Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August 14

Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August 14

DUNKEL INDEX

MLB

Washington at NY Mets
The Mets look to bounce back from last night's 3-2 loss as they host a Nationals team that is 1-5 in Stephen Strasburg's last 6 road starts. New York is the pick (+120) according to Dunkel, which has the Mets favored by 1. Dunkel Pick: NY Mets (+120)

Game 901-902: LA Dodgers at Atlanta (1:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: LA Dodgers (Hernandez) 15.110; Atlanta (Harang) 16.263
Dunkel Line: Atlanta by 1; 7
Vegas Line: Atlanta (-120); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Atlanta (-120); Under

Game 903-904: Milwaukee at Chicago Cubs (2:20 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Milwaukee (Fiers) 16.404; Cubs (Jackson) 13.987
Dunkel Line: Milwaukee by 2 1/2; 7
Vegas Line: Milwaukee (-135); No Run Total
Dunkel Pick: Milwaukee (-135); N/A

Game 905-906: Arizona at Miami (7:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Arizona (Anderson) 15.623; Miami (Penny) 14.504
Dunkel Line: Arizona by 1; 9
Vegas Line: Miami (-130); 8
Dunkel Pick: Arizona (+110); Over

Game 907-908: Washington at NY Mets (7:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Washington (Strasburg) 15.122; NY Mets (Gee) 16.322
Dunkel Line: NY Mets by 1; 8
Vegas Line: Washington (-140); 7
Dunkel Pick: NY Mets (+120); Over

Game 909-910: San Diego at St. Louis (8:15 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: San Diego (Stults) 16.504; St. Louis (Lackey) 15.032
Dunkel Line: San Diego by 1 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: St. Louis (-165); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: San Diego (+145); Over

Game 911-912: Cincinnati at Colorado (8:40 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Cincinnati (Simon) 15.802; Colorado (De La Rosa) 14.414
Dunkel Line: Cincinnati by 1 1/2; 10
Vegas Line: Colorado (-125); 9 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Cincinnati (+105); Over

Game 913-914: Oakland at Kansas City (2:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Oakland (Samardzija) 16.782; Kansas City (Shields) 18.322
Dunkel Line: Kansas City by 1 1/2; 6
Vegas Line: Kansas City (-115); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Kansas City (-115); Under

Game 915-916: Houston at Boston (7:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Houston (Feldman) 13.677; Boston (Webster) 15.144
Dunkel Line: Boston by 1 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: Boston (-150); 9
Dunkel Pick: Boston (-150); Under

Game 917-918: Tampa Bay at Texas (8:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Tampa Bay (Odorizzi) 16.422; Texas (Ross) 13.875
Dunkel Line: Tampa Bay by 2 1/2; 7
Vegas Line: Texas (-140); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Tampa Bay (+120); Under

Game 919-920: Pittsburgh at Detroit (1:08 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Pittsburgh (Liriano) 17.421; Detroit (Scherzer) 16.552
Dunkel Line: Pittsburgh by 1; 7
Vegas Line: Detroit (-185); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Pittsburgh (+165); Under

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DUNKEL INDEX

NFL

Jacksonville at Chicago
The Bears kick off the second week of the preseason looking to follow up on their 34-28 win over the Eagles in the opener. Chicago is the pick (-4) according to Dunkel, which has the Bears favored by 9. Dunkel Pick: Chicago (-4)

Game 401-402: Jacksonville at Chicago (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Jacksonville 115.012; Chicago 123.963
Dunkel Line: Chicago by 9; 47
Vegas Line: Chicago by 4; 42
Dunkel Pick: Chicago (-4); Over

FRIDAY, AUGUST 15

Game 403-404: Philadelphia at New England (7:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Philadelphia 119.426; New England 124.915
Dunkel Line: New England by 5 1/2; 50
Vegas Line: New England by 3; 46 1/2
Dunkel Pick: New England (-3); Over

Game 405-406: Tennessee at New Orleans (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Tennessee 122.570; New Orleans 124.246
Dunkel Line: New Orleans by 1 1/2; 48
Vegas Line: New Orleans by 3 1/2; 43
Dunkel Pick: Tennessee (+3 1/2); Over

