Dave’s Free Plays, Friday 7/3/15

Let’s hear it for common sense prevailing.

Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees have been at odds over what to do about a $6 million bonus he qualified for hitting his 660th major league homer, which tied him at the time with the one and only Willie Mays. The Yankees claimed they didn’t owe him the money. Their stance was that this was a separate marketing agreement, and with ARod’s off the field issues, there basically was no way to market the achievement. Rodriguez clearly wasn’t about to simply accept this, and it appeared as though the lawyers might have to battle it out in court.

There seemed to be a very simple way to settle this dispute. Split the difference and give the money to charity. That way, everyone wins. The Yankees can obviously afford the dollars, and whether they (or we) like it or not, Rodriguez did reach the Mays plateau. The flip side is that ARod really doesn’t figure to need the cash either, and his image doesn’t need any more tarnishing.

Lo and behold, it now appears as though a mutual agreement has been reached. The settlement figure will be $3 million, and Alex Rodriguez will be donating all of that money to charity.

This is actually turning out to be a great year for ARod. He’s no longer a superstar but he’s putting up some decent numbers and from all accounts, has really become a team player. That supposedly was not always the case with Rodriguez. Hey, better late than never. And the decision to forego the money… and make no mistake, ARod might be wealthy, but we’re still talking about $3 million here… is a terrific public relations maneuver by Rodriguez.

It’s always nice to see common sense produce a really good result, and congrats are in order for both Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees for doing the right thing.


1-2 on Thursday for a -0.85 bottom line. The Twins worked, the Rockies didn’t and I took a tough loss on the Cubs/Mets Under. I’m far more upset about not pulling the trigger on the Nationals/Braves game to stay Under the number, but the bottom line is I backed off playing that game and it cost me a winner.

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The Rockies and Diamondbacks were in tossup territory until a surprising error by Nolan Arenado and a subsequent triple changed the course of the game and my side ended up getting blow out. I’ll take a chance with a red hot entry as small road chalk tonight.

BREWERS (Fiers) @ REDS (Lorenzen)

Take: BREWERS -113 (Don Best consensus line at publication time)

The Brewers would need one of the all-time great rallies to get back into playoff contention this season. But while they might already be reduced to playing the role of spoiler the rest of the way, there’s no question this Milwaukee entry is on its best run of the season to date right now.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that this surge has come just as catcher Jonathan Lucroy is rounding into the form he displayed for most of last season. Lucroy is the glue on this team. Ryan Braun is the past MVP and Carlos Gomez is the most exciting talent on the team. But the Brewers MVP is Lucroy and it isn’t close. Milwaukee could be a seller at the deadline, but unless they were to be offered a king’s ransom, the one guy on that roster who should be untouchable is Lucroy.

In addition to Lucroy getting back toward his groove, there has been an increase in energy since Craig Counsell assumed the managerial reigns. Let’s face it, the Brewers came into 2015 looking like the team that fell apart late in 2014 and the change in the dugout had to happen.

Speaking of change, the Reds need to make some moves themselves. And it sure looks like they’ll be doing exactly that, although the general consensus is that that the front office won’t officially wave the white flag until after the All-Star festivities taking place in Cincinnati are done. It’s rather silly as everyone knows what’s about to happen, but I guess creating a phony perception matters somehow.

Regardless of when, it’s virtually a given that Johnny Cueto is going to be dealt away and Aroldis Chapman might not be far behind. It look to me like everyone on the current roster knows the score and let’s just say that this is not the most focused team in the game right now.

The Reds have actually been a decent home team this year. But Michael Lorenzen has had some struggles and the numbers tonight point to Mike Fiers of the Brewers having the advantage. The one downer is that the Reds enjoyed a day off on Thursday while the Brewers were winning a 13 inning marathon over the Phillies.

But with the Brewers actually the hottest team in the NL over the pasty ten days and an edge on the mound with Fiers over Lorenzen, I’m of the opinion this is a good spot for the visitors. The early money showed on Milwaukee and they’re now small chalk, but at the current impost I’ll endorse the Brewers to pick up another win tonight.


FanDuel Value Play, Friday 7/3


Okay, this is clearly a gamble, even at the low salary. Justin Masterson’s days as a pretty hard thrower are done, and he’s now a guy who is going to have to finesse his way to wins.

But Masterson looked really good in his first start off the DL and and I think he’s got a chance to put up some decent numbers against the Astros tonight. Masterson was legal larceny in that most recent start, racking up 15 points for anyone who had the stones to roster him. I’d settle for close to that tonight, and if that’s the case, Masterson at $6500 is a real value. There’s plenty of risk with this choice, but if he has a second straight good outing, Masterson will be rewarding his owners in a big way.


Dave’s Free Plays, Thursday 7/2/15

We’re now roughly at the midway point of the 2015 MLB campaign. So there’s no better time to unveil my list of first ha;f award winners.

AL MVP: Mike Trout, Angels… This wasn’t a blowout, as Miguel Cabrera, Josh Donaldson and the remarkably under the radar Jason Kipnis are having great seasons. It really came down to crunching all the numbers and than making a decision. I opted for Trout but this was very close.

NL MVP: Bryce Harper, Nationals… Paul Goldschmidt is stuck in the wrong league, as I have him as my #2 player overall this season. But there’s no way I can even consider putting anyone ahead of Harper. The breakout has taken place in spectacular fashion. Harper is numero uno in all of MLB in a bunch of categories, and I just don’t see an argument here.

AL Cy Young: Chris Sale, White Sox… If there’s still anyone relying on W/L records to determine value, go away. Sale might only be 6-4 for the Chisox, but he is putting together a season for the ages. Slam dunk.

