Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, July 2

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, July 2

Brad Diamond

Baltimore Orioles vs. Chicago White Sox    
Play: Baltimore Orioles

The White Sox have been suffering this season last in the division, while running at 8-22 L30 games on the board. Chicago starts lefty John Danks who has been ripped this season with a 4.68 ERA and a dubious 1-5 mark. Over the last 18 1/3 innings the veteran has allowed 11 earned runs. Danks threw his best stuff last time out giving just 1 earned run and 3 hits in 7+ innings of work. Still, this club has been consistently mediocre on both ends of the stat sheet ranking around 14th offensively in most categories, and faltering defensively with a .981 mark! The Orioles arrive in Chicago in second place in the standings, 2 ½ games behind the Red Sox. Baltimore has won 4 straight games. The O’s have won 6-of-8 in Chicago, going 5-1 L6 vs. LHP. Realize Orioles hurler Hammel (7-4, 5.09) has given up 12 earned runs in his last 25 innings of work, but feel Baltimore has simply too many advantages to fall short here.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, July 2

Dave Price

Arizona Diamondbacks -131

The Mets have been playing better ball lately, but they're still only 9-21 in their last 30 home games. Hefner is pitching well, but he continues to get very little run support. The Mets are 4-11 in his last 15 starts, 1-6 in his last 7 home starts and 0-8 in his last 8 starts as a home underdog. The Mets are batting a lousy .216 at home, and that doesn't bode well for them as they get set to face Corbin, who's 9-0 with a 2.22 ERA. The D-backs are 15-1 in his starts this season, including 8-0 in his road starts. They are also 11-0 in his last 11 starts as a favorite of -110 to -150. Take Arizona.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, July 2

Art Aronson

Arizona Diamondbacks -1½ +128

Patrick Corbin (9-0, 2.22 ERA) gets the call for the visitors; Corbin is coming off his fifth straight no-decision vs. the Nationals on Thursday, giving up two runs off five hits with two walks over seven frames while striking out six in his team's eventual 3-2 win over the Nats. Corbin was matched up against Stephen Strasburg in that one and I unfortunately had an "official" play on Washington. Corbin was fantastic though and after the way his team collapsed last night, I look for the southpaw to get off the schneid and guide his team to a convincing victory as the Diamondbacks play with desperation and look to avoid a season-high fifth straight loss; note that Corbin owns a fantastic 4-0, 2.82 ERA road record and is 6-0 with a 1.78 ERA in all "night games". Corbin will throw opposite Jeremy Hefner (2-6, 3.72 ERA) who is coming off an unfortunate no-decision vs. the Rockies on Thursday, giving up two runs off five hits and a walk over six innings while striking out three. Hefner's Win/Loss record is obviously not entirely indicative of his overall play and he's been much better of late, but that said, he certainly hasn't been dominant and instills fear in no line-up he faces and has yet to win in front of the home town crowd this year. I believe the talent discrepancy on the mound, combined with the desperation level the visitors play with today, absolutely justifies in laying the 1.5 runs for the small "plus-money" return. How about you? What do you think? Does Corbin dominate are can Hefner steal another win for his team tonight?

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, July 2

Steve Janus

Phillies/Pirates UNDER 7.5

Look for a low scoring game tonight in Pittsburgh between the Phillies and Pirates. Philadelphia doesn't figure to put much of anything on the scoreboard against Pittsburgh's Jeff Locke, who is 7-1 with a 2.06 ERA over 16 starts and 2-0 with a ridiculous 0.86 ERA and 0.762 WHIP over his last three starts. Locke's only start against the Phillies came earlier this season and he allowed just two hits over six scoreless.

Philadelphia will counter with Jonathan Pettibone, who is coming off back-to-back solid outings. He allowed just 1 run on 5 hits in six innings vs the Mets and only 3 runs on 4 hits in six innings vs the Dodgers. Even if he gives up another 3-4 runs, I still think there's an excellent chance this game finishes under the total.

The UNDER is 12-3 in the Pirates last 15 home games when they are listed with a money line of -125 to -175 and 12-2 over their last 14 home games when they enter with a bullpen that has an ERA under 2.00 over their last 10 games. Adding even more value is the fact that the Phillies have gone UNDER the total in 14 of their last 17 road games vs NL teams allowing 3.8 or less runs/game in the second half of the season (last three years).

