Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, June 11

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, June 11

Steve Janus

Houston Astros -120

The Astros are showing exceptional value as a small home favorite, as they have a clear advantage on the mound. Houston will send out Dallas Kuechel, who is 7-3 with a 2.50 ERA and 1.028 WHIP over 12 starts. Kuechel has been even better than that of late, posting a 1.29 ERA and 0.952 WHIP over his last 3 starts. Arizona will be starting Brandon McCarthy, who is 1-8 with a 5.13 ERA and 1.352 WHIP over 13 starts (2-11 team record) and comes in with an ugly 6.75 ERA and 1.673 WHIP over his last 3 starts.

Key Trends/System - Arizona is 3-11 in their last 14 games when the come in having won 3 of their last 4 games and 6-20 in their last 26 games against a starter with a WHIP of 1.15 or better. Houston is 37-15 in their last 52 interleague games when listed as a favorite and 13-3 in Kuechel's last 16 starts when he's working on 4 days of rest. Add it up and that's a 81-27 (75%) system telling us to BET THE ASTROS -120!

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, June 11

SPORTS WAGERS

Cleveland +111 over KANSAS CITY

Trevor Bauer has only made five starts since his call-up in May, but he certainly made the most of them with a BB/K split of 11/35 in 28 innings. Bauer has been a high-profile prospect since taken in the first round of the 2011 draft out of UCLA. Traded from Arizona to Cleveland prior to 2013, he took a big step back at Triple-A Columbus. He struggled to limit walks and keep the ball in the ballpark but much of his 2013 struggles can be attributed to a groin injury. An unlucky 31% hit rate and high 17% hr/f have both hurt his ERA (4.08) and WHIP (1.29) but he’ll now face a Royals team that is dead last in the majors in home runs. Also note that Bauer’s last four starts came against Texas, Colorado, Baltimore and Detroit and he’ll now take a big step down in class. This kid has a high ceiling.

Yordano Ventura had recent concerns around his elbow and thus was skipped for one turn in the rotation. He came back in his last outing and was only able to muster one K in six innings. Over his last three starts, he has a 7/5 K/BB, while allowing 11 ER over 14.2 IP. In seven home starts, he is 1-4 with a 4.25 ERA and 1.39 WHIP over 36 IP. Over his last five starts, Ventura has posted a 5.27 ERA along with a 1.61 WHIP. This little guy with the big arm (fastball touches 100 MPH) may be a pitcher in peril and it’s worth nothing that his secondary offerings are definitely a work in progress. The opposing Indians have a top-5 OPS (.754) when facing right handed pitching and the Royals have dropped five of the last six games that Ventura has started.


San Diego/PHILADELPHIA Under 7

Does anyone remember just how good Cole Hamels can be? Hamels' rough start to 2013, captured by that first half high ERA set the narrative for the whole year. He got off to another difficult start this year but his skills tell a different story. In fact, Hamels’ skills remain remarkably consistent and elite and they are touching new highs right now. Over his last six starts covering 43 innings, Hamels has struck out 45 batters and posted an ERA of 2.11, which is right in line with his 2.39 xERA. His groundball/line-drive/fly-ball profile of 53%/18%/34% over that same stretch shows the difficulty batters are having hitting anything hard off him. In fact, Hamels’ groundball rate in his last start was 80%, as he absolutely breezed through 7.2 innings at Cincinnati. He’ll now face a Padres team that is seeing BB’s and that is dead last in the majors with a BA of .210 against southpaws. 

Then there’s Tyson Ross. His huge breakout is masked only by his poor team. Ross has found command of a beastly slider and has become one of the toughest starters to hit in the NL. Ross began his skills surge in the 2nd half of last season and has not slowed down in the slightest. He has 77 K’s in 81 innings, an elite 13% swing and miss rate and the highest groundball tilt in the major leagues at 61%. Over his last five starts, Ross has struck out 32 batters in 30 innings with a groundball/fly-ball split of 64%/20%. For this one to go over, one of these offenses has to go off because the other is very likely going to get a gem thrown against them.


