Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, July 7

Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, July 7

DUNKEL INDEX

MLB

San Francisco at Oakland
The A's open up their interleague series against a Giants team that is 2-9 in its last 11 games at Oakland. Oakland is the pick (-160) according to Dunkel, which has the A's favored by 3 1/2. Dunkel Pick: Oakland (-160)

Game 901-902: Atlanta at NY Mets (7:15 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Atlanta (Minor) 14.694; NY Mets (Matsuzaka) 15.595
Dunkel Line: NY Mets by 1; 7;
Vegas Line: Atlanta (-130); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: NY Mets (+110); Under

Game 903-904: Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati (7:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Cubs (Jackson) 13.601; Cincinnati (Leake) 17.854
Dunkel Line: Cincinnati by 4; 9
Vegas Line: Cincinnati (-175); 8
Dunkel Pick: Cincinnati (-175); Over

Game 905-906: Philadelphia at Milwaukee (8:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Philadelphia (Hamels) 16.378; Milwaukee (Estrada) 14.318
Dunkel Line: Philadelphia by 2; 6
Vegas Line: Milwaukee (-110); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Philadelphia (-110); Under

Game 907-908: Pittsburgh at St. Louis (8:15 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Pittsburgh (Morton) 15.184; St. Louis (Wainwright) 16.556
Dunkel Line: St. Louis by 1 1/2; 7
Vegas Line: St. Louis (-200); 6 1/2
Dunkel Pick: St. Louis (-200); Over

Game 909-910: San Diego at Colorado (8:40 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: San Diego (Kennedy) 16.355; Colorado (Matzek) 14.632
Dunkel Line: San Diego by 1 1/2; 10
Vegas Line: Colorado (-110); 10 1/2
Dunkel Pick: San Diego (-110); Under

Game 911-912: Miami at Arizona (9:40 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Miami (Koehler) 11.109; Arizona (Anderson) 15.189
Dunkel Line: Arizona by 4; 10
Vegas Line: Arizona (-110); 9
Dunkel Pick: Arizona (-110); Over

Game 913-914: NY Yankees at Cleveland (7:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: NY Yankees (Greene) 16.864; Cleveland (Masterson) 15.464
Dunkel Line: NY Yankees by 1 1/2; 7
Vegas Line: No Line
Dunkel Pick: N/A

Game 915-916: Kansas City at Tampa Bay (7:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Kansas City (Shields) 15.864; Tampa Bay (Odorizzi) 17.235
Dunkel Line: Tampa Bay by 1 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: Tampa Bay (-120); 7
Dunkel Pick: Tampa Bay (-120); Over

Game 917-918: Chicago White Sox at Boston (7:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: White Sox (Carroll) 14.108; Boston (Buchholz) 17.150
Dunkel Line: Boston by 3; 11
Vegas Line: Boston (-175); 10
Dunkel Pick: Boston (-175); Over

Game 919-920: Houston at Texas (1:35 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Houston (Cosart) 15.464; Texas (Mikolas) 14.314
Dunkel Line: Houston by 1; 9
Vegas Line: Texas (-115); 9 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Houston (-105); Under

Game 921-922: Toronto at LA Angels (10:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Toronto (Happ) 16.449; LA Angels (Weaver) 15.502
Dunkel Line: Toronto by 1; 6
Vegas Line: LA Angels (-165); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Toronto (+145); Under

Game 923-924: Minnesota at Seattle (10:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Minnesota (Correia) 13.682; Seattle (Iwakuma) 16.513
Dunkel Line: Seattle by 3; 8
Vegas Line: Seattle (-195); 7
Dunkel Pick: Seattle (-195); Over

Game 925-926: Baltimore at Washington (7:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Baltimore (Tillman) 15.366; Washington (Strasburg) 14.342
Dunkel Line: Baltimore by 1; 6
Vegas Line: Washington (-175); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Baltimore (+155); Under

Game 927-928: San Francisco at Oakland (10:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: San Francisco (Vogelsong) 12.717; Oakland (Chavez) 16.080
Dunkel Line: Oakland by 3 1/2; 9
Vegas Line: Oakland (-160); 8
Dunkel Pick: Oakland (-160); Over

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DAVE COKIN

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES AT MILWAUKEE BREWERS
PLAY: PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES +105

The Phillies are a medicare entry this season, and they’re not in good current form. Thus, it’s dicey to align oneself with them under any conditions right now. But the one pitcher on their staff who can’t still be backed with confidence is on the hill tonight, as lefty Cole Hamels toes the rubber at Milwaukee.

