Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, September 16

Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, September 16

DUNKEL INDEX

NFL

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati
The Bengals look to take advantage of a Pittsburgh team that is 0-4 ATS in its last 4 games in September. Cincinnati is the pick (-6 1/2) according to Dunkel, which has the Bengals favored by 9 1/2. Dunkel Pick: Cincinnati (-6 1/2)

Game 223-224: Pittsburgh at Cincinnati (8:40 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Pittsburgh 127.890; Cincinnati 137.181
Dunkel Line: Cincinnati by 9 1/2; 37
Vegas Line: Cincinnati by 6 1/2; 41
Dunkel Pick: Cincinnati (-6 1/2); Under

MLB

Cleveland at Kansas City
The Royals look to build on their 12-2 record in James Shields last 14 starts as a favorite. Kansas City is the pick (-155) according to Dunkel, which has the Royals favored by 1 1/2. Dunkel Pick: Kansas City (-155)

Game 901-902: Miami at Philadelphia (7:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Miami (Dyson) 13.667; Philadelphia (Lee) 15.215
Dunkel Line: Philadelphia by 1 1/2; 6
Vegas Line: Philadelphia (-210); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Philadelphia (-210); Under

Game 903-904: Atlanta at Washington (7:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Atlanta (Minor) 15.717; Washington (Haren) 14.888
Dunkel Line: Atlanta by 1; 8
Vegas Line: Washington (-115); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Atlanta (-105); Over

Game 905-906: San Diego at Pittsburgh (7:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: San Diego (Cashner) 14.380; Pittsburgh (Burnett) 15.936
Dunkel Line: Pittsburgh by 1 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: Pittsburgh (-170); 7
Dunkel Pick: Pittsburgh (-170); Over

Game 907-908: Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee (8:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Cubs (Jackson) 15.318; Milwaukee (Peralta) 14.204
Dunkel Line: Chicago Cubs by 1; 7
Vegas Line: Milwaukee (-135); 8
Dunkel Pick: Chicago Cubs (+115); Under

Game 909-910: St. Louis at Colorado (8:40 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: St. Louis (Lynn) 15.267; Colorado (McHugh) 13.635
Dunkel Line: St. Louis by 1 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: No Line
Dunkel Pick: N/A

Game 911-912: LA Dodgers at Arizona (9:40 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: LA Dodgers (Ryu) 15.299; Arizona (Cahill) 14.454
Dunkel Line: LA Dodgers by 1; 9
Vegas Line: Arizona (-120); 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: LA Dodgers (+100; Over

Game 913-914: Seattle at Detroit (7:08 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Seattle (Saunders) 13.702; Detroit (Porcello) 16.157
Dunkel Line: Detroit by 2 1/2; 10
Vegas Line: Detroit (-210); 9
Dunkel Pick: Detroit (-210); Over

Game 915-916: Texas at Tampa Bay (7:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Texas (Garza) 15.115; Tampa Bay (Cobb) 14.325
Dunkel Line: Texas by 1; 6
Vegas Line: Tampa Bay (-140); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Texas (+120); Under

Game 917-918: Cleveland at Kansas City (8:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Cleveland (Kazmir) 15.607; Kansas City (Shields) 17.053
Dunkel Line: Kansas City by 1 1/2; 9
Vegas Line: Kansas City (-155); 8
Dunkel Pick: Kansas City (-155); Over

Game 919-920: Minnesota at Chicago White Sox (8:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Minnesota (Hendriks) 13.986; White Sox (Johnson) 13.241
Dunkel Line: Minnesota by 1/2; 7
Vegas Line: No Line
Dunkel Pick: N/A

Game 921-922: LA Angels at Oakland (10:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: LA Angels (Wilson) 16.407; Oakland (Gray) 15.602
Dunkel Line: LA Angels by 1; 9
Vegas Line: Oakland (-145); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: LA Angels (+125); Over

Game 923-924: Cincinnati at Houston (8:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Cincinnati (Cueto) 16.899; Houston (Bedard) 15.227
Dunkel Line: Cincinnati by 1 1/2; 7
Vegas Line: No Line
Dunkel Pick: N/A

