Dave’s Free Play, Tuesday 8/4/15

Okay, I just can’t let this one go. I’ll preface this by stating that I had no action on the Rays/White Sox game on Monday evening. So this isn’t one of those sour grapes rants. It’s just a description of some truly horrendous decision making that might very well have cost the White Sox a critical win.

Here’s the scenario. Bottom of the ninth, Rays up 5-4. White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez gets the Chisox going with a single and he proceeds to steal second base. Adam LaRoche then delivers a single to center, so it’s first and third for the hosts with no one out. They’re now a favorite to at least tie the game.

Oh wait, scratch that first and third and no outs. Ramirez gets waved home and he’s easily thrown out on a play that’s not even close. This is baseball at its absolute worst.

First of all, unless the runner is going to tally standing up, there is no way he should be trying to score in this situation. Secondly, Ramirez is trying to score on Kevin Kiermaier.

Kevin Kiermaier is the number one rated player in all of major league baseball in defensive WAR. That’s right, his 18.9 figure is the absolute top of the heap. If you’ve seen him play, you know that Kiermaier is a sensational defender.

So not only did the White Sox take a very bad gamble, they also did so against the best defensive player in baseball for the 2015 season to date.

I’ll state this very simply and bluntly. If the third base coach doesn’t know enough to stop Ramirez in this spot, particularly with who’s playing center field for Tampa Bay, he probably should not be a third base coach at the major league level.

Mistakes happen all the time. Most are excusable. This one wasn’t.


I went 2-1-1 on Monday. The Cubs game ended up getting postponed, I won with the Padres and somehow with the Braves, and took a loss with Oakland. Nice gain for the night and hopefully more profits on the way this evening.

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No result on the Monday free play, as the weather in Pittsburgh caused a postponement between the Cubs and Pirates. I’ll look at tonight’s clash between those same teams for the Tuesday comp.

CUBS (Arrieta) @ PIRATES (Happ)

Take: CUBS -125 (Don Best consensus line at publication time)

The Pirates made some minor adds at the deadline, with one of this pickups being lefty JA Happ. The veteran southpaw will make his Bucs debut tonight. Happ draws a  very tough mound adversary this evening as Jake Arrieta throw for the Cubs.

I see a big edge here for Arrieta. He’s had an outstanding season to date. Errata has now arrived at that point where even when he’s not at his best, he’ll usually find a way to grind out six innings and give his team a decent chance to win the game.

The Pirates should be thrilled if they can get six okay frames from Happ. He was really struggling for the Mariners and while the change in scenery might be beneficial, Happ is definitely not what I’d call a go with guy at the present time. Happ has had serious command issues of late. His control has been less than stellar and his strikes are getting too much of the plate on a regular basis. Happ doesn’t have great stuff to begin with, and if he’s not locating properly, he’s can get overwhelmed by big league hitters.

With the rainout on Monday night, the Cubs five-game winning streak remains intact. So even though the overall team data would favor the Pirates, that’s more than offset by the edge on the mound with Arrieta vs. Happ and the current form that favors the Cubs. The oddsmakers have made a good adjustment with the road team a decent sized favorite, but I believe there’s ample reason to accept the price and play the Cubs as road chalk.

Dave’s Free Play, Monday 8/3/15

Now that I’ve had a couple of days to digest all the activity leading up to the non-waiver trading deadline, I’ve come up with my biggest winner and biggest loser based on what transpired.

The Blue Jays are in a category all by themselves. Toronto was clearly the big gambler, pushing all-in to try and land a playoff spot this season. This is a real high wire act by Alex Anthopoulos. Not only do the Blue Jays have to get to the post-season, they’d better win that play-in game if they fail to catch the Yankees in the AL East. A one and done or a miss the show entirely finish and I would bet there’s a new GM in Toronto next season.

The Dodgers also have a section all to themselves. They’re simply operating on a different dollar level from the other 29  teams at this point and therefore can’t really be compared to an other franchise. The Dodgers definitely helped themselves at the deadline, and Andrew Friedman certainly knows what he’s doing. But they’re in a position where even if the moves they made don’t pay dividends, they can simply do something else. It’s nice to be filthy rich.

I have the Miami Marlins as the biggest loser. That should come as no surprise to anyone who’s read or listened to me over the years, as I’ve continuously referred to the Marlins as the worst organization in baseball. It’s an opinion that keeps getting validated on an annual basis. They’ve got a couple of superstars, a few more next level producers and not much else. The farm system remains well below average on the organizational ranking charts. We all know what will likely happen here. At some point in the next year or two, they’ll deal away Dee Gordon and Christian Yelich. Jose Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton will probably follow eventually, the Marlins will stay bad and management will find a way to pin the blame on the market. That pattern has already been well established, and I’ll be shocked if there’s any deviation.

My big winner is the Detroit Tigers. Dave Dombrowski proved once again that he’s one of the best decision makers in the game with some brilliant maneuvers. The Tigers turned two free agents to be into a parcel of really good prospects, with a strong emphasis on pitching.

Coming into this season, the Tigers were dead last on the farm system chart. It’s safe to say they sure aren’t anymore. Dombrowski and Detroit’s brain trust decided that, while they still had a chance to contend this season, their chances weren’t great, especially with Miguel Cabrera out for an extended period. So rather than try to get lucky and head toward 2016 with an aging roster and little help on the way, the Tigers sold and they were richly rewarded by waiting till close to the deadline before making their moves.

