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Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, September 1

Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, September 1

DUNKEL INDEX

NCAAF

Ohio at Louisville
The Cardinals look to take advantage of an Ohio team that is 1-5 ATS in its last 6 road games. Louisville is the pick (-20 1/2) according to Dunkel, which has the Cardinals favored by 23. Dunkel Pick: Louisville (-20 1/2)

Game 215-215: Ohio at Louisville (3:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Ohio 73.274; Louisville 96.430
Dunkel Line: Louisville by 23; 54
Vegas Line: Louisville by 20 1/2; 58
Dunkel Pick: Louisville (-20 1/2); Under

Game 216-217: Colorado vs. Colorado State (6:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Colorado 74.504; Colorado State 74.376
Dunkel Line: Even; 53
Vegas Line: Colorado State by 2 1/2; 48 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Colorado (+2 1/2); Over

CFL

Winnipeg at Saskatchewan
The Blue Bombers look to take advantage of a Saskatchewan team that is 9-24 ATS in its last 33 games against a team with a losing record. Winnipeg is the pick (+14 1/2) according to Dunkel, which has the Roughriders favored by only 12. Dunkel Pick: Winnipeg (+14 1/2)

Game 233-234: Winnipeg at Saskatchewan (4:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Winnipeg 106.192; Saskatchewan 118.035
Dunkel Line: Saskatchewan by 12; 49
Vegas Line: Saskatchewan by 14 1/2; 53 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Winnipeg (+14 1/2); Under

WNBA

New York at Tulsa
The Shock look to take advantage of a New York team that is 0-4 ATS in its last 4 games against Western Conference opponents. Tulsa is the pick (-4) according to Dunkel, which has the Shock favored by 12. Dunkel Pick: Tulsa (-4)

Game 651-652: New York at Tulsa (4:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: New York 101.458; Tulsa 113.314
Dunkel Line & Total: Tulsa by 12; 154
Vegas Line & Total: Tulsa by 4; 148
Dunkel Pick: Tulsa (-4); Over

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DUNKEL INDEX

MLB

NY Mets at Washington
The Mets look to build on their 6-1 record in Jonathon Niese's last 7 road starts with the total set at 7 to 8 1/2 runs. New York is the pick (+125) according to Dunkel, which has the Mets favored by 1. Dunkel Pick: NY Mets (+125)

Game 951-952: St. Louis at Pittsburgh (1:35 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: St. Louis (Kelly) 15.381; Pittsburgh (Johnson) 14.500
Dunkel Line: St. Louis by 1; 7
Vegas Line: Pittsburgh (-110); 8
Dunkel Pick: St. Louis (-110); Under

Game 953-954: Philadelphia at Chicago Cubs (2:20 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Philadelphia (Kendrick) 14.105; Cubs (Arrieta) 15.482
Dunkel Line: Chicago Cubs by 1 1/2; 9
Vegas Line: Chicago Cubs (-110); No Run Total
Dunkel Pick: Chicago Cubs (-110); N/A

Game 955-956: San Diego at LA Dodgers (4:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: San Diego (Ross) 14.191; LA Dodgers (Greinke) 16.024
Dunkel Line: LA Dodgers by 2; 8
Vegas Line: LA Dodgers (-230); 7
Dunkel Pick: LA Dodgers (-230); Over

Game 957-958: Cincinnati at Colorado (4:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Cincinnati (Leake) 16.016; Colorado (Chatwood) 14.458
Dunkel Line: Cincinnati by 1 1/2; 9
Vegas Line: Cincinnati (-120); 10
Dunkel Pick: Cincinnati (-120); Under

Game 959-960: San Francisco at Arizona (4:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: San Francisco (Petit) 14.542; Arizona (Corbin) 15.921
Dunkel Line: Arizona by 1 1/2; 9
Vegas Line: Arizona (-165); 8
Dunkel Pick: Arizona (-165); Over

