreal. Edmonton’s defense was torched on the ground by the Alouettes last week to the tune of 170 yards and the passing defense wasn’t much better. QB Mike Reilly has a strong arm but he’s been inaccurate and has shown a propensity for making awful decisions. Edmonton’s coach, Kavis Reed is not endearing himself to his players either. He continues to shout out at players on the sidelines and appears to be a coach in panic mode. Unlike the Ti-Cats, a team we see as improving and on the verge of something good, the Eskies are going backwards and while the 3½ points are appealing, we’re calling the upset in this one and will play it that way.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 2

Sports Wagers

Toronto/L.A. ANGELS over 8½

The Angels went off for eight runs last night and a similar result here against Todd Redmond. Redmond was called up in late May and pitched three games out of the pen before being inserted into a more familiar role as a starter. Redmond has put up some decent surface stats as a starter (3.81 ERA – 1.02 WHIP) but much of it is luck-driven. At Triple-AAA Buffalo before his call-up, Redmond posted a 5.06 ERA in six games. He’s a career minor-leaguer that has thrown over 1200 minor-league innings since 2005. Yeah, he’s paid his dues but he has a heavy fly-ball bias profile (62%) and that’s a huge warning sign. Redmond won his last start against the Astros at home and struck out 10 batters in the process in six frames. However, Houston has struck out more than any team in baseball. In his three previous starts, the final scores were 11-5, 7-3 and 10-9 with the Jays winning two of them. He’s been involved in high scoring games and that’s likely to continue here with Tommy Hanson being his mound opponent.

Hanson is in the middle of another season to forget due to a 5.15 ERA mixed in with some injury problems. Not surprisingly, Hanson's skills are down and his WHIP is up 1.52 this year. He walked five batters in his last start in Oakland and was buried by the light hitting A’s at that pitcher’s park. Hanson has a disgusting 30%/30%/40% groundball/line-drive/fly-ball rate over his last five starts. Tommy Hanson has one foot in the gutter and he’s on his second consecutive season of a dramatic skills decline. The Blue Jays have one of the league’s most dangerous batting lineups and they figure to go off for some fireworks against this pure stiff.


Colorado +147 over PITTSBURGH

No question the Pirates are in a letdown spot here after a five game series with the then first place Cardinals. Pittsburgh leapfrogged over St. Louis by winning four of those five games and now lead the NL Central by 1½ games. Gerrit Cole’s turn did not come up in that series but he starts the opener of this one. Cole has benefitted from a soft slate of opponents recently. His last four starts have come against Miami, Washington, Oakland and the Mets and that has to be considered when looking at his 3.42 ERA over his last four starts. Cole is 5-4 in nine starts and has succeeded so far on pinpoint control and a steady stream of ground balls but there are warning signs. Cole has a low strikeout rate (37 in 56 IP) and a 24% line-drive rate. That suggests luck has played a big factor in his results. Balls are being hit hard but they are being hit right at people. Cole’s surface stats have him overpriced here and the Rockies are dangerous enough offensively to put up some runs.

Jhoulys Chacin has a high probability of success here due to his dominance away from Coors Field. In seven road starts this year, Chacin has been almost unhittable with a 1.90 ERA and 36/15 K/BB in 42.2 innings. While the Pirates are having a great year, they are hitting only .246 at home this year and that number dips even further at home against right-handers. Chacin has lost just five games this season in 20 starts. Overall the Rockies have won eight of his past 11 starts. Chacin has allowed two runs or fewer in every road start this season and over his last three road starts, he’s allowed two earned runs combined over 20 innings. Win or lose here, the Rockies are in a favorable spot and just might be the best value on today’s card.


