Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, October 7

Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, October 7

DUNKEL INDEX

NFL

NY Jets at Atlanta
The Jets look to bounce back from last week's 38-13 loss to Tennessee and build on their 4-1 ATS record in their last 5 games after scoring less than 15 points in their previous game.  New York is the pick (+10) according to Dunkel, which has the Falcons favored by only 5.  Dunkel Pick: NY Jets (+10)

Game 437-438: NY Jets at Atlanta (8:40 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: NY Jets 130.924; Atlanta 135.950
Dunkel Line: Atlanta by 5; 39
Vegas Line: Atlanta by 10; 43
Dunkel Pick: NY Jets (+10); Under

MLB

St. Louis at Pittsburgh
The Cardinals look to stay alive in the series and take advantage of a Pittsburgh team that is 0-5 in Charlie Morton's last 5 home starts against a team with a winning record. St. Louis is the pick (-120) according to Dunkel, which has the Cardinals favored by 1 1/2. Dunkel Pick: St. Louis (-120)

Game 925-926: Atlanta at LA Dodgers (9:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Atlanta (Garcia) 15.972; LA Dodgers (Nolasco) 14.863
Dunkel Line: Atlanta by 1; 9
Vegas Line: LA Dodgers (-150); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Atlanta (+130); Over

Game 927-928: St. Louis at Pittsburgh (3:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: St. Louis (Wacha) 17.107; Pittsburgh (Morton) 15.673
Dunkel Line: St. Louis by 1 1/2; 7
Vegas Line: St. Louis (-120); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: St. Louis (-120); Under

Game 929-930: Boston at Tampa Bay (6:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Boston (Buchholz) 16.964; Tampa Bay (Cobb) 16.124
Dunkel Line: Boston by 1; 6
Vegas Line: Tampa Bay (-115); 7
Dunkel Pick: Boston (-105); Under

Game 931-932: Oakland at Detroit (1:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Oakland (Parker) 14.371; Detroit (Sanchez) 15.904
Dunkel Line: Detroit by 1 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: Detroit (-155); 7
Dunkel Pick: Detroit (-155); Over


NHL

NY Rangers at Los Angeles
The Kings look to bounce back from their 5-3 loss at Winnipeg on Friday and build on their 4-1 record in their last 5 games after allowing 5 goals or more in their previous game. Los Angeles is the pick (-150) according to Dunkel, which has the Kings favored by 1 1/2. Dunkel Pick: Los Angeles (-150)

Game 1-2: New Jersey at Edmonton (9:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: New Jersey 10.820; Edmonton 10.506
Dunkel Line & Total: New Jersey by 1/2; 6
Vegas Line & Total: Edmonton (-130); 5 1/2
Dunkel Pick: New Jersey (+110); Over

Game 3-4: NY Rangers at Los Angeles (10:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: NY Rangers 11.107; Los Angeles 12.594
Dunkel Line & Total: Los Angeles by 1 1/2; 4
Vegas Line & Total: Los Angeles (-150); 5
Dunkel Pick: Los Angeles (-150); Under

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Jim Feist

NHL   (3) NEW YORK RANGERS VS (4) LOS ANGELES KINGS

Take: (4) LOS ANGELES KINGS

Reason: The LA Kings look to regain the form that won them the Stanley Cup in 2011-12. Last season the Kings just couldn't hold back the best team in the league, the Blackhawks, losing to Chicago in the Western Finals. LA opened the season with a shoot-out win at Minnesota, 3-2. The Kings then were blown out at Winnipeg, 5-3. They return to LA for their first home game of the season and they have been great at home. The Kings are 41-11 in their last 51 games at the Staples Center. The Rangers are on a west coast swing, losing their opening game of the season at Phoenix, 4-1. After LA tonight they travel to San Jose and then Anaheim. The Rangers have now lost four straight on the road dating back to last season. Not only are the Kings almost unbeatable at home, but they have beaten the Rangers in four straight meetings. Anything under a buck-fifty here with the Kings looks like a great value to me. I'm taking the LA Kings in their home opener.

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Big Al McMordie

Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils

Take 'under' the total.

54 wins - 35 losses last 89 picks.

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Jimmy Boyd

Pittsburgh Pirates +100

The Pittsburgh Pirates have been one of the most undervalued teams in baseball this season. Their pitching rotation is stacked with talent, and they will send a red hot Charlie Morton to the mound today. In his last three starts Morton has a 1.86 ERA and a 0.983 WHIP. His overall numbers at home this season are not far behind, posting a 2.85 ERA and a 1.174 WHIP. Run support should not be an issue as the Pirates are batting .265 in the playoffs and scoring an average of 4.7 runs per game.