Hamels has had some ridiculously lousy luck this season. The fact he’s won just twice in 14 starts, considering the consistently solid quality of his efforts, is hard to believe. About the only knock on Hamels this season has been a slightly elevated walk rate. Everything else stamps him as a still totally legit high end rotation component, and his consistency has been ultra-impressive.

Marco Estrada gets the call for Milwaukee tonight, and he continues to be plagued by the long ball. Estrada’s fly ball tendencies have gotten him into real trouble this year, and there’s no way to understate the fact he’s now surrendered a whopping 26 bombs in only 102 innings of work. The good news for Estrada is that the likely Phillies lineup he’s going to face tonight hasn’t done a great deal of damage in past encounters, but I wouldn’t bet against Estrada getting taken deep once or twice tonight.

The other numbers here all favor Milwaukee, which isn’t surprising based on the standings. So I’m not arguing with the Brewers being favored tonight. Making the Phillies chalk would be an overcompensation for the starting pitchers. But at the same time, it needs to be noted that the Brew Crew is in a bit of a funk offensively. They crossed home plate only five times in a weekend set at Cincinnati, and the Brewers are in a 1-5 rut over their last six games.

I think the timing is right to go ahead and take a shot against Milwaukee here. This team has played outstanding baseball all season, but they aren’t doing so right now, and getting healthy against the likes of Hamels isn’t very likely. Estrada has a winning record, but he’s clearly the second best starting pitcher in this battle. I’m going to side with the Phillies to finally reward Hamels with a win tonight.

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Brandon Shively

Pirates vs. Cardinals
Play: Over 6.5

All indicators tell me Wainwright is due for a rough outing and we could very easily see a 3-3 tied score, giving us an automatic OVER. Morton comes into this game with a 6.11 ERA/ 1.86 WHIP vs. Saint Louis in 15 starts. He faced Saint Louis earlier this season and we saw the game go OVER, 6-5 as Saint Louis won after they tagged Morton for 4 runs in the first inning. While Morton is pitching better currently than I anticipated, I feel this is a good game for the bats of Saint Louis to break out of their funk as they are hitting .366 vs. Morton. Saint Louis will have their ace on the mound, Wainwright, who I have had a very good feel on this season. He has now only given up 2 ER in his last 4 starts. He has had 2 similar stretches this season where after 4 strong outings, he has a 'dud' performance. Wainwright has a 4.40 career ERA vs. the Pirates as the Bucs are hitting .282 vs. him with a .469 SLG%. The 3 Big Bats of Pittsburgh (McCuthen, Barnes, and Russell Martin) are a combined 30-for-79 (.379 BA) vs. Wainwright. There are some Key Trends that I will list that support my decision on the OVER in this game. The OVER is 4-1 in Morton's last 5 games vs. the NL Central. The OVER is 7-0 in Pittsburgh's last 7 home games. The OVER is 4-1 in Saint Louis' s last 5 home games when the total is seat at 6.5 or lower. The OVER is 5-1 in Saint Louis last 7 vs. the NL Central. Head-to-Head Trends: The OVER is 8-1-3 in Wainwright's last 12 home starts vs. the Pirates. The OVER is 4-1-1 in Morton's last 6 home starts vs. the Cardinals.


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Bryan Leonard

San Francisco at Oakland
Play: San Francisco

Let's hope no earthquakes are involved. The Giants have struggled as of late but during that time Vogelsong has pitched his best ball of the season. Oakland's park is ideal for a pitcher who needs to keep the ball in the park in order to have success. It will be similar to pitching at home for Ryan which usually results in a good outing.

With the trade with the Cubs over the weekend all eyes are on the A's to solidify themselves as the class of the American League. That will result in inflated lines which will put the pressure on Oakland as a sizable favorite. This is one case where the talent level shows an edge to the dog.

