Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, July 24

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, July 24

SPORTS WAGERS

CHICAGO +104 over Kansas City

The White Sox took the opener last night and have now won three of their last four. Scott Carroll has an ERA of 4.19 after nine starts and six relief appearances covering 68.2 innings. He started the year in the rotation but was subsequently demoted to the pen after four rough starts in his first five outings. A string of solid, long relief outings earned him another shot in the rotation and the results have been promising. Since being reinserted into the rotation, Carroll’s groundball rate is off the charts at 62% over his last four starts. His line-drive rate of 16% over that same span reveals that weak contact is being made off him. Carroll has allowed no runs in 11.2 innings over his last two starts and while the sample size is small and the risk is still present, Carroll and the South Side should not be a pooch at home to Bruce Chen and the ice-cold Royals.

K.C. has dropped four in a row and seven of eight. Chen is taking the place of the injured Jason Vargas and that’s the only reason he’s being handed the ball. After struggling in four April starts, Chen missed more than two months with a back injury. He threw four rehab starts, where he had a horrific 8.22 ERA and 2.09 WHIP in 15 IP. Chen has a 6.46 ERA at this level and has only made one MLB start since April. Age (37), fly-ball%, and xERA history all warn of significant downside and in no way can this stiff be trusted as the chalk.


Miami +170 over ATLANTA

After undergoing urethra surgery and then injuring his shoulder as he tried to ramp up for spring training, Mike Minor has been uninspiring in his first 14 starts this season. Minor has always been a fly-ball pitcher. He continually finishes near the top of the league in fly ball percentage, which leads to a good deal of home runs allowed and Minor has certainly fit the bill in that respect. He’s already been tagged for 14 jacks in just 83 innings. Overall, Minor has a BAA of .295, an ugly WHIP of 1.46 and an ERA of 4.86, which isn’t far off his xERA of 4.77. At home, Minor has been just as bad with a 1-4 record and an ERA of 4.76. Minor has a good history and there is a chance of a turnaround but we wouldn’t be looking to spot -180 or thereabouts to find out. Injuries take a toll and some pitchers never recover. Minor could be one of those guys.

Jacob Turner could be one of the sneakiest, good plays of the year. He’s appeared in just 17 games this season with nine of those coming as a starter. His ERA is 6.22 and that’s why he’s being offered such a big tag here but we would not put much emphasis on that ERA. He was moved to the pen to work some things out and it may have paid off. He’s always had nasty stuff so now would be the time to buy low. Turner is another post-hype prospect who has made significant gains recently as a reliever. His skills out of the Miami bullpen: 8.0 K’s/9, 1.7 BB/9, 56% groundball rate. As a groundball pitcher with a 10% swinging strike rate lurking behind his poor surface stats, Turner has the goods to deliver significant profits in the second half. Turner is still very young (23), with a 1st-round pedigree and he also has many gems under his belt in his 42 career starts. He’s been moved back to the rotation and has a chance to absolutely thrive here against a lineup that can be made to look silly from time to time. Definite overlay. 


N.Y. Mets +105 over SEATTLE

Erasmo Ramirez continues to mix his swing-and-miss stuff with being too hittable. Batters have been able to square up his fastball when he doesn't locate it in the strike zone effectively, as shown by the 10 HR’s he has allowed in 53 IP innings. Ramirez has just four pure quality starts in 11 attempts. He has just one win on the year in those 11 starts and in his last start he walked five batters in four innings before given the hook. Ramirez is a huge risk. His 4.58 ERA, 4.97 xERA and 1.58 WHIP confirm that. Ramirez has spent the last month at Triple-A Tacoma where he didn’t fare much better with a 0-1 record, a 4.12 ERA and 4.81 xERA over four starts. The timing of this call-up suggests that the M’s may have made this move in hopes of attracting some buyers at the trade deadline but we’re not going to be one of them.

Max Scherzer, David Price, Zack Greinke, Stephen Strasburg, and Chris Sale are all strikeout artists that have thrived in that department all season and especially so over the past month. Jacob deGrom takes a back seat to none of them. deGrom has put it all together recently, as over his last three starts, he has a 27/4 K/BB in 19 innings to go along with an outstanding 17% swinging strike rate. That 17% swing and miss rate is the highest of any pitcher in the majors in July. deGrom has 38 K’s and a 1.65 ERA over his last five starts covering 33 innings. At home, the Mariners average only 3½ runs per game while having a .235 BA and .657 OPS. Taking back a tag, the Mets with deGrom starting are a far better option than Seattle spotting a price with Ramirez starting.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, July 24