The Tigers now have money to spend in free agency this winter and they also landed no fewer than five legitimate prospects who will have a real chance to be mainstays for years to come. The Tigers became, for all intents and purposes, the anti-Phillies. The Phillies were in a similar scenario not so long ago and deluded themselves into thinking they were still players, with disastrous results. The Tigers didn’t wait for the inevitable to take place, and as a result, they should be right back in the mix for something meaningful as soon as next season.


My Sunday wasn’t the best, as I lost a couple units. So I gave back what I won on Friday and Saturday. I’ll look to rebuild the momentum in a hurry on Monday.

Football is nearly here, so it’s a great time to find out about the program I’ve got set up for the coming season. There’s also plenty of baseball still to be played. Get all the details on what’s available and whether it suits your requirements by emailing me directly at cokin@cox.net.


RA Dickey was superb on Sunday, and that doomed my free play on the Royals. I’ll focus on a divisional matchup for the Monday comp.

CUBS (Lester) @ PIRATES (Liriano)

Take: CUBS +120 (Don Best consensus line at publication time)

We have a potentially dynamite duel on tap tonight as the Cubs open a series at Pittsburgh. It’s Jon Lester and Francisco Liriano in a battle of southpaws. I’m looking to ride Lester here. He’s really hot right now and he’s also one of those guys who seems to rise to the occasion in big games.

Lester is on fire. His recent BB/K ratio is spectacular and when contact gets made, it usually results in a ground ball. There’s nothing wrong with Liriano, either. The Pirates southpaw is putting up very solid numbers. But they’re just a shade below those of Lester.

The Cubs are also arriving in the Steel City with some major momentum. They’re off an impressive road sweep at Milwaukee and underdogs on a winning streak are often very attractive. The Pirates managed to get a split at Cincinnati, but the Bucs didn’t really play all that well in the four-game set and I see the Cubs being a little sharper right now.

Team data shows the Cubs being more productive than the Pirates against lefties, so that’s a positive. The Pirates have the more reliable bullpen stats for the season, but not lately as their relief corps has struggled at times recently.

This is a huge series for both teams. The Pirates have a four-game cushion for the first wild card spot in the NL. Meanwhile, the Bucs would love to make a serious dent in the 5.5 game deficit they have in the NL Central, and that’s with the beat up Cardinals looking a little vulnerable right now. As for the Cubs, they’re currently tied with the defending champion Giants for the second wild card in the NL. So this is a big set and I expect a real playoff atmosphere at what should be a packed PNC tonight.

I make this game a tossup, so grabbing a decent price with the Cubs would appear to represent some decent value. I would think runs will be tough to come by tonight, but I’ll side with the Cubs to sneak past the Pirates in this one.


Dave’s Free Play, Sunday 8/2/15

Ronda Rousey obliterated yet another overwhelmed opponent at UFC 190. I can’t say it’s boring, because she’s an exciting personality and a tremendous talent. But there’s simply no suspense, unless it’s whether I can hold my breath for the entire duration of any of her fights. So far, no problem.

I’ve decided to put on my matchmaker’s hat, as at some point viewers could perhaps stop forking over the PPV dollars for events where they know what the inevitable outcome is going to be. I think I’ve come up with the perfect opponent.

Dr. Walter Palmer.

Hey, why not? It’s about time Ronda took on a guy, and I can’t think of anyone I’d like to see get pulverized more than the now infamous Minnesota dentist, who is, by the way, NOT a hunter. (If you have to pay several guides to do the actual hunting, and then have them shine a spotlight on the target, you’re not really a hunter, you’re just a schmuck.)

My guess is that Palmer won’t be residing in the same income bracket he’s grown accustomed to for the foreseeable future, so he could probably use the cash windfall that would go along with taking this fight. Make it happen, Dana White!

Obviously, I’m joking and there’s zero chance anything like this would ever take place. But there’s nothing wrong with wishful thinking, right?


2-1 again on Saturday, with a miss on the Yankees and winners with the Padres and Athletics. I’m looking at a few possibilities for Sunday, and will hope for another good result.

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Aaron Brooks delighted a solid contingent of family and friends that made the trip to Oakland for his first start as a member of the A’s. Brooks really commanded his stuff nicely and picked up a good win in the process. I’ll spotlight the finale of what has been a thrilling series between the Royals and Blue Jays for the Sunday comp.

ROYALS (Volquez) @ BLUE JAYS (Dickey)

Take: ROYALS +126

Edinson Volquez and RA Dickey will be on the mound as the Royals and Blue Jays close out their weekend set in Toronto. This became a really enticing series with both KC and the Jays going all in at the trading deadline, and it has certainly lived up to expectations with two dynamite battles. I suspect we’ll get more of the same today.

The pitching matchup is pretty close. Volquez has the better season data, but the 30-day stats are close to a wash. For what it’s worth, however, Volquez has some really good numbers in his past dealings with the probable lineup he’s going to see here. On the flip side, some of the Royals have given Dickey a tough time in the past.

There’s great reason for all the excitement in Toronto, and it’s sure not going to be surprising if the Blue Jays put together a big run down the stretch. But it’s still true that this is a team that has underachieved all season as far as the W/L ledger is concerned. The Royals, on the other hand, have continued to make the most from the majority of their opportunities. This KC entry has played the entire season with loads of enthusiasm and I don’t think there’s any question they derived a great deal of motivation from the fluke tag so many assigned to them prior the start of the campaign.

