Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, August 6

Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, August 6

DUNKEL INDEX

MLB

Tampa Bay at Arizona
The Rays look to build on their 10-2 record in their last 12 interleague games as a favorite. Tampa Bay is the pick (-125) according to Dunkel, which has the Rays favored by 1 1/2. Dunkel Pick: Tampa Bay (-125)

Game 951-952: Atlanta at Washington (7:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Atlanta (Teheran) 15.870; Washington (Gonzalez) 16.383
Dunkel Line: Washington by 1/2; 6
Vegas Line: Washington (-125); 7
Dunkel Pick: Washington (-125); Under

Game 953-954: Chicago Cubs at Philadelphia (7:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Cubs (Jackson) 14.107; Philadelphia (Kendrick) 13.612
Dunkel Line: Chicago Cubs by 1; 9
Vegas Line: Philadelphia (-120); 8
Dunkel Pick: Chicago Cubs (+100); Over

Game 955-956: Miami at Pittsburgh (7:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Miami (Alvarez) 15.723; Pittsburgh (Locke) 17.293
Dunkel Line: Pittsburgh by 1 1/2; 6
Vegas Line: Pittsburgh (-185); 7
Dunkel Pick: Pittsburgh (-185); Under

Game 957-958: Colorado at NY Mets (7:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Colorado (Chatwood) 14.457; NY Mets (Mejia) 13.824
Dunkel Line: Colorado by 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: NY Mets (-110); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Colorado (-110); Over

Game 959-960: LA Dodgers at St. Louis (8:15 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: LA Dodgers (Kershaw) 17.585; St. Louis (Kelly) 16.161
Dunkel Line: LA Dodgers by 1 1/2; 6
Vegas Line: LA Dodgers (-155); 7
Dunkel Pick: LA Dodgers (-155); Under

Game 961-962: Milwaukee at San Francisco (10:15 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Milwaukee (Peralta) 15.074; San Francisco (Cain) 14.547
Dunkel Line: Milwaukee by 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: San Francisco (-175); 7
Dunkel Pick: Milwaukee (+155); Over

Game 963-964: Detroit at Cleveland (7:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Detroit (Verlander) 17.543; Cleveland (Masterson) 16.612
Dunkel Line: Detroit by 1; 7
Vegas Line: Cleveland (-115); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Detroit (-105); Under

Game 965-966: Boston at Houston (8:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Boston (Wright) 15.995; Houston (Lyles) 14.446
Dunkel Line: Boston by 1 1/2; 10
Vegas Line: Boston (-180); 9
Dunkel Pick: Boston (-180); Over

Game 967-968: Minnesota at Kansas City (8:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Minnesota (Albers) 14.413; Kansas City (Shields) 17.083
Dunkel Line: Kansas City by 2 1/2; 9
Vegas Line: Kansas City (-200); 8
Dunkel Pick: Kansas City (-200); Over

Game 969-970: NY Yankees at Chicago White Sox (8:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: NY Yankees (Kuroda) 15.570; White Sox (Sale) 14.690
Dunkel Line: NY Yankees by 1; 6
Vegas Line: Chicago White Sox (-125); 7
Dunkel Pick: NY Yankees (+105); Under

Game 971-972: Texas at LA Angels (10:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Texas (Darvish) 15.936; LA Angels (Richards) 14.596
Dunkel Line: Texas by 1 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: Texas (-145); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Texas (-145); Over

Game 973-974: Toronto at Seattle (10:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Toronto (Johnson) 14.888; Seattle (Hernandez) 14.570
Dunkel Line: Toronto by 1/2; 7
Vegas Line: Seattle (-185); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Toronto (+165); Under

Game 975-976: Oakland at Cincinnati (7:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Oakland (Straily) 14.181; Cincinnati (Latos) 15.615
Dunkel Line: Cincinnati by 1 1/2; 9
Vegas Line: Cincinnati (-145); 8
Dunkel Pick: Cincinnati (-145); Over