Game 961-962: Miami at Atlanta (5:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Miami (Eovaldi) 15.288; Atlanta (Wood) 14.982
Dunkel Line: Miami by 1/2; 6
Vegas Line: Atlanta (-230); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Miami (+200); Under

Game 963-964: NY Mets at Washington (8:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: NY Mets (Niese) 15.931; Washington (Ohlendorf) 14.818
Dunkel Line: NY Mets by 1; 7
Vegas Line: Washington (-145); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: NY Mets (+125); Under

Game 965-966: Cleveland at Detroit (1:08 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Cleveland (Salazar) 14.240; Detroit (Verlander) 16.210
Dunkel Line: Detroit by 2; 10
Vegas Line: Detroit (-170); 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Detroit (-170); Over

Game 967-968: Kansas City at Toronto (1:07 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Kansas City (Shields) 15.863; Toronto (Happ) 16.705
Dunkel Line: Toronto by 1; 9
Vegas Line: Kansas City (-140); 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Toronto (+120); Over

Game 969-970: Baltimore at NY Yankees (1:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Baltimore (Chen) 14.859; NY Yankees (Pettitte) 16.326
Dunkel Line: NY Yankees by 1 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: NY Yankees (-125); 9
Dunkel Pick: NY Yankees (-125); Under

Game 971-972: Chicago White Sox at Boston (1:35 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: White Sox (Rienzo) 15.850; Boston (Doubront) 17.380
Dunkel Line: Boston by 1 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: Boston (-230); 9 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Boston (-230); Under

Game 973-974: Seattle at Houston (2:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Seattle (Iwakuma) 14.727; Houston (Oberholtzer) 13.275
Dunkel Line: Seattle by 1 1/2; 9
Vegas Line: Seattle (-140); 8
Dunkel Pick: Seattle (-140); Over

Game 975-976: Minnesota at Texas (3:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Minnesota (Correia) 15.633; Texas (Blackley) 14.828
Dunkel Line: Minnesota by 1; 8
Vegas Line: Texas (-205); 9 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Minnesota (+175); Under

Game 977-978: Tampa Bay at Oakland (4:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Tampa Bay (Wright) 14.815; Oakland (Griffin) 16.403
Dunkel Line: Oakland by 1 1/2; 9
Vegas Line: No Line
Dunkel Pick: N/A

Game 979-980: LA Angels at Milwaukee (2:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: LA Angels (Wilson) 16.135; Milwaukee (Lohse) 14.783
Dunkel Line: LA Angels by 1 1/2; 7
Vegas Line: Milwaukee (-130); 8
Dunkel Pick: LA Angels (+110); Under

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Jim Feist

Kansas City Royals at Toronto Blue Jays
Pick: Kansas City Royals

The Royals have lost two straight to the Blue Jays after Saturday's 4-2 setback. Kansas City held a 2-0 lead heading into the 7th on Saturday, but gave up one in the 7th and three in the 8th for the loss. Don't expect the Jays to make it a hat-trick with another win here on Sunday as they face the best KC starter, James Shields. Shields is 2-0 his last three starts with a 1.69 ERA. And, even though the righthander is only 9-8 on the season, it's been more because of a lack of run support as Shields has a very good 3.14 ERA. Despite the lack of run suppoprt, Shields has won six of his last 10 starts. Conversely, Toronto starter J.A.Happ is 1-2 his last three starts with a lofty 6.46 ERA. Happ has allowed nine runs in his last 10 innings worked. The Royals have been a very good road team, posting a 13-6 mark after Saturday's loss in their last 19 away contests. You might think home cooking would be good for Happ, but not really. The Jays are 0-4 in Happ's last four home starts and 2-8 in his last 10 overall. Asking a lot here for the Jays to sweep three in a row against a quality pitcher like Shields. We'll have to lay a small price, but it's well worth it in this spot.

