Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, April 24

Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, April 24

DUNKEL INDEX

NBA

Oklahoma City at Memphis
After dropping Game 2 in Oklahoma City, the Thunder head to Memphis (27-14 at home) tonight and come in with a 1-6 ATS record in their last 7 road games against a team with a winning home record. Memphis is the pick (+2) according to Dunkel, which has the Grizzlies favored by 2. Dunkel Pick: Memphis (+2)

Game 733-734: Indiana at Atlanta (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Indiana 124.204; Atlanta 119.522
Dunkel Line & Total: Indiana by 4 1/2; 189 1/2
Vegas Line & Total: Indiana by 2; 186
Dunkel Pick: Indiana (-2); Over

Game 735-736: Oklahoma City at Memphis (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Oklahoma City 121.964; Memphis 123.895
Dunkel Line & Total: Memphis by 2; 186
Vegas Line & Total: Oklahoma City by 2; 190
Dunkel Pick: Memphis (+2); Under

Game 737-738: LA Clippers at Golden State (10:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: LA Clippers 124.504; Golden State 125.707
Dunkel Line & Total: Golden State by 1; 209
Vegas Line & Total: LA Clippers by 1 1/2; 215 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Golden State (+1 1/2); Under

NHL

Boston at Detroit
The Red Wings try to even up the series tonight against a Boston team that is 1-5 in its last 6 road games. Detroit is the pick (+125) according to Dunkel, which has the Red Wings favored by 1. Dunkel Pick: Detroit (+125)

Game 25-26: Boston at Detroit (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Boston 11.491; Detroit 12.548
Dunkel Line & Total: Detroit by 1; 6
Vegas Line & Total: Boston (-145); 5
Dunkel Pick: Detroit (+125); Over

Game 27-28: Colorado at Minnesota (9:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Colorado 10.812; Minnesota 11.750
Dunkel Line & Total: Minnesota by 1; 4
Vegas Line & Total: Minnesota (-140); 5
Dunkel Pick: Minnesota (-140); Under

Game 29-30: San Jose at Los Angeles (10:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: San Jose 11.804; Los Angeles 10.670
Dunkel Line & Total: San Jose by 1; 6
Vegas Line & Total: Los Angeles (-110); 5
Dunkel Pick: San Jose (-110); Over

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MLB

Oakland at Houston
The A's travel to Houston tonight to face an Astros team that is 3-3 in its last 6 games as a home underdog of +125 to +150. Houston is the pick (+145) according to Dunkel, which has the Astros favored by 1. Dunkel Pick: Houston (+145)

Game 901-902: Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (12:35 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Cincinnati (Cingrani) 15.711; Pittsburgh (Cumpton) 14.117
Dunkel Line: Cincinnati by 1 1/2; 6
Vegas Line: No Line
Dunkel Pick: N/A

Game 903-904: St. Louis at NY Mets (1:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: St. Louis (Lynn) 14.890; NY Mets (Colon) 15.772
Dunkel Line: NY Mets by 1; 8
Vegas Line: St. Louis (-145); 7
Dunkel Pick: NY Mets (+125); Over

Game 905-906: Arizona at Chicago Cubs (2:20 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Arizona (Bolsinger) 14.490; Cubs (Jackson) 13.526
Dunkel Line: Arizona by 1; 10
Vegas Line: Chicago Cubs (-120); No Total
Dunkel Pick: Arizona (+100); N/A

Game 907-908: San Diego at Washington (7:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: San Diego (Stults) 15.473; Washington (Zimmermann) 16.886
Dunkel Line: Washington by 1 1/2; 6
Vegas Line: Washington (-170); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Washington (-170); Under

Game 909-910: Philadelphia at LA Dodgers (10:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Philadelphia (Kendrick) 14.105; LA Dodgers (Haren) 15.649
Dunkel Line: LA Dodgers by 1 1/2; 7
Vegas Line: LA Dodgers (-190); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: LA Dodgers (-190); Under

Game 911-912: Kansas City at Cleveland (12:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Kansas City (Chen) 15.425; Cleveland (Kluber) 14.363
Dunkel Line: Kansas City by 1; 9
Vegas Line: Cleveland (-130); 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Kansas City (+110); Over