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Rob Vinciletti

San Francisco Giants vs. Oakland Athletics
Play: Oakland Athletics -142

Oakland has won 7 of 8 vs National League teams and averaging over 6 runs in those games. The Giants are scoring 2 runs on .192 hitting the past week. Oakland has the pitching edge too as J.Chavez makes the start and his teams starts show a 12-3 record when he is favored. In his last 4 home starts he won 3 of 4 while allowing just 6 earned runs in 27 innings as he has a 2.42 home era. B. Vogelsong makes the Start for San Francisco and he has a dismal 5.20 road era. There is also a nice system in this game that plays on certain home favorites off a home win and scored 4 or less runs, vs an opponent off a road dog win by 2 or more runs and scored 5 or more runs while playing error free. These home teams have won 12 of 13 times. Look for Oakland to take the opener.


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River City Sharps

Kansas City Royals vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Play: Kansas City Royals +100

The Tampa Bay Rays have finally woke up and are playing good baseball, coming off an 11-game road trip where they posted a 9-2 mark. Tonight they send Jake Odorizzi (4-7, 4.18) to the mound as they face off with James Shields (8-4, 3.93) and the Kansas City Royals. The Royals have also been playing good baseball until this weekend, when they lost two of three games at Cleveland. Shields already beat the Rays in an earlier outing this season, but has struggled over his last three outings, where he is winless. Consider that the Royals are 10-2 in Shields' last 12 starts vs. teams with a losing record and 20-6 in his last 26 road starts. The Rays are 5-11 in Odorizzi's last 16 starts. We like Shields to bounce back with a solid performance and the Royals have been solid on the road this season, so we're going to back them here tonight in Tampa.

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Art Aronson

Toronto Blue Jays vs. Los Angeles Angels    
Play: Los Angeles Angels -167

These teams are moving in opposite directions, I think the Angels can take advantage tonight. The Jays will send left-hander JA. Happ (7-4, 4.38 ERA) to the hill to help his team try and stop the bleeding; Happ didn't get a decision Wednesday, allowing four runs in seven innings of a 7-4 victory over Milwaukee. He's been tagged for eight runs in 6 2/3 innings while losing both of his starts against the Angels and will be making his first visit to Anaheim. LA counters with veteran Jered Weaver (9-6, 3.56 ERA) who is 9-2 with a 3.48 ERA in 11 career starts against Toronto, winning four in a row at home behind a 1.99 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings. While there is no doubt that it’s underachieving at the plate right now, we have to take note that Toronto hit .180 and went 0 for 20 with runners in scoring position while being outscored 14-4 during a four-game series sweep at Oakland, losing the finale 4-2 on Sunday. Conversely, LA is pounding the cover off the ball, the Angels hit a whopping .353 with six homers and 29 runs while sweeping a four-game series from Houston, capping it with a 6-1 win yesterday. The Jays are without slugger Edwin Encarnacion and it doesn’t get any easier tonight, consider the LA ANGELS.


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Bryan Power

Pittsburgh vs. St. Louis
Pick: St. Louis

All of a sudden, the picture in the National League Central has gotten a lot murkier. The last place Cubs became the 1st team to "wave the proverbial white flag" on the season when they dealt Jeff Samardzija & Jason Hammel to the A's before the weekend, but the other 4 teams in the division are all still alive...

Milwaukee has led things from basically start to finish, but somehow the Pittsburgh Pirates have managed to get themselves back into the thick of the race.  Of course, it helps when you play a relatively weak schedule.  The Bucs' last four series have been played against Tampa Bay, the Mets, Arizona & Philadelphia.  Three of those are last place teams. The weekend brought Pittsburgh's 1st sweep of the entire season as they finished off the Phillies w/ a 6-2 win Sunday.

However, their recent winning ways haven't changed the fact that the Bucs still have been outscored by the opposition this season. In terms of the opposition, they won't be so lucky on Monday as they travel to Busch Stadium to take on Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals.  The Cards surprisingly dropped 2 of 3 here at home to Miami over the weekend, but w/ their ace on the mound tonight, you have to like their chances of bouncing back.

Wainwright again ranks among the elite starters in the NL w/ a 1.89 ERA and 0.895 WHIP in 17 starts.  He's 11-4 and over his L3, he's posted a 0.76 ERA and 0.760 WHIP.  He's allowed a total of 2 ER his L4 starts and his last time out tossed 7 2/3 scoreless innings of four-hit ball as St. Louis beat the Giants 2-0.  Starting opposite Wainwright is Charlie Morton, who has never beaten the Cards in nine career starts.

