Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, August 13

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, August 13

BONES BEST BETS

PIRATES ML -105

The Tigers are ice cold dropping 4 straight and 7 of 9 overall. Meanwhile the Pirates own wins in 5 of their last 7 games – including the first two against Detroit. Rookie Buck Farmer makes his MLB debut for the Tigers who are in desperate need of starting pitching. Meanwhile Worley goes for the Pirates who has been lights out this season with a 1.07 WHIP and a 2.30 ERA – and even better his last 3 starts going 22 IP with just a 0.86 WHIP and a 0.82 ERA.

BREWERS @ CUBS – UNDER 7.5 -105

We’ve hit the under hard in the fist 2 games of this series and it has not let us down. 4 runs in the first game and 3 last night. Two cold offenses and two respectable pitchers on the hill tonight equals another under play for us.

CARDINALS @ MARLINS – OVER 7.5 -125
MARLINS ML -121 *3*

These two plays for us here must go hand in hand. We feel there the odds or hitting both as opposed to losing both are much much greater. A 1-1 split might be most likely but we’ll roll the dice here and hope for that 2-0 mini sweep. Justin Masterson has had a train wreck of a year and his first two starts for the Cardinals have been even worse. He has allowed 5 earned runs in each of his first two starts for the Cards and in his latest start against the Orioles, went just 2 innings, allowing 7 hits, 3 walks, and 5 runs.

RAYS -1 -118
RAYS F5 -0.5 -105

Until Miles Mikolas shows us that he can pitch in Texas then we will gladly fade him until he disappoints. In his 3 Texas starts he is 0-3, owns an incredible 13.2 ERA and a whopping 2.41 WHIP! Fade away!

NATIONALS @ METS – OVER 7 +107

This total is too low for 2 pitchers with a combined o/u of 24-18 this year. In 10 games this year against each other they have only went under 7 once. The Nationals have seen at least 7 runs scored in 7 of their last 10 games and the Mets have seen at least 7 runs scored in 9 of their last 10 games. These are 2 good pitchers on the mound today but there is tremendous value in the over here.

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Nelly

Dodgers / Braves Under 6.5

Hyun-Jin Ryu continues to provide great results for the Dodgers, delivering a quality start in 13 of his last 15 starts. His road ERA is 2.61 on the season with a 1.08 WHIP and the 'under' going 8-2-2 in his road starts this season. In losing 11 of the last 14 games the Braves have been held to three or fewer runs in 12 of those 14 games. Ervin Santana has a chance to stop the bleeding for Atlanta as he has proven to be a great pick up for the Braves this season. Santana owns a 3.69 ERA on the season with a nearly 4:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Eight of his last 10 starts have been quality starts and in the two outings that were not he allowed just four runs while completing at least six innings. Santana is 8-2 at home this season with a 1.17 WHIP and both teams have good bullpens even if the recent numbers have slipped a bit. The Dodgers are only batting .252 with 2.8 runs per game vs. right-handed pitching in the last 10 games while Atlanta has been ice cold vs. left-handers, batting .206 with just 2.0 runs per game in that span. This game has a lot total but it is justified for this Wednesday night matchup.

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SPORTS WAGERS

Chicago +120 over SAN FRANCISCO

They Giants were down 2-0 for the entire game last night before rallying in the ninth to tie it. Instead of finishing the South Side off, San Fran lost it in the 10th inning to run its losing streak to five games. The Giants have scored nine times over their past five games and they'll face a pitcher today that they've never seen before in Jose Quintana. There’s nothing magical about a player’s first-half/second-half stat splits in any given season. Like other attempts to break off a larger sample size—such as a full season—into smaller bite-size pieces, the exercise wavers in the direction of the arbitrary endpoints game. But for younger players especially, who are just beginning the career-long adjustment/counter-adjustment cycle, sometimes there are gems to find in half-season splits. Quintana only has six wins through his first 24 starts, but his performance improvements this year—3.15 ERA, 46% groundball rate and a dominant start/disaster start split of 67%/10%—have quietly produced under-the-radar value and seems to have set him up for even better things to come. Some of the hints to his rise were evident in his 2013 second half and have continued throughout this season. In 148 innings, Quintana has a BB/K split of 44/129. His average velocities have stayed the same from 2013 to 2014: Fastball at 92 mph, change-up at 86 mph, curve ball at 80 mph but he's changed his release point and his pitch mix, which makes it difficult for hitters to guess what's coming. Quintana is much more well-rounded and consistent than just about any non-ace. His adjustments in 2013’s second half and in 2014 have brought more strikeouts and groundballs, and overall better command. His peripherals suggest that his current success is sustainable.

