Dave’s Free Plays, Monday 7/6/15

I don’t get to watch much NASCAR. That’s not by choice, as I enjoy the action. But the racing is usually up against one of the sports that I’m more focused on for “work” purposes, and I have a habit of forgetting to set the DVR.

Due to weather issues, the Sunday race at Daytona got delayed for a very lengthy period, and lo and behold, I ended up with sensational late evening viewing. The race itself wound down to a riveting finish, and just as Dale Earnhardt Jr. crossed the finish line, there was a massive crash.

I would guess that most of you have already seen what happened, and to call this accident harrowing would be an epic understatement. I didn’t think there was any chance Austin Dillon would simply walk away apparently unscathed physically after seeing his car get launched airborne into the catch fence.

It appears as though the only injuries were minor scrapes to a few fans hit by flying debris. That’s really a miracle, and it’s testimony to the safety measures this sport has continuously added over the years. If this crash had occurred just a handful of years ago, maybe even more recently that that, we’re probably looking at serious injuries and perhaps worse.

I’ll probably never be more than a casual observer when it comes to auto racing. But you have to hand it to NASCAR. Helluva product and it seems as though when I do manage to watch a race, the excitement gets delivered every time.


I had a bad Sunday on the diamond, dropping all three plays, and that took care of the profits from the prior few days. The task is to bounce right back, and I can see a couple of decent opportunities to do so tonight.

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I was actually going to feature the White Sox as my Monday commentary, but I’ll hold off on that for a night. The Pale Hose failed as the Sunday free play, and their modest winning streak certainly ended with a thud in the process. I’ll try to get a better result with another AL Central host tonight.

ORIOLES (Chen) @ TWINS (Hughes)

Take: TWINS -102 (Don Best Consensus line at publication time)

The Orioles salvaged the finale of their weekend set in Chicago by blowing up the White Sox bullpen on Sunday. They also played some solid defense early in the game to preserve a narrow lead. Good win for the Orioles to be sure, but I can see them having a more difficult time this evening.

The Twins have been at their best from a production standpoint when facing lefties at home. They’ll have a chance to cool off Wei-Yin Chen this evening. Chen is definitely no cinch. He’s not a guy who will ever post those blow away numbers that jump off the page. But he’s a steady southpaw who generally gives his team a decent chance to get a win.

Phil Hughes is actually the more volatile pitcher here. Hughes has gotten closer to his 2014 form recently, although he remains vulnerable to the home run. The whole key to backing Hughes is being able to accept going in that he’s probably going to get taken deep at some point. The hope is that it’s a solo job.

From a metrics standpoint, this is a close pitching matchup, with Chen owning a very slim advantage. So I’m keying more on the offensive data that I do think provides a bit of an edge. The Orioles haven’t been a great offensive team on the road against righties. The Twins best situation is vs. lefties at home. Then there’s the simplest numbers of all. Baltimore has been a subpar road team this season. Minnesota is average overall, but that 25-15 home ledger is nothing to sneeze at. I';; run with the team elements tonight and will tab the Twins as the free play.


FanDuel Value Play, Monday 7/6

Some spectacular hits and misses here recently, and the Sunday choice was a big bust. Here’s one for Monday.


Lots of aces on the mound tonight, and they all cost big bucks. But it’s likely that without spending those dollars, getting the pitching points necessary to get in the win column won’t be easy. That means finding some cheap offense, and I can see Andre Ethier as a good choice on that count.

Ethier will be up against one of the weaker pitchers on tonight’s board as the Phillies are starting Sean O’Sullivan. I’m probably going to look to have at least a couple Dodgers, maybe more, rostered tonight and at $2400 Ethier will definitely in my outfield.


Dave’s Free Plays, Sunday 7/5/15

Miguel Cabrera is going to be out until sometime in August, and talk about a devastating blow. This is a game changer for the Detroit Tigers. There are only a very small handful of players who fall into the irreplaceable category. Cabrera is one of those truly elite.

The Tigers are now faced with a difficult decision as the non-waiver trade deadline closes in. They weren’t a cinch to make the playoffs with Cabrera playing virtually every day. The reality is that while this injury doesn’t kill their chances by any means, I don’t see how Detroit can be a favorite to be playing come October.

The pitching is okay at the top with David Price and Anibal Sanchez, even with the latter of that duo having an inconsistent campaign. Alfredo Simon is acceptable as a #3. But there have to be some serious questions about Justin Verlander at this point, and the fifth spot has been a problem all season that’s not likely to suddenly get fixed.

