Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 15

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Frank Jordan

San Diego Padres vs. St Louis Cardinals
Play: St Louis Cardinals -127

San Diego is 57-63, but they do have a bright spot in pitcher Tyson Ross who is 11-10 with a 2.63 ERA and San Diego is 5-0 in his last five starts. Ross has a start against St. Louis this season going six inning allowing just a run picking up the victory. With that being said Ross has had his struggles on the road where he is 5-5 with an ERA nearly at 3.50. Lance Lynn is 12-8 on the season also with an ERA under three. Lynn was opposing Ross in that start and also allowed only one earned run, but also one unearned run as he picked up the loss. In this rematch with it in St. Louis where Lynn is 7-3 with a 2.60 ERA look for Lynn to get his revenge as he shuts down the Padres and gets some early offensive help from Holliday and compnay.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 15

Jimmy Boyd

Tampa Bay Rays -133

The Rays come into this one having won two straight and 6 of their last 8 overall. Even though there chances of securing one of the two Wild Card spots is slim (6 games back), they still believe they clearly haven't given up hope. Hard to not like them at home given their recent play against the slumping Yankees. New York has dropped 4 straight and are in a serious funk offensively having scored 3 runs or less in 7 of their last 9 games.

Not only is Tampa Bay playing the better baseball of the two teams, I believe the Rays have a big edge on the mound with Alex Cobb going up against Brandon McCarthy. Cobb has a strong 3.62 ERA and 1.188 WHIP over 8 home starts and comes in with a red-hot 1.83 ERA and 1.118 WHIP over his last 3 starts. Not to mention he's 4-1 with a 2.01 ERA and 0.851 WHIP over 7 career starts against the Yankees. McCarthy has been a pleasant surprise for New York, but he's not been great on the road, where he has a 4.30 ERA and 1.449 WHIP over 10 starts.

We also find a massive long-term system in favor of Tampa Bay. Home favorites with a money line of -125 to -175 with a team batting average of .260 or worse on the season (AL) against opponent starting a pitcher who gave up <=2 earned runs in his last 2 outings are 174-73 over the last 5 seasons. That's a 70% system in favor of the Rays.

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Chip Chirimbes

Baltimore Orioles vs. Cleveland Indians    
Play: Cleveland Indians -157 

The 'hottest' pitcher in the AL has got to be Kluber (13-6, 2.46 ERA) of the Cleveland Indians as the hard throwing right-hander is 4-0 in his last five starts with an ERA of 0.68 with 45 strikeouts in 40 innings.


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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 15

Andrew Lange

Seattle at Detroit
Play: Under 8.5

When healthy, Seattle's James Paxton has all of the tools to succeed at the MLB level. Coming from the left side, Paxton has showcased the ability to miss bats (22 Ks) and command his pitches (5 BBs) throughout his four starts. Yes, the sample is small (24 IP) but lefties who throw in the mid-90's and get ground balls don't grow on trees.  Detroit's Rick Porcello was forced into an extra inning affair last Sunday (2 IP) so should be rested and ready to face the Mariners. He's been very consistent this season and despite not posting big strikeout numbers, his very respectable xFIP (3.70) speaks to his ability to go out and produce quality starts on a consistent basis. I also like the fact that he's really improved his splits vs. lefties -- which the Mariners have a lot of. Lefties are hitting only .244 BA/.299 OBP/.363 SLG vs. the veteran right-hander. With both teams fighting for postseason berths, I project a playoff atmosphere throughout the series. We'll look to play Game 1 under the total.

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Bob Balfe

New England Patriots -3

The Patriots did not look sharp in their opener and neither did this Eagles first team offense. Philly does not want to give anything away with their system. The Patriots need to get going here with Brady and their starters. Tom Brady didn't play last week and again tonight he is not 100 percent certain to play. I think they need to get him reps as he gets older. Ryan Mallett is capable of being a starter right now as Brady's backup. With the knowledge he gets from Brady this guy is going to be a top 5 QB in a few years. The Eagles Defense in my opinion is the reason why this team might miss the playoffs. Take the Patriots


San Diego Chargers +6

Seattle did not look hot at all against Denver and in fact their first team offense looked pretty weak in that first quarter. This is a team that could be guilty of being a little lazy after winning the super bowl, its human nature. San Diego has great skilled backups for preseason play. There is no reason for Seattle to be favored like its a regular season game when its the preseason. Take the Chargers.


