Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August 21

Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August 21

DUNKEL INDEX

MLB

San Diego at LA Dodgers
The Dodgers look to bounce back from last night's 4-1 loss to the Padres and come into tonight's contest with a 10-1 record in Clayton Kershaw's last 11 starts with the total set at 6 1/2 runs or lower. LA is the pick (-160) according to Dunkel, which has the Dodgers favored by 1 1/2. Dunkel Pick: LA Dodgers (-160)

Game 951-952: Arizona at Washington (4:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Arizona (Miley) 15.644; Washington (Gonzalez) 14.731
Dunkel Line: Arizona by 1; 8
Vegas Line: Washington (-200); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Arizona (+170); Over

Game 953-954: Atlanta at Cincinnati (7:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Atlanta (Teheran) 17.402; Cincinnati (Holmberg) 15.322
Dunkel Line: Atlanta by 2; 9
Vegas Line: Atlanta (-160); 8
Dunkel Pick: Atlanta (-160); Over

Game 955-956: San Francisco at Chicago Cubs (8:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: San Francisco (Bumgarner) 16.302; Cubs (Wood) 14.724
Dunkel Line: San Francisco by 1 1/2; 6
Vegas Line: San Francisco (-160); No Run Total
Dunkel Pick: San Francisco (-160); N/A

Game 9057-958: San Diego at LA Dodgers (10:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: San Diego (Ross) 15.312; LA Dodgers (Kershaw) 16.809
Dunkel Line: LA Dodgers by 1 1/2; 6
Vegas Line: LA Dodgers (-160); 6 1/2
Dunkel Pick: LA Dodgers (-160); Under

Game 959-960: Houston at NY Yankees (1:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Houston (Keuchel) 16.399; NY Yankees (McCarthy) 15.212
Dunkel Line: Houston by 1; 9
Vegas Line: NY Yankees (-180); 8
Dunkel Pick: Houston (+160); Over

Game 961-962: Cleveland at Minnesota (1:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Cleveland (Kluber) 15.896; Minnesota (Hughes) 16.922
Dunkel Line: Minnesota by 1; 8
Vegas Line: Cleveland (-160); 7
Dunkel Pick: Minnesota (+140); Over

Game 963-964: Detroit at Tampa Bay (1:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Detroit (Price) 15.398; Tampa Bay (Cobb) 16.984
Dunkel Line: Tampa Bay by 1 1/2; 6
Vegas Line: Detroit (-125); 6 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Tampa Bay (+105); Under

Game 965-966: LA Angels at Boston (7:10 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: LA Angels (Shoemaker) 16.549; Boston (De La Rosa) 15.109
Dunkel Line: LA Angels by 1 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: LA Angels (-130); 9
Dunkel Pick: LA Angels (-130); Under

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DUNKEL INDEX

NFL

Pittsburgh at Philadelphia
After dropping their first two preseason games on the road, the Eagles return home on Thursday night to host the Steelers. Philadelphia is the pick (-3) according to Dunkel, which has the Eagles favored by 6. Dunkel Pick: Philadelphia (-3)

Game 251-252: Pittsburgh at Philadelphia (7:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Pittsburgh 117.637; Philadelphia 123.507
Dunkel Line: Philadelphia by 6; 54
Vegas Line: Philadelphia by 3; 50
Dunkel Pick: Philadelphia (-3); Over

FRIDAY, AUGUST 22

Game 253-254: Jacksonville at Detroit (7:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Jacksonville 119.913; Detroit 119.628
Dunkel Line: Even; 40
Vegas Line: Detroit by 3; 44 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Jacksonville (+3); Under

Game 255-256: Carolina at New England (7:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Carolina 120.647; New England 127.834
Dunkel Line: New England by 7; 41
Vegas Line: New England by 5 1/2; 45 1/2
Dunkel Pick: New England (-5 1/2); Under

Game 257-258: NY Giants at NY Jets (7:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: NY Giants 123.112; NY Jets 120.310
Dunkel Line: NY Giants by 3; 38
Vegas Line: Pick; 42 1/2
Dunkel Pick: NY Giants; Under

