Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, May 16

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Hollywood Sports

Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs
Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers

Chicago (13-26) is just 7-11 at home -- and they have lost 16 of their last 21 home games when favored in the -110 to -150 price range. And while Samardzija has been outstanding this season, the Cubbies just can't hit for him as he remains winless on the year. Chicago has lost 6 of their last 7 home games with Samardzija pitching as a favorite. Milwaukee (26-15) has won 6 straight road games against teams with a winning percentage below 40% at home.

The Brewers have also won 4 of their last 5 road games with Lohse on the mound. Take Milwaukee with the money line while listing both starting pitchers this afternoon.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, May 16

SPORTS WAGERS

Cincinnati/PHILADELPHIA Over 8

Alfredo Simon has been one of the bigger surprises early on in 2014. After going almost three years without an MLB start, the 33-year-old has a 2.89 ERA and 1.08 WHIP through seven starts with the Reds. Don’t believe any of it, as Simon has been helped by plenty of good hit and strand % luck early on. xERA points to some serious regression. He has yet to translate his 94 mph fastball into strikeouts with just 22 in 44 innings. His upside is capped unless he can generate more Ks. Simon's age and skill profile cast doubt he can keep up the hot start for much longer. ERA should correct once the luck factors straighten out, and there isn't much room for growth this late in his career. Over his last 29 innings, Simon has walked 10 and struck out 12. Alfredo Simon is bad pitcher in a hitter’s park tonight. There are going to be balls hit out of Citizens Bank here and Simon will be the victim of some.

Kyle Kendrick isn’t much better. Two respectable seasons as a swingman earned Kendrick a full-time rotation spot in 2013. Then he produced an ugly 4.70 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. Now, after seven starts in 2014, it's hard to find anything to get excited about in Kendrick's skills. Kendrick’s control has improved but in the process gave back much of his 2012 strikeout improvement.  Luck turned against him after benefiting from somewhat lucky hit and strand rates the previous two seasons. Forget his ERA; his skills scream innings eater and one likely to blow up in one of every four starts. It’ll be a rare month when Kendrick does not allow four runs per start. In the end, the weak strikeout numbers, middling xERA and disaster start potential all make Kendrick an over play, especially when the opposing pitcher may be worse.


Minnesota/TEXAS Over 8½

Chris Young has an ERA of 2.63 after six starts. How can that be? Young has a swinging strike rate of 3% over his last three starts, he’s walked 16 batters and struck out 18 in 38 innings and he has an absolutely brutal groundball/fly-ball rate of 27%/59%. If you were to make one sure bet this entire baseball season it would be that Chris Young’s ERA will rise because his skills are among the putrid.

Kyle Gibson’s skills are actually a little better than Young’s but that’s like saying Larry King can run faster than Bob Barker. In 38 innings, Gibson has walked 18 and whiffed 17. Gibson’s only saving grace is his groundball rate of 50% but that’s not going to deter us in the least. Gibson is a pitcher with a 1.53 WHIP, an xERA of 5.20 and an xERA of 7.71 in three home starts. This is nothing new for Gibson either. He went 2-4 with a 6.53 ERA in 51 innings last season. Nov 2011 TJS cost him all of 2012 and he returned in 2013 to decent 1H results in the minors that earned him a call-up, which had disastrous results. Gibson’s second half shows the downside of a pitcher who doesn't miss bats and lacks pinpoint control. Gibson’s last sustained success came in the minors in 2010 but 2010 was a long time ago. If this game stays under, so be it but what we have here is two garbage starters that will reap profits over the long haul by betting over in totals of 8½ or less.


Toronto +153 over TEXAS

Yu Darvish threw a gem in his season debut on April 6 and has been tough as shoe leather since. Darvish continues to rack up Ks in bunches and is virtually unhittable against RH hitters but the Jays have some nice lefty bats in their lineup to at least give Darvish something to think about. Darvish absolutely thrives against free-swinging teams but the Blue Jays are not in that category, as they have struck out the fourth fewest times on the road in the majors. Darvish has a groundball/fly-ball split of 32%/46%, meaning that when the ball is in play, it’s usually hit to the outfield. That’s a dangerous game to be playing against the Blue Jays power hitting lineup that has hit .266 against Darvish in the past.

