Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, July 6

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, July 6

Dave Price

Atlanta Braves -154

Look for Atlanta to win a 10th straight this afternoon as they take on an Arizona club that has dropped nine of 11 on the road versus winning teams.  I'll gladly fade Miley, who has a 4.61 ERA through 18 starts and is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in three starts versus the Braves.  The Diamondbacks are 0-6 in his last six starts as an underdog of +110 to +150.  The Braves are 42-14 in their last 56 games as a favorite of -151 to -200, and they've won 17 of their last 22 at home versus the D-backs.  Atlanta is in good hands with Wood, who has a 2.79 ERA in nine starts this season.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, July 6

Jack Jones

Kansas City Royals +125

The Kansas City Royals get the nod as a nice-sized road underdog to the Cleveland Indians today.  They have gone a solid 24-19 on the road this season where they are scoring an average of 4.6 runs per game.  They send out one of their best starters in this one as well.

Indeed, young left-hander Danny Duffy is having an impressive season thus far.  He has gone 5-7 with a 2.60 ERA and 1.073 WHIP in 11 starts and six relief appearances.  Duffy has been at his best on the road, going 3-3 with a 2.15 ERA and 0.903 WHIP in six starts.  He is also 1-2 with a 1.93 ERA and 0.964 WHIP in his last three outings.

The Royals are 11-3 in their last 14 road games.  Kansas City is 10-2 in its last 12 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.  The Royals are 12-3 in their last 15 vs. AL Central opponents.  Kansas City is 10-1 in Duffy's last 11 starts vs. a team with a losing record.  The Indians are 1-9 in their last 10 vs. AL Central foes.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, July 6

SPORTS WAGERS

Seattle -1 -103 over CHICAGO

Hector Noesi has appeared in 82 games since 2011 with 33 of those coming as a starter. His ERA year by year including this year: 4.47, 5.82, 6.59, 5.07 and 5.33 That translates into a career ERA of 5.47 and 36 of Noesi’s appearances occurred when he was a Mariner pitching half his games in an extreme pitcher’s park. Noesi’s groundball/line-drive/fly-ball is 38%/22%/40% and that is exactly the same as he’s posted over his career. In his 33 career starts, he has seven quality one’s. Noesi also took abuse at Tacoma (5.83 ERA) last year, which indicates that his promotions were not merit-based. We've seen worse base skills but he needs some extra fastball juice or a more of a groundball lean to take the next step. That’s never happened and we're not optimistic that it will happen. At U.S. Cellular, Noesi has walked 20 batters in 44 innings, he’s 1-4 with a 5.94 ERA, an xERA of 5.60, a 1.46 WHIP, and an oppBA of .295.

The Mariners are nine games over .500. They have one of the best road records in the majors at 27-17 and their only loss over their last six games occurred against Cy Young front-runner, Chris Sale. Taijuan Walker is back with the big club after making three late-season starts for Seattle in ’13. The 21-year-old was expected to start ’14 in the Mariners rotation, but spent some time on the DL and in the minors rehabbing a shoulder injury. The prospect resume is impressive for Walker—he came into the ’14 season with the following ratings: top Seattle prospect in the M's Organization Report, #4 on the minor-league prospect list and the top overall starting pitcher in the 2014 Minor League Baseball Analyst. Walker is extremely athletic and has become even more dangerous as he’s improved his command each season. He works off a plus-plus fastball that he dials up to 98 mph with excellent life. His second plus pitch is an upper 80s mph slider. He uses both the fastball and slider to register lots of strikeouts. Rounding out the arsenal is a solid-average change-up that has the potential to become even better, and an average curve. Walker has demonstrated all the traits an ace starter should possess—plus pitches, good pitch mix, attacking hitters, durability, and good mound presence. Over 411 minor league innings, Walker has a 3.48 ERA, 9.8 K’s/9 and has held opposing batters to a .222 BA. Still awfully young and the usual perils apply (inconsistency, monitored workloads) but this is a potential gem that's close to being ready, which makes us instant investors against a free-swinging White Sox team that has struck out the third most times in the majors.


