Dave’s Free Play, Wednesday 9/2/15

The Mets have a ways to go before they lock up their unforeseen playoff spot as the top team in the NL East. I’m sure there were a handful of analysts who tabbed the Mets to sneak into the post-season this year. But the whopping majority of just about everyone who forecasts baseball ceded the division title to the Nationals before the season started.

As of late Tuesday night, the rally caps possibly being worn by Washington fans can pretty much be put into mothballs for the winter. The Nats blew a lead for the second straight night at St. Louis, and in the process really damaged the thin chance they have maintained of getting hot and catching the Mets.

I’ve learned that anything can happen very quickly in sports, so until the Mets actually pop the champagne corks, it’s too early to simply hand them the crown. But it’s readily apparent that whatever it takes to win a division title is something the Washington Nationals simply do not have. In other words, the Mets would pretty much have to blow this lead because it sure doesn’t look like any big run is coming by the trailing Nats.

This will be a fascinating off-season for the Nationals. I don’t think Matt Williams is going to be back as the manager, but I also would speculate that it’s possible GM Mike Rizzo could be on the hot seat as well. Let’s call it straight, Rizzo put this team together and they’ve underperformed in what is becoming almost spectacular fashion. The vaunted pitching staff has not been as dominant as predicted. The position players, save for Bryce Harper and Yunel Escobar, have not played to their collective potential.

And now there’s the bullpen. I criticized Rizzo for what I thought was a really bad deal that brought Jonathan Papelbon to the Nationals. Not that there’s anything wrong with Papelbon, but there’s a lot wrong about his contract status. More importantly, Washington already had a good closer in Drew Storen, and my belief was that removing him from the glamour role might be perceived as a slap in the face that would not serve Storen or the clubhouse well. As of now, that opinion seems to have been justified.

Finally, Stephen Strasburg is dinged up again, as he had to leave his most recent start with another case of back tightness. But the good news is that Rizzo successfully kept Strasburg as his innings pitched limit in 2012 when this team had a great chance to win it all, and look how that’s paid off!

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-1.o on Tuesday, and I’m actually thankful it was just one unit of red ink. This was not a card I liked even a little bit, so playing it close to the vest saved some misery.

My opening week college card is now nine games deep, with perhaps one addition still to come, and that will more than likely be a first half play. I usually do pretty well out of the gate in college, and if you want to be on exactly the same games I’m on myself, that can easily be arranged. Just shoot me an email at cokin@cox.net and I’ll reply with all the costs and details.

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Free plays have been the ultimate yo-yo all summer, good for a few days, bad for the next few. Hopefully, a nicely priced home dog can provide some profit tonight.

PIRATES (Locke) at BREWERS (Davies)

Take: BREWERS +130

There are not a lot of spots where I want to even consider trying to buck the Bucs right now. But the one scenario that remains somewhat appealing is when Jeff Locke is the starting pitcher on the road.

To be fair, Locke has done pretty well in his last couple of away outings. But his overall data in road games is less than appealing, and that makes him a dicey road chalk pitcher even with that powerhouse supporting cast.

Zach Davies will make his debut for the Brewers tonight. Davies was a trade deadline mover, heading the Brewers way in the Gerardo Parra deal. Davies is not a great stuff prospect and I suspect he won’t be much more than a #4 starter long term. But one thing he has working in his favor is command of all his pitches and that ability to locate should serve him well as he attempts to outperform the scouting reports.

I’m a fan of giving first-time starters a roll. The opposition hasn’t seen him at all, and whole the Pirates will obviously be armed with plenty of information, seeing a guy live for the first time is a different story, and it’s often that goes the pitcher’s way.

The Brewers were dead in the water from Opening Day this year, but the team has played somewhat respectably since Craig Counsell took over as manager. Not that 48-57 is a sensational ledger, but Milwaukee has been competitive under Counsell. This looks like a winnable spot, at least from a price perspective, and I’m looking to cast my lot with the Brewers to get the upset tonight.

Dave’s Free Play, Tuesday 9/1/15

I’ll skip the commentary today as the topic I want to write about will be covered in the free play analysis. As for Monday night, I went 1-1 with a comfortable enough winner on the Rays and an absolutely horrific beat on the Diamondbacks.

Quick plug for the football service. NFLx has been okay, tidy little profit, and I’m expecting big things this week with the arrival of college football. My subscribers get all my plays as I get on them myself. For info on costs and other details, just shoot an email my way at cokin@cox.net.

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The Monday free play on the Diamondbacks ended up in the loss column. I’m staying with the same teams today and tonight as the Snakes and Rockies will play two.

DIAMONDBACKS at ROCKIES

Take: ROCKIES (both games) +115/+130 (Half Unit Each)

Chip Hale has done a nice job in his rookie managerial campaign. The Diamondbacks have been very competitive, in spite of having an average at best rotation. But Hale was at his worst last night and in the process, he almost certainly cost his team a win.

Arizona led this game 4-1 heading to the bottom of the ninth. The Rockies had squandered a load of chances, and were in fact an incredible 0/15 with runners in scoring position. They didn’t finish that way, thanks to some very poor decision making by Hale.