NL Cy Young: Max Scherzer, Nationals… Slam dunk, part two. No one even close to Scherzer in the Senior Circuit. The great debate would be between Sale and Scherzer for number one overall.

AL Rookie: Carlos Correa, Astros…Yeah, I know, he’s only played 22 games. That’s all that it has taken for Correa to vault all the way to the top of my AL rankings. He’s actually got the best per game numbers of any shortstop in either league, which is amazing.

NL Rookie: Joc Pederson, Dodgers… This was a close call as Kris Bryant has been a definite plus impact for the Cubs. But Pederson is a Top 10 WAR performer in his very first season and he’s checking in ahead of Bryant is what I consider the key metrics. This should be a dynamite duel to the finish line for top honors.

There are some sensational individual performances on display this season. I’ll be looking forward to watching all these races throughout the second half.


Nice start to July with a 2-0 Wednesday as the Dodgers were winners and the Yankees/Angels game stayed well Under the number. I’ve already gotten involved with three Thursday games, including two dogs and one total, and one of those sides is the free play below.

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No shadows with little sun on Wednesday at Anaheim, but the play on the Under worked without a sweat. Sure wish they were all that easy. I’ll go with a live dog that I believe offers sone value for the Thursday comp.

ROCKIES (Rusin) @ DIAMONDBACKS (Hellickson)

Take: ROCKIES +134 (Don Best Consensus at publication time)

These are two teams in interesting position right now as far as the standings are concerned. Neither the Rockies nor the Diamondbacks are considered to be legit contenders to make the playoffs. That’s probably an accurate assessment. But Colorado is eight games out of the wild card right now, and Arizona is only five back. Long shots or not, that’s one hot streak away from being right in the mix.

In other words, while our perceptions say one thing, and I won’t argue against those opinions, the fact is there’s plenty of reason for these two teams to consider adding a body or two at the deadline, rather than simply calling it a day and selling off talent. No beef here if that’s what they choose to do. But considering their respective positions in the standings, the hope is that no fire sales are conducted where available talent is simply sold off to the highest bidder, regardless of what is offered in return.

As for tonight’s game, this one is going on my ticket strictly based on value. I have Chris Rusin and Jeremy Hellickson almost dead even on the pitching data. The Diamondbacks have slim edges on overall offense and in the bullpen, but those are absolutely not runaway advantages. Basically, it’s a game where I’m getting lots of bang for my buck with the underdog. I calculated this game at right around -120 and the D-Backs are being asked to lay far more than that. Baseball is a price is right endeavor, and in this case, that right price is with the Rockies.


FanDuel Value Play, Thursday 7/2



I’m as surprised as most observers at how well Chris Colabello has played for Toronto. He had a brief breakout with the Twins last season, but Colabello ended up back in the minors. When he started fast for his new team this season, the widespread belief was that there would be a fast regression and Colabello would return to afterthought status. That just hasn’t happened.

The Blue Jays have simply annihilated lefties this season and it’s thus tough to argue against stacking Toronto righty hitters against Boston southpaw Wade Miley. The mini-slump for the Jays bats concluded yesterday as they bombed out the Red Sox and I’m going to want a Blue Jay or two in my FanDuel lineup tonight. Colabello is still very reasonably priced at $3100, so I’ll have him in my outfield this evening.

Dave’s Free Plays, Wednesday 7/1/15

It’s all about clout, and when it comes to the Angels, there’s no longer any doubt as to who’s in charge. The now public feud between manager Mike Scioscia and GM Jerry Dipoto has evidently reached a point where someone had to go. The usual pecking order would generally mean adios Scioscia, as the manager is below the general manager on the chart. But not in Anaheim, and while it’s unconfirmed as I’m writing this, it’s Dipoto who will be leaving town.

The crux of the dispute between Scioscia and Dipoto is apparently over the on-field staff’s refusal to supply the players with the scouting information and statistical data the front office was compiling. Dipoto reportedly met with owner Arte Moreno and issued an ultimatum, and not at all surprisingly to this observer, Moreno backed Scioscia. And that turned out to be curtains for Dipoto.

This has been a very dysfunctional season to date for the Angels, not so much on the field, but definitely off the field. My guess is that this was a final straw breaking point between Scioscia and Dipoto. There’s little question that Scioscia is old school as he has been among the least sabremetrically inclined managers. Some may consider Scioscia to be a dinosaur in comparison to the newer breed of manager. But there is no doubt as to who is running the show with the Angels, and it’s Scioscia.

I’m sticking with a prediction I made prior to this season when the Josh Hamilton fiasco took center stage with the Angels. Someone was going to take the fall for the entire Hamilton mess. It’s pretty common knowledge that Moreno was the one who wanted to sign Hamilton to the mega-contract to begin with, but Moreno is not the type to blame himself. So my take was that Dipoto would be gone after this season. I’ve also stated that Scioscia will relinquish his managerial duties come October and will move upstairs as the second in command to Moreno, which we now know he actually already is.

Consider that process to now be at warp speed.


My Tuesday card was unusually deep, but worked out nicely with a 4-2, +2.2 result. In spite of last week’s nightmarish results, the month was okay overall with a net profit of +8.8 in baseball. The season to date is now at +19.75, which is a little less than I was hoping for following three months, but certainly acceptable.

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Free plays have been incredibly streaky this season, and right now they’re definitely in a down cycle. I’ll look for a Total to deliver a winner today.

YANKEES (Eovaldi) @ ANGELS (Shoemaker)

Take: UNDER 8

At first glance, this looks like a game where there could be some scoring. Nathan Eovaldi is clearly capable of getting blown up. Matt Shoemaker has been vulnerable to the long ball, so that’s a red flag of sorts if one is looking to wager one of his starts will stay on the low side. But I see some factors that indicate the pitchers could do well here.