Meanwhile, Jake Peavy is going in the opposite direction. The Giants were concerned about the depth of their starting pitching and the uncertainty surrounding Matt Cain’s elbow injury hastened the Peavy acquisition, the team preferring Yusmeiro Petit as a reliever (2.45 ERA, .593 OPS against) rather than as a starter (6.32 ERA, .798 OPS against). Peavy is reunited with Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who was his manager in San Diego for the first five seasons of Peavy’s career (2002-2006). He’s obviously not the same pitcher this time around. Only 12 active hurlers have logged more innings than his 2,087 and in the past three years he’s missed over 100 games with injuries. Peavy, who won his first game with Boston on April 25 and hasn’t been on the positive side of decision since, has lost 12 with a 5.34 ERA in his last 15 starts. Furthermore, Peavy has turned into a fly-ball pitcher with a groundball/fly-ball split that is getting worse, not better, In his last start, Peavy had a groundball rate of 20% and fly-ball rate of 45%. Overall, his groundball/fly-ball split is 36%/40%. The White Sox are a dangerous opponent, as their .726 road OPS is 4th in the majors. Furthermore, this is an early afternoon game in San Fran, meaning the park plays a lot differently than it does at night where the damp air deadens balls. In day games, balls fly out of here and Peavy's profile strongly suggests he won't be able to keep the ball in the yard. 


DETROIT -102 over Pittsburgh

Had it not been for a three-run ninth inning to defeat the Blue Jays on August 8, the Tigers losing streak would be at seven games. Detroit is in a funk right now but this team is too good to keep losing at this pace and we now get to take advantage of a favourable line. The Pirates are favoured here because Vance Worley has put up outstanding numbers since being promoted from the minors while the Tigers have a first time starter going today that was just called up. Buck Farmer is previewed in our MLB call-ups section so you can read all about him there. He's a kid that has made great strides and could be a sneaky good play here after David Price, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, Rick Porcello and Justin Verlander couldn't get the Tigers to the winners circle in their last respective starts. That said, the Pirates cannot be favoured on the road in Detroit with Worley on the mound.

In one of the more surprising stories of the summer, Vance Worley is not so quietly making his way back on people's radars. Worley, who was last an asset in 2011 (11-3, 3.01 ERA), has posted a 2.30 ERA and 1.07 WHIP over 63 innings in 2014. Worley has bounced back and forth in the minors the past few seasons, so how much of this new found success can he actually sustain? A near run and a half difference between ERA and xERA means regression will hit hard hard once it hits. Worley's minuscule swinging-strike rate of 4% all but locks in poor strikeout numbers and caps his overall upside. It's not earth-shattering to conclude that Worley hasn't been as good as his surface stats would suggest but he cannot maintain these surface stats with a 4% swing and miss rate. His 87% strand rate has masked his deficiencies and it's only a matter of time before things start to even out. Vance Worley is a great sell-high target.


