Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, August 18

Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, August 18

DUNKEL INDEX

MLB

Atlanta at Pittsburgh
After getting swept in Washington over the weekend, the Pirates head home tonight to face an Atlanta team that is 0-8 in its last 8 road games. Pittsburgh is the pick (-130) according to Dunkel, which has the Pirates favored by 1 1/2. Dunkel Pick: Pittsburgh (-130)

Game 901-902: Chicago Cubs at NY Mets (12:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Cubs (Hendricks) 16.892; NY Mets (Colon) 15.434
Dunkel Line: Chicago Cubs by 1 1/2; 7
Vegas Line: NY Mets (-125); 6 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Chicago Cubs (+105); Over

Game 903-904: Atlanta at Pittsburgh (7:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Atlanta (Santana) 15.870; Pittsburgh (Worley) 17.224
Dunkel Line: Pittsburgh by 1 1/2; 6
Vegas Line: Pittsburgh (-130); 7
Dunkel Pick: Pittsburgh (-130); Under

Game 905-906: Arizona at Washington (7:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Arizona (Nuno) 15.604; Washington (Zimmermann) 14.719
Dunkel Line: Arizona by 1; 6
Vegas Line: Washington (-210); 7
Dunkel Pick: Arizona (+185); Under

Game 907-908: Cincinnati at St. Louis (8:15 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Cincinnati (Leake) 14.022; St. Louis (Masterson) 15.674
Dunkel Line: St. Louis by 1 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: St. Louis (-145); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: St. Louis (-145); Over

Game 909-910: LA Angels at Boston (7:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: LA Angels (Wilson) 16.327; Boston (Workman) 14.122
Dunkel Line: LA Angels by 2; 8
Vegas Line: LA Angels (-130); 9 1/2
Dunkel Pick: LA Angels (-130); Under

Game 911-912: Kansas City at Minnesota (8:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Kansas City (Vargas) 16.452; Minnesota (May) 14.987
Dunkel Line: Kansas City by 1 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: Kansas City (-160); 8 1.2
Dunkel Pick: Kansas City (-160); Under

Game 913-914: Baltimore at Chicago White Sox (8:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Baltimore (Norris) 17.433; White Sox (Sale) 15.310
Dunkel Line: Baltimore by 2; 6
Vegas Line: Chicago White Sox (-165); 7
Dunkel Pick: Baltimore (+145); Under

Game 915-916: Seattle at Philadelphia (7:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Seattle (Elias) 16.304; Philadelphia (Williams) 13.784
Dunkel Line: Seattle by 2 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: Seattle (-145); 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Seattle (-145); Under

NFL

Cleveland at Washington
The Browns head to Washington tonight following a 13-12 loss at Detroit in their preseason opener. Cleveland is the pick (+2 1/2) according to Dunkel, which has the game Even. Dunkel Pick: Cleveland (+2 1/2)

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

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DAVE COKIN

SEATTLE MARINERS AT PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
PLAY: SEATTLE MARINERS -140

There it is, in black and white. If the season ended today, the Mariners would be in the play-in game against either the Angels or Athletics. Seattle is off a really big series win at Detroit, and they’ll look to stay hot as they travel to Philadelphia. There’s not a whole lot that doesn’t favor the Mariners in this battle.

Roenis Elias will be on the mound for the road team. The rookie southpaw was sent down to Tacoma for a spot start just to keep sharp as the Mariners didn’t require his services thanks to the scheduling. Elias responded with a solid five innings of work on the farm, and now he’s back with the big club. Elias isn’t going to win any awards, but don’t undervalue what he’s meant this Seattle team. He was the surprise of spring training and for the most part, he’s down some really solid work maintaining his spot toward the back of the Mariners rotation.

Jerome Williams has found yet another big league employer, and he was reasonably effective in his Phillies debut. But there’s not much question Williams is no more than roster filler at this point in his career. He’s at best a five or six inning stopgap type, and he really hasn’t even been that this year. Williams is now with his third last-place team this season alone. I’m not sure if that’s a record or not, but it certainly ought to be.