It’s not easy to try and beat this thoroughly daunting Toronto lineup. But one constant remains with the Royals and that’s the premise that they need only to be even through six innings to almost always be the favorite down the stretch. The Blue Jays made a bullpen upgrade at the deadline, but their relief corps is still clearly second best in this duel and in fact, new Blue Jay Mark Lowe got victimized on Saturday.

The price here is interesting as one can perhaps make the case that it looks almost too easy to grab the generous price with the underdog Royals. But that’s the only way I can play this game as I think it’s a tossup and getting roughly a quarter with the visitors is pretty attractive. I’ll side with the Royals at plus money to win the rubber match today.



Dave’s Free Play, Saturday 8/1/15

The non-waiver trade deadline arrived as scheduled on Friday afternoon, but the flurry of expected activity from a supposed seller never happened.

The buzz heading into the final day was that the Padres would be wheeling and dealing. But GM AJ Preller never pulled the trigger on any major deals. This generated some criticism among some former GM’s who are now manning microphones on radio and TV. I’ll play devil’s advocate and will defend Preller’s decision to hold onto all his key guys.

Preller was between the proverbial rock and hard place here. If he chose to sell whatever he could to the highest bidders, it would have been an admission that he blew it in a big way with the gambles that were supposed to make the Padres 2015 contenders. That’s not exactly the best recipe in terms of creating job security.

Additionally, there was simply no chance whatsoever that Preller was going to get a prospect haul back that was even close to the one he traded away this winter in hopes of making a serious playoff run. So Preller decided to hope the season’s last 60 or so games is where the Friars put it together and at least make a push to get into contention.

I have to go along with Preller’s line of thinking here. He basically had nothing to lose keeping the talent on hand and crossing his fingers that the team rallies down the stretch. If they do, and the Padres manage to at least get on the right side of the .500 level, he’ll have a chance to perhaps resign one of the impending free agents and try to make a 2016 push.

On the other hand, trading away the higher tier commodities would likely have not garnered any true top prospects and for all intents and purposes, the Padres would already be punting next season, in addition to the remainder of this year.

As it stands now, the Padres are big underdogs to make the playoffs. They’re not out of range as far as games behind goes, but they’ve also got a bunch of teams to jump, so the prospect of playing in October is severely limited. But the flip side is that the Friars are a mere three games below .500. I would not rule out the possibility of this team getting warm enough to get perhaps 83-85 wins. If that happens, the season might still be a disappointment in terms of not obtaining a ticket to the post-season dance, but it would at least not be a total failure.

I’ve always had a problem with teams dumping. That’s why I constantly criticize the woefully run Marlins, who are the kings when it comes to waving the white flag and simply moving pieces to generate a profit. As for the Padres and Preller, it’s clear that as of today, things haven’t worked out. But with little to gain in conducting a deadline fire sale, I’ll take the apparent contrarian route and will say that with his options limited, Preller and the Padres did the right thing by standing pat and not punting.


2-1 here on Friday with the Rays pretty much giving one away to the Red Sox, while the Padres and Cubs earned victories. I finished July with a small profit of +2.2 net units, and the season to date now stands at +21.95. Those aren’t great numbers and I need to get a bit steadier to reach my 2015 MLB goal, but it’s still a decent bottom line and we’re playing with plenty of house money heading into August.

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A bad defensive first inning and a blown hold by the normally very reliable Jake McGee doomed the free play on the Rays. I’ll take a look at one of the more meaningless Saturday games for today’s comp.

INDIANS (Anderson) @ ATHLETICS (Brooks)

Take: ATHLETICS +110 (Don Best consensus line at publication time)

Not a lot of great baseball being played by the Indians and A’s. Cleveland has been a disappointment as many thought they would be a contender, but that hasn’t materialized. As for Oakland, they really never seemed to shake the late season fade that afflicted them in 2014 and the team is now in rebuild mode.

Two rookie pitchers will be in action here. Cody Anderson, who opened some eyes in his first four starts, has regressed considerably in his last two. Aaron Brooks is a brand new member of the A’s, having come over from KC in the Zobrist deal.

Brooks interests me here. He’s not a high end prospect, and his one prior big league start was an epic disaster. Brooks was absolutely destroyed in that one game, as he got blown out at Toronto in a memorably awful 2014 appearance.

But Brooks knows this is a great chance to cement a big league roster spot as he takes the mound for his new team. The A’s are looking for some back of the rotation help and if Brooks can pitch respectably here, he’ll have a chance to lock up that spot for the rest of the season. Make no mistake, that’s huge motivation for the rookie. The money and the perks are much better at the major league level, so there’s plenty on the line here for Brooks.

Brooks will also have an apparently substantial rooting section on hand here. He’s a SoCal native, and he indicated to the A’s beat writers that he’s expecting a large contingent of family and friends to make the trip to Oakland for this game.

As for Anderson, he was a bit on the fortunate side in those first four starts, but there has been some serious regression in the last two. Anderson, like Brooks, is a guy who will have to rely on command rather than pure stuff to succeed in the bigs, as he’s not going to be a swing and miss power arm.

