Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, May 20

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, May 20

Larry Ness

Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians
Prediction: Detroit Tigers

Detroit had won 11 straight on the road, including the first six of this nine-game trip. However, after tying last night's game with a 9th-inning HR, the Tigers lost 5-4 when the Indians ended the game with walk-off HR in the 10th. The win snapped Cleveland's four-game slide and also ended a five-game home skid to Detroit. The Indians will try to win consecutive home games against the Tigers for the first time in two seasons and prevent Verlander from winning a fourth straight start in Cleveland on Tuesday night.

The Tigers only arrived three hours before the first pitch because of travel delays from Boston and the loss marks just their THIRD in the last 14 games at Cleveland. Detroit has not lost two in a row there since a four-game slide in 2012.

Justin Verlander (5-2, 3.15 ERA in nine 2014 starts / Tigers are 7-2) has a 2.70 ERA while winning three straight starts at Progressive Field. He's 8-3 with a 3.36 ERA over his last 12 outings in Cleveland, after going 1-7 with a 9.00 ERA in his first eight starts on the road vs the Indians.

Cleveland recalled Trevor Bauer from Triple-A Columbus to make this start and face Detroit for the first time, while replacing the demoted Danny Salazar in the rotation. He allowed two runs and struck out eight in six innings of a 2-1 loss to San Diego on April 9, then was sent to the minors where he's gone 4-1 with a 2.15 ERA in seven starts for the Clippers.

The Tigers own MLB's best record (27-13), as well as its best road mark (14-5) while the Indians enter this game 20-25, already 9 1/2 games back of the Tigers in the AL Central. That's after the Indians surprised all by winning 92 games in 2013 (Terry Francona's 1st with the team) and finishing just one game back of the Tigers. Cleveland's recent woes vs Detroit continue here, as I take Verlander over Bauer.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, May 20

Sam Martin

Milwaukee Brewers at Atlanta Braves
Prediction: Atlanta Braves

Braves have seemingly come out of their offensive slump and enter tonight's home game against Milwaukee on a quick two-game winning streak scoring a combined 15 runs in those two victories. We'll back the Braves to make it three in a row tonight and we like backing Julio Teheran here at home at this price.

Teheran is off to a great start this season, but he's especially good here at home owning a 4-1 team start record and very low 1.75 ERA over those five starts. Milwaukee's Gallardo started off red hot but has since cooled off going 0-2 (1-2 TSR) with a 5.50 ERA in his last three outings. Braves 20-6 at home vs. NL Central foes and they stay hot with another win here!

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John Ryan

Los Angeles Dodgers at New York Mets
Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers

The simulator shows a high probability that the Dodgers will win this game. Supporting this graded play is a series of game situations supporting an easy Dodgers win. LA is a solid 31-14 (+15.9 Units) against the money line in road games when playing against a team with a losing record over the last 2 seasons; 20-8 (+11.5 Units) against the money line in road games vs. a bad bullpen that blows 38% or more of their save opportunities over the last 2 seasons; Mets are a money burning 9-24 (-14.4 Units) against the money line in home games vs. a starting pitcher whose strikes out 5 or more batters per start over the last 2 seasons; 16-40 (-20.3 Units) against the money line as a home underdog of +100 or higher over the last 2 seasons. Surprising to me that Dodgers have fallen to just one game over 0.500 after a solid start to the season. Kershaw had a horrid outing Sunday completing just 1 2/3 innings and allowing 7 ER while the Diamondbacks set a club record 21 runs scored by the time the ninth inning ended. I mention this because all playoff bound teams go through these valleys and I strongly believe that the Dodgers are about to embark on a sustained winning stretch. The Mets are hitting just 0.200 and scoring 3.0 RPG in 21 home games. Dodgers are hitting 0.263 and scoring 4.7 RPG in 23 road tilts. Moreover, Beckett has pitched very well posting a 2.38 ERA with a 1.056 WHIP in 7 starts spanning 41 2/3 innings of work. I strongly believe Beckett will dominate the weak hitting Mets lineup and cruise to an easy win.