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ParlayJoe

Ohio\Louisville Over 58

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Sam Martin

Ohio at Louisville
Play: Louisville

We usually like to take the points with big lines such as this (we successfully backed both Western Michigan and Temple this week getting around four-touchdowns each), but not this afternoon as Louisville should win this game in a rout. The Cardinals have set themselves up for success with a tremendously easy schedule - not having to face one currently-ranked team this year. That easy schedule takes away a number of motivational distractions, and they should be focused squarely on Ohio U today. Bobcats fell apart late last year losing four of their last five games to end the regular season, and their defense should be torched here today against what is likely the front-runner for NFL-caliber quarterbacks in Teddy Bridgewater. Just too much offense on the home side and we'll recommend a 5* play on laying the points.

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Jimmy Boyd

Colorado Rockies +108

The Colorado Rockies are undervalued in this game. They have a .284 batting average at home, and are scoring 5.2 runs per game. Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Reds have posted a .247 batting average on the road, and scored 4.2 runs per game. The Rockies are also the hot team coming into this game. They have won four of their last six, while the Reds have lost four of their last six games.

Colorado also has an advantage on the mound. Tyler Chatwood has been phenomenal for the Rockies, posting a 4-1 record at home and a 3.15 overall ERA this season. Chatwood's career ERA against the reds is a stellar 2.25. The Red's Mike Leake has been getting torched recently. In his last three starts he has a 6.75 ERA and he is coming off a 6.3 inning performance in which he allowed seven hits and five earned runs.

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Rocketman

Kansas City @ Toronto
Play: Kansas City -137

The Kansas City Royals travel to Toronto to take on the Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon. Kansas City is 9-1 the past 3 years and 7-0 this year as a road favorite of -125 to -150. Kansas City is scoring 5.4 runs per game their past seven games overall where they have a team batting average of .300. Kansas City is allowing only 2.6 runs per game their past seven games overall where they are allowing opposing teams a combined batting average of only .218. James Shields is 9-8 with a 3.14 ERA overall this year, 7-3 with a 2.26 ERA on the road this season and 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA his last 3 starts. JA Happ is 3-4 with a 5.46 ERA overall this year and 1-2 with a 6.46 ERA his last 3 starts. Shields is 11-6 with a 3.22 ERA in his 22 career starts vs Toronto. We'll recommend a small play on Kansas City today!

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Rob Vinciletti

San Diego Padres vs. Los Angeles Dodgers    
Play: Los Angeles Dodgers

This one is too high a favorite to unit rate but for a free play were ok. Zack Greinke has produced a team record of 26-0 as a home favorite of more than -140, if his team did not blow a 5+ run lead in his last start. LA has won 25 of 32 vs losing teams and 4 of 5 as a home favorite in this range. The Padres have lost 20 of 30 vs winning teams. Greinke is 3-0 vs the Padres with a 2.37 era. He has won 10 of 11 here at home and has a 1.12 era in his last 3 starts. In home starts Greinke has won 7 of 8 home in September. T. Ross has been good this year, but the innings are starting to pile up and he has allowed 11 runs in his last 2 starts. We will back the Dodgers today.

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Doug Upstone

Cincinnati Reds vs. Colorado Rockies    
Play: Colorado Rockies

Tyler Chatwood is looking to pick up where he left off after coming off the disabled list. He is 4-1 at Coors Field this season and has an ERA of 2.61 during day games. The Rox are the underdogs in this one and it is great chance to steal some value on MLB if the aftermath of a CFB Saturday pre NFL. Reds starter Mike Leake has been hit hard his last three starts too...and now he is pitching in the Humidor. Bad combo.