Milwaukee/CINCINNATI Over 7½

In the first two games of this series the Reds and Brewers have combined to score seven runs. That sets this one up for a beatable total and we’re all over it. Matt Latos has a 2.45 ERA this season but it’s a small sample size since he’s only started four games. Latos spent the first 2½ months of the season on the DL and only has 26 innings to show for this year. Latos’ 2.45 ERA is not supported by his skills. His groundball/line-drive/fly-ball rates of 39%/23%/38% are a disaster waiting to happen at this park and today could very well be the day we see that disaster. Latos has a lucky HR/f rate of 3% so it’s only a matter of time before those fly-balls start leaving the yard. Latos’ strikeouts are down too, as he only has 15 in 26 innings and even if he’s sharper than we expect, he’s still very likely to give up two or more. These Brewers are very capable of going deep.

Then there’s Yovani Gallardo. Gallardo was hot for a while but he’s showing signs of tailing off, just like he did last year when the innings started to pile up. In July of last year, Gallardo posted a 7.28 ERA with an oppBA of .311 over four starts. He has hammered at home in his last start against Colorado and a similar fate could be waiting for him here. Reds batters have pounded Gallardo in the past with a batting line of .296/.363/.474. This is an extreme hitter’s park and it’s not often we get a number like this when two very average pitchers hook up. We’ll look to take advantage.


Baltimore +105 over BOSTON

The Red Sox have dropped four of five, they’re nine games under .500 and they’re just a half game out of last place in the AL East. These two split a DH yesterday, which makes for a long and grueling day at this time of the year. We expect the Red Sox to be quite a bit more lethargic than the Orioles and that’s because Baltimore is a winning ball club that is in first place. You see, losing takes a far bigger toll, which is what Boston is dealing with and Jake Peavy is dealing with also. Peavy has one win in 17 starts this year. Boston has just one win in Peavy’s last 12 starts. One problem is that he's walking a lot more batters than usual, leading to the worst command in his 13-year career. In 105 innings, Peavy has walked 40 batters and he’s also throwing too many pitches out of the strike zone that hitters are not swinging at. Peavy’s velocity is down and if we look at his strike zone percentage, we can see that it is also way down. His PITCHf/x zone percentage has him nearly 4% below average this season, and he is in the bottom 15 among qualified starters in zone percentage overall. That’s not necessarily a death sentence — Masahiro Tanaka is even lower than Peavy on the list, and he is doing just fine. The difference, of course, is that Tanaka is getting hitters to swing at 49.9 percent of the pitches he throws, whereas Peavy is at just 44.1%. Another difference is that when hitters swing at Tanaka’s pitches, they make contact just 68.5% of the time, while Peavy’s contact rate is 81.3%. Neither Peavy’s swing percentage nor contact percentage put him among the league stragglers but taken in context with his zone percentage, it’s not exactly encouraging. Jake Peavy is a frustrated pitcher, who knows he can’t challenge hitters like he used to.

Kevin Gausman has made just five starts this season and just 25 appearances (10 starts) over his career. With a career ERA of 5.00 and an ERA of 5.66 last season, Gausman’s stock hasn’t soared yet so now is the time to buy low. Gausman entered 2014 as the #18 prospect in the minors and he certainly has the stuff and makeup to front a rotation. He’s an athletic pitcher (6’3, 190 lbs.) with a plus fastball, change-up, and command. He mixes his pitches nicely and can command all four, pounding strikes to all quadrants of the plate. His fastball, which can reach 99 MPH, shows excellent movement and he gets nice fading action on his change-up. The Orioles decided Gausman's slider would become his primary breaking pitch and it shows good depth and bite. Gausman was sent to the low minors recently and spent a week there to just get some work in while the team was deciding what to do with its surplus of starters. Prior to giving up five runs in five innings and getting beat by Tampa Bay in his last start on June 27, Gausman had allowed just two earned runs over his previous three starts covering 19 innings. Gausman has a huge ceiling and with the potential to be a strong strikeout/groundball pitcher, this is very likely going to be one of the last months to get him cheap. The fact that he and the Orioles are a pup against the reeling Red Sox just adds to the appeal of this wager.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, July 6

Harry Bondi

TAMPA BAY (-120) over Detroit

Two weeks ago Tampa manager Joe Madden said he thought his team, then 12 games behind Toronto, would still win the division. Most thought he was crazy but since then the Rays have gone 7-1! tonight under the lights of Sunday Night Baseball they send their ace David Price to the hill and we expect another Rays win. Price has yielded only seven runs over his last 31 innings pitched and leads the majors in strikeout-walk ratio (153-17, 9.00). Let’s back Price and the red hot Rays over the Tigers in Motown tonight.