Philadelphia +181 over L.A. ANGELS

The Phillies are truly garbage but we're not able to get past refusing a price like this one against Jared Weaver. Weaver is displaying severe home/road splits this season, with a 4.80 ERA on the road and a 2.88 ERA at home. Some will argue that Weaver is more comfortable at home and that argument would hold up if his skills were better at home but they're not. In fact, Weaver's poor under the hood skills at home have been near identical to his road skills. The only difference is luck, where at home, those hard hit balls are right at people. Since the All-Star Break, Weaver has a pathetic groundball/fly-ball split of 23%/57%. We're also seeing eroding command and an eroding xERA, which is now up to 5.77 since the break. Frankly, we don't care what the surface stats say about Weaver because we know 100% for sure that he's surviving on pure luck to keep his ERA in check. We'll fade Weaver 100% of the time when he's favoured in this range and we certainly make no exception here.

Meanwhile, A.J. Burnett has had very poor luck. Burnett's ERA is about a half run higher than Weaver's but his skills are so much better. Burnett has an outstanding groundball/line-drive/fly-ball split of 51%/21%/29%. He has a swinging strike rate of 11% but an unlucky 68% strand rate and 11% hr/f has help to sabotage his bottom line. Maybe A.J. Burnett gets into trouble again today. He has shown a propensity for getting into jams and not getting out of them and that can't be considered all bad luck. However, Burnett's skills are much sharper than Weaver's and while that guarantees nothing, it does guarantee some value betting against the most overvalued pitcher in baseball. 


Los Angeles +104 over ATLANTA

The Braves have now dropped 11 of their past 13 games. Last night they hung up a two on Dan Haren and for the eighth time in their past 13 games scored two runs or less. The Braves are a game over .500, they're five games back of the Nationals and they're hitting just .214 over their past 15 games. Hyun Jin Ryu had a 4.45 ERA in July that hid the fact that he displayed some of the best starting pitching skills in the NL during the month with 10.2K's/9, 1.3 BB/9 and a 57% groundball rate. Ryu has thrown pure quality starts in 10 of his past 11 outings, and he's been especially dominant on the road with a 2.61 ERA. In two starts against Atlanta last season, Ryu had a 2.13 ERA. Atlanta's .700 home OPS is 10th in the NL but over the past 15 games that has sunk to 13th in the NL. With a 2.68 xERA since July 1 and being consistently good since he arrived in Los Angeles, Ryu is a very attractive stretch-run target and certainly an attractive proposition as a pooch against the struggling Braves.

When it comes to skills, consistency and ERA, Earvin Santana is the Jekyll and Hyde of pitchers. We've seen Santana dominate for stretches and we've seen him completely lose it for weeks several times over the past five years. Right now it looks like he could be trending towards some struggles. When Santana starts missing the plate and striking out fewer batters, disasters are around the corner. After striking out 21 batters over two starts at the end of July, Santana has a K/BB split of 10/6 over his last two starts over 12.2 innings. Santana's WHIP of 1.24 is average and while he's very capable of doing well, he's far less consistent than our guy here. Additionally, the Braves are going bad so Ryu has the better chance to thrive and pick up the “W”.

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Jimmy Boyd

Miami Marlins -120

The Marlins are showing excellent value in the series finale against the Cardinals. Miami has taken each of the first two games in the set and are a red-hot 4-1 in their last 5. St Louis on the other hand has lost 4 of 5.

I'll take my chances on the Marlins given tonight's pitching matchup. Miami will send out Nathan Eovaldi, who comes in off two brilliant start against the Reds. Eovaldi limited Cincinnati to 1 run on 2 hits over 7 innings on Aug. 2 and came back in his next start on the road versus the Reds and threw 8 shutout innings. He's faced the Cardinals 3 times in his career and all 3 times has held them to 3 earned runs or less.

St Louis will counter with Justin Masterson, who has been awful since coming over in trade. Masterson has allowed 5 runs on 7 hits with 3 walks in each of his first two starts with the Cardinals and in his most recent outing he failed to make it past the 2nd inning. Masterson has some serious problems with his mechanics and I don't see him snapping out of it on the road, where he has a 7.43 ERA and 1.933 WHIP over 11 starts this season.