Game 407-408: Detroit at Oakland (10:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Detroit 123.242; Oakland 119.979
Dunkel Line: Detroit by 3 1/2; 35
Vegas Line: Oakland by 2 1/2; 39
Dunkel Pick: Detroit (+2 1/2); Under

Game 409-410: San Diego at Seattle (10:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: San Diego 123.140; Seattle 131.958
Dunkel Line: Seattle by 9; 35
Vegas Line: Seattle by 5 1/2; 38 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Seattle (-5 1/2); Under

SATURDAY, AUGUST 16

Game 411-412: Green Bay at St. Louis (4:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Green Bay 117.284; St. Louis 121.856
Dunkel Line: St. Louis by 4 1/2; 45
Vegas Line: St. Louis by 2 1/2; 40 1/2
Dunkel Pick: St. Louis (-2 1/2); Over

Game 413-414: NY Giants at Indianapolis (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: NY Giants 120.028; Indianapolis 119.488
Dunkel Line: NY Giants by 1; 46
Vegas Line: Indianapolis by 2 1/2; 41
Dunkel Pick: NY Giants (+2 1/2); Over

Game 415-416: Baltimore at Dallas (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Baltimore 126.112; Dallas 119.132
Dunkel Line: Baltimore by 7; 37
Vegas Line: Dallas by 1; 41 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Baltimore (+1); Under

Game 417-418: NY Jets at Cincinnati (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: NY Jets 118.838; Cincinnati 125.989
Dunkel Line: Cincinnati by 7; 45
Vegas Line: Cincinnati by 3 1/2; 41 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Cincinnati (-3 1/2); Over

Game 419-420: Buffalo at Pittsburgh (7:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Buffalo 117.315; Pittsburgh 121.786
Dunkel Line: Pittsburgh by 4 1/2; 36
Vegas Line: Pittsburgh by 2 1/2; 40
Dunkel Pick: Pittsburgh (-2 1/2); Under

Game 421-422: Miami at Tampa Bay (7:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Miami 118.514; Tampa Bay 117.249
Dunkel Line: Miami by 1 1/2; 33
Vegas Line: Tampa Bay by 2; 37 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Miami (+2); Under

Game 423-424: Atlanta at Houston (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Atlanta 119.476; Houston 119.042
Dunkel Line: Even; 46
Vegas Line: Houston by 2 1/2; 40
Dunkel Pick: Atlanta (+2 1/2); Over

Game 425-426: Arizona at Minnesota (8:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Arizona 120.519; Minnesota 124.930
Dunkel Line: Minnesota by 4 1/2; 42
Vegas Line: Minnesota by 3; 38
Dunkel Pick: Minnesota (-3); Over

SUNDAY, AUGUST 17

Game 427-428: Denver at San Francisco (4:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Denver 119.393; San Francisco 125.031
Dunkel Line: San Francisco by 5 1/2; 44
Vegas Line: San Francisco by 3; 40
Dunkel Pick: San Francisco (-3); Over

Game 429-430: Kansas City at Carolina (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Kansas City 123.384; Carolina 122.008
Dunkel Line: Kansas City by 1 1/2; 44
Vegas Line: Carolina by 3; 39
Dunkel Pick: Kansas City (+3); Over

MONDAY, AUGUST 18

Game 431-432: Cleveland at Washington (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Cleveland 123.868; Washington 123.730
Dunkel Line: Even; 44
Vegas Line: Washington by 3; 40 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Cleveland (+3); Over

WNBA

New York at Indiana
The Liberty head to Indiana tonight to face a Fever team that is 2-6 ATS in its last 8 home games. New York is the pick (+6) according to Dunkel, which has the Fever favored by only 2. Dunkel Pick: New York (+6)

Game 651-652: New York at Indiana (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: New York 108.110; Indiana 110.318
Dunkel Line & Total: Indiana by 2; 138
Vegas Line & Total: Indiana by 6; 143 1/2
Dunkel Pick: New York (+6); Under

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Marc Lawrence

Arizona Diamondbacks at Miami Marlins
Prediction: Arizona Diamondbacks

Edges - Diamondbacks: Anderson 3-2 with 2.67 away ERA this season, and 2-0 vs N.L. East opponents this season. Marlins: Penny 0-3 with 8.33 ERA last three home team starts during August. With the Snakes 14-6 this last twenty games in this series, including 8-2 in Miami, and Anderson in strong KW form with 17 strikeouts and 4 walks his last three starts, we recommend a 1-unit play on Arizona.