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Pittsburgh at CincinnatiFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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History indicates it becomes very difficult to make the playoffs after starting the season 0-2 -- so this AFC North rivalry game shapes up to be a very important early season test for both teams. Expect a very physical defensive struggle between these two teams that have played 4 of their last 5 meetings Under the Total. The Bengals' defense did play well by holding the Bears to just 323 yards in their 24-21 loss at Chicago. Now the Bengals (0-1) return home where they have played 4 straight games Under the Total. Additionally, Cincy has played 6 straight games Under the Total against AFC opponents. Expect former-Steeler linebacker James Harrison to be particularly fierce when facing his former team that chose to not re-sign him. Pittsburgh (0-1) has significant problems on offense after a devastating season-ending injury to All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey and running back LaRon Stephens-Howling last Sunday in their 16-9 loss to Tennessee as a 6-point favorite. The Steelers' offense managed a mere 195 yards of offense against that suspect Titans defense last week. Pittsburgh has played 5 of their last 7 games Under the Total after a point spread loss. Additionally, the Steelers have played 7 of their last 9 games Under the Total against fellow AFC North opponents. Lastly, in their last 6 appearances on Monday Night Football, Pittsburgh has played 5 of these games Under the Total. Take the Under in this one.

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Jimmy Boyd

Detroit Tigers -1½

The Tigers are one of the best scoring teams in baseball and should have no problem putting up a big number against Seattle's Joe Saunders today. In his last three starts Saunders has a 6.23 ERA and a 2.231 WHIP. In those three games he has pitched just 4.3 innings per start and given up 24 hits. He is facing a Tigers team that has a .299 batting average at home and scoring 5.3 runs per game.

Seattle's offense is struggling, batting just .212 over their past seven games and scoring 2.7 runs per game. Things will not get any easier when they face Detroit's Rick Porcello today. Porcello has a respectable 4.56 ERA this year and has performed well against the Mariners throughout his career. His team has a 4-2 record in his six career starts against Seattle, and Porcello's ERA improves to 3.79 in those games. Covering this run line should be an easy task for the Tigers today.

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Justin Bay

Milwaukee Brewers -134

Edwin Jackson
- Season vs. MIL: 4.74 ERA, .274 OBA
- Away: 4.96 ERA, .271 OBA
- September: 3.00 ERA, .314 OBA
- Last Start: 7.0 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, .321 OBA
- Post All Star: 4.19 ERA, .287 OBA
- Brewers hitters vs. Jackson in his career: .286 BA

Wily Peralta
- Season vs. CHC: 3.86 ERA, .250 OBA
- Home: 5.08 ERA, .278 OBA
- September: 4.26 ERA, .224 OBA
- Last Start: 6.2 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, .087 OBA
- Post All Star: 4.27 ERA, .239 OBA
- Cubs hitters vs. Peralta in his career: .243 BA

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Rob Vinciletti

Kansas City Royals -153

KC fits a nice system direct from the database that has won 10 off times. We want to play on Home favorites in this range that are off a 1 run road dog loss if they scored 2 or less runs and no more than 1 error, and they are playing an opponent that scored 5 or more runs in a road win. The Royals lost a close 3-2 game to Detroit, while Cleveland coasted to a blowout win In Chicago to set this system up. KC has J. Shields going and he has better numbers than Cleveland starter S. Kazmir. This game is a right back rematch for both starters as these 2 hooked up last Tuesday in a 6-2 Royals win. Different venue, same result. Take KC tonight.

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Nick Parsons

Philadelphia Phillies -1½

While the Phillies won't be playing in the postseason, they're looking to finish the year on a high note.

Philadelphia has won six of its last nine and six straight in this series and all signs point to another convincing victory with a major mismatch on the mound.

Sam Dyson (0-0, 4.50 ERA)

Dyson makes his first start since being recalled from Triple-A New Orleans. He's made three appearances out of the bullpen.

He posted a 2.61 ERA over 31 innings of work in the minors.

Cliff Lee (13-6, 2.97 ERA)

Lee gave up two earned runs off five hits and one walk in a 4-2 victory over the Friars on Wednesday.

It was the fourth time in his last six starts that he's completed eight frames.

The veteran hasn't given up more than two earned runs in any of his last five starts.

The Bottom Line

The Phillies' bats have finally woken up as the team is collectively hitting .293 during the win streak.

Philadelphia welcomed back slugger Domonic Brown, who doubled in yesterday's loss to the Nationals.

Lee has been lights out of late, 3-0 with tiny 2.00 ERA over his last five starts.

And that doesn't bode well for the Marlins who own the league's worst offense; note that Lee is 4-1 with a 2.30 ERA in nine career matchups vs. them.

The Fish rank last in the majors in runs per game (3.2), batting average (.231) and have averaged just 2.4 runs while collectively hitting .215 in dropping eight of their last ten.

Dyson is poised to get rocked, as over his three relief appearances he has in fact given up four runs over eight innings (note that Dyson has given up six runs off nine hits over 2 1/3's innings in two career road outings).