Game 913-914: Chicago White Sox at Detroit (1:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: White Sox (Quintana) 14.139; Detroit (Scherzer) 15.582
Dunkel Line: Detroit by 1 1/2; 7
Vegas Line: Detroit (-200); 8
Dunkel Pick: Detroit (-200); Under

Game 915-916: Minnesota at Tampa Bay (1:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Minnesota (Nolasco) 15.546; Tampa Bay (Bedard) 14.337
Dunkel Line: Minnesota by 1; 9 1/2
Vegas Line: Tampa Bay (-155); 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Minnesota (+135); Over

Game 917-918: Baltimore at Toronto (7:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Baltimore (Norris) 15.107; Toronto (Hutchison) 16.587
Dunkel Line: Toronto by 1 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: Toronto (-150); 9
Dunkel Pick: Toronto (-150); Under

Game 919-920: NY Yankees at Boston (7:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: NY Yankees (Sabathia) 15.656; Boston (Doubront) 14.541
Dunkel Line: NY Yankees by 1; 9 1/2
Vegas Line: Boston (-120); 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: NY Yankees (+100); Over

Game 921-922: Oakland at Houston (8:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Oakland (Kazmir) 14.534; Houston (Oberholtzer) 15.510
Dunkel Line: Houston by 1; 8
Vegas Line: Oakland (-165); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Houston (+145); Over

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Rob Vinciletti

New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox
Play: New York Yankees +104

The Yanks should respond with a big effort after the whole organization was embarrassed last night by the Pineda Pine tar incident. The Yankees fit a 90% system here as a road favorite or dog of less than 110 for teams off a road loss that scored 2 or less runs on 5+ hits with 3 or more errors, vs an opponent off a home win that had 10 or more hits. The Yanks are 7-1 on the road vs leftys and 3-0 on Thursday. Boston is 0-4 at home at -100 to -125 and 0-3 home off a home win where they scored 5 or more runs. Doubront goes for the Sox and he has been dismal vs the Yankees allowing 17 earned runs in 14 innings against them. He will oppose C.C.Sabathia who comes in off a solid win and outing at Tampa Bay. Look for the Yankees to take the finale of the series, and hopefully C.C Can keep the pine tar off his neck.


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Marc Lawrence

San Diego Padres at Washington Nationals
Prediction: Washington Nationals

When Jordan Zimmerman and the Nationals open a four-game set against the Padres Thursday evening in the nation's capitol they will take on the field knowing they are 11-4 the last fifteen games in this series. In addition, Washington is 14-6 the last twenty games at home behind Zimmerman, and 9-3 in his last twelve starts during the month of April. With the Padres 4-12 in Eric Stultz's last sixteen road starts, we recommend a 1-unt play on Washington.

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Jim Feist

Padres vs. Nationals    
Play: Under 7½

Washington is a huge park, great for pitchers, and a terrible San Diego offense is in town. San Diego ranks 30th in runs scored, 28th in on base percentage and 26th in slugging. The under is 38-11-2 in the Padres last 51 vs. a team with a winning record. Starter Eric Stults has been decent, with 2 straight wins allowing 1 and 3 earned runs. Stults allowed just three hits, one run and no walks over six innings in his first win of the season Saturday against the visiting Giants. The six innings were the longest Stults has lasted in four starts this year, so it's nice to see him rewarded with the W for his effort. His only black mark came on a 414-foot solo bomb to Michael Morse in the fifth, but he recovered nicely to retire the next three Giants on fly outs. Stults will bring his 4.35 ERA and 1.40 WHIP into Nationals Park on four days rest Thursday. San Diego is on a 39-14-2 run under the total and the under is 20-7-1 in the Padres last 28 road games vs. a team with a winning record. Washington is on a 3-1-1 run under the total at home. Washington starter Jordan Zimmermann also has a fine arm, with a 3.92 ERA and 23 Ks in 20+ innings with only 6 walks. This has all the makings of a real low scoring game.