The Indians have actually been a good road team, and Oakland has been terrible at home. The Tribe is also on a modest winning streak coming into this one, while the hosts have been playing shoddy baseball and their bullpen is a joke. So it’s not as though this is a no brainer in even a remote way. Nevertheless, I like the idea of backing the rookie with a big rooting section and tremendous motivation. In a game between two teams that will be evidently be playing out the string for the two remaining months, that’s a nice intangible. I’ll take my chances with the A’s tonight.



Dave’s Free Play, Friday 7/31/15

It’s deadline time for non-waiver trading in MLB, and that means a handful of hours remaining in what has been one of the most frenzied sessions I can ever recall. I’ll try to summarize winners and losers after the weekend. Meanwhile, there are still some deals to be made and here’s what the rumor mill is churning out right now.

The White Sox were projected to be sellers, but the big recent run by the Pale Hose has caused a dramatic mindset change. Now this team appears to be in buy mode, with the aim a big bat. Yoenis Cespedes makes sense, but the fact he’s with the division rival Tigers lessens the chance he’s the most gettable target. Justin Upton thus becomes the favorite to end up in the Windy City, and as he’s likely strictly a rental the price might not be outrageous.

The Yankees missed out on Mike Leake, who is heading to the Giants, and with the Pinstripes apparently unwilling to part with their two perceived top prospects, getting one of the stud starters wasn’t going to happen. But it appears as though there might be a possible deal with the Padres for Craig Kimbrel. San Diego apparently is interested in shortstop Jorge Mateo and it sounds like there’s at least the possibility of a deal.

The Diamondbacks aren’t a real playoff contender, but they’re looking to firm up their 2016 chances and the Snakes are supposedly targeting Aroldis Chapman. The Reds are still in sell mode and with a rebuilding process now underway, there’s a decent chance they might move their All-Star closer.

I don’t think the Dodgers are necessarily done dealing and there’s a little buzz going that they have some interest in Rays lefty Jake McGee as a key bullpen addition. The Tampa Bay financial situation being what it is and McGee getting set to make bigger bucks, this rumor would seem to have some legs.

Finally, there are the Cubs. They haven’t done anything, and that really makes sense as the reality is they’re more pretender than true contender this season. But that doesn’t mean that the team is passing on all opportunities. Tyson Ross and Joaquin Benoit are both potentially available and the Cubs have some moveable prospect pieces, with Javier Baez being the most enticing commodity.

As we head to the deadline, there’s little question the team most likely to be selling is the Padres, and I’d be very surprised if they’re not the headline trade team as the curtain closes on non-waiver trading.


I really didn’t like much on Thursday and ended up losing the only play I made, which was the Mariners. There will be more action on the Friday card. For info on how to get all my baseball plays as well as details on Football 2015, shoot an email my way at cokin@cox.net.


The Thursday free play got scratched when the Yankees Michael Pineda not only missed his scheduled start, but also landed on the DL. Let’s hope the slated starters get to the post tonight.

RAYS (Ramirez) @ RED SOX (Rodriguez)

Take: RAYS +110 (Don Best consensus line at publication time)

Break up the Red Sox! The downtrodden Bosox had a great game for a change on Thursday night as they blew up Chris Sale and ended the lengthy White Sox winning streak. The bad news for the Red Sox is that they’ve had a terrible time putting any extended periods of good play together, and I expect that unfortunate trend to be maintained this evening.

There’s not a great deal to choose in the pitching matchup. I think Eduardo Rodriguez is going to have a very solid big league career and I don’t see much doubt he’s more talented than Erasmo Ramirez. But we’re talking present and not future as far as this game is concerned. Along those lines, the Rays righty has roughly the same overall 2015 numbers as Rodriguez and Ramirez has the better current form chart.

It’s not like the Rays are on a roll, but the team data clearly favors the Tampa Bay side tonight. The Red Sox have been mostly awful and winning more than  one in a row has been very difficult. The Rays have been enjoying quite a bit of success when lining up against lefty starters, capturing 12 of their last 14 in that scenario. As for Ramirez, he’s been a road warrior, with the Rays winning each of his last six away starts.

If you’ve been watching the Red Sox, they’re showing all the telltale signs of a veteran team that knows it’s out of contention. If they can stay in the game early, no problem. But when Boston falls behind early, it seems as the focus wanes rapidly, and that’s been leading to some lopsided losses. In other words, be forewarned any time you’re apt to bet the Red Sox as the lack of motivation is showing up on too many nights.

With the pitching being a coin flip, I’m paying attention to the team info and that points me to the Tampa Bay side. Getting any plus money with the Rays makes them a definite consideration tonight.



Dave’s Free Plays, Thursday 7/30/15

What an amazing 48 hours of baseball related activity. Trades that were and then suddenly weren’t. Big names on the move one way with some exciting prospects heading in the other direction. And we’re not done yet, because there are still another 48 hours or so remaining before the curtain rings down on this season’s non-waiver trading session.

I’ll hold off till the weekend before issuing my grades as the deadline isn’t here yet and there’s at least one more big name that’s apparently going to be dealt. That would be Tigers lefty David Price. There are reportedly as many as six teams trying to swing a deal with Detroit, and at least as far as the star southpaw is concerned, it’s a seller’s market, with the Tigers looking as though they’re going to land something of real substance in return.

I don’t think anything will challenge the Mets/Brewers deal that was and then wasn’t for craziness. This was nuts. Despite the somewhat suspect comments issued by Mets personnel after the deal fell apart apparently due to some medical reports on Carlos Gomez, this trade absolutely happened. I know this is true thanks to Wilmer Flores, in what had to be one of the weirdest scenes I’ve witnessed in a while.