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Dave Price

Milwaukee Brewers -113

Look for the Brewers to avoid being swept. They are 4-1 in their last 5 games following a loss and 6-2 in their last 8 in the third game of a series. Plus, they are in great hands with Lohse on the hill. He has a 3.14 ERA at home on the season. The Brewers are 7-1 in his last 8 starts, 8-1 in his last 9 home starts, 8-0 in his last 8 starts versus teams that have a losing record and 6-0 in his last 6 starts as a favorite. The Angels are 2-5 in their last 7 in the third game of a series. Plus, Wilson hasn't been as sharp on the road where he has a 4.43 ERA. Take Milwaukee.

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Jack Jones

Baltimore Orioles +115

After losing the first two games of this series to the New York Yankees, the Baltimore Orioles will be highly motivated for a victory to avoid the sweep in Game 3 Sunday. I like their chances of getting a win due to the edge they have on the mound.

Wei-Yin Chen is one of the most underrated starters in baseball. The left-hander is 7-7 with a 3.76 ERA and 1.215 WHIP in 17 starts this season. New York is hitting just .247 and scoring 3.8 runs/game against left-handed starters in 2013.

Andy Pettite is 10-9 with a 4.05 ERA and 1.406 WHIP in 24 starts this season for New York, including 4-4 with a 4.79 ERA and 1.597 WHIP in 11 home starts. Chen is 1-1 with a 2.92 ERA in his last two starts against New York, allowing four earned runs over 12 1/3 innings.

The Orioles are 4-1 in their last 5 games after losing the first 2 games of a series. Baltimore is 4-0 in its last 4 during game 3 of a series. The Orioles are 32-13 in their last 45 after scoring 2 runs or less in their previous game. Baltimore is 6-1 in Chen's last 7 starts vs. a team with a winning record. Bet the Orioles Sunday.

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Jeff Alexander

Arizona D-backs -165

The Giants are 2-10 in their last 12 road games versus a left-handed starter, 1-7 in their last 8 Sunday games and 0-7 in their last 7 games as an underdog of +151 to +200. I expect these negative trends to be extended as they go up against Arizona's Corbin. The D-backs are 22-5 in the lefty's last 27 starts, including 10-1 in his last 11 versus division opponents. The Snakes are even 5-1 in Corbin's last 6 starts as a home favorite of -151 to -200. He was hit hard in Philly his last time out so I expect him to be very focused and determined this afternoon. The D-backs have won both of his starts against San Francisco this season, and he was dominant in each while outdueling Matt Cain. Bet the D-backs.

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Vegas Connection

Cincinnati Reds at Colorado Rockies
Pick: Colorado Rockies

Great spot for Chatwood who just called up from Col Springs (Triple A) the former Angel can handcuff even potent Reds Lineup.

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Bruce Marshall

Tampa Bay Rays at Oakland Athletics
Pick: Oakland Athletics

It's been a big week for the A's, who have won five of six vs. playoff-likely Detroit and Tampa Bay outfits to move ahead of the Rays and into the first wild-card position while keeping the pressure on AL West-leading Texas. Tampa Bay's offense has scored only four runs in the first two games of this series, and it would seem as if Sunday starter Jamey Wright, who has pitched only out of the bullpen and has never worked beyond three innings this season, is going to need more sun support, especially considering his 4.56 career ERA vs. Oakland. note that the A's have also won in seven of Sunday starter A.J. Griffin's last ten starts.

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Greg Shaker

Pittsburgh Pirates +100

Strong value here though with Pittsburgh beating the Devil out of St Louis and putting the into a poor mindset. Kelly is throwing smoke and mirrors with a good ERA but a very poor WHIP and K/BB Ratio. He is a bomb waiting to explode and with Morneau in the lineup now for Pitt this could be the day. Johnson a very capable starter for the Pirates, most likely a packed house at the game, and just simply a bad spot for the visitors to close out this series.