Red Sox / Astros Over 8.5

Clay Buchholz has been awful this year. When he starts the Redsoxs usually lose and they get pounded. Keuchel is a great pitcher and I hope he gets a chance to pitch on a playoff bound team because he could be a household name. This Astros Bullpen however stinks. Look for a lot of runs just like last night. Take the OVER.

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Stephen Nover

Mariners at Tigers
Play: Mariners

I'll take price with a hot Mariners team that is 8-1 in their last nine. The Tigers have a losing mark during their last nine games. Seattle has the superior bullpen and a now healthy James Paxton pitching. He is 5-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his last five starts dating back to last season. Rick Porcello is a solid pitcher, but his rhythm could be out of whack after appearing last Sunday during the Tigers' 19-inning marathon against Toronto.


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King Creole

Eagles / Patriots Over 46.5

6-1 O/U since 2005: All NFL pre-season games with an OU line of > 44 pts (PHIL @ NENG).

17-3 O/U last 3 years: All NFL pre-season Game Two teams who scored 10 < pts in Game One (PATRIOTS).

8-0 O/U last 3 years: All NFL pre-season teams who allowed 34 > pts on the road the previous week (EAGLES).

EAGLES / PATRIOTS series tendencies: 4-0 O/U last 4 meetings (48.3 ppg).

EAGLES: 4-0 O/U in Game 2 of the pre-season (48.6 ppg).
PATRIOTS: 4-0 O/U in Game 2 of the pre-season (43.3 ppg).

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 15

David Banks

Philadelphia Eagles +3
   
Two teams that held joint practices sessions with each other on Tuesday and Wednesday will square off in their second NFL preseason game of the year Friday night on NFL Network when the Philadelphia Eagles visit the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium at 7:30 ET. The Patriots also held joint practices with the Washington Redskins before their preseason opener last week, and that did not end well with the Patriots losing the actual game 23-6. The Eagles also come off of a loss 34-28 to the Bears in Chicago, and what was significant about that game was the Philadelphia offensive reserves outplayed the starters after the Eagles were shut out in the first quarter.
   
Coach Chip Kelly has intimated this week that he may play his starters into the second period in Week 2 and that he also plans to work on some different formations, thus not being as "vanilla" with the play-calling as he was in the opener. In other words, into the second quarter at least, expect to see Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy in more or less regular season form in Kelly's hurry-up offense before the back-ups get summoned and the vanilla schemes of last week return. And how the Eagles perform in that first quarter and a half or so could ultimately determine the outcome of this game, although if the second and third stringers match last week's performance, Philadelphia may not stop scoring. Also expect to see more of Darren Sproles with the first team after he did not catch a pass last week, although he did carry the ball three times for 11 yards. The one setback for Philadelphia is that Jeremy Maclin, who is expected to take over as the primary receiver this season with DeSean Jackson departed, is again doubtful with a knee injury. That may not necessarily be a bad thing though as the Eagles can take a longer look at their second round draft pick Jordan Matthews who seemed nervous while dropping three passes in he opener but has excelled in training camp.

As for the Patriots, Tom Brady is expected to make his 2014 debut while major free agent signee Darrelle Revis is expected to make his New England debut. The difference though is that the Patriot starters do not figure to play more than one quarter and maybe even just a couple of series. The Patriots want to continue to take extended looks at Ryan Mallet, who was terrible in the opener in what was rumored to be a trade audition, and rookie Jimmy Garoppolo as that duo is still competing for the back-up quarterback job behind Brady (assuming Mallet is still with the team). Mallet started last week and was lousy completing 5-of-12 passes for just 55 yards with several of the incompletions falling at the feet of his receivers. There have been rumors of Mallet possibly going to the Houston Texans since before the NFL Draft, which may have been a reason Houston did not select a quarterback in the draft,  but his opening performance looks like cause for concern.

The Patriots are just 8-15 ATS in their last 23 games as preseason  favorites. NFL preseason Week 2 underdogs coming off of a loss (Eagles) are a  mind-boggling 72-33-2, 68.6 percent ATS since 2000.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 15

Bruno Bets

New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Play: Tampa Bay Rays -125

In the simplest of terms, Alex Cobb has made life miserable on LHBs all season-long. He has held them to a mere .209 BA and just an OB% of .266.