There certainly hasn’t been much in the way of offense in the first two games of the series, with just eight runners crossing home plate thus far. The Yankees bats have gotten really quiet over the past few games. The Halos haven’t plated more than four runs in any game going back to June 19, so they’re absolutely not in rake mode right now.

Don’t overlook one other key here, and that’s the time the game will be played. This is a rare last afternoon start time for the Angels, with the game scheduled to start at 4:05 PM. That means shadows and glare, which is something hitters absolutely don’t like but pitchers definitely love. There should be a few innings here where it’s tough for the batters to pick up the baseball coming out of those shadows, and if that results in a few zeros going up on the scoreboard, it’s mission accomplished in terms of garnering an advantage on this play.

I’m not sure what the Angels will do late if they’re protecting a slim lead as there’s a good chance the Smith/Street combo will get the day off. Nevertheless, with neither team hitting and the conditions playing a potential importing role, I’m willing to bet that this game will stay Under the number.


FanDuel Value Play, Wednesday 7/1

Ian Kennedy was again betrayed by a key mistake by that shoddy Padres defense and he’s now given up eight unearned runs in his last two starts. Of course, the fact Kennedy served up a gopher ball following the latest lapse was huge last night. In any event, while Kennedy produced okay fantasy points in his five innings, this one has to go down as a suggestion that didn’t work out very well.

CHRIS DAVIS, 1B, $3300

I’ll try my luck with a position player tonight, and a hot one at that. Chris Davis is capable of going through some horrendous slumps. But when he’s swinging it well, there’s a load of production to be garnered. Davis is in one of his grooves right now. He’s hit safely in each of the last ten games, with four homers along the way. Davis will face Nick Martinez, who has surrendered just eight homers this season. But seven of those long balls have come in the last seven games. He’s a little vulnerable right now, and I’ll risk a fairly meager $3300 on Davis to earn me a profit tonight.

Dave’s Free Plays, Tuesday 6/30/15

These are tough times for the Philadelphia Phillies. The front office has been a mess for too long and thanks to a combination of standing still and/or making bad decisions, the Phils are bottom feeders with very little reason for optimism.

Maybe there’s finally a tiny silver lining in the Phillies cloud. Andy MacPhail will take over as team president following this season. He’s not a miracle worker, so MacPhail’s arrival isn’t going to suddenly have bettors racing to the window to take futures shots with this team. But MacPhail is a savvy front office veteran and in tandem with Pat Gillick, things should start changing for the better this coming off-season for the Phillies.

There’s no official word on whether GM Ruben Amaro Jr. will be retained. But I don’t think it’s outlandish to suggest that if Amaro is still in that position next spring, it might be the upset of the century. There’s simply no way to defend Amaro’s performance and MacPhail will have a large pool of talented young execs looking to move up to choose from.

As for the present, the Phillies four players they have to find a way to move. Cole Hamels is obviously the big prize among that quartet. Jonathan Papelbon should be marketable to a contender that needs bullpen help. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are the other two guys who figure to be heading to almost anyone willing take on their contracts, or at least their shopworn bodies.

The downside of the MacPhail hiring is that he’s no spring chicken and Gillick is not that far from octogenarian status. I don’t have any doubts about the ability of this combo, but I’ll also listen to those who will argue that running a big league franchise has become more of a younger man’s gig.

I guess my bottom line here is that this is a better late than never move. But one can’t help but wonder how long it might be before the Phillies can even get back to respectability. That’s how buried they are these days.


1-1 on Monday with the Red Sox delivering and the Rays getting shut down again by Indians rookie Cody Anderson. The Tuesday slate could be one of the deepest of the season to date, so I’ll certainly be looking to close out June with a rush.

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I thought the Rays would fare much better against Cody Anderson the second time around. But credit the Indians rookie for pitching a terrific game again last night, and props to the Indians for coming up with a good game plan to confuse the TB hitters. Anderson threw far more changeups than he did in his debut and superbly kept the Rays hitters off balance in the process. I’ll go the small chalk route for the Tuesday free play.

MARINERS (Montgomery) @ PADRES (Kennedy)

Take: PADRES -115 (Don Best Consensus Line at publication time)

Mike Montgomery has been stellar for the Mariners since finally getting called up for his shot. Montgomery was a very hot prospect coming through the Royals organization, but injuries and control issues stymied his progress. The lefty had basically become a bounce around minor leaguer and was off most radar screens. But Montgomery has been terrific since getting his chance and he looks to maintain the hot run tonight at Petco.

Montgomery does fit a pretty good fade angle here. Playing against pitchers off their first ever complete game shutouts has done reasonably well over the years, and the rookie southpaw is a qualifier on that count. I’m not a great believer in blind angle follows, and need more to line up in that direction. I do think there’s some solid footing here though, as this Padres lineup is at least capable of doing some damage to lefties, particularly at home. It clearly doesn’t always play out that way, but I can definitely see some of the righty thump on the Padres getting some good licks in tonight.

Ian Kennedy will work for San Diego here. Kennedy seems to be back to his old self following a very difficult start to the season. Kennedy is off a loss in which he surrendered a very damaging grand slam after being betrayed by some bad defense. But Kennedy has been mostly good of late and he’s facing a bad offense here. The Mariners have been a flop with the sticks and they’ve been terrible almost all season at delivering with men in scoring position.

San Diego has not been a powerhouse at home and Seattle has actually been better on the road than at Safeco. Montgomery is a hot pitcher, so he’s no snap to fire against right now. But I see this line being a bit on the cheap side and I don’t mind the aforementioned angle as a viable support feature here. I’ll look to play the Padres for the Tuesday comp.