Aside from the advantage on the mound, the Mariners own all the team edges. Even the schedule favors them, as the Phillies are off a cross country flight from San Francisco.  The Seattle offense has shown its most life of late, and they’re a team that has the look of a legit contender at this point. The Phillies have the look of a team that just wants this all to end, which it will in another 38 games.

The downside is that Seattle will be a very popular side tonight, and the number here is technically a little higher than it rightfully should be. But lack of value notwithstanding, playing the hot hand against a team that’s going nowhere and is almost certain to get broken up come this winter, is simply not a terrible idea. I’ll side with the Mariners to pick up another win.

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Rob Vinciletti

Chicago Cubs vs. New York Mets
Play: New York Mets -123

The Mets have some solid edges on their side today. All home teams are 14-2 since 2004 at home with a total of 8 or less if the are off a 1 run home dog loss and scored 2 or less runs on 4 or less hits, vs an opponent like the Cubs that scored 2 or less runs in a road favored win. The Cubs are 2-19 as a road dog with a total that is 8 or less off a 1 run road win. Colon and Hendricks should be a good pitching match. However the Mets have the statistical indicators on their side and the Cubs are 14-35 in any game where the total is 7 or less. Make it the Mets here in the finale.


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Larry Ness

Kansas City Royals at Minnesota Twins
Prediction: Kansas City Royals

The Kansas City Royals have built a 1 1/2-game lead in the AL Central on the strength of going a MLB-best 20-5 since July 22. They haven't been in first place this late in a season since 2003.and Monday will attempt to win an eighth straight series when they conclude a four-game set in Minnesota.

Sunday's 12-6 victory set the Royals up for another series win and tonight's matchup sure looks promising, facing the last-place Twins as well as a struggling young pitcher in Trevor May. Here's a young man hoping to convince his team that he belongs in the majors. So far, that has NOT been the case. He had a disastrous first start (August 9), allowing three hits and SEVEN walks (four ERs) in just two innings of a 9-4 loss at Oakland.

He followed by allowing three runs (two earned) and three hits with two walks in 2.1 innings of relief in last Tuesday's 10-4 loss in Houston. That's 4.1 innings of work, allowing six hits and NINE walks with a 12.46 ERA and 3.46 WHIP. When he has actually found the strike zone, opponents are batting .353 against him. "He's been like a raging bull out there," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We gotta calm him down right now."

The Royals have no such issues with Jason Vargas, who is arguably coming off the best outing of his career. He threw a three-hit shutout his last time out, not walking a single a batter in Wednesday's 3-0 home win over Oakland, his third start since undergoing an appendectomy. "He got back to being who he was. We thought it would take him two starts before he got sharp again and, luckily, it proved to be right," Royals manager Ned Yost told MLB's official website. "He was just dynamic, he was in complete control, he was commanding both sides of the plate. His changeup was unbelievable." Vargas is 2-0 with a 0.86 ERA in three starts against the Twins this season and 4-2 with a 2.13 ERA in 10 road starts, two of which have come in Minnesota.

After having their 13-game streak of scoring at least three runs halted in Saturday's 4-1 loss, the Royals plated 12 runs on 13 hits Sunday (now 20-5 over their last 25 games). Meanwhile, the Twins are seemingly just playing out the string. KC is the play.