News had come down the pipeline that Carlos Gomez was heading to the Mets with Flores and Zack Wheeler getting shipped to the Brewers. Yet there was Flores still playing as the Mets were getting walloped by the Padres. But we know that Flores had been told about the deal, as he was literally in tears on the field. Obviously, it wasn’t yet official, as had that been the case, Flores would not have been allowed to continue playing.

But the mere fact that he had clearly been told what was happening and then was sent back out on the field in a very emotional state was stunning. One could not help but feel sorry for Flores, and the idea that Terry Collins, his manager, didn’t know enough to pull him from the game regardless of the state of the trade was way out of line.

The Mets ended the evening looking rather silly on all counts, and at least for the time being, it appears as though they aren’t going to add any desperately needed offense. That makes them the anti-Royals if you will. The defending AL champs are now all in to try and win it all. The Mets, meanwhile, in spite of a power rotation that could be dominant should they reach the playoffs, are in stand pat mode, barring some new deal that comes about.

But at least they’re not the Marlins.


2-1 here on Wednesday with the Brewers getting blanked, but the White Sox and Padres delivering wins. I’ve managed to get back in the black for the month and the season to date numbers are okay at right around +22 net. That’s not quite where I want to be, but it sure beats some alternatives.

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I backed off using the Marlins as a personal play when I got wind of their deal with the Dodgers and that turned out to be a smart move. Remember to follow me on Twitter @davecokin as I will always update during the day as to whether the free play posted here late each evening is on the card the following day. Tonight’s choice is a rising road favorite in the American League.

YANKEES (Pineda) @ RANGERS (Gallardo)

Take: YANKEES -135 (Don Best consensus line at publication time)

The Yankees explosive offense finally was held in check for one night as the Rangers captured a 5-2 Wednesday night win. I’m looking for the Pinstripes to get right back in rhythm tonight as they finish off their series in Texas.

Yovani Gallardo is supposedly still on the trade block, but if he remains a Ranger for this start, I believe the right move is to try and get the best of him. Gallardo has been very bad lately. He had a strong of four straight starts where he held the opposition scoreless. But Gallardo was getting some good fortune in that run and regardless, he’s gone south in a big way since that streak ended.

Gallardo has had some major command issues in his last few starts. His walk rate hasn’t been great and he’s also missing in the middle of the strike zone. That’s not going to fly against this Yankees lineup and off the recent data, Gallardo looks like a dead play against tonight.

Michael Pineda will throw for the Yankees, and while he has been erratic to some extent lately, Pineda is a slam dunk on the metrics comparison here, particularly when focusing on the last 30 days.

Then there’s those Yankee bats. Yes, they cooled off last night, but that really appears to be an aberration at this point. I don’t see Gallardo being able to effectively contain them, and while the Rangers can do their share of damage with the sticks, I also don’t see them keeping pace with the Bronx Bombers if my assessment of Gallardo is correct.

This won’t be cheap. The Yankees opened at a number I believe was too low. Apparently I wasn’t the only one as the quickly shot up to where it is as I’m writing this piece. I’m not generally inclined to spot substantial wood on the road, but can’t resist at a tag I still believe is too low. I’ll be looking to back the Yankees tonight.


FanDuel Value Play, Thursday 7/30

Good work by Jose Quintana as the Wednesday choice. I’ll go for some offense for tonight’s choice.


David Holmberg is the scheduled starter for the Reds tonight and I can see him being most vulnerable pitcher on the board. So the idea here is to grab a righty hitter who is in good form that might also be able to exploit the small sample, but extreme fly ball tendencies exhibited by Holberg.

That line of thinking got me interested quickly in Jung-ho Kang. This guy is on a roll right now and he’s still available at SS for a well below average price tag of only $3100. I see Kang having  great shot to stay hot tonight and I won’t be shocked in the least if he goes deep for a third straight game. Kang gets my vote as tonight’s value play.


Dave’s Free Plays, Wednesday 7/29/15

I’m taking a night off from the usual commentary, as most of the last few hours have been spent updating college football power ratings and there’s still plenty of work to do as far as that goes. Barring unforeseen circumstances, that portion of the blog will return tomorrow.


I split my Tuesday plays, with a wrong side on the Tigers but a nice winner with the Marlins. For info on how to get all of plays across the board, shoot an email my way at cokin@cox.net.


Jose Fernandez wasn’t at his best on Tuesday evening. But the fact he was still able to contain the Nationals for six innings, allowing only one run, simply speaks volumes about just how remarkable a pitcher Fernandez is. I’ll go right back to the same well in hopes of garnering another free play winner tonight.

NATIONALS (Fister) @ MARLINS (Koehler)

Take: MARLINS -110 (Don Best consensus line at publication time)

Welcome back, Dee Gordon. The speedy Miami catalyst returned from his stint on the disabled list and had an immediate impact as the Marlins captured the series opener against the Nationals.

Doug Fister will try and get Washington even in the set tonight, but things have not been going well for the veteran righty. Fister has had a rough time of it, with just three starts all season where he’s posted an xFIP of less than 4.00. Fister was never a big heat guy, but the lack of velocity this season has been a problem and that’s led to a big problem generating swings and misses. There are red flags galore for Fister. His ground ball rate is the lowest of his career. The line drive and hard hit percentages are the worst of his big league life. About the only positive for the glass half full crowd is that Fister threw it a little better in his last start, and the Nats are hoping that the worst is behind him.