The trouble started with closer Brad Ziegler being brought into the game to pitch the ninth. Yeah, he’s the closer and this was a save situation. But Ziegler was off a terrible Sunday effort where he threw 30 pitches and gave up six hits and three runs. With a three-run lead and a doubleheader on tap for Tuesday, this was not a spot to bring in the possibly weary closer. Moreover, David Hernandez had thrown only 11 pitches in the bottom of the eighth. So there really wasn’t a need to go to Ziegler.

Long story reasonably short, Ziegler had nothing. He briefly survived when a Nolan Arenado bomb hit the very top of the wall and stayed in play. Plus, Ziegler got a massive break when Arenado jogged out of the batter’s box, thinking he’d hit a home run and only got a single for his efforts. When Ziegler induced a weak ground ball for what looked like the third out, it looked like a very fortunate win for the Snakes.

Unfortunately, Ziegler botched the ground ball and then complicated matters by throwing the ball into another zip code. So instead of game over, it’s a 4-3 game with runners at second and third.

Hale made one right move at this point, at least in theory, as he called on lefty Matt Reynolds to try and get pinch hitter Ben Paulsen out. Strike one, strike two and then a simply miserable tee ball pitch that Paulsen ripped and that was that. 5-4 Rockies, and what might well be my worst loser of the entire season.

I really wasn’t overly upset until I listened to Hale explain things in his post-game presser. Hale’s comment on Ziegler was that “he was tired”, at which point I pretty much lost it.

Let’s get this straight. Hale knows his closer is weary, he’s off a grueling performance on Sunday where he got lit up, you’ve got a three-run lead and you’ve got a doubleheader coming up the next day. And you still, armed with all this information, choose to bring in the guy? How $&&%$&! stupid can you get?

Look, if it’s a one-run game, I can tolerate the decision. But with a multi-run cushion and the scheduling situation, I’d have to honestly say that this might have been the single worst piece of managing I’ve seen all season. If it’s not #1, it’s sure in the conversation.

On to today. The Diamondbacks are now in a major skid, 1-7 in the last eight games, and now their bullpen is really a wreck. Ziegler is definitely unavailable as he also managed to mildly sprain his ankle on the error, and this is a ballpark where complete games just don’t happen.

It’s also worth mentioning that Paul Goldschmidt is about to go on paternity leave, although we don’t know yet exactly when. But it could possibly be at some point today.

The Rockies have won a couple in a row, so they have a bit of momentum and I have to think they’re likely to be more energized today off the thrilling win on Monday. I won’t try and sell the Colorado pitching here, as Kyle Kendrick and Yohan Flande are a pretty gruesome twosome.

But off what happened on Monday, with the ‘Zona pen now on fumes and the team in a big time slump, I just can’t see how the Diamondbacks will sweep this twinbill and they’re favored in each game. I’m taking plus money with the Rockies and expect to at least get what would be a profitable sweep, with a legit shot to cash two tickets.

 

 

Dave’s Free Play, Monday 8/31/15

Is it a slider? Or maybe it’s a cutter. The pitcher throwing it says it’s both, so let’s just call it a slutter. Whatever it is, Jake Arrieta has used it to go from a prospect on his way to nowheresville to perhaps being the best pitcher on a team that is going to have a chance to keep playing well into October.

Jon Lester is the big name on the Cubs pitching staff, and if or when they face the Pirates in a one and done showdown following Game 162, the star southpaw will probably get the call to start. I can’t argue with that decision if it’s the one Joe Madden rolls with. Lester has a superb post-season ledger and that playoff experience looms as a major asset in a one-game showdown.

But Jake Arrieta might actually be the best pitcher wearing a Cubs uniform these days. He’s now a part of history following his no-hit shutout win at Chavez Ravine last night. Arrieta had the slutter rising, falling and for the most part missing Dodger bats all night long. There was an error that could have easily been ruled a hit, but that’s nitpicking. The bottom line is this was yet another superb performance by an ace.

When a team gets to the playoffs and they own a pair of #1 starters, they are absolutely a threat to win it all. The Cubs have that pair of #1 starters, so let’s cut out the Cinderella chatter already. The Cubs are not an under the radar good story, and they’re not a little engine that could.

This team is a legit contender and make no mistake, there are more than a few bookmakers in Nevada and elsewhere that are going to be rooting really hard for the Pirates in that likely one-game play-in duel come early October. It wouldn’t be a monster hit to the books like back in the old days when one could score some really big prices on supposed long shots to win it all. But from what I can gather, the Cubs represent the house’s biggest liability should they win the NL pennant or maybe even the whole ball of wax. With that dynamic duo at the top of the rotation, the Cubs have a chance to do exactly that.

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Nice result on Sunday as the Rays were a 1.5x play and the Rangers got there as well. I’ve got at least two plays set for Monday night on the diamond, with a couple of other possibilities. Of course, this is kickoff week in college football and I’ve already sent out seven selections with a couple more likely to be added at some point during the week.

Get the goods on my football program, including all the rates and details, by emailing me directly at cokin@cox.net. You’ll get a reply from me pretty quickly, and there won’t be anything in the way of hype involved.

