Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August, 8

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August, 8

Jack Jones

Boston Red Sox -118

The Boston Red Sox (70-46) have the best record in the American League. While the Kansas City Royals are hot right now, I believe the Red Sox are showing excellent value as only a small favorite in this one.

Jon Lester has had a solid season at 10-6 with a 4.52 ERA on the year. What I really like about the left-hander heading into this one is his past success against Kansas City. Lester is 6-2 with a 1.64 ERA and 1.044 WHIP in nine career starts against the Royals.

Bruce Chen has pitched well in limited action this year, but he's clearly being overvalued tonight. That's especially the case when you consider Chen is 3-5 with a 6.11 ERA and 1.679 WHIP in 11 career starts against Boston.

The Red Sox are 37-14 in their last 51 games as a favorite. The Royals are 2-8 in their last 10 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600. Kansas City is 5-15 in Chen's last 20 starts as an underdog. The Royals are 1-4 in Chen's last 5 starts vs. Boston. Bet the Red Sox Thursday.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August, 8

Steve Janus

Tigers/Indians Under 7½

Expect a low scoring game tonight between the Tigers and Indians as they wrap up their 4-game series. Detroit will send out Max Scherzer, who is well on his way to the Cy Young. Scherzer is a ridiculous 16-1 with a 2.85 ERA and 0.912 WHIP in 22 starts. He's had little trouble adjusting to life on the road, where he's 6-0 with a 2.21 ERA and 0.791 WHIP. He will be opposed by Cleveland's Zach McAllister, who despite a 4-6 record has pitched very well this season. McAllister has a 3.47 ERA over 14 starts and an impressive 2.82 ERA in seven starts at Progressive Field.

Adding even more value is the recent success both starts have had against the opposition. In Scherzer's last two starts vs the Indians he's allowed a total of 3 runs on 9 hits in 15 innings, both of which came at Cleveland. McAllister hasn't allowed more than 2 earned runs in each of his four career starts vs the Tigers. If that's not enough. Home plate umpire Ron Kulpa has a strong history of games finishing under the total. The UNDER is 13-9 this season 54-33 over his last 87 and 258-198 overall.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August, 8

Dave Price

Cleveland Indians +1.5 -111

The Indians are showing value catching 1.5 runs at this price with Zach McAllister on the mound. McAllister has a 3.47 ERA and 1.338 WHIP on the season. It is worth noting that the Tigers are only 1-8 this season versus AL starting pitchers with a WHIP of 1.300 to 1.400. McAllister has been at his best at home where he has a 2.82 ERA. The Indians have won each of his last two and seven of his last 10 starts. They are also 4-1 in his last 5 home starts and 7-3 in his last 10 starts as a home underdog. The Tribe has won each of McAllister's last three starts versus Detroit. He held the Tigers to two earned runs in each while lasting at least six innings in each. Max Scherzer is having an outstanding season. However, I believe the Tigers are being overvalued here with him on the rubber. His clubs are 8-20 all-time in his road starts following a start where he allowed one earned run or none. The Tribe have seen Scherzer three times already this season so that's to their benefit. Plus, big Max has a 4.59 career ERA against Cleveland. The Indians are 10-1 off 2 straight home losses against division rivals the last two seasons. Take the Tribe.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August, 8

Jeff Scott Sports

3 UNIT PLAY

Pittsburgh/ Miami Under 6.5: Just don'rt see a lot of runs in this one. Gerrit has 20 starts on the year and hasn't allowed more than 3 ER's in any start. He omes in with a 3.26 ERA in his last 3 starts, but also with a very nice 0.72 WHIP over that stretch. He is taking on a Miami offense that struggles to score on the road, averaging just 2.96 rpg away from home. On the other side we have Miami phenom and strikeout machine, Jose Fernandez. Jose comes in with a 2.54 ERA overall, while not allowing more than 2 ER's in 10 of his last 11 starts. In his last 3 starts he has a 1.67 ERA and an 0.70 WHIP, and he has an amazing 35 K's to just 3 walks over the 3 games. Pittsburgh hits just .239 vs righties at home and their home game have gone 36-21-3 to the Under this year, while Miami road games have gone 31-19-4 to the Under. Let's also note the the Under is 18-6-2 in Miami's last 26 on grass, while the Under is also 15-4-2 in the last 21 meetings between these teams in Pittsburgh. Both starters are an in very good form and we should get a similar 3-2 type that we had when these two guys met 11 day's ago in Miami.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August, 8

Joe Duffy

Bengals vs. Falcons
Play: Under 37

Both teams will be without their top receivers. Well in Atlanta’s case, perhaps their No. 2 guy.