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Brandon Shively

Baltimore vs. Chicago
Play: Over 7

The Orioles come into this game with a 36-26 SU road record on the season. They are 19-15 on the season vs. left handed starters, scoring 4.1 runs a game. Over the last 7 games overall, the Orioles are hitting .288 from the plate, scoring 6 runs a game. Since the All-Star Break, the Orioles are leading MLB with 38 home runs so I think it is safe to assume that Baltimore who is leading the AL East has plenty of firepower that can score runs and be a threat in any game. Tonight they will face Chris Sale who is one of the AL's premier pitchers but he struggles vs. the Orioles. In 2 career starts vs. the Orioles, Sale now has a 5.28 ERA and a 2.09 WHIP in 15.1 IP. This includes a start earlier this season where he gave up 11 hits in 6 IP as the Orioles won 6-4. Sale is coming off an 8 inning shutout performance outing vs. the Giants. Looking at Sale's recent tendencies, it appears in his next start following a scoreless start that he usually gives up 3 ER or more. While Sale does usually dominate left handed hitters, Baltimore has a lineup that is right handed heavy and that is another advantage on our side tonight. Baltimore will have Bud Norris on the mound who is 0-2 in his career vs. the White Sox with a 6.97 ERA and a 1.74 WHIP. Looking at Norris on the season, while he has made some very good starts, he has also made 10 starts of giving up 3 ER or more. He has been far less effective on the road with a 4.55 ERA compared to a 2.86 ERA at home. Opponents are hitting .291 vs. Norris since the All-Star Break and both of his starts this month have gone OVER. The White Sox are leading the AL in batting average since the All-Star Break. In all home games this season, we are seeing an average of 9.2 runs being scored a game which is 2 more runs than what the current total of 7 that is being posted for this game. I will also note that the White Sox bullpen stinks with a 1.91 ERA/ 1.58 WHIP at home and while Sale will probably go fairly deep, it's a great possibility that the bullpen will give up an extra 1-2 runs in this game. Let's look for a final score in the 6-3 range tonight.


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Ben Burns

Los Angeles Angels vs. Boston Red Sox    
Play: Los Angeles Angels -129

Though they lost Sunday, missing out on a chance for a sweep of the Rangers, the Angels remain percentage points ahead of Oakland in the American League West. They'll have an excellent shot at increasing that lead Monday as for the fourth straight series they will take on an opponent that is in last place of its division.

Last weekend, the Angels lost two of three to Boston.  They went on to win four in a row after that before losing yesterday.  CJ Wilson didn't pitch in that last series vs. the Red Sox however, but will tonight.  Wilson allowed just two runs off seven hits in his last start following a rough stretch.

In nine career outings vs. Boston, Wilson is a solid 5-2 with a 2.73 ERA.

This has just been an awful year for the Red Sox, who lost 8-1 to Houston on Sunday.  Tonight's starter Brandon Workman offers little hope that the team will turn things around.  He has zero wins at Fenway Park this season and comes in with a 0-6 record his last six starts.  He has a 1.50 WHIP in his last three.

Workman was the one responsible for Boston's only loss to the Angels in the previous series. He came on in relief and allowed a walk-off HR to Albert Pujols.

Last series aside, the Angels have had the Red Sox number. They are 6-2 their last eight games in Boston and scored five runs or more seven times. Overall, they are 12-5 last 17 vs. Boston.

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Art Aronson

Atlanta Braves vs. Pittsburgh Pirates    
Play: Pittsburgh Pirates -112 

The visiting Atlanta Braves will send Ervin Santana (12-6, 3.66 ERA) to the mound; Santana earned a win over the Dodgers in his last outing, going six innings while allowing two runs and striking out nine. The right-hander has yet to face the Pirates in his career. Pittsburgh counters with Vance Worley (5-2, 2.51 ERA); Worley fell to 5-2 after allowing five runs (three earned) in 5 1/3 innings in an 8-4 setback to the Tigers on Wednesday. Worley has been a nice surprise since joining the Pirates this season though and is 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA at PNC Park. Note that Pittsburgh is 5-2 versus the Braves at home the last three seasons and should have the advantage here. The Pirates have struggled on the road of late, but a little home cooking is just what the doctor ordered to get untracked, they’re 39-24 at PNC Park thus far. Atlanta is coming off a ten game home stand that ended with a Sunday night nationally televised contest, so in my opinion this sets up as a natural letdown spot. Consider taking the home team at a great price here.