Game 977-978: Tampa Bay at Arizona (9:40 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Tampa Bay (Hellickson) 15.714; Arizona (Miley) 14.336
Dunkel Line: Tampa Bay by 1 1/2; 7
Vegas Line: Tampa Bay (-125); 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Tampa Bay (-125); Under

Game 979-980: Baltimore at San Diego (10:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Baltimore (Norris) 15.013; San Diego (Volquez) 14.660
Dunkel Line: Baltimore by 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: Baltimore (-125); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Baltimore (-125); Over

WNBA

Seattle at Phoenix
The Storm look to build on their 8-1 ATS record in their last 9 games in Phoenix. Seattle is the pick (+9 1/2) according to Dunkel, which has the Mercury favored by only 1. Dunkel Pick: Seattle (+9 1/2)

Game 651-652: Washington at New York (11:00 a.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Washington 111.047; New York 107.510
Dunkel Line & Total: Washington by 3 1/2; 144
Vegas Line & Total: New York by 3 1/2; 148 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Washington (+3 1/2); Under

Game 653-654: Los Angeles at Connecticut (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Los Angeles 114.146; Connecticut 107.637
Dunkel Line & Total: Los Angeles by 6 1/2; 159
Vegas Line & Total: Los Angeles by 4; 153 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Los Angeles (-4); Over

Game 655-656: Minnesota at San Antonio (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Minnesota 120.164; San Antonio 107.483
Dunkel Line & Total: Minnesota by 12 1/2; 149
Vegas Line & Total: Minnesota by 10; 153
Dunkel Pick: Minnesota (-10); Under

Game 657-658: Indiana at Chicago (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Indiana 114.059; Chicago 115.279
Dunkel Line & Total: Chicago by 1; 150
Vegas Line & Total: Chicago by 6; 145 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Indiana (+6); Over

Game 659-660: Seattle at Phoenix (10:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Seattle 109.806; Phoenix 110.470
Dunkel Line & Total: Phoenix by 1; 162
Vegas Line & Total: Phoenix by 9 1/2; 156
Dunkel Pick: Seattle (+9 1/2); Over

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, August 6

Marc Lawrence

Los Angeles Dodgers at St Louis Cardinals
Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers

When the road-hot Dodgers send Clayton Kershaw up against the Cardinals in Game Two of this four game set at Busch Stadium, L.A. will do so knowing Kershaw is in staggering KW form with 32 strikeouts and only 1 walk his last four starts. Kershaw is also 4-0 with a 1.58 ERA in his last four away team starts during August. With that, look for the Cardinals to fall to 0-3 in Joe Kelly's career team starts in this series here tonight. We recommend a 1-unit play on the Dodgers.

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Jimmy Boyd

Los Angeles Angels +135

There is no reason the Angels should be such a heavy underdog at home with Garrett Richards getting the start. The Angels have started to turn things around at the plate this season, and they have a .289 batting average over their past seven games. They have scored 5.9 runs per game during that time. With offensive production like that, Richards should have no problem getting the run support he needs to pick up another win for the Angels today. In his three home starts this season Richards has a 2.66 ERA and the Angels are a perfect 3-0.

The Rangers have a .250 batting average on the road this year and I expect Richards to give them a lot of problems. The Rangers are 0-4 in Darvish's last four starts as a road favorite. They are up against an Angels team that is a perfect 4-0 in Richards' last four starts after scoring two runs or less in their previous game. I like the Angels to pick up an easy win today and get a little revenge from the road series against Texas back in July.

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Ray Monohan

Colorado Rockies -105

Both of these teams are playing miserably right now but only one has a chance to get into a race of some kind - Colorado. The Mets have dropped 3 of 4 to the Rockies this season but now it is their turn to try and even things out at home, but oddly they are a better team away from Citi Field.

The Mets have a few young studs in the rotation and Jennry Mejia is trying to prove he belongs in that group. He has been both lucky (6.5 runs of support) and good (2.08 ERA) so far but things should normalize beginning tonight against a good Rockies lineup and a pitcher who has been consistent all season long in Tyler Chatwood.

Even without CarGo the Rox have way more punch.