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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, May 20

Jeff Alexander

Detroit Tigers -131

The Tigers are 7-1 in their last 8 games following a loss, 11-1 in their last 12 on the road and 6-0 in their last 6 as a road favorite.  Detroit is also 6-1 in Verlander's last 7 starts and 5-0 in his last 5 road starts.  The Indians are 0-5 in their last 5 games as an underdog and 1-9 in their last 10 games as an underdog of +110 to +150.  The Tigers are 19-7 in their last 26 meetings with the Indians and 5-1 in the last 6 meetings in Cleveland.  The Tigers are 4-1 in Verlander's last 5 starts versus the Indians and 5-2 in his last 7 road starts against them.

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Dave Price

New York Yankees -163

This will be Chicago's second look at Tanaka, but I don't think it will matter.  He is 6-0 with a 2.17 ERA through eight starts, including 4-0 with a 1.82 ERA on the road and 3-0 with a 0.77 ERA in interleague play.  In his first start against the Cubs, he gave up no runs on two hits in eight innings while striking out 10 and walking one.  Hammel, who took the loss opposite Tanaka in the aforementioned start, has cooled off considerably.  The Cubs are 0-3 in his last three starts while he's compiled a 4.91 ERA.  The Yankees have seen plenty of him, and he's just 3-5 with an ERA of 4.34 in 14 starts against them.  The Yankees are 5-0 in their last five games as a road favorite, 12-4 in their last 16 games as a favorite of -151 to -200 and 40-17 in their last 57 interleague games as a favorite.  The Cubs are 18-37 in their last 55 home games, 29-68 in their last 97 games as an underdog of +151 to +200 and 11-28 in their last 39 games as a home underdog of +151 to +200.  The Yankees are 4-0 in the last 4 meetings.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, May 20

Jack Jones

Seattle Mariners -109

The Seattle Mariners are favored for good reason on the road tonight against the Texas Rangers.  First and foremost, the Mariners are a much-improved team this season, while the Rangers have clearly taken a step back and are not the power they once were.

Secondly, Seattle has a massive edge on the mound in this this one.  The underrated Hisashi Iwakuma gets the ball and looks to improve upon his fast start this season.  The right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA and 0.662 WHIP in three starts in 2014.

Of course, Iwakuma is no one-hit wonder.  He went 9-5 with a 3.16 ERA and 1.277 WHIP in his rookie season in 2012, and then 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA and 1.006 WHIP in 2013.  Iwakuma is also 3-3 with a 3.53 ERA and 1.098 WHIP in eight career starts against Texas.

Colby Lewis made his return from hip and elbow surgeries this season.  In six starts, he has gone 3-2 with a 4.99 ERA and 1.695 WHIP, including 1-2 with a 7.54 ERA and 1.884 WHIP in three home starts.  Two of those six starts have come against Seattle, in which he's 0-1 with a 6.10 ERA.

Texas is 2-10 (-9.3 Units) against the money line vs. a starting pitcher who gives up 0.5 or less HR's/start this season.  The Mariners are 7-1 in their last eight games following an off day.  The Rangers are 0-6 in their last six games vs. a starter with a WHIP less than 1.15.  Bet the Mariners Tuesday.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, May 20

Matt Fargo

New York Yankees vs. Chicago Cubs    
Play: Chicago Cubs +155 

The Yankees come in as pretty big road favorites in Chicago because one, they are the Yankees, two, because the Cubs are having a rough season and three, because Masahiro Tanaka is on the mound. All of those reasons are giving Chicago excellent value as home underdog tonight. Tanaka has lived up to his early season hype as he is 6-0 with a 2.17 ERA and 0.91 WHIP in eight starts with the Yankees going 7-1 in those games. Therefore it comes as no surprise that he is a big road chalk and it is easily the biggest he has been favored by on the road this season. He has already shut down the Cubs once, tossing eight shutout innings in a 3-0 win last month. The Cubs are riding a two-game winning streak and I like their chances to add to it as Jason Hammel gets the ball for them tonight. He has been very solid with a 3.06 ERA and 0.91 WHIP as well, the same as Tanaka. He is coming off his first non-quality start of the season and that means a rebound performance is in order tonight. He squared off against Tanaka in that first meeting and pitched very well, allowing three runs in seven innings. He has allowed three runs or less in his last seven starts against the Yankees.


