Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, August, 19

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, August, 19

Brett Atkins

My free play is on the Milwaukee Brewers tonight, as I like them as a home underdog here against the St. Louis Cardinals, thinking there is some value with this pup.

I know full and well the Cardinals are 30-21 against National League Central foes, but things are getting awfully tight, and the Brewers look like a potential spoiler team that will get the best of St. Louis, which is one game behind division-leading Pittsburgh and 1 1/2 games ahead of Cincinnati for the top wild-card spot.

The Brewers may not be playing for a division title, but there is still momentum with this team, not to mention pride when hosting the Redbirds this late in the season. Milwaukee is in a battle with the Chicago Cubs to stay out of the NL Central cellar. The Brew Crew are a half-game ahead of the Cubs after winning or splitting its last four series, and just split a four-game series with contending Cincinnati over the weekend.

I think the Brewers will be out for revenge knowing the Cardinals lead the season series 8-2 and swept a four-game set in their last trip to Milwaukee. Take the home pup.

3♦ MILWAUKEE

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, August, 19

Chris Jordan

My free play for Monday is on the Baltimore Orioles over the Tampa Bay Rays, as I think we have a bit of value with the home underdog in this clash.

As hard as it may be for the Orioles to face Tampa Bay's David Price, the Rays are going to have their hands full with Chris Tillman, who has emerged as the ace of the Orioles' pitching staff.

True, the right-hander has yet to show he can handle the Rays, as two of his three losses this season have come against them this season. Tillman has suffered only one loss since dropping a 3-1 decision to Tampa Bay on May 19. But if there were ever a chance to show why he is 14-3 this season, tonight is as good as any other night, as he's won 22 of his last 27 career decisions.

Let's take a shot with the O's here.

2♦ BALTIMORE

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, August, 19

Scott Delaney

My free winner for Monday is the Washington Nationals the Chicago Cubs.

With the Nationals' postseason prospects fading awfully fast, I think they're about to come alive, as they have four games against the listless Chicago Cubs to try to do breathe life back into their chances. The Nationals are now 15-1/2 games behind Atlanta in the National League East and 9-1/2 behind Cincinnati for the second wild card as they open this series in Chicago.

If there were ever a time to see the Nationals' potentially dangerous pitching rotation, it's in this series, as the baby bears have been shut out in five of their last eight home games, and narrowly avoided being shutout yesterday, when they dropped a 6-1 decision to the St. Louis Cardinals in the series finale.

Chicago, which is hitting an abysmal .197 as a team with nine extra-base hits in its past eight home games, has lost six of seven overall and nine of its last 10 at home.

Take the Nationals and don't bother listing pitchers.

2♦ WASHINGTON

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, August, 19

Wunderdog

Cleveland at Los Angeles Angels
Pick: Los Angeles Angels -121

The Los Angeles Angels have simply not lived up to what their potential was perceived to be, and at this point, they are not going to be playing in October. The one good thing they have on their side is Jered Weaver. Weaver was lit up for nine earned runs in his last start, and while that may have many backing off this Angel team, along with their poor showing vs. the lowly Astros, history dictates otherwise. The Angels are 23-0 when Weaver gets the ball following a start where he had a WHIP of greater than two, as this top of the rotation pitcher has proven to respond consistently off a horrible start. The Indians are a vastly improved team from a year ago, but still haven't solved their issues playing on the road vs. a right handed starter where they are 24-49 in their last 73. Play on Los Angeles.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, August, 19

Joe Gavazzi

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Miami Marlins
Play: Los Angeles Dodgers   

Two great rookie pitchers match up but that is where the similarity ends. Fernandez is 8-5 with 2.45 ERA including 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA in his L 6 starts. Ryu is 12-3 with a 2.91 ERA. The Dodgers have won his last 9 starts. The Marlins are not as bad as their 47-75 record appears. Since the return of their best bats, Morrison and Stanton Miami is 31-30. Yet those records pale in comparison to the recent streaks of the Dodgers. They lost for us yesterday when (SS Ramirez committed 2 ninth inning errors). BUT THEY HAVE NOT LOST CONSECUTIVE GAMES SINCE JUNE 21, THEIR CURRENT RUNS REMAIN 42-9, 24-4 and 10-1, including 19-2 AWAY. In what figures to be a great pitchers’ dual, the Dodgers have all the other edges.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, August, 19

