Dave’s Free Play, Tuesday 7/22/14

I’m a great believer in getting the work done early. That doesn’t mean I’m always in action early, but the idea is to be prepped and ready to fire when what figures to be the best number is available. It really doesn’t matter what sport is involved, the bottom line is still the same. In football or hoops, it’s all about getting the best spread. On the diamond, well, if you don’t think saving nickels and dimes and sometimes more doesn’t add up over the course of a long season, then you probably shouldn’t be wagering.

Obviously, it’s really important to be able to assess the betting lines and make sound determinations as to where the number is going to go. Without meaning to sound boastful, I don’t think many do this better than  I do. That’s not to say there’s not an occasional incorrect assessment, but those don’t happen very often.

I would have to attribute this strength to having received my baptismal fire on the other side of the counter many moons ago. It really didn’t take me long to start figuring out public betting patterns, while at the same time spotting numbers the sharper guys were going to attack. The methodology might have changed over the decades thanks to the information stream now available, but I think the patterns are very much the same now as they were 30 plus years ago.

The reason I bring this up is that I’m frequently asked about the best way to go about becoming a handicapper. I don’t know that there’s a real answer for that in terms of analysis, as it’s largely different strokes for different folks. But the starting point is always the same in my estimation. Learn the line. Master that aspect of the overall equation and you’re one giant step ahead of the game.

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Split on Monday, with the Red Sox a snap and the Mets, which was also the free play, a clear loser. Good situational spot to fade the Mariners, but the Mets aren’t hitting a lick right now, so it wasn’t a particularly smart play. I also should have played the Orioles on the same theory as I did the Mets, and naturally, that was a winner. Nevertheless, no damage done and I jumped all over a pair for Tuesday already (and one of those at a much better price than will be available during the day).

Two months for the price of one is the current offer. Results have been quite solid for some time now, and diving in at the present time means not only MLB, but football as well as training camps have opened and pre-season NFL action is just around the bend. Use the “buy now” feature on this page if that’s visible to you. Otherwise, just send an email to me at cokin@cox.net for further info and instruction.

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No good with the Mets on Monday, let’s see about a return to the win column with a little road chalk tonight.

07/22 04:05 PM  MLB  (953) SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS  at  (954) PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Take: (953) SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS -120

I’m not going to spend much time breaking down the two starting pitchers tonight. If you’re looking for consistency, neither Yusmeiro Petit nor Roberto Hernandez offers any. Each guy can be very good at times, each guy can look like a misplaced minor leaguer on the wrong night. Off the data, I prefer Petit. But I can’t really say that he’s a pitcher who inspires great confidence.

My take here is far more on the teams than the pitchers. The Giants seem to have gotten over what was a pretty ugly stretch of baseball. I don’t see this team as a powerhouse, and I also don’t know that they’re built for the post-season this year. But I do expect the Giants to still be playing in October. It’s a veteran outfit with a strong skipper in Bruce Bochy, and even minus a couple of key components they’re sticking right with the Dodgers in the NL West.

The Phillies are just plain lousy, and it’s going to only be shocking if this team doesn’t unload a few veterans between now and the end of the month with the trade deadline looming. Therefore, it’s also not surprising that the Phillies are playing what I’d have to term as uninspired baseball right now. This is pretty much the standard atmosphere for a team with too many older guys and no hope of doing anything but playing out the string. There’s still going to be the occasional good game, but that’s the exception rather than the rule.

The Phillies are 9-18 in their last 27 games, and that’s with a five-game winning streak mixed in. So in the other 22 games, we’re looking at 4-18. There’s not a doubt in my mind the Phillies would be best served to start calling up whatever prospects they deem as 2015 roster possibilities. Get them some big league innings now and see what they’ve got. To me, it’s pointless to keep trooping out players who are not going to be around much longer. The results might not be any different with new blood on the diamond, but the energy will be greatly enhanced, and I have no doubt at all about that.

As for tonight, my only real concern is if the bad Petit shows up and the good Hernandez makes a surprise appearance for Philly. With erratic pitchers such as this duo, that’s always a possibility. But aside from that, I’d much rather consider the contender vs. the team playing out the string, so the Giants are the choice this evening.

Dave’s Free Play, Monday 7/21/14

It’s time to kick off the college football previews. This won’t be the standard stuff, as the entire aim here is going to be focusing on schools that could represent spread value, at least early on, in either direction. So the majority of these rundowns will probably be on teams not too many people care about, but that bettors can hopefully earn a profit with.

First up, out of the Mountain West Conference, it’s Wyoming. The Cowboys had a rough time of it last season, and at first glance they look pretty mediocre heading into the new campaign. Their star QB, Brett Smith, has moved on and major scheme changes are taking place on both sides of the ball.

