Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 15

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 15

Bruce Marshall

Marlins at Giants
Pick: Under

Something about AT&T Park brings out the best in the Marlins, who have won 10 of their last 11 games played in San Francisco. The Giants have totaled 20 runs in those 11 contests, and last season scored eight while going 4 for 32 with runners in scoring position to lose three of four to the Marlins. Miami has some momentum entering the Bay Area after scoring 13 runs in Wednesday's romp past the Dodgers, and starter Nathan Eovaldi has a 2.03 ERA in his last five starts. Eovaldi and Giants starter Matt Cain keep this game from turning into a fireworks show tonight.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 15

Jack Jones

Kansas City Royals -125

The Kansas City Royals are playing their best baseball of the season over the past week-plus.  They have won six of their last eight games overall while limiting their opponents to three runs or fewer in seven of those contests.  I look for their dominant pitching to continue tonight.

Yordano Ventura is one of the best young starters in the game.  He is still under the radar, not getting the respect he deserves from oddsmakers.  Ventura has gone 2-2 with a 2.34 ERA and 1.110 WHIP with 44 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings.  He faced Baltimore on April 25th, pitching eight shutout innings in a 5-0 victory.

Wei-Yin Chen is certainly a decent starter in this league, but he's no match for Ventura.  The left-hander has gone 4-2 with a 3.95 ERA and 1.439 WHIP in seven starts this season, including 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA and 1.533 WHIP in three road starts.  Chen is 0-1 with a 4.60 ERA and 1.404 WHIP in five career starts against Kansas City.

Plays on home favorites with a money line of -125 to -175 (KANSAS CITY) - where team's hitters strike out 6 or less times/game on the season against opponent starting a pitcher who gave up two earned runs or fewer in each of his last two outings are 40-8 (83.3%, +28.4 units) over the last five seasons.  Kansas City is 48-22 in its last 70 games as a favorite.  Bet the Royals Thursday.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 15

Will Rogers

Baltimore vs. Kansas City
Pick: Kansas City

Kansas City just got done taking two games from Colorado while Baltimore's week started by getting swept at home by the Tigers.  Thus, the Royals have the momentum coming into this four-game series and on Thursday the pitching matchup will also be in their favor.

Here are my keys to the game:

1.  Yordano Ventura - Though his won-loss record is disappointing, Ventura hasn't allowed a single run in three of his seven starts this year.  One of those came against the Orioles, back on April 25.  He went a season-best eight innings in that outing and also finished with what was at the time a season high in strikeouts (eight).

2.  Offense Coming Around?  - The biggest question mark with this Royals club is their lack of hitting.  But during a three-game win streak, they have scored a total of 17 times, which will be enough for them to win more often than not with the pitching as good as it is.  The team has only lost one game this entire season when it has scored at least five runs.

3. X-Factor - Baltimore scored all five of its runs yesterday in one inning.  Other than that rare offensive outburst, they have scored just four runs total in 35 innings the previous four games.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 15

Ian Cameron

Baltimore at Kansas City
Play: Kansas City -130

The Kansas City Royals continue their nine-game home stand hosting the Baltimore Orioles. The Royals pitching staff owns a 1.88 ERA during that span and their bullpen has showed signs of returning to the stellar form as they’ve haven’t allowed a single earned run in their last 19.1 innings of work. I’m very impressed by Yordano Ventura and I’ve been looking to bet him at every reasonable opportunity. Ventura has yielded three runs or fewer in six of his seven starts this season and he totally dominated the Orioles when he faced them at Camden Yards back in April tossing eight innings of shutout baseball. Wei-Yin Chen counters for Baltimore and the lefty has had his share of ups and downs this season but on the road he has labored with a 5.40 ERA in three starts. He’s also had problems against Kansas City in the past with a 4.50 ERA and .310 batting average against in five starts – Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer combining for a 14-for-29 hitting mark against Chen. Baltimore’s bullpen was used quite a bit yesterday after a very short outing from Kevin Gausman so there is the opportunity for the Royals to score some runs late as well. The Royals are in pretty good form going 6-2 in their last eight games while as the Orioles are slumping coming off sweep at the hands of the Detroit Tigers. I have mild concern how Ventura will fare against a team getting a rare second look at him in less than a month but the price still warrants our support.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 15

Bill Marzano

Pacers at Wizards
Play: Wizards -4

I really like the Washington Wizards in this game vs the Indiana Pacers...the Pacers come into this game with a chance to close out the series but I'm not sure they will this game...the Pacers looked absolutely horrible in their last game and were outrebounded by 62-24 margin...the Pacers have been so inconsistent on a nightly basis it's hard to count on them on the road here with a very fired up Wizards squad on the verge of tying the series.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 15

Tony George

Thunder vs. Clippers
Play: Over 212½

The Clips face elimination tonight on their home floor.  Forget Donald Sterling and the drama unfolding outside of the court, and look at this game tonight in terms of VALUE in the Line.  The point spread bears little meaning to me as I think this line is tight and the Clips are hell bent on revenge after a very funky ending to game 5, a 1 point loss at OK City.