BALTIMORE -1½ +117 over Seattle

After two marathon games in a row in Boston, the Mariners limp into Baltimore a worn out club that has dropped three in a row and five of six. On Wednesday, the Mariners were involved in a 15-inning 5-4 loss and they followed that up with a three-hour 8-7 loss night in a game the M’s led 7-2 going to the bottom of the ninth inning. That’s hard to rebound from and it’s going to be even more difficult with Aaron Harang going. Harang enters this matchup against Baltimore with his skills trending the wrong way. The Orioles lead the majors in HR's, which is a bad combination with Harang's 44% fly-ball rate. After a strong start in which Harang posted decent numbers from April to June, his skills tanked in July. In four July starts covering just 23 frames, Harang struck out just 11 batters while issuing seven walks. Overall, Harang has a 4.80 ERA which is completely supported by an almost exact same 4.79 xERA.

Baltimore has a great chance to get back on track this weekend. They have fallen 5½ games back of the Rays after being swept in K.C. last weekend and losing two of three in Boston at the start of the week. The Orioles are healthy and they catch the dejected Mariners at precisely the right time. When Chris Tillman starts, the O’s usually win. This guy has quietly put together a 13-3 record with a skills supported 3.62 ERA. Tillman is 3-1 over his last four starts with a 3.42 ERA while striking out 23 batters over 26 innings during that stretch. Tillman is one of the most durable pitchers in the game and he’s also one of the rare pitchers whose skills actually improve the more times he goes through lineups. The Mariners may need a day to recover from a morale-breaking three games in Boston and we’ll look to take advantage of that along with this pitching mismatch in our favor.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 2

Bryan Leonard

Astros / Twins Under 8.5

Jarred Cosart and Samuel Deduno will face off on Friday afternoon in a highly underrated pitching matchup. Both guys are extreme ground ball specialists and play under the radar because they're on bad teams. Cosart has been a bright spot for the Astros over his first three starts, allowing just two earned runs in 21.1 innings of work. Opposing batters are batting just .191 as Cosart has been having success his first time around the league like most young pitchers with good stuff tend to do. His strikeout numbers from the minors have yet to translate to the bigs, but it's only a matter of time. The important thing right now is that Cosart is inducing a lot of weak contact, with a ground ball rate near 60 percent and a 13.3 percent infield fly ball rate. He should continue to have success with a Twins lineup that has managed just 3.15 runs per game since the All-Star Break.

Samuel Deduno was incredibly impressive for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic and he has carried it over to the Majors this season. In 12 starts, Deduno has baffled hitters with a ground ball rate of nearly 63 percent. Opposing batters are batting just .245 against him and he has posted a 3.18 ERA. The Astros have never seen Deduno, which is important because his pitching style relies on deception and movement. At home this season, Deduno is 3-1 with a 2.33 ERA and a .212 batting average against. While the Astros have success against left handers, they are the league's second-worst offense against right handers, with a .664 OPS. They have scored less than four runs per game on the road this season.

With two guys that will get a lot of ground balls, forcing hits to be strung together to score runs, we think this game stays comfortably under the total.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 2

Ray Monohan

San Francisco Giants vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Play: Tampa Bay Rays 

It almost seems like the Tampa Rays develop starters in their sleep, doesn’t it. Tonight Chris Archer, who wouldn’t even be in the rotation except for the injuries to Alex Cobb and now Matt Moore, takes the hill and he has been brilliant so far in his first go around - with a 2.39 ERA and the league hitting just .193 against him. The numbers are even better at home and he has given up just 1ER in his last 31 innings over 4 starts (including 2 complete games). Suffice it to say he is on a roll right now. A struggling team like San Francisco, even with Madison Bumgarner on the hill, on the road just doesn’t stand a chance. Tampa takes the series opener.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 2

Big Kat Sports

Washington Nationals -135

The Washington Nationals will look to keep their slim playoffs hopes alive when they travel to Milwaukee to for the start of a three game set with the Brewers. Washington trails the Reds by 7.5 games for the final Wild Card spot in the NL and will need to get a move on if they have any intentions of making the playoffs. The Brewers come home after a 7 game road trip that saw them go 4-3 and these 3 home games will be the only 3 at Miller Park during a 19 game stretch for the Brew Crew.