The Cardinal's offense is struggling to get hits in the post season. They have a .222 batting average and find themselves in a tough spot being down 2-1 in the series, and playing on the road tonight. They will sent Michael Wacha to the mound, and I think he will buckle under the pressure of starting in such an important postseason game. Wacha has just three road starts this season and his teams record is 1-2 in those games.

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Art Aronson

Red Sox vs. Rays
Play: Under 7

Clay Buchholz (12-1, 1.74 ERA) gets the call for the visitors; Buchholz would get injured half way through the year and returned on Sept 10th to post a 3-1 record over four starts. Along with sub 2.00 ERA, Buchholz sports a 1.03 WHIP and 96:36 K:BB ratio. While past success guarantees nothing in the future, Buchholz will be throwing with the added confidence today in knowing that in the two times that he's faced the Rays, he's dominated them, going 2-0 with 17 K's over 13 scoreless frames of work. Buchholz will be opposed by Alex Cobb (11-3, 2.76 ERA) who went 6 2/3's scoreless innings in the 4-0 Wild Card game victory over the Indians. Cobb would scatter eight hits and one walk while striking out five in the dominating performance (note that Cobb was 7-0 with a respectable 2.81 ERA in front of the home town crowd this year). With the shift in venue and with these two red hot hurlers facing off, I'll recommend a second look at the "under" in Game 3 of this ALDS.

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Doug Upstone

Detroit Tigers -150

On Monday, PLAY ON home favorites like Detroit with a money line of -125 to -175, averaging 4.7 to 5.2 runs a game, against an American League starting pitcher (Jarrod Parker) with a an ERA of 4.20 or less, after a combined score of three runs or less. In the last 16 seasons this system is 38-9, 80.9 percent.

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Rob Vinciletti

St. Louis Cardinals -116

The Cardinals find themselves down in this series after dropping g last nights game 5-3 here in Pittsburgh. St. Louis does bounce back well though as they are 12-2 this season as a road favorite off a road loss. The Pirates are 0-5 as a home dog off a home favored win by 2 or more runs. St. Louis has M. Wacha making the start and he went 7 strong shutout innings allowing just 2 hits vs the Pirates earlier in the season. He will oppose C. Morton tonight and Morton has not fared well in starts vs the Cardinals as he has a 6.52 era. He has lost all 3 home starts vs the Cardinals and allowed 5 earned runs in 6 innings here in an earlier start vs the Cardinals. Look for St. Louis to send this one back to St. Louis for a series deciding game five.

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Nick Parsons

Los Angeles Kings -145

New York is 4-5 (-1.6 units) in its last nine when playing with 3 or more days rest, while LA is 9-6 (+2.3 units) after a loss by 2 goals or more in its previous contest.

When the smoke clears at the end of this one, I look for the home side to find a way to get the job done at the end of the night.

The Rangers

New York hasn't played since Thursday when it lost 4-1 at Phoenix. An inauspicious start for new head coach Alain Vigneault to say the least.

It managed just 23 shots on net.

The Rangers are forced to play nine road games in 23 games because of renovations to Madison Square Garden.

The Kings

LA is coming off a 5-3 loss at Winnipeg on Friday.

It was the second game of a back to back to open the season as it won 3-2 at Minnesota the night before.

The Bottom Line

With two whole days off to prepare for their home opener, I believe the Kings are worth the price of admission in this situation.

Consider laying this reasonable mid-sized price.

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Steve Behr

Cardinals vs Pirates
Play: Under 7.5

Earlier in the season I wouldn't have thought about taking an under with these two pitchers on the mound, especially Morton, but these two have been hot in there last few outings. Here is my reasoning Morton is 0-0 w/ a 1.86 ERA in his last three starts. Wacha is 2-3 w/ a 1.72 ERA in his last five starts. Take for note that Morton has allowed 7 runs in his last 7.2 Innings Pitched against St. Louis this year but I think those runs stop today. The weather is dreary and wet- 52 degrees as I write this at 11am in Pittsburgh.