New head coach Craig Bohl is going West Coast with the attack and he’s a 4-3 guy on defense. It usually takes a team time to adjust to changes such as these. But I’m expecting a fairly quick transition in Laramie, and in any event, I can see this team being far more competitive than they were a season ago despite some glaring question marks in terms of personnel.

The primary reason for my optimism is Bohl and what amounts to addition by subtraction. I’m very impressed with Bohl, and not only off what he accomplished at North Dakota State with three straight national titles. I see the biggest improvement in Wyoming’s overall attitude.

The Cowboys had some serious issues last season. The team started off playing very well, as they rebounded from a close opening loss at Nebraska with three consecutive wins. But then came the loss at Texas State in rain-delayed marathon, and even though Wyoming got it to 4-2 with a win vs. New Mexico, they were never the same team.  The defense virtually quit, the only remaining win came in a crazy OT game with Hawaii, and by season’s end it was clearly time for a major overhaul on the sidelines.

Everything I’m hearing about this year’s is upbeat. Maybe that’s more attitude than talent, but the opinion here is that the talent level here wasn’t nearly as bad as the record indicated last season. Replacing Smith under center is definitely a problem, and I don’t think there’s enough to prevent Wyoming from struggling at times this season.

But I also think we’re going to be able to cash a few tickets with this team simply based on the coaching upgrade and the style of play. Wyoming is going to be a physical team that runs the football and plays much more aggressively on defense. And most importantly, unlike the squad we saw in the second half of last season, this Wyoming entry will be play with pride and as a unit. I expect a team that will win its share of games while hanging much tougher against its better opposition, and that should make the Cowboys a potential go with team at the betting windows.

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Just a 1-2 Sunday on the diamond, but another okay week in the books as the positive grind continues. Take advantage of my current special and score two full months of all my plays in all my sports for the price of one. That significantly lowers the overall cost, so that even more recreational bettors can get involved. Use the “buy now” feature to subscribe or shoot an email my way at cokin@cox.net for additional info!

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The Yankees walked off with the win against the Reds on Sunday, so a good result with the free play. I’ll look to keep it going with a Monday night road dog.

07/21 07:10 PM   MLB   (923) NEW YORK METS  at  (924) SEATTLE MARINERS

Take: (923) NEW YORK METS +105

This is a situational spot I think offers a good chance of producing a win. The Mariners are off a very draining set of games with the division rival Angels and I think they could be a bit flat tonight. Letdowns are more frequently brought up as potential factors in football and basketball more than in baseball, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

The Mariners/Angels series was as hard fought as it gets. All three games were intense battles, with two extra inning affairs and 6-5 Halos win on Sunday with plenty of emotion on display both ways. Let’s just say that this would have been a great spot for Seattle to enjoy a day off, but that’s not the case.

Jon Niese is apparently healthy again, and he should therefore be a tough nut for the Mariners hitters. The Mets lefty has actually had a really nice season when he’s been able to take his regular turn. The Mets have been a solid squad when Niese pitches, and only a few of the Mariners have ever faced him.

The sight unseen factor is in play for Roenis Elias as well, as none of the Mets have stepped in against him. But Elias, after a surprising run in the earlier part of the season, has not been very effective lately and the Mets aren’t terrible offensively against lefties.

This is really one of those games where I see the situation being the trump card. On paper, it’s virtually a tossup. But after watching the high octane duels this weekend at Anaheim between the Mariners and Angels, this looms as a night where taking a shot against the Mariners makes lots of sense to me. I’m siding with the Mets as a small road dog to produce a winner this evening.

Dave’s Free Play, Sunday 7/20/14

I’m one who believes that coaches and managers can have a huge impact on the performances of their teams, regardless of the sport. That certainly includes baseball, and there’s not much question I’m more critical than most as far as managers are concerned.

There’s a pretty simple reason for this, really. Far too many current MLB skippers display a consistent and for me, thoroughly aggravating ignorance of meaningful statistical data. I’m not talking about the old school numbers that have been around forever and that are still the most popular. I’m referring to more advanced material, much of which would fall into what can probably best be described as new school data.

One manager who absolutely does not fall into the above category is Joe Maddon, and he had his philosophy and belief in advanced metrics on display again last night in Minnesota. The Rays were matching up with Phil Hughes, who has enjoyed a renaissance campaign for the Twins. The run of the mill managers throughout baseball have pretty much all done the norm with their lineups when facing Hughes, at least as far as their platoon personnel is concerned. Start the lefty hitters, because Hughes is a righty.

Maddon went the opposite route and loaded his lineup with righty hitters. That’s because Hughes has been getting lefties out at a much better rate than he has righties. That’s opposite of the norm, but Maddon obviously decided that the actual numbers were more meaningful than the popular theory and acted accordingly. The result was just what Maddon hoped for, as his Rays got Tampa Bay ace David Price plenty of run support and the dominating southpaw ended up garnering an easy win.