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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, May 20

SPORTS WAGERS

MIAMI -102 over Philadelphia

The Marlins are the new Rockies. Colorado has long been known as a team that didn’t lose at home often but could not win on the road. Well, this season the Marlins are 17-5 at home and 6-17 on the road. That’s a remarkable discrepancy that we’re not going to ignore. Now the Marlins return home from a 4-7 road trip to face A.J. Burnett. Burnett threw 113 pitches in his last start through just five innings. He’s already walked 26 batters in 54.2 frames. Burnett has allowed 16 hits and 10 runs over his last 11 innings against the Blue Jays and Angels. Burnett’s four-seam fastball velocity has dipped to 91 mph and his swinging strike rate has declined from 11% to just over 8%. Burnett faced the Marlins back at Citizens Bank on April 11 and threw 106 pitches in 4.1 frames. A.J. is throwing more pitchers per batter than any starter in the league and one could attribute that to his altered delivery due to a hernia injury.

With Jose Fernandez lost to injury, the Marlins brought up Anthony DeSclafani to make his major league debut on May 14 against the Dodgers. DeSclafani went six full and allowed just seven hits and two earned runs. He also had a very nice BB/K split of 1/7. The 6'1" right-hander was a closer in college but both his original organization (Toronto) and his current one turned him into a starter. That experiment has been successful, as DeSclafani now possesses a plus fastball that reaches 96 mph, as well as a plus slider (that works better against RHB than LHB) and a change-up that is a work in progress. His walk rate of 2.1 in Double-A this year is actually the highest of his career, showing that control is DeSclafani's game. He consistently gets his strike out rate near 8 per nine so his command has always been top-notch. He throws strikes, works down in the zone, gets ground balls, strikes guys out, and doesn't walk many. We like this kid very much because he’s as game as any young pitcher we’ve seen this year. Besides that, all the Fish do is win at home, which makes them very playable as a small pooch against A.J. and the Phillies.


Toronto/BOSTON over 9½ +102

Felix Doubront has a WHIP of 1.51 after eight starts. That’s an alarming number that will continue to hurt him. Doubront has just 29 K’s in 42 innings. His swinging strike rate is 7% but over his last three starts, it’s much worse at 4%. Doubront’s groundball/fly-ball split of 9 groundouts/29 fly-outs over his past two starts is further proof of the trouble that lies ahead. Doubront has posted some of the worst skills in the game and he’s always had a history of skills falling flatter with each passing month. Current Jays have hit .303 against Doubront in 108 career AB’s and they have a great chance of adding to those numbers here.

J.A. Happ might be worse than Doubront. Happ looks decent when facing teams’ that can’t hit lefties but that’s not the case here. Against teams that hit lefties well, Happ is among the worst starters in the game. His first half last season ended by a line drive to the head, as if there wasn't enough evidence that he was getting hit hard. He ended up with a 4.56 ERA after 18 starts with just five of those being of the pure quality variety. This season, Happ has 12 walks and 14 K’s in 18 innings. His swinging strike rate of 5% does not support those 14 K’s so don’t expect the Red Sox to miss many pitches here. Happ has been lucky with an unsustainable 89% strand rate and he’ll now face a Boston squad that has a .745 OPS against southpaws. In 16.1 innings in his career at Fenway, Happ has walked 13 batters. One has to expect at least one of these two clubs to put up a crooked number here and the other side to take care of the rest. It would also not surprise to see two crooked numbers, prompting us to go over the number.

PLEASE NOTE: We’re posting this play now but we are NOT pulling the trigger until after 6:00 PM when we get a weather update. There are strong winds throughout the East Coast today and if the wind is blowing in, we might have to pass.  We’ll update our play both here and on Twitter.