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SPORTS WAGERS

DETROIT -1½ +143 over Oakland

The Tigers did not have an easy time of it in Oakland. They were shut out in Game 2 and did not score after the first inning in Game 1. That’s 17 straight innings without scoring a run and that’s not usually the best time to wager on a team, especially when spotting runs. However, the Tigers have a huge edge on the mound today and player for player, they are vastly superior at the plate than these A’s. Give Oakland credit for putting together one of the most unlikely seasons in the history of this game that rivals The Amazing Mets in 1969. The A’s are a collective blend of castoffs, weak hitters and a very average starting pitching staff. Among that group of average pitchers is Jarrod Parker, who gets the call here and who would not even crack the Tigers rotation or many other rotations for that matter. That said, his swinging strike rate has increased for the second straight season and now sits at a lofty 10.7%. His problem has been that batters are squaring up his pitches when they do hit them. Through the first four months of 2013, batters had a .640 SLG% against his four-seam fastball, a .632 SLG% against his sinker, and a .478 SLG% against his slider. Parker did have a much better August and seemed to have turned things around but then September rolled around. In his last five starts of 2013 covering just 27 frames, Parker posted a 6.41 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP with three of those games taking place at pitcher-friendly Oakland Coliseum. The other two games came at two other pitcher-friendly parks in Seattle and Minnesota. Parker’s batted ball profile over that stretch was a weak 35%/28%/37% - groundball/line-drive/fly-ball, which is even further indication that his stuff is all over the place. The last time Parker faced the Tigers he allowed eight runs in 3.1 innings.

By contrast, Anibal Sanchez posted a 2.41 ERA down the stretch in his final six starts of the season covering 37 frames. Over that span, Sanchez whiffed 44 batters and his line-drive rate of just 13% in September was the lowest in the majors among starting pitchers with over 20 innings of work. He also posted a 53% groundball rate and appears primed and poised to make this start. Anibal Sanchez is among the elite starters in the game but he pitches in the shadows of Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. Imagine this guy as your #3 when he would be the staff ace on 80% of the teams in this league. This game will also be played at 1:00 PM EST in the cool temperatures in Detroit. In ideal conditions, the A’s are an average baseball team that has somehow managed to defy logic. In this pivotal Game 3, the cream figures to rise to the top and that cream will not be wearing green and gold.


PITTSBURGH +100 over St. Louis

The Pirates are not getting the credit they deserve by the public, the oddsmakers or both. That Pittsburgh is a pooch in this Game 4 at home is completely wrong. Outside of one bad inning in the first game of this series in which A.J. Burnett walked Adam Wainwright to lead off the fourth inning, the Pirates have been the better team in every aspect since. Timely hitting, the ability to bounce right back after giving up a run to tie it the previous half inning, stealing a base and managerial decisions have all been in the Pirates favor. This is a team as balanced and talented as any in the playoffs, yet they are not priced as such because the Cardinals are still the Cardinals and their pedigree says they should be favored over a team that hasn’t been heard from in 20 years. We say the past is the past and virtually has no impact whatsoever on the outcome of this game or series. The Pirates should be favored in this Game 4.

Michael Wacha most certainly has the skills to succeed for a long time. Wacha made just nine starts for the Cardinals this season and is coming off a one-hit, 8.2 inning gem against Washington on September 24 to close out his regular season. Wacha made just nine starts for the Cards this season but he also made several appearances out of the bullpen and appears able and ready to make this important start. Wacha is a first rounder out of Texas A&M, who dazzled in his professional debut in 2012 at the minor-league level by striking out 40 while walking only 4 in 21 innings. With use of his big leg kick and ¾ arm slot, Wacha generates lots of deception in his delivery while being able to maintain great downhill tilt on his 90-94 mph fastball. To compliment his plus fastball Wacha features a solid curveball, slider, and a plus changeup; all of which he can throw for strikes. The ceiling on this kid is high but pitching a playoff game in a hostile environment with your teams’ survival on the line is a little bit different than pitching a game in July, August or September. It’s also worth noting that Wacha, despite going 2-0 in five road appearances (three starts), posted a 4.64 road ERA with a BAA of .316 while being tagged for three jacks in 18.1 frames. Wacha is no lock to throw a gem here but even if he does, he’s no lock to win it either.

Clint Hurdle knows baseball. He continues to pull the right strings to make the Pirates run like a well-oiled machine. Hurdle will call on Charlie Morton here to make the most important start of his entire career. Morton has been one of MLB's most dominating pitchers during his second half return from 2012 Tommy John surgery and he's more than a groundball machine. Morton has a 94 mph average four-seam fastball. He's still refining the pitch mix that will generate more swings-and-misses from batters, but with his good velocity and the best groundball tilt in MLB that sits at an incredible 63% for the entire year, Morton is one of baseball’s most undervalued and underappreciated pitcher. No question the Cardinals are capable of winning this game but that’s a different argument. Our position is that the Pirates are in better form that the Cardinals, they’re at home and they have an equal chance of winning or maybe even more. That said, the Pirates should not be the underdog in this game and that makes them a play based solely on pure value.