Tom Koehler hasn’t been as good as his nifty ERA might indicate, but he’s been better than I think most expected. I actually thought Koehler might end up getting traded as he’s not a bad back of the rotation fit for a handful of contenders, and he doesn’t get paid much by major league standards. But I guess that makes him valuable to the Marlins as well, and as of now, he appears likely to stay put.

Miami gets a check mark on the pitching tonight. It’s by no means a slam dunk in any of the categories I focus on as far as pitcher comparison goes. But Koehler owns at least a minimal advantage over Fister right across the board.

The Nats have to be thrilled to have Rendon, Zimmerman and Werth all back on the field after missing extended time with injuries. This lineup should start to produce some offense moving forward, but for the time being, there could be a little rust for any or all of this talented trio.

The Marlins are still minus their big bat with Giancarlo Stanton still sidelined. But getting Dee Gordon back paid immediate dividends on Tuesday and Gordon looks like he’s ready to resume his everyday role at the leadoff spot for the Marlins.

I’m clearly hoping Miami gets to Fister for at least a few runs here. The bullpen advantage is with the road team, so it’s likely incumbent upon the home team to win the early portion of this game. I do think the price matters here, as I really don’t want to spot more than the current handful of pennies with Miami. But assuming it’s the regular starting lineup (sans Stanton, of course) I’ll opt for Miami to get enough work done against Fister to get them to the winner’s circle for a second straight night.


FanDuel Value Play, Wednesday 7/29

Not a bad choice on Tuesday with the Arizona rookie Zack Godley, who was good enough to earn a win for his DFS backers at Seattle. Here’s a pitching choice for tonight who’s not bargain basement by any stretch, but who also has a good chance to produce some decent points.


White Sox southpaw Jose Quintana has had a tough time garnering wins, but that hasn’t been his fault. The lefty has had a solid campaign, that has mostly been marred by terrible run support. I’m not really banking on Quintana getting all that much assistance tonight at Fenway, actually. He’s up against Rick Porcello, who has pitched well when Ryan Hanigan is his catcher.

The key here is Boston’s struggled against southpaws, and the fact that Quintana has been really good lately. His overall numbers are solid, but the 30-day digits are tremendous, with Quintana sporting a spectacular FIP/xFIP. Even though he’s not cheap at $8400, I see Quintana with an opportunity to have a strong game against the Red Sox and I’m going to feature him in my FanDuel lineup.

Dave’s Free Plays, Tuesday 7/28/15

The first trading deadline blockbuster deal is in the books. Johnny Cueto making the move from the Reds to the Royals was big, but everyone knew Cueto was going to get rented by somebody for prospects. On Monday evening, however, we got a genuine big name swap that was a bit of a shocker.

I can’t say it’s surprising that Troy Tulowitzki was dealt by the Rockies, as whether it was now or at the end of the season, Tulo figured to be somewhere other than Denver by the time the 2016 campaign rolled around. But the fact he’s heading to the Blue Jays was a real stunner.

This is a sensational deal for the Blue Jays. Not that there’s anything wrong with Jose Reyes, but Tulo is an established superstar. About the only concern I’d have here is his injury history, and one has to wonder about the impact playing so many games on artificial turf might have on Tulowitzki’s body. But if he can stay on the field, it’s a monster pickup for an offense that was already the best in the game.

The Blue Jays still have a significant need for pitching, and I can’t help but think this deal is a precursor to something else involving a quality arm. But even if that doesn’t happen, the most dangerous lineup in the game just got even scarier.

As for the Rockies, I really don’t have any idea about what they’re doing. Neither do they, I suspect. Sure, Tulo wanted out of Colorado and perhaps that lowered his trade value a tad. But Jose Reyes, Miguel Castro and two at this point unnamed minor league pitchers for Tulowitzki? Not enough and not what Colorado needed. The Rockies had to get some pitching for Tulowitzki, and unless they’re flipping Reyes for a quality arm, I just don’t get what the game plan is for this entry moving forward.

In any event, good luck to Adam Morgan and any other lefty that has to try and negotiate his way through this gauntlet of righty power bats now owned by the Blue Jays. Morgan is a rookie southpaw who will be on the hill tonight for the Phillies as they open a set north of the border. His best move might be to get stuck at customs and miss the start. The same advice might be sound for lots of other lefties as well.


3-0 on Monday with the Rays, Royals and Diamondbacks all succeeding. That finally gets me slightly back in the black for July, although this has not been what I’d call a stellar month by any means. Nevertheless, black ink is always a good thing, and hopefully that bottom line improves a little more this evening.

My early signup rates are in effect for football, there’s plenty of baseball left and for those who like to utilize the pay as you win method, my net winners program might be up your alley. Get in touch with me via email at cokin@cox.net for details on exactly what’s available.


Good work by Nate Karns and the Rays as the Monday free play. I’ll tab one of the game’s marquee pitchers tonight for the Tuesday comp.

NATIONALS (Zimmermann) @ MARLINS (Fernandez)

Take: MARLINS -125 (Don Best consensus line at publication time)

There aren’t many spots where the lowly Marlins can even rate serious consideration at chalk. But the one exception to that rule is when the amazing Jose Fernandez is on the mound.