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Alex Smart

Philadelphia Phillies -120

These two combatants the Cubs and Phillies are both in a funk and are both looking at this series as a means to break out of their downward spirals and gain some positive momentum. There is not alot of positives attached to these teams current status. But when looking at lineups, at least on paper, the Phillies are arguably the superior team.

Jackson the Cubs starter today despite of pitching fairly well of late is just 1-4 with a 4.45 ERA in five starts versus Philadelphia His 28-year-old pitching opponent from the Phillies Kendrick is 0-1 vs the Cubbies but has been hard on their batting order as is evident by him garnering a stingy 1.69 ERA in four games (three starts) .Phillies are 5-1 in Kendricks last 6 starts during game 1 of a series.

I'm backing what I believe to be the lesser of two evils in this tilt.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, August 6

Brad Diamond

Orioles vs. Padres
Play: Over 7½

The Orioles are crushing the baseball this season, but have been so-so in their starting rotation. Recently, at the trade deadline they went out secured the services of former Houston right-hand starter Bud Norris. The problem with Norris is the long-ball. He has surrendered six homers in his last four starts. Over the last 23 innings Norris has allowed 18 earned runs. Without question Norris is going through a transition with his new club, while trying to regain a more effective pitch location. Norris’ opposition on the mound RHP Edwin Volquez (8-8, 5.56) too, has been inconsistent allowing 20 runs in the last 27 innings of work. In the most recent six meeting out on the coast these two have gone OVER in 5/6. Further, the Birds have flown OVER in 22/29 games in interleague games when facing a losing unit. In closing, San Diego is gone OVER in 6/8 when challenging a club with a winning road mark.

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Freddy Wills

New York Yankees +110

There is a ton of value on the pinstripes today. The A-Rod saga is all but over and now the Yankees healthy line up can get back to basics. Hiroki Kuroda is on his second start on 5 days rest and he's making his 11th of the year. All 10 of his previous starts on 5 days rest have been quality outings where he posts an overall 1.36 ERA. He's just fresher than the White Sox Chris Sale who is making his 4th start on 4 days rest. Sale is not used to pitching at this point in the season with this many pitches under his belt and he's backed by a bullpen that is significantly weaker than the Yankees bullpen. Yankees have a big advantage there as they are ranked 8th overall vs. White Sox bullpen that is ranked 24th and is 13-27. Yankees bullpen is even better on the road and they should take game 2 of this series.

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Doug Upstone

Kansas City Royals -178

For Tuesday, Play Against road underdogs like Minnesota with a money line of +175 to +250, who are scoring 4.2 or less runs a game, against a quality AL starting pitcher with an ERA of 3.50 or lower, with an on-base percentage of .300 or worse over their last 15 games. Since 2009, this baseball system is an incredible 45-5, 90 percent.

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Art Aronson

Yankees vs. White Sox
Play: Under 7

Hiroki Kuroda (10-6, 2.38 ERA) gets the call for the visitors; Kuroda went seven scoreless frames in a 3-0 victory over the Dodgers on Wednesday, scattering five hits with one walk while striking out eight. It was in fact the fourth time in his last five starts that Kuroda has held his opposition scoreless, giving up just two earned runs over his last 33 innings of work. Kuroda brings his very respectable 2.90 ERA road record into Chicago to throw opposite Chris Sale (6-11, 2.92 ERA) who is coming off his worst outing of the year vs. the Tribe on Thursday, getting shelled for five runs off ten hits over just five frames of work. Sale though would not walk anyone and racked up six strikeouts. Sale, like the rest of his rotation, has frequently been the victim of poor run support but has a big opportunity to return to form tonight and improve upon his sparkling 2.28 ERA home record. I don't think there is any need to overanalyze this one; with these two confirmed studs battling it out on Tuesday night, all signs definitely point to runs being at a premium. Consider a second look at the "under" in this matchup.

