Dave’s Free Plays, Friday 5/29/15

Goodbye, Tom Thibodeau. Hello, Fred Hoiberg.

The Chicago Bulls made it official yesterday on the farewell count, as they canned Thibodeau. The “search” for the next head coach is now underway, but those in the know are convinced that’s just window dressing and that Hoiberg has already all but signed on the dotted line.

Thibodeau is clearly a good NBA coach. Naysayers might point to the losing record in the playoffs. But I’ll go the other way and will remain impressed with what Thibs accomplished during his regular seasons at the Bulls helm. Fielding a healthy roster was an issue throughout his tenure and it’s really no secret that the coach and team management just weren’t on the same page. Jimmy Butler became a star on Thibodeau’s watch and my first impulse is that this team might take a step backward next season. Yes, the Bulls will likely field a more potent offense that is better in transition than Thib’s teams were. But you can bet your bottom dollar they won’t have the same defensive acumen.

As for where Thibodeau lands, any of the teams with current openings are now free to add Thibs to their wish list. He hadn’t been mentioned as a candidate for the open New Orleans or Orlando gigs. That could certainly change now and off the top, I can see Thibodeau being a great fit for the Pelicans.

The Bulls are still longing for a return to their championship glory days. But there’s no one named Michael Jordan on the current roster. The most talented player is Derrick Rose, but he has trouble staying on the court. I’m not going to crush the Bulls for making this move, if only because management really does need to have someone they can work more closely with doing the coaching. It’s in fact a real possibility that his franchise had gone as far as they could go considering what seemed to be philosophical differences between the suits and the coach that were beyond repairing. That being the apparent case, someone had to go, and as is almost always the case, it turned out to be the coach.

Nevertheless, I’ll offer that the winner here will be Tom Thibodeau as he will get another job and in all likelihood, more control. As for the Bulls, they might be more entertaining to watch next season and beyond, but I’m not sure that will translate into the title contention they’re looking for.


Another step on Thursday with the Red Sox and Indians, and I’ll try to maintain tonight with what will likely be a little deeper card. Get the goods on how to receive all my plays along with a great introductory guarantee by emailing me directly at cokin@cox.net.


Nice work by Corey Kluber and the Indians as the Thursday free play winner. The Red Sox and Rangers continue their weekend series tonight at Arlington, and that’s the Friday comp.

RED SOX (Wright)  @  RANGERS (Gallardo)

Take: RANGERS -117 (Don Best Consensus Line at Publication Time)

There was finally some good news for Red Sox Nation on Thursday night. Highly touted prospect Eduardo Rodriguez enjoyed a spectacular debut, the Bosox actually managed to plate five runs,. and the struggling entry got itself a needed win with the 5-1 nod over the Rangers.

Here’s the bad news. Rodriguez will not be allowed to pitch on zero days rest, and the Boston offense was yet again very inefficient despite the victory. The Red Sox had 19 batters reach base on Thursday evening. So scoring only five runs isn’t exactly reason to schedule a victory parade. Nice win to be sure, but in the process the Red Sox managed to also hit into a whopping five double plays. I’m glad the Sox won, both as a fan and as a bettor as they were a play last night. But let’s face it, the fact is that without Rodriguez pitching as brilliantly as he did in his first big league start, Boston could well have been staring at yet another loss.

Steven Wright will make the start tonight, and he’s somewhat tough to project, as is so often the case with knuckleball specialists. If his pitches are dancing, he’ll be a handful for the Texas hitters. If Wright ends up missing in the strike zone, he’ll get beaten up by some decent Rangers hitters, including the very hot Prince Fielder.

Yovani Gallardo will throw for the home team, and while his ace level days are long gone, Gallardo is pitching respectable ball for the Rangers. Gallardo will get to face a Red Sox lineup that just isn’t that daunting right now. That might not be the case on paper, as there are some very talented players in the Boston bating order. But they haven’t hit as a team for some time now and again, whole they scored five runs on Thursday, it was hardly what one could possible term as any kind of a breakout with those five GIDP’s.

The hot run for Texas has been a surprise, and now that they’ve lose a couple in succession, it’s probably somewhat likely we’re going to witness some regression as I don’t see this as a strong team. But I don’t mind the matchup on the mound here as I’m giving Gallardo a definite edge over Wright. And I didn’t see any realistic improvement from the recently anemic Boston offense as they did very little against Nick Martinez and the late game outburst was mostly thanks to some bad bullpen work by the Rangers. I see Texas as the more likely winner tonight, and the price is acceptable enough to tab the Rangers as the free play for the day.


FanDuel Value Play, Friday 5/29

Mitch Moreland, OF $2800

Moreland went hitless on Thursday night against the very tough lefty serves of Eduardo Rodriguez. But the veteran 1B/OF has been hitting well lately and I like his chances of getting some good work done tonight against knuckleballer Steven Wright. The Boston righty has done okay thus far at keeping the ball in the park, but to me that’s always a concern with knuckleballers. When they miss in the strike zone, the ball can often go a long distance and Moreland has the capability of driving it deep in this ballpark. Early weather forecast calls for a breeze blowing out at Arlington, so I’ll tab Moreland a possible long ball candidate this evening. Moreland meets the value criteria, as he’s cheap enough at $2800 and buying him means more dollars available to spend elsewhere on stars.

Dave’s Free Plays, Thursday 5/28/15

Riley Curry is four years old, incredibly cute and has become an overnight sensation with her press conference appearances following Warriors playoff games. Her dad, Stephen Curry, is this year’s NBA MVP, but he’s strictly a supporting cast member when his daughter is around.

I think it’s terrific. It’s rare that anything of substance is ever uttered at these postgame get togethers, and that particularly applies to Curry, who has already mastered the art of avoiding anything controversial. Riley Curry is simply taking what is a non-event and making it more interesting.

Unfortunately, not everyone in the media agrees. Check out the holier than thou commentary by ESPN “First Take” panelists Brian Windhorst and Skip Bayless. Among other things, Windhorst talked about how it’s “counterproductive” because it takes away from being able to ask the questions, and that Stephen Curry could have “had some very important quotes that didn’t get reported.” Yeah, right. Maybe if it’s teammate Draymond Green, you’ve got something as he’s very quotable. Curry isn’t.