Game 259-260: Oakland at Green Bay (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Oakland 117.593; Green Bay 127.752
Dunkel Line: Green Bay by 10; 39
Vegas Line: Green Bay by 7; 43 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Green Bay (-7); Under

Game 261-262: Chicago at Seattle (10:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Chicago 123.063; Seattle 114.292
Dunkel Line: Seattle by 4; 49
Vegas Line: Seattle by 7; 45
Dunkel Pick: Chicago (+7); Over

SATURDAY, AUGUST 23

Game 263-264: Tampa Bay at Buffalo (4:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Tampa Bay 117.388; Buffalo 117.265
Dunkel Line: Even; 37
Vegas Line: Buffalo by 3; 41 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Tampa Bay (+3); Under

Game 265-266: Dallas at Miami (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Dallas 116.629; Miami 122.375
Dunkel Line: Miami by 5 1/2; 42
Vegas Line: Miami by 3; 45 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Miami (-3); Under

Game 267-268: Tennessee at Atlanta (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Tennessee 117.683; Atlanta 123.237
Dunkel Line: Atlanta by 5 1/2; 40
Vegas Line: Atlanta by 3; 44
Dunkel Pick: Atlanta (-3). Under

Game 269-270: Washington at Baltimore (7:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Washington 129.374; Baltimore 128.615
Dunkel Line: Washington by 1; 48
Vegas Line: Baltimore by 3; 43 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Washington (+3); Over

Game 271-272: New Orleans at Indianapolis (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: New Orleans 124.133; Indianapolis 120.404
Dunkel Line: New Orleans by 3 1/2; 52
Vegas Line: Indianapolis by 2 1/2; 47
Dunkel Pick: New Orleans (+2 1/2); Over

Game 273-274: Minnesota at Kansas City (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Minnesota 119.372; Kansas City 123.744
Dunkel Line: Kansas City by 4 1/2; 48
Vegas Line: Kansas City by 3; 45
Dunkel Pick: Kansas City (-3); Over

Game 275-276: St. Louis at Cleveland (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: St. Louis 120.388; Cleveland 119.025
Dunkel Line: St. Louis by 1; 39
Vegas Line: Cleveland by 3; 42 1/2;
Dunkel Pick: St. Louis (+3); Under

Game 277-278: Houston at Denver (9:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Houston 122.281; Denver 133.029
Dunkel Line: Denver by 10; 50
Vegas Line: Denver by 7; 46
Dunkel Pick: Denver (-7); Over

SUNDAY, AUGUST 24

Game 279-280: San Diego at San Francisco (4:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: San Diego 115.806; San Francisco 124.394
Dunkel Line: San Francisco by 8 1/2; 37
Vegas Line: San Francisco by 6; 42
Dunkel Pick: San Francisco (-6 1/2); Under

Game 281-282: Cincinnati at Arizona (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Cincinnati 121.517; Arizona 120.477
Dunkel Line: Cincinnati by 1; 40
Vegas Line: Arizona by 2; 43
Dunkel Pick: Cincinnati (+2); Under

WNBA

San Antonio at Minnesota
The Lynx host the Stars tonight in the first round of the WNBA playoffs and come into the contest with a 7-2 ATS record in their last 9 games versus San Antonio. Minnesota is the pick (-10) according to Dunkel, which has the Lynx favored by 17. Dunkel Pick: Minnesota (-10)

Game 601-602: Washington at Indiana (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Washington 108.168; Indiana 115.759
Dunkel Line & Total: Indiana by 7 1/2; 146
Vegas Line & Total: Indiana by 5; 141
Dunkel Pick: Indiana (-5); Over

Game 603-604: San Antonio at Minnesota (9:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: San Antonio 104.196; Minnesota 121.024
Dunkel Line & Total: Minnesota by 17; 162
Vegas Line & Total: Minnesota by 10; 157
Dunkel Pick: Minnesota (-10); Over