FanDuel Value Play, Tuesday 6/30

Back to back success stories with the daily value play as Lance McCullers followed Steven Matz is producing substantial returns on investment the last two days.


I’ve tabbed rookies the last two days, but this time I’ll opt for the veteran Padres righty. Kennedy is back to putting together some really solid strikeout numbers and he gets to face a largely pathetic offense tonight.

There are clearly better straight up options than Kennedy this evening, but salary is the determining factor here. But you’ll have to pay through the nose to land any of those pitchers. Kennedy is way down the price tag list at #14. Considering he’s recorded double digit fantasy points in each of his last three starts and has a great chance to do so again tonight, there’s value here. I’ll sacrifice a few points to have an extra three grand plus to spend on offense, so Kennedy is on my FanDuel ticket tonight.



Dave’s Free Plays, Monday 6/29/16

Most of us are probably in agreement that the annual Monday before the All-Star game Home Run Derby has had a tendency to run a little long. Okay, I probably should just edit the word “little” out of that previous sentence.

So I guess congrats are in order for MLB as they’ve taken steps to shorten the event and they’ve converted it to a bracket format. That’s not bad, as MLB knows he fans do love our brackets. Somehow, I  don’t think this one will quite rival the NCAA basketball tournament, and I’m virtually positive Joe Lunardi won’t have a Home Run Derby Bracketology page set up at espn.com. But I still like the idea.

Of course, nothing is ever simple when it comes to changes being made. That is, in fact, quite the understatement as far as the new HR Derby format goes. Here’s the new setup, courtesy of mlb.com and if you can figure this out minus a slide rule, go to the head of the class.

“Instead of a set number of “outs” per round, each player this year will have five minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. A running clock will begin counting down upon release of the first pitch, though it will stop for any home run hit during the final minute. The clock will stop immediately after those home run balls land and will not begin again until a non-home run ball lands or the batter swings and misses.
Hitters will also be awarded bonus time for showcasing some extra pop. Contestants will receive an additional minute of swings if they hit two home runs projected to land 420 feet during a single turn, as well as another 30 seconds if they hit a blast of at least 475 feet. All distances will be measured using Statcast™.”

Huh, what? I get the idea of shortening the event, as it was indeed too long. I like the idea of the brackets, probably because I like head to head competition. But why such a contrived formula? How about just chop the field from 10 to 8, as they’re doing, seed the players based on their current HR totals, and that’s it. Piece o’cake.

Nah, that makes too much sense.


2-1 here on Sunday, as the Diamondbacks and Mets won and I lost with the Yankees. Good way to start the new week, following a very bad seven-day run. Here’s hoping the small Sunday win jump starts a new heater.

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The Yankees were a miss as the Sunday free play. I’m siding with some home chalk for the Monday comp.

INDIANS (Anderson) @ RAYS (Karns)

Take: RAYS -130 (Don Best Consensus Line at publication time)

Cody Anderson makes his second big league start for the Indians, and Cleveland fans are hoping he can duplicate his very impressive debut. That’s certainly possible, but a couple of factors have me believing it’s not likely and that tonight’s result won’t be as pleasant.

I’m a believer in routines for pitchers, mostly because they seem to be. There is all kinds of data that refutes the belief that a team needs to put pitchers in roles. That’s the essence of the stathead argument against the need for predetermined closers. You won’t get any argument from me on the numbers, as they don’t lie. But there’s also not much doubt that if an entire group believes something to be true, then it is for them, even if it really isn’t. Big league bullpen denizens, the guys who actually do the pitching, are en masse firm believers that they require defined roles to succeed. Thus, contrary to actual evidence, it become a truism of sorts as the players themselves are simply convinced that this is the way it has to be.

Starting pitchers are also creatures of habit, and we have a situation tonight that could be an issue for rookie Cody Anderson. Great first game to be sure, but he hasn’t worked since and that means he’s now out of his routine with eight days between appearances. Don’t ask me why this is such a big deal. I’m not a major league pitcher. But the pitchers themselves hate it, and my opinion, for what it’s worth, is that this could mentally screw with a kid just called up more than a grizzled veteran.

I think it’s also worth noting that Anderson’s sensational debut was against these same Rays. Second time around often much tougher for rookies as the opposition now has a look and a book. Advantage Tampa Bay.

There’s a less complex issue here as well. That’s the Indians offense, which arrives at the Slop in stone cold form. Cleveland scored zero runs in two games on Sunday. Maybe they can break out against Rays starter Nate Karns tonight. But Karns has been pitching decent ball for Tampa Bay and he’s turning out to be a solid middle of the rotation guy for the Rays.

The Rays figure to be a popular betting choice tonight and while they might have been undervalued earlier this season, I don’t think that’s the case currently. In other words, no real bargain to be had here in terms of the price. But I think it’s a favorable situation for the hosts, and I believe Anderson is a bounce candidate this evening. I’ll recommend the Rays as tonight’s free play.


FanDuel Value Play, Monday 6/29

I’ll say that Steven Matz was my best call of the season to date. The debuting Mets lefty put up strong numbers and earned a really nice profit as the lowest salaried pitcher on the FanDuel Sunday board.


The Astros are sure getting their money’s worth out of their rookie phonemes, and McCullers has been terrific, especially from a DFS standpoint. He’s producing 12.3 points per outing, and that’s the best per game average of any starting pitcher on tonight’s board. But McCullers is just the sixth highest salary tonight, so I’ll make a case that he has a little value tonight.

It’s also worth noting that the Royals will be a bit shorthanded tonight. Eric Hosmer is likely out and Alcides Escobar might be as well. That’s a potential loss of two quality sticks and all that ought to do is make the task a little easier for McCullers. It’s definitely not an “ace” night as far as the pitching goes and I like McCullers to have a chance to earn the most points of any hurler this evening.