Bayless, who has always been the ultimate contrarian by design, has gone off the rail and is simply now ridiculous. He went on about deadlines for the reporters and how the process was “completely disrupted by little Riley stealing the show.” Really, Skip? The roughly two minutes or so that little Riley might have used up with her appearance isn’t going to mess with anyone’s deadline, so that’s an incorrect assessment. As far as the NBA needing to “make a call to preserve the sanctity of the postgame”,  I honestly have no idea what Skip is referring to. But just reading such an inane quote did crack me up, so I guess I’ll give him props for that.

Here’s the thing about post-game press conferences. With very few exceptions, I can basically tell you almost exactly what questions are always going to be asked, and what the replies will be. It’s the same thing over and over virtually all the time. The only deviations are when someone who feeds on controversy has the mic in front of him. So if it’s a postgame presser with Rex Ryan, or post-fight with Bob Arum, okay, let’s make sure we get what might be some inflammatory quotes that make for great water cooler fodder. With Stephen Curry, we’re going to get the NBA version of Derek Jeter. The now retired Yankees superstar was as good as it gets at saying absolutely nothing of substance, and Curry is a chip off that block.

Sorry to pick on Windhorst and Bayless, as they’re hardly the only two media members complaining about the intrusive presence of a four-year old who wants to be with her dad. My first and last take on the topic is that those old farts (regardless of actual age) need to lighten up and just enjoy the moment. Which, by the way, seems to be exactly what the Currys are doing.


Wednesday sweep, which was fun, and I’ll try and turn that trick again today. Get the goods on my guaranteed introductory monthly offer, which I’ve decided to simply keep in place for the foreseeable future. Find out all the details and decide whether it’s right for you by emailing me directly at cokin@cox.net.


The White Sox blew the late lead against the Blue Jays, but plated a pair in extras to net a free play winner on Wednesday. I’ll go with one of baseball’s best for the Thursday comp.

INDIANS (Kluber)  @  MARINERS (Paxton)

Take: INDIANS -128 (Don Best consensus line at publication time)

Turn back the clock one year and you’ll readily see some striking similarities to this season as far as the Corey Kluber game ledger goes. Kluber had a few less than desired starts early on, but he got it rolling in May last season. It looks as though he’s repeating that process in 2015.

Kluber had a difficult April. He actually was pitching reasonably well, but was getting some horrible luck and it seemed as though every time he did make a mistake, it would prove very costly. That’s not happening anymore. The reigning AL Cy Young winner is getting on another roll. I can’t say he’ll duplicate last year’s phenomenal run that saw the Indians win 20 of his last 27 starts. But Kluber is back in the form that tells me there might be better options available than trying to beat him.

The Indians are clearly an early season disappointment. I’m not sure they’re going to be able to straighten out what is looking like a very shaky bullpen and this is still a team that can be stymied by good lefties. That’s the rub tonight as Seattle southpaw James Paxton can be very tough at times and no one on the Indians has faced him previously. The Mariners are also returning home with positive momentum following an impressive road sweep at Tampa Bay.

But my key ingredient here is Kluber. Once he got it going in 2014, he was a huge money maker as he dominated on such a frequent basis. It’s a little deja vu all over again here as Kluber has stated to once again blow away the opposition. When a top end starting pitcher gets on a roll, I’ll personally add significantly when I make my line on a game. That’s the case here, as I’m pricing the Indians in the -150 neighborhood. Therefore, at least from my vantage point, I’m not having to pay a premium on Kluber with the price where it is currently. I’ll look to back the Indians tonight.


FanDuel Value Play, Thursday 5/28/15

Eduardo Rodriguez, P, $4600

It’s the big league debut for Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodriguez. This kid is definitely a legit prospect. There does seem to be some debate as to whether his future will be as a starting pitcher or as a high end bullpen contributor. That will likely depend on how well his breaking ball develops, as right now he’s mostly fastball and changeup. But what’s not in question is that Rodriguez has pitched well at Pawtucket and he’s ready for a big league audition. First time around the league lefties are often solid investments as the hitters just aren’t familiar with them. I’ll bank on that being the case here and at a bargain basement price for a starting pitcher, I’ll gamble that Rodriguez can be a profitable buy tonight against the Rangers.




Dave’s Free Plays, Wednesday 5/27/15

It’s not always about the money. Cynical sports fans might be of the opinion that everything is about the big bucks with today’s athletes. But while there’s no question the contracts matter, there’s no price tag that can be put on the emotional connections players sometimes have with teammates, organizations, and fans.

A great example of this was on display Tuesday evening with the apparent finalization of a deal between the Dodgers and Braves. Juan Uribe is heading to Atlanta while Alberto Callaspo will make the move west to Los Angeles. It appears as though there might be some other players involved in this swap, and it’s a fairly insignificant deal to be sure. But for at least one of the players involved, Tuesday turned out to be a very tough day.

Juan Uribe enjoyed a nice run with the Dodgers. His first couple of seasons at Chavez Ravine weren’t good. But Uribe rebounded smartly in 2013 and was a playoff hero with a key home run that propelled the Dodgers past the Braves and into the NLCS series. Uribe also had a solid 2014, and went into this season as the starting 3B for LA. But with the emergence of Alexander Guerrero and the continued contributions by Justin Turner, Uribe’s role was diminishing and he was seeing more and more time on the pine.

Uribe was clearly very emotional when asked about his reaction to the trade. This was clearly not something he wanted. While Uribe’s production was on the wane, he was always regarded as a top clubhouse guy and while the Dodgers might not miss Uribe in the stat column, they probably will as a team first guy and mentor to younger players.

There are times when a player wears out his welcome and needs to given a change in scenery. There are other occasions where any hint of loyalty is tossed out the window as a player bids farewell to head to greener pastures. Those moves are not hard to swallow for the most part. Trades like this are tougher, even if they’re not that meaningful in the big picture. That’s why even though he’s making seven figures this season regardless of where he performs, one can’t help but feel a little sorry for Juan Uribe as he says so long to the Dodgers.