N.Y. Yankees -1½ +104 over CHICAGO

The wind is blowing out today at Wrigley and that’s a pretty good time to be spotting runs, especially when considering the matchup. Masahiro Tanaka has lived up to all the hype with eight dominant outings in his nine starts, including all four of his starts on the road. Tanaka will now face a Cubs lineup has not hit well this season, as they have a .234 BA and .661 OPS. Tanaka's demonstrated skill set is ridiculous, as he has a 2.43 xERA, 10.2 K/9, a 16% swinging strike rate, which is the highest mark in MLB, outstanding command (7BB in 58 IP) and a 49% groundball rate. Tanaka has the most dominating across the board stats in all of baseball.

Jason Hammel has enjoyed an early surge in his skills. After posting some ugly numbers in 2013, his skills have improved across-the-board. A change in his pitch mix could explain why. He threw his four-seam fastball 30% of the time in 2013. He's throwing it only 10% of the time now. He uses his two-seam fastball 50% of the time, and it has become a lot more effective for him. His K% on that pitch has jumped from 10% to 18%, and his swinging strike rate on it has increased from 4% to 8%. However, this is a small sample size and Hammel hasn’t shown consistently strong skills since 2010. Furthermore, his 40% fly-ball rate is not going to play well at Wrigley with the wind blowing out. The total in this one is 7½ and that’s an extremely low number with the wind blowing out at Wrigley. The Yanks figure to score five or more tonight and that should be plenty enough support for Tanaka to take care of the rest.

Pass NBA

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, May 20

Greg Shaker

St Louis -1.5 +120

A number of reasons why we are laying the -1.5 here tonight and not limited to the fact that the Cardinal Starter is one of the best Bounceback throwers in the league. A lot of Cardinal hitters have fared very well verses Arroyo throughout his career as well. High Percentage chance here that the Cards win by 2 or more.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, May 20

Tony George

Heat / Pacers Over 185

I have made more cash in these playoffs for the Total on OVERS both with Miami and Indiana through through the first 2 rounds of their games other than my Top Plays.  For some reason the odds-makers have been slow to react with significant line moves with the stated totals from game to game and I was all over the Total in the last game with the over which ended at 203 and I got it at 181.5.

Oddsmakers have bumped this line up 3.5 points from the previous total which is more than usual,  but it is not enough.  For the Pacers, Hibbert has re-emerged and they put up 107 in game 1, where BOTH teams shot 51% from the floor in a fast paced game.  If Miami is to survive this series and defend the crown they have to get these games in the mid 90's or 100's in order to play their game and keep the Pacers off balance, this was stated by their coach before the series began.  I expect Miami to step it up and do better than 26% from beyond the arc this time around and keep this game fast paced and very interesting down the stretch.

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Prophet Plays

Miami vs. Indiana
Play: Over 184.5

It’s very apparent the Heat just isn’t playing at the same level defensively as they’ve shown in recent seasons. They are small in the paint and not as quick on the perimeter. Teams are finding ways to take advantage. Miami is 6-1 ‘OVER’ in their last seven allowing 94 or more in four straight. That would never happen the last two years in the playoffs. Offensively I expect the Heat to shoot better than 26.1 percent from beyond the arc (6-of-23) like they did in game #1. Plus they only got to the line 15 times on Sunday. You won’t see Indiana with a 37-15 advantage from the charity stripe. Granted, Indiana might not connect on 51.5 percent from the floor but I still believe they will be extremely efficient. Miami is 6-1 ‘OVER’ in their last seven games off a loss. Miami is 17-8 ‘OVER’ versus teams with a winning record. The Heat didn’t have an answer for Hibbert or West. Both guys got to the rim combining on 13-of-24 shooting. Indiana had not scored 100 points in a playoff game this year until Sunday when they tallied 107. They’ve now scored 93 or more in four straight hitting 51.4 percent or better in back-to-back games.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, May 20

Bob Balfe ‏

Tigers / Indians Over 8

The Tigers are a tired team from being on the road and for playing in an extra inning game in which they lost last night. When is the last time you have seen Verlander only laying 130 against a young guy who has only pitched a total of 6 innings this season. Verlander has struggled with his control this year and I actually expect both teams to put up a couple of runs each. The wind is blowing out and if guys get on base via the walk it always leads to more runs.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, May 20