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Joe Gavazzi

Ohio +21

Louisville is the clear favorite to win the title in the inaugural season of AAC play. The Cards come off an 11-2 SU season and have improved every season for 4th year HC Strong. That includes back to-back Big East titles. Led by Heisman candidate QB Bridgewater, his top 3 receivers, and the addition of RB Dyer (Auburn), as well as the entire defense, the Cards may find themselves a favorite in every game. But this team could be a bit fat after beating Rutgers for the league title and following it up with a 33-23 victory against Florida in their Bowl game. This has certainly not been a favorable role for HC Strong who is recently 3-6 ATS as non-Con HF, just 3-7 ATS -10+, including 0-3 ATS, -20+ L3Y. Far prefer the 3 TD Bobcats who were rolling at 7-0 SU (with whispers of BCS) before injury struck hard at mid-season claiming no fewer than 15 players, many of whom will be returning in 2013. The resulting 2-5 SU ATS finish at least culminated with a 45-15 Bowl victory v. La Monroe, once the Bobcats returned some of their walking wounded. In the last 2 seasons, for 9th year HC Solich, the Bobcats have recorded 19 wins with a balanced offense that has averaged 32/447 averaging 200+ running and passing yards in each of those two seasons In rounding out our coaching profile, consider that Solich is on an 18-9 ATS run as Underdog, including 5-1 ATS taking 10+. No surprise to this bureau if the Bobcats extend this into the 4th quarter.

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SPORTS WAGERS

SASKATCHEWAN -14½ over Winnipeg

How can you take the Blue Bombers here? This guest is a train wreck right now with a 1-7 record and no established QB. The Bombers will go with Justin Goltz here, again, because Max Hall and Buck Pierce are both injured and Coach Tim Burke said that Goltz has “taken the most reps this week”. Burke also said, "I'm hoping by game time Max Halls’ hand will be 100 per cent in case we need him”. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for Goltz. Instead of building the kids confidence, Burke is tearing it down by suggesting that Goltz is starting only because he’s the only man standing. The Bombers continue to turn the ball over at an alarming rate and they also take more undisciplined and foolish penalties than any team in the CFL. The Bombers brought in a new offensive coordinator last week against Hamilton and the team couldn’t move five yards against a weak defense. From top to bottom, from offense to defense to special teams, the Bombers looked more confused out there than a moth on the Las Vegas strip. This predictable offense will now play in the most hostile environment in the CFL with nothing going for them.

The only way the Riders don’t cover here is if they show up in body only in much the same way they did against Montreal in Week 8, when, as a 12-point choice, Saskatchewan needed a last minute miracle to win outright. That scare should be fresh on their minds, as it happened just two weeks ago and the Riders coaches will drive that near setback into their minds. Saskatchewan played a strong game last week in Edmonton and they appear to be back on track after a couple of less than stellar performances. 14½-points is a steep price to pay but this is Labour Day weekend in the CFL, where teams always get jacked up to play in front of their home crowd. Last year, on Labour Day weekend, Winnipeg came in here and was trashed 52-0 by a Rider team that was inferior to this year’s edition. There will be no revenge this year.

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SPORTS WAGERS

PITTSBURGH +103 over St. Louis

The Pirates have been beating up on these Cardinals. Pittsburgh defeated St. Louis four out of five games last month and it took the first two games of this series on Friday and Saturday, while outscoring St. Louis by a combined 12-1 count. Pittsburgh was a significant favorite in the first two games but come in as a pooch today because the pitching matchup appears to favor the visitor. We’re not so sure. Joe Kelly has appeared in 33 games for the Cardinals (12 as a starter) and comes in with a nifty looking 2.91 ERA. On paper, that’s pretty but under the hood, it’s a different tale. "Pedestrian" is the best way to describe Kelly’s skills. His lack of disaster starts looks encouraging but there is a big difference between disaster avoidance and dominance. Kelly has just six quality starts in those 12 games and the fact that he doesn't know how to miss bats, severely limits his upside. In 90 innings, Kelly has walked 34, while striking out just 59 for a horrible BB/K ratio. Over his last five starts covering 35 innings, Kelly walked 16 and struck out 18 for an even worse ratio. Kelly’s success is due to strand rate of 88%, which is on the extreme side of lucky. His xERA over his past five starts is 6.05, which is almost four runs higher than his actual ERA of 2.08 over that stretch. Rarely will you see a pitcher with these shaky skills maintain such a deceitful ERA over an extended run of games. Joe Kelly’s ERA is perhaps the most misleading in the game and we can almost guarantee you some regression in the final month.