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Alex Smart

Baltimore Orioles vs. Washington Nationals
Play: Baltimore Orioles +177

Interleague Beltway rivals the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals go head to head this Monday . Both teams are playing top tier baseball at the moment.

Since June 5 Tillman the Orioles starting hurler tonight has posted a 2.14 ERA in five starts overall and has been in great form on the road this season with a 6-0 away record . Meanwhile, his pitching opponent Stratsburgh is a thrower that has been extremely inconsistent this season, and you never really know what he will bring to the hill. With that said, the Os starter Tillman despite of overall average numbers on the season, is a guy that has been in good form in road games, and has also been hard on batters in his last 5 starts as is indicated above. Considering the Orioles offense has had success in this series of late  averaging 11.3 hits in winning three of four from the Nationals , Im betting they have the edge once again on a value line.

Final notes & Key Trends: Orioles are 4-0 in Tillmans last 4 road starts vs. a team with a winning record.Orioles are 23-9 in Tillmans last 32 road starts. .Orioles are 4-1 in the last 5 meetings.


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Marc Lawrence

Kansas City Royals at Tampa Bay Rays
Prediction: Kansas City Royals

Edges - Royals: Shields 19-4 last twenty-three team starts during July, and 4-0 vs. A.L. East this season. Rays: Odorizzi 0-4 v. A.L. Central and 2-7 team starts at night this season. With the Royals 12-4 the last sixteen games in this series, we recommend a 1-unit play on Kansas City.

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Jim Feist

Miami Marlins at Arizona
Pick: Over

When we look at the best hitters parks this season we naturally think of Coors Field in Denver. But Chase Field in Arizona is the 5th best hitters park in all of baseball. Miami struggled through most of June, posting a 11-16 record and allowing 125 runs (3rd worst in the NL for June). Arizona didn't fare much better, posting a 12-14 record. July has started a bit better for Miami with a 3-2 mark, while Arizona is 1-4 through its first five games of the month. Arizona has also allowed 25 runs in just five games this month. The Marlins will start Tom Koehler who is 6-6 this season with a 3.48 ERA. Koehler has been a quality starter for the fish, but has seen his ERA rise almost a full run since May. Chase Anderson will start for the D'backs and after a perfect 5-0 start to the season with a 3.14 ERA, he has lost his last four starts and seen his ERA climb to 3.91. Control seems to be an issue for Anderson, allowing 10 walks over his last 19 2/3 innings. Miami has put up good OVER numbers, especially against the NL West where they are 20-8-3 Over/Under their last 31 games. The Marlins have also gone OVER in four of Koehlers last five road starts. Two pitchers who have had their share of control issues in a good hitters park, I look for this game to go OVER the total.

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Scott Spreitzer

Kansas City Royals vs. Tampa Bay Rays    
Play: Tampa Bay Rays -112

We backed the Rays last night and cashed when they led Detroit wire-to-wire.  The Rays are finally out of last place in the AL East after winning their third straight game and they'll enter Monday on an 8-1 run, overall. Meanwhile, after winning their 10th straight game on June 18 and taking over first place in the AL Central, the Royals have now dropped 10 of their last 16 and have been overtaken by the Tigers in the division.  KC starter James Shields has been knocked around in his last three starts, allowing 13 earned runs and 29 base runners in 19 innings, for a 6.16 ERA & 1.53 WHIP.  KC lost all three games.  He'll face a Rays' lineup that's scored 20 runs in its last three games and averaged 5.08 rpg in their last 13 contests, overall.  I expect plenty of support at the plate for Rays' starter Jake Odorizzi.  The right-hander has allowed just 7 earned runs and 31 base runners in his last five starts, spanning 30 2/3 IP.  Add in Shields' horrible road numbers over his last four starts away from home and we have a play on the Rays.  I'm recommending a play on Tampa Bay and believe they'll hand James Shields a loss in his return to Tropicana Field.