Okay Tuesday, as I lost with the Royals but got a very easy win with the Cavaliers and also picked up a win with the Rangers on the ice. Don’t forget about my monthly intro special, which includes a dynamite guarantee. Email me directly at cokin@cox.net for all the pertinent info.


Good work by Henrik Lundqvist when it mattered as the Rangers forced the conclusive Game Seven by defeating the Lightning on Tuesday evening. I’ll head back to the diamond for today’s free play, and note there’s a time change here and the game will start early.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX (Samardzija)  @ BLUE JAYS (Estrada)

Take: CHICAGO WHITE SOX +105 (Don Best consensus line at time of publication)

The White Sox have to be kicking themselves after letting one get away on Tuesday night. David Robertson crashed and burned in a disastrous ninth inning as the Jays, who have been horrible in one-run games, rallied to get the 10-9 win.

Jeff Samardzija will look to get the Chisox back in the win column today. Samardzija is off his best start of the season, and he’s a guy who is capable of getting hot, so I’m hoping that most recent outing was a buy sign for the hard throwing righty.

Marco Estrada has been acceptable for Toronto since moving into the Blue Jays rotation, But Estrada is strictly back of the rotation material, and if Samardzija is on his game again today, it figures to be tough for Estrada to keep pace.

Make no mistake, the White Sox are not the easiest team to back these days. Some teams play the power game, others are built to run. The Pale Hose have been neither this season. They’re dead last in home runs among AL teams, and they’re also at the bottom of the league heap in SB’s. Consequently, the Chisox have scored fewer runs than all of their AL brethren, and by a pretty good margin.

Contrast that with the Blue Jays. Toronto has its problems, but firing up the scoreboard sure hasn’t been one of those issues. The Jays are the highest scoring team in the league, and by a bunch at that.

So even with the better pitcher in Samardzija, this is no cinch. But this is still a guy who profiles toward the top of a rotation vs. one who is clearly not of that caliber and off a really strong showing last week, I want to give Samardzija a look today. I’ll side with the White Sox as the Wednesday comp.


FanDuel Value Play, Wednesday 5/27

Josh Harrison, 3B, $3100

There are times when I rush to judgment, and it sure looks like I might be guilty on that count when it comes to Josh Harrison. He enjoyed a breakout campaign with the Pirates in 2014, and when Harrison got off to a very sluggish start this year, I mentioned his as one who might be a candidate for inclusion in the fluke club.

Harrison is now back to resembling the player we saw last season. He’s on a scorching tear over the past 13 games, and he’ll likely be leading off today against Marlins lefty Brad Hand and what figures to be a succession of reliever, as Hand doesn’t figure to go really deep in this game.

Harrison is back to seeing action as various positions, but for FanDuel purposes, he’s listed at third base. The price tag is just $3100, and with as hot as Harrison is right now, I would consider that salary to be a nice discount that’s worth taking advantage of.

Dave’s Free Plays, Tuesday 5/26/15

A couple of random baseball thoughts today, and I’ll start with the San Diego Padres. I think it’s fair to say that the first quarter of the season has been a flop for the Friars. Matt Kemp is having a very disappointing start to the season and it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to get him out of the #3 hole for at least a little bit. What’s really getting interesting here are the increasing rumbles regarding Bud Black. This wouldn’t be a big deal as managerial rumors are a constant, but it’s a little different here.

There was even some buzz about Black’s status on the Padres post-game show last night. That’s a little unusual, as the pre and post game shows for virtually every team are almost always delivered with a positive spin. The fact it was even brought up in any way last night following the latest loss, this time at Anaheim, was a little surprising to me. But it should also be noted that Black probably mishandled the bottom of the ninth in this walk-off defeat, or at least left himself wide open to be second guessed.

But let’s face facts. The Padres underwent a major off-season overhaul and basically stripped the farm system to try and win right now. Expectations are the highest they’ve been in years for this team, and right now they’re struggling. The GM isn’t going to fire himself if things don’t start improving, and they don’t really have much left to offer in a deal for a possibly available star. That puts Black on the hot seat. The widespread consensus that he’d immediately become an ultra-hot commodity is no doubt accurate. But I am starting to wonder about Black’s long tern prospects in San Diego.

Next up, the Cincinnati Reds. They lost again yesterday, this time falling 5-4 to the Rockies. This was only a close game on the scoreboard, as the Rockies were the much sharper team on the field. If you watched this game, you know exactly what I mean. The Rockies were hustling their butts off, and on two occasions we saw players literally dive into the stands to catch foul balls. As for the Reds, they were really flat and appeared to me to be a team going through the motions.

Bryan Price is in just his second year at the Cincinnati helm, but I also wonder about his job security at this point. Whereas Black is deserving of a longer leash based on his body of work and reputation, Price has none of that going for him. His first-year performance drew mixed reviews, to put it kindly. The 2015 Reds weren’t realistically expected be contenders, but right now they’re a very bad baseball team. I’m not putting all the blame on Price, as this just isn’t a really good roster. But when it’s really obvious that one team is playing harder than the other, as I absolutely believe was the case on Monday before a holiday home crowd, some of that fault has to rest with the skipper.


Monday was not much fun here, as I dropped three of four and was again on the wrong side of two one-run decisions. This has been a really frustrating month on that count, but that’s also part of the game that has to be tolerated if one is to survive long term.

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Monday’s free play was the ultimate no-sweat loser as the game was over in a blink. Note that the Royals didn’t make my card when I was able to assess the actual starting lineups. I always try to post on Twitter (@davecokin) whether a play is on my final personal card or not, so advise following me there to get that info each day. Tonight, it’s a peek at Game Six between the Rangers and Lightning as the phenomenal NHL playoffs continue.


Take: NY RANGERS +120 (Don Best consensus line at time of publication)

It’s do or die tonight for the Rangers as they seek to make it to the Stanley Cup finals for the second straight season. A 2-0 Tampa Bay win at Madison Square Garden on Sunday now has the Lightning presented with the opportunity to close the show.