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Jim Feist

Rays vs. Rangers    
Play: Under 7½

Both teams have some offense concerns, with Tampa Bay 21st in runs scored. The under is 8-1 in the Rays last 9 games vs. a team with a winning percentage below .400 and 4-0-1 under the total on the road. At least they have a red hot arm going in Jake Odorizzi (3.89 ERA). He is one of their many good young arms and he has fanned 139 in 122+ innings! Odorizzi struck out nine and did not walk a batter while giving up three hits over six shutout innings to earn his eighth win of the season Saturday against the Cubs. Pounding the strike zone, Odorizzi turned in another strong outing as his breakout campaign continues. The under is 25-10-2 in the Rangers last 37 games vs. a right-handed starter. The nine strikeouts were his highest total since June 21 against the Astros (10), while the victory was his fourth in five trips to the mound. Meanwhile the Rangers are 14th in runs scored, 17th in slugging, on a 19-7-1 run under the total. The under is also 19-5-2 in Yu Darvish's last 26 home starts. And when these teams meet the under is 5-0-1 in the last 6 meetings in Texas.

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DAVE COKIN

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS AT MIAMI MARLINS
PLAY: MIAMI MARLINS -123

Scheduling dynamics are definitely in play tonight as the Diamondbacks travel to Miami to open their weekend set with the Marlins. This is a very spot for a very bad team, and that usually results in another loss for a team already used to absorbing them.

Arizona did get the extra inning win last night at Cleveland, so at least they probably had a pleasant flight to the Sunshine State. But this is still going to be a tough energy scenario for the Diamondbacks. This team is pretty much in play out the string mode and coming off a very long Wednesday with the twinbill against the Tribe, I just don’t see how the Snakes won’t be dragging tonight. The one thing ‘Zona will have on their side is rookie Chase Anderson, who has been one of the very few bright lights in what has been a miserable campaign.

Brad Penny will throw for Miami tonight. The old pro did a good job in his return trip to The Show last weekend, and I was fortunate enough to side with the Marlins as my free play last Saturday with Penny on the mound. It’s definitely not the Penny that could blow guys away with big heat back in his halcyon days. But Penny still knows how to pitch and I think he’s got a decent chance to serve up a quality start tonight.

Penny isn’t getting much respect in the betting line. The Marlins are still in at least mild playoff contention in the National League, they’re at home and they’re hosting a potentially tired entry that has absolutely nothing to play for. To me, that’s an invite to take a stab once more with Penny, particularly since I was on him last Saturday. I’ll opt for the Marlins as the Thursday free play.

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Jesse Schule

Houston vs. Boston
Pick: Boston

Boston has won three in a row to finish a successful road trip that saw them win 5-of-8. They return home Thursday to host the Astros, and this looks like a great spot to back the home team at a pretty affordable price.

Rookie Allen Webster will toe the rubber for the Red Sox, and he's coming off a win on the road in Anaheim his last time out. Webster (2-1, 4.91 ERA) was able to establish better control, only walking a pair of batters while surrendering two runs on four hits over 6 2/3 innings. He had struggled a little with his command, walking 11 in his previous two starts, but now with three starts under his belt, his nerves should have settled.

The Astros hand the ball to Scott Feldman, who has won back to back starts at home. The right-hander hasn't had much success on the road though, with a record of 1-4 and a 3.75 ERA. He was just torched in his only previous meeting with Boston this year, surrendering seven runs on 11 hits over just 5 1/3 innings in a loss.

Houston has lost five straight on the road, and seven straight visits to Fenway.


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Jimmy Adams

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Chicago Bears    
Play: Chicago Bears -3½

Blake Bortles threw very well in his start against the Bucs last week, finishing with a 99.4 QB rating. Whether that success continues remains to be seen, but Jag’s coach Gus Bradley is standing firm that Chad Henne will be the starter for the 2014 season. No doubt Jacksonville has high expectations for Bortles, but it’s likely we’ll see some regression here. Word out of camp is that Bortles’ footwork is slow and he has long way to go before becoming the starter. He’s also faced with having to learn from Chad Henne, who is far from a desired mentor.

