Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 4

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 4

LT Profits

Philadelphia vs Pittsburgh
Pick: Under 8

The Pittsburgh Pirates had played seven straight games where eight or fewer total runs were scored and they were on their way to an eighth when they trailed Arizona 3-2 entering the ninth inning yesterday before the Snakes scored seven runs while lighting up new Pittsburgh closer Ernesto Frieri for a deceptive 10-2 final. Friday starter, future stud Gerrit Cole, was hit hard for five runs in four innings in his first start off the Disabled List, but he should benefit from that outing and is facing a Philadelphia Phillies lineup batting just .229 vs. right-handers the last 10 games while averaging 2.48 runs per nine innings. Roberto Hernandez has allowed exactly two earned runs in three of his last four starts for Philadelphia and is facing a Pittsburgh lineup averaging 3.38 runs the last eight games. The ‘under’ is 5-1 in the Pirates last six home games vs. right-handed starters.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 4

Dave Essler

Baltimore +150

I was going to play the RL, but THAT didn't work either. Baltimore is simply raking the ball right now, and Boston is NOT. It's far to easy to assume that with the Orioles playing last night that they'd be in a tough spot, but they're on a serious roll right now, they're over .500 on the road, and they're 12-12 against LHS, which is contrary to what we'd think. Many of the Orioles regulars have simply hit Lester hard, and if Gonzalez keeps them in it early, I trust the Orioles pen right now. Boston has scored exactly 20 runs in their last 6 games, while Baltimore has averaged over 5 runs a game this week, hit .272 and smacked 16 home runs. The Orioles are a first place team, Boston is not. Boston was swept by the Cubs and their bullpen had a 6.38 ERA over the last week. So, the Orioles have the better pen (right now), the better lineup (always) and the only real advantage Boston has is Lester, who Baltimore has hit. Just far too much value not to take the Birds here.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 4

Harry Bondi

TAMPA BAY (+120) over Detroit

Both of these teams have been red hot with Detroit having won 8 of their last 10 and the Rays winning 7 of their last 9. We think the difference tonight will be Tampa hurler Alex Cobb who has been inconsistent but has outstanding stuff. His biggest problem has been lack of run support but with the Rays finally finding their bats over the last two weeks and Cobb sporting a 2.41 career ERA vs Detroit, we expect the Rays to roll.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 4

DAVE COKIN

KANSAS CITY ROYALS AT CLEVELAND INDIANS
PLAY: KANSAS CITY ROYALS +106

There’s a pretty solid angle in play tonight as the Royals and Indians open a weekend set in Cleveland. Beyond that, it’s a big divisional series for these two teams, and getting a leg up with a win in the opener is always key, so this is a pretty important early July hookup for two teams trying to work their way into at least wild card contention.

Josh Tomlin is off the best start of his career. Tomlin was brilliant in a nearly perfect game against Seattle last time out. The system here is to play against a pitcher off his first ever complete game shutout. This has been pretty much break even this year, but is a long term winner. Tomlin is the type that I would find more likely to bounce to some extent as opposed to an ace accomplishing the feat, as the game vs. the Mariners was simply off the charts.

The cautionary note here is that Tomlin has emerged to some extent this season. He’s got good numbers. The key metrics I like to focus on indicate he’s pitching at what amounts to a pretty high level. I’ve never put Tomlin in that upper class of pitchers, but aside from one lousy stretch that covered about three starts, the righty is having a very good season for the Indians. Nevertheless, I can see him declining here off the sensational effort, and it should be noted Tomlin’s better numbers have been achieved on the road this season.

Hard throwing Yordano Ventura will throw for the Royals. Ventura has not been especially lucky in his rookie camping, as he’s had trouble getting run support and thus, KC is only 6-9 when he starts. But Ventura has more than lived up to advance billing and is a candidate to start grabbing some wins if he can maintain the form he’s been flashing for the most part.

I see the offenses being pretty close to a wash here. The Indians are certainly more explosive and capable of putting together big frames. But if you look at the actual run production per nine innings, this is almost dead even with the situational data that’s in play tonight.