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Scott Spreitzer

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Washington Nationals    
Play: Washington Nationals -1½ +110

When Vidal Nuno came to Arizona from the Yankees on in early July, he looked like yet another AL pitcher who would benefit from a jump to the NL.  Nuno began his Diamondback career with seven shutout innings in a 2-1 loss to Miami.  But in six starts since then, the left-hander has not been nearly as strong and he has allowed a high number of fly balls over ground balls.  Tonight, Nuno will face a red-hot Washington team that has averaged 5.5 rpg in home night games against southpaws in 2014.  The Nats have won six straight games and they're 9-2 in their last 11...and they have scored 27 runs in their last five games at home.  Arizona, meanwhile, is struggling at the plate, scoring a total of just 17 runs over their last seven games and Jordan Zimmerman is not likely to provide the sweet elixir for the D-back bats.  The Nationals' righty has been at his best at home and owned very stingy numbers in four starts against the D-backs the last three seasons, before one bad start against them in 2014.  That game was a long time ago...early May, and the Nationals still left Chase Field with a 6-5 win.  The Nats have won eight of Zimmerman's home starts this season, going 7-1 on the run line.  Jayson Werth returned to action last night, coming off the bench and playing an important role in the win. Tonight, he may start and he has been a one-man Arizona wrecking crew, dominating Diamondback pitching the last 17 times he faced them.  His team is on a 45-16 run with Zimmerman listed as chalk, while the D-backs are 0-7 with Nuno on the mound.  We'll take it to the next level and cover for a run line cover tonight.  I'm recommending a play on Washington on the run line on Monday.

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Jimmy Adams

Los Angeles Angels vs. Boston Red Sox    
Play: Los Angeles Angels -118 

The Angels enter the home stretch of the season as one of the best teams in the league while playing in the toughest division in baseball. They had won 4 in a row before Huston Street blew the save in the 9th inning Sunday. The starting pitching staff has posted a solid 2.05 ERA in the last 7 games. C.J. Wilson has had his share of struggles this year, but did look good in his last outing while allowing 2 runs in almost 7 innings against the Phillies. As long as he doesn’t get “blown up” the Angels will have enough fire power to come out of this one on top.

Josh Hamilton received a day off yesterday so he should be fresh and ready to go. Both he and teammate Mike Trout have great career numbers at Fenway Park. They’ll be facing Brandon Workman, who is 1-6 with a 4.45 ERA on the season. Workman had shown glimpses of strong pitching earlier in the season. Things have dropped off significantly and now he’s taken the loss in 6 straight outings. He missed his last start due to fatigue and also leaves most of his pitches up in the zone. That’s a bad combination against an Angel’s lineup that will take advantage of mistakes and tee off on balls up in the zone.

I’ll call the starting pitching a wash due to how bad Wilson had been prior to his last outing. Big offensive advantage to the Halos though. If we throw in the fact that Boston has nothing to play for while the Angels are in a race for the division, a significant edge goes to the visiting squad.

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Jim Feist

Atlanta Braves at Pittsburgh Pirates
Pick: Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates and Braves both slipping in their respective divisions. Pittsburgh now 4 1/2 games back of Milwaukee while Atlanta is six back of Washington. Ervin Santana will start for the Braves with a 12-6 record and 3.66 ERA. Santana has pitched well but not long. The righthander hasn't made it past 6 2/3 innings in any of his last three starts. Vance Worley is also having a good season for the Pirates with a 5-2 record and 2.51 ERA. The Pirates had won four straight starts for Worley until his last time out where he gave up five runs (three earned) in a 8-4 loss at Detroit. The Braves have been the worst of the two teams lately, losing 12 of their last 17 overall and 0-8 in their last eight road games. And, while they are 5-1 in Santana's last six starts, most of those have been at home. On the road, they are just 1-5 in Santana's last six away starts. Pittsburgh can hit righthanders, evidenced by their 21-7 home record at home in the last 28 games. The Pirates are also 19-7 overall in their last 26 home games. Pirates have taken five of last seven in the series and I like them here too.

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Marc Lawrence

Kansas City Royals at Minnesota Twins
Prediction: Kansas City Royals

Edges - Royals: Vargas 2.56 ERA away (as opposed to 4.16 home) this season, and 10-4 night team starts (as opposed to 2-6 day) this season, and 2-0 with 0.00 ERA last two team starts in this series. Twins: May 2 innings, 3 hits, 4 runs, 7 strikeouts and 0 strikeouts in MLB debut at Oakland 9 days ago. With Vargas in terrific KW form with 14 strikeouts and 0 walks his last three starts, we recommend a 1-unit play on Kansas City.