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, July 2

Jim Feist

Chicago vs. Oakland
Play: Under 7½

Chicago heads to Oakland, a huge park, great for pitchers. The problem is the Cubs don't have much on offense, 17th in runs scored, 24th in team batting average and 26th in on base percentage despite playing half their games in Wrigley Field. Starter Scott Feldman is solid, with a 3.46 ERA allowing only 79 hits with 25 walks in 91 innings. The under is 6-2-1 in Feldman's last 9 road starts. Oakland has a fine starter going in A.J. Griffin, who has a 2.66 ERA his last three starts. The under is 10-1 in Griffin's last 11 starts overall, so don't look for any offense. Play the Cubs/A's under the total.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, July 2

Jeffrey Brandes

Washington Nationals -1½ -120

Pitchers:
MILWAUKEE BREWERS: WILY PERALTA (R) ERA: 5.58 W/L: 5-9
WASHINGTON NATIONALS: STEPHEN STRASBURG (R) ERA: 2.41 W/L: 4-6

WILY PERALTA has lost his last 3 starts for the Brewers and has lost his last 6 decisions. In one career start against the Nationals, last season, Peralta allowed three runs on five hits in 2 2/3 innings for a loss.

STEPHEN STRASBURG allowed two runs on six hits in seven innings for a no-decision in his most recent outing against the D-backs. It was the first time since May 4, a span of seven starts that he gave up multiple earned runs. In that game he pitched seven innings giving up six hits and two runs while striking out four.

Key Trends:
Milwaukee is 0-5 SU in its last 5 games
Milwaukee is 0-5 SU in its last 5 games on the road
Milwaukee is 2-5 SU in its last 7 games when playing Washington
Milwaukee is 2-6 SU in its last 8 games when playing on the road against Washington
Washington is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games
Washington is 7-3 SU in its last 10 games at home

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, July 2

Don Best Consensus

Baltimore Orioles at Chicago White Sox
Pick: Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles are 4-0 in their last 4 games as a favorite. The White Sox are 0-5 in their last 5 home games vs. a right-handed starter. Baltimore is 4-0 in Hammel's last 4 Tuesday starts.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, July 2

SPORTS WAGERS

Philadelphia +157 over PITTSBURGH

The best record in baseball combined with a nine game winning streak has these Pirates grossly overvalued. Fading the Pirates over the next couple of weeks has tremendous profit potential and here’s why; A.J. Burnett (calf) has a Grade 1 tear in his right calf and can't put weight on the leg. He's wearing a walking boot and hopes 'it's not a six-week thing.'  "Hopes" it's not a six-week thing is not very encouraging. The Pirates' rotation now consists of Francisco Liriano, Gerritt Cole, Jeff Locke, James McDonald & Charlie Morton for the time being. Given the first three are outpitching their xERAs by at least half a run (and 1.5 runs for Cole & Locke), Morton is just back from Tommy John surgery and McDonald walks as many as he strikes out, there could be some tough times ahead for the Pirates. Let’s also not forget that they won the last two games against the Brewers by identical 2-1 scores against some weak pitching. The Pirates .241 team batting average is 24th in the league. The Pirates record says they’re the best team in baseball. We say they’re the most overpriced team in baseball and you know these Phillies are going to come in focused and jacked up.

Jonathan Pettibone’s 4.17 ERA and 1.42 WHIP is a direct result of his 6.85 ERA and 1.69 WHIP the first time he goes through lineups. Remove that and he would have outstanding numbers. That first time through the lineup mark is due to an unlucky 40% hit rate more than anything else but his base skills have been quite good in that scenario with a 52% groundball rate and very few walks. The 6’6” 225 pound righty has an ideal, lithe frame that he uses to his advantage. His velocity is good—89-94 mph fastball—but he uses his height and arm slot to throw downhill and keep the ball on the ground. Pettibone has been a consistent performer, thanks in large part to an ability to repeat his mechanics and throw strikes. He has excellent control of his pitches and he moves the ball in and out, up and down. His cutter and slider work well in tandem while his change-up is likely the best off-speed pitch in the Phillies rotation. This kid can pitch and he’s a far better option taking back this big a price than that imposter, Jeff Locke is spotting one. Locke may never be a -170 favorite again. Sell high.


CINCINNATI -1½ +126 over San Francisco

Between 2008-2011, Tim Lincecum was arguably the best pitcher in baseball. He won back-to-back Cy Young Awards in 2008 and 2009, while posting four-consecutive seasons with at least 200 innings pitched and in three of those seasons, he featured an ERA under 2.75. In short, he was dominant. He earned the nickname “The Freak” and became a media darling across the country with his face plastered everywhere. All of the praise and attention was certainly deserved. Only Cliff Lee compiled a better xERA (2.79) than Lincecum’s 2.81 amongst qualified starters in those four seasons and the right-hander also had the fourth-lowest ERA (2.81). That was then. This is now and Lincecum’s strong pedigree and popularity allows us to fade him at decent prices and that’s precisely what we’re going to do because this is truly a pitching mismatch in the Reds favor. Lincecum’s skills continue to erode at an alarming rate. This season, Lincecum has shown the least aggregate movement on his pitches among NL starters and it's not even close. His fastball is losing more velocity every month and it now averages just above 89MPH. Lincecum’s control and command continue to decline with a walk rate that has grown in each of the past four seasons and it’s now ballooned to an unreasonable 41 BB in 95 IP.  His command is falling apart. It can be shown by his inability to throw pitches consistently in the strike zone. Perhaps the most disturbing number in Lincecum’s “dead arm” profile is his 28% line-drive rate. Velocity loss, line drive rate and too many walks combined with a complete lack of movement on his pitches says Tim Lincecum is in big trouble. Let someone else grasp at the shadows.