The Bengals A.J. Green and his 97 receptions from last season will be watching. Julio Jones is out for Atlanta. He had 79 grabs for 1.198 yards last season. Superstar TE Tony Gonzalez is also out.
Atlanta is very thin at right tackle with Mike Johnson out, so are not going to expose Matt Ryan. Ryan and the Bengals Andy Dalton will see limited action.

These teams practiced against each other this week and the Bengals defense shined against the Atlanta passing game.

Among the many reason why we have had enormous success in preseason betting is knowing what, “quarterback depth” truly means in exhibition play. The Bengals have a couple of journeyman former starters behind Dalton. There is a reason why they are guys who will never again be No. 1 QBs on a healthy depth chart.

Falcons coach Mike Smith traditionally has pulled his starters after the first series in the opening game of NFLX. Sure, both of these teams have a ton of frontline talent on offense, which is why the total is very high for an opening preseason game. However, all the stars will play little if at all.
This game stays way under.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August, 8

Jeff Alexander

SF Giants -163

Lincecum is no longer worthy of "ace" status, but he's far more proven than Milwaukee's Hand and showed he is still capable of dazzling on occasion when he tossed a no-no last month. In fact, Lincecum has given up 3 earned runs or less in 9 of his last 11 starts. The Giants are 5-2 in Lincecum's last 7 starts as a favorite of -151 to -200. The Brewers are 4-17 in their last 21 games as an underdog of +151 to +200 and 0-5 in Hand's last 5 starts.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August, 8

SPORTS WAGERS

Seattle -2 over SAN DIEGO

The first preseason game is almost always a guessing game but one thing we know for sure is that the Chargers have a new coaching staff while the Seahawks coaching staff is quite familiar with this routine. That’s significant because for the first time, new Charger coach, Mike McCoy will be in charge and he has to get himself familiarized with coaching an NFL game in terms of sending out plays, communication with other coaches and sending out the right personnel for each and every play. And it’s not like the Chargers are a disciplined group of guys that will make things easy for McCoy. No, the Chargers have a history of making more mental mistakes than almost any team over the years and that was under a seasoned and veteran coach in Norv Turner. McCoy’s other priority will be to put together an offensive line to protect Phillip Rivers. Keeping Rivers in one piece is imperative. He was sacked 49 times last year and committed 22 turnovers, mainly because he was under siege behind a leaky line. Rivers will see very little time because an injury to him would be devastating and McCoy figures to have his best people in there after an evaluation period before allowing Rivers to take a snap. That leaves the quarterbacking duties to Brad Sorenson, Charlie Whitehurst and Nathan Enderle. The Chargers have so many kinks to work out and so many players to evaluate that the scoreboard will be the least of their worries.

Pete Carroll is now in his fourth year as head coach of the Seahawks. In Week 1 of the preseason schedule, Carroll is 3-0 because he’s a guy that likes to set a tone. This is what Carroll had to say about the upcoming preseason games. Said Carroll, “The way we look at it is this is the time to find out full-speed football. We are not trying to fool you that we are tackling (in practice). We are not tackling out here. These four games are huge for that. Now it comes to game time. And things change sometimes (in games) and we have to get to the truth — who are these guys and what are they all about and where do they fit in and how can we best utilize their talents?’’ Read that over a couple of times and you’ll get a better understanding of Pete Carroll. He creates competition for players looking to earn a spot on the roster. He’s serious about winning and he’s serious about the preseason. The Seahawks will send out at least two experienced QB’s in Brady Quinn and Tavaris Jackson and both will play their hearts out in an attempt to win the back-up job. Russell Wilson may even play the first quarter or take 20-25 snaps. Peter Carroll also has a big ego and he would not like losing to an inferior team or a rookie head coach that is coaching his first NFL game. Carroll ups his Week 1 preseason record to 4-0.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August, 8

Nelly

Dodgers / Cardinals Over

The plan to move Carlos Martinez into a starting role may pay dividends eventually but he has not pitched more than two innings in any MLB relief appearance this season, maxing out at 32 pitches. He did go back to AAA to make two starts prior to this outing but completed just five innings in each outing and can't be counted on for a long showing as his control can be an issue with a track record of walks in AAA this season. With Shelby Miller leaving in the first inning last night the Cardinals needed to burn Jake Westbrook as well as have four other relievers work and a St. Louis team that has struggled with relief pitching will have its work cut out tonight. The Dodgers are batting .262 in the last 10 games and Los Angeles has been one of the better hitting teams in baseball over the month, even a bit stronger than St. Louis who has the NL's best scoring numbers on the season. St. Louis has gone just 4-6 in the last 10 games but scoring has not been the problem with the team batting .273 with almost six runs scored per game. Hyun-Jin Ryu has delivered a strong season for the Dodgers but he has allowed 12 runs in his last four starts and seven or more hits in five of his last seven starts despite the Dodgers going 7-0 in his last seven outings. Ryu owns a 1.83 ERA at home but a 4.52 ERA on the road and the 'over' is 8-2 in his 10 road starts this season. The 'over' is 6-2 in the last eight St. Louis games and while Busch Stadium has leaned 'under' lately this is a total set lower than the season average for Cardinals home games.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August, 8