While the "first back home" is generally not an ideal situational spot, the Rays' pitching has been solid and I don't expect it'll be Cobb who drops the ball.

In McCarthy and in my opinion, we still have a starter who's numbers have prospered since returning to the AL, but seems to be garnering more than his fair share of good fortune and run support. I do expect that Cobb may throw a wrench into the works here. Although he suffered badly from a lack of support at The Trop earlier in the season, Tampa Bay has scored a few runs in his last couple of home starts and should get him enough tonight. He has allowed 3 ER or fewer in each of his last eight starts (2 or fewer in his last six) and has the stuff to do so again.

Although the Under appears to be a solid play, I am not sold on McCarthy yet and expect that he may get lit up before long. The Yankees have not fared well at The Tropicana recently and I don't expect their fortunes change in this spot. Alex has owned the Bombers' line-up in the past and I can find no reason to think he won't again.

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Bruce Marshall

Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers
Pick: Los Angeles Angels -1.5

Texas is on the way to 100 losses, a staggering downturn for a franchise that has been a playoff fixture for several years. It has all collapsed in Arlington, an the efforts of tonight's starting pitcher Nick Martinez (12.91 ERA during a four-start home losing streak) are indicative of the Rangers' plight. The Angels are now dominating this series, winnign seven straight, and Garrett Richards has been even better by compiling a 1.89 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 19 innings while winning his last three starts vs. Texas. Laying a bit of a price with the Halos on the Run Line seems to be a worthwhile risk.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 15

Steve Janus

Atlanta Braves -114

As bad as the Braves have been playing, this is a great spot to jump on Atlanta at home, as they catch the A's in a rare slump. Oakland has dropped 4 of 5 and there's reason to believe their struggles will continue with Jason Hammel taking the mound. While Hammel has been dominant at home, he's a mere 4-7 with a 4.29 ERA over 13 road starts. Hard to not like your chances with Atlanta given how well Alex Wood has been throwing the ball. Wood comes in with a strong 2.74 ERA and 1.176 WHIP over 8 home starts and has an impressive 1.33 ERA over his last 3 starts.

Key Trends - Oakland is 2-14 as an underdog of +100 to +150 this season, 5-11 in their last 16 interleague road games against a left-handed starter and 2-6 in their last 8 road games against a team with a winning home record.

System - Home teams (ATLANTA) - after having lost 12 or more of their last 15 games, winning between 51% and 54% of their games on the season are 35-10 (78%) against the money line since 1997.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 15

Sam Martin

Pittsburgh Pirates at Washington Nationals
Prediction: Washington Nationals

Much more faith in Tanner Roark and the Nationals at home tonight than we do in a struggling Charlie Morton and a Pirates squad that has lost two straight and four of their last six games overall. Morton has lost each of his last four team starts - allowing 18 earned runs over 24 innings pitched in those four games. That includes his last outing, where he gave up 5 ER's in 5 IP against a weak-hitting San Diego team.

Roark has been just the opposite, winning five of his last six team starts overall and he's been the model of consistency going exactly seven innings and giving up exactly one run in all five of those Nationals victories. Pittsburgh is 8 games under .500 on the road while Washington is a full 10 games over .500 at home, and given this pitching matchup the host team is the only way we can go tonight!

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 15

SPORTS WAGERS

SEATTLE -6 over San Diego

6 points is highly unusual for any team to be favored in the preseason and it’s for that reason, among others, that this number should be taken seriously. It’s an attempt by the oddsmakers to entice people into taking the points. If it were a regular season game, Seattle would likely only be about 2 points higher at -8 or thereabouts. San Diego is coming off a 7-point win over Dallas in its preseason opener, where they moved the ball very well but this isn’t Dallas. The Seahawks lost their preseason opener in Denver and will now play its first game at home since their Super Bowl victory last February. The fans will pack the joint like they always do and make life difficult for the opposition like they always do but let’s forget all that for a second.