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Rob Vinciletti

A's vs. Reds    
Play: Over 8

This game fits a solid totals system that plays to the over for home teams like The Reds that are off a home loss and scored 4 or less runs and had 4 or less hits and are taking on an opponent off a home loss by 2 or more runs and scored 2 or less runs on 5+ hits. The Reds have posted overs in 9 of the last 13 with rest. Both teams average 4.6 runs at home and away. Oakland starter Straily has gone over in 6 of 9 road starts and has a 5.06 era over his last 3 starts. M. Latos for the Reds has allowed a 10 runs in his last 3 home starts in 16 innings. Look for this game to go over the total tonight.

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Jim Feist

Toronto at Seattle
Pick: Over

The over is 15-7 in the Mariners last 22 home games and a strong Toronto offense is in town, one ranked 6th in baseball in runs scored, 5th in slugging. They'd better score runs because Josh Johnson (1-8, 6.60 ERA) is on the mound and struggling, 0-3 with a 16.20 ERA his last three starts. The over is 19-6-1 in the Blue Jays last 26 road games vs. a team with a losing record and 6-1 over the total in Johnson's last 7 starts with 4 days of rest. When these teams meet the over is 13-6 in the last 19 meetings and 5-2 over the total in the last 7 meetings in Seattle.

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Brian Blessing

New York at Chicago
Pick: Under

Kuroda has been pitching lights out of late and the way the Yankees have been hitting he has to come up big to get a win. Sale got hit hard in his last start but should be able to successfully maneuver his way through the Yanks lineup. Runs will be at a premium Tuesday night in Chicago and the under is the way to go.

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Jesse Schule

Oakland Athletics at Cincinnati Reds
Pick: Cincinnati Reds

The Reds had the day off Monday, after losing 2-of-3 at home to the Cardinals over the weekend. They host Oakland tonight, in the first of a two game set at Great American Ballpark, where they have a record of 33-19. Mat Latos will toe the slab for the home team, and he's been very sharp in his home park all year. Latos (10-3, 3.38 ERA) allowed a pair of runs on six hits over six innings in a 4-2 loss to the Padres in San Diego his last time out. He pitched well enough to win, but unfortunately he didn't get enough runs to work with on the road, something that hasn't been a problem at home. Latos is 6-1 with a 3.54 ERA in nine starts at Great American Ballpark this season. He'll face an Oakland team that has lost 4-of-5, and has failed to score a run in two of those losses. Dan Straily will get the call for Oakland, and he's coming off three straight losses. Straily (6-5, 4.41 ERA) has cooled off considerably since going 3-0 in his previous seven appearances. He allowed five runs on six hits over just 4 2/3 innings in a 5-0 loss to Toronto his last time out. Prior to that he was tagged for five runs on seven hits over 4 1/3 innings in an 8-3 loss to the Angels. It won't get any easier for Straily in Cincy today, and another rough outing is likely for the 24 year old.

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Bruce Marshall

Miami Marlins at Pittsburgh Pirates
Pick: Miami Marlins

Not many teams have been able to match the Pirates' pitching staff and their MLB-best 3.07 ERA this season, but since the All-Star break, the Marlins are more than keeping pace, posting a 2.51 ERA vs. the Bucs' 3.10. And the last time Miami's Henderson Alvarez faced Pittsburgh's Jeff Locke, it was advantage Marlins in a 2-0 win on July 26. In fact, Alvarez has pitched splendidly over his last three starts, reflected in his microscopic 0.69 ERA that span. As for Locke, though a revelation this season for Clint Hurdle's Pirates, note that he is off one of his worst starts, allowing four runs in just four IP last Wednesday vs. the Cardinals. Acknowledge Miami's offensive shortcomings, but the recent form of Alvarez gives the Fish a fighting chance at the big price tonight at PNC Park.

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Will Rogers

Baltimore vs. San Diego
Pick: Baltimore

Baltimore needs to start winning some games.  They are currently third in the race for the final Wild Card spot in the American League, trailing both Texas and Cleveland.  The Orioles start up a three-game series tonight in San Diego and will have their new acquisition, Bud Norris, on the mound.