TJ Pemberton

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Miami Marlins
Play: Los Angeles Dodgers 

The LA Dodgers look to get back on track tonight after seeing their 10 game win streak slip out from under them with some late errors by their shortstop. Tonight they travel down to Miami to face the Marlins who are just 4-6 in the last 10 played and riding a win streak of one. Ryu takes the hill for the Dodgers and gets another tough opponent on the other end. Last time our he out lasted Harvey and the Mets, and tonight he gets Jose Fernandez who owns a ERA of 2.45 and seeks his 9th win of the year. Ryu only has faced the Miami Marlins once in his career and I see him going 2-0 against them in his only 2 starts. The Dodgers are 5-2 in the last 7 meetings.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, August, 19

Jack Jones

Boston Red Sox -121

I'll back the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox (73-53) over the last-place San Francisco Giants (55-68) in Game 1 of this series tonight. Boston has more to play for and the edge on the mound in this one.

Jon Lester is 10-7 with a 4.31 ERA in 25 starts this season. In his lone career start against San Francisco, Lester pitched a complete game while allowing just one earned run in a 5-1 Red Sox victory.

Tim Lincecum is 6-12 with a 4.38 ERA in 24 starts this year. Lincecum was Lester's opponent in his lone career start against Boston. The right-hander allowed four earned runs and eight base runners over three innings in that 1-5 loss.

Lincecum is 1-13 (-14.2 Units) against the money line after a loss this season. Lincecum is 1-11 (-11.9 Units) against the money line when playing against a good team (Win Pct. 54% to 62%) in the second half of the season over the last 3 seasons. The Red Sox are 52-17 in their last 69 interleague games vs. a team with a losing record. San Francisco is 0-7 in Lincecum's last 7 starts as an underdog. Bet Boston Monday.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, August, 19

SPORTS WAGERS

N.Y. Mets +115 over MINNESOTA

The combination of the Twins versus a right-handed starter, with rookie Kyle Gibson opposing that righty, is about the worst combination you’ll find on today’s board when spotting a tag. Gibson has some of MLB’s worst skills. In 47 innings over his first nine starts, Gibson has walked 18 batters while striking out a measly 27. A line-drive rate of 28% over his last four starts suggests he may be suffering from fatigue after 93 innings in the minors prior to his call-up. Of Gibson’s nine starts, only two have been of the pure quality variety and he hasn’t thrown a good game for since July 23rd, five starts ago. To make matters even more difficult, the Twins .239 batting-average against right-handed pitching is the worst mark in the AL. Kyle Gibson has no appeal as the chalk and when he is favored he’s almost an automatic fade every time.   

Dillon Gee is coming off a six innings, two earned outing against the red-hot Dodgers. He’s been dealing it up lately with a total of eight earned runs allowed over his past six starts. Aside from facing the Dodgers, Gee also two-hit the Braves over seven frames and three-hit the Royals over seven innings as well. Over his last 35 innings, he’s walked just six batters. Before his injury in 2012, he was having a breakout campaign, with a high strikeout rate and outstanding command. His ground-ball tilt adds an extra element of skill and it appears as though Dillon Gee is entering the elite status level. Gee’s 5.25 ERA on the road hide his true skills, which allows us to buy him at a bargain price.


Cleveland +115 over L.A. ANGELS

Jered Weaver has been on our fade list for two years running and for good reason. Unfortunately he was a dog in his last start in New York so we couldn’t fade him. Sure enough, Weaver went out and got bombed for nine runs in five innings and there’s more of that to come. Jered Weaver is all fluke. His skills have deteriorated to the point of no return. Weaver’s fastball velocity has steadily declined into the mid-80s. His groundball rate/fly-ball split over his last three games is an embarrassing 15%/50% with a very disturbing 35% line-drive rate over thrown in over that stretch. That’s only three games but he’s been flashing similar poor skills the entire season and even most of last season when he won 20 games. Every ball hit off Weaver is hit hard. He’s not fooling anyone and when he wins or gets consecutive outs, it’s because of pure luck. Despite what others think or believe, Jered Weaver is the most overvalued starting pitcher in the big leagues and one of the least skilled.