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Derek Holland’s brilliant complete game shutout came on the same day as Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter. So Holland’s gem kind of went unnoticed, but I sure enjoyed it as the Rangers were the Sunday free play. Monday’s comp is on a game that will mostly only be cared about by fans with some kind of wagering interest in it, be that daily fantasy or straight betting.

DIAMONDBACKS (Ray) at ROCKIES (Bettis)

Take: DIAMONDBACKS -109

The Diamondbacks are hitting the road following what can only be termed a disastrous home stand. One week ago at this time, the Snakes were heading back to their house suddenly in the conversation as to what team would win the NL West. Seven days and six losses later, that’s not really a reality anymore. The D-Backs were swept by the Cardinals and then lost two of three to the lowly A’s, and whatever playoff hopes they held are probably shot at this point.

That said, I like Arizona’s chances of getting back in the win column tonight. I know Robbie Ray is saddled with an ugly 3-10 ledger, but the southpaw has pitched better than that. The key for Ray this evening is that he’s a lefty, and the Rockies have had a very bad time with portsiders all season.

Chad Bettis get the call for the Rockies. This has been yet another down season for what has become kind of a laughable franchise, but I would say that Bettis has been somewhat of a pleasant surprise for Colorado. Bettis returned from a DL stint with a solid six innings at Atlanta. This has been a reasonably nice breakout year for Bettis, who had basically fallen completely off the prospect chart. But thanks to a decent heater and a pretty good change, he’s looking like a guy who will own a spot in the 2016 Rockies rotation.

The keys for me tonight are more on the offensive side of the ball and in the bullpen. The Rockies simply aren’t very good against lefties and that’s illustrated by their per nine inning run production splits. As for the bullpen, while the Colorado relief corps has actually been okay recently, it’s downright awful overall. If this is tight late, it’s advantage Arizona.

Ray has not pitched well recently but I think the line is skewed a bit due to that nasty 3-10 record. So I see a bit of value with the game priced where it is currently. I’ll side with the Diamondbacks to garner a win in tonight’s series opener.

Dave’s Free Play, Sunday 8/30/15

Some observations from Week Three of the NFLx slate:

The Dallas Cowboys still look like they will no better than middle of the road on defense, especially with CB Scandrick gone for the year. I think they’re going to have to be a ball control offense to succeed and with no dominant RB on the roster, that’s going to be a challenge.

The Bills went 30/33 through the air against the Steelers. QB was considered the biggest concern for the Bills and that might still be the case. But Rex Ryan has to be pleased with what he’s seen so far. Meanwhile, it’s time for the Steelers to start worrying about their stop unit. Pre-season or not, those are some ridiculous numbers.

Miami is a contender if they stay healthy. Ryan Tannehill is starting to look like a savvy veteran, and this team’s first unit on both sides of the ball appears solid. No excuses for Joe Philbin if he can’t lead the Dolphins to a playoff berth.

The learning curve is going to be steep for Jameis Winston. The rookie Bucs QB was pretty bad as Tampa Bay got slammed by the Browns. The Bucs defense is going to log a whole lot of playing time this season.

AJ McCarron looked good for the Bengals as they beat the Bears. I’m not suggesting he’s about to take Andy Dalton’s job away, but McCarron is starting to look like a viable backup.

The 49ers are horrible on offense. But the defense played well again in keeping Peyton Manning out of the end zone and NaVorro Bowman looks like he’s all the way back to good health. Bowman was the best player on the field for either team on Saturday night as the Broncos picked up a somewhat sloppy win. The Denver offensive line looks lousy and if they can’t protect an aging Manning, it’s going to be decline time for the Broncos.

Melvin Gordon has been very unimpressive for the Chargers. I’m kind of shocked at how tentative Gordon has been and his numbers in the two games he’s played are very mediocre.

The Redskins were almost amazingly lucky in the first half of their game with the Ravens, with a couple of totally fluke plays resulting in big gains. But John Harbaugh has to be getting worried about his team, as Baltimore has simply not played well in the pre-season.

Then there’s the Eagles. Aside from the Tim Tebow experiment looking like a complete waste of time, this team looks downright dangerous. Yeah, the Packers went through the motions on Saturday night, but Sam Bradford looked like he was born to run Chip Kelly’s offense. Philly looks to me like the team to beat in the NFC East.

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Not a particularly good Saturday here, with the big swing being a rough loser on the Cowboys first half play. I was giving -2, and a late Vikings FG made the half land on one. Minnesota also had a 107-yard kickoff return, so this one falls into the bad beat landing zone, but the bottom line is that it made for a red ink day.

I doubt that I’ll be involved in either of the two remaining Week Three NFLx games, so my next football plays will be on Thursday when the colleges kick off. I’m going to have a heavy first week slate and fully expect to do very well. If you want in on the same exact games I’m on myself, released at the same time I play them, make sure to get in touch. All the costs and details explained in concise fashion, just shoot me an email at cokin@cox.net.

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My Ween Three NFLx free plays ended up showing a net loss of 0.1 units. The Broncos came through, but the half unit calls on the Steelers and Under were way off. Sunday’s comp is on the diamond.

