Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, May 17

Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, May 17

DUNKEL INDEX

MLB

Oakland at Cleveland
The Indians look to bounce back from last night's 11-1 loss to the A's (26-16) and come into tonight's contest with a 10-2 record in Josh Tomlin's last 12 home starts against a team with a winning record. Cleveland is the pick (+120) according to Dunkel, which has the Indians favored by 1. Dunkel Pick: Cleveland (+120). 

Game 951-952: Atlanta at St. Louis (2:15 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Atlanta (Harang) 15.796; St. Louis (Miller) 14.695
Dunkel Line: Atlanta by 1; 8
Vegas Line: St. Louis (-125); 7
Dunkel Pick: Atlanta (+105); Over

Game 953-954: Milwaukee at Chicago Cubs (2:20 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Milwaukee (Garza) 15.229; Cubs (Jackson) 14.094
Dunkel Line: Milwaukee by 1; 7
Vegas Line: Milwaukee (-125); No Run Total
Dunkel Pick: Milwaukee (-125); N/A

Game 955-956: NY Mets at Washington (4:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: NY Mets (Colon) 15.212; Washington (Gonzalez) 14.453
Dunkel Line: NY Mets by 1; 8
Vegas Line: Washington (-155); 7
Dunkel Pick: NY Mets (+135); Over

Game 957-958: Cincinnati at Philadelphia (7:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Cincinnati (Bailey) 14.240; Philadelphia (Hamels) 15.801
Dunkel Line: Philadelphia by 1 1/2; 6
Vegas Line: Philadelphia (-120); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Philadelphia (-120); Under

Game 959-960: San Diego at Colorado (8:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: San Diego (Erlin) 15.731; Colorado (Lyles) 14.810
Dunkel Line: San Diego by 1; 10
Vegas Line: Colorado (-135); 9 1/2
Dunkel Pick: San Diego (+115); Over

Game 961-962: LA Dodgers at Arizona (8:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: LA Dodgers (Kershaw) 16.152; Arizona (Anderson) 14.594
Dunkel Line: LA Dodgers by 1 1/2; 7
Vegas Line: LA Dodgers (-170); 8
Dunkel Pick: LA Dodgers (-170); Under

Game 963-964: Miami at San Francisco (9:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Miami (Koehler) 16.336; San Francisco (Lincecum) 15.714
Dunkel Line: Miami by 1/2; 9
Vegas Line: San Francisco (-150); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Miami (+130); Over

Game 965-966: Chicago White Sox at Houston (4:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: White Sox (Noesi) 14.239; Houston (Cosart) 15.706
Dunkel Line: Houston by 1 1/2; 8 1/2
Vegas Line: Houston (-120); 9
Dunkel Pick: Houston (-120); Under

Game 967-968: Oakland at Cleveland (7:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Oakland (Kazmir) 15.507; Cleveland (Tomlin) 16.604
Dunkel Line: Cleveland by 1; 9
Vegas Line: Oakland (-140); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Cleveland (+120); Over

Game 969-970: Detroit at Boston (7:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Detroit (Porcello) 15.592; Boston (Lackey) 16.143
Dunkel Line: Boston by 1/2; 7
Vegas Line: Boston (-125); 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Boston (-125); Under

Game 971-972: Baltimore at Kansas City (7:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Baltimore (Norris) 14.560; Kansas City (Duffy) 15.998
Dunkel Line: Kansas City by 1 1/2; 6
Vegas Line: Kansas City (-125); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Kansas City (-125); Under

Game 973-974: Seattle at Minnesota (7:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Seattle (Elias) 15.651; Minnesota 14.082
Dunkel Line: Seattle by 1 1/2; 9
Vegas Line: Minnesota (-115); 8
Dunkel Pick: Seattle (-105); Over

Game 975-976: Toronto at Texas (8:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Toronto (Buehrle) 13.673; Texas (Ross) 15.866
Dunkel Line: Texas by 2; 8
Vegas Line: Toronto (-115); 10
Dunkel Pick: Texas (-105); Under

