Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, June 8

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, June 8

Bruce Marshall

Cleveland Indians at Texas Rangers
Pick: Cleveland Indians

Cleveland can get over .500 for the first time since April 9, as the Indians have. put together a 7-1 stretch spurred by a .293 batting average and 5.6 runs per game after batting .220 while scoring seven runs during a four-game slide. Starter Justin Masterson enters this matchup coming off one of his best performances of the season in a 3-2 home win over Boston. He allowed three hits while striking out a season-high 10 batters in seven scoreless innings, throwing 25 straight strikes during one sequence. Masterson had an 8.84 ERA while going 0-3 over his previous four starts. Note that Rangers starter Joe Saunders is 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA over his last four starts against the Tribe.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, June 8

SPORTS WAGERS

Miami -101 over CHICAGO

Henderson Alvarez is not as good as his 2.62 ERA suggests but that’s something we’ll elaborate on at a later date. Frankly, we couldn’t care less about who was starting for the Fish because this one is all about fading the opposition’s starter.

The Cubbies have won the first three games of this series but they had an edge facing Randy Wolf and Brian Flynn in two of the three games. In the other game, Cubs ace Jason Hammel defeated Nathan Eovaldi 5-3 but things take a turn for the worse here for the Cubbies. Jake Arietta is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA after six starts. When talking about misleading surface stats, Jake Arrieta leads the universe in that department. Arrieta has an oppBA of .299, a WHIP of 1.60, a strand rate of 90% and a swing and miss rate of 7%. This does not add up to a 3.00 ERA. Arrieta has been without question the luckiest pitcher in baseball. His 6.64 ERA over his past two starts is twice as high as his actual ERA. In his last start against the Mets, EVERY ball hit was scorched but somehow it was right at somebody. Jake Arrieta is the best candidate in the majors for a serious ERA regression and we’re all over it.   


Houston +104 over MINNESOTA

Sam Deduno is very often a live underdog but as the chalk he has absolutely no value whatsoever. Deduno has six pure quality starts in 13 tries. He keeps inducing groundballs at a staggering rate but there isn't much else here to like. His subpar k rate limits his upside and while his control has made strides, his baseline says that can't be trusted. Over his last five starts covering 28 frames, Deduno has a weak BB/K split of 11/17. Over his last three starts, he’s walked eight and struck out eight. Deduno is never constantly ahead in the count. He falls behind hitters 2-0, 3-0 and 3-1 and his WHIP dramatically fluctuates from game to game. Deduno remains one of the highest risk/reward pitchers in baseball and when he’s favored that risk increases. If the Astros don’t help him out, they’ll knock him out early.

Colin McHugh just keeps getting better. This guy has ace written all over him. McHugh had an excellent showing in May with 9.4 K’s per nine and a 46% groundball rate. His 3.19 xERA in May confirms that there was no luck involved. Overall, McHugh has an exceptional BB/K split of 54/14 in 50 innings. His high strikeout rate is backed by an elite 13% swing and miss rate. He has great command against both LH and RH bats. His key has been two dominant pitches, a slider (16% swing and miss rate) and curveball (18% swing and miss rate). In addition, his four-seam fastball (10% swing and miss rate) and changeup (8% swing and miss rate) are more than just show pitches. What makes McHugh even more appealing here is that the Twinkies have never seen him before. McHugh should not be a pup against Deduno…EVER. Invest.


N.Y. Mets +131 over SAN FRANCISCO

It may surprise you to learn that the Mets lead the NL in runs scored on the road with 153. That’s third in the majors behind Oakland and Toronto. The closest team to them in the NL is the Dodgers with 146 and now the Mets get an opportunity to do more damage against Tim Lincecum. Lincecum is a pitcher in trouble. He comes into this start with a 5.01 ERA and having walked 20 batters over his past 29 frames. He also has one of the worst WHIPS (1.58) among starters and his dominant start/disaster split of 50%/50% reveals just how high a risk he really is. As a significant favorite, Lincecum is pure fade material.

Zack Wheeler is the opposite. Wheeler’s 2-5 W/L record and 4.23 road ERA makes him a strong, buy-low candidate. Wheeler’s 94-mph four-seam fastball velocity is the sixth-highest among qualified NL starters. Over his last trhee starts, Wheeler has allowed two runs or less in all of them. He has 69 K’s in 69 innings and his 16% swing and miss rate over his last three starts was the second highest in the majors over a three start span. Wheeler’s groundball rate is increasing and is now at an elite 54% on the season. Over his last three starts, that GB rate was 57%. Zack Wheeler has outstanding raw stuff and is a pitcher on the rise. He’s allowed just six hits over his past 13 frames and over his last four starts his ERA has dropped from 4.89 to its current 3.89. We’re all about playing value and this might be the best value play on today’s board. 