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Heath Mac

Sharks vs. Kings
Play: Over 5

The San Jose Sharks will look to avenge last season’s seven-game opening round exit at the hands of the Kings with a four game sweep in this year’s rematch in what has been one of the more disappointing series’ in the first round. The Sharks continue to be an underrated team through their first three games of this series as many people have their minds focused on the Ducks and Blues but you have to remember this Sharks team was a win away from claiming the Pacific division and were one of the most consistent teams all year long with the exception of a bit of a speed bump at the end of the regular season. Much criticism poured in on Sharks goalie Antii Niemi who was ridiculed for his lackluster save percentage in the final couple weeks of the season leading to speculation that head coach Todd MacLellan may opt to go with Alex Stalock instead who at the time was playing just a little bit better. San Jose has come out firing against the Kings and are now just a win away from sending their instate rivals packing in what would be a huge shock in the matter in which it was completed.

The Kings played a heck of a game on Tuesday night in what was surely one of the more exciting games this season and to us they deserved a better fate as they were all over the Sharks in overtime and if not for a fluky goal from Patrick Marleau they could be back in this series. Los Angeles went stride for stride with San Jose but gave up a third period tally that forced overtime and as mentioned an errant tip shot that bounced over Jonathan Quick was the decision maker in an otherwise fantastic game. The Kings are staying confident though as Mike Richards has come out and stated that the team still believes they can win the series and that they have gone on longer win streaks than four this season making it very feasible. However, this is the Stanley Cup playoffs and there is a reason only a handful of teams have ever come back from an 0-3 deficit to win a series and while Los Angeles is very good we don’t see the Sharks succumbing to that fate.

The Kings last 4 games have seen total goals of 7,9,9 and 7 goals. The Sharks are on fire at the moment and the Kings have shown they cant necessarily stop them so they are going to have to put up some goals again to compete. With this being a game 4 situation, we’re likely to see an empty netter at the end of the game which may help too.

The total has gone OVER in 8 of San Jose's last 12 games on the road. The total has gone OVER in 5 of San Jose's last 6 games. The total has gone OVER in 5 of Los Angeles's last 6 games.

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Art Aronson

Padres vs. Nationals
Play: Under 7½

The last time these starters faced each other it resulted in a 2-1 game. Look for more of the same here. The visiting Padres will send Eric Stults (1-2, 4.35 ERA) to the hill.  Stults gave up one run on four hits in six innings of work to earn a win over San Francisco at home in his last outing. Stults went eight innings while giving up just run in getting a win for his team the last time he faced the Nats. The home side will send Jordan Zimmerman (1-1, 3.92 ERA) to the bump to oppose Stults. Zimmerman is coming off a loss to the Cardinals where he gave up four runs (one earned) over seven innings on Saturday. Zimmerman has been outstanding against the Friars despite a 1-2 record, the righty has posted a sparkling 1.95 ERA over 32 innings pitched against San Diego for his career. Keep in mind the “under” is 11-2 in Padres games when they have faced teams with winning records this season. San Diego continues to struggle at the plate and that’s not about to change in facing a quality pitcher in Zimmerman. San Diego has scored four runs just once in its last nine games and gone 11 straight without reaching double digits in hits. The Padres have totaled 16 runs while batting .205 and striking out 56 times in their past seven games. Consider taking the “under.”


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Bruce Marshall

San Diego Padres at Washington Nationals
Pick: San Diego Padres

After that enthralling ninth-inning rally to beat the Angels on Wednesday, not sure the Nats are up for similar dramatics tonight at home vs. the Padres. San Diego starter Eric Stults is also coming off his best showing of the season when the portsider went six innings and allowed one run and three hits in a 3-1 win over San Francisco on Saturday. Stults also didn't allow a homer in his only start against the Nationals, as he gave up one run and four hits over eight innings of a 2-1 win last May 18.

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Eddie J

Indiana Pacers at Atlanta Hawks
Pick: Indiana Pacers

The #1 seeded Indiana Pacers head to Atlanta to face the Hawks in game 3 of the Eastern conference first round matchup. The Pacers fell asleep towards the end of the regular season and some are wondering what happened to one of the east's favorites. Roy Hibbert has been disinterested while coache Frank Vogel went from genius to being second guessed. The Pacers brought that same effort into the playoffs and were waxed by a banged up less superior Hawks team. Atlanta again led at the end of the first half in game 2. Then the real Pacers showed up outscoring ATL 53-33 in the second half to even the series. The Pacers will get it going and have the same core who pushed Miami to the brink the L2 seasons. Give Atlanta credit for valiant effort but Pero Antic,Shelvin Mack, and Mike Scott don't get it done in the playoffs. This line is a PK bc of the Pacers dissaray and we are getting great value here. The Pacers showed me something in game 2 and I believe they will get it going and once again challenge the Miami Heat. The Pacers are better in all areas than the #8th seeded Hawks and will win this game easily.