A mismatch on the mound. A mismatch at the plate. Consider laying the 1.5 runs for the near pick-em price in this contest.

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Bruce Marshall

Seattle Mariners AT Detroit Tigers
Pick: Detroit Tigers

Pitching has been at the center of Detroit's current run of 4 wins in 5 games, as they've yielded seven runs in those five outings. All five starters have had quality outings, and the bullpen has conceded one run in its last 14 innings. All ominous stuff for visiting Seattle tonight as the Tigers close in on another AL Central crown. Tonight's starter Rick Porcello began the surge last Tuesday vs. the White Sox when pitching a seven-hitter in a 9-1 win, but another equal attraction tonight is the chance to go against Mariners starter Joe Saunders, who is s 2-6 with a 7.33 ERA in his last 10 starts, with opposing batters hitting .371 against him with 10 homers in 50 1/3 IP over that stretch.

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Steve Janus

Milwaukee Brewers -120

It might not seem like there's a whole lot to play for in tonight's game between the Cubs and Brewers, but pride will be on the line for both teams. No one likes to finish last and that's exactly what these two teams are playing to avoid in the NL Central. Milwaukee currently has a 2.5-game lead over the Cubs in the division.

The Brewers come in playing well, having won 6 of their last 10 overall. Chicago on the other hand has lost four of five and are right in the thick of a 11-game road trip. This is going to be a difficult game for the Cubs to get motivated for after two heartbreaking losses to close out their series with the Pirates.

Milwaukee is 19-5 at home vs the Cubs over the last 3 seasons and 33-15 against Chicago overall during that same stretch. Chicago is just 6-20 in their last 26 games vs a right handed starter, while Cubs starter Edwin Jackson is 1-5 over his last 6 starts as an underdog.

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Bryan Power

Miami vs. Philadelphia
Pick: Under

These are two of the worst offenses (and teams) in baseball and thus with a superb lefty (Cliff Lee) going against a team with terrible numbers against southpaws (Marlins), I think we're in store for an Under tonight in the series opener in Philadelphia. Also, make sure to check out my four plays for Monday....

Lee hasn't faced Miami since May 22nd when he threw a complete game shutout against them, giving up only three hits.  As you may know by now, the Marlins are really bad when facing lefties, scoring an average of only 2.8 runs per game while batting a collective .228.  Overall, Miami has the weakest hitting lineup in all of baseball, ranking dead last in runs scored, team batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.  Lee comes in with a 2.97 ERA and 1.032 WHIP in his 28 starts.  He's allowed just 3 ER in his last two starts, which have spanned 16 innings.  The Under has also cashed in each of Lee's last eight September starts.

The Phillies offense isn't very good either.  They come in averaging just 3.8 runs per game.  Miami has gone Under in each of its last five contests, scoring a total of eight runs.  Eight of the 13 games these two division rivals have played this season have stayed Under the total.  Miami has gone Under in 20 of its last 28 road games.

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Will Rogers

Atlanta vs. Washington
Pick: Atlanta

While I won with Washington on Sunday, tonight I don't like the Nats chances nearly as well going up against the Atlanta Braves. Coming into the year one would have thought this would be a big series, but its not despite Washington being hot.

Here are my keys to the game:

1. Head to Head - Atlanta is 12-4 this year. That includes a perfect 6-0 record here in D.C.  Washington is batting just .205 in those games and averaging just 2.3 runs/game.

2. Pitching Matchup - I definitely like Mike Minor over Dan Haren tonight.  Minor comes into tonight's matchup with a strong 2.65 ERA and 1.200 WHIP on the road. He has 166 strikeouts against 39 walks in 29 starts this season.  Washington goes with Dan Haren, who has a 5.05 ERA this year, including 9.25 ERA the last three starts.  The team is just 9-18 in his 27 starts, including 6-14 in night games.  His team start record at home the last two years is only 10-18.

3. X-Factor - Atlanta is 11-1 this season after scoring three runs or less in three straight games.

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Sam Martin

Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks
Prediction: Arizona Diamondbacks

Solid value backing the Diamondbacks tonight despite the Dodgers being the better overall team. LA has built their lead over second-place Arizona to 10.5-games in the NL West and aren't playing with a sense of urgency here. Arizona starter Trevor Cahill hasn't had a great season, but has done much better here at home than he has pitched on the road, splitting his ten home team starts and having an ERA just south of four. The big stat here is Cahill's career numbers against the Dodgers, going 5-2 (7-2 team start record) with a very low 2.04 ERA in those nine starts, including three starts this season allowing 3 ER's in 20 1/3 combined innings of work. Ryu has faced Arizona four times this season, getting knocked around a bit for a 5.48 ERA and at least three earned runs allowed in all four starts.