ORIOLES (Gonzalez) at RANGERS (Holland)

Take: RANGERS -125

I’m going to lose my pre-season Under wager on the Rangers win total. I’m already resigned to that inevitability. This team has been an absolute stunner to me, as with the status of their pitching staff when I made the play, which was actually before the Yu Darvish injury, I really didn’t see them winning more than perhaps 70 games. But they’ve played some really solid ball thanks to what I think have to be called unexpected contributions from a few players and Texas has a real shot to still be playing in October.

One of the numerous pitchers on the shelf for much of the season has returned to the Texas rotation, and Derek Holland will be throwing for the Rangers today. The opposition will be provided by Miguel Gonzalez, who doesn’t shape up as a stopped for a Baltimore staff that needs a really good start in the worst way.

This is all team stuff as Holland has been so-so in his first two starts back, and therefore really doesn’t own an edge over Gonzalez. But the Orioles are in a miserable funk right now, having lost all but one of their last ten outings. The Birds have not been a good road team this year, and they’re simply not hitting very well right now.

I’m a little surprised to see this betting line where it is when considering present form. I made the price here Rangers -145 so I think we’ve got a bit of a bargain here. Don’t misread that into thinking this is some kind of slam dunk as even if my price is right, that’s still less than 60% when converting to odds rather than money line. But I have to think it’s not a bad value spot and it’s good enough to warrant some action on the Rangers side.

 

Dave’s Free Play, Saturday 8/29/15

I’m not going to be playing the Week Three NFLx neighborhood battle between the Redskins and Ravens. But it’s a game that I definitely want to watch for a variety of reasons. At the top of that list is checking out the performance of Washington QB Kirk Cousins.

In case you missed it, news broke on Friday that Robert Griffin III has not been cleared to play due to concussion symptoms. This is a late reversal on that count, as Griffin had practiced all week and had initially been cleared to play in this game. But upon further scrutiny of the neuropsychology data, RG III is now out and he won’t be retested for at least one week, perhaps two.

So Griffin’s status for the regular season opener is now very much in doubt, and the buzz is that Cousins has a real chance to seize the QB1 spot. Cousins has had a very good camp, flashing better movement in the pocket, and not making mistakes we’ve gotten accustomed to seeing from him. I want to see what Cousins does against a good first unit defense, and the Ravens should provide a good test as far as that goes.

I have to think there’s a real chance Cousins could now simply take away the job from RGIII. Let’s face it, Griffin has had an increasingly tough time staying on the field, and he also hasn’t been winning much. The Redskins have won just five games started by Griffin over the last two seasons combined. He has not learned to avoid absorbing big hits and unfortunately for Griffin, he looks like a guy who needs to be on the move to be at his best.

It’s kind of a shame, as Griffin was an incredibly fun and exciting QB to watch in his rookie year. But due to the injuries, Griffin’s growth as a signal caller his been seriously stymied, and I kind of get the feeling we’ve seen the best of RGIII already.

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A modest five-night run of plus days got halted on Friday, mostly thanks to Chad Henne. The Jaguars come from ahead loss to the Lions was frustrating to put it mildly. I split my two MLB plays, winning with the Indians and then seeing the woeful A’s blunder their way to another loss. So 1-2 on Friday and the intent will be to start a new positive stretch today.

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The Athletics let another lead get away, this time to the Diamondbacks with a pair of passed balls in the same inning figuring into the disappointment as the free play went south. A little something different today as I’m splitting a one unit play on an NFLx game, going half unit on both the side and total.

STEELERS @ BILLS

Take: STEELERS +2.5 and UNDER 42.5

This is generally “dress rehearsal” week in the NFL pre-season, with starters playing most of the first half and occasionally into the third quarter. That will be the case for the majority of teams in action today, but the Buffalo Bills will evidently be an exception to that rule.

The Bills have cluster injuries at the skill positions on offense. Buffalo will reportedly be sitting all of the following: RB’s LeSean McCoy, Boobie Dixon and Bryce Brown, as well as WR’s Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Percy Harvin and Chris Hogan. Head coach Rex Ryan is also starting EJ Manuel at QB. One never knows what Ryan has up his sleeve and he’s not saying, but all indications have been that Manuel is not a contender for the QB1 spot in Buffalo.

Perhaps that changes with a stellar showing by Manuel tonight. But the consensus seems to be that the Bills are going to go with what amounts to a vanilla game plan on offense tonight. In other words, it’s at least a possibility Ryan has decided that, in light of so many of the team’s top skill position guys not even dressing, he’s better off going with a backup under center as well.

Based on that information, I think an edge has to be accorded to the Steelers tonight as far as the game is concerned. I also think this leads to a worthwhile shot on the Total as well. If the Bills are going to run a simplified offense, that’s one thing. But Ryan figures to have the starters on defense logging plenty of plays here and that Buffalo stop unit will be facing a Pittsburgh offense that now has to live life without Maurkice Pouncey, who is expected to miss at least the first ten games of the season thanks to a broken fibula. The Buffalo defense looked very strong last week and they should be up for a good test against Big Ben and company tonight.