Game 977-978: Tampa Bay at LA Angels (9:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Tampa Bay (Ramos) 15.014; LA Angels (Wilson) 16.587
Dunkel Line: LA Angels by 1 1/2; 7
Vegas Line: LA Angels (-160); 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: LA Angels (-160); Under

Game 929-930: Pittsburgh at NY Yankees (4:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Pittsburgh (Volquez) 15.056; NY Yankees (Phelps) 16.544
Dunkel Line: NY Yankees by 1 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: NY Yankees (-135); 9
Dunkel Pick: NY Yankees (-135); Under

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DUNKEL INDEX

NHL

NY Rangers at Montreal
The Canadiens open up the series at home today where they are 9-1 in their last 10 games versus the Rangers. Montreal is the pick (-130) according to Dunkel, which has the Canadiens favored by 1 1/2. Dunkel Pick: Montreal (-130). 

Game 1-2: NY Rangers at Montreal (1:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: NY Rangers 10.818; Montreal 12.391
Dunkel Line & Total: Montreal by 1 1/2; 4
Vegas Line & Total: Montreal (-130); 5
Dunkel Pick: Montreal (-130); Under

WNBA

Chicago at New York
The Sky head to New York tonight to face a Liberty team that is coming off a 75-54 win over Connecticut and is 0-6 ATS in its last 6 games following a SU victory. Chicago is the pick (+5 1/2) according to Dunkel, which has the Liberty favored by only 1 1/2. Dunkel Pick: Chicago (+5 1/2).

Game 651-652: Atlanta at Indiana (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Atlanta 111.096; Indiana 122.495
Dunkel Line & Total: Indiana by 11 1/2; 152
Vegas Line & Total: Atlanta by 2; 145 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Indiana (+2); Over

Game 653-654: Chicago at New York (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Chicago 105.014; New York 106.673
Dunkel Line & Total: New York by 1 1/2; 143
Vegas Line & Total: New York by 5 1/2; 149
Dunkel Pick: Chicago (+5 1/2); Under

Game 655-656: Tulsa at San Antonio (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Tulsa 109.677; San Antonio 110.910
Dunkel Line & Total: San Antonio by 1; 160
Vegas Line & Total: San Antonio by 8 1/2; 154
Dunkel Pick: Tulsa (+8 1/2); Over

Game 657-658: Seattle at Phoenix (10:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Seattle 105.617; Phoenix 119.701
Dunkel Line & Total: Phoenix by 14; 139
Vegas Line & Total: Phoenix by 8 1/2; 151 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Phoenix (-8 1/2); Under

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Art Aronson

Cincinnati vs. Philadelphia
Pick: Philadelphia

The Phillies have been consistently poor of late but I expect them to find a way to gut out a win today. The Reds who won Game 1 of this series yesterday 3-0, will send Homer Bailey (3-2, 4.72 ERA) to the mound. Bailey has pitched better recently after a horrid start to the season, he is 2-0 with a 2.95 ERA in three starts this month after posting a 6.15 ERA in April. Against the Phillies though, Bailey is an unremarkable 0-3 with a 3.61 ERA lifetime (note that the Reds are 2-6 in those games where he has started). Philadelphia counters with Cole Hamels (0-2, 5. 32 ERA); the southpaw is hoping to avoid going winless through his first five starts for the second consecutive season and was in line for a victory in his last outing on Sunday, however the bullpen surrendered three runs in the ninth inning of a 5-4, 11-inning road loss to the Mets. The Phillies top pitcher was back to his old self in that game though as Hamels struck out 10 over seven innings of one-run ball while throwing a career-high 133 pitches, the most by anyone this season. Note that Hamels has gone 7-0 against Cincinnati while compiling a 1.70 ERA, his lowest mark against any team and Philadelphia has won each of his ten starts in the series. Helping us here is the fact that the Reds won’t have their top sluggers in Jay Bruce or Joey Votto in the lineup. The Phillies are hungry and send what I believe to be the superior hurler to the mound; consider a second look at the home side.


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Larry Ness

Pittsburgh vs. NY Yankees
Pick: NY Yankees

David Phelps will draw his third straight start of 2014 with Ivan Nova and C.C. Sabathia out of the rotation due to injuries...