The Bears looked good on the offensive side of the ball while beating the Eagles 34-28. Jay Cutler was strong, going 9 for 13 with 85 yards and a TD. Big things are expected from Cutler this year, and he appeared focused and seemed to have good chemistry with the first team. Backup QB Jimmy Clausen also looked sharp.

Both Marc Trestman and Gus Bradley have strong track records for hitting the “OVER” in their preseason games, so this one could turn into a shootout. I generally don’t like to lay more than 3 in a preseason contest, but given the talent disparity, especially with the 2nd and 3rd teamers, gives me enough confidence that the Bears will cover the number. Take the Bears.

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Rob Vinciletti

Washington Nationals vs. New York Mets    
Play: New York Mets +130

The Mets will look to salvage the last game of the series here tonight against Washington. They have Dillon Gee on the Mound and he has a 7-3 record and 3.23 era vs Washington and has been solid at home with a 3.37 era this year. The Nationals are favored here with S. Strasburg on the mound but he is 1-8 with a 5.25 road era this year and has allowed 8 runs in 12 innings with 3 home runs in his last 2 starts here. So this looks like a good spot to fade him, and take the Mets. There is also a solid data base system in this game that plays on home dogs with a total that is 8 or less that are off a 1 run home dog loss where they scored 2 or less runs and had 1 or less errors, vs an opponent off a 1 run road favored win that scored 4 or less runs on 5 or more hits. These home dogs are 7 games over .500 since 2004. Look for the Mets to take the finale.


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Red Dog Sports

Washington Nationals vs. New York Mets    
Play: New York Mets +130 

Most books have this in the +124 range. Washington won 3-2 on Wednesday. The Mets are close to .500 at home while the Nationals are around .500 on the road. Dillon Gee faces Stephen Strasburg and the Washington ace is a .500 pitcher this season. Look for Murphy, Duda and Wright to do some damage on Thursday for the home team.

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Will Rogers

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Detroit Tigers    
Play: Detroit Tigers -170

The Tigers and the Pirates will play the finale of this home and home series at Comerica Park this afternoon. The home team has won all three in the series so far, and that is a trend that is likely to continue here today.

Here are my keys to the game:

1. Pitching - The Tigers hand the ball to their ace Max Scherzer (13-4, 3.13) who's having another Cy Young caliber season, especially. The 30 year old right-hander is 8-1 with a 3.07 ERA over 11 starts at home for the season, and has been dominant versus the Pirates line-up, limiting them to an AVG of .157 over 89 at bats in previous match-ups. The Pirates are going with Francisco Liriano who's put a string of solid outings together. He has not faced the Tigers in that stretch though, luckily for him since their line-up is hitting .347 over 118 at bats versus the southpaw.

2. Home cookin' - The Tigers have won their last four home games, while the Pirates are 1-4 in their last five road games versus a right-hander.

3. X-factor - Detroit's Victor Martinez was 3-for-4 with 3 RBIs in yesterday's win. He's 13-for-27 with a home run versus Liriano lifetime.

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Art Aronson

San Diego Padres vs. St. Louis Cardinals    
Play: St. Louis Cardinals -160

I think we are getting the Cardinals at a decent price as they have dominated this series in front of the home town crowd. The visiting Padres send Eric Stults (5-13, 4.76 ERA) to the bump as they try to continue their hot streak; Stults is coming off a rare good start where he allowed one run off seven hits over 6 1/3 innings. Note though that the left-hander has allowed six earned runs in 11 1/3 innings lifetime against the Redbirds. Keep in mind as well that Stults has struggled on the road this season with a 1-9 record and a poor 5.37 ERA. St. Louis will send veteran right-hander John Lackey (12-8, 3.98 ERA) to the hill as he looks to bounce back off one of his worst starts of his career; Lackey is a veteran, he’s performed well in these spots in the past, a date vs. the inconsistent Friars is just what the doctor ordered to get untracked in my opinion. As good as the Padres have been at home of late, note that they have won just one of their last six games in St. Louis the last three seasons. Furthermore, San Diego is 23-35 overall away from friendly confines in 2014. St. Louis has always enjoyed a home field advantage, and true to form is 33-25 at Busch this year. Additionally, San Diego is just 4-8 as a road underdog in the +120 to +150 range this season. Keep an eye out for Cardinals’ slugger Matt Carpenter who owns a career .405 average in 13 career meetings with San Diego. Consider the home side.