Here are my keys to the game:

1.  Norris - Going back to his first start as an Oriole, Norris couldn't have asked for a pair of better opponents to start his Baltimore tenure. He got to face his old team, Houston, in his debut for his new club last Thursday and not surprisingly was effective, throwing six strong innings while allowing just two runs.  Now he gets to face a San Diego team that he's been effective against in the past, going back to when the Astros were a member of the National League.  Norris is 2-1 with a 3.13 ERA in four career starts vs. the Padres, shutting them out twice.

2.  No Cabrera - While Alex Rodriguez obviously grabbed the majority of the headlines with the Biogenisis scandal suspensions, San Diego also lost its best player, Everth Cabrera for the next 50 games.  Cabrera is a .283 hitter and leads them in runs scored.  He also ranks second in the National League with 37 steals.  Not surprisingly, the Padres are only 5-12 without him in the lineup this season.

3. X-Factor - Padres starter Edinson Volquez averages 4.3 walks per nine innings, which ranks among the worst averages in baseball. He issued five free passes in 6 1/3 innings his last start.

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Bryan Power

Toronto vs. Seattle
Pick: Seattle

Once upon a time, Felix Hernandez vs. Josh Johnson would be a dream pitching matchup.  But only King Felix has been holding up his end of the bargain in 2013 and as a result, I have no problem laying the juice with Seattle tonight at home.  Toronto won last night's series opener 3-1, but I can't see them winning again. Johnson has lost six straight starts and has a 0-7 TSR his last seven trips to the mound.  Over his last three starts, his ERA is a beyond atrocious 16.20.  He has allowed seven runs in three of his previous four outings.  Last time out, he gave up seven runs on 10 hits in a 8-2 loss at the Angels.  His road ERA for the season is 9.00 (1.853 WHIP).  Compare those numbers to those of Hernandez, who checks in w/ a 0.82 ERA and 0.818 WHIP his last three starts. Though his team start record is (somehow) only 1-2 during that span, King Felix has not lost a decision since May 25th, going 6-0 in 12 starts. He is the ERA leader in the American League and hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in any of his last seven starts. Clearly, the pitching matchup is decidedly in the Mariners favor tonight.

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Sean Murphy

Dodgers vs. Cardinals
Pick: Cardinals

This may not appear to be an ideal spot to fade one of the hottest teams in baseball, as the Dodgers send their ace, Clayton Kershaw, to the hill. However, a deeper look indicates that the price is more than fair to support the underdog Cardinals on Tuesday night.

L.A. took the opener of this series in somewhat surprise fashion as Zack Greinke outdueled Adam Wainwright in a 3-2 victory.

Let's not lose sight of the fact that the Cardinals are still a terrific home team at 32-18 this season. While they were slumping last week, that's not the case now, as they've gone 3-2 over their last five games, plating a whopping 41 runs in those three victories.

As I mentioned, L.A. will hand the ball to Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday. He was the pitcher of the month in July, and for good reason. However, he's by no means invincible, as the Dodgers have gone just a modest 13-10 in his 23 starts so far this season. That includes a loss to the same Cardinals he'll face tonight, suffered back in late May in L.A. In fact, the Cards are 2-0 in their last two games against Kershaw, roughing him up for 14 hits and 12 earned runs in 12 2/3 innings.

Joe Kelly will counter for St. Louis. He's been pitching very well lately, but he's been doing it well beneath most bettors' radar. Since joining the rotation a week-and-a-half ago, he's made two starts, tossing 12 1/3 shutout innings of 10-hit ball. The Dodgers did get the better of Kelly in his two starts against them last year, but it's not as if they crushed the right-hander, scoring only five earned runs in 11 innings.

While the Cardinals continue to soldier on without one of their best players, Yadier Molina, the Dodgers are also playing without a key cog in Hanley Ramirez, who is expected to miss his second straight game on Tuesday due to a shoulder injury. I feel these are two very evenly matched clubs, and while Clayton Kershaw offers the Cardinals a daunting task, I believe they'll be up for the challenge.