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Scott Spreitzer

Los Angeles Angels vs. Boston Red Sox    
Play: Boston Red Sox +117

We had the Angels last night and won despite Garrett Richard's injury suffered early in the contest.  The Angel bullpen was then forced to work the final 7 1/3 innings.  The pen has been worked pretty hard of late and the team may even be forced to call-up an arm from the farm on Thursday, simply for protection.  As it is, Matt Shoemaker will take the mound.  He'll likely be asked to eat-up a lot of innings tonight, whether he's mowing batters down or giving up  runs.  The righty is not only not used to throwing a lot of innings, but he's also been pretty bad on the road in most cases.  Rubby De La Rosa made three straight strong outings before getting roughed-up last time out.  But I expect a bounce-back in this one, just like he did the last time he was off a tough loss.  De La Rosa had little trouble with the Angel lineup on August 10 and I expect another decent outing tonight.  But the main reason for this suggested play is the bullpen situation for the Halos and Shoemaker's situation mentioned above.  I'm recommending a play on the Red Sox on Thursday.

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Jim Feist

San Diego Padres vs. Los Angeles Dodgers    
Play: San Diego Padres +150 

LA has pitching depth problems and scheduled starter Zack Greinke is 0-3 his last three starts despite being favored. There is concern with him due to elbow tenderness. Greinke mentioned some elbow soreness after his last road start, in Milwaukee on Aug. 9. He started Friday against the Brewers at Dodger Stadium, walking five in his five innings and needing 99 pitches. The Dodgers' rotation -- with the best numbers in the National League -- is suddenly looking thin. The Dodgers already have starting pitchers Hyun-Jin Ryu (strained buttock), Josh Beckett (hip impingement) and Paul Maholm (knee surgery) on the disabled list. The Dodgers already have recent acquisitions Roberto Hernandez and Kevin Correia in the rotation. Still, the Dodgers lead the Giants by 4 1/2 games in the National League West, so there is less urgency to win every game than normally would be the case, plus LA is roughly a .500 road team -- they've played their best baseball on the road. The Dodgers are 1-6 in their last 7 home games vs. a right-handed starter and face righty Tyson Ross (11-11, 2.70 ERA). Ross is having a strong season allowing 3, 2, 2, 1, 1, 0, 1, 2, 0 and 2 runs his last 10 starts. Ross has nearly struck out a hitter per inning. The Padres are 5-1 in Ross' last 6 starts, while the Dodgers are 2-5 in their last 7 home games.

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Rob Vinciletti

Astros vs. Yankees
Play: Under 8

This game fits a solid League wide totals system that has played to the under 31 of 44 times long term. The system pertains to home favorites with a posted total of 8 or less that lost as a home favorite at -200 or higher and scored 2 or less run son 5 or more hits, vs an opponent off a road dog win that scored 5 or more runs and played error free ball. Houston has won 2 straight here and has D. Keuchel on the mound and he has a respectable 3.17 road era this year. B. McCarthy counters for the Yankees and he has a career 2.57 era vs Houston and a 1.93 era in his last 3 starts which all stayed under the total. Look for this game to stay under here today.


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Red Dog Sports

Silver Stars vs. Lynx    
Play: Over 158

All five meetings this year went over 158 points as we had 168, 166, 175, 166 and 160 points in their games. Minnesota is led by Maya Moore and won the 2013 WNBA title. Simeone Augustus and Rebekkah Brunson are other scorers and the Silver Stars are led by Becky Hammon, Danielle Robinson and Adams.

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Marc Lawrence

Indians at Twins
Play: Under

Edges - Indians: Kluber 89 strikeouts and 12 walks last twelve starts. Twins: Hughes 84 strikeouts and 6 walks last fourteen starts. With Kluber sporting a jaw-dropping 0.46 ERA his last five starts, we recommend a 1-unit play on the UNDER in this game.