This one is all about backing a Pete Carroll coached team coming off a loss. Pete Carroll is a freak that hates to lose at any time and it doesn’t matter if it’s a game against a local high school team or a playoff game in January. He drills it into his players’ heads over and over that the only thing that matters is winning. When his team scores in the preseason he celebrates like a madman before congratulating his players like they just completed a drive in the final minute of the fourth quarter to win it. In the first preseason game against Denver last week, there were several interviews with players and coaches throughout the game and the only thing any of them wanted to talk about was the scoreboard. When asked about the upcoming season, Seahawks players and coaches responded with these beauties: “We need to score here” and “we have the lead right now so that’s a good thing”. In his NFL coaching career, Pete Carroll is 8-1 over his past nine preseason games with his only loss occurring last week. The Seahawks also lost to San Diego in late September of last year during the regular season, in Seattle no less, and there is no fu**king way in hell that Carroll has dismissed that. Nobody has ever put more emphasis on winning in preseason than this freak and you can triple those sentiments after a loss and against a team he lost to last time out. Yeah, -6 is a ridiculous number in preseason but this isn’t some ordinary preseason team or coach. Pete Carroll is the reason you spot -6 in the preseason and the oddsmakers know it.   

Pass CFL

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SPORTS WAGERS

Philly +145 over SAN FRAN (1st 5 inn)

Make no mistake, Madison Bumgarner is a quality starter that could crack the rotation on any team in the majors. He has 158 K’s in 162 innings, an xERA of 3.17, which is lower than his actual 3.22 ERA. Throw in exceptional control and a groundball bias profile and you have a starting pitcher that has been dealing it all season. Bumgarner’s 5.60 ERA at home is a mirage because his peripherals at AT&T Park mirror his peripherals on the road. The difference has been bad luck at home, where Bumgarner’s strand rate of 64% is far below the league average. That said, his 4-6 home record and 5.60 ERA is still there and there are a couple of other factors that could hurt him here. Bumgarner has thrown 17 innings over his last two starts. In his last start, he threw 123 pitches, which was his highest output of the year. We’re not asking the Phillies to put up a crooked number here either. If Philadelphia can score one or two runs, this ticket has an outstanding chance of cashing.

Enter Cole Hamels, a true ace that takes a backseat to nobody in this league. Hamels has put up truly sick numbers and that’s after pitching half his games at hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park. The fact that he has just six wins in 21 starts is almost a crime but it makes him the most undervalued starter that you will see this entire weekend. Hamels has been almost untouchable over the past month with a 0.73 ERA and 0.81 WHIP. He’s been at his best on the road, with a 1.55 ERA compared to 3.28 at home. Over his last five starts his swing and miss rate of 15% is the highest in the majors (his last start it was 19%). In his lone start against the Giants this season, he allowed 1 ER in 8 IP and last season he held the Giants scoreless over 8 IP in their only meeting. San Francisco's .664 home OPS is next to last in the NL, leading only San Diego. Cole Hamels should never be this price against anyone. If Clayton Kershaw was traded at the deadline to Philadelphia and was making this start, Kershaw would be favored. Cole Hamels has been just as good as Kershaw. We’re not leaving this one to the pen, as it is solely based on Cole Hamels getting through five innings and dominating like he always does.


Baltimore +145 over CLEVELAND

Corey Kluber has been one of the league’s best starters and we’re not just talking about this year. He’s been great since May of last year and it’s no fluke. He has 187 K’s and just 36 walks issued over 172 frames with an ERA of 2.46. ERA stands for earned run average so the Indians brutal defense does not hurt that number and that’s a key factor here.

There is no defense for the Indians’ defense. It’s hideous and unwatchable. You win with pitching and defense. You can lose without one of the two, you will lose without both. The Indians are the worst of both worlds. They have one dependable starting pitcher, Corey Kluber, and one dependable defensive player, Michael Brantley. The Indians have the highest error total and lowest fielding percentage in the major leagues. They are the worst defensive team in the majors and it’s not even close. Their 89 errors are 12 more than any other team in the American League. The other 14 teams in the league have an average of 64 errors. The Indians have 25 more errors than that. The Indians are on a pace for 125 errors, the same number made last year by the Astros, which lost 111 games. Thanks to all those errors, the Indians have given up 56 unearned runs. The average of the other 14 teams in the league is 36. The Orioles have given up 22. There’s a defensive statistic called “Defensive Runs Saved Above Average” which computes, using a variety of defensive metrics, how many runs a team’s defense has saved above zero. The Orioles are first in this category with 37 runs saved. The Indians are a distant last with minus 79 runs saved. The next-worst team is at minus 41. If you dig deeper into the numbers, it’s the Indians’ infield defense that is the open wound — especially the left side of the infield. American League teams’ third basemen are averaging 13 errors and have a .956 fielding percentage. Indians third baseman have a staggering 24 errors and a .915 fielding percentage. AL teams’ shortstops have an average of 13 errors and a .973 fielding percentage. Indians’ shortstops have 15 errors and a .970 fielding percentage. At first base, the AL average is seven errors and a .993 fielding percentage. The Indians are at 12 errors and a .989 fielding percentage. At catcher, the AL is at six errors and .994 and the Indians are at 12 errors and .989. We’re not even mentioning all the plays the Indians’ defense doesn’t make which are not counted as errors, but have the same effect, because they are plays that should result in outs, but don’t.