Washington will send Jordan Zimmermann to the hill tonight to try and stop the team’s small two game losing streak. The All-Star has been excellent for the Nats this season, posting a 12-6 record with a 3.19 ERA. He has struggled in his last 3 starts, allowing 14 runs over 15 innings but has been excellent against the Brewers in his career, going 3-0. Milwaukee will counter with Tom Gorzelanny, who has struggled a bit since becoming a starter, going just 2-4. He got the win in his last start despite allowing 4 runs in 5.1 innings versus the Rockies and he has just a 3-3 career record in 13 games against the Nationals.

Playing against a team off a road trip of 7 or more games is an angle we like to play here at BigKatSports and that in addition to the following are why we lean towards Washington tonight.

Nationals are 19-8 in their last 27 games as a road favorite of -110 to -150.

Nationals are 13-3 in Zimmermann’s last 16 starts following a team loss in their previous game.

Nationals are 11-3 in Zimmermann’s last 14 road starts vs. a team with a losing record.

Brewers are 6-13 in their last 19 games vs. a starter with a WHIP less than 1.15.

Brewers are 9-20 in their last 29 when their opponent scores 2 runs or less in their previous game.

Pair those numbers with the fact that the Nationals are 22-6 in Zimmermann’s last 28 starts during game 1 of a series and we’ll lay the price with them on the road to get the win.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 2

Bob Balfe

Cleveland Indians +105

Cleveland has been the hottest team in baseball the past two weeks and although Miami has a great pitcher on the mound they would have to win in a low scoring game. There is no room for error and the way the Indians are hitting the ball I just don't think Miami will be able to keep up in the run department unless Fernandez pitches a gem. Jimenez is underrated and I like him at this even money price. Take the Indians.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 2

Chip Chirimbes

Texas at Oakland
Play: Oakland

The Texas Rangers are starting to put some pressure ion the division as they have won their last four and they are 6-4 against the A's this season. Texas who are starting a ten-game road trip tonight were able to win at home but now face Oakland who is 34-18 when playing as hosts. The A's will start Tommy Milone (9-8, 4.10 ERA) who is 0-3 with a career 4.24 ERA against the Rangers but is 5-3 with a 2.97 ERA at home.

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Teddy Covers

Texas vs. Oakland
Pick: Oakland

The Rangers rotation has been a mess for a good portion of the season, with Neftali Feliz, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, Nicholas Tepesch  and tonight’s starter, Alexi Ogando, all spending extended stints on the DL.  In the midst of a pennant race, the Rangers are desperate to guy these guys back in the rotation. 

Ogando has made two starts since his seven week stint on the DL ended.  Neither start was good – high pitch counts, mediocre velocity, and an inability to notch strikeouts – as Texas went 0-2 in those outings. I’m not convinced he’s fully healthy; rushed back too soon based on need more than anything else.

The A’s have hit Ogando fairly well even when he was at his best, scoring 14 runs in 25 career innings against him.  And Oakland’s bats are in good form right now, pounding out six runs or more three times while winning four of their last six on this homestand.  With a 34-18 record at home this year,  the A’s have an ‘elite’ level homefield like Cleveland, Boston, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Atlanta, St Louis, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh (the eight other teams at least 15 games over .500 at home in 2013).

Oakland is 5-1 in Tommy Milone’s last six starts.  Milone is coming off an absolute gem against the Angels; throwing seven full innings of four hit, one run ball.  While his career track record against Texas does not look good on paper (hence the short line on this ballgame), let’s not forget that all four of Milone’s previous starts against the Rangers came in Arlington.   For a guy with a career ERA splits of 3.03 home/ 4.67 road, we can and should expect a solid showing from the A’s emerging young ace this evening.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 2

Jeffrey Brandes

Miami Marlins -111

Pitchers:
Cleveland Indians: Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP 8-5, 4.17 ERA
Miami Marlins: Jose Fernandez, RHP 7-5, 2.71 ERA

Ubaldo Jimenez has an ERA more than 1.5 runs higher than his opposite number in this match.