This hasn’t been a good season for the Rays, and while they have clearly picked things up recently, they’re still a long shot to make the playoffs. But that’s sure not on Maddon. He consistently puts his team in the best position to win, and that’s really all anyone can ask.

It’s too bad more of Maddon’s cohorts stubbornly refuse to follow his lead with their respective teams. They’d probably win more if they did, and they’d be far less likely to be subject to ridicule from observers like me in the process.

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A very enjoyable Saturday on my personal plays with a net gain of three units on the day. I’m pretty happy with the way things have been going for the last several weeks and will look to maintain that consistency moving forward.

Thus, it’s a good time to take advantage of the current special. Buy one month of all my plays, receive a second month at no additional cost. Plays are emailed as I make them myself with analysis almost always included, and one of my objectives is to get the games out before the lines get beat up, although I’ll also add plays moving closer to game time if warranted. Subscribing is easy enough, just utilize the “buy now” feature on this page. If you happen to be viewing on a cell phone or at another site that features this blog, the best move is to get in touch with me via email at cokin@cox.net.

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The Saturday free play on the Pirates was a winner, although I ended up with a push on this game. I decided to create a -1 line because the money line was higher than I like to risk a full unit on. This can be done easily enough by splitting the play between the money line and the runs line, thus manufacturing a -1 line. The Bucs ended up winning by one run, so my money line play got there but the runs line didn’t, and that’s a push. No need for that maneuver with today’s comp, as it’s more competitively priced.

07/20 10:05 AM   MLB   (979) CINCINNATI REDS  at  (980) NEW YORK YANKEES

Take: (980) NEW YORK YANKEES -105

The Yankees have won the first two games in this series, much to the consternation of the majority of bettors. It’s a classic example of wagerers putting too much weight on the starting pitching and not factoring in other elements. I think the biggest flaw most baseball bettors make is overvaluing the starting pitching. This series has been a good example of that, and we’ve seen it in the line movement. In each of the first two games, the Reds have drawn the majority of the ticket volume, but the pro dollars that move the line have been pretty heavy on the Yankees.

I suspect we’ll see the same thing again today. Johnny Cueto is going to be a more enticing option than Hiroki Kuroda and the Reds will win the popular vote by a substantial margin. But don’t be surprised to see the line again head in the opposite direction with the sharper dollars arriving on the Yankees.

Cueto is good enough to win this by himself, and Kuroda is not the pitcher he used to be, so I can understand why so many players will make a case for the road team. And they might well end up getting paid, as the sharp money certainly doesn’t automatically win.

But aside from the starting pitching, this matchup favors the Yankees. The Reds are feeling the effects of being shorthanded with the right side of their infield on the disabled list, and I personally think they need to get a stick or two, even short term, as one or two extra losses could be all it takes to keep this team from playing baseball in October.

As for the Yankees, they’ve sure got their flaws. The infield defense is pretty bad, the starting rotation is going to miss Tanaka at some point and the offense has some holes as well. But a couple of their key hitters are starting to swing the bats better, the bullpen has actually gotten quite strong and at least from a position player standpoint, the Yankees are by far the healthiest they’ve been all season.

So long story short, Cueto rates the clear edge over Kuroda, but the other factors point to the Yankees. That adds up to the home team rating the true favorite role here, and the current line is very close to pick ‘em. Mix in the positive momentum for the hosts and I’m compelled to view the Yankees as the right side once more today.

 

Dave’s Free Play, Saturday 7/19/14

Football previews are on the way, so this will be final time this baseball season, at least in all likelihood, that I go on one of my sacrifice bunt rants. I really hadn’t intended to go down this road again. But after watching Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon mismanage his team to a loss I consider him directly responsible for, I just couldn’t contain myself.

If you’ve read this blog on occasion or heard me on the radio, you already know how anti-sac bunt I am, and I’ve got a wealth of statistical data to support my position. So I’m not going to revisit that again. Instead, I’ll just focus on what happened in the marathon on Friday night and into Saturday morning as the Angels won a 16 inning decision over the Mariners.

Lloyd McClendon ordered up four sacrifice bunts along the way in this game. Those four bunts resulted in, you guessed it, zero runs scored. Four free outs handed to the opposition and absolutely nothing to show for it. He bunted twice in spots where his 8/9 hitters were up next, and that’s a duo hitting a combined .204 for the season. But the worst bit of “strategy” came on the final try in the 16th inning, and this was epic stupidity.

Here’s the situation. Brad Miller leads off the inning with a single. Next up, Mike Zunino, who while carrying a lousy overall BA, has actually done well against lefties, and southpaw Hector Santiago is throwing for the Halos. Following Zunino are lefty hitter Endy Chavez and sub Stefen Romero. Chavez is hitting .000 for the season against lefties, by the way. So it’s pretty clear that Zunino is probably the best option to get a hit and possibly win the game for the Mariners.