DETROIT -1 +114 over Boston

The Red Sox have dropped five in a row and 16 of their last 22 games. During its current five-game losing streak, Boston has been outscored 29-17. On the road this year against right-handers, the Red Sox are hitting a measly .219 and now they’ll face one of the best in the game in Anibal Sanchez. After a slow start, Sanchez has once again found his groove with three consecutive pure quality starts heading into this one. Not only does he have filthy stuff but he owns a 0.82 WHIP and 2.76 ERA this season at Comerica. In his last 15.1 IP, this right-hander has allowed just one run, while walking just one and fanning 14 and those numbers were posted against Oakland and Toronto. Sanchez basically just needs to show up today to dominate this lineup.

John Lackey is having a fine year but the Red Sox have lost three of his last four starts and Lackey does not have a good history against these current Tigers. In fact, current Detroit hitters have 71 career hits in 209 AB’s against Lackey for a BA of .340 and a sick OPS of .940. The Tigers bats have woken up with 14 runs in the past two games and they can smell a wounded prey when they see one.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, June 8

River City Sharps

Cleveland Indians -115

The Indians are playing some of their best baseball of the entire season and will send Justin Masterson (3-4, 4.72 ERA) to the mound this afternoon to face off with Joe Saunders (0-1, 3.68 ERA) and the Texas Rangers. While Masterson has struggled for much of the season, he really pitched well in his last start vs. Boston, where he struck out ten Red Sox. Saunders has only faced the Tribe twice in his career, both as a member of the Mariners, and was really hit hard in both of those starts. The Indians have beaten the Rangers six of the last seven times they have gotten together, so they clearly have a comfort level in playing them. In looking at some early public betting here on Sunday morning, Joe Public is pounding the Rangers, which makes us like this play even more. The Tribe are a perfect 4-0 in Mastersons last four starts as a road favorite and the Sharps think that success continues today.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, June 8

Erin Rynning

Houston at Minnesota
Play: Houston 1st 5

The up-start Astros continue to fly under the radar winning 10 of their last 14 games. Of course, the Astros have been easily the worst team in the Major League Baseball over the last few years as finding value with this team hasn’t been a problem nor should it be moving forward. Sunday starter Collin McHugh fits the bill for flying under the radar as well. He’s toiled in the New York Mets and Colorado Rockies organizations with 10.04 and 7.59 ERAs in each of the last two years. Obviously there is only one direction to go for the 26-year-old. The Astros have done a great job of developing his stuff coupled with up-tick in velocity. His numbers show the improvement of his repertoire as he boasts a sweet 2.52 ERA and a 54-14 K-to-BB ratio. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s Samuel Deduno will toe the rubber for the Twins. Deduno has limited upside like many of the Twins starting pitchers. The right-hander throws a fastball and curve, while showing a change-up that often gets hammered. He’s finding it hard working deep into games and missing bats is a key issue. The revamped Houston lineup should be able to score their fair share of runs. Our only disadvantage appears to be in the late innings which favors the Twins’ bullpen. As a result, we’ll lock in a play on Houston on the 5-inning line.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, June 8

Wunderdog

St. Louis vs. Toronto
Pick: St. Louis +147

The Toronto Blue Jays have been on a scalding run, and yesterday they had their ace on the mound in Mark Buehrle. It looked like the winning would continue, but the Cards got a gem of their own on their way to a shutout 5-0 win. The Cards have held the Blue Jay attack to just three runs over the first two games of this series. Jaime Garcia had one bad inning his last time out, and overall on the season has not walked a batter in over 24 innings of work. Garcia owns a career 2.77 ERA vs. the Jays. The Cards are 26-10 in their last 36 series game threes and have shown the ability to tame the Jays bats. Make the play on St. Louis.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, June 8

Jack Jones

Houston Astros +105

Rarely do I back the Houston Astros, but today I believe they are worth a shot against one of the worst teams in baseball in the Minnesota Twins.  They should not be an underdog in this contest with the edge they have on the mound.

Houston has won 10 of its last 14 games overall.  Now it sends its best starter to the mound in Collin McHugh Sunday, who is 4-3 with a 2.52 ERA and 0.960 WHIP in eight starts this season.  McHugh is also 2-1 with a 1.33 ERA and 0.852 WHIP in four road starts, and 2-1 with a 0.95 ERA and 0.789 WHIP in his last three outings.