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Sleepyj

Washington -133

Tonight we will go ahead and back Washington. Stephen Strasburg has a losing record this year and has made a name for himself as the teams ACE. He is far from being the teams ACE and has yet to show a true dominating performance. I think we get that performance tonight from Strasburg. The Nationals will be looking for a series sweep tonight. The Mets will send Dillion Gee to the mound. Gee piched a nice last outing Vs. the Braves but as the year has grown older so has his arm. Gee his last 4 games prior to his victory got lit up for 17 runs in 4 games. He will regress after a solid showing Vs. a cold Braves lineup. For the Nationals its go time and they need to lean on Strasburg down the stretch. Strasburg hasnt gone more the 7 2/3 innings this year in any game. Something tells me he has a lot of gas left in that arm. The Mets haven't seen Strasburg in quite some time, and i think they will be rather sluggish to the ball after they faced Zimmerman last night. Nats got the bats going and i fully expect that to continue tonight. Lets back the Nationals as i feel Strasburg will pitch one of his better games of the season today.

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SPORTS WAGERS

Oakland +102 over KANSAS CITY

We have no idea what is going to happen in this game and neither does anyone else. What we do know is that the A's hold some tremendous value here based on information readily available to anyone that looks. We all know what James Shields brings to the table, as he's been bringing the same game to almost every start over that past seven years. A's starter, Jeff Samardzija was having a solid year in Chicago before being traded to Oakland and he's been just as good or better in his new digs. Samardzija has increased his first-pitch strike rate more than any starter from 2013 to 2014. It has jumped from 60% to an elite 67%, a mark that gives full support to his excellent control and strikeout totals. He remains a solid bet to be a legit rotation anchor down the stretch.

The value here can be found back in a game on August 3 in Oakland when Kansas City played there with James Shields starting against Scott Kazmir. Let us preface that by saying that the Royals have a better road record than they do at home. In that game in Oakland on August 3, Kazmir was a -165 favourite over Shields and now, 11 days later, Shields is -110, a difference of 78 cents against a better pitcher than Kazmir. The value on Shields was in that game. In this game, based on that line 11 days ago, there is huge value in betting against him here.


Arizona +119 over MIAMI (1st 5 innings)

Chase Anderson is a rookie pitcher that has made 14 starts since being called up on May 11. Pitching exactly half his games at hitter-friendly Chase Field, Anderson has allowed two runs or less in 11 of his 14 starts and that includes starts at Colorado and U.S. Cellular against the South Side. He's allowed one run in four of his past five starts and in the other start over that span he allowed two runs. Anderson comes in with 22 strikeouts, a 12% swing and miss rate and a 1.80 ERA over his last 25 innings. Since the All-Star break, the opposition is hitting .195 against him. The Diamondbacks played a DH yesterday and so their bullpen could be a little taxed. Add the fact that this one is based solely on the starters, thus the five-inning play. At the time of this writing the 5-inning line had not been posted yet but expect it to be in this range. We'll update it a little later.

On August 9, Brad Penny earned a win by allowing only one earned run over five innings in his first MLB start since 2011. The Marlins are rolling the dice with this 36-year old, but that does not mean you should. His skill set was borderline at his peak, so taking a flier here and spotting a price is not a smart idea. In that start against Cincinnati, Penny's swing and miss rate was 5%. We also like the situation against the Fish here. Miami has played 16 straight games against either Washington, Cinci, Pittsburgh or St. Louis, all teams that were within their grasp before that stretch started. They talked about that crucial 16-game stretch before it began and here we are in the first game after it.

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David Banks

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Chicago Bears
Play: Jacksonville Jaguars +3

Two teams that were triumphant in their NFL preseason openers get some national exposure when they hook up on ESPN Thursday night as the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0, 1-0 ATS) pay a visit to the Chicago Bears (1-0, 1-0 ATS) at historic Soldier Field in Chicago at 8:00 ET. The types of games these teams were involved in last week were totally different however as the Bears won a 34-28 shootout here at home vs. the Philadelphia Eagles while points were not as rampant when the Jaguars got by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16-10, also at home in Jacksonville.
   