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SPORTS WAGERS

Chicago +106 over PHILADELPHIA

The Phillies have dropped five in a row and 14 of their past 15 games. Philadelphia’s lone win over that span came against Barry Zito. They’ve had a difficult schedule over that stretch (Atlanta, San Fran, Detroit, St. Louis and the Mets) but 14 losses in 15 games takes a negative toll. The Phillies were in striking distance before the All-Star break but have fallen 17 games back of first place Atlanta after being swept by the Braves this past weekend. Team morale can’t be high coming into this series. Kyle Kendrick was having a fine year but his recent struggles should not be ignored. Over his last five starts covering 26 frames, Kendrick has just 12 K’s against seven walks. He also has an alarming 30% line-drive rate over that span along with a 7.36 xERA. Kendrick's skills lack the wow factor. His hot streak earlier in the year coincided with a favorable 25% hit rate and 81% strand rate. Those rates have since normalized and the result is a thin margin for error. Kendrick may offer up some value as a pooch but as the chalk pitching for a demoralized group, he offers none.

Edwin Jackson delivered in July on the profit potential we forecasted out of him over the last six weeks. Jackson posted a 1.83 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in 34 IP during July. The recipe was elite command and the third-highest groundball rate (60%) in the NL. Jackson has a history of strong finishes. He has an outstanding and almost scary 12% line-drive rate over his past 46 innings. He has walked just six batters over his past 34 frames. Jackson’s 4.65 ERA is a complete mirage. Up until late June, Jackson’s 38%/61% hit%/strand% split was the perfect storm of bad luck but he has reversed his fortunes and the results are an exceptional hidden skill set. Jackson has a great chance to thrive again here against a Philadelphia squad that is last in the majors with a .212 batting average over its past 15 games.


N.Y. METS +100 over Colorado

The Rockies have just 21 road wins in 56 attempts this season. That is the 4th worst mark in MLB, ahead of only the Marlins, Brewers, Astros and White Sox. Over its past six road games, Colorado has scored 12 runs and overall it has dropped six of its last seven on the road. Tyler Chatwood is 7-4 with an impressive 3.15 ERA and while there are definite improvements in his profile, that include a 1.1 mph increase in his fastball to 93.6 mph, 3.5% jump in his swinging strike rate and an elite groundball rate, there are also warning signs that tell us to beware. First, Chatwood’s 3.15 ERA has been greatly aided by an unsustainable 80% strand rate. His 1.39 WHIP is not even at an acceptable level. Batters have hit .279 against him and when you combine everything together, that being a high strand rate, a high BAA and a high WHIP, it does not correlate to a low ERA. Chatwood has struck out four batters or fewer in nine of his past 10 starts and when he faced the Mets back on June 27, he whiffed just two batters in six frames. Let someone else purchase Chatwood’s ERA and W/L record while we step in and sell high. 

Jenrry Mejia had TJS in May 2011 and battled forearm tendinitis this spring. He was shut down until mid-May and has been on a strengthening program since. Mejia was one of the most impressive starters in any MLB spring camp a few years ago. Mejia was at one time a top prospect, who may finally be ready to break through and provide the Mets will quality results. His raw ability is undeniable, as he has a mid-90s fastball with movement. In two starts back with the Mets, Mejia has 11 K’s in 13 innings while issuing just one walk. He also has an elite 63% groundball rate and an xERA of just 2.62. The Rockies offense ranks 27th in MLB on the road and most of these Rockies have never seen him. Four current Rockies have faced Mejia and they are a combined 0-7 in those AB’s. There is great profit potential in Mejia’s arm and there is no doubt that he and the Mets are wrongly priced here.


Minnesota +168 over KANSAS CITY

James Shields is having another James Shields season. A model of consistency for years, Shields is once again posting relevant numbers that include a 3.08 ERA and 128 K’s in 155 innings. However, in 23 starts, Shields’ is just 6-7, meaning the Royals struggle to win when he takes the hill. There are also plenty of warning signs in his recent profile that suggest an implosion is forthcoming. Shields’ has pitched 205 innings or more in six straight years and he’s well on his way to another 200+ innings season. Last year he threw 228 frames and in ’12 he pitched 249 innings. Over his last five starts covering 32 frames, Shields has walked 12 and struck out 21. Whenever you see a declining K rate and increasing walk rate it’s a sure sign of fatigue. Over that recent five game stretch, Shields’ WHIP has sky-rocketed to 1.44 and his xERA over that span was 5.26. James Shields is a huge risk spotting a tag like the one offered here.