I’ll split one unit here, tabbing the Steelers minus the points against the patchwork Buffalo offense and I’ll also fire a half unit on this game to stay Under the number.

 

Dave’s Free Play, Friday 8/28/15

SuperContest weekend at the Westgate Las Vegas gets rolling this evening. This has become an annual event that, along with the contest itself, has grown each year, and it sounds like an overflow audience will be on hand tonight. I’ll be one of the panelists for the college football portion of the seminar, and I’m looking forward to talking about the upcoming season. The college seminar will be the kickoff for the event, which starts at 6PM Pacific. Hope to see you there!

No commentary today, but I’ll have the daily free play as always. Thursday worked  out well with a late add winner on the Rays and the comp play on the Cardinals also delivered. I’ve got three games already played for this weekend’s NFLx action, and as noted previously, I’m on seven Week One college games plus four NFL season O/U win props. Subscribers get all my plays across the board, and I’m including the rest of the baseball season for those buying the football. Get the rates and all the info that matters by emailing me at cokin@cox.net.

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The Cardinals completed a four-game sweep at Chase and provided a nice free play winner on Thursday night. I’ll head right back to the same site tonight in hopes of notching another victory.

ATHLETICS (Gray) @ DIAMONDBACKS (Anderson)

Take: ATHLETICS -117

This has been a bit of a nightmarish week for the Diamondbacks. Arizona had pushed its way above .500 and the Snakes were suddenly garnering a little attention as a possible contender in the NL West. Maybe it was just a dream after all. The D-Backs had a chance to make a big statement with the Cardinals in town for a four-game set. The Redbirds are now on their way to San Francisco with a 4-0 sweep in their pockets. As for the Diamondbacks, they’re now 8.5 out of first place in their division, and the Padres have caught them in the standings.

I think it’s going to be tough for the Diamondbacks to regroup, although I suppose the fact the A’s are in town might help some. But the wind has gone out of the Arizona sails at this point, and while there’s not likely to be any quit in this team, I don’t think this would be a great time to consider investing in the Snakes.

Making things even more difficult for the hosts tonight is the specter of Sonny Gray on the hill for Oakland. The A’s are a bad baseball team. But as is frequently the case, even lousy entries have a tendency to focus a little more when their ace is on the mound. Gray is clearly the #1 on this staff, and he figures to be tough on a team whose lineup hasn’t seen him and also is not exactly crushing the ball the last few nights.

Chase Anderson has been off an on for Arizona, and I won’t be surprised if he pitches a decent game tonight. None of the A’s have ever faced him and that is often an advantage for the pitcher. But Anderson doesn’t match up especially well head to head vs. Gray in the key categories and I give the Oakland ace a definite edge tonight.

There aren’t may spots where Oakland looks especially playable and the fact they’re road chalk here isn’t something that makes my mouth water with anticipation. But facing a pitcher of Gray’s caliber following what amounts to a disastrous outcome against the Cardinals is a bad deal for the Diamondbacks. I’ll be looking to cash a ticket with the Athletics tonight.

 

Dave’s Free Play, Thursday 8/27/15

Michael Vick is now a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and a handful of protesters aren’t happy about it. They showed up outside the team’s practice facility yesterday with signs and did interviews with the assembled media.

I understand that this was news of a sort, particularly on National Dog Day. As an animal lover, what Michael Vick did was reprehensible and thoroughly disgusting to me. But he definitely paid the price, having had to serve time in a federal penitentiary and losing a fortune in the process.

The protesters don’t think Vick should be allowed to play football. They don’t believe he deserves a second chance. One of the picketers, speaking with a television reporter, commented that in light of what he had done, Vick was incapable of being rehabilitated and she carried a sign that asked “would you let Michael Vick near your dogs?”

Apparently the Humane Society, which actually acts in the best interests of animals rather than carrying around signs and being a general nuisance, feels differently. Much to Vick’s credit, he has gotten involved with this outstanding organization and is now voluntary working to save canine lives.

What’s troubling to me about these protesters is their unwillingness to believe that rehabilitation is absolutely a reality when the individual with the problem wants to do something about it. Michael Vick did his time and there has never been any requirement for him to do anything but get on with his life as he sees fit. Yet, with no fanfare nor monetary benefit, Vick has gotten involved in doing something positive for his community and society in general.

The irony here is that we know troubled dogs can be rehabilitated. In fact, that’s precisely what happened with the majority of the Vicktory Dogs, many of whom ended up being adopted and enjoying life with a family. Yet these protesters apparently believe that what is possible for a dog evidently isn’t for a human being.

My advice for the protesters is to get rid of the stupid signs and actually do something that matters. Rather than show up at a football team’s practice facility in hopes of getting five minutes of air time, go volunteer at your nearest animal shelter. Then you’ll actually be doing something productive for the dogs. If Michael Vick can do that, so can you.

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2-1 again on Wednesday. I had late adds on the Nationals and Indians when the other sides got steamed, and split those two games. I was also on the Cardinals, which ended up being opposite a rush of sharp Diamondbacks dollars, but the Redbirds got the win.