The Angels are just a pathetic bunch that doesn’t seem to care if they win or lose. How can a team with this much talent keep losing games to inferior talent week after week after week. The Halos hit rock bottom this past weekend with a series loss to the lowly Astros. Prior to that, the Angels were destroyed in the Bronx. Over their past six games, L.A’s pitching staff has been torched to the tune of 49 runs allowed. Losing is highly contagious and the Angels have that bug spreading quicker than ever. They’ll now face a pitcher they’ve never seen before in Danny Salazar. Salazar was called up to pitch July 11 against Toronto. He had a breakout 2012, after missing most of '10 and '11 undergoing Tommy John surgery. Upon return, his fastball actually had a bit more velocity and his secondary pitches got much better. Salazar gets good movement down in the zone on his fastball, inducing lots of groundballs and strikeouts. His fastball ranges from 92-96, and can touch 99 mph. Salazar rounds out his arsenal with a power slider and a change-up that has shown much improvement this season. Adding an effective change-up has made Salazar much tougher on left-handed hitters. He started the year at Double-A Akron, putting up stellar skills and a 2.67 ERA. Salazar has 22 K’s and just five walks issued over 18 innings in his three starts since being called up. An elite 0.96 WHIP also makes him appealing. This kid can pitch and has all the tools and talent to be a mainstay in the Indians rotation for a long time. Taking back a tag against the Angels, his appeal is even more attractive.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, August, 19

Stephen Nover

LA Dodgers -115

This isn't a fade on Jose Fernandez. But the Dodgers are such a superior team and have their own hot pitcher, lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu, that this short price gets me into play.

The Dodgers had their 10-game winning streak end on Sunday. Hanley Ramirez committed a pair of ninth-inning errors in the loss. Ramirez would very much like to atone against his former team.

The Dodgers have won 19 of their last 21 away matchups. The Marlins are 4-10 in their last 14 overall games. The Marlins don't have a powerful offense to begin with, but it's even worse against lefties. 

The Dodgers have won 77 percent of Ryu's starts, including the last nine. In his past four outings, Ryu has yielded 21 hits and two walks in 23 innings. He's given up just four runs during this span.

Ryu faced the Marlins once before back on May 11 and held them to one run on five hits in 6 2/3 innings.

Fernandez has great home numbers, but I'm not going to pass on the Dodgers at this short price.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, August, 19

Teddy Covers

Tampa Bay vs. Baltimore
Pick: Over

My clients and I cashed a winner yesterday with the Orioles Over the total, bailed out when Colorado’s bullpen imploded in the latter stages of the game.  But that’s what Baltimore’s lineup is capable of doing at any point in a ballgame; leading MLB in home runs and ranked #4 overall in runs scored. 

No surprise here if Baltimore’s offense gets their fair share against Tampa’s David Price and the mediocre bullpen behind him.  Price got lit up for five runs in six innings in his lone previous start against the Orioles this year.  He threw 117 pitches in his last start against Seattle, and in two previous starts this year following 110+ pitch efforts, Price has been lit up both times: 15 hits and 13 runs allowed in just nine innings of work.

Chris Tillman has been throwing too many pitches as well, seven straight starts with 102+, including three 112+ pitch efforts in his five starts since the All Star break.  Tillman has a poor track record against Tampa over the course of his career, including a mediocre (at best) 4.76 ERA in three previous starts against the Rays this year.  Expect some crooked numbers on the scoreboard tonight!

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, August, 19

Bruce Marshall

Boston vs. San Francisco
Pick: San Francisco

When SF's former Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum has been good lately, he's been real good, posting a 1.23 ERA in his three starts prior to last Wednesday's shaky effort at Washington, and with a no-hitter at San Diego on July 13 not long before. So hit best effort would figure to be good enough to quell a Boston side that is wobbling a bit with four losses in its last five and five defeats in its last seven on the road.  The Bosox, off a late Sunday night game (and loss) to the Yankees before flying across the country (at least the Giants were able to get out of Miami at a decent time on Sunday), might be hard-pressed with starter Jon Lester and his 4.72 road ERA.  And while the Giants did lose on Sunday vs. the Marlins, they did rediscover their offense this weekend in south Florida, scoring 25 runs in three games.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, August, 19

Bryan Power

St. Louis vs. Milwaukee
Pick: St. Louis

It's hard not to prefer the Cards over the Brew Crew Monday night w/ Shelby Miller on the hill.  St. Louis still has the best run differential in the National League at +140.  They have gone 8-2 vs. Milwaukee in 2013 including a four-game sweep here at Miller Park earlier this season.  Miller is 2-0 vs. the Brewers....