Fernandez has rebounded from his Tommy John surgery in spectacular fashion. I sure hope he stays healthy for years to come, as the sky is truly the limit for this incredibly gifted pitching phenom. Fernandez is putting up some eye popping numbers since coming off the DL. In fact, while that 2.77 ERA is good, it gets even better upon further examination when studying the Fernandez metrics.

There’s nothing wrong with Jordan Zimmermann and it’s never easy to try and beat the talented Nationals righty. But Zimmermann just can’t match up with Fernandez frock a head to head category standpoint.

It’s also important to note that while the Marlins are a bad baseball team, especially with Dee Gordon and Giancarlo Stanton having been sidelined. But they like get Gordon back tonight. And as is often the case with lousy squads, they play with their most focus and frequently get their best results when the ace is on the mound.

The Marlins are 19-3 at home when Fernandez starts, and that includes a huge 13-1 run as home chalk when Jose toes the rubber. So while there’s nothing to knock on Zimmermann and the Nationals are clearly the better team, I can completely justify Miami being the favorite here. Expect the Marlins to play well tonight and if they can plate just a few runs, they’ll have an excellent chance to get themselves a win.


FanDuel Value Play, Tuesday 7/28

Pretty good job by Robbie Ray as the Monday choice, although he was denied a win when the Arizona pen blew the save in the ninth before winning the game in the tenth. I’m going to try and nail another bargain priced pitcher tonight.


I can’t say what the future holds for Zack Godley. The Diamondbacks rookie wasn’t highly regarded in the prospect rankings coming into this season and his first big league start was also just his fourth above Class A. But Godley had a somewhat spectacular debut and he could be a lightning in a bottle candidate in his first trip around the bigs.

Godley might just be one of those unexpected breakouts. He posted some really good numbers at Visalia, and while that’s only High-A, it’s also in a notorious hitter’s league. His heat was higher velocity than I expected, and while his secondary pitches were nothing especially out of the ordinary, his command was excellent.

Godly might not be a long term hit, but I think he’s got a chance to be at least be a short term success. He’s facing a less than daunting lineup tonight in a good pitcher’s park and I like his chances of producing some decent DFS points at a very small investment.

Dave’s Free Plays, Monday 7/27/15

I guess last season wasn’t such a fluke, after all.

There was much divided opinion coming into the 2015 MLB campaign as to what to make of the 2014 Royals. Some considered them to be a fluke of almost epic proportions. Others saw them as a franchise on the rise that was going to have a shot at winning a second straight pennant.

Full disclosure, I was on the fluke side of the equation. My belief was that a team with no established ace, no power and too much reliance on a lights out bullpen would no longer be able to sneak up on the opposition. I thought the Royals would fall well short of last year’s achievements, and I had doubts they would even be a .500 team.

Clearly, I got that projection very wrong. The Royals have played outstanding baseball from opening day and they’ve done plenty of things better than they did last year. They’re a legit contender to get back to another World Series. Of course, there was still one issue that I thought might be a problem at crunch time. There was no ace on the staff and that’s so huge in the post season.

Aopparently, the Royals hierarchy felt the same way, and they have now rectified what might have been an October weakness. Johnny Cueto will probably only be a Royal for a very short time, but he could well be the last piece of the puzzle that brings a World Series title to Kansas City.

The Royals are not guaranteed of success with Cueto. We’ve seen the big mid-season rentals occasionally blow up. But it’s sure going to be tough to pick against this entry now, and the oddsmakers here in Las Vegas have now installed the Royals as 9/2 chalk (courtesy Westgate Las Vegas) to win it all. I’m not betting against them.


2-3 on Sunday with a Murphy’s Law result on a F5 Braves/Cardinals Under. Making matters worse is that the game finished 3-2, so the full game Under was a snap. This was not a good week for me, so I need to get things back in rhythm this week.

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Dallas Keuchel got off to a very unusual rough start on Sunday and that blew up the free play. I’ll try and pick a winner on another AL game tonight featuring two reeling entries.

TIGERS (Sanchez) @ RAYS (Karns)

Take: RAYS -115 (Don Best consensus line at publication time)

It’s not play out the string time just yet for the Tigers or the Rays. But it’s heading in that direction for both teams. The Tigers are missing Miguel Cabrera and they have some real pitching issues at this point. The Rays can’t hit and while the staff has mostly held together, they’ve still had a really tough time with injured arms and they’re just not very good right now.

Anibal Sanchez gets the call for Detroit tonight, and while he’s got an okay W/L ledger, Sanchez really hasn’t been pitching anywhere close to the level he’s capable of producing. A couple of the peripherals pretty much tell the story. Sanchez is throwing the fewest ground balls of his career, and his HR/FB rate is the worst of his career.

Nate Karns has been somewhat of a surprise for the Rays. He doesn’t generally work deep into games but Karns has been pretty reliable in terms of giving his team six good enough innings. Karns has put together a nice run lately, doing well in six of his last seven starts. He’s had some good fortune in that run, as he’s hardly been unhittable. But Karns has masterfully found a way to strand a very high percentage of runners and that has helped his bottom line immensely.

There should be some regression coming at some point for Karns. The innings are starting to mount and I would not be surprised to see some diminishing returns for Karns. But I’m not going to guess when that’s going to happen. The idea is to wait for the sell signal if it comes and then try to take advantage.