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MLB Predictions

Los Angeles Angels -1.5 +120

The Blue Jays were swept in Oakland in a four game series, scoring just 4 runs over the 4 games. They've lost 7 of their last 9 games overall and I expect the struggles to continue given their current injuries and struggles some of their hitters are going through. Tonight they face Angels Ace Jered Weaver who has a career 3.48 ERA, .224 OBA and 1.08 WHIP and 9-2 record vs the Blue Jays. He went 6.1 innings giving up just 1 earned run vs Toronto earlier this season. Weaver is 9-6 on the season with a 3.56 ERA, and he is 5-3 with a 2.75 ERA, .208 OBA and 1.06 WHIP at home. J.A. Happ will be on the mound for the Jays and he is 4-1 on the road despite a poor 5.14 ERA, .296 OBA and 1.68 WHIP. Those numbers won't hold up against the Angels who are red hot right now leading the Majors in July with a team .899 OPS and .389 OBP (in comparison the Jays are .643 and .276 in July). Happ lasted just 4.1 innings earlier this season in a loss vs Los Angeles. Take note that the Blue Jays are 0-7 in their last 7 as an underdog and 0-6 in their last 6 road games. The Angels are 20-8 in their last 28 games overall, 13-3 in their last 16 home games vs a left handed starter, 59-29 in Weaver's last 88 starts overall and 39-13 in his last 52 home starts. Also take note that the Angels are 6-1 in their last 7 vs Toronto and 7-1 in Weaver's last 8 starts vs the Jays. I'll take the red hot Angels by a pair or more tonight vs the struggling Blue Jays for 5 units at +120.


St. Louis Cardinals -1.5 +129

If there is one pitchers name that can be mentioned in the same breath as Clayton Kershaw and Felix Hernandez at the moment is Adam Wainwright. He has been leaving hitters lost at the plate improving his ERA to 1.89. That number could be even better if he didn't get hit hard on two occasions, the only time this season he's been solved, 6 runs against the Giants and 7 allowed against the Giants. Since the 7 runs given up against the Giants, Wainwright has surrendered just 4 runs in five games. Note that his ERA in his past three starts is a minuscule 0.74. Combined with a 0.76 WHIP and .218 OBP for good measure. Pretty well a reflection of his overall WHIP and OBP of 0.90 and .239. Pirates' hurler, Charlie Morton, will try and do his best to keep up with Wainwright, which isn't an easy task for any pitcher. Morton hasn't been all that bad in 2014 with a 3.30 ERA, but he leaves a lot to be desired when on the road. His ERA rises to 4.37 and only has a 2-6 record. Furthermore, his 1.28 WHIP and .322 OBP could be better. This is an important series for both teams in the NL Central. The Pirates are coming off a long home stand after ten straight at home in Pittsburgh. The Buccos are just 18-21 away, whereas, the Cardinals are 24-19 at home. Pittsburgh has had problems playing in St. Louis, 2-8 in their last ten trips there. Also, it's been a house of horrors for Morton who is 0-9 pitching in St. Louis. All things considered, -1.5 at +129 behind Wainwright looks like like a pretty solid bet for Monday night.

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Tony Stoffo

Braves / Mets Over 7.5

With Minor having not won since May 19th, and Matsuzaka allowing 10 runs on 12 hits with 12 walks in 11 innings in his past two starts - makes for a strong release on the over in this spot here.

Over is 5-0 in Minors last 5 starts vs. National League East.

Over is 7-3 in Minors last 10 starts vs. Mets.

Over is 5-0 in Mets last 5 home games.

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Jesse Schule

NY Yankees vs. Cleveland
Pick: Cleveland

The Tribe have been good at home all year, coming into this home series versus the Yankees with a record of 25-16. They should be in a good spot to add another win here on Monday, facing a rookie hurler forced into action for New York.

Shane Greene will make just his second major league start for the Bronx Bombers, and he wasn't too impressive in his debut. Greene failed to get out of the first inning, walking three straight batters before getting the hook.

The Indians hand the ball to ace Justin Masterson, who has been sharp at home. Masterson (4-5, 5.16 ERA) allowed three runs on seven hits, lasting just three innings in a loss to the Dodgers in L.A. his last time out. He's been roughed up on the road all season long, but three of his four wins have come in Cleveland, where he's posted a solid 3.54 ERA in eight starts.

Yankees leadoff hitter Brett Gardner hasn't had much success versus Masterson, with just three hits and five strikeouts in 18 career at bats. Mark Teixeira has also been fooled by the right-hander, going 2-for-16 with four strikeouts lifetime.