To provide relief to an overtaxed bullpen, the Pirates summoned Kris Johnson from Triple-A on August 17.  Johnson was originally selected in the supplemental first round of ’06 by the Red Sox before earning his release in the middle of ’11. He then signed with an independent league team for the remainder of that season before inking a minor league contract with Pittsburgh in December ’11. Johnson has served in a variety of roles throughout his career, including a formidable starter this season so he’s no stranger to starting. He has a long, lean frame at 6’4” 195 pounds and he uses his height to his advantage. His fastball sits between 88-93 mph, but he can cut it and keep it low in the zone. He doesn’t allow many fly-balls or HR (just 6 HR’s in 130 innings at Triple-A Indianapolis), but he exhibits a pitch-to-contact philosophy. Johnson throws with a clean, quick arm, which adds movement to his pitches. His curveball is below average while his change-up can be effective at times. If he continues to spot his pitches and throw consistent strikes, he has a chance to stay up here as a valuable swingman that is comfortable in any role. In his first taste of big-league ball, Johnson pitched six innings of relief in that marathon 16-inning game against Arizona. He allowed just five hits in six innings and was very effective. The Pirates have momentum, they have Justin Morneau now (he’ll be in the lineup today) and they’ll play to a full house this afternoon while facing an overvalued pitcher and a Cardinals team that has lost four of six and have scored two runs or less in all four losses. Wrong side favored.   


N.Y. Mets +127 over WASHINGTON

Baseball is a strange game and when these two clubs hook up, it gets stranger. In five of the past 10 games that the Mets and Nats have played this season, the winning team has scored 10 runs or more. New York has wins of 11-3, 11-0 and 10-1 over that span while the Nats have victories of 14-1 and 13-2. The Mets figure to have a much better chance of going off on Ross Ohlendorf than the Nats do against Jonathon Niese. On July 26th, Ohlendorf threw a gem against the Mets, throwing 115 pitches and hitting 95 on the radar gun. In his next appearance, however, he couldn't top 85, was hit hard, and then placed on the disabled list. Ohlendorf returned On August 21 and to make a start against the Cubs and was knocked around for six hits (2 bombs) and four runs in 4.1 frames. He followed that up with a five-inning, three-hit, one run performance against the Marlins but that team could make Larry King look good. In Ohlendorf, you're looking at a mostly unsuccessful major league pitcher who had xERAs above 5.00 in both 2011 and 2012. He’s appeared in just 12 games this year, four as a starter. Over his career, Ohlendorf has appeared in 120 games, 77 as a starter and has a career ERA of 4.74 to go along with a career WHIP of 1.44. Not interested in Ohlendorf as the chalk.

We’re very interested in Niese as a pooch. Shoulder woes have held him Niese back in 2013 and subsequently landed him on the DL. That was then but since coming off the DL, Niese is thriving. He’s coming off a complete game, three-hit shutout against the Phillies on Tuesday. He induced 13 ground ball outs Tuesday and even drove in three runs. Niese has made four starts since coming off the DL and he has won his last three, compiling an impressive 1.93 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. In two of those outings he fanned nine hitters. There’s little question that Niese’s shoulder issues are behind him and he’s feeling a whole lot better. Niese has struck out 28 batters over his last 28 innings since coming off the DL, while issuing just six walks. This guy is strongly trending in the right direction and it’s also worth noting that the Nationals are among the worst hitting teams in the majors against southpaws.