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Jack Jones

Cincinnati Reds -165

The Cincinnati Reds (84-66) want to clinch their spot in the postseason as soon as possible. They lead the Washington Nationals by 4.5 games for the final Wild Card spot in the National League. I look for them to take care of business against the lowly Houston Astros (51-98) in Game 1 of this series Monday.

Despite being banged up for much of the year, Johnny Cueto has been solid when healthy. He makes his return from injury tonight and looks to build on his 4-2 record with a 3.33 ERA and 1.069 WHIP.

Cincinnati will be up against Houston's Erik Bedard, who is 4-10 with a 4.47 ERA and 1.519 WHIP over 23 starts and six relief appearances in 2013. Bedard is 0-1 with a 5.74 ERA and 1.851 WHIP in his last three starts as well.

Houston is just 24-51 at home in 2013. The Reds are 7-0 in their last 7 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of less than .400. Cincinnati is 52-17 in its last 69 after allowing 5 runs or more in its previous game. The Reds are 35-16 in Cueto's last 51 starts as a favorite. The Astros are 11-46 in their last 57 home games vs. a team with a winning record. Bet the Reds Monday.

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Dave Price

Arizona Diamondbacks -104

The Dodgers have lost three in a row and eight of 11 as injuries to a number of key players have slowed down offensive production. While LA would have liked to continue its historic run, it knows the most important thing to do is get guys healthy before the playoffs. The Dodgers would have a tough time beating Arizona even if they were healthy. The Snakes have won 8 of 15 in the season series, and they are in great hands with Cahill stepping to the mound. He's 5-0 with a 2.04 ERA in nine starts against the Dodgers. LAs Ryu hasn't been as effective on the road this season and has a 5.48 ERA in four starts against the D-backs. The D-backs are 5-0 in their last 5 home games versus a team with a winning record. Take the Snakes.

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Art Aronson

Arizona Diamondbacks -104

The visiting Dodgers will send Hyun-Jin Ryu (13-6, 3.07 ERA) to the hill to try and break a recent slump. Ryu is coming off a tough start to this same Arizona team, allowing three runs on 10 hits over six innings in a loss to the Diamondbacks. Ryu is 1-1 with a 5.48 ERA in four games started versus Arizona lifetime. On the road this season, Ryu is 6-3 but has posted an ERA of 4.05. The Diamondbacks will counter with Trevor Cahill (6-10, 4.22 ERA). Cahill yielded three runs (one earned) on four hits over six innings on Tuesday in a no-decision against these same Dodgers. Note that Cahill has three quality starts in his last four games and has not given more than three earned runs since Aug.17. Cahill has a sparkling 5-0 record versus the Dodgers while posting an ERA of 2.04. The D-Backs have won two of their last three games and are solid at home with a 42-32 record. The Dodgers have struggled with injuries in their outfield to key players and have lost four of the last five games. Take the home Arizona at a nice price while getting a pitcher that has great record versus the Dodgers.

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SPORTS WAGERS

CINCINNATI -6½ over Pittsburgh

The Steelers go from a 7-point favorite over Tennessee in Week 1 to a 6½-point pooch in Week 2. Some will consider the points being offered this week on Pittsburgh to be an extreme overreaction to its loss at home to the Titans and under normal circumstances that would be true. However, in this case it’s not. Truth is, the Steelers were vastly overrated before the season began and therefore were greatly overpriced in Week 1. They still may be getting a little too much credit here because Pittsburgh is not close to being in the same class as the Bengals. The Steelers offense had little punch and losing La 'Rod Stephens-Howling puts a hole in the offense and special teams. Worse yet was losing C Markice Pouncey who directed the offensive line and prevented the defense from coming up the middle on a pass rush. The rushing game appears to be in shambles and the passing effort misses Heath Miller. They even lost their kicker Shaun Suisham to a hamstring injury and will rely on Shayne Graham for the next week or more. At home against the Titans, Ben Roethlisberger only threw for 191 yards and one score with one interception. Worse yet he was sacked five times. And now he loses his center. The Steelers offensive line may have never looked worse with the loss of Pouncey. With no RB and offensive line to protect, one has to wonder how Big Ben will manage here, as he’s likely to be under extreme duress the entire game. The Bengals all but shut down the Bears rushing effort with Matt Forte only gaining 50 yards on 19 carries at home. There is nothing close to Matt Forte in the current backfield for the Steelers.