The Lightning have obviously managed to close out their prior two series against the Canadiens and Red Wings. Tampa Bay had to come back from a 3-2 deficit to get past Detroit. Against Montreal, the Lightning went up 3-0 but needed six games to finally send the Habs home.

The Rangers have relied on future Hall of Fame member Henrik Lundqvist to be at his absolute best in games like this. Lundqvist has a phenomenal record in elimination games. That ledger includes three straight wins this season as the Rangers were down 3-1 against the Capitals, and Lundqvist delivered each time.

Tampa Bay has been the better team in this series, so the Lightning being up 3-2 is not a fluke. The Rangers have had some blue line issues and their power play has been largely ineffective throughout the series. Based on the eye test, it’s not that tough to make a case for the home team tonight and goalie Ben Bishop should be brimming with confidence off the Game Five shutout.

I’m pretty much going all-in with Lundqvist with this opinion. It seems as though he usually finds a way to come up huge when the chips are down and it certainly wasn’t Hank’s fault the Rangers got blanked at home in Game Five. I’ll tab the Rangers as the side tonight as road dogs to send it back to MSG for a classic Game Seven finale.


FanDuel Value Play Tuesday 5/25

Chris Colabello, OF $2800

Chris Colabello was an early season surprise with the Twins in 2014. He eventually regressed to the point the Twins sent Colabello back to AAA. It seems as though he doesn’t want a repeat of that unhappy ending this time around. Colabello has come up big for the Blue Jays since his recall and he has been on fire at home, while also mashing pretty well against southpaws. Toronto has a team has big offensive numbers against lefties, and they’re facing a very hittable one tonight with John Danks on the hill for the White Sox. Colabello has very nice short sample stats against Danks and he should make for a good value play at the price tonight.




Dave’s Free Plays, Monday 5/25/15

Lots of controversy coming out of the Sunday night OT battle between the Hawks and Cavaliers. Cleveland ended up with the exciting 114-111 win, and they’re now in possession of a series stranglehold, up three games to zero.

The big buzz coming out of Game Three is being focused on the Flagrant 2 and therefore automatic ejection of Atlanta’s Al Horford. Obviously, this was a huge call that Hawks fans, and perhaps lots of neutral observers, will insist determined the outcome of the game. That we’ll never know, but it’s safe to say it had to have some impact on how things played out.

I’ll preface this by saying I don’t like the rule the way they’ve got it set up, but according to the actual rule as it is, the refs got it right. Horford caught Matthew Dellavedova in the back of the head with an elbow. While Dellavedova might well have richly deserved some kind of payback for his own actions throughout this series, retaliation of this type is strictly prohibited in the NBA. Again, I’m not saying I like the rule the way it is, but there’s very little room for interpretation here. Even Horford admitted after the game that he “could have handled it differently”.

Losing a key player hurt the Hawks, but they also did some things to beat themselves in this game. I thought the end of regulation possession was terrible. But this is evidently what happens when a team lacks that true go to superstar. Much has been made of how much that matters in the NBA, but I think the evidence speaks for itself. Championship teams are blessed with at least one legit superstar, and that’s something the Hawks just don’t have.

The flip side is LeBron James, who had a rough time getting untracked but was money when it mattered. James was 0/10 to start this game. But he finished with 37 points, along with 18 boards and 13 assists, and was immense at the most crucial moments. It’s beyond me how some observers continue to question this guy. Here’s how vital James is. With him, the Cavs are heading to the Finals. Without him, they might have been viewing the draft lottery earlier this week with more than a passing interest. Okay, perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea.

I’m thankful we at least got a corker of a game here between the Hawks and Cavaliers. This has not been what I’d call a riveting playoff to date, and it looks even worse when compared to the amazing duels that have been taking place in the NHL. Let’s hope the likely Cavaliers/Warriors championship series turns out to be something a little more memorable.

1-1 on Sunday, with the Marlins producing and the Mariners failing to do so. Get the lowdown on my guaranteed monthly offer by emailing me directly at cokin@cox.net. All correspondence is confidential, as I don’t peddle or trade names with anyone.


The Cubs fell short against the suddenly surging Diamondbacks as the Sunday free play. I’ll got the small road dog route for the holiday comp.

(965) ROYALS (Guthrie)  @  (966) YANKEES (Eovaldi)

Take: ROYALS +115 (DonBest Consensus at time of publication)

UPDATE: Sal Perez will sit this one out for KC and the Yankees have eight lefties in the lineup today against Guthrie. I will therefore not be using this as a personal play. (Source I use for starting lineups is baseballpress.com, great resource.

I’ve already accepted the inevitable as far as one of my pre-season win total plays in concerned. My Under wager on the Royals is toast. I thought this team was one of the ultimate flukes last season, and I was wrong. Simple as that. Maybe the Royals enjoyed some good fortune last season, but there’s nothing phony about this KC edition right now. They’re good and they know it, and they play virtually every day with tremendous energy and confidence. I’ll look for more of the same today as the Royals open a set with the Yankees.

The home team is in awful form right now. The Yankees have lost six in a row, and 10 of their last 11. They haven’t been hitting much and when the bats have managed to produce, the pitching has come up short. This seems to be an issue throughout the AL East, thus every team in the division is still pretty much ion the thick of things. But at least at the present time, this is a bad Yankees team.

The Royals also tasted defeat on Sunday, but they haven’t been doing much of that all season. This team still doesn’t walk much and is not blessed with big power. But they sure do make contact, they’re very aggressive, and there’s dynamite defense nearly everyplace.

Jeremy Guthrie is strictly a back end starter, but he’s been good enough to keep the Royals in games long enough to turn things over to that spectacular bullpen. The Royals have been winners in 10 of Guthrie’s last 11 starts away from home. If you’re looking for some team data, just check out KC’s record as an underdog. Put it this way, if you’ve been laying any prices against the Royals, you’re probably not very happy about the results.