I’m looking at perhaps three or four NFLx games this weekend, and have already played several Week One college clashes. My subscribers get all the plays, as there are no varying levels depending on how much money is spent. One size fits all as far as that goes. For complete details on my flat rates for football or my net winners program, simply email me directly at cokin@cox.net.

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I was on the Cardinals as a personal play last night and I’ll make a case to come right back with the Redbirds today.

CARDINALS (Martinez) @ DIAMONDBACKS (De La Rosa)

Take: CARDINALS -120

If you look at the last several starts for Carlos Martinez, it might appear on the surface that he is possibly wearing down a bit as his innings pile up. Over his last five outings covering 29.1 innings, Martinez has allowed 39 hits and 19 runs, all but three of which were earned.

But look beyond those base numbers and you might see a different story. Martinez is still keeping the baseball in the park. He has surrendered only two long balls in that quintet of starts. In fact, over his last 17 appearances, Martinez has only been homered on four times, which is pretty awesome. The BB/K ratio remains stellar with a 4/29 ledger in those five games. His ground ball rate remains steady and very impressive for the most part.

So what’s wrong? It’s very possible that the big problem recently for Martinez has been somewhat a result of lousy luck. His BABIP numbers in these last five starts, in defending order, are .350, .389, .364, .333 and .529. BABIP is not the pure gospel to be sure, but I believe it’s one of the better indicators as to why a pitcher might be winning or not.

Rubby De La Rosa is quietly doing some nice work for the Diamondbacks. I think my complaints directed toward now former Red Sox GM Ben Cherington regarding his deal De La Rosa away might turn out to be accurate. Rubby is still hittable, and needs to continue to improve his command, but he certainly looks like a pitcher who will fit nicely into the Diamondbacks rotation for next year and beyond.

As for the team elements, the Cardinals just keep winning baseball games, and to me they’re just a really tough outfit to try and beat. I wonder if the Diamondbacks might be feeling just a pinch of pressure. The Snakes have been way under the radar all season. But just over this last handful of days, it seems as though everyone just figured out this entry is still very much alive in the NL West. I think the D-Backs got their first taste of the marquee the last few nights and they promptly dropped three games to a team far more used to the spotlight.

There’s no great value here and there seldom is when the Cardinals are involved. But with Martinez due for what I believe is a bit pf positive progression and the St. Louis side already having three wins in the books, I’ll opt for the team with the good flow and I’ll side with the Cardinals for tonight’s free play.

Dave’s Free Play, Wednesday 8/26/15

No commentary today, but as always there’s a free play, and this one will be on an upcoming NFLx game.

Tuesday was okay here, winning two of three on the diamond. The Braves squandered numerous opportunities on offense, and compounded those missed chances with critical defensive miscues. The first four Rockies runs were all unearned and the fifth Colorado run was keyed by back to back wild pitches. The Angels held on to beat Detroit and I was on the right side of a big rally as the Mariners won, so a good day overall.

Get the goods on what’s in store for the new football campaign. So far, so good with an encouraging 7-3 NFLx opening. I’ll supply the rates and details on how everything works with my flat rate or net winners programs, just email me directly at cokin@cox.net.

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Here’s a look at one of this weekend’s exhibition battles where I see some reasons to give the points.

49ERS @ BRONCOS

Take: BRONCOS -5

The 49ers and Broncos should be quote familiar with one another by the time this game kicks of on Saturday evening. The two teams will be practicing together for a couple days, and this brings up an interesting point that coupled come into play this weekend.

I have to think there’s a built in advantage for the Broncos as lengthier than normal stays in that Mile High altitude are not generally the best thing for visiting teams. I’m not sure exactly wheat that’s worth, but I don’t think it can hurt my case for the Broncos.

This will be the first home game for Gary Kubiak as the head coach of the Broncos. So far this pre-season, the new coaches are a perfect 5-0 both straight up and against the line in those home debuts.

Peyton Manning quarterbacked four series last game for the Broncos and Denver ended up punting the ball away each time. This game might not count for anything that matters, but I don’t mind the idea of backing Manning off an outing that wasn’t very good, particularly;y by his lofty standards.

The 49ers scored a relatively easy 23-6 win over Dallas, but the result was really more a case of the Cowboys not caring at all about the game and flooding the field with third and fourth team personnel while still in the first quarter. This was not unexpected, as head honcho Jerry Jones had expressed concern about the turf condition, and Dallas played the game with zero intensity and from what I could tell, very little in the way of a game plan.

It’s also worth mentioning that even with what appeared to be little real prep work by the Cowboys, San Francisco was still unable to get into the end zone with their popgun offense. The 49ers have looked pretty good on the defensive side of the ball, but the offense has been very ragged and it’s not mere speculation to suggest this unit is going to be less than stellar once the games start to count.

I generally don’t like to give up more than a field goal with any pre-season favorites. But the check marks here keep showing up on the Denver side and at this point, I’ll be surprised if this is a close game. I’m looking to lay the points on Saturday night with the Broncos.

Dave’s Free Play, Tuesday 8/25/15

I have an idea for a brand new 24-hour network that could make for popular viewing on cable or satellite TV. Welcome to the Apology Network!