You get the picture here. That horrible defense makes the Indians a huge risk as the chalk against an opportunistic Orioles team that finds ways to win. Incidentally, Baltimore’s .292 team batting average over the past 15 games leads the majors while Cleveland’s .243 batting average against southpaws this season is second last in the AL.   


ATLANTA -1½ +187 over Oakland

Spotting 1½-runs with Atlanta is risky but the reward is worth the risk and there’s a very good chance of Atlanta’s offense going off against Jason Hammel. Looking at Jason Hammel’s performance over the years, it’s not surprising that he earned a “C” consistency grade. His home parks from 2009-2013 didn’t help; between Coors Field (+33% LH HR) and Camden Yards (+29% LH HR), it’s kind of a miracle that he survived at all. Things have been much more favorable in 2014, where he started the year in Wrigley Field and now finds himself in the pitcher’s paradise of O.Co Coliseum (-26% LH HR). Hammel is coming off back-to-back quality starts in which he allowed just one run combined over 12 innings. However, both games were at home. In his last road start, Hammel was tagged for eight runs in 4.1 innings at Houston. In his three road starts since being traded to Oakland, Hammel is 0-3 with an ERA of 7.80. Over his last 24 innings, he’s walked 13 batters while whiffing 16. Since coming over from Chicago, Hammel’s groundball/line-drive/fly-ball of 37%24%/39% is weak at best. If you evaluate him in terms of ERA, 2012 (really his only good year at this level) now looks like a blind squirrel finding a nut. Current Braves have 25 hits against Hammel in 81 career AB’s for a BA of .309.

The A’s .242 batting average against southpaws is dead last in the AL and third last in the league. Alex Wood is a southpaw and he’s also one of the best in the business. Over his last five starts covering 31 frames, Wood has struck out 37 batters. Over that same stretch, his line-drive rate of just 13% is the lowest in the majors. Alex Wood has been one of the game's most dominant pitchers during his home starts in 2014 with an xERA of 2.41 a 1.19 WHIP, 10.3 K’s/9, 1.9 BB/9, and a 47% groundball rate. The best news is that the A’s have never faced Wood and they’re coming off a stretch of games in which they scored 1, 2, 0 and 3 runs in four of their last five games.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 15

Nelly

Cubs / Mets Under 7½

The Cubs have only reached as many as four runs once in the last seven games but yesterday's loss was the first time in eight games that Chicago has allowed more than four runs. In the last 10 games Chicago is batting just .222 as a team with 3.0 runs scored per game but they face a Mets team with even worse scoring numbers in that span. New York has also greatly struggled of late against left-handed pitching, batting .219 with just 2.4 runs per game in the last 10 games. New York scored just four runs in getting swept in three games at home against Washington this week and Citi Field remains a very low scoring park with the 'under' going 29-25 and fewer than 7.3 runs scored per game on average. Zack Wheeler is having a solid season for the Mets and he has had eight consecutive quality starts. He allowed three runs in his last start for the first time in that eight-game run but the three runs came on just three hits. A few bad starts have elevated the ERA for Travis Wood up to 4.86 but he is coming off back-to-back quality starts in tough matchups against Tampa Bay and at Colorado. Wood pitched well against the Mets earlier this season and the Mets have just 12 wins vs. left-handed starters in 25 tries this season. Both teams have good bullpens and lower numbers should be expected in the opener of this series.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 15