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Bill Marzano

Toronto at Oakland
Play: Oakland -150

I really like the Oakland A's in this game vs the Toronto Blue Jays...the A's outscored Toronto 10-2 in winning the first three games of the series as the Blue Jays fell to 2-6 in their last eight games overall...missing E.Encarnacion is not going to help this slumping offense either...J.Samardzija will get his first start in an A's uniform and he is more than excited and ready for this start...the A's have the best record in baseball and are one of the highest scoring teams as well.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, July 6

Jeff Alexander

Cleveland Indians -130

The Royals are 2-7 in Duffy's last 9 starts on 5 days of rest and 1-5 in his last 6 starts as an underdog.  The Indians are 20-6 in their last 26 home games versus a left-handed starter, 13-4 in Kluber's last 17 home starts and 5-1 in his last 6 starts versus the Royals.  Cleveland is 10-4 in its last 14 home games versus the Royals.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, July 6

Steve Janus

San Diego Padres -117

This is a great spot to back the Padres at home. While San Francisco was able to even up the series with a win yesterday, San Diego has been the team playing the better baseball of late. The Padres had a 5-game winnings streak snapped, while the Giants won for just the second time i their last 9 games.

San Francisco will be starting Tim Lincecum, who comes in off two dominant home starts, inlcuding a no-hitter against the Padres. San Diego will not only be motivated to get their revenge against Lincecum, but they should benefit from just having faced him. Not to mention Lincecum has an awful 6.68 ERA and 1.670 WHIP on the road this season.

System - All favorites with a money line of -125 to -175 (SAN DIEGO) - with an on base percentage of .310 or worse over their last 20 games, playing on Sunday are 184-78 (70%) against the money line over the last 5 seasons.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, July 6

Top Shelf Picks

Toronto/Oakland Under 7.5

Two of the four top scoring teams in baseball, so I'm playing the Under here? Yep. Jeff Sam makes his debut for Oakland today, and you know he will be looking to impress his new teammates. Plus, the excitement for him of playing for a winner, possibly the best team in baseball? To me, all these are positives. Plus, the Blue Jays' roster is a collective 3-33 against him. Now, what about Drew Hutchinson (6-6, 3.81 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, .244 BAA), the Blue Jays starter? His numbers look very average at best, but his road numbers are very good (4-2, 2.23 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, .226 BAA). Plus, a little added motivation pitching against the big name the A's just traded for. This to me looks like a low scoring game, where I see both pitchers throwing very effectively.

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Non Stop Sports Picks

Giants + 110

With Lincecum returning looking like he's returning to his dominant self, or at least having some nasty stuff, we'll take a shot here. Plus, the Padres just suck at hitting in general. I think Lincecum can mow through the Pads line-up with ease and my only hesitation with him is his recent workload, where he's been throwing a fair amount of pitches and working a lot of innings. Yes, Hahn is worth the short fave here and he's been solid so far this season. But regression will set in eventually and this Giants team JUST saw him recently. Adjustments made, and we're taking the better team, with equal pitchers and maybe a slight nod to Lincecum overall.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, July 6

Michael Alexander

Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals    
Play: Washington Nationals -163

Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth was one of many hot hitters on Saturday with three hits and two RBIs as Washington won for the sixth time in seven games. Werth has gone 9-for-14 with two homers, five doubles and eight RBIs over his last four contests. The Cubs had won four consecutive games before being trounced and manager Rick Renteria insisted afterward that Friday’s trade of starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics wasn't the reason for the poor showing.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, July 6

Wunderdog

Game: Texas @ New York
Pick: New York -119

Banged up Texas can’t get it together, on a 7-19 run. The Rangers are 16-35 in their last 51 games as an underdog, plus 3-13 against a righty starter. The team is 2-3 in the last five starts made by Nick Tepesch. They face a New York Mets team that is home and has hard throwing righty Zack Wheeler going. Wheeler limited the damage in a no-decision Monday, holding the Braves to one run in 6.1 innings of work. The Mets are 8-1 as an interleague home favorite, and the Rangers are just 3-7 in the last 10 meetings in New York.

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