It was big news in Pittsburgh last season when the Pirates produced their first winning season since 1992, by going an VERY impressive 94-68, which earned them a wild card spot in the postseason (last postseason for Pittsburgh had been 1992, as well). The Pirates finished the 2013 regular season as MLB's second-best moneyline team (+$2,342), beat the Reds in the one-game wild card playoff and made a respectable showing vs the Cards in the NLDS, before losing in six games.

What a difference a year has made! The Pirates 'limp' into this IL series with the Yankees (who could forget the 1960 World Series between the Pirates and the Yanks, capped by Maz's Game 7, walk-off HR!) just 17-23 (minus-$723) and 8 1/2-games back of the 1st-place Brewers in the NL Central.

The Pirates come to New York after dropping two of three at Milwaukee. Pittsburgh appeared headed for victory Thursday before former Yankee Mark Melancon blew the save in a 4-3 walk-off loss. Melancon is filling in for injured closer Jason Grilli but allowed two runs and failed to record an out in the bottom of the ninth. "More often than not if a closer doesn't close, people want to hang him," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He goes out there and competes, and nobody feels worse than he does in that clubhouse right now. He's been very efficient. That's what makes the game so challenging. You have to continually do it, and there's no safety net when you're in the position of closer."

Pittsburgh will try to bounce back behind Edinson Volquez. Here's a guy who was an All Star for the Reds back in 2008 (17-6, 3.21 ERA) but he’s been plagued by injuries (elbow surgery), since. He landed in San Diego last year and in 27 starts, posted a 6.01 ERA. He was released and picked up late by the Dodgers but in five starts, he was 0-2 (team was 1-4) with a 4.33 ERA. I’m not sure what makes Pittsburgh think he has anything left.

Volquez comes in 1-3 with a 4.36 ERA over eight appearances, including seven starts in 2014 (team is 3-4). He is 0-3 with a 6.85 ERA since notching his only win of the season on April 17 (team is 1-3 in those four starts) and is averaging 0.58 strikeouts per inning in 2014, down significantly from his 0.94 career mark entering the season.

With Ivan Nova and C.C. Sabathia out of the rotation due to injuries, David Phelps will draw his third straight start for the Yankees in 2014. He settled for a no-decision in Sunday’s 6-5 loss against the Brewers, allowing four ERs over five innings. The 27-year-old was much better in his first start (May 5 at the LAA), allowing just one ER over 5.1 innings. He's also made nine relief appearances this season.

He will face the face the Pirates for the first time in his career tonight but here's the "good news." Phelps has gone 4-2 with a 3.66 ERA in 12 starts over the previous two years at Yankee Stadium and faces a Pittsburgh team which is 3-12 vs right-handed starters on the road in 2014 (an 80% "go-against"), while averaging just 3.0 RPG.

Let me "throw in" the fact that the Yankees have won 18 straight when allowing three or less runs plus why shouldn't I also add that the Yankees are 7-2 all-time against the Pirates in the regular season, including 6-0 at home! Maz will NOT be suiting up for the Pirates in this one. No Clemente, either!

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Jesse Schule

NY Mets vs. Washington
Pick: Over

The Mets are in the nation's capital to face the Nats Saturday afternoon, and they will send veteran Bartolo Colon to the mound. They do so with their fingers crossed, hoping, and likely praying that he can avoid another poor outing.

Colon (2-5, 5.84 ERA) hasn't missed many bats lately, surrendering 28 hits over his last three starts (16 1/3 innings). He was torched for seven runs on 11 hits over 5 2/3 in a loss to the Yankees his last time out.

Jayson Werth is having a fine season, hitting .303 with five home runs so far. He's 3-for-3 lifetime versus Colon.

The Nats hand the ball to ace Gio Gonzalez, who was also rocked his last time out. Gonzalez (3-3, 3.97 ERA) was tagged for seven runs on nine hits over 4 1/2 innings in a loss to Oakland.