Take away the potential flat spot for Tomlin and there’s no chance I’m playing this. In fact, I would probably lean to the Tribe winning the game, although with the price factored in, it wouldn’t be a play. But the conditions are very often the key toward determining whether a game is worth going after, and in this case a Tomlin fade seems like a decent idea. I’ll be looking to take the Royals as a small dog tonight.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 4

Greg Shaker

Dodgers / Rockies Over 9

Yeah I know. Kershaw is a Monster. He No Hit the Rockies earlier. He has dominated them twice this year. But both games came recently and teams do learn when this is the case. Clayton has not had good overall results at this park and it's time he struggles a bit after some high pitch count games. I have not much doubt that LAD will score runs this evening. We have 10.3 for a Fair  number here and we are playing it. I know that these thoughts are brief but the fact is, sometimes that's all we need to get on a high percentage opportunity.

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Rocketman

Miami vs. St Louis
Play: St Louis -145

The Miami Marlins travel to St Louis to take on the Cardinals on Friday night. Miami comes in with a 41-44 overall record on the season while St Louis is 46-40 overall this year. Lance Lynn toes the rubber for St Louis today where he is 8-6 with a 3.38 ERA overall this year and 4-2 with a 3.22 ERA at home this season. Lynn has 91 strikeouts in his 17 starts this season. St Louis is 5-1 at home against Miami the past 3 years. Lynn has a 2-0 record in his two starts against Miami in his career. We'll recommend a small play on St Louis tonight!


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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 4

Wunderdog

Toronto vs. Oakland
Pick: Oakland -118

The Oakland A's are 52-33 on the season, and have lost just 15 times at home all season. They were tripped up by a suddenly hot Tigers team, getting swept in a three game series, but have surrounded that sweep by a 12-3 mark outside of that dreadful series. Toronto has seen their sole possession lead in the AL vanish after 42 straight days on top alone. Tommy Milone has been an under-valued pitcher for the A's as he has not suffered a loss in 10 straight starts, and has allowed 3 runs or less in 9 of those 10 starts. Toronto has been getting executed on the road where they are 1-6 in their last seven games, and have dropped four straight as a dog. The A's dominate as a home favorite where they are now 87-40 in their last 127 games, and are 82-40 in their last 122 overall vs. a right-hander. Go with Oakland.

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Bruce Marshall

Toronto at Oakland
Pick: Under

Home cooking continues to work for the A's while the Blue Jays have surrendered the top spot in the AL East for the first time in 40 days. So goes the form chart for these sides after Oakland won the first of this 4-game weekend set last night by a 4-1 count. The Blue Jays have won just nine of 25 and their imposing lineup has slowed significantly with a .312 on-base percentage, .382 slugging percentage and 3.60 runs per game in that span after opening with season with a .335 OBP, .454 slugging and 5.06 runs in their first 62 contests. As for the A's, they're now 19-6 at home since the second game of a doubleheader on May 7. Oakland starter Tommy Milone last tasted defeat came on May 3 in Boston, enjoying a 6-0 stretch with a 2.87 ERA over 10 starts to see his season ERA dip more than two runs from 5.86. Another lower-scoring game like last night's 4-1 result looks likely.

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Simon Green

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Detroit Tigers
Play: Detroit Tigers -120

Detroit is the hottest team in the league right now and they absolutely own the Rays at home. They are 9-2 in their last 11 against the Rays at home and are coming off of an 8-1 pounding of Tampa Bay yesterday. Miguel Cabrera loves to see the opposing jersey of the Rays as well. Cabrera has hit over .500 in his last 11 against them. Back the Tigers in this one.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 4

SPORTS WAGERS

Toronto +117 over OAKLAND

Tommy Milone is 6-3 with a 3.79 ERA and he’s 3-0 at home with a 3.15 ERA. That has this very average pitcher overpriced. As none of his pitches top 90 mph, Milone relies on location and pitch mix. Lots can go wrong with all those fly-balls and line-drives and it’s not like he can get out of jams on his own either. Milone has just 55 K’s in 90 frames. He’s also been taken yard six times over his last five starts. Milone has been the beneficiary of tremendous run support, which has allowed him to pitch with big leads and go right after hitters. Truth is, Milone does not have much upside and his replacement-level performance has been masked by plenty of good fortune. Use Milone’s 4.49 xERA as a better indication of just how average is really is.

