Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August 14

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

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.

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

Steve Janus

A's/Royals Under 7

With Jeff Samardzija on the mound for Oakland and James Shields going for the Royals, I'm expecting to see a very low scoring game this afternoon. Only once in the first three games of the series has a team scored more than 3 runs and that was in the second matchup when Kansas City won 11-3.

Samardzija has allowed just 2 earned runs in each of his last 2 starts and will have an advantage here with this being his first career start against the Royals. Shields on the other hand comes in with a red-hot 1.17 ERA and 0.826 WHIP over his last 3 starts.

Another key here is that both pitchers have been dominant during day games. Samardzija has a 2.74 ERA over 11 day starts and Shields has a 2.47 ERA over 11 day starts.

Key Trends - UNDER is 20-8 in Royals last 28 home games when they come in having won at least 6 of their last 8 games, 22-9 in their last 31 home games with an OBP of .300 or worse over their last 15 and 7-1 in their last 8 vs a starter with a WHIP less than 1.15.

System - Play Under - Home teams where the total is 7 to 8.5 (KANSAS CITY) - very bad AL offensive team (<=4.2 runs/game) against a team with a very good bullpen (ERA<=3.33), with a very good bullpen whose ERA is 3.33 or better on the season.This system is 98-51 (66%) over the last 5 seasons.

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

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

Sam Martin

Cincinnati Reds at Colorado Rockies
Prediction: Colorado Rockies

We scored a big +140 payout last night fading the Rockies on the runline in their loss at San Diego yesterday, but we'll back them today at home with their best pitcher going against the Reds. Colorado is a full 28 games under .500 on the season, but the majority of that losing has come away from home - they are only two games under .500 here at home.

Jorge De La Rosa has done very well here in the hitting-friendly confines of Colorado, going 7-2 with an 8-2 team start record and low 3.39 ERA - a great number considering where those 10 home starts have taken place. Reds starter Alfredo Simon has pretty good season numbers, but he's running out of gas with a 0-4 record and 0-5 team start record in his last five outings.

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

Ben Burns

Tampa Bay vs. Texas
Pick: Tampa Bay

The Rangers made a pitching change here, replacing staff ace Yu Darvish with little known lefty Robbie Ross. Why not just wave the white flag before the first pitch?  This has been a miserable season in Arlington and the fact that Darvish is now heading to the disabled list again is just the cherry on top.

You'd think that trading David Price would have similarly signaled the end for Tampa Bay.  But somehow, they keep winning. They've won five of seven and are actually just six games out of the Wild Card. While a return to the postseason remains highly unlikely, it's nice to see Joe Maddon's club still trying.  The Rays have a positive run differential for the season.  Texas has been outscored by a MLB worst 131 runs.

Jake Odorizzi will start here for Tampa. His last start saw him toss six scoreless innings. It was the 10th time in 11 starts he allowed 3 runs or less.  Rays' pitching has allowed just 1.9 runs per game over the last week with a .201 opponents batting average.  In three games, Texas has scored just four runs in this series.

Last night's game resulted in a 10-1 win for the Rays.  The Rangers only win in this series was a somewhat fortunate result on Tuesday that took 14 innings.  The Rays have been true road warriors of late, going 20-6 their last 26 games away from Tropicana Field.

As for Ross, he had a 5.10 ERA in nine appearances at Triple A.  I don't envy him.

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

Harry Bondi

JACKSONVILLE (+3.5) over Chicago

The Bears looked great last week in a 34-28 victory over Philadelphia, but the results of that game have this week's pointspread a little inflated. After such a good showing, don't expect the Chicago coaching staff to game plan too much on offense this week. The team has already suffered a decent amount of injuries and will be looking to simply survive tonight and escape without any more unnecessary bumps and bruises. Jay Cutler will get limited snaps and then the majority of playing time at QB will go to Jimmy Clausen and Jordan Palmer. The Jags, meanwhile, didn't look great on offense last week in a 16-10 yawner over Tampa Bay. Look for QB Chad Henne to get more reps with the first-team offense in the first half and then turn the offense over to rookie Blake Bortles in the second half. Let's take the generous points with the team that has more to prove and will play its starters and second-stringers much longer.

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

Bob Balfe

Bears / Jaguars Over 43

The Jaguars are slowly turning into a decent football team. It will take some time, but this team is on its way. The Bears Defense last year was horrible and I don't know how much better they are going to get in a year. To make matters worse their special teams were awful last week against Philadelphia. This Bears team has a lot of big targets at wide receiver and both teams are looking to sure up their number 2 QB. Look for a lot of passing in this game. Take the Over.