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Marc Lawrence

Oakland vs. Cleveland
Pick: Cleveland

When the A's and Indians battle in Game Two of this three-game set in Cleveland Saturday evening, the Tribe will send the steady serves of Josh Tomlin to the mound in this his third start off the DL. Aside form having fared well in each of his previous two starts this campaign, Tomlin loves hurling in May as evidenced by his 8-2-career team-start mark during this month, including a perfect 5-0 at home.  With his opponent, Scott Kazmir, just 1-5 his last six starts in May, we'll stay at home with Indians tonight.  We recommend a 1-unit play on Cleveland.

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Stephen Nover

Cincinnati Reds vs. Philadelphia Phillies    
Play: Cincinnati Reds +110 

It doesn't matter who is pitching for Philadelphia. Until the Phillies get their bats going they are a fade especially as a favorite.

The Phillies are averaging 2.4 runs in their last 11 games. They are 2-8 in their last 10 games and have dropped four in a row.

Philadelphia figures to have trouble against Homer Bailey, a hot-and-cold pitcher who is hot this month going 2-0 with a 2.95 ERA. Bailey didn't allow the Phillies a run in two starts last season spanning 15 innings.

Cincinnati is 24-8 the past 32 times Bailey has faced an opponent on the road that has a losing record. Bailey also is 11-4 when pitching on five day's rest.

The Phillies are starting Cole Hamels, who has yet to get going with a 5.32 ERA. The lefty threw a career-high 133 pitches during his last start five days ago. The Phillies are 5-16 in Hamels' last 21 starts when he's pitched on five day's rest. Philadelphia also is 0-6 in Hamels' past six starts.

The Reds are without their two top left-handed bats, injured Jay Bruce and Joey Votto. Their bats, though, won't be missed so much in this matchup against the left-handed Hamels. Bruce is batting .216 and Votto is just 4-for-22 in his last 26 at bats.


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Bryan Leonard

Reds vs. Phillies    
Play: Under 7½

A day after the Reds scored three runs in the first inning the next 17 half innings yielded no runs, a solid pitching matchup will commence at Citizens Bank Park between Homer Bailey and Cole Hamels. Bailey has been pretty unfortunate this season with a high BABIP and an ugly home run rate. The home run rate is a little bit misleading because he allowed four home runs in one five-inning start against Pittsburgh and has allowed just four in his other seven starts covering 42.2 innings. Bailey has above average swing and miss rates on his slider, changeup, and curveball. The velocity gains he made in 2013 have stuck around. His arsenal is too good to continue posting an ERA in the 5.00 range.

For Bailey, his 3.53 xFIP and 3.59 SIERA are far better indicators of his true talent level given the stuff he's showcased. It's been starting to turn around with a 2.95 ERA and a 3.42 FIP in three May starts. It's hard when a guy has to dig out of an early season hole as a pitcher and Bailey has been much better than the numbers indicate.

Cole Hamels got some additional rest after throwing 133 pitches on May 11 and that should benefit him. The Reds entered play on Friday ranked 25th in wOBA against left-handed pitching at .292. Through four starts, Hamels has a .408 BABIP against, which isn't going to continue for very long with a pitcher of his skill set.

A lot of Hamels's numbers fall outside the range of his career averages because of the layoff and return from injury. He also didn't have much of a Spring Training to prepare for the season. In his fifth start, the Hamels that we've come to expect should start to show up and against a lineup that struggles mightily with lefties, that should mean runs will be at a premium for both teams.

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Rob Vinciletti

Rangers vs. Canadiens
Play: Under 5

These two have has dome low scoring games over the past few years as the last 8 games their have been no more than 5 total goal scored. This year in 3 games between these two both teams combined for just 4 goals. Here in Montreal the last 6 have stayed under the total. The Rangers allow the least amount of power plays in the league and have the #3 defense on the road this year. Montreal, has the #4 home defense and the 28th worst home scoring rank. The Rangers have played under in 6 of 7 with 3 or more days rest and 10 of the last 13 vs winning teams. Montreal has played under in 16 of 23 off a win by 2 or more goals and 5 of the last 7 vs Metro Division teams. Both Goalies Lundquist for the Rangers and Price for Montreal are top echelon caliber net minders and will be tough to score on. The the under in what appears to be another low scoring game.