Naturally, this birdbrain of a manager has Zunino bunt, which to my knowledge he had not done even once as a major leaguer. Zunino pops up the bunt for an easy out. Then McClendon decides to hit and run with the guy who is 0/18 for the season against lefties. Swing and a miss, runner is thrown out at second. Chavez then whiffs to run his season ledger vs. lefties to 0/19.

There is simply no debate here. Any manager who is so locked into old school strategy that he utilizes it even in the worst possible scenario is not qualified to manage.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out why baseball is the most advanced sport from a data standpoint, yet has so many managers stuck in an archaic mindset that just doesn’t work. How these guys keep getting hired is beyond my comprehension. As for McClendon, he was terrible in Pittsburgh and it’s apparent to me he still doesn’t have a clue as to what he’s doing. End of story.

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Needless to say, I had the Mariners last night. 1-2 for me on the evening, so a -1.0 result. Not a problem, as the last seven or so weeks have been really solid and not much damage was done. I still don’t like losing even the one unit when I feel I should have been a winner, but that’s why they call it gambling.

The current offer is two full months for the price of one. That includes all plays in all sports, and my emails with the selections also include analysis as to why I’m playing a particular game. Sign up via the “buy now” tab on this page, or shoot me an email at cokin@cox.net for more info or with any questions.

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The Cubs coughed up a nice early lead en route to a 5-4 loss at Arizona as the Friday comp. Let’s see about getting back to the winner’s circle with a chalky all for Saturday evening.

07/19 04:05 PM  MLB   (903) COLORADO ROCKIES  at   (904) PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Take: (904) PITTSBURGH PIRATES -150

Regular followers of my free plays know that I don’t generally recommend bigger favorites. But I’ll have to line up with one of those pieces tonight as the Rockies continue their series with the Pirates.

Brett Anderson is on the hill for Colorado tonight, and this is mostly a stance against the veteran lefty. Anderson made his first start off his most recent DL stint last Sunday, and it wasn’t pretty as he got drilled by the Twins. I make Anderson a candidate to get hit hard again tonight.

I might normally simply attribute a bad first start off the disabled list to rust, and that’s even with a minor league rehab stint thrown in. But it’s not the fact that Anderson got his clock cleaned that has me skeptical of his ability to get hitters out at this point. It’s having watched the carnage take place, and then following that up by viewing his charts from the game. Anderson set a career low with his fastball velocity in that Sunday game with the Twins, and I find that very troubling. The fact the game was at Coors means little to me. He’d have been hit hard in any ballpark with what he was throwing last weekend.

Charlie Morton will go for the Pirates tonight. Morton has not been very lucky this season, but there’s actually quite a bit to like about the quality of most of his recent efforts. Plus, most of Morton’s problems have come on the road. He’s been impressive at PNC and tonight he gets to face a Rockies entry that is not exactly murderer’s row on the road.

Aside from the starting pitchers, this is still a strong spot for the Pirates. The Colorado season pretty much concluded with that awful run of injuries, and the phony success the bullpen enjoyed early in the campaign gave way to reality some time ago. The Rockies are a bad team at this point, while the Pirates have worked their way back into the playoff chase following a very slow start to the season.

I actually think this number is short by a dime, perhaps a bit more. It shapes up to me as a game the Bucs are supposed to win, and I obviously have no problem at all trying to beat what should be a shaky Anderson. I’ll look to lay the price with the Pirates tonight.

Dave’s Free Play, Friday 7/18/14

And that’s it for the handicapping vacation. With football just around the bend and lots of baseball still to be played, the All-Star break was a nice little hiatus, but now it’s really nose to the grindstone time for anyone who’s doing this on a serious basis, myself included.

I’ll be sharing a couple of significant announcements over the next handful of days, both here and on Twitter (@davecokin) so stay tuned for details on those counts. Also, the football previews are about set to begin in this space. Rather than going through every team in each conference, I’ve decided to focus on a handful of schools that I feel have a decent chance to either exceed or fall below expectations. The rationale is that anyone can find some really in depth information on all the individual squads at numerous websites as well as the various football publications. So my deal will be to try and zero in on select colleges where there might be some value in either playing their win totals or perhaps being on or against them come early September.

Two All-Star comments. The Derek Jeter prop on whether or not he would get a base hit was a steal at +170 and I’m sorry I didn’t go full bore on it. I’ll take what I made on the will go prop. But the fact is Adam Wainwright did exactly what I thought he’d probably do and Jeter promptly did what he’s still very capable of doing with the opposite field double.  One more reason this game needs to return to pure exhibition status and not have the ridiculous tag of deciding home field World Series advantage.

The other note is one of disappointment. I was expecting some kind of a tribute for Tony Gwynn, Don Zimmer and Bob Welch, each of whom passed way recently. I  understand MLB’s reluctance to do so on the basis of leaving someone else out, but I don’t agree with it. This was a special trio, each in his own way, and at the very least, a video and a moment of silence was in order. For a game that places such importance on honoring its rich history, I think they missed the boat badly on this one.