Sam Deduno gets the ball for the Minnesota Twins today.  The right-hander has gone 2-2 with a 4.36 ERA and 1.394 WHIP in six starts this season.  I strongly believe that he wouldn't make most rotations in the big leagues.

Minnesota is 19-51 (-24.2 Units) against the money line vs. an AL starting pitcher whose ERA is 3.20 or better over the last three seasons.  The Astros are 6-1 in their last seven vs. AL Central opponents.  The Twins are 29-72 in their last 101 games vs. a starter with a WHIP less than 1.15.  Minnesota is 0-7 in its last seven after allowing two runs or less in its previous game.  Bet the Astros Sunday.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, June 8

Steve Janus

Houston Astros +105

This is a great spot to jump on the Astros. Houston will be sending out 26-year-old Collin McHugh, who has been sensational in his first 8 starts of 2014. McHugh is 4-3 with a 2.52 ERA and 0.960 WHIP overall, 2-1 with a 1.33 ERA and 0.852 WHIP on the road and 2-1 with a 0.95 ERA and 0.789 WHIP over his last 3 starts. Minnesota will send out Sam Deduno, who has a 4.36 ERA overall and an ugly 4.50 ERA and 1.687 WHIP over his last 3 starts.

Key Trends - Houston is 6-1 in their last 7 vs the AL Central, 5-2 in their last 7 against a starter with a WHIP of 1.30 or worse and 7-3 in their last 10 games against a right-handed starter. Twins are just 3-10 in their last 13 games as a home favorite, 4-14 in their last 18 vs the AL West and 1-4 in Deduno's last 5 home starts.

System - Home teams (MINNESOTA) - poor power team (<=0.9 HR's/game) against a starting pitcher who gives up 0.5 or less HR's/start, with a starting pitcher whose WHIP is 1.300 to 1.400 on the season-AL are just 70-114 (38%) against the money line since 1997.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, June 8

Dennis Macklin

Oakland vs. Baltimore
Play: Under 8½

It's not easy to play an Oriole game Under the total at this point with the Over currently on an extended 15-4 run but today we have two starting pitchers in razor sharp form that might be worth a look. Scott Kazmir is a great story having a great (6-2, 2.40) season. His ERA is 1.76 in his last couple of starts and he's given up more than two runs in just four (four once, three 3X) in 12 outings. His last three starts have all gone under. Ubaldo Jiminez is off a couple of one run quality road starts at Houston and at Texas. He allowed just three earned runs on just five hits in 11 1/3 innings work in two wins over the A's last year. Runs look to be tough to come by here, play the Under.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, June 8

SPORTS WAGERS

SAN ANTONIO -4 over Miami

The storyline for Game 1 centered around the failed air conditioning at the AT&T Center and the subsequent cramping up of LeBron James. With 4:10 remaining in the fourth, LeBron James crossed over Boris Diaw, drove hard to the rim and floated a layup. What happened next will indeed be remembered for a long time. James landed on the baseline and then stuck there. He eventually waved for help, he was carried off and he would not return. The Spurs went on a huge run in the sweltering Heat and won the game by 15 points. Twitter was abuzz, name-calling and character smearing of James. Female dog. Female body part. No balls. Little girl. Menstrual cramps. The list goes on and on the consensus is that Miami probably would have won Game 1 or at least covered had LeBron not been injured. Now James is steamed up big time.

That’s all nice drama but has anything really changed? San Antonio’s bench gives them a huge edge in these games. Sitting Duncan for roughly the second half of the third quarter paid off for the Spurs. Duncan joined Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in NBA history to record a 20-10 while shooting 90 percent or better in a Finals game. In contrast, LeBron James played the entire third quarter and the first 4:24 of the fourth quarter, then cramped badly. One could argue the Heat played better defense in the first half but they were not capitalizing on offense, missing the open shots they knew the Spurs would give them by design. Rashard Lewis missed early. Ray Allen missed after hitting his first few shots. The Heat missed 12-of-18 uncontested shots in the first half and let’s not discount that the Spurs committed 17 turnovers. That’s not going to happen again. Furthermore, the Spurs were coming on when LeBron was injured and that bench advantage they enjoy should be even more prevalent here, as Erik Spoelstra will be forced to sit James for longer periods. Miami kept Game 1 close throughout and even led by seven points early in the fourth quarter. That has those that played San Antonio in Game 1 shifting gears here. We’re not following suit. The Spurs’ depth gives them a greater margin for error and their chemistry on both ends right now is second-to-none. That makes them very playable spotting a cheaper price than in Game 1.

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