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Andre Gomes

Thunder / Grizzlies Under 190 & Thunder -2

For the first three quarters of Game 2, the game was a low scoring affair played @ ridiculous slow pace. It was pretty clear that the Grizzlies didn't want to allow 32 fast break points to OKC like they did in G1 and so, the tempo of the game was way slower in G2 vs. G1.

Then the fourth quarter happened…

MEM surprised OKC by playing some small ball lineup w/ Beno Udrih looking like MEM's MVP as OKC defense didn't "respect" him properly. MEM finished the quarter shooting almost 60% from the field! Note that MEM scored only 6 points in the paint in that quarter so all the damage was from the outside - bit strange because we are dealing w/ MEM! On the other end, we had Kevin Durant making an unbelievable 3+1 play, you really need to watch that play!

For this contest, I expect the tempo of the game to be more similar to G2 vs. G1 because that's what the Grizzlies impose to their opponents. Both teams are coming from an OT in which their best players logged more +40min, so, a physical letdown late in the game could happen for both teams.

MEM offense was great w/ shooting almost 50% FG but I really don't expect them to hit +44% FG from 10-15 feet, +57% FG (!!!) from 16-23 feet ("long 2's jumpers) and even 40% from 3pts land! I also think that OKC defense will be ready to defend MEM's small ball version if MEM's coach decides to use it.

On the other end, despite some great defense from Tony Allen, the fact is that Kevin Durant finished the game w/ 12-28 FG, 5-12 3pts and 7-8 FT for 36 points. The entire OKC's bench sucked pretty badly and w/ a slightly improvement from their bench, I think that OKC's has the tools to bounce back tonight via primarily their defense and so, I'm taking both OKC & Under in here as my Single Dime Plays.

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Chase Diamond

Kansas City vs. Cleveland
Play: Cleveland -120

This game has the 10-10 Royals at the 10-11 Indians. We hit our only play yesterday on the Indians and thankfully it was the big play. We are going rather big again today as the Indians really need this game a little more then the Royals. I think this game comes down to who's pitcher is better and for me that's Corey Kluber. Bruce Chen is 1-1 with a 6.60 ERA and really doesn't have the control he had last season. Public is 50/50 on this game but I am not as the Indians will walk away with this one.


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River City Sharps

Diamondbacks +105

Yes, after they punched us in the gut today, we are going to ride the Arizona Diamondbacks in the getaway day game in this series. We think that the comeback win over the Cubs on Wednesday may give the D'Backs a little much needed momentum headed into this afternoon affair. Arizona sends Mike Bolsinger to the hill, who has been less than stellar, but neither has Cubs starter Edwin Jackson. We think that Wednesday's dramtic win leads to more good things on Thursday for the D'Backs.

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DAVE COKIN

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS  AT CHICAGO CUBS
PLAY: ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS +107

Happy Anniversary to Wrigley Field, which had quite the celebration of 100 years of memories yesterday. Of course, the current Cubs just had to pick this day to screw things up as they’ve done so many times in those 100 years. The Cubbies blew a 5-2 ninth inning lead in falling 7-5 to the struggling Diamondbacks. No one seemed too disappointed, with the exception of some little guy in the stands who was crying over the defeat. Better get used to it, kid.

This was a desperately needed pick me up for Arizona, as the Snakes are having a miserable time of it and things just got worse as they’re now going to be minus slugging Mark Trumbo for quite some time thanks to a stress fracture. Murphy’s Law is not just following the Diamondbacks around this season, it’s downright stalking them.

Rookie Mike Bolsinger gets the start for ‘Zona in today’s series windup. He’s not a high level prospect, but sometimes rookies don’t need to be to do reasonably well. Once whatever the book on Bolsinger is becomes familiar to big league hitters, he’s probably going to be headed out of the rotation and either off to the bullpen or back to the minors. But Bolsinger might have a chance to steal a couple of wins, and I think there’s a good chance he can notch one today.