Brady Kannon

Colorado +116

Playing angles and trends here as they have been kind to us with The Rockies. The pitching match up is not in our favor with Bumgarner going for The Giants and the less than stellar Morales taking the ball for Colorado - but The Rocks are nearly perfect in the opening game of a series at home, and cashing over 70% of the time as a home underdog. Even though MadBum is a fly in the ointment, I can't justify trying to pick a spot to jump off the Colorado tendencies train.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, May 20

Joe Gavazzi

New York Yankees vs. Chicago Cubs    
Play: New York Yankees -1½ +104

The Yankees’ weird statistical coincidence continued in their double-header split with the Pirates on Sunday.  NYY is now 20-0, when the opposition scores 3 or less runs but 3-20, when they score 4 or more runs.  With Tanaka on the mound, how many runs do you think the Cubbies are going to get tonight?   The Cubs enter off a pair of weekend victories.  But, the baby Bruins are just 4-10 following a win and have yet to win 3 games in a row this season.  Hammel has been solid all year with a 3.06 ERA, including 3.15 ERA on this field in 3 starts, spanning 20 innings.   But, the Cubs have lost his last 3 outings, in which his current form shows him working 18 1/3 IP but allowing 10 runs on 19 hits.  Far prefer the slants of Tanaka.  Tanaka is 6-0 with a 2.17 ERA, a 66/7 KBB, while allowing just 53 BR in 58 IP.  In his only previous game vs. the Cubs, Tanaka worked 8 scoreless innings, allowing just 2 hits with a 10/1 KBB.  In his last 42 starts, spanning to Japan, Tanaka is 34-0.  Run line players take note, 10 of 12 NYY road victories have come by 2 or more runs, while NYY has won 6 of 8 Tanaka starts by 2 or more runs.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, May 20

Harry Bondi

WASHINGTON (-105) over Cincinnati

Both bullpens got overworked last night in a 15-inning affair, so tonight we'll side with the Nats, who have the much better team of relievers. Washington's pen has posted a 1.17 ERA at home this year while the Reds' relievers have been one of the worst in the NL with a collective 5.56 ERA on the road. Nats starter Doug Fister is new to the NL and began the season on the DL. We think he'll be very effective this season, especially his first time around the league. In his last start, his first in the NL this season, he tossed seven innings of one-run, one-hit ball in a win over Arizona. Washington is also 13-7 (-5.4 units) after a loss this season and 90-70 (+10.1 units) the last three seasons. Take the slight home favorite Nationals to bounce back.

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Nelly

Minnesota Twins + over San Diego Padres

There is a great contrast in the offensive numbers for Minnesota and San Diego. The Padres are the worst team in MLB in team OBP and runs scored per game while Minnesota is surprisingly in the top seven in both categories including being third in baseball in team OBP. Taking walks has been a priority for the Twins this season and it is paying off with much better scoring than anyone predicted and the Twins staying relevant at 21-21 on the season despite dire predictions before the season started. Pitching has been hit or miss for the Twins and veteran Kevin Correia has been a big part of the misses with a 6.80 ERA. Returning to his hometown of San Diego where he posted two solid seasons should help his cause. Correia has pitched much better on the road this season and he was an effective pitcher for the Twins last season. His inability to get strikeouts should hurt him much less in this matchup and in this ballpark as the Padres have hit just .217 against right-handed pitching on the season while scoring just 2.9 runs per game. In contrast Minnesota has scored more than five runs per game against right-handed pitching. Ian Kennedy owns a 3.60 ERA on the season but the Padres are just 3-6 in his starts and he is allowing a great deal of hits. His ERA is 4.20 at home with a 1.30 WHIP and San Diego is 0-5 in his Petco Park starts. The Padres have a great bullpen but that is an area where the Twins have shown improvement in recent weeks and the Twins are 6-0 in the last two interleague series between these teams. With great underdog value a surprising Twins team is worth a shot on the west coast.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, May 20