LOS ANGELES -1½ +145 over Atlanta

Dodger Stadium is traditionally viewed as a pitcher's park but in modern times it plays quite neutral. At 330 feet down the lines, 375 in the alleys and an even 400 feet to straightaway center, it's not a small park but the ball carries well in the still air of the ravine. Normally, we wouldn’t be inclined to spot 1½-runs in this park with the home team but Freddy Garcia has very little chance of success at any park. Frankly speaking, it’s rather peculiar that the Braves are turning their fortunes to this stiff in an elimination game as opposed to starting David Hale, who was brilliant in his two starts since being called up, Paul Maholm or even coming back with Kris Medlen on four days’ rest.

Garcia has some pretty surface stats (1.65 ERA) in six starts for the Braves after being acquired from the Orioles in late August but it’s all fool’s gold. When last seen in an Orioles uniform on June 23, Garcia was giving up seven earned runs in less than three innings. With his 5.77 ERA and nonexistent strikeout rate, and the fact that he had coughed up 16 HR in 53 with the O’s, it’s difficult to imagine the Braves picked this guy up for anything but a mop-up role down the stretch to save some innings for guys they would need in the playoffs. The Orioles unloaded him for “considerations”. Translation – Please take this stiff off of our hands and we owe you a solid. Garcia has been bouncing around the majors for 14 years and he now relies on two pitches, an average sinker and an average slider. Garcia has all but abandoned his 87 MPH fastball, a pitch he threw just 7% of the time this year and now these professional hitters are sitting on his off-speed stuff. Garcia’s 1.65 ERA with the Braves is all luck –driven, as he has posted a 88% strand rate, a .270 batting average against and an alarming 33% line-drive rate. Freddy Garcia was not in the Braves playoff plans when they picked him up. They are being fooled by his positive results in a small, 27-inning sample size since he joined the club in games that meant nothing. The Dodgers went off for 13 runs last night and have now scored 22 runs in the three games of this series. For the Braves to trust that Garcia can stop this freight train is a ridiculous decision that will end their season.

This one is all about fading Garcia but in the extremely unlikely event that Garcia records some outs, we have Ricky Nolasco to tame the Braves until the Dodgers get to Garcia. Nolasco was once a near-elite skill set just waiting for some hit/strand rate regression to facilitate a serious breakout but it took a trade to Los Angeles for that breakout to occur. Since joining the Dodgers, Nolasco’s fastball increased by 1 mph and his swinging strike rate jumped by 1.7% to an elite 12.7% level. That bodes well here against a Braves club that collectively struck out more than any team in the majors not named Houston. Nolasco had been known as chronic underachiever prior to arriving here. What, if anything, changed? First, he’s reversed a three-year slide in his strikeout rate, while his control has remained very good. Second, a neutral hit%/strand% split has resulted in his xERA lining up very close to his ERA. Third, a new pitching coach in L.A. and shifting to the other side of the rubber can’t be discounted. Because of his well-earned reputation of a skills maven that for some reason could never find the results to match, Nolasco has held a “don’t touch” status for several years. He’s found a home in L.A and he’s been thriving ever since. Thanks for coming out Atlanta.

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SPORTS WAGERS

EDMONTON -½ +140 over New Jersey

Regulation. It wasn’t supposed to start like this for the upstart Oilers but after two games, Edmonton is 0-2 while being scored on 11 times. Tonight, the Oilers make a goaltender change, switching from Devan Dubnyk in favor of Jason LaBarbera but until the Oilers upgrade or improve defensively, they will continue to allow goals in bunches. In their second game of the season on Saturday night, the Oilers were manhandled by the Canucks in Vancouver but they figure to be better tonight after that horrible, early season performance. The good news for Edmonton is that the offensively challenged Devils are in town but this wager is not based on backing Edmonton.