There's a nice system backing Miami in this one. Home teams with a money line is +125 to -125, who are a bad offensive team (<=4.1 runs/game) against a poor starting pitcher (ERA>=5.70) (NL), with a good bullpen whose ERA is 3.75 or better on the season are 40-16 since 1997. That's a 71% system in favor of the Marlins.

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Jeff Alexander

Tampa Bay Rays -139

The Rays are an impressive 20-7 in their last 27 on the road, including 11-2 in their last 13 as a road favorite.  They are also 4-0 in Archer's last 4 road starts.  He's allowed 2 earned runs or fewer in 8 consecutive road starts.  The Rangers are a miserable 13-38 in their last 51 games, 5-21 in their last 26 games as a home underdog and 1-6 in Mikolas' last 7 starts.  He has a 6.57 ERA in these starts and a 13.17 mark in 3 home starts.

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Jack Jones

Atlanta Braves -112

The Atlanta Braves (60-59) really need to pick it up over the final stretch of the season if they want to make a run at the postseason.  They have struggled of late, but look for them to buckle down tonight, especially after losing the first two games of this series to the Dodgers.

Ervin Santana has gone 11-6 with a 3.69 ERA and 1.243 WHIP in 22 starts this season for the Braves.  He is 8-2 with a 3.51 ERA and 1.170 WHIP in 11 home starts, and 2-0 with a 2.61 ERA and 1.016 WHIP in his last three starts.  Santana is 4-4 with a 3.27 ERA and 1.127 WHIP in eight career starts against Los Angeles.

Hyun-Jin Ryu is also having a solid season for the Dodgers, going 13-5 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.177 WHIP in 22 starts.  However, he has never beaten the Braves in three career starts against them.  Indeed, he is 0-0 with a 4.02 ERA and 1.532 WHIP over those three starts.

Santana is 7-0 (+7.3 Units) against the money line in home games when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season over the last two seasons.  Atlanta is 65-28 (+23.5 Units) against the money line in home games after batting .240 or worse over a 10-game span over the last three seasons.  The Braves are 11-1 in their last 12 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of greater than .600.

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Dave Price

Baltimore Orioles -125

Look for Pineda to show some rust in his first big-league start since Apr. 23.  His clubs are 7-15 in his last 22 starts.  Tillman has been dealing all season, especially at home where he has a 2.77 ERA.  He's had success against the Yankees, holding them to three earned runs or fewer in five of his last six starts.  The Orioles are 5-1 in Tillman's last six home starts, 17-4 in his last 21 home starts versus a team with a winning record and 5-2 in his last seven starts versus the Yankees.  The Yanks are 1-5 in the last six meetings and 4-9 in the last 13 in Baltimore.

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Will Rogers

G1 Arizona Diamondbacks vs. G1 Cleveland Indians    
Play: G1 Cleveland Indians -167

Last night's game between the Indians and the Diamondbacks was postponed due to heavy raining in Ohio. These two teams will make up for it by playing a double-header today, and I think the Indians should have an advantage in Game 1, as two youngsters take the hill.

Here are my keys to the game:

1. Pitching - The Indians hand the ball to 23 year old Trevor Bauer (4-7, 4.52). He has not had the best of seasons, but has done fairly well at home going 3-2 with a 3.51 ERA over nine starts. The D-backs will counter with Andrew Chafin who'll make his first start ever in the major leagues. It must be a proud moment for the Ohio born 24 year old, but will he be able to keep his nerves in check?