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Jimmy Boyd

Chicago Cubs +155

The Cubs are showing solid value as a large road dog against the Reds tonight. Chicago will be starting Edwin Jackson, who is just 1-6 with a 6.06 ERA on the road, but he's fresh off a strong start at Boston, where he limited the Red Sox to just 1 run on 6 hits over 6 innings of work. Jackson is 4-2 with a respectable 3.81 ERA and 1.268 WHIP over 8 career starts against Cincinnati.

Home favorites with a money line of -125 to -175 after 10 straight games where they failed to hit more than one HR, playing on Monday are just 27-47 since 1997. That's a 64% system in favor of the Cubs.

It's also worth nothing that the Cubs are 6-1 in their last 7 during game 1 of a series and 4-1 in their last 5 versus a right-handed starter. Cincinnati on the other hand is just 1-4 in their last 5 against a team with a losing record and 1-6 in starter Mike Leake's last 7 starts against a team with a losing record.

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Jack Jones

Kansas City Royals +113

The Kansas City Royals (45-42) will be motivated following two straight losses as they head into this series with Tampa Bay (41-50).  The Rays are in a letdown spot here as they return home after capping off an 8-1 road trip by taking three of four from the Detroit Tigers last series.

A big reason I'm backing the Royals here is due to their edge on the mound.  Ace James Shields has gone 8-4 with a 3.93 ERA in 18 starts this season, including 5-2 with a 3.89 ERA in 11 road starts.  In his only career starts against his former team, Shields got the win on 4/30/2013 by allowing just two earned runs over seven innings of an 8-2 victory over the Rays.

Jake Odorizzi has been pretty inconsistent this year for Tampa Bay.  The right-hander has gone 4-7 with a 4.18 ERA and 1.347 WHIP in 17 starts.  He certainly has a bad memory of his only career start against the Royals on 4/9/2014.  Odorizzi allowed seven earned runs over five innings of a 3-7 loss to Kansas City that day.

Shields is 14-2 (+11.5 Units) against the money line in road games vs. AL teams scoring 4.7 or less runs/game on the season over the last two seasons.   The Royals are 20-6 in Shields' last 26 road starts.  Kansas City is 10-2 in Shields' last 12 road starts vs. a team with a losing record.  The Rays are 5-14 in their last 19 home games vs. a team with a winning record.  The Royals are 7-0 in Shields' last seven starts vs. AL East opponents.

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Steve Janus

Houston Astros +120

I'm confident the Astros' 7-game losing streak will come to and end tonight. Houston has a clear edge on the mound with Jarred Cosart going up against the inexperienced Miles Mikolas. Cosart has an impressive 3.61 ERA over 9 road starts this season and was sharp in a 6-5 win at Texas earlier this season. Cosart held the Rangers to just 3 runs on 6 hits with 8 strikeouts over 7 innings of work. Cosart figures to get plenty of run-support in this one. Mikolas lasted just 5 1/3 innings in his debut and his inability to pitch deep into the game is bad news for a Texas bullpen that has a 4.46 ERA and 1.391 WHIP on the season.

Key Trends - Rangers are 5-19 in their last 24 home games with a money line set between +125 to -125, 5-16 in their last 21 following a loss and 3-13 in their last 16 with a total set between 9-10.5. Houston is 4-1 in Cosart's last 5 starts as an underdog and a perfect 4-0 in his last 4 starts against a team with losing record.

System - All teams when the money line is +125 to -125 (TEXAS) - poor offensive team - scoring <=4.7 runs/game on the season (AL), after allowing 8 runs or more are 299-194 (61%) against the money line over the last 5 seasons.

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Greg Shaker

Los Angeles Angels -1.5 +120

I know that I have been "Angel Happy" the last week but these guys are Red Hot and find themselves in a very good situation tonight facing Happ. This team has scored 5+ runs verses Southpaws at this park this year, Happ has not been Road worthy and he has not faired well verses LAA. The Angels are scoring over 8 runs per 9 verses left Handed pitching over their last 10 played, the Angels have won 7 of their last 8 verses Toronto with Weaver on the Hill, and the Angels Pen has been on their best behavior on this recent large win streak. I am going to lay the 1.5 here for tonight's game.