Hey, why not? There’s a network for just about everything already, but this one would have an endless supply of new content, thanks to the astonishing inability of people to comprehend that whatever they happen to say is probably being recorded by someone.

Cris Carter is the star of today’s Apology Network main event. Carter’s advice to first-year NFL players at the 2014 NFL Rookie Symposium got discovered thanks to a recent ESPN The Magazine interview with former 49er Chris Borland. The gist of the speech was a suggestion by Carter to make sure there’s a “fall guy in your crew” in case legal trouble arises.

The irony is that it probably wasn’t bad advice for those players who feel the need to have a “crew”, but that’s not the point. It almost seemed as though Carter was endorsing the concept of players going this route, and that’s kind of stupid to begin with.

Carter’s apology was more ridiculous than the actual “advice”, as among his comments was this tidbit.

“It’s not the kind of advice I would offer young people.” Okay, except that’s exactly what you did, Cris.

Here’s what’s even more hilarious, however. The NFL quickly issued a statement condemning the Carter remarks. Typical vanilla stuff, you know the basic words without even reading them. But the laugh riot here is that this video was found at NFL.com, where it had been archived for some time, as this wasn’t a recent entry. It’s important to note that this was from the 2014 symposium, not one that had just taken place.

Perhaps the NFL needs to also issue a mea culpa for archiving videos they clearly never bothered to even look at.

The bad news for me is that I just realized there’s no real need for implementation of my otherwise brilliant idea for the Apology Network. It already exists, it just goes by another name. That would be the NFL Network.

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Short card for me on Monday, but it worked out nicely thanks to Kris Bryant launching a game winning homer for the Cubs. A little more depth on the Tuesday slate, with two games already played and a couple others likely to make the cut.

The NFL pre-season has been nice so far with a 7-3 slate. You’ll get all my plays in college and pro football right through the Super Bowl by subscribing to my service, and I’m including the rest of the baseball season as a bonus. Get all the details as weekly as the costs by emailing me directly at cokin@cox.net.

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The Royals came through as the Monday free play. Tuesday’s comp is one of the meaningless games on the MLB slate, but it sure won’t be that for those wagering on the outcome.

ROCKIES (Bettis) @ BRAVES (Foltynewicz)

Take: BRAVES -106

Mike Foltynewicz is still getting starts for the Braves, in spite of being mostly terrible. Foltynewicz certainly has the look of a pitcher who’s ultimate destination is late inning relief. But with the Braves not in contention for anything other than a high pick in the 2016 draft, I guess they might as well see if he can harness his command and prove to have worth as a starting pitcher.

I’m mentioning this because I’m taking the Braves here in spite of Foltynewicz. There’s really no way to make a good case for him, and admittedly he’s the big concern I have with this selection. But other aspects I see favor the Braves enough to warrant looking at their side as the right side tonight.

Chad Bettis has pitched very well in a pair of minor league rehabs as he prepares to come off the disabled list. In another season of disappointment for the Rockies, Bettis has actually provided something positive. But this is is his first start off the DL and I wouldn’t think that Bettis will be extended here as there’s simply no point in the Rockies taking any risk with a pitcher who profiles as a rotation member for 2016.

That means a good likelihood of at least three innings for the hapless Rockies bullpen, and perhaps more than that. The Braves aren’t exactly lights out when it comes to their bullpen, but they’re aces compared to the arms populating the Rockies relief corps.

It should also be noted that I’d be surprised if Carlos Gonzalez plays tonight for the visitors. CarGo tweaked his knee last night and had to leave the game. Given his very lengthy injury history, it seems unlikely we’ll see him in action tonight. That’s a major hit for the Rockies attack as Gonzalez has been on a tremendous tear and even if it’s just one game, that’s a big potential hope in the Colorado lineup.

The Braves have not been good at all lately, but they did snap their losing streak last night. The idea of playing against Colorado on the road in the even money neighborhood is appealing. Foltynewicz is a huge risk to be sure, but at this price and factoring in the aforementioned material, I’ll make a case for the Braves as tonight’s free play.

Dave’s Free Play, Monday 8/24/15

The college and NFL regular seasons are now just around the bend. That means it’s contest entry time here in Nevada. There is a wide ranging variety of action for every type of fan. You name it. you can find it, whether it’s a low priced deal where no spreads are involved, or the high roller tournaments with four figure entry fees and huge cash prizes for the winners.

The Supercontest at the Westgate has exploded nationally. Estimates are that there could be upwards of 2000 participants this season, which means a prize pool approaching or perhaps even topping $3 million. The Supercontest is NFL sides only, with each participant choosing five plays each week, and the spreads are the same for everyone.

The Golden Nugget has turned its Friday Football Showdown from what had been a 16-entry field to a wide open event where anyone can enter for $2000. This contest is seven selections each week, with all boarded college and NFL sides and totals available. One point is awarded for each correct play, with a designated weekly best bet worth two points. Everyone plays the first eight weeks. Once those eight weeks are in the books, the eight leaders will move on to a head to head format, leading to a championship round between the two final survivors.