The Value here lies with the Total in my opinion.  Only 2 out of the 5 games have exceeded the posted Total in this series, but yet these two teams in their last 5 games combined average 215 ppg on offense and 215 ppg on defense.  Again like my last night’s premium play I had on the Over in the Heat and Nets Game, whenever there is an elimination scenario, both teams will pull out all the stops in order to get the win.  That means in this case that the Clippers and Thunder, both of whom have scorers all over the floor, more so in the Clippers case with Durrant struggling from the floor in this series, will be pushing the ball and putting up points, especially late when defense throws caution to the wind and the offensive pace seems to pick up, especially in the Western Conference games it seems.  A trend to note is the LA Clippers have went over the posted total in 7 out of their last 8 home games.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 15

Jeff Alexander

San Diego Padres -107

I'll fade the Reds with Jeff Francis on the mound in the second game of the double header.  Francis hasn't bee overly dominant in Triple-A (3.33 ERA in 8 starts), and he was lit up in 12 starts for Colorado last season (6.16 ERA).  He also has a bad track record against San Diego (7-14 with a 5.62 ERA in 27 starts).  The Padres are 4-1 this season versus left-handed starters.  San Diego is 5-1 in Tyson Ross' last 6 starts, including 3-0 in his last 3.  He has a 3.02 ERA on the season and has given up 1 earned run or none in 4 of his last 6 starts.  He's allowed 3 earned runs or less in 11 of his last 14 starts.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 15

Dave Price

New York Yankees -107

The Yankees' Whitley and the Mets' DeGrom, who have both had success in the minors, will be making their major-league debuts tonight.  Whitley will have a better shot at getting the win because he's supported by a lineup that is batting .263 and averaging 4.8 runs per game on the road.  The Mets are batting .204 and and averaging 3.2 runs per game at home.  The Yankees are 37-17 in their last 54 interleague games as a favorite, 4-0 in their last four games as a road favorite and 43-19 in their last 62 Game 4s of a series.  The Mets are 20-47 in their last 67 home games versus a team with a winning record, 10-27 in their last 37 home games versus a team with a winning road record, 19-54 in their last 73 games as a home underdog and 0-6 in their last six interleague home games.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 15

Joe Gavazzi

Indiana Pacers vs. Washington Wizards    
Play: Indiana Pacers +4½

Now that Indiana knows that Washington is not an empty golf bag, it is time for the Pacers to return to playoff intensity.  In Game 5, Indiana, playing on the league’s strongest home court in the regular season (where they defeated Washington 93-66 and 93-73), were a total “no-show.”  Maybe it was the complacency of 3 consecutive victories against the Wiz.  That apathy was translated into a -39 net rebound margin (you read that right, Washington won the battle of the boards 62-23), while outshooting Indiana 50-39%.  Gortot (31/16) vastly outplayed Hibbert (4/2) while Ariza had a double, double, Wall went for 24/5/5 and Beal went for 18/8/4.  All, while George, who had a line of 39/12 in the previous game, joined Hibbert on the “did not show list” with only 15 points and one rebound.  The result was a 102-79 Washington victory in a game that wasn’t’ even as close as the final score.  Now, the venue is switched, making Indiana the odds-on choice against the inverted home/road dichotomy of the Wiz.  This Wiz team, that is 31-12 ATS to +9 away, is just 10-21 ATS as home chalk, including losing both games on this floor in this series by scores of 85-63 and 95-92.  In a “topsy-turvy” series, that has seen the road team go 5-0 ATS, consider that greater than .668 road teams following a loss vs. sub .600 home teams following a win, are a mind blowing 70+% winning selection.  Now that Miami has closed out Brooklyn, look for Indiana to play with far more intensity in closing out this series to prevent a Game 7.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 15

Bob Balfe

Toronto Blue Jays -105

Both teams have the ability to really hit the ball, but Cleveland struggles against left handed pitching where they are just 4-9 this year. Cleveland has also only played on turf 2 times this year. Toronto has the advantage in a few areas tonight so we will take them at home. Take the Blue Jays.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, May 15

Harry Bondi

KANSAS CITY (-145) over Baltimore

Two teams headed in opposite directions as Kansas City has won six of their last 8 and Baltimore has dropped four in a row. Tonight's Royals starter Ventura shut out the Birds in April for an easy 8-0 win and we look for more of the same tonight against the struggling O's.

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