2. Home cookin' - The Indians are 34-22 at home this season, and 4-1 in their last four at Progressive Field.

3. X-factor - Jason Kipnis was 3-for-5 his last game.

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Paul Stone

Wyndham Championship, Greensboro, NC

Snedeker vs. Simpson
Play: Snedeker -125

Both players in this matchup are former champions of the Wyndham Championship which will be played at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C. Brandt Snedeker won the tournament in 2007, while Simpson took the title here in 2011. The contestants, however, enter this week's event with their games on different trajectories.Starting with the U.S. Open in mid-June, Snedeker has been in fine form, posting six Top 25 finishes in his last seven outings, including a pair of Top 15 showings the past two weeks in the World Golf Championship and PGA Championship. In fact, Snedeker has shot in the 60s in six of his past nine competitive rounds. Snedeker badly wants a spot on this fall's U.S. Ryder Cup team and a strong showing here would solidify his chances. Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open champion, meanwhile, has not been particularly sharp this summer, missing the cut in five of his past dozen tournaments. Also, in five of his past eight competitive rounds, Simpson has shot 72 or higher, so his recent form certainly does not suggest a strong showing this week in North Carolina. Although both players have tasted victory at Sedgefield, I'll side with the sharper Snedeker for the tournament and lay the modest -125 price.

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Teddy Covers

Oakland at Kansas City
Play: Oakland -110

When healthy, Jason Vargas has proven himself to be an above average starter at the major league level.  But Vargas is NOT healthy right now, still recovering from an emergency appendectomy that cost him a full month’s worth of playing time.  Kansas City Manager Ned Yost: “He's just still not quite sharp after his surgery.”

Vargas has been lit up in both post-appendectomy starts: 15 hits and nine runs allowed in 9.1 innings of work.   The A’s bashed him for seven runs less than two weeks ago, and Oakland is coming off a 20 hit, 11 run outburst last night; the third time in five games they’ve scored six runs or more.   Vargas’s six losses to Oakland since the start of 2011 is his most defeats against any team during that span. A’s sluggers Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie (questionable tonight) and Brandon Moss all have good track records against Vargas.

The Royals have been as hot as Vegas in July for weeks, reeling off 16 wins in 19 games prior to last night’s defeat.  Streaks like that don’t continue indefinitely for good, but not great teams like Kansas City.  And the A’s are, by a fairly wide margin, the toughest team they’ve faced during this hot streak.  KC’s lineup is not known for bashing lefties like Scott Kazmir while Oakland has the best winning percentage in the majors against southpaws like Vargas.

There’s been nothing fraudulent about Scott Kazmir’s remarkable turnaround season, and all the advanced metric stats tell us that his 13-4 record, 1.05 WHIP and 2.73 ERA are not aberrations.   Kazmir has allowed two runs or less in five of his last seven trips to the hill.  The A’s elite bullpen behind him (top 5 in bullpen ERA) is in great shape behind Kazmir, because each of their last six starters has lasted at least six full innings.  This game is priced in a near pick ‘em range, but the A’s have enough clear edges to pull the trigger tonight!

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Wunderdog

Oakland @ Kansas City
Pick: Oakland -106

When you look at the success of this Oakland team, the thing that would stand out to most is that they seem to always get good starting pitching. While that is true, the underestimated part of this team is the strength of the offense. That was on full display last night as the A's powered their way to 11 runs, marking the 16th time they have done so on the season - the best in either league. Kansas City has a surprising lead in the AL Central, but they have the worst side of the pitching matchup here as Scott Kazmir has had an outstanding campaign at 13-4 on the season with a 2.73 ERA. Jason Vargas has struggled since undergoing an appendectomy, and two starts back the A's lit him up for 7 runs in just 4.1 innings of work. Oakland is 10-1 in Kazmir's last 11 starts on four days rest, and 65-29 in their last 94 to a total of 7 to 8.5. Take the A's.

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Sam Martin

Washington Nationals at New York Mets
Prediction: Washington Nationals

Pretty good pitching matchup tonight in New York, with Washington sending out Jordan Zimmermann while the Mets counter with Bartolo Colon. And while we give a slight pitching edge to the Nationals here, Washington is the superior overall team and we believe they are worth the small risk tonight.

Zimmermann comes in with a 3.06 season ERA and will be confident after holding the Mets to three runs over 6 1/3 IP his last time out (Aug 7) in a 5-3 Washington victory. And while his 12-6 team start record and 3.35 ERA in 18 career meetings against New York lends credence to this selection, it's Washington's recent dominance in this series that really makes it stand out - as the Nats have won 19- of the last 23 games played here in New York.