Drew Hutchison is too good to pass up on when being offered a price like this. Hutchison has 49 K’s in 45 innings with just 15 walks issued. Four of those walks came in his last start but prior to that he did not walk more than one batter in four straight games. Hutchison’s 4.37 ERA is the direct result of a high hit rate (34%) and low strand rate (67%). Use his 3.47 xERA as a more accurate barometer of just how Hutchison has been pitching. Regression in his ERA is forthcoming and it would appear that the Jays coaching staff has a leg up on Rangers hitters. Last season Toronto came in here and swept the Rangers in three games while outscoring them 21-3. The Blue Jays have won six of the last seven overall against Texas while holding the Rangers to two earned runs or fewer in five of those. For whatever reason the Rangers have trouble hitting Blue Jays pitching no matter who starts while Toronto thrives against Texas pitching.

Pass NHL

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, May 16

Tony George

Detroit Tigers vs. Boston Red Sox    
Play: Detroit Tigers +102

Pick’ em ballgame with Detroit, the team with the Best Record on the road in MLB, with their ace Matt Scherzer on the hill at near an underdog price?  WOW – Guess what I will take the Tigers!    The Tigers also won the best record in AL at 24-12 and have been playing some great ball.

In case anyone forgot the Red Sox kicked the Tigers out of the Playoffs last year.  Do you think the Tigers with a day off sitting around Boston have discussed some revenge?  Ya Think!!  Yes the Red Sox have John Lester on the hill, but his recent for is poor and I am not sold on the overall offense that Boston is putting out there right now.  No doubt the Green Monster, Fenway and the Red Sox at home require good teams to play good, and Detroit is in sync and this one a no brainer in what looks to be a tight game, but I like Scherzer in good form with a 5-1 record and overall ERA of 2.04 with the better run support to get the win.

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Jack Jones

Chicago White Sox -102

The Houston Astros (14-27) are actually favored against someone tonight.  That should almost never happen, and I'll take advantage tonight because of it, especially with the edge the Chicago White Sox (20-22) have on the mound in Game 1 of this series.

Quietly, Jose Quintana has put together a solid career this far.  He went 6-6 with a 3.76 ERA and 1.350 WHIP in his first season in the big leagues in 2012.  He improved greatly last year, going 9-7 with a 3.51 ERA and 1.220 WHIP over 33 starts in 2013.

Quintana has continued his steady progress into becoming the second-best starter on this Chicago staff behind Chris Sale.  The right-hander has gone 1-3 with a 3.67 ERA and 1.224 WHIP over eight starts in 2014.  He hast posted a 3.65 ERA in two career starts against Houston, both of which resulted in Chicago wins.

The White Sox are 6-1 in Quintana's last seven road starts vs. a team with a losing record.  The Astros are 14-42 in their last 56 games overall.  Houston is 16-45 in its last 61 home games.  The Astros are 1-6 in their last seven games as a favorite.  Bet the White Sox Friday.

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Steve Janus

Los Angeles Angels -135

The Angels are showing excellent value at home with ace Jared Weaver on the mound. Weaver is 4-2 with a 3.22 ERA and 1.133 WHIP over his first 8 starts in 2014 and comes in with a red-hot 1.83 ERA and 1.119 WHIP over his last 3 starts (all wins). I'll gladly take my chances with the Angels providing Weaver enough run-support given the Rays Chris Archer has an ugly 6.35 ERA and 1.676 WHIP on the road (4 starts) and comes in with a 7.36 ERA and 1.909 WHIP over his last three outings. In Archer's most recent start against Los Angeles, he was rocked for 5 runs on 9 hits over just 3 2/3 innings of work.

System - Road teams when the money line is +125 to -125 (TAMPA BAY) - cold hitting team - batting .200 or worse over their last 3 games, after a game where the bullpen was hit hard for 4 or more earned runs are just 44-98 since 1997. That's a 69% system telling us to BET THE ANGELS -135!

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Jeff Fenster

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Los Angeles Angels    
Play: Los Angeles Angels -135

The Angels are home to take on the Rays in Game 2 of their series.  The Angels will throw the Red Hot Jered Weaver (4-2 3.22 ERA) who is 3-0 with a 1.83 ERA over his last 3 starts.  The Angels have won 5 of their last 6 games and 3 in a row coming into tonight's game.  The Rays will throw Chris Archer (2-2 5.16 ERA) who has had a rough season and especially has struggled with his command thus far.  The Angels have a very potent offense and are ranked 5th in the league in runs scored.  While both bullpens are terrible Weaver is the much better starter and the Angels offense should provide all the run support they need to keep their winning streak alive.