If you’re a regular reader of this section then you were warned plenty of times about the poor skills of Scott Diamond. We’ve been suggesting for months that he won’t last the year in the Twins rotation and sure enough, that pigeon, as they say, has come home to roost. Scott Diamond is now in the minors where he belongs and that has opened up the door for Andrew Albers. Albers' first professional season was in 2008 with the Padres, where he started just five games before suffering an injury that would lead to Tommy John surgery. As a result, he missed all of 2009. After playing independent ball in 2010, the Twins signed Albers to a minor-league contract and the lefty now gets his chance to crack the Twins rotation. Albers is the prototypical Minnesota control and finesse pitcher. He has put up impressive numbers this year during his first Triple-A season and over his last four starts (28.1 IP) Albers has given up just four earned runs with 25/4 K/BB while throwing a complete game on July 26. He can eat up innings and pitch efficiently deep into games. Albers throws strikes with precision command and induces weak contact and lots of groundball outs. He also gets a surprising number of strikeouts considering the lack of overpowering stuff. His best pitch is an 87-91 mph sinker followed by a decent slider and improving change-up. Albers has to rely on pitch mix and pinpoint control to keep hitters off balance but he has learned to do it very effectively. At age 27, Albers has paid his dues. He has great potential because of his precision control with all of his off-speed stuff. Ask any major-league hitter if they would rather face a guy with a straight 98 MPH fastball or a guy with different speeds to all corners of the plate and you would get the same answer 100% of the time. Albers brings that deception along with pin-point command. At Triple-AAA Rochester this season, Albers struck out 116 batters while walking just 32 over 133 frames. He has a great chance to do well in his debut and at this price, he’s worth a wager.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, August 6

Greg Shaker

Chicago Cubs +106

Yes, I am playing the Cubs again. How scary is that? Well, maybe not so much when we look at the facts. The Cubs have played pretty damn good away from home this year. In fact they're one of 3 teams with more wins on the road than at home. And they have won their last 3 in this situation! The Phillies have lost a Billion Games lately. I think 13 of 14. Kyle Kendrick has been Lit Up like a Christmas Tree just about everytime he goes to the Hill lately. Listen to this. 15 Runs allowed over his last 3 games comprising 13.2 innings. 26 Runs allowed over his last 6 games in 31 Innings. OUCH! Jackson on the other hand had a terrific July and is getting the job done on limited pitches. That's important for this guy who after high pitch count games is not nearly effective. His last 5 games? 94, 94, 93, 91, 96. He should be Ready to go doncha think? The last 10 games Philly is commanding a .185 BA and verses right handed throwers scoring 2.3 RPG. What is up with this team? It must be something bad because I'm playing the Cubs! And oh by the way, we do know about the Philly Fans right? It's just not easy being on this team right now for sure.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, August 6

Jeffrey Brandes

Twins vs. Royals
Play: Under 7½

This will be Albers' Major League debut. The 27-year-old Canadian was recalled from Triple-A Rochester on Saturday to replace Scott Diamond in the Twins' rotation. He was 11-5 with a 2.86 ERA in 22 starts at Rochester this year. James Shields is 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA in his last 3 starts. The Royals crushed the Twins, 13-0, in last nights' series opener to push their record to five games above the .500 mark.

Pitchers:
MINNESOTA TWINS: ANDREW ALBERS (L) ERA: 0.00 W/L: 0-0
KANSAS CITY ROYALS: JAMES SHIELDS (R) ERA: 3.08 W/L: 6-7

Key Trends:
The total has gone UNDER in 9 of Kansas City's last 13 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Kansas City's last 6 games at home
The total has gone UNDER in 15 of Minnesota's last 23 games
The Royals are 0-10-1 OU since 2007 when they scored at
least 13 runs last game

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