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A miss with the last free play before the break, but so far so good with the July comps. An ugly dog gets the call as the free play for tonight.

07/18 06:40 PM   MLB   (961) CHICAGO CUBS at  (962) ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Take: (961) CHICAGO CUBS  +129

I’m trying to recall the last time I even gave strong consideration to backing Edwin Jackson. It’s been awhile, that’s for sure, and with good reason as Jackson resides in the very bottom tier of  big league starting pitchers. But this is one time where Jackson is on equal footing or perhaps even better as he takes on Trevor Cahill.

Let’s call it straight, I’m not really playing on Jackson here. I don’t see how it’s possible to make a case to do so. But I do like what I’m seeing out of the Cubs. They aren’t very good yet, but they’re playing very hard and there is some clear improvement. Credit first-year skipper Rich Renteria and some young talent that can’t be accused of not giving it their all on a daily basis.

I’m not so sure I can say that about the Diamondbacks. This team started the season flat in those two games against the Dodgers in Australia back in March, and I don’t see where things have changed. Whether or not the Snakes have underachieved is hard to say. They just weren’t any good to begin with and there’s absolutely zero doubt in this observer’s mind that they’re going to make a desperately needed overhaul of the current roster.

It’s interesting to note that while the teams have nearly identical records, the Cubs are 41 runs better in differential than the Diamondbacks. This amplifies the opinion expressed earlier. The Cubs might lose more than they win, but they battle for nine innings almost every game. I don’t believe the same can be said for this Diamondbacks entry.

That’s really the essence of this opinion. Jackson is awful, but Cahill was perhaps even worse before he got sent to Reno. The veteran righty had a couple of okay starts for the Aces in terms of keeping runners from crossing home plate. But his walk rate was still terrible, so that indicates to me there’s a good chance he’s going to pick up right where he left off the last time we saw in a DBacks uniform. I’ll give the home team a slight edge in the bullpen, and indeed of this is close at the finish, Arizona probably has a bit of an advantage. But there’s nothing I can see to justify the Diamondbacks being in the 7/5 chalk neighborhood.

At the current price, I see value on the Cubs. I think they’re at least the equal of Arizona even with Jackson throwing, and it’s worth mentioning this is the least home field advantage in all of MLB this season. I’m siding with the visiting Cubs to grab themselves an underdog win this evening.

 

Dave’s Free Play, Sunday 7/13/14

It’s All-Star break time, which means it’s also blog break time. I’ll be returning sometime Thursday evening with a free play for Friday, and the college football previews will also be getting started this coming weekend. It’s not a vacation for me, as I’ll still be doing my daily spin with Matt Youmans and assorted guests on The Las Vegas Sportsline (2-3 PM weekdays on ESPN 1100/98.9 FM here in Las Vegas, or online at espn1100.com) but I can tell you that until the numbers go up for the Friday MLB games, I’ll simply be playing the mental relaxation game.

Another okay day with the plays on Saturday, nothing spectacular like Friday, but a profit for the day. My monthly special is two months for the price of one, and that’s a full two months, so if you were to sign up tomorrow, for instance, your term would not start until Friday. You’re not going to see me playing the hype game, but I can tell you it’s been good for a pretty significant stretch now, and every reason  to believe that continues. Sign up using the “buy now” feature if you’re reading this directly at my site. Otherwise, just drop me a line via email at cokin@cox.net for all the particulars or for any questions.

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A miss on the Saturday free play, but still very solid overall the last couple weeks. I’ll go the upset route with my comp today.

07/13  01:05 PM   MLB   (911) ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS  at   (912) SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Take: (911) ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

No widely available numbers as I’m posting this on today’s Diamondbacks/Giants hookup, but I think the dog is going to be very live here. Hopefully, the price is big enough to make this a solid value, but regardless it looks to me like a spot where the visitors have a legitimate shot.

Vidal Nuno is making his second start for the Snakes, and his first was a thing of beauty. Nuno ended up with no decision when his bullpen blew the game in the ninth inning. But the debut as a Diamondback was impressive and I won’t be surprised if Nuno throws well again today. The Giants have been struggling with the sticks for some time now, and they’re really missing Angel Pagan as the catalyst at the top of the order.

Nuno still rates as the second best starting pitcher in this clash, but if there’s a right time to be going against San Francisco lefty Madison Bumgarner, it appears to be right now. MadBum is in a slump, plain and simple. It’s also worth noting that for whatever reason this talented southpaw has had a pretty mediocre first half when pitching at home. Bumgarner is good enough to turn it around and go on a run of outstanding starts. But at least for the present, he’s getting priced more on perception than reality.