Jeff Scott Sports

3 UNIT PLAY

Miami/ Pacers Under 185.5:  The Heat were surprised by the smaller lineup in game one, but I expect them to make the proper adjustments in this one and after allowing 107 points in the opener I expect those adjustments to be made on the defensive end of the floor.  The Heat have still played good defense in the playoffs, allowing just 93.7 ppg and prior to game 1 they had allowed just 87.4 ppg in their previous 8 games vs the Pacers, so they do know how to play defense vs this team. The Pacers allowed the Heat 96 points in Game one, but still this is a team that has allowed just 90.3 ppg in the playoffs and just 89.1 ppg on their home floor this year, so I expect them to look for a bit more defense as well. Prior to game 1 the previous 7 meetings between these tams had put up just 175 points, while the previous 3 meetings on this floor had produced just 169.7 ppg. This one should be played at a much slower pace with much more defense than in game 1 as we get a game played in the 170's at best.   

2 UNIT PLAY

Miami -2.5 over Indiana: I really do not think the Heat will go down 0-2 in this series, so I will back them here. They are the better team and will not be surprised again by the smallish lineup that the Pacers will throw at them. The Heat will make the Proper adjustments and head back to Miami with the series tied at 1 game apiece. Miami is 10-3 ATS following a loss of 10 or more, while the Pacers are just 3-15 ATS following a game in which they put up 100 or more points. Heat by at least 7 in this one.

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Jeff Scott Sports

3 UNIT PLAYS

Texas/ Seattle Under 8.5: If I would have got this a bit earlier, when it was 9, it would have been a higher rated play, but still I do like it allot. I have had good success this year taking Unders in Texas home games, as their pitching has been solid and their hitting is weak by their standards this year. The Rangers are a team that is used to putting up nearly 6 rpg at home, yet this year they have averaged a mere 3.88 rpg on their home field. Now they take on Hisashi Iwakuma, who has a 1.59 ERA in 3 starts this year and a solid 3.13 ERA in his last 7 starts vs Texas. Colby Lewis has a 4.99 ERA on the year, but that's pretty much because of just 1 start, as he has allowed 3 ER's in 4 of his last 5 starts. He doesnt last too long, as he hasn't pitched 6 innings this year yet, but behind him is a solid pen that has a 3.13 ERA at home. Lewis also has a 2.08 ERA in his last 4 home starts vs the Mariners, plus we note that the Under is 10-2-2 in his last 14 starts vs the Mariners. Seattle has averaged just 2.8 rpg in their last 5 games, while Texas has put up just 2.4 rpg in their last 5. No more than 5 or 6 here.

LA Angels/ Houston Over 8: Both starters come in struggling and that should really help the offenses here. Scott Feldman comes in with a 5.29 ERA in his last 3 starts and while he has pitched well on the road this year, he does have a career 4.77 road ERA and that includes a 5.30 ERA in his career in this park. The Angels were shutdown for much of the game last night, but that isn't likely to happen 2 games in a row as they have averaged 4.91 rpg overall and 4.65 rpg at home. They should have a much better offensive showing than last night, especially if they get into that Houston bullpen that has a 6.14 ERA on the road. The Houston offense is not spectacular, but they have averaged 4.6 rpg in their last 10 games and will be taking on Tyler Skaggs, who has a 6.91 ERA in 5 home starts this year. Oh and by the way his team is 4-1 in his home starts, despite the high ERA and that would indicate many high scoring games. For the record his home starts have averaged 11 rpg. The Over is 7-3-1 the last 11 meetings and 12-3-1 in the Angels last 16 games as a favorite of -151 to -200. Double figures in runs scored here.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, May 20

OC Dooley

Rays +105

On Thursday of this week Tampa is slated to get one of their starting pitchers back from the disabled list as Alex Cobb will be a welcome sight to a rotation that has overall struggled.  To make a long story short tonight’s starter Jake Odorizzi is fighting to keep his rotation spot which makes this particular assignment vitally important.  The good news is that Odorizzi is coming off his best start of the season allowing just ONE HIT before giving way to the bullpen. There has been a slight DROP in the line offshore regarding this contest which is big news since Oakland is riding a current 9-1 tear where

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Anthony Michael

Miami Heat -2.5

The Heat will be in a very feisty after losing game 1 so look for a much better effort from them here. So far in this playoffs the Pacers have had a hard time putting 2 good performances together, look for that trend to continue here in a Heat win and cover.

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