Andy Dalton threw for 282 yards in Chicago and two scores. Maybe he was one dimensional just connecting with A.J. Green all day but at least he was connecting. Dalton is never the reason why the Bengals lose but usually why they win and he was sharp in the opener. The Bengals had no problem moving the ball at Soldier Field and we expect them to have an easier time this week. Chicago actually didn’t defeat the Bengals, the Bengals defeated themselves by blowing an 11-point second half lead, committing three turnovers and at least two foolish and very untimely penalties. It’s been a long time since the Steelers were being offered this many points and while it may be tempting to accept it, it’s not enough because the Steelers are really up against here with the personnel that they employ and all the injuries to their roster.


DETROIT -1½ +102 over Seattle

Current Mariners have seven hits in 59 career AB’s against Rick Porcello for a combined BA of .119. Porcello is an adjustment or two away from being one of the premier pitchers in the league because he’s dominating against right-handed bats and he’s dominating with the bases empty. Porcello has one of the best groundball rates in the majors at 56% and against righties that rate goes up to 62%. Everything in Porcello’s profile is trending the right way including an uptick in strikeouts. Seattle has dropped six of its past seven games and has scored two runs or less in five of those. Even if Porcello has an average outing, it’s not going to matter because Joe Saunders is likely to get slaughtered here.

Saunders can’t get righties out. He has a staggering OPS split of .462 vL, .901 vR. In his last start against a heavy Houston right-handed batting line-up, Saunders lasted three innings and surrendered 7 hits and six earned runs. Over his last 25 innings, Saunders has been tagged for 43 hits with five of them leaving the yard. It gets worse. On the season, Joe Saunders has a BAA of 3.15 and a WHIP of 1.63. Both those numbers (WHIP & BAA) are the worst in the majors among starters with at least 50 innings pitched this season. Saunders also has just 95 K’s in 170 innings and he makes Barry Zito look like Clayton Kershaw. What chance does Saunders have against the league’s best offense? Well, current Tigers have 34 hits in 95 career AB’s against Saunders for a BA of .358, a SLG% of .516 and an OPS of .918. Kirk Douglas could match those numbers.

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Wunderdog

Atlanta at Washington
Pick: Atlanta +101

Washington has made a gallant late season run to get within 4.5 games of the final NL wildcard slot, but with just 13 left to play, they are likely out of time, especially with Cincinnati playing Houston now.  Dan Haren has been their worst option on the mound all season as he is 9-12 with an ERA over five. Mike Minor has added depth to the Atlanta rotation, and his 13-7 record with a stellar 3.15 ERA has helped keep the Braves on top in the NL East all season long. He has been superb pitching vs. a winning team, where the Braves own a 12-2 record in his last 14 starts against them. The Nats have suffered against the good teams at home where they are a telling 1-9 in their last 10 here vs. a winning club. The Braves are 16-5 in their last 21 here, including seven straight wins. Play on Atlanta.

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Mike O'Connor

Pittsburgh (+6.5) 17 CINCINNATI 20

The Steelers come off a bad performance against the Tennessee Titans that saw them lose the game but also lose several key players as C Maurkice Pouncey and LB Larry Foote were both lost for the season with injuries. The Steelers were held on offense to only 195 yards at 3.7 yards per play with only 32 yards rushing and 2.1 yards per carry. On defense they played typical Steelers football, holding the Titans to 233 yards at 3.8 yards per play but not forcing any turnovers while giving away 2 themselves.

The Bengals lost a tough game versus the Bears last week with overall stats that were very close but just like the Steelers they lost the turnover battle by 2. They enter this game having split the series last year, losing at home 24-17 and beating the Steelers in Pittsburgh 13-10. Matchup analysis shows a defensive struggle with neither team having the ability to move the ball very well. I don’t have any situations that apply to this game and my line is Bengals -7 so this game to me is really a toss-up. I will lean to the Steelers plus the points and the Under.

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Rocketman

Chicago Cubs @ Milwaukee
Play: Milwaukee -120

The Chicago Cubs travel to Milwaukee to take on the Brewers on Monday night.  The Cubs come in losers of four of their last five games overall while Milwaukee has won three of their last four overall.  The Cubs are scoring only 2.9 runs per game their past seven games overall where they have an overall team batting average of only .206.  Edwin Jackson toes the rubber for the Cubs tonight where he is 8-15 with a 4.76 ERA overall this year and 4-8 with a 4.96 ERA on the road this season.  Milwaukee is 33-15 overall vs the Chicago Cubs the past 3 years including a very nice 19-5 at home.  Milwaukee is playing a little better ball than the Cubs right now.  We'll recommend a small play on Milwaukee tonight!

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