Boston +113 over BALTIMORE

Wei-Yin Chen has four pure quality starts in 12 tries this season. Yeah, he doesn’t walk many and yeah he usually gives the Orioles a chance to win but a 4.13 ERA along with a 1.32 WHIP make this very average pitcher unappealing as the chalk. In 39 innings at Camden Yards, Chen has a BAA of .288. In eight night games, his BAA is .297. Chen is a pitcher that relies heavily on his defense and good fortune, as the ball is almost always in play when he pitches. As a pooch throwing for a team with a good offense, Chen does have value when offered a tag but that’s not the case here.

Rubby De La Rosa has made just two starts but in those 13 innings he has walked just two batters while whiffing 13. Those 13 K’s are supported by his elite 14% swing and miss rate. De La Rosa has experienced a long road back after TJ surgery in 2011 and he’s looking stronger with each passing week. De La Rosa owns pure arm strength and can light up radar guns with his fastball that’ll sit between 93-98 mph and is tough to hit. He throws with whip-like arm action which gives him deception and pitch movement. De La Rosa also uses a slider and changeup. When on, his sharp slider exhibits nasty action and he throws it for strikes consistently. In his two starts, De La Rosa has an xERA of 2.66 to go along with a an elite groundball/fly-ball split of 54%/26%. De La Rosa has a much higher ceiling than Chen and is one of the best “but-low” targets on the market. This is true value. 


Arizona +111 over HOUSTON

Pitching for the Astros, Dallas Keuchel has been undervalued the entire year…….until now. We’re always mindful of the buy-low/sell high theory and that comes into play here. Keuchel is 7-3 with a 2.50 ERA after 12 starts. The Astros have won seven of his last nine starts and overall in those 12 starts, Keuchel has been a dog 11 times and favored just one time. That one time he was favored occurred at home when he was -114 against Chris Tillman and the Orioles. Baltimore won that game 4-1. Now Keuchel is at his highest price of the year (-120) and that makes us instant sellers. Don’t get us wrong, Keuchel is good but he’s also been greatly aided by an 85% strand rate over his last seven starts. He’ll now face a Diamondbacks team that has quietly won six of their past eight games while scoring 55 times over that span.

In 13 starts, Brandon McCarthy is 1-8 with a 5.13 ERA. A crazy 22% hr/f against RH bats, the second-highest mark in MLB is the main cause of that misleading ERA and what makes that even crazier is that McCarthy has an elite groundball rate of 55%. One could safely call Brandon McCarthy the unluckiest pitcher in baseball but his skills scream out that ERA regression is 100% inevitable. In 79 innings, McCarthy has 72 K’s while issuing just 14 walks. That’s outstanding control with a strong K rate. He also has a groundball/fly-ball split of 55%/23% for one of the best GB/FB profiles in the game. McCarthy’s swinging strike rate of 12% supports his 72 strikeouts. McCarthy’s xERA on the year is 3.06 and his xERA over his past five starts is 2.82. You rarely see a pitcher with an xERA more than two runs higher or lower than his actual ERA but that’s the case with McCarthy. You are about to see significant improvement in McCarthy’s surface stats because his skills say so. This is a top-shelf pitcher at a second or third-tier price. Invest. 


Atlanta -1½ +121 over COLORADO

It hasn't taken long for Julio Teheran to live up to his lofty prospect status. Teheran posted a 3.20 ERA in 2013 in his his first full MLB season and all he's done since then is post an elite 1.89 ERA and 0.93 WHIP through 13 starts in 2014. There is some ERA regression coming because he’s a fly-ball pitcher but his strikeout and walk ratios are in great shape and his swinging-strike rate of 13% hints there could be a K boost in the very near future. He’ll now face a Rockies team that has lost 14 of 16 and that is without Carlos Gonzalez, Michael Cuddyer, and Nolan Arenado.