Dave’s Free Plays, Sunday 6/28/15

One does not have to be a Miami Marlins fan to feel lousy about the injury to Giancarlo Stanton. If you enjoy baseball even on a casual basis, this news is a big disappointment.

Stanton fractured his wrist swinging the bat on Friday evening and he’ll miss the next 4-6 weeks. From the Marlins perspective, it’s not like they were a likely playoff contender, so I suppose it’s not a game changer as far as their chase for October goes. But if there were only two really good reasons to go to a Marlins game, one is now out of action and the other (Jose Fernandez) is still rehabbing from his Tommy John surgery.

The bigger loss is for fans eager to see Stanton doing his thing at the All-Star game and in particular at the Home Run Derby. Giancarlo had already committed to participating and the possibility of seeing a 500 foot plus homer or two was absolutely reason to tune in. No disrespect to any of the other sluggers who will be trying their best to bomb them out that evening, but Stanton was clearly going to be the one everyone had to watch.

As for Stanton, it’s the second straight season he’ll have missed significant time with an injury. Getting hit in the face with a pitch as he did last season was obviously way worse than this injury. But let’s hope that these DL stints are not going to be an annual occurrence for one of the game’s most exciting players to watch.


As of eight days ago, I was just a shade below the +30 net unit level for the baseball season. I’m now right around +17 net units. I guess that’s still acceptable overall, but there’s no way to minimize just how miserable this last week and change has been. Obviously, as one who is selling subscriptions, having to report brutal results is not the preferred method to attract new clients. But I also can’t hide from it, and there’s no way I’m going to try and camouflage my disappointment.

The idea now is to get reheated, and in a hurry. Daily wagering can be streaky, and I’m confident the process will get things back to their norm, hopefully starting today. For info on how my program works, along with the costs and the guarantee, shoot an email my way at cokin@cox.net.


The Diamondbacks got run over on Saturday night after being tied 2-2 at the midway point. The free play heater has been doused these last few days. Sunday’s comp is the series windup between the Yankees and Astros.

YANKEES (Pineda) @ ASTROS (McHugh)

Take: YANKEES -109 (Don Best Consensus Line as of publication time)

Michael Pineda and Collin McHugh are a pair of starting pitchers who’d probably each like to turn back the clock just a little bit. Both Pineda and McHugh were putting up some mighty impressive numbers, but each has been going through an uneven period recently. McHugh is hoping his last effort got him straightened out to some extent. Pineda needs to rebound from what was probably the worst start of his life.

It’s really kind of baffling as to what in the wide, wide world of sports went wrong for Pineda on Monday. He was at home and he was facing a feeble Phillies lineup. Welcome to the game where anything can happen on any given day. Pineda didn’t fool a soul and got absolutely blown up.

As for McHugh, one might make the argument that one critical pitch swung everything for him. The Astros righty has been getting hit pretty hard lately and was in a first inning bases loaded mess at Anaheim. But McHugh induced a double play grounder from David Freese, the ‘Stros lit up CJ Wilson in the second inning and McHugh settled in well enough to coast to an easy win.

I’m still not convinced that McHugh is out of the woods. If he has relocated the stuff we saw for much of 2014 and the early portion of this season, the Yankees could be in for a difficult day.

Pineda needs to show he can be an ace today. The Yankees won Saturday, but Masahiro Tanaka had his second straight very poor performance in the process. Given the concerns about his balky elbow, there’s not as much reliability in Tanaka at this point as the Yankees would like. Pineda has to step up here and put together a quality start. That’s no cinch against this Houston entry. But I’ll count myself as one who believes Pineda has to talent to front a rotation and I’m eager to see how he rebounds from that Monday disaster.

I made this number a shade higher than where it currently stands, and assuming the regulars are playing this game, I’ll be looking to include the Yankees on my personal ticket for the day. I would definitely suggest checking out the starting lineups before proceeding as it’s a Sunday getaway game and the Yanks have to play at Anaheim on Monday night. But assuming the key guys are in action, the Yankees are a take for me, and they’re the Sunday free play as well.


FanDuel Value Play, Sunday 6/28


It’s the very much anticipated big league debut for the next Mets phenom. Steven Matz has accomplished all he can pitching for Las Vegas in the PCL and now it’s time for the lefty to see what he can do in the bigs.

The key to this choice is the price. Matz is the lowest priced pitcher on the entire board at only $4600. I’m not expecting him to garner as many points as King Felix, MadBum, Price, Archer, Greinke and perhaps a few others. It’s pretty much ace day around the majors. But those star pitchers are all commanding huge salaries, and here’s Matz selling at a bargain basement price. I’m in on the rookie and I’ll spend all those excess dollars trying to find some offensive pop.



Dave’s Free Plays, Saturday 6/27/15

Quick blog tonight, with just the free play and the value opinion for FanDuel. Back to the regular commentary on Sunday.

The Friday free play was a bummer as Justin Nicolino’s second big league start was not as memorable as his first and the Marlins were overrun by the Dodgers. I’ll tab a road dog for the Saturday comp.

DIAMONDBACKS (Hellickson)  @  PADRES (Cashner)

Take: DIAMONDBACKS +125 (Don best Consensus Line at publication time)

Talk about a bad combo. Andrew Cashner has been beset by bad luck most of the season. Plus, the Padres righty just isn’t pitching well. Consequently, he’s stuck with a grotesque 2-9 record and things don’t seem to getting any better.