Marcus Stroman is anything but average. Selected by the Jays 22nd overall in the 2012 draft, Stroman throws five pitches, the best of which is a completely ridiculous wipeout slider, a true out-pitch with plus-plus potential. He also throws a four-seamer that sits 93-96 mph, a cutter with tremendous late bite at 93 mph, along with a change-up and curveball that are both more than show-me pitches. Stroman has a 50% groundball rate, 36 K’s in 36 innings as a starter and a skills supported 2.67 ERA over his last five starts. What’s even more impressive is that in his six starts overall, five of them have come at hitter friendly Rogers Center in Toronto and the other one came at hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium. Stroman now gets the opportunity to start his first game at a pitcher friendly venue and we’d be surprised if he didn’t thrive. 


Kansas City +100 over CLEVELAND

The Royals are quietly heating up again with four wins in their past six games and now just might be the time to get back on their wagon. K.C. has scored 30 runs over their past seven games and now get their chance against Josh Tomlin. Tomlin refuses to give up walks, which usually keeps him in games but he’s still a much better option as a pooch than he is as a favorite. Tomlin’s 3.78 ERA looks rock solid but nearly every metric suggests Tomlin is going to fall apart at some point. He has a fly-ball bias profile, which has led to his biggest problem of balls leaving the yard. In 64 innings, Tomlin has allowed 10 jacks with seven of those occurring at home in just 30.2 innings. Progressive Field does not play well to fly-ball pitchers. Tomlin’s fastball averages only 88 miles per hour — so when batters make contact, the ball goes a long way. Tomlin’s oppBA at home is 40 points higher than it is on the road. That has led to a 4.99 ERA at home and that makes Tomlin too big a risk.

Yordano Ventura has top-of-rotation potential and if he really is figuring it out as quickly as his skills suggests, he could get there quickly. Ventura burst onto the scene in 2013, consistently hitting triple-digits with his fastball and striking out over a batter per inning in Double-A and Triple-A. The focus often revolves around his tremendous fastball — and rightly so — but this isn’t a one-trick pony we’re dealing with. In fact, Ventura is only throwing his fastball 55% of the time this year. That’s a marked decrease from a year ago and it’s been accompanied by an increase in usage of his changeup and curve. He only threw his changeup in 6.6% of his pitches in 2013. That percentage has increased to 14% in 2014 and his curve has also increased to 16%. That’s not only significant because it offers off-speed pitches to keep guys from zeroing in on his fastball, but also because it’s helped him neutralize lefties better than he did a year ago in his brief big-league promotion. Ventura has an elite 52% groundball rate and his oppBA on the road is just .233. Ventura and the Royals offer up all the value in this one.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 4

SPORTS WAGERS

MONTREAL +2½ over B.C. Lions

Wait until later in the day to make this wager, as this number is likely to get to three points by game time because almost nobody is wagering on the Alouettes. In the second week of any football season, one has to be aware of the overreaction/under-reaction to the first week’s results and that makes the Als hugely unappealing here. Where do we even start? Montreal scored a meaningless TD on the last play of the fourth quarter last week in Calgary to make the final score look like 29-8. That was an extremely flattering score to the Als, as it probably should’ve been closer to 55-0 than 29-8. Montreal was outgained by nearly 250 yards. Troy Smith completed just 18 of 41 passes and looked uncomfortable the entire game while spraying his uncatchable passes all over the yard.  Montreal punted 11 times last week and that’s a big number in a CFL game. Montreal’s defense didn’t do much either and had it not been for 12 penalties against the Stamps, the score would’ve been worse. The good news is that it was only one week and the Als have a chance to rebound. No team is as bad as they look in Week 1. The CFL preseason is short and doesn’t give much time for the team to evaluate what they have. Furthermore, Montreal is on their fourth offensive coordinator in the past 13 months and they can now study a “real” week of CFL action to correct all the things that went wrong last week. Besides all that, the Lions weren’t exactly a juggernaut last week and the problems get a little larger this week.