Red Sox / Astros Over 9

Boston has had a tough time hitting the ball as of late so facing a bad team like the Astros is refreshing to them. Houston is not a good team, but with the payroll they have it is impressive they win games at all. Boston's starting pitcher has been rocked this year and I think this is going to be a great offensive showing between both clubs. Take the Over.

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

Wunderdog

Cincinnati @ Colorado
Pick: Colorado -116

The Colorado Rockies are well known for the fact that they simply can't hit on the road, and usually take their lumps. They are off a road trip where they went 1-5, scoring just 19 runs. It runs their road record to a dismal 18-44 on the season, but alas, they return home again where they are a completely different team. The Rockies are just two games below .500 at home, and take on Cincinnati who actually has a worse road record than that at three games under the .500 mark. The Reds send struggling all-star Alfredo Simon to the mound. Simon since the all-star break, is 0-4 with a no decision, has not won in the second half of the season. The Reds are 0-7 in their last seven road games vs. a losing team. The Rockies have been lights-out at home behind DeLaRosa where they are a masterful 44-8 in his last 52 home starts. Take Colorado.

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

Bruce Marshall

Nationals at Mets
Pick: Over

Acknowledge Washington's overwhelming recent success at Citi Field, where it has won 10 straight and 24 of its last 28 appearances against the host Mets. But there has been little value backing the Nats when fireballer Stephen Strasburg is on the mound away from home, where he is 0-5 with a 6.29 ERA in his last six road starts. New York has a chance to break the series losing streak at home with starter Dillon Gee, who has allowed just three runs and eight hits over 12 2/3 innings in two outings this month. Expect some runs tonight in Queens.

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

Jeff Alexander

Tampa Bay Rays -134

The Rays have won 20 of their last 26 on the road and are 10-1 in their last 11 as a road favorite of -110 to -150.  The Rangers are 13-39 in their last 52 games, 15-40 in their last 55 games as an underdog and 7-20 in their last 27 at home.  They are also 0-6 in Ross' last 6 starts.  He's given up at least 5 runs 4 times during this stretch.  Odorizzi has been pitching well, giving up 3 runs or less in 10 of his last 11 starts.

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

Jack Jones

Tampa Bay Rays -133

Despite trading away David Price, the Tampa Bay Rays clearly have not quit on their season.  Manager Joe Maddon has not let them, and they'll fight until the end.  They are currently six games out of the final wild card spot and take on the AL-worst Texas Rangers (47-73) tonight.

Tampa Bay will be giving the ball to Jake Odorizzi, who is 8-9 with a 3.89 ERA and 1.304 WHIP in 23 starts this season.  One of those starts came against Texas on April 4th as Odorizzi pitched six shutout innings to get the victory in an 8-1 win.  He is also 2-1 with a 3.37 ERA and 1.062 WHIP in his last three starts.

Robbie Ross is no more than a fill-in starter for the Rangers.  The left-hander has gone 1-4 with a 4.78 ERA and 1.551 WHIP in nine starts this season, including 1-3 with a 5.01 ERA and 1.485 WHIP in six home starts.  Ross is also 0-2 with a 6.61 ERA and 1.715 WHIP in his last three starts.

The Rays are 20-6 in their last 26 road games.  Tampa Bay is 13-4 in its last 17 games vs. a starter with a WHIP greater than 1.30.  The Rays are 10-1 in their last 11 games as a road favorite of -110 to -150.  Texas is 13-39 in its last 52 games overall.  The Rangers are 0-6 in Ross' last six starts.

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

BONES BEST BETS

ATHLETICS @ ROYALS – UNDER 7 +100

These teams have went under in 4 of 6 meetings. The As have went under in 6 of 10 overall and the Royals in 7 of 10 overall. Samardzija has been lights out since joining the As and has pitched to a 3.08 ERA and an even better 0.91 WHIP. Shields has been solid too giving up only 9 runs in his last 7 starts and 6 of those starts have went under.