Nathan Eovaldi will throw for the Yanks today and he remains an enigmatic talent. Watch Eovaldi pitch and you’ll see a guy who certainly looks like he has the stuff to be a big league winner. But when Eovaldi makes mistakes, they’re frequently right in the hot zones for opposing hitters and that’s when bad things happen to the fireballer. Simply stated, I think that has much to do with Eovaldi’s .352 BABIP. He also has been very shaky at home, and that 36% hard hit rate is at least a mild concern.

I’ll also toss the peculiar scheduling into the mix here. The Yankees played the Sunday night game against Texas and now are first to take the field in a series opener the next day. I’m not sure who approved that deal, but it’s not something I’d consider advantageous for the home team. At plus money, I see the Royals being a very playable side today.


FanDuel Value Play, Monday 5/25/15

Adrian Beltre, 3B $2900

His best offensive days might now be in the past, but Adrian Beltre is showing he’s still capable of plenty of production. He’ll have a decent chance to post some numbers on Monday squaring off against Shaun Marcum and the Indians. Overnight weather conditions indicate a nice breeze out to left field at the Jake by the Lake. Beltre has really picked things up recently following a subpar start to the season. He’s well down the price list among eligible 3B on Monday, so I’ll recommend Beltre as a good potential fit on your DFS card.



Dave’s Free Plays, Sunday 5/24/15

It happens almost every day. I’ve been watching baseball longer than most of you reading this space have been alive. But I still see something I’ve either never or at least seldom seen on a constant basis.

Take Saturday, for instance. First off, I saw a manager get thrown out of a game before it started. Bryan Price was evidently still irritated with umpire Manny Gonzalez concerning his strike zone judgment from the prior night. Price admitted he was still “hungover” from the previous evening’s problems with the blue, and started barking about it while exchanging lineup cards. Price might well have used some of the same colorful language he displayed when going after the Cincinnati media earlier this season, and ump Jim Reynolds ran Price before the first pitch was even thrown.

Then there was the Orioles/Marlins game. Brian Matusz became the second pitcher in just the last few days to get tossed for having a foreign substance on his arm. Marlins skipper Dan Jennings spotted whatever the substance was, alerted the umps, and Matusz got tossed. That might well have been the difference maker as Orioles manager Buck Showalter was forced to turn to TJ McFarland, and Miami eventually got him for the game’s only run. Jennings, by the way, also got his first win as a manager here after absorbing five straight losses.

This game also featured three scoreless and dominant innings by Miami reliever Carter Capps, who had just been called back up from the minors. Capps looked great with his new delivery. Only one problem. It’s illegal. There’s going to be some controversy here. Capps is literally leaping forward off the rubber before he throws his pitch. That’s not legal. He got called on this in the minors, but the ruling so far from MLB is that as long as he’s dragging his foot it’s legal. There’s the rub. He’s not. Capps is basically jumping forward and gaining what I think is a substantial advantage by throwing his pitches from well in front of the rubber. I’m taking the stance this is not a legal pitch, and I’ll be very surprised if this isn’t revisited by big league officials.

If you want to see what I’m talking about, just search “Carter Capps Illegal Pitch” and you’ll be able to see the actual pitch and lots of dialogue about whether it’s legit or not. You be the judge. The key is whether he’s dragging his foot from the rubber or not. If that’s dragging his foot, I apparently don’t know what dragging is. Capps is jumping forward and there’s no way this pitch should be allowed, IMHO.

See for yourself and let me know what you think on Twitter (@davecokin).


1-2 Saturday but just a 0.5 unit loss as the A’s paid off nicely as a big dog. The two losers were each in extra innings, so my ridiculous luck on those games continues. It’s frustrating as hell to be sure, but getting the worst of it in coin flip finishes is part of the endeavor. One has to ride the tide either way and when the luck factor is negative, just hang in till the laws of probability take over.

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Nice work by Kendall Graveman as he pitched Oakland to the win at Tampa Bay for a Saturday free play victory. I’ll go with what will be public road chalk for Sunday’s comp.

(907) CUBS (Hammel)  @  DIAMONDBACKS (Hellickson)

Take: (907) CUBS -129 (consensus Don Best line at time of publication)

The first two games of the series between the Cubs and Diamondbacks have been highly entertaining. The Snakes captured the Friday opener in extras for their fifth straight win. But that streak was snapped Saturday night as the Cubs won a back and forth battle by a 9-6 count. I like the Cubbies to grab the rubber match today.

Jason Hammel is pitching rock solid ball for the visitors. Hammel was dynamite for the Cubs last season, and I’m still not sure what happened when he went to Oakland. In any event, he’s right back in the form he was flashing last year at this time, and I don’t see any particular reason he shouldn’t have another good outing today.

Jeremy Hellickson does not inspire anywhere near that level of confidence. Hellickson has struggled badly at Chase, maybe not as much as the 7.45 home ERA would indicate, but not far from it. His four game scores at home have been 33, 31, 29 and 44. That’s not good, and making matters worse, Hellickson has had a bad time chewing up innings.

That last variable is in play here as the Diamondbacks bullpen could well be on fumes at this point. Unless Hellickson suddenly morphs into something he hasn’t come close to being this season, he’s either taking one for the team or forcing a potentially tired set of arms to pick up the slack.

Arizona has been better lately, and part of the reason has been that they’re finally getting a little production from the bottom portion of the batting order. But Hammel will have a good chance to reverse that trend and if this happens to be close late, I think the Cubs are going to own an advantage in the pen.

As mentioned earlier, I’m anticipating public money on the road favorite here. in this instance, I believe it to be justified. As always on Sundays, it’s probably advisable to wait for lineup info to make sure our side isn’t sitting any key starters. But as it stands right now, I like the Cubs to capture this series finale.


Sunday 5/24 Fan Duel Value Play

Brandon Belt, OF $4100

I’m normally looking for a discount position player to plug in so that I might be able to spend bigger dollars on some stars. But I’ve got use Belt today. He’s not cheap at $4100, but he’s also 5/5 against Chad Bettis and he’s playing at Coors. That’s a pretty good combination of ingredients for some production, so even at a slightly above average tag, I would consider Belt somewhat of a good value today.