The Diamondbacks are clearly not a playoff contender and they’re probably going to continue to sell off some pieces in return for cheap younger talent. But they did just add a significant piece as Mark Trumbo has returned from his lengthy injury stint. Trumbo is feast or famine at the plate to be sure, but he definitely represents a power threat and some protection for Paul Goldschmidt, so this is now a tougher lineup for opposing pitchers to navigate.

The Giants have also gotten a valuable component back in action at last, with Marco Scutaro now able to fill what had been a gaping hole at second base. I have also considered Scutaro to be underrated. He’s not a superstar, but rather a very consistent veteran presence who simply makes the lineup better. My feeling is that once Pagan gets back on the field, the Giants fortunes are going to turn. But for the time being, this is still not an ideal lineup and that’s the primary explanation for why they’re struggling with the bats.

The home team was shut down by Wade Miley yesterday and now they have to face another lefty. Plus, Nuno has never been seen live by anyone on the San Francisco roster, which should be an advantage for the Diamondbacks newcomer. As for the Arizona hitters, they’ve seen plenty of Bumgarner with mostly so-so results, and that’s no surprise. But the Bumgarner they’ll be facing today has not been the vintage variety of late, and if his recent control inconsistency is still an issue, I can see the Snakes getting a handful of guys across the plate.

Make no mistake, the Giants rate the chalk role here. But based on how Bumgarner has been getting priced at home, the number is probably going to be higher than it ought to be. Pair that with the lethargic SF offense, and I don’t see this as anything close to an easy game for the home team. I’m looking to take my chances with the big dog Diamondbacks today.

Dave’s Free Play, Saturday 7/12/14

Quick blog tonight. I’m going to hold the start of the college football previews till right after the All-Star break. I’ve got what I hope is good info ready to roll, but this is strictly business. This weekend and the All-Star break will have less eyes on this page than is the norm, and therefore I decided it’s better to wait. So look for the previews to get started next weekend.

Friday night was outstanding from my perspective with a sweep on the baseball board, and roughly +3.35 in profits. I also split a pair of half unit plays in the CFL, winning a side but missing a total. Great night, and following a couple of sluggish days, the timing was perfect.

The monthly special taking place is two for the price of one. Everything is included, so whatever I’m on is sent out to all my players, and is done so as I get on the games myself. That means playing games at what will generally be better numbers, as part of the battle is maximizing profit potential, and that can’t be done playing beat up numbers. Use the “buy now” tab on this page to subscribe, or shoot me an email at cokin@cox.net for more info or if you have a question.

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Stunning comeback by the Cardinals on Friday night as they erased a big deficit and ended up coming through as the daily free play. 9-2-1 the last 12 days with the comps. I’ll focus on an AL Central clash for tonight’s free play.

07/12 05:10 PM  MLB   (973) DETROIT TIGERS  at  (974) KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Take: (974) KANSAS CITY ROYALS -125

One of the things I’ve always liked doing is trying to get on a roll with a team or a pitcher, and if it works, I’ll just keep playing them or him. The logic here is that when this theory in practice works out, it’s not unusual to pick up several winners in succession. The flip side is that if it doesn’t pan out, the most you’ll lose is one game.

I’m going to see about getting on a roll with James Shields. Shields has a good record, so it’s not as though this has been a downer of a season for the veteran righty. But he hasn’t been quite as effective as is his norm from a metrics standpoint and in watching most of his starts, there’s been something that I can’t quite put my finger on, but he just hasn’t been the usual Shields in my opinion. But that all changed last time out as Shields put together a superb effort at Tampa Bay, clearly one of his best games of the season.

Shields should have plenty of motivation here as his last showing against the Tigers back in early May was downright ugly. Shields somehow managed to pitch into the seventh inning in that game, but he was knocked around by Detroit. One thing that’s pretty clear about Shields is that he’s a pretty intense competitor, so I’m assuming he’s going to be pretty revved up for this start.

The rest of the Royals ought to be fired up as well. They pretty much let one get away on Friday night, which was fine with me as I had the Tigers. But I also know this was one game Detroit was lucky to win. The Royals squandered several scoring opportunities, and they were certainly on the wrong side of an interference call on a stolen base in the bottom of the eighth inning that might well have been the biggest play of the game.

Rick Porcello finally cooled off last start for Detroit following a spectacular run of three straight scoreless starts. Porcello has bounced back smartly from his lesser starts this season, so by no means do I see him getting tattooed here. But in spite of a decent history against KC, I can see the Royals putting a few scores up tonight.

If this is close at the finish line, that’s where the Royals enjoy a more substantial edge. The Tigers managed to hold on last night, but they were kind of fortunate to do so. The team has very few weaknesses and overall the Tigers are probably the best team in the game. But that one fatal flaw is the bullpen and I can see that being an issue tonight, particularly with both Chamberlain and Nathan having to work hard on Friday night.