PADRES ML +152
PADRES – TT OVER 3 -120

While the Padres have struggled on the road this season, they seem to have turned a corner and there is plenty of value here with the way Lackey has been pitching. Lackey has NOT been good of late. Over his past 8 starts he owns a 6.36 ERA. The Padres have wins in 11 of their past 14 games – including a 3-2 record on the road and a 2-1 series in San Diego against these same Cardinals. Stults meanwhile has been putting some solid starts together allowing more than 3 runs just once in his past 9 outings. For the team total, San Diego has scored more than 3 runs in each of their past 4 games and are averaging 5.25 in that span. Meanwhile just twice in Lackey’s last 8 starts has the opposing team scored less than 3 runs.

RAYS ML -135
RAYS F5 ML -134

With Robbie Ross on the mound for the Rangers, we expect a similar offensive output as what we saw yesterday against Mikolas. Ross owns a 1.66 WHIP and a 5.61 ERA on the season and the Rangers are just 2-7 in his starts. Tampa is on fire with wins in 5 of 7 outscoring their opponents 36-13 in that span.

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

Ian Cameron

Houston at Boston
Play: : Over 9

I’ve bet Scott Feldman over the total several times this season and tonight looks like another solid opportunity. Feldman has pitched well of late which he should be credited for but this is not an appealing matchup for him at Fenway Park against the Red Sox. Feldman was hammered for 7 runs on 11 hits in 5.1 innings of work when he faced them back in July and has allowed 15 runs on 19 hits in 7.2 innings of work over his last two starts against Boston. Allen Webster counters for the Red Sox and he simply isn’t a pitcher that I trust to mow down opposing lineups. Webster has made three starts since joining the rotation and though he was better in his last start against the LA Angels (6.2 IP, 2 ER) in his lone start at Fenway he was roughed up by the NY Yankees for 4 runs in just 2.2 innings of work. He has been plagued by control issues with a problematic ratio of 13 walks to 8 strikeouts. Houston’s bullpen hasn’t been good all season while the Boston bullpen had to work multiple innings in each of their last two games after both previous starters pitched just 6 innings. Burke Badenhop and Edward Mujica have pitched in back-to-back games while closer Koji Uehara threw 20 pitches for the save yesterday so there should be a chance for late runs on both sides to send this game over the total.

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

Rocketman

Tampa Bay vs. Texas 
Play: Tampa Bay -134

The Tampa Bay Rays take on the Rangers in Texas on Thursday night.  Tampa Bay is 59-61 overall this year while Texas comes in with a 47-73 overall record on the season.  Texas is 22-35 at home this year.  Texas is 31-56 at night this year.  Tampa Bay is allowing only 1.9 runs per game their past seven games overall where teams have a combined .201 batting average against them.  Texas is scoring only 2.7 runs per game their past seven games overall.  Texas is allowing a whopping 5.7 runs per game at home this season.  Jake Odorizzi is 8-9 with a 3.89 ERA overall this year and 2-1 with a 3.37 ERA his last 3 starts where he has 15 strikeouts compared to only 3 walks.  Robbie Ross is 1-4 with a 4.78 ERA overall this year, 1-3 with a 5.01 ERA at home this season and 0-2 with a 6.61 ERA his last 3 starts.  Ross has more walks than strikeouts (7 to 6) in his last 3 starts.  Odorizzi is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in his one start vs Texas in his career.  We'll recommend a small play on Tampa Bay tonight! 


Rocky Atkinson's Featured Package

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

River City Sharps

Padres vs. Cardinals
Play: Under 7.5

Lots of reasons to like the UNDER 7.5 here tonight in St. Louis. We are going to trust that the Cardinals are going to get a solid home performance from Lackey and the Padres continue to struggle to score runs on the road. With that said, the Cardinals do struggle to consistently hit left-handed pitching and the Padres will give the ball to lefty Eric Stults, who has lots of positive trend lines working in our favor. How about the fact that in Stults last 23 games as a road dog between +110 and +150, the UNDER is 17-4-2 in those contests, while the UNDER is 18-7-1 in the Cardinals last 26 home games vs. a left-handed starter. There are lots more trend lines pointing towards a low scoring affair, so we're going to fire on this one.

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

Scott Delaney

My free play for tonight is on the Tampa Bay Rays in Texas, against the Rangers, and I want you listing both scheduled starters: Jake Odorizzi and Robbie Ross Jr.

It still amazes me the Rangers have the second-worst record in baseball, but for awhile it was the worst. Now they're just one game better than the Rockies, who have the worst in the majors. Nonetheless, Texas, in a word, is horrible.

I don't think Odorizzi will have any trouble in handcuffing this lineup, as he's 4-1 in his last five starts with a 3.18 ERA. You throw out a loss to the Angels, and he's 4-0 with a stingy ERA of 1.77.