Dave’s Free Plays, Saturday 5/23/15

Skipping the usual commentary tonight, and will just do the quick Friday recap, the obligatory sales pitch and the free plays.

2-1 on Friday, winning with the Orioles and Giants, losing with the Cardinals. The current special is in place till the end of the month. Buy 30 days, get a guaranteed net profit of 1o units minimum (virtually all plays are one unit each), or the service continues until that plateau is reached. Get the complete lowdown on how everything works by emailing me at cokin@cox.net.


The Giants had to sweat a bottom of the ninth rain delay and a rally by the Rockies. But they held on to get the win at Coors by an 11-8 count. Today I’ll take a chance on the team that currently has the worst record in the majors.

969 ATHLETICS (Graveman)  @  970 RAYS (Karns)

Take: 969 ATHLETICS +125 (consensus line at time of publication)

Kendall Graveman was the buzz of spring training. The Oakland righty was impressive in the games that didn’t count, and was a somewhat hot commodity once the real stuff began. Unfortunately for Graveman, things didn’t work out at all well and he suddenly found himself heading back to the bushes to try and get straightened out.

Perhaps it was the pressure of higher than they should have realistically been expectations. Maybe the pitch to contact Graveman was trying to be too fine. Whatever the cause, he really struggled and one of the big issues was poor control, which is supposed to be a strength for Graveman.

I’m expecting some better results as Graveman now gets another chance. His first start after being sent down was not so hot, but the last three have been much better, and Graveman was razor sharp in his most recent start for Nashville. Unlike the atmosphere coming out of the spring games, Graveman won’t be as much in the spotlight this time around, and that might be just what the doctor ordered.

Nate Karns will throw for Tampa Bay today. Karns has been what I would term as a pleasant surprise for the Rays. He’s been very competitive in all but two of his starts, he’s racking up plenty of K’s, and while his control can still be shaky at times, it’s safe to say I’m not expecting Karns to be a pushover here.

But I do wonder whether Karns will be as sharp as he’s been coming off a lengthy layoff. Karns was in a nice rhythm but his turn was skipped last time through the rotation when the Rays had a day off. I don’t have any argument against the Rays having done this, as preserving innings for a young starter is not the worst idea in the world. But after starting every fifth day, Karns could be a candidate to lose a bit of his edge with nine days off.

The tough part of this play is backing the A’s, who are a terrible team right now. Whatever was ailing Oakland down the stretch last season appears to have carried over, and they now own the worst record in the majors. Nevertheless, I see this number being a little too rich and the name of the game here is value. I priced this more toward -120, so being able to get what looks like a generous price makes the A’s the choice here.


FanDuel Value Play for Saturday 5/23/15

Andre Ethier, OF $2600

These haven’t been the easiest of times for Andre Ethier, who went from being an everyday mainstay on the Dodgers to a supporting cast player. He’s getting regular AB’s now thanks to some injuries, and with the Dodgers a bit thin in their rotation, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ethier becoming trade bait once again. As for tonight, Ethier gets to face a pitcher he’s had success against in Ian Kennedy and the fact the San Diego righty is in awful recent form should be definite plus. This has been an horrendous offensive week for the Dodgers, but if there’s a breakout spot for them it could be here against Kennedy. At $2600, I can make a decent case to include Ethier in my DFS lineup.

Dave’s Free Plays, Friday 5/22/15

The Golden State Warriors are now up 2-0 in the duel with the Houston Rockets for the NBA Western Conference title. That’s not unexpected. But neither of the two victories for the Warriors have come easily, and with the series now shifting to Houston, things have a chance to get really interesting.

The Warriors appeared to be on their way to a relatively comfortable Game Two win on Thursday night as they sprinted to a 17-point lead in the second quarter. But Houston refused to buckle, and if not for some great end game defense by league MVP Stephen Curry, the Rockets might well have come away with the upset win.

From a spread perspective, Warriors backers have to be disappointed as while Golden State has won the first two games, they’ve covered the number in neither. Welcome to the playoffs. Big spreads are tough to get past as the teams that are behind don’t simply accept a likely loss and roll over in hopes of doing better in the next game. That’s in contrast to the regular season where that’s a tendency that’s more easily exploited.

Spread results aside, however, I’m really impressed with Golden State’s ability to find ways to win even when certain aspects of their game aren’t clicking. That’s the mark of a championship team, and that’s also why I’ll be surprised if the Warriors don’t capture at least one of the two upcoming games at Houston. I don’t think this will be a sweep as the Rockets are playing with confidence following that dramatic back from the dead rally against the Clippers. I also don’t see them simply tossing in the mental towel even if they happen to fall behind 3-0 in this series.

Right now, I’d have to give the NHL a substantial edge over the NBA in terms of post-season  drama in what we’ve witnessed this far. But off the first two games in this Rockets-Warriors showdown, there’s no question I’ll be tuning info Game Three with definite expectations of more excitement.


2-1 here on Thursday. The Angels failed against Toronto, but I picked up my fourth straight win going against the Marlins, and a first five innings play on the Indians won easily. Find out what I’ve got tonight and for the next 30 days to boot with my ongoing monthly offer. This deal includes a powerful guarantee that I remain convinced is the strongest anyone in my industry offers. Get complete details by emailing me directly at cokin@cox.net.


No sweat on the Thursday free play as the Rangers and Red Sox stayed well Under the number, in spite of the breeze blowing out at Fenway park. Boston’s ineptitude with the sticks continued, as they went 0/6 with runners in scoring position. They’re now a mind blowing 19/134 this month in this category, which works out to a .142 average. And here we all thought pitching would be their problem. Oops. Tonight’s free play is an NL West hookup featuring a charging World Series champion.

907 GIANTS (Vogelsong) @  908 ROCKIES (Kendrick)

Take: GIANTS -112 (DonBest consensus line at press time)

If this were college football or perhaps even college basketball, I’d probably be looking at a game like this as a potential letdown spot for the Giants. Team coming off a statement win against an arch rival, now going on the road to face a weak opponent. That’s a scheduling dynamic scenario that has letdown written all over it.