Edwin Jackson is making the start for the Cubs. Jackson actually seems too be getting worse overall, which really isn’t shocking as there are lots of miles on that arm. The veteran righty has yet to go past the sixth inning and while he’s had some rotten luck with a bloated BABIP of .403, I’m really not seeing a silver lining in the Jackson cloud.

Actually, I don’t see the starting pitchers being the ones involved in this eventual decision. The forecast I’m seeing says it’s big wind blowing out on Thursday at Wrigley, and if that’s the case, this will get decided by the bullpens. The Diamondbacks don’t have what anyone is going to tag as an elite reliever corps, but it’s better than what the Cubs can counter with.

Even minus Trumbo, in what is yet another tough break for the Snakes, they at least have a little positive momentum going their way off the nice comeback yesterday afternoon. The idea of Jackson being even a small favorite considering what I’ve seen from him is thoroughly unappealing. To be honest, so is the prospect of backing Bolsinger and a team that has won just six games. But this is a game I think the Diamondbacks have a decent chance to win, so I’ll shade that side today.

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SPORTS WAGERS

Colorado +126 Over MINNESOTA

OT included. Indeed the Wild have been tough as shoe leather in their own barn the entire year but there is too much value on the Avalanche here to pass up. Minnesota is in this price range because of a couple of key injuries to Colorado’s defense, most notably Tyson Barrie, who had his knee wiped out on a cowardly hit by Matt Cooke. Not that they need it, but that just gives the Avs extra motivation and you have to love the way Patrick Roy has motivated his players all season. Every time these Avs get punched in the teeth they come back stronger and they figure to do the same here. Remember, after Barrie went down early in Game 3, Colorado played pretty much the rest of the game with just four defensemen and the Wild still needed OT to secure their first win of the series. Now Ryan Wilson steps into action and he’s very capable of having an impact. Wilson was well on his way to an outstanding career before being derailed with injuries but he’s raring to go and couldn’t be more excited.

Colorado was indeed badly outplayed in Game 3 but you can expect a much more determined squad in this one after the Matt Cooke incident. Colorado has a huge edge in net and they have a huge edge offensively. Where they don’t have an edge is on defense. Last season, the Avs were 29th in goals allowed per game. This season, they improved to 14th. That’s a monumental shift in how a team plays the game. This collection of draft picks and off-the-radar acquisitions has formed a solid if unspectacular crew. Erik Johnson lead with 39 points but it really is defense by committee. Now, having proved doubters wrong during the regular season, the Avs defense only has to play slightly better than last game for the Avalanche to win this one. Colorado played its worse game in weeks in Game 3 so don’t expect a repeat of that here. At the end of the day, it’s once again all about value. Colorado had an outstanding road record the entire season (26-11-4) and its 11 road losses were the fewest in the NHL. With at least a 50% chance of taking a 3-1 series lead, the Avalanche hold all the value here.

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SPORTS WAGERS

Minnesota +131 over TAMPA BAY

Erik Bedard’s upside was that he could strike batters out but he can no longer do much of that. Bedard’s control, on base average and fly-ball % are all heading into dangerous territory. Bedard has lost zip off of his fastball. Back in his Baltimore days, he was routinely in the 92 mph range; now, he’s at 89 mph. His general lack of dominance can be seen in the 20%/64% dominant start/disaster start he’s posted in his last 17 starts. In his only start this year against the Yankees on April 18, Bedard didn’t make it out of the fourth inning after allowing six hits and four earned runs in 3.2 frames. His swinging strike rate in six innings of work this season is 5% and his line-drive rate is 32%. It’s a small sample size but let it be known that Bedard is only pitching because the Rays have been hit hard by the injury bug to their starting staff and they need some emergency starts. This is one of them and frankly, we couldn’t care less who the opposition was because Erik Bedard cannot be in this price range.