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Heath Mac

Rangers vs. Canadiens
Play: Under 5

This one will be a battle of the goalies with two of the best in the nets. This also marks the first time that the two goaltenders from the Olympic gold medal game will square off in the Conference finals as Price led the Canadians to gold while Lundqvist and the Swedes settled for silver. We have a 4* TOP PLAY on the winner of this game and we expect the total to go UNDER here in game 1.

The total has gone UNDER in 6 of the NY Rangers last 7 games when playing on the road against Montreal. The total has gone UNDER in 4 of the NY Rangers last 6 games. The total has gone UNDER in 5 of the NY Rangers last 5 games when playing Montreal. The L10 games between these teams has seen 1-7-2 O/U.

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Jim Feist

Tigers vs. Red Sox    
Play: Over 8½

Fenway is a great offensive park and a pair of outstanding, patient offensive teams who love to draw walks and wear down pitchers meet here. Rick Porcello goes here, but has been battling a tightness in his left side causing him to miss a start. He faces a Boston offense that loves to clog the bases with walks and hits. Porcello has a 1.77 ERA at home in spacious Detroit, but a 4.44 ERA on the road. The over is 6-1-2 in Tigers last nine games vs. a starter with a WHIP less than 1.15 and they face John Lackey, who has been very good. Detroit is up to 8th in baseball in runs scored, second in batting average and 7th in on base percentage. When these teams meet the over is 14-6-2 in the last 22 meetings.

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Eddie J

Braves at Cardinals
Pick: Over

The Braves face the Cardinals in a Saturday matinee at Busch stadium. The Braves will send Aaron Harang who has plummeted back to earth after a solid start to the season with a 7.02 ERA L3 starts to go along with a 1.74 WHIP. Shelby Miller who will start for the redbirds has a high whip as well and hasnt been great L3 neither giving up almost 4 ER per start. The OVER is 6-0-2 L8 home games for the Cards and we are getting a sexy # here with the posted total at 7.

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MLB Predictions

Colorado Rockies -132

Robbie Erlin will take the mound for the Padres as he makes his first career start at Coors Field. On the season he is 2-4 with a 4.22 ERA, .255 OBA and 1.24 WHIP. He faced Colorado earlier this season and lasted just 4.2 innings giving up 6 hits and 3 earned runs. He hasn't been the only lefty to struggle against the Rockies, as Colorado ranks 1st in the MLB in team batting average vs lefties at .307 and well ahead in 1st in OPS at .854. On the other hand the Padres will be facing a righty in Jordan Lyles, and the Padres rank dead last in the MLB in team batting average (.213) and OPS vs righties (.594). Lyles has had a rough MLB career up until 2014, but he looks like a different pitcher this year. So far over 8 starts he is 5-0 with a 2.66 ERA, .223 OBA and 1.09 WHIP. At home this year he is a solid 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA, .221 OBA and 0.97 WHIP over his first three starts. The Padres are just 2-5 in Erlin's last 7 road starts and 1-5 in his last 6 starts overall. The Rockies are 4-1 in Lyle's last 5 starts. I'll lay a bit of chalk taking the Rockies here at home.


Athletics / Indians Under 7.5

Scott Kazmir will take the mound for the A's to face his former team for a second time on Saturday. He has been really good so far this season. He is 5-1 with a 2.28 ERA, .216 OBA and 0.97 WHIP over his first 8 starts. In his first start vs the Indians he went 7.1 innings giving up just 3 hits and no earned runs with 5 strikeouts and no walks. Josh Tomlin will counter for Cleveland and in his first two starts of the year he is 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA, .213 OBA and 0.87 WHIP. In 5 Triple-A starts Tomlin was stellar going 2-1 with a 2.06 ERA, .185 OBA and 0.89 WHIP. Take note that the Indians are the league's worst hitting team vs lefties with a team .211 average and .609 OPS. The UNDER is 4-1 in Kazmir's last 5 starts with 5 days rest. The UNDER is also 4-0 in Tomlin's last 4 home starts, and 5-1-1 in his last 7 starts as a home underdog. These two teams have played to the UNDER is 34 of their last 51 meetings. Take the UNDER with these two pitchers on the mound, who have both been great this season.