The Rangers hand the ball to Ross Jr., who has been recalled from Triple-A, where he was 4-4 with a 5.10 ERA in eight starts and one relief appearance. Ross opened the season in the Rangers' rotation, and was 2-4 with a 5.61 ERA in nine starts.

Take the Rays here.

3♦ TAMPA BAY

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

Craig Davis

Your free play winner for Thursday is the Mets.

Despite the fact the Nats are on a road tear recently, I still don't like the way Stephen Strasburg is pitching and I don't believe he'll be the answer to keep the streak alive for Washington tonight.

Washington has also won five of seven overall and nine of their last 11 meetings with the Mets... which is why they're such a heavy favorite on the road, but it's also a big reason I'm playing against them today.

Both Strasburg and Mets starter Dillon Gee (4-4, 3.54 ERA) are in the same "class" of pitcher so far this year, but with Strasburg's recent struggles, I'm leaning towards a Mets "upset".

Strasburg suffered his fourth loss in five starts Friday by allowing a pitiful seven runs on seven hits as the Nats lost to Atlanta 7-6. He served up four long balls and continues to struggle with command of his fastball, which makes his other pitchers rather worthless.

Take the Mets and Dillon Gee to get the job today against the Nats as your free play of the day.

4♦ N.Y. METS

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

Jeff Benton

Your Thursday freebie is the Astros-Red Sox Over the total.

Look for the lumber to make some noise at Fenway Park tonight, as these teams have combined for 2 of their previous 3 meetings this season Over the total, and the Over is now 4-1 the past 5 times these American League clubs have tangled.

Scott Feldman has been an Over pitcher this season, as he has made 21 starts, and 13 of the 21 have ended up playing Over the total, including 6 of his last 8 starts overall.

Allen Webster will counter for the Sox, and in his limited time up with the club this season, he owns a 4.91 ERA.

Boston is back home after 8 in a row on the road, and they put some nice swings on the ball on their road trip, winning 5 of those 8 games. Look for the cozy confines to treat their offense right tonight.

Houston hasn't been on the road all that much this month, but 5 of their last 7 on the road have landed Over the posted price.

Astros and Red Sox to start up their long weekend with some offensive fireworks, and an Over.

4♦ HOUSTON-BOSTON OVER

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

Gabriel Dupont

I like the Arizona Diamondbacks over the Miami Marlins for my complimentary play, and I want you to list Chase Anderson ONLY in this game.

The SMART INTANGIBLE with the Diamondbacks - Chase Anderson. The right-hander delivered his fifth straight strong start on Aug. 8, as he also earned his seventh win of the season. Anderson is now 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA in his last five starts dating back to July 7.

The SMART INTANGIBLE against the Marlins - The Marlins are on another one of their surges right now, as they're in after winning the series against the Cardinals. They're nipping at the heels of the second-place Atlanta Braves, and are even within striking distance in the NL Wild Card race. So I suspect they might be a bit anxious.

In conclusion, why ARIZONA is my SMART PLAY in this game - I realize the Snakes are just 4-6 i their last 10 contests, after winning their series against the Colorado Rockies and splitting a four-game set with the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this month, but this is a good spot for them with a favorable pitching matchup.

Miami hands the ball to Brad Penny, and though I'm not listing him, I'll make note that he is making his Marlins Park-debut and first start with the team since he previously pitched for it a couple years back. He'll be commendable, but I think Arizona will get to him.

5♦ ARIZONA

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

Chris Jordan

My free play for tonight is on the Colorado Rockies, over the Cincinnati Reds, and I want you listing both scheduled starters: Jorge De La Rosa and Alfredo Simon.

Not to get too long-winded here, but let's talk about the pitchers in this one, cause that's all I am basing this play on.

Cincinnati's Simon has struggled since the All-Star break, going 0-4 with a rather high 4.78 ERA over five starts. Making things worse, since this one is in Denver, is the All-Star right-hander is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in six career appearances (one start) against the Rockies. His only hope for this start is if the rain continues to pour and the game is postponed.

Meanwhile, while De La Rosa lost his last start, in which he allowed six hits and four runs in six innings, make note that start was in Phoenix. Tonight he makes his return to Coors Field, where he is 7-2 with a 3.23 ERA this year and 81-64 over his career.

Lay the home chalk and list both.

5♦ COLORADO

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