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Art Aronson

Indians vs. Twins
Play: Under 7

With two hot hurlers going head to head in this one, I look for this total to sneak below the posted number. The visiting Indians will start the red hot Corey Kluber (13-6, 2.41 ERA) who has allowed a combined three runs over his last five outings. Kluber has two complete games over that stretch as well. The Twins meanwhile will turn the ball over to Phil Hughes (13-8, 3.76) who has been their most consistent starter all season, the right-hander has given up one run or less while going at least six innings in his last three outings. Note that Hughes is 3-1 with a solid 2.61 ERA lifetime against the Indians. And note that eight of the last nine Indians’ games have seen the lower number fall and that includes yesterday’s 5-0 win over the Twins. These starting pitchers have been downright dominant of late as demonstrated by their recent strikeout to walk ratios: Hughes has totaled 22 strikeouts with two walks over 20 1/3 innings while Kluber has 89 Ks to just 12 walks in his last 12 starts. Consider the UNDER.


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Brad Diamond

Los Angeles Angels vs. Boston Red Sox    
Play: Los Angeles Angels -125

In his last ten team starts the Angels have won seven with RHP Shoemaker.  On the season the righty  has been super putting together a classy 11-4 record with a corresponding 3.84 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.  In his last 8 starts he has allowed more than 2+ only once.  In the month of August we have more reasons to back Shoemaker as his ERA is a consistent 2.75 with a nice 1.07 WHIP.  As far as the Red Sox RHP De La Rosa takes the hill with a 4-4 mark and a 3.79 ERA.  He recently gave up 6 earned runs in start at home against the Astros.  Prior he defeated the visiting Angels with a super effort of 7 innings achieving 8 strikeouts and just 1 earned run.  Still, feel this situation favors the Angels looking for revenge, especially if they lost on Wednesday night to Boston.  Before Wednesday night Boston was 6-13 against winning teams and 3-10 at home in this total price range.   The Angels have won 14-of-19 in the series and although the Red Sox are 5-1 in De La Rosa home starts, but the strength here is all Los Angeles.  In closing with umpire Adam Fletcher calling balls and strikes the Angels are a PERFECT 5-0…..LA!

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Jimmy Adams

Padres vs. Dodgers
Play: Under 6½

The best pitcher on the planet takes the mound as the Dodgers close out their 3 game set with the Padres. Clayton Kershaw will start Thursday in place of Zack Greinke, who had his start pushed back in order to get some extra rest. Kershaw, who owns an outstanding 1.86 ERA, will have no problem shutting down the Friars, as he threw a 3 hitter and struck out 11 the last time he faced them. Kershaw is also coming off of a rare loss vs. the Brewers. This will work to our advantage, as he will come in with some extra focus because losing 2 in a row just isn’t an option for this guy.

With as good as Kershaw has been, Tyson Ross is right behind him. Ross doesn’t get as much exposure as he’s due, mostly because he plays in a small market. He also throws for a team that won’t be playing this postseason, so it’s easy for many to overlook him. Plain and simple, this guy has been incredible for the Friars this season. Prior to his last start, Ross had allowed 2 ER or fewer in 10 consecutive starts. When he has his fastball command, this guy can be nearly unhittable.

The Dodgers may lead the NL West for the moment, but this team isn’t playing good baseball right now. They’ve lost 5 of 7 and there clearly is some dysfunction on offense right now. We all know about the Padres’ offensive woes, so with these two “Top notch” guys on the hill, expect a low scoring affair.

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Hollywood Sports

Steelers at Eagles
Prediction: Over

One of the most reliable metrics in analyzing NFL preseason games is to look to empirical data regarding team trends under the team's head coach. NFL coaches often have divergent goals in exhibition games. Philadelphia (0-2) has played 5 of their 6 preseason games under the leadership of head coach Chip Kelly including all 4 of their encounters with AFC opponents. Of course, the quick-snap fast pace of the Kelly offense helps games go Over given more offensive plays from scrimmage and Kelly does not take the brakes off with the backup offenses since they need to learn his unique system. Pittsburgh (1-1) will likely embrace this fast pace completely with this "dress rehearsal" game offering Ben Roethlisberger the opportunity to work on their no-huddle offense in a hostile environment. The number is at 50 for a reason -- take the Over.