MLB Predictions

Royals / White Sox Under 7.5

This will be another season in which the Indians, White Sox, and Royals play out for 2nd in the AL Central. The Tigers should ultimately run away with the crown again. Outside of Detroit there isn’t any offense that can compete with them. James Shields and Jose Quintana have identical stats of late. Both pitched 19.2 innings their last three starts, and they both have the same ERA of 2.29. The UNDER was 5-1 in those games. The Royals have had a heck of a time trying to hit left-handed pitching, most notably recently where they are hitting only .194 against them the past ten games. Whereas the White Sox are hitting .321 against lefties, but just .239 against right-handers. Quintana has allowed less runners to reach base, 0.71 WHIP, but Shields hasn’t been far behind with a 1.02. Quintana has given up only 5 runs in his last four starts. The UNDER has cashed 6-1 in the Royals last seven games. Likewise, the White Sox UNDER went 5-1 their last six. A 2 unit play for me on the UNDER 7.5 Wednesday afternoon in Chicago.

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Chip Chirimbes

Red Sox at Blue Jays
Play: Red Sox -103

The Red Sox had their five game winning streak stopped last night but have still managed to win eight of their last 10 games. Clay Buchholz (5-5, 5.46 ERA) has had difficulties this season but the Sox are 24-11 in his last 35 starts and 41-18 in his last 59 road starts as Boston has managed to give him plenty of support. Maybe that's why Boston opened a small favorite in Vegas or it's because Toronto starter R.A. Dickey (7-10, 3.95) has lost six of this last seven starts. Add that the Blue Jays are just 5-16 when posted as an underdog gives us out side.


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Bruce Marshall

Tampa Bay Rays at St. Louis Cardinals
Pick: Tampa Bay Rays

We're beyond the All-Star break and once again that could mean problems for St. Louis starter Lance Lynn. Although he won last Friday vs. the Dodgers, he's struggled following the break in each of the previous two campaigns, posting a 5.23 ERA in eight starts before he was removed from the rotation in 2012 and going 2-6 with a 5.10 mark over his first 10 last season. Meanwhile, the Rays keep winning, 15 of their last 19 including six in a row in which they have outscored foes 36-11, including last night's 7-2 win. Alex Cobb looks to win his fourth consecutive decision overall and fifth in a row on the road in Wednesday's finale. He allowed two runs over 5 2/3 innings in a 6-2 win at Minnesota on Friday. Note that the Redbirds have totaled 14 runs while going 3 for 33 with runners in scoring position over their last five games.

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LT Profits

San Francisco vs Philadelphia
Pick: Under 7.5

There is potential for a low scoring game on ESPN when Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants visit A.J. Burnett and the Philadelphia Phillies. Burnett may be 6-9 with a 4.08 ERA, but he actually had an impressive seven straight Quality Starts before getting hit hard by the Braves in his last start in Atlanta. We like the chances of him bouncing back well at home here vs. a San Francisco offense batting only .239 vs. right-handed pitchers overall this season. As for Bumgarner, he was arguably the best southpaw in the National League for much of this season before hitting a lull that has seen him post one Quality Start in his last five outings. That Quality Start took place last time out at Miami though, and the Phils are batting .237 vs. lefties this year. The ‘under’ is 10-4 in the Phillies’ last 14 games after scoring five runs or more in their previous game.

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Ari Atari

Detroit Tigers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks    
Play: Detroit Tigers -142

Anibal Sanchez and the Tigers will look for revenge after losing late in Arizona, preventing them from getting their 3rd win a row. Detroit is 8-2 under Anibal Sanchez’s last 10 starts as a favorite on the road and 5-2 in his last 7. Trevor Cahill will be hard pressed to improve on his 1-6 5.63ERA today with a 2-2, 4.15ERA in 5 starts versus the Tigers. The price is high so take it only for a small amount and look for a bigger and better TOP PLAY this afternoon.

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Jack Jones

Washington Nationals -151

The Washington Nationals (55-43) have really turned it on since the All-Star Break.  They have won six of their last seven games overall while scoring at least five runs in each of the six victories.  The Colorado Rockies (40-60) have dropped seven in a row and are tied with the Texas Rangers for the worst record in baseball.

Stephen Strasburg hasn't been as dominant as usual this season, but he's still one of the elite starters in the game.  The right-hander has gone 7-7 with a 3.55 ERA and 1.220 WHIP over 21 starts with 158 K's in 132 innings.  Strasburg is 2-2 with a 2.36 ERA and 1.012 WHIP in four career starts against Colorado.