SPORTS WAGERS

MONTREAL +2 over Toronto

This is a no bet for several reasons. For one, the Alouettes are so banged up and so out of sync that we cannot recommend a bet on them in good conscious. Dan Hawkins lasted all of five games for Montreal after trying to instill a new system that wasn’t broken to begin with and Hawkins failed miserably. GM Jim Popp takes over for now and that’s another adjustment the players are going to have to make. From the beginning, the media and fans in Montreal have been asking why any coach would come in and throw out an offensive system that was as brilliantly successful as the one Marc Trestman put in. The Als had to make this change because Hawkins looked lost out there. There is just far too much uncertainty surrounding the Als right now and that makes them difficult to pull the trigger on.

Why not the Argos then? Well, for one, we’re getting a bad number. The Als opened as a 1½-point choice here and the entire betting world is on the visitor and that influx of money has now made Toronto a 2-point choice. That’s a bad number when we could’ve taken 1½-points just two days ago. Additionally, the Argos are coming off a dismantling of the Lions and that has Toronto’s stock high. That’s also not the right time to step in. On paper it looks like the Argos should run over these Als but we’re not so sure. Montreal has been a highly successful program running the offense it will employ tonight. In fact, the Als have been near unbeatable at home over the past decade and while this is a different year, it’s still very much a lot of the same personnel. The Als players are also likely feeling a sense of relief and they should be a lot more relaxed tonight. We’re never in favor of buying high and selling low and if you bet Toronto tonight that’s precisely what you’ll be doing. We’re much more in favor of buying low and selling high and this game fits that theory to a tee. This is a no play for us but we would not be surprised one bit if the Alouettes came out, played a very strong game and won it outright. You’ve been warned.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August, 8

Jeff Benton

Your Thursday freebie is the Royals at home over the Red Sox.

Boston just took 2 of 3 to open their current 10 game road trip in Houston, but it wasn't as easy as the Sox would have liked, as they needed to rally in one game from 5 runs down, and needed a 3-run jack last night in the 9th to escape with the victory.

I expect the Red Sox to be just a little tired when they hit Kauffman Stadium tonight, as they face a Kansas City team that has been buzz-sawing through the second half of the season with a 15-4 record.

Kansas City is on a 13-2 run their last 15 games, and starter Bruce Chen has not allowed more than 2 runs in any of his 4 starts since picking up a regular spot in the rotation.

Jon Lester allowed a season-high 11 hits, and 6 runs his last trip to the mound against Arizona, so I will look for the hot-hitting Royals to get something brewing against him tonight on their home field.

The Royals won 2 of 3 earlier this year in Boston, and I will side with them tonight to take the series opener.

4♦ KANSAS CITY

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August, 8

Brad Wilton

Thursday's free play winner is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as they play host to the Baltimore Ravens and we get some NFL action underway.

Baltimore may be the defending Super Bowl champions, but the Ravens were ravaged on both sides of the line in the off-season and now must find players to replace last year's championship roster.

I do not think John Harbaugh's focus will be on actually winning this game tonight, but more on finding out who is going to be playing come regular season.

As for Tampa Bay, rookie coach Greg Schiano got the Bucs out of the gate quickly last season, but they sputtered to a 1-5 finish the last 6 games of the campaign. Look for the 2nd year coach to have his team focused from the outset tonight, and ready to deliver in front of the home fans.

The fact the Bucs have gone 8-2 straight up, and 8-1-1 against the spread the past 10 years in preseason openers is enough to make me side with the home favorite in this "meaningless" preseason contest.

2♦ TAMPA BAY

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August, 8

Brett Atkins

Your free winner for tonight is on the Detroit Tigers in their series finale at Progressive Field in Cleveland with the Indians.

Your free winner for tonight is on the Detroit Tigers in their series finale at Progressive Field in Cleveland with the Indians. And with this game, go ahead and list the starting pitchers: Max Scherzer and Zach McAllister. After all, if there has been one constant for the Tigers - one bit of consistency - it's been Scherzer, who won his first 13 decisions and I think will add to his Cy Young credentials with a solid win tonight.

Cleveland has dropped six games back of Detroit in the American League Central, and I don't think McAllister is the answer for the Tribe. The right-hander is winless over his last five starts. And even though he's had some success against the Tigers over the course of his career, this is going to a tough chore against a surging Detroit squad that has won 10 of the last 11 meetings between the clubs, including seven of eight at Progressive Field.

Take Detroit.

3♦ DETROIT

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August, 8

Scott Delaney

I love the Cincinnati Bengals and Atlanta Falcons to go Over the posted number tonight.