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Sleepyj

Nationals -1.5 -110

Yep we are going right back to the mouth that bit us. We had the Nats on the RL yesterday as well. It didn't end well as we went from down, to up, to down, then out. We had the winner right in our hands. Today we will fire away again as Nats will send Jordan Zimmerman to the mound. After the meltdown and near disaster lastnight the  Nats will approach this one with a little more energy and caution. I'm 100% sure the bullpen will be on it's toes after almost losing the game, let alone blowing up our RL winner. That's why they play the game though. We really like the roll the Nationals are on right now and they have been hitting the ball very well. Arizona will send Vidal Nuno to the mound with his 4.55 ERA. Nuno has been on a bit of a losing trend to say the least. Nuno has dropped his last 8 outings and i don't think this is the spot for him to get healthy. The Nats can hit the LHP and i expect them to come out swinging for the fences tonight. Zimmerman has been solid over the last two months and we love to back him at home against a lesser team. The Nats have now won 5 in a row and 9 out of 11. I see no reason this train stops here tonight. Arizona is on the last leg of the road trip going from Miami to Washington and i don't believe we will get much of a effort out of them tonight. Lets back the Nationals on the RL with confidence.

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Tony George

Kansas City -161

Very rarely is it prudent to put up a moneyline play exceeding -150, and I never post premium plays past that number, but it is simply hard to ignore 2 things in this game tonight.  Kansas City is the hottest team in baseball and in a dogfight for the AL Central against Detroit, and they racked up 12 runs Sunday in a blowout win against the Twins.

Secondly the pitching mis-match here is huge as Vargas has been solid, especially his last 3 outings with a WHIP of 0.98 and an ERA under 3.  Trevor May has been roughed up with an ERA of 18.00...you read it right, 18 his last 3 outings and 12.46 overall, and while he has seen limited duty, I do not envy the Twins tonight against a very focused and very hot Kansas City team who should win this by 2-3 runs tonight, worth the stretch on the moneyline.

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SPORTS WAGERS

Seattle -1½ +114 over PHILADELPHIA

The Mariners have won 10 of 12. They‘ve also won six of their past seven with only loss over that span occurring against David Price. Roenis Elias has been pitching in the shadows of King Felix and Hisashi Iwakuma this entire year. His 4.14 ERA is one explanation for it. Digging deeper, his mediocre surface stats largely are the result of the 6.27 ERA and 1.71 WHIP he posted in July. Those marks were driven by an unfriendly 41% hit rate and 63% strand rate. However, Elias actually had an impressive 11.1 K’s/9 in July and the strikeouts have kept coming in August with 10 K’s/9, not to mention a 52% groundball rate and an elite 16% swing and miss rate. In fact, his swinging strike rate over the last month is the highest of any starter in MLB. Pitching for the red-hot Mariners against a Phillies team that has never seen him before, Elias is an unheralded young arm worth backing here.

Philadelphia has dropped five of six and they return home here after five games on the West Coast against the Angels and Giants. Jerome Williams is not a familiar name but this stiff has been around for quite some time. He’s 35-years-old and has pitched 840 innings at this level since he broke in with the Giants back in 2003. The Phillies are Williams’ third team this season. He was let go by both Houston and Texas. Over the past two seasons including this year, his dominant start/disaster start split shows that he's not succeeding as a starter and the splits back that up. As a starter Williams threw 139 innings since the start of last year and has posted a 5.06 ERA with a 1.48 WHIP. He posted similar results in 2012. His hr/f remains stubbornly high and this venue isn’t likely to change that. The odds of a step forward at this age are minimal but the odds of cashing in against him are not. 