The Jaguars got a nice look at the future last week with the third overall pick in the first round of the NFL Draft, quarterback Blake Bortles, getting extended action with the second team. And Bortles performed even better than can be expected in his first professional appearance, completing 7-of-11 passes for 117 yards. On top of that, wide receiver Mike Brown had two drops on Bortles passes, so it easily could have been 9-for-11! Bottles is again expected to get a long look with the second team in this game, although Chad Henne, who started last week and went 4-for-7 for 30 yards, will again start and take all of the first-team reps. This game should also mark the Jacksonville debut of running back Toby Gerhart, who missed the opener with a hip injury but returned to practice on Tuesday. It will be interesting to see how Gerhart performs in his first year as the feature back after performing well when given the opportunity as the understudy to Adrian Peterson at Minnesota. 

Although the Bears won last week, they could not have been happy about the performance of the defense. Remember that unit ranked 30th in the NFL in total defense last season surrendering an atrocious 394.6 yards per game as well as 31st in scoring defense yielding 29.9 points per encounter, and Chicago addressed that with some big defensive signings in the off-season. Well, the Eagles were not impressed while passing for 283 yards last week and starter Nick Foles only accounted for 44 of those yards. Bortles (and Henne) must be chomping at the bit here at the prospects of throwing against a Chicago  secondary that allowed Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley and G.J. Kinne to combine  for 239 passing yards. Furthermore the Bears have serious injury concerns on  their offensive line with tackles Jordan Mills and Brian de la Puente both  injured last week and ruled out for this game. That becomes even more of a  concern considering the Jacksonville defensive line dominated the Tampa Bay  offensive line last week, and if that happens again the Bears may have to pull  their starting offensive skill position players earlier than expected to  avoid injury.

The Bears are only 1-3 ATS in Week 2 of the preseason the last four years  and the cover was by the narrowest of margins when they won 33-31 as  one-point favorites two years ago. Also, all preseason Week 2 favorites coming off a  straight up win (Bears) are just 41-60-1 ATS since 2001 for a 59.4 percent  fade.

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LT Profits

Arizona vs Miami
Pick: Arizona +115

The Arizona Diamondbacks have one of the worst records in the league while the Miami Marlins are still hoping for a playoff push, but this pitching matchup seems to favor the underdog Snakes. Chase Anderson has been a bright spot in a lousy season for Arizona as the rookie is 7-4 with a nice 3.06 ERA, and he has now allowed exactly one run in four of his last five starts and two runs in the other outing! This streak began vs. these Marlins when he allowed one run on seven hits with eight strikeouts in six innings. The 36-year-old Brad Penny has come out of retirement to pitch for Miami, and he was not sharp in his first Marlin start despite allowing two runs in five innings as he had four walks vs. three strikeouts. The Diamondbacks are 8-2 in the last 10 meetings in Miami.

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Matt Fargo

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Miami Marlins    
Play: Arizona Diamondbacks +113

After a split in yesterday's doubleheaders, the Diamondbacks head to Miami for the start of a four-game set. Arizona is two games under .500 on the road which is substantially better than its record of 14 games under .500 at home. The offense hasn't exactly been lighting it up of late, scoring three runs or less in eight of its last 10 games but tonight provides a great opportunity for the bats to come to life. Miami was looking to sweep the Cardinals Wednesday but could not solve Justin Masterson who had his best start since joining St. Louis. The Marlins have been solid a home with a 33-29 record but they are 3-11 in their last 14 games as a favorite of -110 to -150. Brad Penny will be making his second start of the season and just his second start since 2011. He was very solid five days ago as he held Cincinnati to just one earned run on four hits over five innings but he walked four and still threw 95 pitches in the process. It will again be hard to trust him and I expect a big step backward tonight. The Diamondbacks turn to Chase Anderson who continues to pitch outstanding. He has tossed five straight quality outings while allowing only six runs total in those starts and his ERA on the season is now a solid 3.06. Arizona won four of those five games and on the season, it is 9-5 in his 14 starts. His numbers are even better on the road and he has already dominated Miami once, allowing only one run in six innings in a 9-1 victory back on July 7th.