The Twinkies are scoring runs. Their 107 runs scored this season ranks them fourth in MLB. Tampa has made a lot of bad pitchers look good this season. The Rays lost to Mike Pelfrey last night and if they lost to him, they can also lose to Ricky Nolasco. Nolasco reversed the strikeout rate skid that jeopardized his relevance and he seemed to be energized by a mid-season trade to the Dodgers last year. Batters still get hits off him, which makes his WHIP not-so-outstanding. But with consistent control, an above-average swinging strike rate and beginnings of a ground-ball lean, the prospects are positive for a similar follow-up. Nolasco’s early season surface stats after four starts are actually quite misleading. His groundball rate is up to an elite 53% and his xERA is 2½ runs lower than his actual ERA. It's typically a risk to target starters who switch leagues to the AL but Nolasco, or anyone else for that matter, has far more value taking back a tag like this one than Erik Bedard does spotting one.


Oakland -1½ +104 over HOUSTON

Brad Oberholtzer went 4-5 with a 2.76 ERA in 72 innings for the Astros last season. Considered a fringe prospect, he was a fixture in the rotation in August and September of last year. He features a 90-mph fastball along with a curve and change but a repeat of anything close to last year’s surface stats isn’t likely. In four starts this season, Oberholtzer has a 3.04 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP with six walks and 18 K’s in 24 innings. Not bad at all but a look under the hood reveals those numbers are not supported by his pedestrian skills. When you consider that Oberholtzer has a 6% swinging strike rate, the 18 K’s he’s posted in 24 frames doesn’t make sense. His 37%/20%/44% groundball/line-drive/fly-ball profile screams danger. Oberholtzer has been pure luck with unsustainable hit and hr/f rates and once that normalizes his ERA will correct. Oberholtzer is a disaster waiting to happen.

Adrift for most of 2011 and a Sugar Land Skeeter in 2012, Scott Kazmir finished 2013 with the best control and command of his career. Crediting slider and changeup, Kazmir made sweeping strides in that second half of last season and the sequel could surpass the original with upwards of 200 IP and 200 Ks. Kazmir was the game's best starter in September 2013 with 13.8 K’s per nine and 1.3 walks per nine in 28 September innings. That surge was the result of a dominant slider and changeup and he’s perfected it even more this year. In 27 frames, Kazmir has walked four batters while whiffing 24. He has an elite swinging strike rate of 13% and that bodes well against as Astros team that has never seen a pitch they didn’t like. Kazmir has made many batters look foolish already this year and nothing in his profile suggests it’s a fluke. Scott Kazmir is a definite Cy Young candidate with some of the best skills in all of baseball. Invest with confidence.

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Brandon Shively

St Louis Cardinals vs. New York Mets
Play: New York Mets +135

I like the Mets this afternoon as a homedog with Colon on the mound. I took the Mets last week when Colon was a homedog vs. the Braves. He tossed a solid game allowing 3 runs in 7 innings but the Mets lost unfortunately as the bullpen was terrible. Today I look for Colon to toss another solid game and for the bullpen to seal the deal along with ample run support. The Cardinals are in the middle of a brutal schedule where they play 21 games in 21 days. With a series this weekend against their divisional rival Pittsburgh Pirates then followed up with a series against the Brewers, it would not surprise me to see the Cardinals skipper give a few guys a day of rest in this early game. Saint Louis and the Mets are both hitting about .245 on the season so I will say that both offenses are about equal but I will give the Mets the advantage based on the fact that the possibility of the Cardinals resting some starters is there. Colon is a guy that pitches strikes and with control. He simply does not walk batters as he uses both corners of the plate to stifle batters. He faced the Cardinals once last season when pitching for Oakland and was stellar going 8 innings, scattering 6 hits and only allowing 1 ER with 5K's and 1 BB. Lance Lynn is 3-0 this season and the Cardinals are 4-0 in his team starts. He got hit hard in his first two starts of the season before settling down in his next two starts. I still question this guy's control has he can be erratic at times. In 2 starts vs. the Mets, he is 1-1 and has a 1.50 WHIP in 14 IP vs. them. If Lynn is not in control and issues too many bases on balls, then look for the Mets to capitalize. I will also note that Saint Louis is 1-7 in their last 8 during game 4 of a series. Look for the Mets to win this early day and to carry some momentum going into the weekend as they will stay at home and play the Marlins.