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Larry Ness

Washington Nationals at New York Mets
Prediction: Washington Nationals

I backed Doug Fister last night, as the Nats won easily over the Mets 7-1. That’s HARDLY news. The Nationals have now won NINE consecutive games at Citi Field, outscoring the Mets 67-18 during the streak. Washington moved a season-high five games ahead of second-place Atlanta in the National League East with Tuesday’s series opening win. Considering the Nats are hitting .296 with 26 HRs while averaging 7.4 runs their nine-game winning streak at Citi Field (the longest active by a visiting team at a specific venue), why not back them again tonight?

Washington is 23-4 in its last 27 games at Citi Field and Jordan Zimmermann will get the ball. He recorded his third straight quality start by holding the Mets to three runs over 6.1 innings this past Thursday in Washington. The winningest pitcher in Nationals history has a 2.03 ERA in his first two starts this month after going winless with a 4.22 ERA in four July outings. He’ll be opposed by Bartolo Colon (11-9, 3.97 ERA), who became the third Dominican-born pitcher to win 200 games last Friday, when he allowed one run over eight innings against Philadelphia. The 41-year-old has won three of his last four starts and walked two or fewer batters in 49 of his last 53 outings. Colon is 2-2 with a 2.32 ERA in four career starts against Washington.

Bottom line is, the Nats have the Mets ‘number’ and why buck the above trend? Not I.

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Rocketman

Milwaukee @ Chicago
Play: Milwaukee -117

The Milwaukee Brewers take on the Cubs in Chicago on Wednesday night.  Milwaukee is 66-54 overall this year while the Chicago Cubs come in with a 51-67 overall record on the season.  The Cubs are 630-735 after a win since 1997.  Milwaukee is allowing only 3 runs per game their past seven games overall.  The Chicago Cubs are scoring only 2.9 runs per game their past seven games overall.  Kyle Lohse takes the mound for the Brewers where he has gone a solid 11-6 with a 3.33 ERA overall this year.  Milwaukee is 32-15 overall vs the Cubs the past 3 years.  Looking for the Brewers to bounce back strong after a loss to the Cubbies last night.  We'll recommend a small play on Milwaukee tonight!

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Bruce Marshall

Toronto Blue Jays at Seattle Mariners
Pick: Seattle Mariners

The Mariners are hot and the Blue Jays are not, as Seattle has outscored Toronto 17-4 while winning the first two games of this crucial midweek set at Safeco Field. The Mariners will like their chances of a sweep that would complete an 8-1 homestand if starter Hisashi Iwakuma maintains the mound mastery that has seen him go 5-2 with a 2.04 ERA in eight outings since the start of July. He has lasted at least seven innings in seven straight, and owns a 1.66 ERA in the last three. Iwakuma is also 2-1 with a 1.61 ERA in three career starts against the Blue Jays. Meanwhile, Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey is 3-8 with a 3.79 ERA in 12 road outings this season, and can match San Diego's Eric Stults for the most road losses in MLB with another defeat tonight.

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Scott Delaney

My free play is on the Padres, who have won four straight games. They also are the winningest team in the National League since the All-Star Break, one-half game better than the N.L. West leading Los Angeles Dodgers. San Diego is just six games back in the wild card race and will be out to keep the momentum going.

The worst team in baseball while ordering room service - the Colorado Rockies. They're a brutal 18-43 on the highway. Perspective: the next team in front of them is Houston with a 21-35 road mark.

The Padres are in on a slew of win streaks of 6-0 when laying chalk at home, 7-0 as a favorite overall and five of six overall. San Diego has also won seven of nine against the Rox.

2♦ SAN DIEGO

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Craig Davis

Free play of the day on the Baltimore Orioles over the NY Yankees as they continue their series in Baltimore this evening.