The Devils play in Vancouver tomorrow night and will start Mathieu Schneider to face his old team. That has Marty Brodeur in net tonight and we are going to continue to fade Brodeur every chance we get and certainly make no exception here. Brodeur was the losing goalie in the Devils opening night loss to the Islanders. He was fighting the puck all night and will continue to fight it because he’s simply a guy that should no longer be in the NHL. Brodeur will make saves because he knows how to position himself to cut down the angles but that’s the only strength he possesses now. The speed of this game has picked up tremendously over the past few years. The talent level in the NHL has never been greater. Brodeur can’t keep up to the game. He’s too slow now and his ability to scramble and make saves when he’s on his back is a thing of the past. Brodeur is five steps behind the speed and talent at this level, making him a huge liability and an instant fade when he’s in net.

Passing NFL

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EZWINNERS

Atlanta Falcons -10

The Falcons have been hit hard by the injury bug and are off to a slow 1-3 start but I expect Atlanta to get back on track in this game. The Falcons have a huge advantage on the offensive side of the ball with Matt Ryan at quarterback and offensive weapons in wide receiver Julio Jones and tight end Tony Gonzalez. Wide receiver Roddy White is also the healthiest he has been all season. The Jets defense has played well and is ranked 8th in the NFL against the pass, but this will be by far their toughest test. The Jets have faced rookie quarterback EJ Manual of the Bill, the erratic Josh Freeman from the Bucs, 2nd year starter Jake Locker of the Titans and Tom Brady who was trying to get in sync with his rookie receivers. I expect the Falcons to score points and it will be up to quarterback Geno Smith and the Jets to keep up which is something I don't expect them to be able to do. The Jets have their injury issues as well especially at the wide receiver position where they will be without Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill and Clyde Gates are banged up. I don't expect Smith who has four touchdown passes and eight interceptions on the season to have much success in the Georgia Dome. The Falcons are 8-1 against the spread in their last nine games as a favorite of three points or more against the AFC. Lay the points.

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NHL Predictions

New Jersey Devils +112

Neither of these two teams have started their seasons off as they would have hoped, with the Devils 0-1-1 and the Oilers 0-2. The Devils opened their season in Pittsburgh losing 3-0 although outshooting the Penguins 27-21, and then a 4-3 shootout loss vs the Islanders in their home opener. The Oilers threw 38 shots on net in their home opener vs Winnipeg and put up 4 goals but still lost 5-4. They followed that up with a 6-2 loss in Vancouver on Saturday night being outshot 44-23. Edmonton will make a change in net tonight using their back up Jason Labarbera, who was 4-6-2 over 15 games with Phoenix last season with a 2.64 GAA and .923 SV%. Martin Brodeur will get the nod tonight for the Devils after Friday's shootout loss. Although we're just two games into the season, the Oilers are giving up 36 shots against per game which is a recipe for a lot of losses. I've watched both Devils games this year and I've liked the way they've been playing. Getting them at +112 versus a team who has given up 11 goals over their first two games is generous in my opinion. I'll take the Devils as underdogs for 2 units.

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Carlos Salazar

Red Sox vs Rays
Play: Under 7

What a pitching match up we have going here as Tampa Bay looks to stave off elimination in the ALDS. Clay Buchholz with a 1.74 ERA this season and Alex Cobb with a 2.64 ERA take the mound tonight. Hits will be hard to come by and so will runs. Carlos loves the UNDER 7 and says to play this one with confidence.

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Will Rogers

Atlanta vs. LA Dodgers
Pick: LA Dodgers

In addition to a strong NFL run (9-1), I'm hot with my MLB picks as well.  Yesterday I won with the Dodgers and today with my free play, I'll call for them to end their series with the Atlanta Braves and move on to the NLCS.

Here are my keys to the game:

1. History -  In the history of the LDS, those series that were tied 1-1 after two games saw the Game 3 winner go on to advance 14 of the last 15 times.  So, history is definitely on the Dodgers side here.   Furthermore, Atlanta is just 4-10 when facing elimination in a playoff series. They have not won a playoff series since 2001!

2. Garcia on the Road - Braves starter Freddy Garcia was just 2-3 with a 5.70 ERA on the road during the regular season.  Atlanta had a losing road record overall during the regular season, averaging just 4.0 runs/game with a .238 batting average.

3. X-Factor -  Though he didn't finish the regular season particularly well, Dodgers starter Ricky Nolasco still has a 12-4 TSR over his last 16 starts.