The Rockies pitching staff is a complete mess. They have allowed 16, 12 and 13 runs against in three of their past six games and their pen has an ERA of 7.02 over the past 10 games. With injuries decimating its starters, Colorado has called up Tyler Matzek to make his major league debut. Matzek is a replacement starter for Eddie Butler, who was just recently called up and pitched one game before landing on the DL. Matzek is not major-league ready. He’s an emergency starter that will be heading back to the minors after this one start. He came into the year as the #13 prospect in the Rockies organization and has done nothing to improve that ranking. He is always fighting the strike zone and ends up walking too many batters. When a walk rate of 4.2/9 is the best of your career it becomes a big problem. At this park at this level, falling behind in the count and subsequently being forced into throwing fastballs is a big problem that Matzek will not overcome here. In 106 career minor league starts, Matzek has struck out 508 in 537.2 IP and walked 360, which contributed to a cumulative 1.58 WHIP at the minor league level. In 12 games at Colorado Springs this season, Matzek posted a 4.05 ERA, a .265 BAA and surrendered eight jacks in 66 innings. Looks like another long evening for the Rockies.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, June 11

Chase Diamond

Brewers / Mets Under 7½

This game features the 38-27 Brewers at the 29-35 Mets. This game is one that we shouldn't have to sweat to much. I won my free premium play yesterday and this one will be another big winner for my guys as I only give free plays that are just as good as the other plays. The New York Mets are 8-0 to the under at home off a home dog winner and are 6-1 on unders on Weds. games.


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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, June 11

Wunderdog

St. Louis vs. Tampa Bay
Pick: Tampa Bay +120

This play may be a hard pill for most to swallow. The Rays' offense has done absolutely nothing for the last 28 innings, producing 0 runs. That will make them a tough call for most, but this is not the first time this has happened to a team. Since the 2004 season there have been eight teams off three straight shutouts and they have gone 5-3 in their next game. The Cardinals aren't exactly in a strong spot here as they are 0-7 in Wacha's last seven road starts. They have managed just two road wins in their last 10 in interleague play vs. a left-handed starter. The Rays sport an 8-3 record at home in their last 11 interleague games vs. a righty. The Rays break out in this one, so play on Tampa Bay.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, June 11

Bruce Marshall

Arizona Diamondbacks at Houston Astros
Pick: Houston Astros

The Astros split the first two games of this set in Phoenix, and now the action shifts to Minute Maid, where the pitching amtchup would seem to favor the Astros and starter Dallas Keuchel tonight. Keuchel is 5-1 with a 1.36 ERA in his last six outings after pitching six scoreless innings in a 5-4 victory at Minnesota on Friday. The southpaw has already set a career high in wins, improving to 7-3 with a 2.50 ERA in 12 starts. Meanwhile, D-backs starter Brandon McCarthy recorded his only win at San Diego on May 3, and he's 6-19 with a 4.75 ERA in 35 starts with Arizona since signing before last season.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, June 11

Tony George

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Tampa Bay Rays    
Play: St. Louis Cardinals -127

As I saw this line open at -128, I was shocked at the cheap price left by oddsmakers.  Tampa has not scored a run in 28 innings and face Wacha today at home in what seems to me to be a trap line of sorts till II looked alittle deeper into this game.

You can break apart a game stat by stat and pick apart various scenario’s when handicapping a game and make a case for either side many times, however this one here needs little attention to detail  in my opinion.  I have the Cards on a power rating at -187, and I would not hesitate at that price if it was that high to play a runline to lower the odds and yet oddsmakers have fallen asleep at the wheel in the getaway car it seems.

Yes Interleauge can be a tricky landscape and strange things happen, but when you bat .200 as a team in your last 5 games and drop 4 straight, I have a tough time backing you at home as an underdog against a team like St Louis.  This Cards team has struggled at the plate at times and is not the same team with the same chemistry as last year, but they can beat up bad teams and the fact they only won by 1 run last night in this series with Wainwright on the hill in a 1-0 game has held this line down.

Erik Bedard takes the hill for Tampa tonight with over a 6 ERA in his last 3 starts and his WHIP is a whopping 1.77 in those 3 outings and with little or no support I do not see the hapless Rays, who look like they have given up in the late innings in numerous games recently, getting over on a team like St Louis.  This is a cheap price for a better team, against a team who has only won 13 out of 30 home games season to date

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