Cashner has surrendered 19 unearned runs already this season. Needless to say, he’s been betrayed by some porous defense on a regular occasion. It seems as though every time there’s a mistake made behind him, it balloons into something bad for Cashner. But he’s certainly not helping the cause. Cashner has been very hittable all season, and now he is starting to have some control issues. Over his four starts, covering 21.1 innings, Cashner has walked 14 hitters. There aren’t many pitchers who are going to survive that kind of BB rate. In his last five starts, Cashner has permitted 29 runners to score.

Jeremy Hellickson isn’t in the mix to be an All-Star, but the Arizona righty is producing just what the Diamondbacks were hoping for. Hellickson’s job is to go six innings and keep his team in the game. He has done precisely that for the most part, particularly recently. Hellickson has produced quality starts in six of his last seven outings.

There’s nothing fancy about Hellickson, and his pure talent isn’t close to that of Cashner. But the results for the D-Backs righty are simply superior right now.

As for rest, the data is pretty close as far as offense and bullpen are concerned. The better glove team is the Diamondbacks, as the Padres have one of the least efficient defenses in baseball this season.

All that said, I still favor the Padres here, but not by as much as the odds suggest. If the line holds on this game where it closed late Friday evening, the Diamondbacks look playable at the price.


FanDuel Value Play, Saturday 6/27

Great job by Taijuan Walker last night as the Mariners righty earned a substantial profit for those using him in their lineups.


JD Martinez is on a power rampage for the Tigers and he’s facing a very homer prone lefty today as John Danks throws for the White Sox. Martinez is by no means dirt cheap at 4K, but this is one of those keep it simple selections. Martinez was the first player I purchased for my Saturday DFS lineup and I’m looking forward to getting more than my money’s worth.



Dave’s Free Plays, Friday 6/26/15

I think the right term here would be “wakeup call”, and former UNLV basketball star Chris Wood got his on Thursday night. Only in this case the phone never rang.

Wood decided to forego his remaining college eligibility following the 2014-15 campaign. Many local observers, myself included, thought this was a good decision. While there were still some aspects of his game that needed improving, the consensus seemed to be that Wood was going to be a first-round draft choice, which meant a guaranteed contract. The feeling was also that he would benefit from being surrounded by adult professionals, as this would accelerate his maturation process.

Sometime between the end of the Runnin’ Rebels season and the draft, Wood’s stock became to tumble precipitously. The irony is that while this was taking place, the buzz on UNLV teammate Rashad Vaughn began to grow. It just goes to show that one never knows. Vaughn became the hot commodity, while the hype surrounding Wood almost completely disappeared.

I don’t think there’s any question that Wood has the ability to fashion a long and successful NBA career for himself. But he needs to grow up. I don’t know Chris at all, I’ve never met him. But living in Las Vegas and being at least somewhat visible in the local sports media, I know lots of people who are very familiar with Wood. The common opinion on him is simply undeniable. Helluva kid, but very immature. I also don’t think there’s any question that this viewpoint has made its way into NBA circles, and that’s why Chris Wood’s hopes and expectations of getting drafted went by the wayside.

Here’s what Chris tweeted at the end of the disappointing Thursday evening.

Christian Wood ‏@Chriswood_5 

Great.. im keeping my head high and staying humble i have a chip on my shoulder and im using it on every m*****f***** i go against #JustWait

Good opening, not so good finish, Chris. Fact is, Chris needs to realize this isn’t about using the perceived snub as a proving ground against anyone other than himself. If I were advising Wood, my suggestion would be simple and straightforward. Grow up and shut up. Let your actions speak louder than your words, and by the way, clean it up.

My honest belief is that this is potentially the best thing that could have happened to Chris Wood, if he takes it to heart and realizes why this all happened the way it did. If that’s the case, his considerable talent will now be matched by his determination and his NBA dream will be realized. I hope that’s the case.


My June numbers are still fairly impressive, but this week has been a downer. 0-2 on Thursday, with an aggravating loss by the Diamondbacks proving to be the difference maker. Friday’s card looks good, and I will probably be getting involved in four or five games at some point.

For info on how to get all my plays with analysis on an everyday basis, simply email me directly at cokin@cox.net and I’ll provide the details along with the cost and my powerful guarantee.


Chip Hale has done a solid job in his first year as a major league manager. But the Diamondbacks skipper wasn’t at his best on Thursday and I thought a couple of poor decisions really hurt his team en route to the 6-4 loss at Colorado. Bounce back time with the Friday free play.

DODGERS (Anderson) @  MARLINS (Nicolino)

Take: MARLINS +120 (Don Best Consensus Line as of publication time)

The Miami Marlins have become regular members of the flop fraternity in recent years. This season is no different as the team was expected by many to be improved this year and that sure hasn’t happened, Mike Redmond was pink slipped as the manager, the GM moved to the dugout from the front office, and the team is lousy once again.

But none of this is the fault of one Giancarlo Stanton. What this guy is doing to baseballs thrown his way when he’s at the plate is just plain insane. Stanton hits the longest homers in the game, and some his stats are starting to get just plain silly.

Stanton now owns a .498 wOBA against lefties, and he’s facing one of those tonight. His home wOBA against southpaws is an outrageous .579. For the month of June against all pitchers, the Stanton wOBA is .529. In other words, and particularly if it’s a lefty, the best idea is to simply throw Stanton four balls if the situation allows for it and try to get the rest of the Marlins out.

Brett Anderson will toe the rubber for the Dodgers tonight. He hasn’t been bad at all for the most part, but Anderson has been considerably more effective at home than on the road, and his overall numbers have declined some in the current month. Don’t get me wrong, Anderson is still pitching reasonably well and his ground ball rate is enviable. He’s just not as sharp now as he was earlier.