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Jeff Scott Sports

Pittsburgh/ Eagles Under 50: I know this will not be a popular pick, but I am going with the UNDER in this one. The Eagle defense has struggled mightily in their first two games, but facing explosive Bears and Patriots offense will make most defenses look silly. The Eagles will not be facing those kind of offenses in this one, as the Steelers are just an average offensive team that has scored just 35 points in their first 2 games. Big Ben is in there and he can go deep, but with this being almost a regular season game I do look for the Steelers to try and jump start their running game, which has produced just 52.5 ypg so far. Having a successful running game is key for the Steelers, as that is mostly their game plan anyway. The Eagles know that they can throw the ball all over the field, so I also look for them to work a bit more on their running game as well, especially with LeSean McCoy getting more playing time in this one. Another thing here is that the Eagles went up against soft defenses the last two weeks and the Steelers do not have a soft defense, especially in the secondary. Neither team has run the ball well so far and that is key for both offense so I do see a bit more running here. The Steeler offense is average, while the Eagle offense should have a tougher time vs a much better Pittsburgh defense. Will will still see some points here, but I feel the game will be kept in the low 40s at best.

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DAVE COKIN

STEELERS AT EAGLES
PLAY: UNDER 50

Two games, 139 total points. Yes, when staring at those numbers, even considering an Under play in a game involving the Philadelphia Eagles seems daring, if not a little crazy. But I’m pretty big on making my pre-season plays off what I can garner as far as information is concerned, and that’s the key to this opinion.

One thing we’ve learned quickly enough about Chip Kelly is that he doesn’t have a problem letting the media know what his intentions are as far as these exhibition games are concerned. So Kelly’s admission that he’s going to keep things pretty vanilla tonight tells me he won’t be digging into the playbook to any extent and apparently just wants to get through the game with no problems that will carry over to the games that count. Fact is, baed on what I saw last week in the game against the Patriots, I think Kelly has shown about as much of the playbook as he cares to, and I would be surprised if he doesn’t dial it back a bit tonight.

On the flip side, the Steelers are going to have their entire first unit defense on the field together for the first time this pre-season. What that should mean is that, after facing units that didn’t do much game planning, if any, for the warp speed Eagles offense, Pittsburgh will be providing some looks the Eagles haven’t seen so far this summer.

Offensively, the Steelers are going to be shorthanded in the backfield by at least one RB and probably two following the Bell/Blount traffic issue yesterday. Mike Tomlin isn’t about to alter his personality and throw the football 40 times, so I have to believe the personnel issue in play tonight can’t be a good thing for the Steelers offense.

As for the number on this game, to the surprise of nobody, the bets have poured in on the Over and price has gone up. Given the pace of play we’re now familiar with as far as the Eagles go, I can’t say I’ll be shocked if this turns into another fireworks show with points galore. But after digesting the available information, I now believe there’s value to be had with the Under, and that’s the way I’ll play this game tonight.

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Matt Fargo

Los Angeles Angels vs. Boston Red Sox    
Play: Boston Red Sox +115 

The Red Sox will be out to avoid the sweep tonight as they have dropped the first three games of this series and are riding a four-game losing streak overall. The offense has been able to do nothing during the skid as they have scored a total of nine runs over the four games and while they were underdogs the first three games in this series, those were against C.J. Wilson, Jered Weaver and Garrett Richards and they take a step down in opposing pitching tonight. The Angels meanwhile has won three straight games and seven of their last eight to take over the lead in the American League West by a game and a half over Oakland. They visit the A's starting tomorrow so there could very well be a lookahead going into that big series. The recent run has given Los Angeles the best record is baseball but it is 5-14 in its 19 road games this season against American League starting pitcher whose ERA is 4.00 or better. Rubby De La Rosa has a 3.79 ERA on the season and that goes down to 3.25 at home in six starts with four of those resulting in quality outings. He is coming off a poor start against the Astros where he allowed six runs in four innings but he allowed six runs in a game about a month ago and followed that up with a quality outing and I expect the same tonight. The Red Sox are 5-1 in De La Rosas six home starts. The Angels go with Matt Shoemaker who has a very comparable ERA but has not been very consistent, especially on the road. He has a 2.72 ERA at home but that balloons to 5.70 on the road and while he has been winning, he has been fortunate to get great run support which I feel comes to an end tonight.


