Team preview time today with a look at the 2015 Atlanta Braves.
It’s rebuilding time for the Braves. This is an organization that has enjoyed success for what amounts to a generation, but they started getting away from the formula that had worked for so many years and began paying the price last season. It seems likely Atlanta will tumble further down the standings this year.
The potential strength of this team will be the pitching, but even that’s not a sure thing. Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, Shelby Miller and Mike Minor are an adequate quartet and I think Wood has a shot to break out. The fifth spot figures to be an issue. Craig Kimbrel is still a monster closer, but getting to Kimbrel could be a problem.
I don’t like the attack for the Braves. Freddie Freeman might not see many strikes this year. There’s way too little sock in this lineup, both second and third base are potential big problems, and the outfield is a mess. Left field looks like a platoon, and Melvin Upton Jr is still BJ Upton in center field. Nick Markakis is an okay add but I personally think he’s a bit overrated and he’ll no longer be hitting ahead of the same lineup he was surrounded by in Baltimore. Christian Betancourt should be a plus behind the plate, but his bat is a big concern.
Basically, this is a team with two stars in Freeman and the amazing Andrelton Simmons, who is one of the best shortstops I’ve ever seen and who’s stick gets better every year. But beyond that duo, uh, yikes.
I have the Braves winning right around 72 games with what they have on their roster now, and I think that could be on the high side as it would not shock me to see Kimbrel dealt at some point. Therefore, while I have not gone to the window with this yet, I’m definitely considering Under 74.5 with Atlanta and I can’t see better than a fourth place finish in the NL East.
It’s going really well right now, with a 5-2 Tuesday, or 4-2-1 at worst depending on the Texas A&M result. That Aggies result is the grind in microcosm. When it’s not going well, there’s no chance in the world I steal a game like that, one I had absolutely no business winning. But when the flow is positive, the breaks show up and I get to commit what amounts to legal larceny. There was a mildly tough beat on Army, but copping a win with the Aggies was pure luck.
Regardless, it’s a very good roll right now and therefore likely no better time to explore the possibilities of subscribing. All packages include all the plays and the early rate for baseball is now available. If you’re looking for lots of excitement and some really big plays, I’m not the right guy for you. If you’re in this for the long haul and understand that it’s a grind, email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The free play went pretty much according to form as Mississippi eventually took control and got the win at Alabama. I’ll go the tournament route tonight with a look at an opening round NEC contest.
(795) SACRED HEART at (796) BRYANT
Take: (795) SACRED HEART +5.5
Bryant University is kind of an old stomping grounds for me. Located in Smithfield, Rhode Island, I spent quite a bit of time on that campus back in the 1970’s. No, I was never a student there. But I had a substantial number of, uh, clients that attended Bryant back when I was on the other side of the betting window. So Bryant was a regular Tuesday stop for me back in that time frame.
Bryant was also where I found out first hand just how hard an NFL QB can throw a football. I used to enjoy going to Patriots training camp, which was located at Bryant for about a quarter century starting sometime in the mid-70’s. I was on the sidelines this one time and a young QB named Steve Grogan was playing catch with one of his teammates. Man oh man, did this guy ever have a cannon. I’m maybe 20-30 feet away tops and every time the ball went by me, you could actually hear the whoosh as it ripped by. I have no idea how anyone actually could catch those footballs. Me, forget it, I’d have just ducked.
Anyway, enough with the reminiscing. The NEC tournament is wide open. The regular season champ, St. Francis (NY) comes in mired in a terrible shooting slump, going an astonishing 13/83 on threes over their final four games. Almost anyone can win this eight-team free for all, including the two squaring off in Smithfield this evening.
Sacred Heart won both regular season meetings, including a big comeback that produced an OT win in the second clash between the two teams. The double revenge motive is contributing to the line being higher than I believe it should be tonight. That old adage about how tough it is for one team to beat another three straight times in one season is kind of a myth. Let’s just say that if you blind bet every double revenger, I wouldn’t be planning a trip to the nearest Mercedes dealer.
Bryant does have a couple of advantages tonight. They’re at home and the crowd should be revved up for some tournament action. Plus, the visitors are just awful at the free throw line while Bryant is the best charity stripe team in the league.
Nevertheless, Sacred Heart knows they can beat this team as they’ve already done so twice this season. I also really do believe this will be a dog oriented tournament where anyone can beat anyone. My math actually favors the Pioneers on a neutral court, and while being the host warrants Bryant laying a little bit, I can’t justify the Bulldogs laying this much lumber in what looms as a close game. I’ll be looking to take my chances with Sacred Heart plus the points tonight.