Jorge De La Rosa has been the best starter for Colorado, but that's not saying much.  The left-hander is 10-6 with a 4.39 ERA and 1.297 WHIP over 19 starts and one relief appearance.  De La Rosa has posted a 4.57 ERA and 1.524 WHIP in seven career starts against Washington.  The Nationals are hitting .278 and scoring 4.8 runs/game against southpaws this season.

The Nationals are 6-0 in their last 6 road games with the total set at 9.0-10.5.  Washington is 55-24 in its last 79 games as a road favorite.  The Rockies are 13-38 in their last 51 games overall.  Colorado is 4-22 in its last 26 vs. a team with a winning record.

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Sam Martin

Cleveland Indians at Minnesota Twins
Prediction: Cleveland Indians

Anthony Swarzak gets not only his first start of the season this afternoon against Cleveland, but his first start since all the way back to 2012. He wasn't exactly lighting it up back then, as he made five starts in that 2012 season and went 0-5 while allowing 21 ER's in 23 1/3 innings of work.

Cleveland has to be licking their chops to get a chance at Swarzak knowing he is 0-4 lifetime against Cleveland (in four starts) with an inflated 12.06 ERA and a WHIP north of two. Cleveland's Trevor Bauer has quietly been solid of late, having a perfect 4-0 TSR in his last four starts while allowing 3 ER's or less in all four games. Indians keyed in on the playoff hunt while Minnesota is basically already out, and this one means more to the visitor.

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Hollywood Sports

Kansas City Royals at Chicago White Sox
Prediction: Kansas City Royals

Kansas City (49-50) has won 4 of their last 5 road games as a favorite. The Royals have also won 8 of their last 10 road games with Shields pitching as a favorite in the -110 to -150 price range.

Chicago (48-53) has lost 4 straight home games as an underdog in the +110 to +150 price range with Quintana on the mound. Take KC with the money line in this one while listing both starting pitchers.

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Bob Balfe ‏

San Francisco Giants -140

The Phillies are not a mentally tough baseball team. This is a team that holds leads and then gives them up in every which fashion you can think of. The Giants Bumgarner is actually a better pitcher on the road this year and Philly has not had much luck going against left handers this season. The Giants have been pounding out a lot of hits over the last few games and are just overall a better baseball team. Take San Fran

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Wunderdog

Cleveland vs Minnesota
PLAY: Under 8.5

Trevor Bauer and Anthony Swarzak will square off in this one. While each does not carry a lot of respectability on the mound, the numbers dictate that they have not fared too badly. Bauer owns a 3.89 ERA on the season, and he is 2-0 over his last four starts, representing himself well, checking the big bats of the Tigers in his last outing. Swarzak will make his first start of the season, but has been decent out of the pen for the Twins. Minnesota has produced just 13 runs over their last five games. The Tribe comes into this game at 14-3 to the UNDER in their last 17 when facing an opponent that served up 5 or more runs in their previous contest, while the Twins are an impressive 17-5-1 to the UNDER in their last 23 when following a loss. Minnesota is also 26-10-3 to the UNDER when facing a pitcher with a WHIP greater than 1.3. Take the UNDER.

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MP Sports

Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics
Play: Houston Astros +1.5 +15

At the risk of sounding like I’m beating a dead horse, I’m going to keep this short and sweet. We cashed yesterday on Houston +1.5 with an outright win, and all of the same logic applies to the game today. The total is the same, the juice is about the same, it’s pretty much the same game. Just a couple points:

1. Jesse Chavez is overrated. After spending his entire career as a mediocre middle reliever, the public believes he has somehow had a “breakout” season for Oakland as a starter this year. He has improved, yes. But to go from a middle reliever to a starter laying -290 on the ML in one season is an impossible leap.

2. Brad Peacock. Peacock, while not an all-star, has produced a solid year-over-year improvement from last year. His FIP has improved by 0.47, his ERA is down nearly a whole run, and he is not the auto-fade he was a year ago.

Again, the total is 7.5 and the juice on the run line is better than EV. Pretty much an auto-bet.

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Jeff Alexander

Miami Marlins +1.5 -137

The Marlins on the run line gets the call as Wednesday's free play.  They have won the first 2 games of the series and are in good position to take Game 3 with Eovaldi getting the nod.  The right-hander has been lights out versus the Braves with a 1.86 ERA in nine starts.  He has a 1.29 ERA in 3 starts against them this season.  Santana, meanwhile, has compiled a 5.61 ERA in 5 starts versus the Marlins.  The Braves are 1-5 in their last 6 games after losing the first 2 games of a series.

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