B.C. was a 7-point favorite against Edmonton in Week 1 and lost outright. The Lions scored 14 points in the first quarter last week and subsequently scored two more field goals the rest of the way. The aging Kevin Glenn, who will be back at QB this week, threw four picks and was sacked four times while completing just 18 passes, the same amount that Smith completed. Glenn is not nearly as mobile as Smith and that’s an understatement. The Lions issues don’t stop there either. LT Andre Ramsey suffered a fractured ankle and there is nobody on the practice roster to replace him. The Lions had to reach out to the Arena League for Ryan Cave, who will start against the Als at left tackle after just two full practices. What we have here is two teams that are making several adjustments but in this case the Als’ troubles last week are a lot more magnified than the Lions because Montreal was blown out and B.C. lost a close game. Additionally, the masses are spotting the points, which is another red flag we’re almost always aware of. It is indeed difficult to pull the trigger here on the Als for anyone that watched them last week but in this business you can’t put too much emphasis on any one game. In this buy-low opportunity, we’ll step in. NOTE: We'll update this closer to kickoff as we wait for a better number.


Hamilton +5 over EDMONTON

Speaking of poor performances, Hamilton’s performance last week was worse than atrocious. The Tabbies were physically out of sync in every department and mentally they weren’t prepared either. One would have to go back deep into the archives to find an opening day performance with less emotion than the Ti-Cats brought to Saskatchewan. Hamilton was seeking revenge for their Grey Cup loss at the same venue but instead had their rear ends handed to them play after play after play. The end result was a 31-10 defeat, which is a flattering score to Hamilton. Just like the Alouettes, what we have here is an over-reaction to that game. In other words, how can the Tigercats be a bigger dog this week than they were in Saskatchewan last week? This line is based on those results and that provides us with a good opportunity. No chance that the ‘Cats will be that bad again. Football is a highly emotional game and teams’ have a huge propensity for bouncing back after a horrible showing. Hamilton is loaded with offensive talent and has spent the entire week working vigorously on correcting their mistakes from last week. You cannot overcome 201 yards of total offense, four fumbles and an incredible 17 penalties for a loss of 148 yards. The Tigercats front office and coaching staff are no dummies. They went out and got Zack Collaros for a reason. Collaros is so much better than he showed last week and we’ll put that to the test this week. This is a good football team that had an awful, awful opener. A response is in order.

Meanwhile, Edmonton may be feeling a bit too high after an opening week win in British Columbia. Remember, this is a team that won just four games a year ago. Despite last week’s win, Edmonton was not that great against B.C. In fact, Edmonton only generated 295 yards of total offense. That’s a bad number that is overlooked because they won. That victory last week was more a case of the Lions shooting themselves in the foot time and time again. Edmonton also used two “trick” plays to burn the Lions last week, one a fake FG that led to a TD and the other an onside kick that Edmonton recovered. Take away those two plays and the result may have been different. Edmonton has a new coaching staff that benefitted greatly from a mistake filled game by the Lions. It was a nice win to be sure but this Edmonton team is still not proven enough to warrant being a 5-point choice. The buy-low/sell-high angle is in play here.