Dodgers / Diamondbacks Under 8

We already know what Clayton Kershaw brings to the equation, but Chase Anderson is probably a question mark for many people. He has been stashed away in the Diamondback minor league system for a few years now and is finally getting a chance at the major league level. It has been hard for Arizona to ignore the guy considering what he has done at the minor league level posting a 0.69 ERA in 39 innings pitched. In his first start in the majors he was flawless against the White Sox, allowing just 2 hits and a run. Nobody in MLB has seen Anderson before. Many pitchers use that to their advantage as they make a transition to this level. The White Sox OBP was kept low at .167, as well as Anderson's WHIP with 0.56. Not a big enough sample size to deem that he is for real, but given how he did in the minors and how his first start went, this one is big. The sample size on Kershaw is already large enough over his career to lead us to the conclusion that he is a stud. I would say, though, he had a down game in his last start. 3 runs allowed for Kershaw is like 5 for anyone else. He has only had three starts this season due to injury with that being his highest runs allowed. Prior to that he gave up no runs and 1. Both of those were on the road, which puts his road ERA at 0.66. Overall Kershaw boasts an impressive 1.74 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. I like him to come out strong and do exactly what Greinke did last night. The Diamondbacks' run output should be scarce in this series. Anderson has shutdown whatever has been put in his way in 2014. For this to go over I think he would need to get shellacked, which hasn't happened in 44 innings pitched. 39 of them in the minors, but he was really doing something right to hold a 0.69 ERA. No matter what level it is, that is impressive. It will be the UNDER 8 for me here.

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Chase Diamond

San Diego vs. Colorado
Play: San Diego +129

This play features the 20-23 Padres at the 24-19 Rockies. Padres always provide excellent value for us. There pitching is very underated and I beleive this Rockies team is over rated by Vegas. Jordan Lyles is 5-0 with a 2.66 ERA so this guy is due for a bad start. Robbie Erlin is a young gun who will have a very motivated Padres team behind him as they are just games behind this Rockies team. The public is all over the Rockies here at a rate of 86% and yet this line is dropping showing us MAJOR sharp action going on the Padres.


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DAVE COKIN

MILWAUKEE BREWERS AT CHICAGO CUBS
PLAY: MILWAUKEE BREWERS -120

The Brewers continue to roll in what has been a first quarter of the season joy ride for Milwaukee fans. This team has been the complete opposite of what we witnessed throughout 2013. That edition of the Brewers was prone to terrible baserunning, critical defensive miscues, and on the whole, were simply a bad baseball team for nearly the entire season.

Things are sure different in 2014. Carlos Gomez is in the MVP chase, Francisco Rodriguez has been pure money closing games, and the Brewers have been sensational in the clutch, as evidenced by their great record in one-run games. They might well have the most underrated player in the game on their roster in catcher Jonathan Lucroy.

The Cubs are the Mr. Hyde to the Brewers Dr. Jekyll. Wow, this team  is terrible. They’re not especially talented, but the Cubbies have made matters worse than they need to be with some astonishingly awful fundamental baseball, which is kind of inexcusable at the big league level. There’s little doubt in my mind that this team doesn’t believe they’re any good, and that ties in with the lack of focus that’s pretty obvious on a day to day basis.

As for today’s affair, Matt Garza already pitched one strong game against his former team, and the Brewers righty was very clear following that effort about his desire to beat the Cubs. Evidently Garza isn’t retaining many fond memories of his time in Chicago. So there’s no doubt he’s going to be charged up at the prospect of dealing them a defeat at Wrigley today.

Edwin Jackson will throw for the Cubs, and Theo Epstein’s decision to fork over somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 million over four years for Jackson remains a major mystery to just about everyone I know who follows the game. Jackson remains what he;s been for years. That is, a pitcher who will look studly every now and then, but is generally a barely acceptable back of the rotation option. Jackson is also keeping in step with a career long tradition of being terrible in April and May, where his combined lifetime ledger is a brutal 19-37. Win/loss records don’t always tell the most accurate story, but in the case of Jackson, they are dead on target numbers.