Jose Fernandez is coming off a stellar outing in which he struck out a Marlins franchise rookie record 13 batters in his seventh win. He leads Miami with 13 quality starts. He has a 2.71 ERA for the year.

Key Trends:
Miami is 8-4 SU in its last 12 games when playing Cleveland
Miami is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games when playing at home against Cleveland
Cleveland is 2-6 SU in its last 8 games on the road

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 2

Alex Smart

New York Yankees -107

CC Sabathia has not pitched all that well of late, but a change of scenery via interleague play and a light hitting Padres team might be the answer for the struggling veteran hurler. In four career starts against the Friars, he has given up just two earned runs or fewer three times.Only five Padres have faced Sabathia. None of them have recorded more than four hits against him.

It must be noted that the Yankees are 5-0 in the last 5 meetings in this series. The Yankees are also a bankroll building 8-2 in their last 10 games as a road favorite.Yankees are aslo 4-0 in Sabathias last 4 starts vs. National League West and are 13-3 in Sabathias last 16 interleague starts. Meanwhile, the Padres are 19-39 in their last 58 interleague games vs. a left-handed starter and money burning 8-21 in their last 29 interleague home games vs. a team with a winning record.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 2

Justin Bay

Rockies vs Pirates    
Play: Over 7

Jhoulys Chacin
- Career vs. PIT: 6.97 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, .272 OBA
- Away: 1.90 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, .232 OBA
- Coming off quality start vs. MIL: 7.0 IP, 8 H, 3 ER
- Pirates hitters vs. Chacin in his career: .316 BA

Gerrit Cole
- Home: 4.08 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, .301 OBA
- Coming off good start @ MIA: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 3 ER

The Pirates are coming off a shutout loss against the Cardinals so look for them to come back strong against Chacin who they have had very good success against. The Rockies are 10th in Runs Scored and 5th in Slugging percentage and with Cole on the mound, who has struggled at home, the Rockies should be able to put runs on the board.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 2

Jeff Alexander

Washington Nationals -134

The Nats are a pretty nice value here considering the advantage they have on the hill with Jordan Zimmerman. Washington has won 15 of his 21 starts this season, during which he's posted a 3.19 ERA. He's also 3-0 lifetime against the Brewers with a 2.89 ERA. The Nationals are 28-9 in his starts as a favorite of -110 or higher since the beginning of last season. Milwaukee's Gorzelanny has been hit hard in his last two trips to the circle. Plus, he's been a dead fade when going on five or six days rest as his clubs are 13-31 lifetime in his starts in these spots.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 2

Dave Price

Miami Marlins -108

The Fish have the edge on the mound with Jose Fernandez. The right-hander is 2-0 with an ERA of 2.14 over his last 3 starts - all Miami wins. He's been lights out all season at home where he's 4-0 with a 1.57 ERA in 10 starts. The Marlins have won eight of these starts. Ubaldo Jimenez's clubs have lost his last two starts in Miami. Also, his teams are 0-11 in his last 11 road starts in the second half of the season, losing these by an average score of 6.5 to 3.3. Take Miami.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 2

Jack Jones

Texas Rangers +121

This is a huge series for the Texas Rangers as they trail the Oakland A's by 3.5 games for first place in the AL West Division. It's very important to get Game 1 tonight, and I look for them to do so behind Alexi Ogando.

The underrated Ogando is having a tremendous season as a starter this year. He has gone 4-3 with a 3.05 ERA and 1.262 WHIP in 12 starts, including 0-1 with a 2.93 ERA in his last three outings.

Tom Milone is clearly getting too much respect from the books tonight. The left-hander has gone 9-8 with a 4.03 ERA in 21 starts this season. Milone has never beaten Texas, going 0-3 with a 4.24 ERA and 1.329 WHIP in four career starts against the Rangers.

Texas is hitting .281 and scoring 4.8 runs/game against left-handed starters in 2013. The Rangers have scored a combined 27 runs while winning each of their last four games coming in. Bet Texas Friday.

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