Homer Bailey has put up skills much better than his 4-6 record would indicate. His 69%/13% dominant start/disaster start points to how he has been consistently dominant this season. Bailey has been hurt by a low strand 66% strand percentage and if that rate was normal he’d likely have 10 wins. He's ramped up his strikeout rate by more than a strikeout per game while keeping walks to a minimum. (25/102 – BB/K’s in 102 IP). Bailey has improved his groundball % and avoided the HR problems that caused him trouble in the past. At 27, Bailey is in his prime and logged his first 200-inning season in 2012. He's followed that with a very good first half this season, though one in which his surface numbers don't reflect just how well he's pitched. With a good offense behind him and decent bullpen, Bailey is a good profit target that begins here against a Giants outfit that in the month of June, averaged only 3.3 runs per game, the lowest in MLB.


N.Y. METS +121 over Arizona

We always like to come back on a hot team versus a cold one the day after a long, extra inning affair in which the cold team found a way to lose again. Up 4-3 with a run in 13th inning yesterday, the Diamondbacks pen blew it by giving up two runs in the bottom of the inning for their fourth straight loss and seventh defeat in their past eight games. Over their past four games, Arizona has been outscored 25-11. Over their past 10 road games, the Snakes have one win. Patrick Corbin’s 9-0 record and 2.22 ERA make it hard to recall the spring training hubbub surrounding the Diamondbacks’ fifth starter competition. His 47% ground ball rate and his strikeout rate are pretty much the same as they were in 2012. Corbin's current 3.57 xERA isn’t far off last year's mark either, but fewer struck balls are finding holes (27% H%) and his strand rate of 81% is unsustainable. With virtually the same skills as last season when Corbin posted an ERA 0f 4.54 in 107 innings, some ERA regression is forthcoming. The 23-year-old southpaw is good but he’s not THIS good and now he’ll pitch with his club having caught the losing bug.

Here’s an oddity that doesn’t make sense; New York is 11-4 on the road against lefties but just 4-10 at home. Logic says those numbers will even out over the course of 162 games. Here’s another oddity; Jeremy Hefner is 0-3 at home. Why is that odd you ask? Well, Hefner has been outstanding at home with a 2.93 ERA over seven starts. In fact, Hefner had a fantastic 1.80 ERA in 30 IP during June and his skills were great. In June, Hefner struck out 23 and walked five with a 52% groundball rate. In his last start in Colorado, Hefner was brilliant in six innings, allowing just one earned run on five hits. The Mets have won Hefner’s last three starts. Each of his skills has shown a steady growth (more strikeouts, fewer walks, higher groundball %, lower line-drive %) and now it’s time for this solid starter to get his first illusive home win.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, July 2

MLB Predictions

Los Angeles Angels -122

The St Louis Cardinals come into Los Angeles off a loss and are just 2-6 in their last 8 games overall. The Angels are heading in a different direction as they've won 6 straight games with sweeps in Detroit and in Houston. Pitching has been great for Los Angeles as they've allowed just 6 runs over their last 4 games. Tonight the Cardinals send Lance Lynn to the mound who is 10-2 on the year with a 3.52 ERA, .217 OBA and 1.16 WHIP. He is coming off a loss in Houston where he allowed 4 earned runs over 7.2 innings of work. He has been stellar at home, but on the road Lynn is 4-2 with a 4.72 ERA. The Angels have their ace Jered Weaver on the mound who is 1-4 on the year with a 4.15 ERA, .253 OBA and 1.26 WHIP. He has only 8 starts this season as he was on the DL with an injury, but he is starting to gain his form it seems as he went 7 innings in Detroit giving up just 1 earned run his last time out. The last two seasons he put up ERAs of 2.81 and 2.41 and this year I would expect his ERA to get down closer to 3 soon enough. Note that the Angels are 6-0 in their last 6 games, 18-5 in their last 23 games following an off day, 6-1 in Weaver's last 7 interleague starts, and 39-13 in his last 52 home starts. Weaver is usually one of the best starting pitchers in baseball at home and Lynn has struggled on the road. With the Angels on a roll right now and the Cardinals having some struggles I like this line backing Weaver and the Angels.

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