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Dave Price

Atlanta Braves +139

The Braves are showing value at this price given the struggles of Ricky Nolasco, who is 0-2 with a 12.75 ERA over his last three starts. The Braves are very familiar with Nolasco from his days in Miami, and they have consistently gotten the better of him. He is 6-10 with a 5.19 ERA in 23 starts against Atlanta. He's lost three of his last four starts against the Braves and has given up four runs or more in five of his last six starts against them. Freddy Garcia has been rock solid since coming over from Baltimore. The Braves have won two of his three starts while he's posted a 1.83 ERA. The veteran Garcia should be able to deal with the pressure of this moment better than Nolasco, who is making his postseason debut. Garcia is 6-3 with a 3.28 ERA in 10 career postseason starts. Take Atlanta.

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Jack Jones

Los Angeles Dodgers -147

The Los Angeles Dodgers will close out the Atlanta Braves tonight. They have outscored the Braves 22-11 in this series thus far, and they clearly have the edge on the mound and at the plate in Game 4.

Atlanta's season comes down to the washed-up Freddy Garcia, which is not good news for Braves' fans. Garcia has gone 4-6 with a 4.77 ERA in 13 starts this season, including 2-3 with a 5.70 ERA in six road starts.

Ricky Nolasco has been solid all season for Los Angeles, going 13-11 with a 3.72 ERA and 1.210 WHIP over 33 starts. The right-hander is 7-7 with a 3.74 ERA and 1.215 WHIP in 15 home starts as well.

The Braves are 1-11 in their last 12 playoff games as an underdog of +110 to +150. The Dodgers are 8-1 in their last 9 Divisional Playoff games. Los Angeles is 64-29 in its last 93 games overall. The Dodgers are 6-0 in Nolasco's last 6 starts vs. a team with a winning record. Bet Los Angeles in Game 4 Monday.

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Steve Janus

Boston Red Sox -111

As good as the Rays were down the stretch to get to this series, I believe Tampa Bay has ran out of gas and their season will come to an end today. As good as Alex Cobb has been down the stretch and really overall this season, he's not had a lot of success against the Red Sox. In his two starts vs Boston this season, he allowed 9 runs on 14 hits in just 9 and 2/3 innings of work. Clay Buchholz, who will be starting for the Red Sox, didn't allowing a single run and gave up just 5 hits while striking out 17 in his two starts vs the Rays this season (13 innings). Had it not been for an injury, Buchholz very well could have won the Cy Young this season. He enters with a record of 12-1 to go with a 1.74 ERA and 1.025 WHIP in just 16 starts.

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Joe Gavazzi

Boston Red Sox -105

This should be the pitching duel of the day. The Rays went 15-8 in 23 Cobb starts where he posted a 2.64 ERA. Cobb was personally 7-0 at home from a mound where the Rays won 9 of his 13 starts. Cobb is off a solid, if not spectacular, 4-0 victory vs. Cleveland in the Wild Card game. With the Rays facing elimination,, and standing 14-6 home/loss, on a field where they are 51-30, it could be a knee-jerk reaction to follow the home team. But it appears that Tampa Bay has spit the bit if the 19-6 butt whipping they took in 2 games in Boston is any indication. They simply had to expend too much energy (and did too much celebrating) to carry over their late season momentum into this division playoff rivalry. Now the Rays return home following their marathon 5 city 12-day 5,600 mile peregrination. Unfortunately, they will have to face the red hot bats of the Red Sox and rejuvenated ace Buchholz. Returning to the rotation late in the season, Buchholz did not skip a beat. For the season, the Red Sox were 14-2 in Buchholz starts where he posted an MLB best 1.74 ERA. It was even better on the road where Boston won all 7 Buchholz starts in which he posted a 1.40 ERA. History concurs. 16 starts against Tampa Bay have seen Buchholz author a 2.41 ERA. That includes 2-0 this season, spanning 13 IP, in which Buchholz allowed just 5 hits. In 9 starts from this mound, Buchholz has a 2.26 ERA.

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Wunderdog

Boston at Tampa Bay
Pick: Boston -110

It has started to look like the energy the Rays spent to just get to the post-season has left this team tired and searching for answers.  The answers will be even harder to find today facing Clay Buchholz, who if not for a mid-season injury, may have been a Cy Young winner. Buchholz has had an amazing season at 12-1 with a 1.71 ERA. He hasn't skipped a beat since coming back allowing a total of five runs in four starts. One of those starts was a five inning, 0 run performance against this Tampa team. Cobb has struggled in his four starts vs. the Red Sox where he is winless with a 5.16 ERA. Boston owns a 28-6 record behind Buchholz with a money line from -110 to -150. The Rays have dropped five straight post-season home games. Play this one on Boston.

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