As for tonight, it’s kind of tough to muster support for either team. But when push comes to shove, I’ll take pitching over offense and in this instance that favors the Rays. Detroit just has that look of a dead from the neck up team and this is not uncommon for a overturn team that’s used to contending and now suddenly isn’t. There’s also a bit of an advantage from a scheduling standpoint. The Tigers were obliterated on Sunday night at Boston, and now have to travel to face a Rays team in the midst of a homestead. I’ll side with Tampa Bay to grab the series opener tonight.


FanDuel Value Play, Monday 7/27

ROBBIE RAY, P, $6900

Not much in the way of stud starters tonight, with Lance Lynn the most expensive hurler at $9500. I can’t find fault with rostering Lynn this evening. But if you’re looking to save some dollars to add bigger bats, Robbie Ray might be a nice option.

Ray has done some nice work for the Diamondbacks since being interred into their rotation, and the Mariners are not exactly the 1927 Yankees with the sticks. Seattle did have a pretty good offensive weekend against the Blue Jays. But if Ray throws like he has in several of his starts for Arizona, there’s a solid shot to pick up double digit points, and there’s a profit to be had in the process.

Dave’s Free Plays, Sunday 7/26/15

You really cannot make this stuff up, and it’s what makes sports amazing.

Cole Hamels pitched what might well be his final game for the Phillies on Saturday. Hamels figures to be wearing another uniform by this time next week, as the non-waiver trade deadline will have passed. It wasn’t looking like a memorable farewell for Hamels prior to yesterday. His two prior starts were among the worst of the southpaw’s entire career. 6.1 innings, 20 hits, 14 runs, all earned. It was as if Hamels was more concerned about where he might be going rather than where he still was, and he got absolutely trashed in back to back outings.

That certainly changed on Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field, ironically one of the locales that Hamels could be calling home shortly. The lefty was untouchable throughout and ended up with a shocking no-hitter, the first of his major league career. Camels walked just two hitters and while there were a couple of deep drives that had to be flagged down, this was a truly dominating performance.

A Hollywood scriptwriter could not have come up with a more unlikely scenario than this one, and assuming the deal gets done prior to his next turn, it’s the ultimate storybook ending for Hamels as a member of the Phillies.


I managed a 3-2 Saturday, with a decent profit for the the day thanks to a nice payoff with the underdog Nationals. I’ve already landed on a couple of Sunday sides and will hope to end the week on a high note.

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An early grand slam by Chris Davis put the Saturday free play on the Orioles/Rays Under in jeopardy, but the scoring stopped in a hurry and the selection ended up a winner. I’ll zero in on the current leader in the clubhouse for the AL Cy Young as today’s comp play.

ASTROS (Keuchel)  @  ROYALS (Ventura)

Take: ASTROS -115

If the ballots were to be cast today, it might not be unanimous, but I don’t see much question that Dallas Keuchel would be cashing in as the Cy Young Award winner in the American League. Keuchel will look to keep things rolling in the rubber match of the Astros/Royals series.

There’s little need to waste space building a case for Keuchel. The numbers tell the story in bold print. I see Yordano Ventura being the key to this play.

Ventura was sent to the minors earlier this week to try and get himself together. This has been a weird and somewhat disappointing season for the flame throwing righty. He broke camp as the pitcher the Royals seemed to be counting on as their ace. That was evident when Ventura was tabbed as the opening day starter at home for the defending AL champs.

Unfortunately, while Ventura hasn’t been awful by any means, he hasn’t been what the Royals were counting on either. Ventura had some immature moments early and he just hasn’t been very consistent. There have been rumblings about both his mechanics and his confidence being off, so calling the disappointing results a combination of physical and mental issues is probably accurate.

I have to wonder about how well Ventura can do here. I won’t say I’d be shocked if he has a good game. But considering that his demotion to try and get straightened out lasted about five minutes thanks to an injury to Jason Vargas, I wonder if Ventura is in a good situation here.

I was actually a little surprised when KC called Ventura right back up when Vargas got hurt. My impression was that they wanted him to get a couple starts down on the farm and my thought was that the Royals would simply move Joe Blanton into the rotation for a start or two in the interim.

Maybe just the shock of the momentary demotion will get Ventura straight. But regardless, he’s in tough here against a Houston entry that’s once again brimming with confidence, and the Astros have their ace on the hill. The price actually looks a bit trappy, as the squares won’t be discouraged from backing Keuchel at cheap chalk odds. But I have to go that myself, as taking one of baseball’s best against a possibly shaky Ventura seems like a good risk. I’ll peg the Astros and Keuchel to get the Sunday win.


FanDuel Value Play, Sunday 7/26

A nice little run of daily value choices came to a end yesterday as Dodgers rookie Zach Lee got annihilated by the Mets. I’ll try my hand with a veteran righty today.

MAT LATOS, P, $6900

Mat Latos is another talented pitcher who could be on the verge of getting traded. That remains to be seen, as for the time being, it appears there are more than enough good starting pitchers available for those teams looking to add. That means trouble in terms of getting return value for some of the sellers. The Marlins could well be in that category if they want to move Latos.

Whether he stays or goes is immaterial here. Latos is very hot right now and he’ll have a good opportunity to stay that way today as he faces a somewhat pedestrian Padres offense. Latos is very reasonably priced at $6900 and if he’s close to to his last couple of starts in terms of the numbers, he’s a bargain basement buy worth owning.