This is all about the simplest analysis one can make on a game. Team A is playing great baseball and keeps finding sways to win. Team B is the polar opposite. Obvious doesn’t always pay the freight, but I think it will here. I’ll go with the Brewers to keep it flowing with another win over the hapless Cubs.

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Bob Balfe

Cincinnati Reds +105

The Phillies score the least amount of runs at home in the entire National and American. It is almost contagious when a team can't hit. The Phillies can get in any situation and that doubt lurks in the back of their mind which finds its way to a 0 being put up that inning. I just don't trust this team to score. You can't win if you can't score.

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River City Sharps

3 St Louis Cardinals -119

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has recently called his team's toughness into question and the Cardinals responded Friday night with a 5-2 win over the Braves. Today, they try and make it two in a row over Atlanta as the Cards send Shelby Miller (5-2, 3.22 ERA) to the mound to oppose the Braves Aaron Harang (4-3, 2.98 ERA) Miller had a pretty rough start to the season but has been really good for the Cards over his last four starts, posting a 2.86 ERA in those starts. He's also gotten some really good run production as the Cardinals have scored 19 runs in Miller's last three starts. Annother interesting trend here today is that the Cards are 9-1 in Miller's last 10 home starts as a favorite. Last night's loss dropped Atlanta to 1-3 vs. the Cardinals this season and we think their struggles continue this afternoon.

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Jimmy Boyd

Chicago Cubs +12

The Cubs are showing great value once again as a division home underdog. Chicago will send out Edwin Jackson, who has looked sharp here in his last two starts. Jackson has allowed just 4 earned runs on 12 hits and 2 walks over his last 13 innings of work. Milwaukee counters with Matt Garza, who has not been himself so far in 2014. Garza is 2-3 with a 4.98 ERA and 1.447 WHIP overall (8 starts), but it gets worse. Garza has a 8.36 ERA and 2.143 WHIP in three road starts and a 7.07 ERA and 2.071 WHIP over his last three outings. The Cubs offense is seeing the ball well, as they have an impressive 55 hits over their last 5 games.

The Cubs are 12-6 in their last 18 games after losing 8 or more of their last 10 games and we have a solid system in play telling us to fade the Brewers in this spot. Road teams with a money line of -100 to -150 who are allowing 3.8 or less runs/game on the season (NL), after scoring and allowing 5 runs or less last 4 games are just 19-42 over the last 5 seasons. That's a 69% system in favor of Chicago. Take the Cubs!

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, May 17

Dave Price

Colorado Rockies -132

The Rockies are 14-5 at home where they are batting .349 and averaging 7.4 runs per game.  The Padres are 8-12 on the road where they are batting .194 and averaging 2.3 runs per game.  For San Diego to come out on top, scheduled starter Robbie Erlin must deliver a gem, and I don't see it happening.  The Padres are 1-5 in his last six starts, and he has a 6.00 ERA on the road.  Colorado's Jordan Lyles is 5-0 with a 2.66 ERA and 3-0 at home with a 1.25 ERA.  The Rockies are 8-1 in their last nine games as a favorite of -110 to -150.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, May 17

Steve Rosen

Milwaukee Brewers vs. Chicago Cubs    
Play: Milwaukee Brewers -122

Matt Garza makes his return to Wrigley Field on Saturday when he leads the Milwaukee Brewers into the second of three straight matchups at the Chicago Cubs. Garza won 21 games over two-plus years with the Cubs before being traded to Texas last summer. His return to the National League Central this season afforded him an early chance to face his former teammates last month, and the right-hander responded by allowing two runs in seven innings of a 5-2 victory at home!

That is one of three wins in four meetings between the teams for Milwaukee this season, the latest a 4-3 triumph in Friday's series opener. The Brewers have won five of six overall and are 39-17 against the Cubs since 2011.

The 30-year-old is 12-7 with an impressive 2.70 mark in 28 career starts at Wrigley Field. Do not get worried about his current road stats, those are out the window today.Jackson is 4-6 with a 3.69 ERA in 12 career starts against Milwaukee. Brewers C Jonathan Lucroy is 9-for-26 with two homers and two doubles against Jackson.
Milwaukee is 13-5 in its last 18 games at Wrigley Field.

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