Don Best Today's Free Picks

GAME: (953) ATLANTA BRAVES vs (954) CINCINNATI REDS
SPORT: MLB
PICKS: Over
REASON FOR PICK: It was a tough loss for the Braves on Wednesday after rolling off five straight wins, but now they get to face a Cincinnati team that looks in free-fall and can't even count upon ace Johnny Cueto, who was roughed up in last night's 7-3 loss at St. Louis. That's now 10 losses in 12 games for the Reds, whose only wins in that stretch came when Cueto was on the mound. The offense has suffered minus injured Joey Votto, and now manager Bryan Price rolls the dice with minor league call-up David Holmberg (with a 16.88 ERA in limited work earlier this season) to take the place in the rotation of the injured Homer Bailey. Play Braves-Reds "Over" 8 runs
GAME: (953) ATLANTA BRAVES vs (954) CINCINNATI REDS
SPORT: MLB
PICKS: Over
REASON FOR PICK:

This is a First 5 Innings Play

Cincinnati are one of the strongest in the league when opening a home series off this criteria. The Over is 4-1.

Play Over First 5 Innings (4.0)

GAME: (957) SAN DIEGO PADRES vs (958) LOS ANGELES DODGERS
SPORT: MLB
PICKS: (958) LOS ANGELES DODGERS
REASON FOR PICK: My free play is on the LA Dodgers at 10:10 ET.

The San Diego Padres may be glad to miss Zack Greinke but instead they'll draw Clayton Kershaw and they can't be too happy about that. Kershaw (14-3, 1.86 ERA) was moved up to give Greinke (elbow) extra rest. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw a shortened bullpen session Tuesday and will be pitching on regular rest thanks to Monday's day off.

He's looking to bounce back after suffering a rare loss Saturday against Milwaukee. The left-hander, who had posted a 1.16 ERA in winning his previous 11 decisions, threw a five-hitter but allowed two HRs (for the first time this season) and struck out 11 in the 3-2 defeat. "He's the best pitcher in baseball and he's been on a historically great run. It's incredible," Brewers slugger Ryan Braun told MLB's official website. "It's kind of fun to watch from afar. It's obviously extremely difficult to beat him. It hasn't happened much this year."

Kershaw had a 1.83 ERA and 0.92 WHIP (232-52 KW ratio with opponents batting .195) last year in winning his 2nd Cy Young. His ERA is 1.89 this year (WHIP is 0.84) plus his KW ratio is 174-19 with opponents batting .198. Those numbers are pretty similar but the HUGE difference is, while the Dodgers were 19-14 (minus-$642) in his starts last year, they are 16-4 (plus-$882) so far in 2014. That's QUITE a drastic improvement!

The Dodgers have dropped FIVE of seven after falling 4-1 on Wednesday and their lead over San Francisco has been reduced to three games. Eric Stults threw five strong innings for San Diego, which improved to 11-6 this month. The Padres haven't posted a winning record in any full month since going 16-11 last September. Tyson Ross (11-11, 2.70 ERA) starts opposite Kershaw in this one and had allowed two ERs or less in 10 consecutive starts before Friday's 4-2 loss at St. Louis. The right-hander yielded three runs and four walks over six innings, dropping to 2-4 with a 3.44 ERA in his last six road outings.

"Plain and simple, I just didn't have fastball command the first inning," Ross said after walking the first three batters he faced. "It's hard when you shoot yourself in the foot like that." Ross has never beaten the Dodgers, going 0-3 in his last four starts despite a 2.63 ERA (Padres are 1-4 in his five career starts vs LA / Ross' ERA is 2.51). He's struck out 31 over 24 innings during those showings but received just a combined two runs of support.

Kershaw has made 22 career starts vs the Padres, posting a 2.38 ERA, so I wouldn't expect Ross to get much support here, either. The price is high but justifiable.

Good luck...Larry

GAME: (271) NEW ORLEANS SAINTS vs (272) INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
SPORT: NFL
PICKS: (272) INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
REASON FOR PICK: This is a Free #NFLX play on the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts looked great for three quarters of football at home against the Giants last week, but after surrendering 27 unanswered points in the final period, Indianapolis is still winless in the pre-season. They host the undefeated New Orleans Saints in Week 3, and we should see plenty of Andrew Luck and Drew Brees as normally the starters see the most action in the third week of the exhibition season. Brees hasn't seen any action in the Saints previous two games, so it could take him a while to shake off some rust. Luck has looked solid in his limited action so far for the Colts, so we can expect him to be sharp right off the get go. This game will mean a lot more to the Colts than it will to the Saints, who struggled on the road at the best of times. New Orleans will be up against a revamped Colts defense that should be a lot better in 2014. "It's going to be a great barometer to see just how far we've come defensively," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "We're off to a good start defensively when you look at the numbers from the first two ball games ... From an individual standpoint, position standpoint and then collectively as a unit, those guys are all excited to play an outstanding team, an outstanding offensive unit and see exactly where we're at." Take IND. GL, Jesse Schule
GAME: (965) LOS ANGELES ANGELS vs (966) BOSTON RED SOX
SPORT: MLB
PICKS: (966) BOSTON RED SOX
REASON FOR PICK: 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. Play (966) Boston Red Sox

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GAME: (957) SAN DIEGO PADRES vs (958) LOS ANGELES DODGERS
SPORT: MLB
PICKS: (957) SAN DIEGO PADRES
REASON FOR PICK: Your free pick for Thursday, August 21st, 2014, comes in baseball as San Diego and the Dodgers meet at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. 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. Play the Padres!
 
 
 
 
 
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Art Aronson

Art Aronson

This is a 1* Free Play on the under between  Today's Free Picks By Art Aronson