We’re thrilled to be featuring the Westgate each Tuesday on The Las Vegas Sportsline (weekdays 2-3 PM Pacific, ESPN 1100/100.9 FM), as well as having the Golden Nugget with us on Fridays each week. Matt Youmans and myself are the show hosts, and we hope you’ll join us every day for what will hopefully be some entertaining and informative sports gambling conversation.  Those Friday shows will feature contestants in the Golden Nugget event, and we will be the exclusive home for all the head to head action once that gets underway.

These are truly international events, as anyone can enter. But there’s one catch, which is that the plays have to be posted in person. Obviously, that’s not possible for most people not living in Las Vegas, and that’s where proxies come into play. There are numerous folks who provide this service for a fee and it’s perfect for those who want to enter but can’t get to the casinos to enter their plays each week.

That leads to the topic today, which has to do with whether or not it’s okay for proxies to also be contestants. There’s some divided opinion on this subject. For some, it’s not a big deal. For others, there are concerns about whether it’s ethical. I’ll weigh in with my views.

Personally, if I were to utilize a proxy, I would prefer that it be someone who is not a contest participant. I think there’s an advantage to be both a proxy and an entrant. My rationale here is simple enough. If I’m a proxy who’s also playing, and I’m entering plays for, just to take a random number, 50 clients, I like the idea of knowing what the hot hands are on, as well as what those who might be stone cold are playing.

Don’t get me wrong, that info is hardly a sure thing in terms of having an edge. Player A who’s on fire, can turn into a cooler and Player B can suddenly go from fade city to red hot. But if you’re asking me whether I’d like to have access to that information, the answer is yes. Moreover, and here’s where there’s a bit of an ethical slippery slope, let’s bring into the conversation a late season scenario.

I’m a proxy who’s also playing and I’ve got a shot at getting paid based on my record to date. Ditto for a handful of the players I’m proxying for. My having their plays is now a huge advantage. I’m not speaking from an analytical standpoint here, that really doesn’t matter. But if I’m competing for a big prize and I know what my prospective competition is playing before I put in my own plays, that’s big advantage me and thank you very much.

My conclusion is that proxying and also entering is not unethical, but it’s incumbent upon the proxy to inform prospective clients that they are indeed entering the contest themselves. That way, it’s up to the contestant. If it doesn’t matter, then no problem. If it does, as it would to me to be perfectly candid, then find a proxy who is providing the service but not participating in either event.

Just for the record, I’m not in either contest. Station policy prohibits my participation as the contest hosts are also sponsors of our show. Nor am I a proxy as there’s zero chance I’d want that responsibility.

Got thoughts on this topic? Feel free to offer your views on Twitter where I can be found @davecokin.

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Okay Sunday as the 49ers were an easy choice (thanks, Jerry Jones) and the ridiculous Blue Jays obliterated the Angels after falling behind 5-1. The free play on the Rays got beat as the wrong bullpen collapsed, at least from my perspective.

I added another college football opening week play yesterday, so that count is now at seven, all sides. I’ve also played four NFL season O/U win totals. My service has no varying levels, so everyone gets all the plays. If you’d like info on what I provide and the costs involved (both flat rates and net winners available), shoot an email my way at cokin@cox.net and I’ll get right back with all the pertinent info.

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No bueno on the Rays as the Sunday free play. I’ll go the home chalk route for the Monday comp.

ORIOLES (Jimenez) @ ROYALS (Medlen)

Take: ROYALS -129

I’ll have to admit to a rooting interest here. I really hope Kris Medlen is able to return to the outstanding level he was pitching at prior to having his second Tommy John surgery. Yeah, the recovery rate these days is outstanding. But it’s still a bitch of a rehab according to everyone who’s had to go through it. Having to clear both the physical and mental hurdles involved with multiple procedures has to be a little bit brutal. So I think it’s great that Medlen has returned to action and I hope he gets all the way back.

So far, so good for Medlen. His first relief outing was gnarly as he surrendered four runs. But since that ugly debut as a Royal, Medlen has put together a nifty 11 inning scoreless streak where he’s given up just six hits. Moreover, his velocity is back to pre-injury levels. There might be a decline tonight as he transitions from the pen back to the rotation and pacing himself enters the picture. But it really does appear as though it could be all systems go for Medlen.

Good luck trying to figure out which Ubaldo Jimenez shows up. Good Ubaldo can shut down anyone when the command is there. U-Bad-O is always a possibility as well, and of late we’re seeing a bit more of that Jimenez version.

The Orioles head to Kansas City off a disastrous weekend as they were swept at home by the supposedly dead in the water Twins. Going 0-4 against Minnesota and now having to hit the road to play the Royals? Not exactly ideal.

I’m not about to throw dirt on the Orioles and suggest their playoff chances are toast. But they took a big hit this weekend and Jimenez is just not a stopper. Medlen should be completely geared up for his first start and I like his chances of giving me five good innings before yielding to the Royals bullpen. Kansas City is in great shape to land home field advantage for the AL playoffs, but this not a team that that looks as though they’re about to go into coast mode. I think the price is reasonable enough to make the Royals an acceptable choice this evening.