In those two starts, Miller has allowed just 1 ER in 13 innings. One was seven innings of shutout ball where he allowed just one hit. Here in Milwaukee, he allowed just one run in six innings.  He has 13 K's versus just one walk.  Miller comes in w/ a 2.97 ERA in his 23 starts this season.

The Brewers were blown out 9-1 at home by Cincinnati Sunday while the Cardinals rolled the Cubs 6-1.  But the really bad news for Milwaukee is that Marco Estrada has a 7.72 ERA at home this season and has not pitched well against St. Louis, posting a 9.00 ERA in three starts. St. Louis is 58-33 vs. righties this year.  I see the road team coming in and winning easily here.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, August, 19

Jeff Alexander

Cincinnati Reds -167

The Reds have won 9 of 12 overall and 5 of their last 7 against the Diamondbacks, who have dropped 17 of their last 25 on the road. The Reds are 10-4 in Arroyo's home starts this season and 6-1 in his last 7 starts as a favorite of -151 to -200. Delgado is 0-3 on the moneyline in 3 starts versus Cincy. He's allowed 8 runs in his last 10 1-3 innings versus the Reds.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, August, 19

Dave Price

San Diego Padres +1.5 -144

The Padres are showing value catching runs at this price against a struggling Pittsburgh club that has dropped seven of nine. The Pirates haven't been able to figure out San Diego. In fact, they have lost 38 of the last 52 meetings. Liriano is having a spectacular season, but he hasn't been as sharp on the road where he has a 3.75 ERA. Cashner has been cash at home where he's 5-2 with a 2.50 ERA. The Padres are 8-3 in Cashner's last 11 starts versus teams with a winning record and 4-0 in his last 4 home starts versus winning teams. Take San Diego on the run line.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, August, 19

Bob Balfe

Washington Redskins -2.5

The Steelers come into this game pretty banged up. This is one of those teams that have most of their positional battles locked up and can give a long look at the young guys tonight. I really do not like the Steelers back up receivers. Outside of the main 2-3 guys there is no experience at all. The Redskins are a younger team that has a lot more to work on. I like the fact they are at home and feel they will be more mentally focused for this game. Take Washington.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, August, 19

Nelly

Arizona Diamondbacks + over Cincinnati Reds

The Diamondbacks are 8-3 behind Randall Delgado this season and he owns a nearly 4:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio with a solid 3.52 ERA. He has not allowed more than four earned runs in any start and Arizona is 6-0 in his last six outings. After a 16-inning affair on Sunday the Diamondbacks will need a strong outing as Arizona opens up a critical series in the wild card race. While most assume that the three NL Central teams will sweep the wild card spots, Arizona is now just five games behind the Reds with a great opportunity with a four-game set in Cincinnati this week. Arizona is 8-3 in the last 11 games with great offensive numbers, scoring over 5.7 runs per game in that span and the schedule has been very tough of late. Cincinnati is 11-5 in the last 16 games, not conceding any ground but the Reds have really struggled on offense lately. In 14 of the last 21 games Cincinnati has scored four or fewer runs and over the last two weeks the Reds have one of the lowest team wOBA averages in baseball. Over the last 10 games the Reds are batting just .204 compared with a .281 mark for Arizona despite Cincinnati still winning games. The Reds have been playing some of the worst teams in the NL the last two weeks and the competition will get much tougher this week with an Arizona team that is finding ways to win close games. Arizona has a lower bullpen ERA for the season and the Diamondbacks should have opportunities against veteran Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo is a control master but he has been erratic, allowing seven or more runs twice in his last nine starts. He has very sharp numbers at home but the Reds are just 11-9 in his last 20 starts, including losing two of his last three home outings. This is too steep of a line with Arizona featuring a pitcher with a higher ceiling and the Reds posting awful offensive numbers of late. While Arizona will be a bit worn down from the long game Sunday the team knows this is the most important week of the season if they want to stay in the race.

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