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Bob Balfe

Minnesota Twins -125

The Yankees are not the same team we remembered for all our their glory years. This team cant hit and are an average road team. Whitley has been getting rocked this year and is just not a good pitcher. Gibson pitches pretty well at home. Take the Twins.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 4

Andre Gomes

Brazil vs. Colombia

Hands down, Colombia has been the most exciting team of this World Cup.  I’ve released one of my biggest plays of the competition w/ them in the last game vs. Uruguay, and they didn’t disappoint us by winning “easily” the game 2-0. Here are some notes I’ve made about them

“The bad news for them is that unlike Italy and England, Colombia attacking fluidity is astonishing! Their playmaker James Rodriguez has been one of the best players of this tournament and their attacking midfield unit (Rodriguez, Cuadrado and Ibarbo) are playing quite well w/ great tempo and some beautiful passing plays between them. The difference of “dynamic” between this unit and the Uruguayans midfield unit is just huge!  As brave as the Uruguayan defensive line has been in the last 2 games, we are talking about another different level w/ the Colombian attack…”

Well, Colombian’s playmaker James Rodriguez did it again… This team has great width and pace on the wings, and w/ James at great level, it is really tough to stop them because they are generating build-up plays from everywhere! Obviously, I expect Brazil’s NT coach Scolari to be focused in limiting James, but the bad news for him, is that Brazil’s best defensive midfielder Luiz Gustavo is suspended and will miss this contest. Gustavo is a KEY PIECE for Brazil w/ his great defensive positioning, and they really don’t have a good replacement for him in their roster… I expect Paulinho or Ramires to play his position but w/ way less defensive efficiency = great potential edge for Colombia!

As good as Colombia has been, I feel that their defense hasn’t been properly tested in this World Cup. Yes, they held Uruguay scoreless in the last game, but Luis Suarez didn’t play and without him, Uruguay’s attack is really poor:

“Once again (and even w/ Suarez), Uruguay had some huge problems to generate build-up plays against the Italian defense. Their lack of creativity on the midfield was well noticed and they really needed Suarez to make some “magic moves” for them because collectively, they just can’t do it. Note that their goal vs. Italy came from a set piece play.”

In the group stage, they have allowed one goal vs. Ivory Coast & Japan and even tough Greece didn’t score against them, they created plenty of good chances to score. Colombian’s duo of center-backs are slow-footed (especially the 38-years old veteran Mario Yepes) and their full-backs are super offensive-minded. This could be dangerous against Brazil’s top forwards and midfielders who will have some space to attack, and I expect Brazil to do some damage as well…

I understand that the Round of L16 produced 6 “UNDER’s”, 1 “OVER’ & 1 “PUSH” and therefore, the books adjusted their totals line for this stage w/ this conservative mindset, but these two teams have some good attacking edges. My fair line for this contest is 2.5/3 Goals and so, I’m taking OVER & Both Teams to Score in this contest!

Pick: 2 units Over 2.25 Goals

Pick: 2 units Both Teams to Score +100

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 4

Hollywood Sports

Toronto at Oakland
Prediction: Over

Pittsburgh (44-41) looks to bounce-back from their 10-2 loss to Arizona last night -- and they have then played 7 of their last 8 games Over the Total after failing to score more than two runs in their last game. The Pirates have also played 6 of their last 7 games Over the Total with Cole facing a team with a losing record. These two teams have played 4 of their last 5 meetings Over the Total. And in Hernandez's last 4 road games pitching as an underdog, the Phillies have played all 4 of these games Over the Total.

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Michael Alexander

Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Angels    
Play: Los Angeles Angels -179

Houston Astros star Jose Altuve and the host Los Angeles Angels share one thing in common: Both are red hot entering Friday's second contest of the four-game series. Unfortunately for Altuve, the American League West cellar-dwelling Astros continue to misfire after dropping their fourth in a row and 13th in 17 outings with a 5-2 setback on Thursday.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, July 4

Andre Ramirez

Dodgers vs. Rockies
Play: Under 9

The Dodgers will send ace pitcher Kershaw to the mound. Yesterday the bookmakers set the total at 10.5 trying to persuade the bettors that the game was going to be high scoring.  Our biggest game yesterday was the under, and we cashed in.  This total is way over valued, and should be 7.5. Kershaw has only allowed 1 earned run in 2 games this year against the Braves.


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