The Detroit brain trust has been around the block more than once, so I don’t expect a panic move will take place. But one would have to think the Tigers are about to face a crucial decision as far as this season is concerned. They can either bite the bullet and hope to hang in for six weeks until Cabrera returns, and then hope he stay healthy the rest of the way. Or, they can try to put a prospect package together that’s attractive enough to land an available bat.

The problem with the second option is the Tigers don’t have much on the farm that’s particularly enticing. They also don’t have a currently rostered pitcher they can afford to deal, not even Simon. So my guess is Detroit opts to platoon Alex Avila and Andrew Romine at first base. They’ve brought up 3B Jefry Marte from Toledo, and while he’s not a high end prospect, Marte is having his best minor league season.

In any event, it’s a huge blow for the Tigers that could have a major impact on how things shake out in the AL Central.


2-1 on Saturday, with a miss on the Giants, and winners on the Pirates and Brewers. Nice enough start to July at +3.2, and the season to date is now just a shade less than +23 net.

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Cody Anderson pitched another strong game for the Indians Saturday, but I managed to get a superb effort from Jeff Locke and the Pirates earned a 1-0 win as the daily free play. I’ll bank on more good pitching to deliver a winner today.

ORIOLES (Gonzalez) @ WHITE SOX (Rodon)

Take: WHITE SOX -105 (Don Best consensus line at publication time)

The White Sox have been one of the tougher teams for me to either play on or against this season. I’ve generally just chosen to avoid them completely. The reason is simple enough. The Pale Hose consistently win the starting pitcher matchup, which is obviously a key when handicapping any baseball game. But that plus factor has been frequently offset by their horrible offense. This team is absolutely awful with the sticks. The proof of that is Chris Sale, who has been beyond sensational for the White Sox, and yet still has only six wins. It’s tough to get those W’s when there’s almost no offensive support.

Neverthless, I’m looking to hitch my wagon to the White Sox today. Carlos Rodon is on the mound, and the more I watch Rodon, the easier it becomes to look upon him as a future superstar southpaw. Rodon still has the occasional command battles, which is not unusual for a guy with such a limited professional resume. But when it comes to pure stuff, Rodon is elite. Big heat, and a killer slider that basically can’t be touched when he locates it. I really hope Rodon stays healthy for the next several seasons as he has a legitimate chance to be a true #1 starter.

Miguel Gonzalez will throw for the Orioles and he’s the definition of a mid-tier starter. Gonzalez will never blow hitters away with his array. But he’s a gritty competitor, and he’s one of those guys who’s probably a little better than his numbers say he’s supposed to be. But Gonzalez is not in especially good form right now. The Orioles righty has endured back to back bad outings since coming off the DL.

There’s nothing good I can say about this White Sox offense. It flat out stinks. But the upside is that the Chisox have a little something going right now. They’ve won four straight games and while they really had to eke out three of those, wins are wins.

The White Sox are in last place in the AL Central but they’re not dead in the water just yet. If they can maintain a little upward mobility heading into the break, maybe the front office makes a move to add some offense. They probably ought to, as if this outfit could just get a bit more production, the staff is strong enough for this team to potentially get hot. Sale, Jeff Samardzija, Jose Quintana and Rodon form an enviable quartet of arms, and it’s not like these guys need monstrous offensive support to get wins.

As for today, I want to ride the mini-White Sox wave and I like Rodon to best Gonzalez. Price is not an issue, and in fact at a virtual pick ’em, I can argue there’s a little value to be had with the White Sox.


FanDuel Value Play, Sunday 7/5

Nice work by Kelly Johnson as the Saturday selection. I’ll go with an inexpensive pitcher on Sunday.


This isn’t as much of an endorsement of Mike Bolsinger. He just happens to be the next guy up when it comes to facing the utterly dismal Mets offense.

But the fact is Bolsinger has done much better work than anticipated for the Dodgers, and while I’ve got doubts as to whether he can maintain what’s he’s been accomplishing to date, there are way worse options than Bolsinger right now.

As for the Mets, they’re about as pathetic as it gets with the bats right now. If I only have to spend $6500 to get a pitcher in good form against them, it seems like a reasonable strategy to me.


Dave’s Free Plays, Saturday 7/4/15

Happy holiday to all, hope everyone has a great time celebrating the 4th!

Regular readers here know I’m very much anti-bunt, for reasons I’ve elaborated on more times than I can count. That doesn’t mean my preferred strategy, which in most cases is to swing away, will always pay off.

The Rockies got the leadoff man on the top of the tenth inning on Friday night in their game with the Diamondbacks. They then bunted and it worked like a charm as Nick Hundley not only moved Wilin Rosario along, he reached first base safely himself.