The Marlins should have a chance to get some good licks in tonight. There’s the presence of Stanton against a lefty, and as a team Miami has put up some really good offensive stats at home against southpaws. I don’t expect them to blow up Anderson, but if they can make him exhaust the pitch count and get into that Dodgers pen reasonably early, then it’s mission accomplished.

Justin Nicolino gets his second big league start tonight. He’s going to have to fit that crafty southpaw label if he wants to succeed in The Show. Nicolino won’t get many K’s and I really don’t see him as more than a back on the rotation starting pitcher. But as is so often the case, Nicolino will have an advantage of sorts tonight, as the Dodgers have never seen him. I lost count long ago of the number of middling lefties who enjoy quite a bit of early success until the hitters get a book on them, and I’m hoping Nicolino fits into that category again tonight. The formula certainly worked in his debut and with the Dodgers anemic offense against southpaws, albeit better on the road than at home, Nicolino has a decent shot at success here.

My number on this game is Dodgers -105. So it’s basically pick ’em for me, and if I’m able to get the right price, the Marlins are clearly a good enough value to be worthy of a play tonight.


FanDuel Value Play, Friday 6/26

Kolten Wong produced 5.5 FanDuel points on Thursday, so he earned a decent profit considering his somewhat paltry $2900 salary. Let’s see about getting another good value play result tonight.


This season did not start off at all well for Mariners righty Taijuan Walker. But credit to the M’s for sticking with Walker as he has put things together very nicely of late. Walker is racking up K’s at an admirable rate and as his control has improved, the through the roof pitch counts have come down to earth. Walker has gone from liability to asset both in DFS and in the real baseball world.

Walker is now a confident pitcher and he should have a chance to put together a good game against the Angels tonight. I like the fact he’s only the 12th highest salaried starting pitcher tonight. I might not get quite as much point production from Walker as I would from one of several staff aces throwing tonight. But I like the idea of saving thousands of dollars in salary that I can spend on offense. Walker is averaging better than 16 DFS points in his last five starts, and if I get in that range tonight, that’s a nice profit.



Dave’s Free Plays, Thursday 6/25/15

If the Toronto Blue Jays are going to start winning 1-0 games, everyone else is in trouble.

It has become commonplace to see this offensive juggernaut put up some ridiculous hitting stats. The Blue Jays are by far the highest scoring team in the game and there just aren’t many holes in that lineup. Even the guys who would previously have been considered easier outs are contributing regularly.

The Toronto pitching has not been especially good, and that’s an area team management probably needs to address if they want to make a true run at making something magical happen this October.

The extra inning 1-0 victory on Wednesday at Tampa Bay was big as for once it was the Toronto pitching that won the game. Along with some amazing defense, that is, with 3B Josh Donaldson paving the way. He helped keep Marco Estrada perfect into the eighth inning, with one incredible catch diving into the stands to get a foul ball the highlight of the day.

Donaldson is having a phenomenal year. It’s so insanely good that if Commissioner Manfred simply decided to award Donaldson the starting third base spot for the AL All Star team, who could possibly object?

By the way, props to Donaldson for his post-game tweet, in which he sent a shoutout to the Jays fan who “saved my face”, adding “he’s tough.” Donaldson can be followed on Twitter @BringerOfRain20.

As for the Jays, they’re sure in a much better place than they were about one month ago when it seemed as though manager John Gibbons was close to getting fired with the team mired in last place. Things certainly can change rapidly in big league baseball.


Finally tossed in a clunker on Wednesday with my two sides combining to score one total run, and that’s going to generally result in a down evening. The task today is get right back to winning.

I’ve done that pretty well throughout this baseball season, and if you’d like to get the goods on how my program works, it’s simple enough. Just shoot an email my way at cokin@cox.net and I’ll provide all the pertinent info.


The Wednesday free play was a scratch with the Angels opting to change pitchers. Andrew Heaney got called up, and Matt Shoemaker was bumped to Friday when the Mariners come to Anaheim. A reminder that I recommend listing pitchers for all baseball wagers, so if one of the starters gets scratched, there’s simply no action. Here’s the Thursday comp.

DIAMONDBACKS (de la Rosa)  @  ROCKIES (de la Rosa)

Take: DIAMONDBACKS +120 (Don Best Consensus Line at publication time)

Here it is, de la Rosa vs. de la Rosa as the Diamondbacks and Rockies close out their series at Coors. Rubby will be throwing for the road team, while Jorge gets the call for Colorado.

This is a great debate type of game from a handicapping vantage point. Data vs. trends is very much in play here and this is one game where the number crunchers will be firing on one side while the trend players will be going the other way.

The trends are crystal clear as Jorge de la Rosa has some of the most dominant ledgers one will ever see at Coors, in terms of the team wins and losses when he pitches. It’s really kind of amazing to note that the Rockies are 51-13 when JDLR takes the mound at Coors, and that includes 10-1 against the Diamondbacks.

But the flip side here is the current data, both for the Diamondbacks and for their de la Rosa. RDLR is putting together some pretty impressive under the radar numbers, and it’s really starting to look like the Red Sox mad a big mistake deeming him excess baggage.

The present team stats also indicate the Diamondbacks to be the side here. I won’t get into the specifics as to how I come up with my lines for each game. But my methodology produced a line of Rockies -106 for this game. Compare that with the line that was showing as I posted this piece and you’ll see there’s value to be had on the visitors.

Believe me, there’s no such thing as comfortable when it comes to going against Jorge de la Rosa at Coors. But for me this comes down to my being more of a believer in data than trends, even when said trends are mighty daunting. Barring lineup absences of note for the road team, I’ll be looking to take the price with the Diamondbacks here.