But baseball can’t be analyzed like other sports, and while I’m sure there are emotional dead spots for teams, I don’t believe they’re nearly as predictable or easy to recognize. In fact, when it comes to baseball, the idea here is to try and get on teams that are rolling if the money line price doesn’t get in the way and ruin the value. I don’t see that being the case tonight.

Ryan Vogelsong is once again kicking off the dirt after being dead and buried for the umpteenth time. Vogelsong had a terrible spring training and started the regular season off in awful form. But he’s found a way to make another recovery and while his road numbers to date are unattractive, Vogelsong is back to throwing it well enough to give his team a chance to win most nights.

Kyle Kendrick is off a couple of decent starts for Colorado, and perhaps he can get it done again tonight. But given Kendrick’s mediocre track record, I wouldn’t make that happening the favorite tonight.

The team elements clearly favors the Giants. Three straight shutout wins over the hated Dodgers is huge, and while they’re not tearing the cover off the ball, I don’t think there’s any question this is a better offense now that Hunter Pence has returned to action.

The Rockies finally won a series, taking two of three from the lowly Phillies, but there’s not a lot to like about this team right now. If you want to break it down into one statistical category, let’s look at walks taken and walks allowed. Colorado as a team has drawn only 79 walks. The staff has surrendered 141, the third most in the majors.

There are obviously lots of other stats to pore through to explain why the Rockies are so bad. But this one is pretty good. Just focusing on Coors field for a moment, there is no worse ballpark to issue free passes in, because it’s such a good hitter’s stadium, and walks can frequently lead to big innings. Walks also inflate pitch counts and that means less innings for starters and more for an already beleaguered bullpen.

On the flip side, not taking walks at home means less chances for big innings for the Rockies and it’s not like this is one of the great Colorado lineups of all time when it comes to home run power. In fact, the current Rockies are way down the HR list, standing 25th overall with just 30 long balls all season.

Hot road team vs. a badly struggling home team that’s also on the beat up side physically. I also can’t recall less of a home field advantage for Colorado than right at the present time. There’s just not much energy. Maybe things will improve with a few wins and some warmer weather, but right now this is a team that’s bad and playing like they know it, which is a troubling combination.

I’m a bit baffled by this number, to be honest. I figured the Giants to show in the -125 neighborhood tonight, so I’ve got no beefs with price where it is. I’ll look to back the world champs this evening at this number.


FanDuel Value Play, Friday 5/22/15

Angel Pagan, OF $2600

The idea here is to take a good, low priced hitter against a potentially soft pitcher. Kyle Kendrick pitching at Coors, even on a coolish night, is not a bad guy to perhaps stack against. Angel Pagan doesn’t have particularly good stats against Kendrick but the Giants center fielder is hitting it well and I like the idea of taking a cheap leadoff hitter at this ballpark. Pagan has a good chance of getting me a few point tonight, and priced as he is, that might make him a worthwhile addition this evening.


Dave’s Free Plays, Thursday 5/21/15

The hottest player in baseball had a very short evening on Wednesday. Bryce Harper was sent to the showers by umpire Marvin Hudson after protesting a called strike in the matchup between the Yankees and Nationals. Needless to say, the fans in attendance weren’t at all happy with this expulsion, and neither was Washington skipper Matt Williams, who also got sent packing by Hudson.

Harper is unpopular with some fans because of his wear it on the sleeve emotions on the field, so there was not even mild surprise here when Bryce started getting ripped on Twitter for his latest outburst. To be fair, he broke the rules and technically, getting the thumb from Hudson was not an incorrect decision. But I will offer that it was over the top and that umpires are also responsible for keeping their cool, in fact even more than the players.

If you watched how the scenario unfolded, in fact, I think more of the blame here falls on Hudson. Harper was seen saying something following a called strike on a pitch that was actually a ball. But he was already back in the batter’s box and the incident had apparently concluded when Hudson turned his attention to the Nationals dugout. At that point, Harper stepped back out of the box and began pointing and he was then thrown out by Hudson. It was pretty apparent that Harper was pointing to the box to indicate he had already dug back in for the next pitch, but that was apparently also missed by Hudson.

“I don’t think 40,000 people came to watch him ump”, said Harper. He’s right. I understand there will be some who will defend Hudson here, but if you watched how the entire scene unfolded it’s tough to do so, at least from this observer’s vantage point. Players should not be thrown out unless they clearly step over the line. It’s really that simple. In this case, I feel the umpire made himself the star of the show, and that shouldn’t ever be the case.


Another 1-1 split on Wednesday for me, with a comfortable winner on the Diamondbacks and yet another come from ahead one run loss, this time on the Blue Jays. I thought Jays skipper John Gibbons helped give this one away, but I’ll pass on ranting and will just accept the loss on that game.

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Tyson Ross walking the opposing pitcher turned out to be huge as the Padres ended up losing to the Cubs as the Wednesday free play. By the way, Matt Kemp really looks like he needs a day off. Tonight, a rare O/U call on the game at Fenway park.

(971) RANGERS  @  RED SOX (Rodriguez/Buchholz)

Take: UNDER 8.5 +100 (Don Best consensus at publication time)

The Red Sox were supposed to be a team with questionable pitching but a productive offense. The first part of that equation has certainly held up. But it’s now the anemic Boston attack that has the Fenway faithful frustrated.

The Red Sox have put up some abysmal offensive stats this month, and the stickout is a mind numbing inability to get anything done with runners in scoring position. Boston is now back to two games below .500, and while they’re still very much in the thick of things in the shaky AL East, this is not a good baseball team right now.

The Rangers have done a little better lately, but they’re still not much of a team, and I still find it hard to believe this team will win more than maybe 70 games.

Tonight’s game could be another pitching duel. Wandy Rodriguez has been a bit of a pleasant surprise for Texas, and the Red Sox are having an bad time of it against opposing southpaws. Clay Buchholz will go for Boston. Buchholz has been better on the road than at Fenway, but I like the way he’s throwing the ball and the Rangers don’t fare well offensively against righties.