Okay, two on, none out, Michael McKenry hitting against lefty Andrew Chafin. I’m expecting Walt Weiss to put the bunt sign on, but lo and behold, he lets McKenry swing away. Unfortunately, McKenry hit a line drive that was caught by the shortstop and Rosario got doubled off second base.

The natural reaction by many was to criticize Weiss for not having McKenry bunt. I thought he made the right move. The on deck hitter was Drew Stubbs, who has been an epic disaster all season. Stubbs rarely plays these days, and when he does, it’s usually a strikeout. That’s not an exaggeration. Stubbs has 59 plate appearances this year, and he’s K’d an impossible 33 times. After that, leadoff hitter Charlie Blackmon was due, and he has struggled mightily against lefties this season.

So my line of thought was that rather than rely on the apparently shot Stubbs and then having to hope Blackmon delivers with two outs, take the shot with McKenry and see if he can drive in the go ahead run. That’s what Weiss thought as well evidently. The fact it blew up doesn’t change anything. I’m 100% after the play is already done. The idea is to make your decision beforehand and see how it works out.

And that’s the beauty of watching sports and having an opinion. I’ve never had much patience with those who wait till the games are over and then offer their critiques. I’d rather watch with someone who’s going to “manage” the game like I’m doing.


Just one play on Friday and that worked out nicely as the Brewers beat up the Reds. Wish they were all that easy! Anyway, nice start to July and the baseball bottom line is back in the +20’s neighborhood. Still have a ways to go to get back near +30, which was where things were prior to that nasty eight-day slide, but things do appear to back in order, thankfully.

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Cake with the Brewers as the Friday free play, which also turned out to be my only play. A bit more action on the Saturday slate. Here’s the free play and I’ll take a chance trying to get past a hot team with a hot pitcher.

INDIANS (Anderson) @ PIRATES (Locke)

Take: PIRATES -114 (Don Best consensus line at publication time)

Okay, let’s get the bad stuff out of the way right off the bat. I’m backing Jeff Locke and I’m trying to get the best of rookie Cody Anderson and a surging Indians team.

I can’t really make a compelling case for Locke. There’s just not any way to do so without appearing ridiculous. Locke is at best a six inning keep the team in the game type. At worst, Locke is a blowup who can be forced out of the game far earlier than his teammates would like.

The crux of this play is against Cody Anderson. The rookie has been quite a story since being promoted. Two very strong results, both against the Rays, and Anderson actually was flirting with a no-hitter last time out.

But Anderson has also been getting a wee bit fortunate in his major league infancy. He’s not one who has missed many bats, and right now everything that’s hit is being done so directly at someone. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been impressed with the less than spectacular contact being made off his pitches. Nevertheless, a .149 BABIP is a correction waiting to happen.

As for the team elements, Cleveland is on its best roll of the season, but the Pirates have also been playing well of late. The Indians are a little less potent against lefties, so perhaps Locke can have one of his respectable outings tonight. The Pirates are considerably better against righties than southpaws, so that should be a plus for them tonight.

Anderson might well be on one of those rookie rolls that get really hard to explain. But I think he’s stepping up in class tonight at Pittsburgh, and it’s my assessment that the Pirates are a decent option as cheap home chalk tonight.


FanDuel Value Play, Saturday 7/4

I’m pretty sure my entry last night was the single worst I’ve had since I started trying my luck at daily fantasy sports. So no place to go but back up after that disaster. Here’s my choice for today action.


I normally try to avoid the obvious with these plays for several reasons. One is the usual cost to get the big names, they don’t usually come cheap. Another is that if you’re playing in a tournament with lots of entries, there’s a need to play guys that aren’t widely popular choices.

I think this choice will be very popular, as it’s a bargain basement price on a guy with a dynamite history against his opponent. That means Kelly Johnson will definitely NOT be a secret tonight.

But the fact remains Johnson has some big numbers in his dealings with Kevin Correia. The Phillies righty is a pitcher who should be a good go against as far as fantasy is concerned and Johnson is dirt sharp at $2200. Count me in.

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.

The start of a brand new month is a great time to get involved with me on a daily basis, and the new client guaranteed offer is still very available. Just shoot me an email at cokin@cox.net and I’ll provide all the details.


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.

July 2014 was a spectacular month for me, and I’m sure hoping for an encore performance this time around. Get the entire month, including all my plays plus a dynamite guarantee. I’ll provide all the particulars via email, and the best way to get in touch with me is at cokin@cox.net.


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.