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Scott Spreitzer

Oakland A's vs. Kansas City Royals    
Play: Kansas City Royals -107

The Royals are smoking hot, entering today's card on a 17-4 winning run and they're on a perfect 7-0 run as home chalk.  And as strong of a season Oakland is having, they have been a dead set go against as road dogs of late, dropping 3 of their last 16 in this spot.  Jeff Samardzija takes the mound for the A's and while he has pitched well, overall, as a member of the A's, he has a mediocre 4.29 ERA on the road (against Houston & Seattle) and he has allowed 6 home runs in his last 6 starts.  James Shields has been eating up innings for KC, especially in his last four starts, including an 8 inning performance in a 4-2 win in Oakland on August 3.  Shields has been at his very best in daytime starts this season and he'll face an Oakland lineup that has scored 3 runs or less in 10 of their last 14 games, 13 of those coming after the Cespedes / Lester trade. Meanwhile, Billy Butler has been on fire for the red-hot Kansas City Royals.  I expect the Royals to remain hot and extend their current run to 18-4.  I'm recommending a play on Kansas City on Thursday afternoon.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August 14

Jimmy Boyd

Boston Red Sox -134

The Red Sox are showing solid value at home against the struggling Astros. Houston comes in having gone just 3-6 over their last 9 games and will be hitting the road where they are a miserable 21-35 on the season. Boston on the other hand is fresh off a quick 2-game sweep of the Reds and have now won 3 in a row. Adding to all of this is the fact that the Red Sox have owned the Astros, leading the all-time series 15-4 and have never lost at home to Houston.

Boston will send out Allen Webster who is coming off his best start since joining the rotation. Webster allowed just 2 runs on 4 hits over 6 2/3 innings against the Angels and during that start he showed much better command than his previous two outings. I'll take my chances on Webster putting back-to-back strong starts together, but he might not have to pitch all that great to get a win. Houston will be starting Scott Feldman, who is 1-3 with a 8.89 ERA and 2.159 WHIP over 6 career starts against the Red Sox. In his lone outing versus Boston this season, he was rocked for 7 runs on 11 hits and 3 walks in just 5 1/3 innings of work.

Houston is 4-12 in their last 16 games against a team with a losing record, 5-12 in their last 17 during game 1 of a series and 0-5 in Feldman's last 5 starts as a road underdog.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August 14

Stephen Nover

Cincinnati Reds vs. Colorado Rockies    
Play: Colorado Rockies -116

You're not going to find me on the Rockies too much the rest of the season, but this is one exception: Jorge De La Rosa at home against fading Alfredo Simon and a banged-up Reds squad that has dropped four of their last five.

De La Rosa is one of the few who can pitch well at Coors Field. He is 4-6 with a 5.35 on the road and 7-2 with a 3.23 ERA at Coors. The Rockies have won 76 percent of De La Rosa's last 51 starts when favored at home.

Simon is 33 and already past his career mark in innings pitched for a season. The Reds are 0-5 in Simon's five starts following the All-Star Game. Simon has a 4.78 ERA during this span, which could be worse as he's issued 11 walks. The Rockies blasted him when they beat the Reds, 11-2, back on May 10 at Cincinnati. Simon surrendered five runs and eight hits, including three homers, in that defeat.

Due to multiple injuries, the Reds are starting fill-ins and platoon type players. They aren't strong enough offensively to bail out Simon.


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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August 14

Mike Lundin

San Diego vs. St. Louis
Play: Under 7½

The Cardinals will host the Padres for a four game set at Busch Stadium starting tonight. The guests are coming in with five straight wins, mostly thanks to good pitching, They should be able to put up a good fight and give us an old fashioned low scoring game of baseball tonight.

Eric Stults (5-13, 4.76 ) will toe the slab for the Padres, and he's coming off two really solid outings, where the veteran has conceded only two runs on nine hits over 12 2/3 innings. He may be tied for the most losses in the major leagues, but what can he do without any help from the offense. The Cardinals will hand the ball to John Lackey (12-8, 3.98 ERA) who was torched at Baltimore his last time out. He's been really solid at home all season though, posting a 3.16 ERA over 11 starts. He has recently joined from the very same Cardinals he's facing tonight.

The under is 4-0 in the Cardinals last four home games, and 8-2-2 in Stults last 12 games on the road. The Padres are ranked dead last in runs scored, batting average and every other offensive category in the major leagues this season.

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