Normally I'd give the edge to the Yankees here with Michael Pineda on the mound, but this is his first start since April 23 and the Orioles have scored 36 runs over the last four games.

All signs point to the O's continuing to kick the crap out of the hapless Yankees. It's baffling that New York can take 3 out of 4 games from the Tigers (and it easily could have been a four-game sweep), but then lose two of three to Cleveland and get whipped in the first game of this series by Baltimore. The rain actually saved them some embarrassment yesterday.

While Pineda was counted on early in the season to get the Yankees back on track from a dismal 2013 campaign, he's going to be rusty and it's impossible to tell how many innings he's going to be able to go.

As for Chris Tillman, Baltimore's starter, he's improved to 9-5 with a 3.73 ERA and since beating the Yankees a few months ago, his ERA is 2.40 over his last 12 starts and is coming in off a solid performance against the Cardinals.

Take Baltimore as your free play of the day.

2♦ BALTIMORE

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Jeff Benton

Your Wednesday freebie is the Pirates over the slumping Tigers.

Detroit was on the short-side last night at PNC Park, as Pittsburgh was able to take the first 2 of this split 4 game set. The loss was Detroit's 4th straight, and their 7th in their last 9 overall.

Tonight the Tigers are forced to start Buck Farmer who has made just 2 starts above A-ball!

Vance Worley will go for the Pirates who have won 5 of their last 7, and Worley has not suffered a loss since before the All-Star break, going 3-0 in his 4 starts with a 0.96 ERA in that stretch.

Detroit looks a little panicked if you ask me, and with Farmer making his first major league start, I look for something to go wrong for the Tigers rookie tonight.

Take the Pirates as the road dog in Motown tonight.

3♦ PITTSBURGH

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Gabriel Dupont

I like the Detroit Tigers against the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight as my free play.

The SMART INTANGIBLE with the Tigers - Buck Farmer. It wasn't that long ago this kid was pitching in low Class A ball. After two starts for Double-A Erie, his reward is his Major League debut against the Pirates. He was 10-5, 2.60 ERA in 18 starts for Single-A West Michigan. He was 1-0, 3.00 ERA in two starts for Double-A Erie.

The SMART INTANGIBLE against the Pirates - Unfamiliarity. When a starting pitcher makes his big-league debut, it means several things, most importantly the fact the opposition doesn't have a real scouting report and is seeing all his stuff for the first time.

In conclusion, why DETROIT is my SMART PLAY in this game - True, Farmer is making his debut sooner than anyone expected. And the fact he ranks eighth on MLB.com's Tigers top prospect rankings, well, that's not the best referral. But he's still up for some reason or another. I mean, from low-Single A, to the bigs - in two weeks?

George Runie Farmer - that's his real name -  could be in the rotation for a bit if Justin Verlander (right shoulder soreness) ends up on the disabled list. He has struck out 127 over 115.2 innings this season for Single-A West Michigan and Double-A Erie.

4♦ DETROIT

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Chris Jordan

My free play is on the first of two games between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cleveland Indians. I like the Snakes to get it done and I want you listing Andrew Chaffin only. The left-hander is making his MLB debut, and it falls in line with what I like to do with these young pitchers.

It's always important to give a starting pitcher a look in his big-league debut, as it means several things: he is pumped up for his big day and will work his arsenal to its extent and to the best of his ability. Plus, the opposition doesn't have a real scouting report and is seeing all his stuff for the first time.

Chaffin was called up from Triple-A Reno last week, and though the southpaw was 4-5 with a 5.40 ERA in 14 starts for Reno, I like what I'm hearing from my peeps in nothern Nevada about this guy.

The power lefty offers a fastball that travels at 94 miles per hour, and arrives with natural sink action. He has a knack for locating it on both sides of the plate.  He has decent secondary pitches he worked on while with the Aces, including an upscale slide and baffling curve and slider.

The Indians will be handcuffed here.

4♦ ARIZONA

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