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Steve Janus

Los Angeles Angels -125

The Angels have taken each of the first 3 games of their series at Boston and I look for them to finish off the 4-game sweep tonight. LA has won 7 of their last 8 overall and with the talent this team has offensively I look for them to put up a big number against Red Sox starter Rubby De La Rosa, who was just rocked at home by the Astros for 6 runs on 9 hits and 4 walks. Control has been a major issue for De La Rosa, as he's walked a ridiculous 18 batters over his last 6 starts (34 innings). The Angels will counter with Matt Shoemaker who despite an ugly 5.18 ERA, he's 5-1 with a strong 1.182 WHIP over 6 road starts. Shoemaker simply had 1 bad start on the road at Kansas City, which drove up his ERA. He's not allowed more than 2 earned runs in each of his last 4 starts, two of which were on the road.

Key Trends/System - LA is 36-16 in their last 52 as a favorite, 40-13 in their last 53 against a team with a losing record, 5-1 in their last 6 on the road and 12-2 in their last 14 road games with a total set between 9 and 10.5 runs. Boston is 6-14 in their last 20 vs a team with a winning record, 7-19 in their last 26 as a home dog and 3-12 in their last 15 with a total set between 9 and 10.5 runs.

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River City Sharps

Braves / Reds Over 8

At the All Star break, the Cincinnati Reds were sitting in a pretty good spot to not only contend for a wildcard, but possibly win the NL Central. Oh how the times are changing! The Reds come home reeling, losers of eight of their last nine games and now finding themselves 6.5 games out of the NL wildcard. The Reds will give the ball to Triple-A lefty David Holmberg to take on the Atlanta Braves and Julio Teheran (11-9, 3.06) Holmberg will be making just his second major league start of the season and was shelled in his first one, a loss to the Chicago Cubs. While Teheran has been solid for the Braves this season, the road has not been real friendly for him as he is sporting a 6-7 mark with a 4.27 in his road starts. The Over is a perfect 8-0 in the Reds last eight games as the underdog and 9-2 in the Braves last 11 games when they face a pitcher with a WHIP of 1.30 or greater. We think the Braves are going to hit Holmberg early and often, but we also expect some home cooking to help the Reds wake up a bit and get to Teheran. We have this one Over the posted total, so fire away.

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LT Profits

Arizona vs Washington
Pick: Under 7.5

Gio Gonzalez is having a disappointing year for the Washington Nationals but he has been better lately and is facing an Arizona Diamondbacks lineup he can handle. He allowed a total of five runs over his last two starts with 15 strikeouts, he limited the D-Backs to two runs in 6.1 innings the last time he faced them and he is facing an Arizona lineup batting a putrid .157 vs. lefties the last 10 games, averaging 2.31 runs against them. Fellow southpaw Wade Miley had a rough outing three starts back where he allowed 10 earned runs to skew his stats, but that was one of just two times in his last nine starts he allowed more than three runs. He also held the Nats to one earned run in seven innings the last time he faced them. The ‘under’ is 12-4-3 in Miley’s last 19 road starts.

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Sleepyj

Atlanta -1.5 +110

This Atlanta team has been red hot. They have more runs over the last week than i can remember in a good amount of time. It's always nice to back a team who is hitting the ball well up and down the lineup. On the other hand Cincy has struggled. They have lost the 5 games they have played. Atlanta will face LHP Holmberg tonight who hasn't yet proved himself in the majors. I think it could be a rough outing as the Braves have been hitting the LHP quite well for a stretch. The combination of Tehran and the Braves run support tonight really makes us like this play. Cincy is coming back home tonight and i think we will see a rather relaxed team here tonight with Cincy. The Braves have really just been getting after it all around and it has show with the recent success of wins. There may be some rain in the forecast as well so be aware of that. This is more of a play here on a red hot Atlanta team. Let's back the Braves tonight as i think we see a rather lopsided game tonight.