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Mark Franco

Seattle Mariners vs. Minnesota Twins    
Play: Seattle Mariners +101

Despite a series win over the defending world champions, the Minnesota Twins probably won’t enter Friday’s home series opener against the Seattle Mariners with much confidence. The Twins recorded two walk-off victories against the Boston Red Sox, but their bullpen gave up nine runs (six earned) over 12 innings during the three-game set. Although reliever Michael Tonkin incurred most of the Boston’s wrath, closer Glen Perkins was also tagged for a pair of runs in Thursday’s 10-inning win. Young’s feel-good start to the 2014 campaign continued for Seattle in Saturday’s 3-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals. The 34-year-old Princeton alum, who has won each of his last three turns while compiling a 1.83 ERA, allowed one run on three hits over eight frames during a 93-pitch outing. However, Young has yet to record a victory in four all-time starts against Minnesota despite a 2.41 ERA. I say he gets the Victory tonight.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, May 16

River City Sharps

Detroit Tigers -105

Detroit has been on a pretty good roll on the road and look to continue that as they send Scherzer to the hill tonight in Boston. In his last five starts he is 5-0 with an 1.64 ERA and .186 opponent batting average with 41 strikeouts in 33 innings. He has struggled in the past against Boston but he is in a zone. The Tigers will face Jon Lester who has also pitched well, he sports a 4-4 record but a 2.75 ERA. The Tigers however are 9-2 vs lefties so far this year. You won't see -105 with Scherzer very often so we are going to jump on this one.

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Bob Balfe

Philadelphia Phillies -120

Both teams are almost mirror images of each other in terms of less than average bullpens and not being able to put up runs. Cincinnati is really struggling with their bats with some key injuries to top level players. I like Kyle Kendrick as a pitcher in this spot. This guy is very underrated. Take the Phillies.

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Harry Bondi

ST LOUIS (-105) over Atlanta

Tonight’s starting pitcher for Atlanta Ervin Santana has been one of the feel good story’s of the spring. Signed after three Braves starters went down with injuries to be a fifth starter, Santana has pitched like an ace going 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA. But St Louis has owned Atlanta at home going 10-4 in their last 14 meetings at Busch. Even though he has pitched poorly recently, the value is with Cardinals starter Lance Lynn who opened the season with four vicories but has lost his last two. He gets back on track tonight and getting the Birds at home at pickem is also worth the bet. Cards give Santana his first loss!

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Brady Kannon

Philadelphia Phillies -105

Here is a case where at first glance one starter looks to be largely better than the other but it is not exactly the truth and the oddsmaker knows this as evidenced by the line. Kyle Kendrick is 0-and-3 on the year but has really been the victim of some hard luck despite pitching quite solidly. His SO/W ratio in fact, is better than his counterpart's, Alfredo Simon. Simon has been good and has been a real blessing for The Reds while they wait for the return of Mat Latos but I am still not all sold on Simon as he was exposed in his last outing, getting pounded by The Colorado Rockies. We'll see how he rebounds tonight but I think Kendrick has plenty of ability to keep this one close and let the home team go to work on Simon. Philly has dropped 3-straight but I like this spot in a series opener. It does not hurt that Joey Votto did not make the trip to Philly with the club either as it looks like he is unfortunately headed for the disabled list. Honestly, I wish all of these injured stars the best. I hate to see the Tommy John surgeries going on and such. The game needs its stars and I quite enjoy watching them. In the meantime, Go Fightin' Phils!

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Bruce Marshall

Reds at Phillies
Play: Reds

The Phils are "pha-ding" as they have sunk to a season-low four games beneath .500 (17-21) and are now 6-11 at Citizens Bank Park after losing a pair at midweek to the visiting Angels. Philadelphia enters the weekend at the bottom of the NL East after dropping nine of 13, a stretch in which it's hit .219. And not sure things get better tonight with starter Kyle Kendrick, who has gone 0-8 with a 4.91 ERA during a 14-start winless stretch. Prefer the Reds and starter Alfredo Simon (2.89 ERA).

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, May 16

Wunderdog

San Antonio @ Atlanta
Pick: Atlanta -9

Atlanta finished second in the East last season and has a fine time returning. They play best at home, going 13-4 here last season. The Dream is 19-8 ATS in their last 27 home games. The Atlanta Dream have reached three WNBA finals since drafting Angel McCoughtry with the No. 1 overall pick in 2009, so they are used to winning. The Dream acquired four-time All-Star Swin Cash from Chicago on May 7th and drafted Shoni Schimmel with the eighth overall pick, so they are loaded. Schimmel is Louisville's second all-time leading scorer behind McCoughtry. They face a rebuilding San Antonio team off a 12-22 campaign, ranking #8 in points scored and #10 in points allowed. Grab home court in this season opener.

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