Seattle -1½ +123 over HOUSTON

The Astros have scored two runs or fewer in four straight games. Over their last five games, all losses, Houston has scored eight runs and things don’t figure to get any easier here against Hisashi Iwakuma. Iwakuma has allowed three runs or fewer in eight of his past nine starts, while pitching into the seventh inning in six of those. In 184 innings, Iwakuma has walked just 34 batters while striking out 157. Over his last three starts, Iwakuma has a 56% groundball rate and a miniscule 11% line-drive rate and that’s after facing Texas twice and the A’s once. Iwakuma takes a big step down in class here facing an Astros club that is seeing BB’s and that has won just 14 of their past 56 games.

For whatever reason, the Mariners thrive on Sunday’s. They’ve won seven of their past eight Sunday games and they’ve also won the first three games of this series. The M’s go for the sweep here and there’s nothing suggesting they won’t get it.  Brett Oberholtzer has started just five games for the Astros since being called up in early July. Over the past two years at Triple-A, Oklahoma City, Oberholtzer started 18 games and had a BAA of .314 with an ERA over 6.00. He was expected to be a long man out of the bullpen when he was called up but the Astros are in evaluation mode for the short-term and as a result, they are handing the ball to him to see what he can do. Oberholtzer won’t wow you with his pedestrian stuff but he knows how to pitch with his strong, durable frame that eats innings. His ordinary pitches play up due to his clean, easy arm action and ability to repeat his arm speed and delivery. He throws strikes and commands his 89-92 mph fastball with precision but none of that served him well at Triple-AAA and it’s unlikely to serve him well at this level. Oberholtzer has a propensity for keeping the ball up in the zone and the result is a 30%/50% groundball/fly-ball split. He’s also been taken yard three times over his past two starts. The M’s big edge on the mound and at the plate has us leaning heavily towards the sweep.

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Nick Parsons

NY Mets vs. Washington
Pick: Washington

After losing the opening two games of this series and sitting 7 1/2 games behind the Reds for the second NL wild-card spot, I look for Washington to find a way to get the job done at the end of the night in this matchup.

Jonathan Niese (6-6, 3.69 ERA)

Niese is coming off a complete game shutout of the Phillies on Tuesday, giving up three hits and one walk while striking out five in the 5-0 win.

The southpaw has given up two earned runs combined over his last 22 innings of work.

Note though that Niese owns an extremely pedestrian 5.73 ERA on the road this season.

Ross Ohlendorf (3-0, 2.49 ERA)

Ohlendorf gave up one run off three scattered hits and one walk while striking out three over five innings in his team's 2-1 victory over the Marlins on Tuesday.

The big right-hander has now allowed one earned run or fewer in three of his last four starts.

Ohlendorf has already enjoyed supreme success vs. the Mets this season as well, sporting a minuscule 2.00 ERA in two appearances.

The bottom line: The Mets offense took a major hit last night as first baseman Ike Davis is headed to the DL with a strained muscle on his right side:

"I doubt we see him," New York manager Terry Collins confirmed. "2013 is going to go down as a real frustrating year for Ike Davis."

Look for motivated Washington to solve Niese and salvage the finale. Lay the mid-sized price.

Blade
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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, September 1

Wunderdog

Philadelphia at Chicago Cubs
Pick: Chicago Cubs -121

Philadelphia is a bad road team at 7-19 in their last 26 road games, and 8-21 as a road underdog. The offense is No. 27 in baseball in runs scored and on base percentage with no power. Starter Kyle Kendrick has lost three straight decisions and four of his last five. The Phillies are also 1-6 in Kendrick's last seven road starts against a team with a losing record. He faced the Cubs earlier this year and allowed 5 runs (4 earned) in six innings. The Phillies are 4-14 in their last 18 road games vs. a right-handed starter and face Chicago righty Jake Arrieta, who is 2-1 at Wrigley Field in 31 innings where opponents hit .194 off him. The Cubs held on for a 4-3 win Saturday and get another win today. Play the Cubs.

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