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SPORTS WAGERS

L.A. Angels -1½ +138 over BOSTON

Their leading hitter at .294 is Brock Holt, who bats leadoff and is currently in a 0-8 slump. The bottom four in the order are hitting .194, .250, .225 and .214 respectively. Cleanup hitter, Yoenis Céspedes, the dude they traded Jon Lester for, is batting .252 on the year but has just five hits in his past 27 AB’s and hasn’t had more than one hit in a game in his last 15 games. There’s a good chance that both Mike Napoli and David Ortiz will sit this one out, as both have minor injuries and Napoli missed last night. The Red Sox are down to their third string catcher, David Ross. Xander Bogaerts has one hit in his last 19 AB’s. Boston has dropped four in a row and five of six with its only victory over that span coming against the Astros. Rubby De La Rosa gets this start and he’s done his best work at Fenway Park. In six starts at home, De La Rosa is 3-1 with a 3.25 ERA. However, that is where the positives end, as only one of his past seven starts were of the pure quality variety. De La Rosa has a 14/15 BB/K split over his past 27 innings. He has a WHIP of 1.93 over his past five starts. His swinging strike rate is getting worse, as batters are starting to lay off his pitches because he can’t throw strikes. De La Rosa fooled some Angels on August 10 in Anaheim but he’s not going to fool them again now that they’ve seen him. Over his last seven starts, De La Rosa has a 1.72 WHIP and a 5.83 xERA. His actual ERA of 3.79 on the year and 3.25 ERA at home is nothing but fool’s gold.

By contrast, Matt Shoemaker has been very consistent for a rookie pitcher, allowing three earned runs or less in 12 of his 14 starts this season. Four of his six starts on the road have resulted in pure quality starts. Shoemaker is 5-1 on the road with an unappealing 5.70 ERA but his high ERA away from the “Big A” is a direct result of unfortunate hit and strand rates. In 42 innings since July 1, Shoemaker is 6-2 with a 3.00 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 3.24 xERA, 8.6 K’s/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 44% groundball rate. The Angels have a big edge offensively, they have an edge on the mound with a pitcher that throws strikes opposing one that doesn’t and from a state of mind standpoint, L.A.’s edge is massive. Get out the brooms.


Atlanta -1½ +109 over CINCINNATI

The Reds have two wins over their past 12 games and both victories occurred with Johnny Cueto starting. Cincinnati has also lost five straight and the pitching staff has allowed 38 runs over that span. The bullpen is not only garbage but they’re also running on fumes and they figure to be needed early in this one. Enter David Holmberg, who is ready to serve as an emergency call-up due to last Sunday's doubleheader. His only other start this season was also the result of a doubleheader. Holmberg started the back end on July 8, allowing five earned runs and three jacks in just 2.2 innings. His results at AAA-Louisville don't warrant a promotion. In 17 starts at Louisville, covering 87.1 innings, Holmberg went 1-6 with a BB/K split of 32/50, a 4.64 ERA and a 1.66 WHIP. Holmberg is a lefty and the Braves .267 BA against southpaws on the road is the second best mark in the NL. After this game, Holmberg will be headed back down to Louisville and he may never return.

Julio Teheran is a case study in why post-hype targets can be profit centers. This former top prospect's K surge came with full swing and miss support and his three years of improving control tells us he hasn't reached his ceiling yet, even if xERA points towards some minor regression. In 177 innings, Teheran has a BB/K split of 41/153. Current Reds have just seven hits in 38 career AB’s against Teheran for a BA of just .184. There’s a good chance that Teheran will be throwing some easy innings if the Braves score early. Judging by Holmberg’s brutal profile, only severe good fortune will prevent the Braves from scoring early and often. 

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, August 21

Tony Stoffo

Detroit at Tampa Bay
Play: Under 6.5

With David Price matching up against Alex Cobb in this early start today sure makes for an extremely lower scoring game and a highly recommended play on the under in this spot here. Price faces his old team here; he is 1-0, 3.18 iu three starts for Detroit. Cobb is 4-0, 1.55 in his last seven starts. Under is 6-2 in the Tigers last 8 games following a win. Under is 8-2-2 in the Rays last 12 overall. Umpire Trend - 10 of last 14 Little games stayed under total.

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