Atlanta +102 over PITTSBURGH

These two have identical records at 64-60 but if momentum and/or current form mean anything, one has to give the edge to the Braves. After struggling miserably over a two-week span that saw them lose 11 of 13 games, the Braves got off the mattress with a three-game sweep over the A’s this past weekend while outscoring them 15-8. The Braves defeated both Sonny Gray and Jon Lester the past two games and take a huge step down here against Vance Worley. Since being called up on June 21 to face the Cubbies, Worley has posted a 2.51 ERA over 10 starts. This a guy who spent the first three months of the year in the minors and that has bounced back and forth in the minors the past few seasons. In 14 starts in the minors over the past two seasons, Worley’s ERA was 4.02. For the Twins last year at the ML level, Worley was 1-5 with a 7.21 ERA in 10 starts in which he allowed 82 hits in 48.2 innings. The question now is how much of this newfound success can he actually sustain? Looking under his surface stats reveals that Worley is the exact same pitcher now as he’s always been with the difference being nothing but pure luck. A 25% line-drive rate matches his previous MLB LD rate. In other words, those hard hit balls are being hit right at people. He’s actually striking out fewer batters now than he was previously with just 43 in 68 innings. Worley’s 4% swing and miss rate to go along with his unsustainable 89% strand rate tells the story of a pitcher whose surface stats are a complete mirage and who is at the mercy of his defense and strand rate. We’re selling high on Vance Worley’s low ERA.

The Pirates have lost five in a row at this crucial time and they have their two biggest series of the year on deck against Milwaukee and St. Louis. Facing Earvin Santana is no picnic either. Santana has a BB/K split of 14/41 over his past six starts covering 40 innings. He now has 137 K’s in 150 innings and his elite swinging strike rate of 13% confirms he’s been dazzling almost the entire season. Santana’s xERA of 3.31 fully supports what he has accomplished this year making him and the Braves a great value play against that imposter Worley and the reeling Pirates.

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Matt Fargo

Seattle Mariners vs. Philadelphia Phillies    
Play: Philadelphia Phillies +145

The Mariners took two of three in Detroit over the weekend and they are now 6-1 over their last seven games. They have narrowed the gap to 5.5 games in the American League West and they currently have a half-game lead over the Tigers for the second Wild Card spot. Seattle has been solid on the road this season with a 33-24 record but I think they are overpriced in this spot. The Mariners are 1-6 in their last seven games as a favorite of -110 to -150. The Phillies had a short and poor roadtrip, going 1-4 as their tough season rolls on. They have been a huge disappointment all around and especially at home where they are just 26-36 but are in a decent spot here as they are 7-3 in their last 10 games after scoring two runs or less in their previous game. Jerome Williams made his first start with the Phillies last week and it was pretty good as he allowed two runs on five hits in 5.1 innings but the bullpen blew his chance for the victory. Going back to last season with the Angels, he has allowed three runs or less in nine of his last 11 starts. The Mariners counter with Roenis Elias who has struggled since late June as fatigue seems to be catching up. He has gone seven straight starts without a quality outing, posting a 5.25 ERA in the process. He was sent down to Tacoma to make a start because of the schedule of Seattle not needing a fifth starter and while he was solid, facing Major League hitting again could be an issue. The Mariners are 2-5 in Elias' last seven starts as a favorite of -110 to -150.


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Steve Janus

Pittsburgh Pirates -108

This a great spot to jump on the Pirates as a small home favorite. No question Pittsburgh is going to be highly motivated after dropping all 5-games on their short road trip. No place better for the Pirates to bounce back than PNC Park, where they are a dominant 39-24 on the season. Atlanta on the other hand could find it difficult to maintain their edge after a huge 3-game sweep of the A's to finish up a lengthy 10-game homestand. The Braves have had their struggles on the road, where they have lost 8 straight and 12 of their last 14.

Adding even more value to the Pirates is that they will be sending out Vance Worley, who has been a huge surprise this season. Worley has a 2.32 ERA and 1.06 WHIP over 10 starts and an even better 2.00 ERA and 1.111 WHIP over 4 starts at PNC Park.

Key Trends - Atlanta is 2-7 in their last 9 games as an underdog, 2-6 in their last 8 during game 1 of a series, 1-6 in their last 7 against a starter with a WHIP less than 1.15 and 1-5 in Santana's last 6 road starts. Pittsburgh is 21-7 in their last 28 home games against a right-handed starter.