The first two games in this series have each stayed Under the number, with only 10 runs total crossing the plate in two games. I see more of the same in store tonight. Buchholz is pitching healthy and his ERA is totally misleading when looking at the metrics. Rodriguez is no great shakes, but he’s done well in a small sample on the road and southpaws are chewing up the Red Sox hitters this season. The total looks a shade high to me, and with the Over currently favored as I’m writing this, I can make a decent case for playing the Rangers and Red Sox to stay Under once again tonight.


FanDuel Thursday 5/21/15 Value Play

Ryan Raburn, OF $2200

Trying to find a hitter at a bargain price that’s facing John Danks seems like a decent strategy. I’ll use that ad the jumping off point here. The flip side is that the Indians are not a team that exactly mashes lefties. But platoon OF Ryan Raburn does and he has manhandled Danks over the years. Raburn is 17/47 with four taters against Danks, and my guess is he’ll be hitting cleanup tonight. Make sure and check the Cleveland lineup before locking in Raburn, but at the ultra-cheap $2200 the Indians OF is worth grabbing tonight.

Dave’s Free Plays, Wednesday 5/20/15

Whenever any conversation I’m in turns to television viewing preferences, I’m quick to offer that I’m a huge fan of reality TV. That is always followed by a question about which shows are my favorites. The answer is always the same. MLB, NHL, NBA, NFL, college football and basketball. All great shows that deliver plenty of excitement on a very regular basis. Forget the contrived and mostly scripted “reality” TV shows. The actual reality TV is sports, where anything can happen.

Last night’s Game Two Stanley Cup Western Conference finals clash between the Blackhawks and Ducks was about as good an example as you’re going to find. This was an incredible battle, and if you missed what was an eventual 3-2 Chicago win in triple overtime, you missed an absolute classic. There were very few lulls in a game that lasted close to 120 minutes. The goaltending was amazing, there were shots pinging off crossbars and posts, there was even a goal that was head butted into the cage in the second overtime, although that was disallowed and the game continued. I’ve been watching hockey since I was a little kid, and I’ve never seen a player head butt the puck into the net.

I’m sure the ratings for this game weren’t particularly good. They never are in the NHL, and with this game going as late as it did for those in the Eastern time zone, and particularly with it being a Western Conference matchup, well, you do the math. But that doesn’t change the fact that this was compelling viewing throughout, and I can’t wait for Game Three as the series heads back to Chicago.

I remember when the reality TV craze started several years ago and wondering what all the fuss was about. I’ve been watching reality TV for more than 50 years. It’s called sports.


2-2 in baseball on Tuesday and a loser with the Warriors in the NBA. My NBA regular season was about as good as I’ve ever enjoyed but the playoffs have not gone well for me, and I would anticipate very scant involvement moving forward. The bases are grinding along, and as we get deeper into the campaign, I usually get better. Simple enough reason for that, which is the more current data I have to work with, the better I like my chances.

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The free play on the Phillies missed, with a bases loaded double play in the eighth inning when the game was tied at 5-5 being the big swing play. I’m going the favorite route tonight with a look at the hookup at Petco.

(907) CUBS (Wada)  @  PADRES (Ross)

Take: PADRES -136 (DonBest consensus line at press time)

There’s no question some pressure is starting to build on Bud Black and the Padres to get things rolling. These are the highest expectations this franchise has enjoyed in some time, and through roughly the first quarter of the campaign, I’d have to say the Friars fall into the mild disappointment category as far as most observers are concerned.

I’m not including myself in that group, however. I like this team in spite of a few clear shortcomings, but with all the new faces in place, it figured to take some time for everything to come together. Don’t get me wrong, I still have concerns with the defense and to be candid, close Craig Kimbrel and the bullpen haven’t been what I expected. But hanging around the .500 mark in mid-May is hardly a disaster and assuming a couple key offensive components in Alonso and Myers get back reasonably soon, this should be a team that makes a strong summertime move.

As for tonight, I’m looking at Tsuyoshi Wada as a lefty the Padres have a chance to exploit. Wada was okay at Wrigley last season for the Cubs, and he profiles as a decent enough back of the rotation guy if he can stay off the disabled list for a change. Durability has been a definite issue for Wada. But this looks like a tough spot for the southpaw. Even minus Myers, this is a Padres lineup with big fly potential against lefties, particularly fly ball types like Wada. I think there’s a really good chance we could see the Padres launch a couple of bombs tonight. Wada had a rather high hard hit rate last season, and if that’s maintained, one would think teams with righty sock might hurt him.

Tyson Ross has pretty much settled in for the Padres. He’s a quality starter to be sure. The walks can be an issue at times, and Ross has not enjoyed much BABIP luck this season. Those BB’s will be key tonight. While the Cubs have  struck out more than any team in baseball to date, they’re also third overall in drawing walks. What that means is that Ross is probably not a great bet to go real deep into this game as my guess is that pitch count might be an issue. I’m hoping the talented righty can get through six quality frames and then hand it off to the bullpen.

If it’s tight late, I’ll say advantage Padres, even though Benoit and Kimbrel each worked Tuesday night. But as neither was overly taxed, each should be available tonight. The Cubs pen in front of closer Hector Rondon has been somewhat unreliable lately, thus I’m at least giving a slim edge to San Diego if this become a late frame coin flip.

My key tonight is the expectation that the Padres can get to Wada and put up a good number of runs. I’ll bank on Ross to deliver a quality start for the hosts. The number has already shot up here as early money showed on the Padres, so I can’t classify it as a strong value play, but if it stays where it is, I can justify playing the Padres.


Fan Duel Wednesday 5/20 value play

Shin-Soo Choo, OF, $3400

Choo has cooled off a touch the last few games following a really torrid early May roll that included a 14-game hitting streak. But he’s apparently finally healthy again and this is a guy who can do some damage with the stick. Choo faces a hittable righty in Joe Kelly and Fenway is a park in which good lefty hitters can really thrive. This has the look of a game that could see a decent amount of scoring, and if that’s the case, Choo has a good chance to be in on the fun. At $3400, he’s someone I’ll include tonight on my card.