River City Sharps

Baltimore Orioles +135

Wish I could tell you some fancy story on why this one has popped up on our radar, but to be honest...this is a complete value play. We get one of the hottest teams in baseball in the Orioles travelling to Cleveland to take on Corey Kluber and the Indians. While we will acknowledge that Kluber has been tremendous, this price is way too high for us and when you consider that the Orioles are giving the ball to W.Y. Chen tonight, it makes the road puppy all that much more appealing. Chen has been really solid for the O's, other than his last start, and have won five of his last six outings. We fully know that Kluber can be dominant, but a little "regression to the mean" is in order and we think the hot bats from Baltimore may be able to get to the Cleveland ace. The Orioles are an impressive 10-1 in the last 11 game one of a series and 39-19 in their last 58 games following an off day. The Tribe hasn't been a real profitable home favorite as of late, dropping five of their last six games in that spot. We are recommending the value play here tonight with the Orioles.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 15

Scott Delaney

My free play for tonight is on the Tampa Bay Rays at home against the New York Yankees. Last night my comp winner was on the Rays, in Texas, so why not play Tampa Bay a second-straight night?

I wouldn't worry too much about the pitching matchup of Brandon McCarthy and Alex Cobb, this one has me more intrigued as the Yankees are mired in a four-game slide and now have to travel to take on a feisty Rays team that needs one last surge to have a chance at the postseason.

Tonight's contest opens up a six-game homestand for the Rays, who will play 29 of their next 32 against American League East opponents, not to mention 28 of their next 32 against teams currently over .500.

Tampa Bay is on a 19-10 tear in their 29 games against teams over .500, it has won seven of 11 at home and is 11-9 since June 25 after a dismal 16-23 start at Tropicana Field.

Take the Rays here.

3♦ TAMPA BAY

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 15

Craig Davis

My free play winner this Friday night will be the Eagles plus the points against the Patriots.

Yep, I started the NFL pre-season selections just how I always do... with a win. The pre-season isn't always the easiest to handicap, but it's been my bread and butter over the past five years and it was no surprise to me that the Jags got the easy cover last night.

Today's free play is the Philly Eagles plus the points mainly because I have no faith in the Patriots in the pre-season.

These two teams have been holding joint practices with each other this week so there won't be a ton of surprises and it wouldn't surprise me if it's low scoring in the first half. And since this game doesn't mean much, I expect the Patriots to show even less than the Eagles.

The Pats lost their first pre-season game of the year, 23-6, to Washington... and if that game score doesn't indicate just how unimportant the pre-season is to Bill Belichick and the Pats, nothing will.

The Eagles, on the other hand, feel like they have a lot to prove and will work to make sure they have an ample replacement for DeSean Jackson in the receiving corps. Expect a lot of guys to get a lot of work.

I like Philly to not only cover the number, but get the SU win.

Take the Eagles as your free play of the day.

2♦ PHILADELPHIA

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 15

Jeff Benton

Your Friday freebie is the Lions and Raiders to hold Under the total in preseason football.

Last night we saw yet another exhibition Under as the Jags and bears combined for 39 points, but fell shy of heading Over the total. That puts the preseason Under run at 14-4 through 18 games played.

Included in that stretch is both the Lions and the Raiders first games last week, as Detroit edged Cleveland, 13-12, while Oakland was on the short side of a 10-6 final at Minnesota.

Based on the lack of offense we saw from these teams last weekend, and based on the Overall Under preseason trend, stick with the percentages and play the Lions and Raiders to play Under the total this Friday night in Oaktown.

4♦ DETROIT-OAKLAND UNDER

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, August 15

Gabriel Dupont

Now on to my free play for today: Houston at BOSTON (-145)

I like the Boston Red Sox in tonight's game, as they'll continue their win streak with an easy win over the Houston Astros.

The SMART INTANGIBLE with the Red Sox - Pride. These are the defending World Series champions, and the fact they're in last place in the American League East and still trying to make a run even after depleting their rotation, it's admirable.

The SMART INTANGIBLE against the Astros - Losing, again. After last nigt's 9-4 thumping - which Houston led early on - the Astros have lost four of five and seven of 10 overall. They've also dropped eight straight in Beantown and 16 of 20 in this clash.

In conclusion, why BOSTON is my SMART PLAY in this game - Boston is too good of a sprint right now, having visited St. Louis, Anaheim and Cincinnati and completing its road trip 5-3. Now back home, and opening this four-game set with a 5-run rout against one of the worst teams in baseball, I'd say there's a good chance the Sox will keep their momentum alive.

The Astros have the second-worst road mark (21-36) in the bigs, while the Red Sox are simply playing for pride on their own field. Play the Red Sox in this one and forget about the pitchers - not worth wasting our time, i the event of a scratch.

1♦ BOSTON

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