The number here is a bit of an indicator. The Tigers will be a square dog tonight. There’s no question that at this number most of the tickets are going to be written on Detroit. While the market is not a determining factor for me as far as whether or not to play a game, I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I do like the idea of fading the public when they fall in love with an underdog. That’s the bonus here, as I already liked the idea of backing Shields. I’ll side with the Royals to get a win this evening.

Dave’s Free Play, Friday 7/11/14

It’s college football season! Okay, not really. But for those who take wagering on the sport seriously, the action is now getting underway. O/U win totals are being posted and there’s usually some solid value to be had on these options. The tough part is tying up the money for several months but the results can make that a worthwhile exercise in patience.

With that in mind, I’ll be starting my conference previews during the All-Star break and while there’s still going to be plenty of baseball commentary here (along with the daily free play, of course) there will be an increase in football focus taking place here.

As for baseball, the shape of the playoff races might well have undergone some substantial changes over the last couple days. The Yankees losing Masahiro Tanaka for at least several weeks and for perhaps the next full year is a massive blow. If the Yanks want to stay in the chase, they’re going to have to fortify that starting rotation and there really aren’t many great options available. One pitcher the team might consider making an offer for throws tonight. Jorge De La Rosa is not having a great season for the Rockies, as he’s had some injury issues of his own. But De La Rosa is pretty good lefty and could be a good fit in Yankee Stadium. The Rockies say they’re intent on getting a “young impact starter” for De La Rosa, but that’s wishful thinking as it’s not going to happen. De La Rosa is a free agent this winter, and Colorado needs to simply take the best offer available for him, as it would seem pretty likely he’s going to be departing Denver regardless.

Yadier Molina is the other big injury item, with the star catcher gone for at least eight weeks with a right thumb ligament injury. I don’t see the Cardinals being confident enough in Tony Cruz as an everyday catcher to not make an add of some type. There’s a veteran now available with A.J. Pierzynski being sent packing by the Red Sox. Pierzynski was reportedly a negative clubhouse influence and his skills do seem to be eroding with age finally creeping in. But getting a chance to play some meaningful games might charge Pierzynski up, and I’ve got to think he’s worth taking a chance on by a team now in dire straits at that position. He also won’t cost anything meaningful, this making for a very low-risk acquisition.

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I went 1-2 on Thursday night, so this hasn’t been an especially good week for me. I don’t subscribe to the due theory, so the fact the past several weeks have been pretty solid doesn’t really placate me at all. Time to get back on the beam.

The monthly special is actually a two-month special. Buy 30 days at the regular rate, and a second 30 days are added at no cost. This includes everything, so in addition to the current baseball plays, whatever I have in football from now through what amounts to the middle of September is in the package. Use the “buy now” feature on this page to get rolling, or fire off an email my way at cokin@cox.net.

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Nice comeback by the Indians as the Thursday free play. I’ll go for a nice price with tonight’s comp.

07/11 05:10 PM  MLB   (909) ST. LOUIS CARDINALS  at  (910) MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Take: (909) ST. LOUIS CARDINALS +125

The Cardinals head to the road for what has to be called a key series with the Milwaukee Brewers, and each team has some issues that need addressing as we head into the break. St. Louis is going to have to figure out what to do behind the plate with Yadier Molina out until what looks to be late August. The Brewers have hit a big bump in the road of late and while they’re still in first place in the NL Central, that once comfortable lead is now down to a mere two games.

Yovani Gallardo will throw for Milwaukee tonight, and his dealings with the Cardinals over the years have been an absolute disaster. I’m not a huge history buff and find many pitcher vs. team tendencies to be random not particularly trustworthy. But it’s pretty tough to simply ignore 1-11, 6.34 as that’s the ledger Gallardo owns vs. the Redbirds. Gallardo has been fairly reliable lately, but he’s certainly not a dominating pitcher anymore. His one effort against the Cardinals this year was not bad, and the Brewers did eventually win that game. But it’s sure tough to look at Gallardo as chalk here and not want to make a move against him.

Joe Kelly returns for what was a decent enough injury rehab stint and with the St. Louis pitching injuries, getting an arm back from the DL has to be a welcome change. Kelly has not done well in his dealings with the Brewers, so this might not be the best spot for him to return. But he’s at least getting a chance to pitch against a team that is not hitting the ball right now, as the Milwaukee offense has largely gone into a deep freeze recently.

One thing I like on the St. Louis side is the recent willingness of manager Mike Matheny to make some needed lineup changes. He’s doing more platooning right now, and I just cannot disagree with that methodology. It’s not easy to bench players who produced previously, but at some point the present has to outweigh the past.

This is the biggest series of the season to date for each of these teams. The Cardinals could conceivably be in first place going into the break if they sweep this set. That might be a reach, but they’re certainly the team in better form right now. Plus, if we’re talking pressure games, it’s fair to give the Redbirds a substantial edge based on big game experience.