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SPORTS WAGERS

CINCINNATI -1½ +134 over Chicago

Edwin Jackson is very capable of throwing a strong game when his head is in it. Unfortunately, Jackson’s head is in it only about 50% of the time and this is one of those games that he may show up in body only. Jackson is coming off a 2-1 victory in Boston. A few days later the Cubbies would unload two of his buddies to the Athletics and that’s enough to upset this guy. There’s a reason that Jackson is pitching on his eighth team in the past 11 years and one of the reasons is his lack of focus. In his last three starts at Citizens Bank Park, Jackson is 0-3 with a 6.50 ERA after allowing 24 hits and 13 earned runs in 18 innings. His BAA at this venue is .348. The Cubbies are 0-2 since the trade and have been outscored 15-1 in those two games.

Mike Leake may only have a 6-7 record on the season but he’s having his best season skills wise, as his 3.32 xERA, 54% groundball rate and command (23 walks in 114 innings) are all career bests. He is yet to have a pure disaster outing in 17 starts this season. In 14 career starts versus the Cubs, he is 7-2 with a 3.04 ER in 94.2 IP. All of a sudden Leake is striking out more too, as his 32 K’s in in his last 32 innings will attest to. Leake has become an extremely reliable mid-rotation starter. His skills the first time through lineups give hope that he hasn't reached his ceiling yet. The Cubs have hit poorly versus right handed pitching this season, as they have a .229 BA and .656 OPS and they don’t figure to wake up here.


BOSTON -1½ +104 over Chicago

In Scott Carroll’s last two starts the White Sox are 0-2 and have been outscored 14-5. Carroll has made seven starts this season and has yet to record a pure quality one and that doesn’t figure to change here. As a starter, Carroll has been terrible, going 1-5 with a 6.75 ERA, 1.93 WHIP, and 15/14 K/BB in 37.1 IP. The South Side has just 18 wins in 44 road games and they are a combined 22 for 95 (.232) lifetime against Clay Buchholz. Take out Paul Konerko’s 7 for 15 against Buchholz (Konerko can’t hit anymore) and that average dips under .200.

Boston woke up this morning in last place in the AL East. They have also scored the fewest runs in the American League. With guys like Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Mike Napoli and Brock Holt at the top of their lineup, how can that be? The Red Sox are a frustrated team that rallied from a 6-1 deficit yesterday against the O’s to send it to extra innings but still lost. However, they’ve scored 22 times in the last four games and also hung an eight up last week against New York. This team is built to score runs and they figure to take out their frustrations against this extremely weak starter. Clay Buchholz pitched 6.1 innings Tuesday, allowing only one run on five hits (no walks) while striking out two batters and taking a no-decision in the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Cubs. Buchholz now makes his third start since coming off the DL and he’s been pretty solid both games. In fact, since coming off the DL, Buchholz has not walked a batter in 13.1 innings and that’s a significant improvement after he walked 24 batters in his first 50 innings before he was sidelined. When his health cooperates, Buchholz can pitch. He had a 60% groundball rate in his last start and let’s not forget the incredible first half he had in 2013. Buchholz appears to be healthy and getting stronger and has a great chance to keep it going here. The total in this game is 10 and if the oddsmakers are close to that number, which they usually are, Boston is likely going to cover the run-line. 


Pittsburgh +148 over ST. LOUIS

The Pirates have won an NL-best 12 of 15 and are 11-5 away from home since May 29. Pittsburgh has won three straight and six of its past seven. Charlie Morton is on a nice run, throwing a pure quality start in five of his last six starts, over which he has a 44/12 K/BB in 38 IP. In fact, Morton was absolutely electric in June, reminding us why he entered the season as a premium breakout target. His huge surge in strikeouts was supported by his 12% swing and miss rate. Only Clayton Kershaw had a higher K rate than Morton's 11.0/9 mark among pitchers with a 50%+ groundball rate. Backing groundball pitchers with a high K rate is a beautiful thing when being offered a price like this one. 

Adam Wainwright's return from Tommy John surgery last year was a mixed bag at best. But he's leaving little doubt about his status as the club's ace so far this season. In his first 17 starts, Wainwright has an ERA of 1.89 and 106 Ks to go with just 24 walks in 124 IP.  Wainwright is not the problem. The problem for Cardinals backers is that St. Louis is averaging just 2½ runs a game over their past 10 games. Without run support, it’s very difficult to win (see Cole Hamels) and that makes the Cardinals a huge risk when spotting a tag like this, especially against the hottest team in baseball.

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