As it is with any other preseason game in Week 1 of the exhibition campaign, nobody should expect much from the regular starters - if anything at all. But what can you expect is valiant efforts from everyone who does play, as this is the first audition to get down to that 53-man roster.

Personally, I can't help but think about how much the Falcons have been looking forward to getting back on the football field. Think about it, they were so close to beating the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game, bolting out to a 17-0 lead. But they had to play the second half, and the 49ers ran the football down  Atlanta's throat.

I don't care if it's preseason or regular season, you lose that game in that manner, there's a bad taste left over and any minutes you can get on the field, and any type of salvation you can get, you want it. This one being at the Georgia Dome, the Falcons will be fired up just to take the field.

As for the Bengals, knowing Andy Dalton is in place at quarterback, that leaves the backup job up for grabs, so the competition will be heavy between Josh Johnson and John Skelton. Cincinnati's offense could see plenty of fireworks, so I suspect at times this will appear to be a shootout.

Finally, this one is being nationally televised. The bright lights of "Monday Night Football" take center stage in Atlanta, with Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden calling the action. Trust me, these teams are set to put on a show. Take the Over.

2♦ Cincinnati/Atlanta OVER

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August, 8

Harry Bondi

ST LOUIS (+3) over Cleveland

We got the free football winners of to a good start Sunday with Dallas outright over Miami and will back another dog that we expect to win outright tonight with the same rational. We like to bet coaches more than anything other than inside info in the pre-season. Jeff Fisher always took pre-season games seriously when he was the head coach in Tennessee and we made money backing him. Last pre-season, his first in St Louis, we also went with Fish and he again made us money going 3-1 ATS. We expect the Rams to be a money maker again this pre-season so lets jump on them tonight as they take on a poor Cleveland squad that will be without its top two running backs. Take the Rams over the Browns in preseason action tonight. Your next FREE WINNER will be posted Friday after 5 pm est.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August, 8

Bob Balfe

Ravens +3 over Bucs

There can't be sucker bets in the preseason can there? The defending champs are sure to be on most gamblers ticket tonight. I just don't think the Bucs have the depth at the skill positions to compete with the Ravens backups. Tampa has a new coach and a ton of things to work on. You might think they are more determined to win this game for momentum,, but I believe that every single player in the NFL has the competitive mentality to want to win no matter if its a regular season game or preseason. The far better team here is the Ravens up and down there lineup. Take Baltimore

Browns -3.5 over Rams

I don't like laying this much in the preseason because teams go for 2 at the end of games and take it of ties to avoid overtime. I just can't get over the fact the Rams are going to have to revamp their entire running game with Jackson gone and just about every receiver on this lineup has never caught a pass for this team. This is the true definition of the word youth. Every skill position is young and once they get into the backups mistakes will be made tonight. Its almost a guarantee. Cleveland has some issues in their running game so I expect tonight's game to be a showcase of the QB's airing the ball out which they need major work with. This should be a good game, but I think the Rams will hand the Browns this game with youthful mistakes. Take Cleveland.

Pass MLB

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August, 8

Teddy Covers

Washington at Tennessee
Play: Tennessee -3

The Redskins are expected to start three rookies in the secondary tonight.  The Titans are expected to give Jake Locker an extended look for a preseason opener; in the range of 20 snaps.  Locker has a lot to prove this August…Advantage: Tennessee.

The betting markets like Washington’s backup QB duo of Rex Grossman and Pat White after Kirk Cousins sits.  No argument there.  But the Titans backup QB rotation looks good as well, with former Bills starter Ryan Fitzpatrick and four year veteran Rusty Smith backing up Locker. 

Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan is taking a very relaxed attitude towards game planning here in August.  They’ll be focusing on “general concepts” tonight.  Washington was -3 in their preseason opener last year and scored a grand total of seven points in their non-cover against the Bills.

We’ve got rainy conditions expected in Nashville this evening.  In the regular season, it wouldn’t matter much.  In the preseason, with Shanahan still taking criticism for not pulling RGIII in the playoffs, a soggy field ensures that no one of consequence will be on the field for long, at least on the Washington side.

Titans head coach Mike Munchak wants to win, plain and simple.  His quotes: 
“You know what, we want to win. That’s it. We want to win. I don’t look at it any other way. I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘Well, we played so-and-so, that’s why we didn’t win.’ We want to win no matter who’s out there. I think you always have to have that attitude for the first quarter to the fourth, no matter who’s in there."

Munchak, talking about evaluating his roster for the bevy of cuts to come: “It’s not all about Thursday night.  You don’t want guys who’ve worked 9, 11, 12 weeks already and say, ‘Well, Thursday night and 10 plays, they didn’t look so good, so we’re going to make a change.’”  Take Tennessee.

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