I just can’t see the present Brewers being this much chalk. They’re playing their worst baseball of the season with the offense slumbering and the bullpen slumping. Gallardo’s unfortunate history with this opponent is a factor as well. No doubt there has to be a line adjustment for the Redbirds with Molina injured. But getting a return like the one that’s currently available tonight is something I don’t want to pass up, so the free play tonight is on the Cardinals as nicely priced road dogs.

Dave’s Free Play, Thursday 7/10/14

With the Bud Selig regime as MLB commissioner winding down, I’m seriously hoping one inane rule is done away with right away by his successor. The All-Star game deciding home field for the World Series remains one of the silliest decisions made by anyone in the history of sports. I’ve never been able to grasp even a scintilla of logic here. A game that has no meaning, and is the ultimate exhibition game, having this type of impact on the games that count the most is just plain ridiculous.

If you want to turn back the clock roughly 50 years, the All-Star game meant something. There was no such thing as interleague play, so pride was definitely on the line. The money was key as well, as this was a time frame when most major leaguers had to work a winter job just to make ends meet. So that winner’s share in the All-Star game carried significant weight. That’s why the game was managed like a real game back then, with many position players going the entire nine innings.

That’s obviously not the case now. Virtually everyone on each roster gets to play, and the starting position players are out of there after one or perhaps two plate appearances. It’s basically the equivalent of what we’ll be seeing shortly in the NFL as their pre-season gets underway. Get the starters on the field for a series or two, and that’s it. Winning isn’t important, and no one pretends it matters a whit (those of us betting on the outcomes being the exception, of course).

The weird thing about all this is that a few idiots in the media are responsible for this All-Star nonsense. I have to tell you, I have never yet talked to one single individual who was steamed about that tie game several years back. The slam dunk response was that it didn’t matter. But Selig ( I can still recall the helpless look on his face as the game ended) was clearly disappointed and when a handful of boneheads with keyboards or microphones got involved, the commish decided he just had to do something. Unfortunately, he ended up doing something real dumb, and now as a result we have this.

I’d like to see the All-Star game have a little meaning, and there’s a way to make that happen. Interleague play has rendered the game in its present form obsolete. But a U.S.A. vs. the World would be terrific. I think the players would be much more into it, and so would the fans. There’s proof positive of that taking place right now in soccer. Ditto with the Olympics and even golf. It’s a natural in baseball with so many non-American players currently playing starring roles.

I’ll give you one more reason to go this route. Baseball is intent on growing the game internationally, and that’s great. A true All-Star game on a Tuesday in July would get way more attention and viewership than having the Dodgers and Diamondbacks open the regular season a week before anyone else. In Australia. In the middle of the night here in America. Because if there’s one thing that tops making this silly exhibition decide World Series home field advantage, that was it.

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A thin Wednesday card, which produced a 1-1 dead even split with the small dog winning and the small chalk losing. I’m still ahead for the month, although this week hasn’t started off so hot. Intentions are to rectify that today.

Football is now just around the bend, and that ties in nicely with the current special offer. Buy one month, get a second one at no cost, and all plays across the board are included. Simply use the “buy now” feature on this page, or drop me a line with any questions via email at cokin@cox.net. Note all correspondence is strictly confidential and no info is ever exchanged or sold with anyone else.

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Wrong side on the Wednesday free play with the Braves. I’ll jump back on a team I’ve had loads of success with lately for tonight’s comp.

07/10 04:05 PM   MLB   (963) NEW YORK YANKEES  at  (964) CLEVELAND INDIANS

Take: (964) CLEVELAND INDIANS -125

Sometimes you just get into a zone with a particular team, and that’s the best way to describe the way it’s going for me with the Indians. Whether on them or against them, I’m finding the right spots with this squad. Hopefully, that includes tonight.

David Phelps and TJ House will get the mound assignments here. Neither hurler is what I’d call especially reliable, although Phelps clearly has more upside on an individual game basis. But I prefer the situation for the home team.

From a statistical standpoint, this is pretty even. The Indians have better overall numbers against righties than the Yankees do against lefties, although the problems in this regard for the Yanks have mostly been at home. Likewise, I think the argument can be made that the bullpens are close as well.

But situations and schedule dynamics are key in breaking down games in any sport and I think they definitely come into play tonight. Make no mistake, I believe the fact these teams played 14 on Wednesday is of significance here. The elderly Yankees are more likely to feel the effects tonight, and they also have a thinner bullpen, so if it’s close down the stretch, I have to give an edge to the Tribe.

This opinion really comes down to those last points, more than anything else. The number on the game is actually a little higher than I anticipated, as I envisioned something in the -110 neighborhood. Perhaps the guys who set the odds are seeing this the same way I am and tacking on some loose change to compensate for the situation that could be in play. I’m siding with what I believe will be the fresher team, eager to atone for letting one get away on Tuesday night, and I’ll opt for the Indians this evening.