System - Home teams with a money line of -100 to -150 (PITTSBURGH) - after 2 or more consecutive losses, a marginal winning team (51% to 54%) playing a winning team are 231-126 (65%) against the money line since 1997.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, August 18

Jack Jones

Kansas City Royals -161

The Kansas City Royals (68-55) have gone an MLB-best 20-5 since July 22 to take a 1 1/2 game lead on the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central division.  They are hungry to get to the playoffs this year and I look for them to continue this surge tonight against the Minnesota Twins (55-67).

Jason Vargas has been steady all year, going 9-5 with a 3.45 ERA and 1.207 WHIP in 22 starts, including 4-2 with a 2.56 ERA and 1.153 WHIP in 10 road starts.  The left-hander is 2-0 with a minuscule 0.86 ERA in three starts against the Twins this season.

Trevor May will be making just his second start of the season for the Twins today.  His first start was atrocious as he allowed four earned runs and 10 base runners (7 walks) over two innings of a 4-9 loss at Oakland on August 9.

Minnesota is 7-28 (-19.9 Units) against the money line vs. an AL starting pitcher whose ERA is 3.50 or better this season.  The Twins are 3-19 (-14.0 Units) against the money line vs. a starting pitcher who throws more than 6.5 innings per start this season.  The Twins are 28-62 in their last 90 home games vs. a team with a winning record.  Minnesota is 1-6 in its last seven home games vs. a left-handed starts.

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Jimmy Boyd

Angels/Red Sox Over 9.5

With both teams sending out a couple of struggling starters, I'm expecting a high scoring affair tonight between the Red Sox and Angels. Boston will start Brandon Workman, who is 1-5 with a 4.63 ERA and 1.296 over 10 starts this season and a miserable 0-3 with a 4.94 ERA and 1.464 WHIP over 5 home starts. Los Angeles will counter with C.J. Wilson, who is 2-6 with a 5.57 ERA and 1.556 WHIP over 10 road starts and 1-2 with a 7.90 ERA and 1.975 WHIP over his last 3.

Wilson has seen the total go OVER the mark in 12 of his last 14 starts against a team with a losing record in the 2nd half of the season. The OVER is also 12-4 in the Angels last 16 road games after playing 3 straight against a division rival and 21-6 in Wilson's last 27 road starts.

Boston has gone OVER the total in 5 of their last 6 home games. On top of that the OVER is 10-4 in their last 14 against the AL West and 7-3 in their last 10 home games with a total set between 9 and 10.5 runs.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, August 18

Rob Veno

Seattle at Philadelphia
Play: Seattle -1.5

The Mariners are becoming a force during this month of August going 11-4 in its 15 games thus far. In addition, with the way Seattle is currently playing it’s becoming clear to those watching that they’re rapidly turning into a team nobody will want to play should the M’s get into the playoffs. Mariners’ pitching has been an anchor here in August allowing just 30 runs for an average of 2.0 per game along with an ERA of 1.89. However, it’s the bats that are transforming Seattle into a potential playoff threat. 76 runs have been posted by Seattle this month giving them a +46 run differential in the 15 game span which includes a .263 BA, .351 OBP, and .753 OPS. The most impressive betting number of all is Seattle (consistently a reluctant run-line choice by bettors) has won all 11 games this month by 2+ runs. Tonight’s starter Roenis Elias has been effective lately (2-1, 2.08 ERA L4 starts) and this is his first ever starts against Philadelphia which could be an advantage for him. He threw five strong innings in Triple-A five days ago in a move designed to keep him fresh but protect his MLB innings count. Expect a solid outing tonight against Philadelphia which returns from west to east after losing in San Francisco yesterday. Journeyman Jerome Williams has been seen plenty by the Mariners and their improved lineup figures to do enough here to get a win. The bullpen edge goes squarely to Seattle so there’s really no reason not to step in and ride the Mariners R/L train here at the small plus price.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, August 18

Dave Price

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Wilson has had his share of struggles on the road this season, but he has an excellent track record versus Boston.  He's 5-2 (7-2 on the money line) with an ERA of 2.73 in nine career starts versus the Red Sox.  Boston has dropped seven of 10 at home and 14 of 20 versus southpaw starters.  It's also dropped 12 of the last 17 meetings in the series, including six of the last eight at home.  The Red Sox are 0-6 in Workman's last six starts.

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