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Jimmy Boyd

Toronto Blue Jays -134

I look for the Blue Jays to bounce back at home after letting one slip away last night against the Orioles. Toronto jumped out to an early 6-1 lead, but a 6-run 5th inning for Baltimore put them on the wrong end of the scoreboard. The Blue Jays have responded well to a defeat, as they are an impressive 6-1 in their 7 games following a loss. Baltimore on the other hand is just 3-9 in their last last 12 games as a road underdog of +110 to +150 and 2-6 in their last 8 road games with a total set between 9-10.5 runs.

I also think today's pitching matchup favors Toronto. The Blue Jays will send out Drew Hutchison, who is 1-1 with a solid 3.60 ERA over his first four starts. Hutchison also has a strong 1.00 ERA and 1.056 WHIP over 3 career starts against Baltimore. The Orioles counter with Bud Norris, who is 0-2 with a 4.42 ERA in his first three starts. Norris has been especially bad on the road. In his two starts away from home in 2014, he's gone 0-2 with with an ugly 7.15 ERA and 1.412 WHIP.

We also find a strong system in play on Toronto. Home teams who are hitting .265 or worse as a team against a team with a starting pitcher with an ERA between 4.20 and 4.70 and overused bullpen that is averaging more than 3.2 innings/game are 126-84 since 1997. That's a 60% system in favor of the Blue Jays!

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, April 24

Matt Fargo

Oakland A's vs. Houston Astros    
Play: Houston Astros +155

We lost a tough one with the Astros yesterday as they blew a 3-0 and lost on a walk off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. It was still a successful series though as Houston took two of three and head home trying get some payback following a three-game sweep at Oakland last week. Brett Oberholtzer takes the hill for the Astros and despite them going 0-4 in his four starts, he has pitched much better than that. He has only one quality start but he has not allowed more than three runs in any outing and the three that failed to miss quality status were missed by a total of an inning and a third. One of those games game in Oakland where he allowed one run in 5.2 innings but it resulted in a 4-3 loss. Look for him to continue his efficient pitching. The A's were swept at home by Texas so they bring in very little momentum. Scott Kazmir will look to turn things around for his team and he has been outstanding to open the season. He has a 1.65 ERA and 0.77 WHIP through four starts with Oakland going 4-0 in those games thanks to all resulting in quality performances. This includes the win over Oberholtzer but I do not see this holding up. He made one start in Houston last season while with the Indians and was shelled for six runs in 3.1 innings.


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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, April 24

Steve Janus

Boston Red Sox -114

I think this a great price to get the Red Sox at home in the rubber match against the Yankees. Boston has been starting to heat up offensively and are expected to get back leadoff hitter Shane Victorino from the DL. The Yankees will be sending out C.C. Sabathia, who is getting a little too much love from his last start at Tampa Bay. One start doesn't convince me, especially against a Rays team that ranks in the bottom half of the league in runs, batting average and slugging percentage. Sabathia has just a 5.04 ERA in his career against the Red Sox and his 5.47 ERA at Fenway is his worst out of every AL ballpark. The other thing to keep in mind is that due to Pineda being tossed prior to the end of the 2nd inning, New York comes in with a tired bullpen, which should allow Boston to tack on a few more runs late for some insurance.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, April 24

Jesse Schule

Cardinals at Mets
Pick: Over

The Cardinals have lost two of the first three games of this series in New York, and they will look to salvage a split in the finale this afternoon. All three of the previous games have been low scoring, but we might see a few more runs cross the plate today. Bartolo Colon will toe the rubber for the home team, and the veteran is currently tipping the scales at nearly 300lbs. He's 40 years old, but he looks like he's well over 50. Despite his physical appearance, he's had plenty of success in recent seasons. He really struggled near the end of last season though, losing velocity on his fastball, he began to get hit hard. If his last two starts are any indication, we might be witnessing history repeat itself in the early going this year. Colon (1-3, 5.40 ERA) allowed three runs on eight hits over seven innings in a 7-5 loss to Atlanta his last time out. Prior to that he was torched for nine runs on 11 hits, including four home runs in just five innings in a loss to the Angels. The Cardinals will hand the ball to Lance Lynn, who has won all four of his starts so far this season. He allowed three runs on four hits in his only start versus the Mets last season.


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