FanDuel Value Play, Thursday 6/25

KOLTEN WONG, 2B, $2900

I decided to try and find a homer prone pitcher and grab someone at below average market price who’s hitting well for today’s value play. That led me to Kolten Wong, who continues to do some really goos work for the amazing Cardinals. Wong has been steady with the stick, and he went deep in the Wednesday night St. Louis win. I like the idea of padding my lineup with leadoff guys, as they simply get the most plate appearances and therefore more chances to rack up points. Haren has been having long ball issues lately and I’m hoping Wong can do some damage today. At only $2900, he’s a worthwhile add for me.

Dave’s Free Plays, Wednesday 6/23/15

I’m approaching senior citizenship, and it’s said that people in that 65+ age group are the most resistant to change. Fortunately, I’m not much on tradition, especially when it comes to sports, so I’m all about new wrinkles if they figure to make a game better.

When the NHL decided to get rid of the endless ties by instituting shootouts following any scoreless overtimes in regular season games, I loved the idea. I figured anything is better than a tie, so let’s go for it.

But the novelty of the shootouts has worn off and apparently I’m not the only one feeling that way. So kudos are in order for the NHL as they’ve decided to try and end as many games as they can prior to the shootout by going the three-on-three route for the five minute overtime sessions.

My thought was that the league would adapt the AHL experimental rule utilized this past season. That setup was four minutes of four-on-four, then three minutes of three-on-three, and then the shootout if the game was still tied. It worked out well, as not many games made it to the shootout.

The NHL can’t go that road because the NHLPA doesn’t want additional minutes, which I suppose I can understand even though it seems rather trivial. So be it, and the five minutes with three skaters for each side is going to be wide open and highly entertaining. It should also decide a larger percentage of games prior to any shootouts, and that’s the best news.

More than 14% of all games have gone to shootout over the last two seasons. That’s basically 14% too many for my liking. I’d actually almost rather have the ties to be honest. But if three-on-three knocks down that percentage by a few pegs, mission accomplished.

So hats off to the NHL and here’s hoping the NBA will follow suit with something being done about the incessant intentional fouling at the end of games. It’s boring as hell and needs to end. Now.

Change is good!


I went 2-2 on Tuesday, showing a net loss of -0.17. Winners with my one total and a side play on Oakland. I lost my Angels play by a whole lot, and watched my F5 Reds bet go down the tubes when the Pirates rallied from a 4-0 fourth inning deficit with seven runs, the last three of which were unearned following a terrible error by the Cincinnati shortstop.

The June month to date numbers are big, the season to date MLB results are rock solid and I expect to continue on the positive path. If you’d like to join me by getting all my plays, including the late stuff that is not available online, email me at cokin@cox.net for all the info on my guaranteed monthly special.


No chance with the Halos as the Tuesday free play. The bad CJ Wilson showed up and the Astros didn’t miss any of the mistakes en route to an easy win. I’m 1-1 in that series so far, and I’ll try and capture the rubber match  in today’s getaway day game.

ASTROS (McCullers)  @  ANGELS (Shoemaker)

Take: ASTROS +105 (Don Best Consensus Line at publication time)

If you haven’t seen Lance McCullers in action yet, you’ve missed out on catching one of the best young arms in the game. McCullers is not yet a finished product, but this is a kid with a legit chance to be a true ace.

McCullers still has occasional issues with his control. That’s something he figures to iron out as he gains experience. But even with the occasional bouts with command, this guy can make opposing hitters look awful at times and he has shown some real flashes of dominance.

The McCullers that showed up last outing at Seattle needs to skip this afternoon’s game. The McCullers from the second start back threw no-hit ball for five innings. But because he ran up a huge pitch count and handed out too many walks, his day ended before he even got a chance to lose the no-hitter. But prior to those two starts, McCullers had done most everything right, and I’ll hope that’s the version I get today.

But this more about going against Matt Shoemaker than it is about backing McCcullers. Shoemaker has taken a substantial step backward this season. Shoemaker is still doing some things well and his 5.20 ERA is a bit misleading. He’s maintaining an enviable BB/K ratio and his xFIP and SIERA numbers are okay.

But there have been some problems for Shoemaker and they’re right there to see in black and white. Velocity is down a tick and the fly ball percentage has gone up. Unfortunately for Shoemaker, so have the home runs surrendered. That’s the data speaking. In terms of what I’ve seen, Shoemaker has simply been leaving more pitches up in the zone this year. When his splitter doesn’t sink, it becomes a very hittable fastball and too many of those mistakes are leaving the yard.

The key bullpen pieces for each team should be fresh enough today and I’ll give the Halos the edge in that category. But I like the Houston offense in this spot and I will give McCullers the advantage over Shoemaker. I made the Angels -109 here so it’s not like there’s big value on the visitors. But there’s enough to side with the Astros as long as they’re dogs, so Houston is the Wednesday comp.


FanDuel Value Play, Wednesday 6/23

Yikes. My Tuesday choice was CJ Wilson and I think it’s safe to assume that if you followed my lead on that call, you didn’t cash out. Let’s hope for something better with today’s pick.


I have to admit to being surprised to see Ian Kennedy as far down the pitching salary as he is today at FanDuel. There are 12 pitchers commanding bigger prices than Kennedy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting the San Diego righty belongs in the Chris Sale or Gerrit Cole price range. But Kennedy has gotten on track after a poor start that was fueled by injury. His last few starts have been very good, and he’s facing a Giants team that can’t seem to generate much offense at home. It doesn’t hurt that Kennedy has good numbers in this ballpark as well as some of the SF hitters he’ll be facing tonight. No argument against starting Sale or Cole, but either of those two will leave the budget short for offense. I think I’ll save some bucks with Kennedy and spend more on the hitters