Cokin’s Corner, Thursday 5-26-16

  • May 26, 2016

Year after year, the NHL pre-season conversation about which teams had the best chance to skate away with the Stanley Cup included the San Jose Sharks. There wasn’t much not to like about the Sharks. It seemed all the elements were in place for the team to make a prolonged post-season run. But season after season, the Sharks teased, but never produced when push came to shove come playoff time.

Maybe being under that radar is better. The Sharks came into this season accompanied by little fanfare. There was still some talent on hand to be sure, but there were questions about the goaltending, and the general consensus was that the window had closed, at least for the time being.

Fast forward to today, and the San Jose Sharks are making preparations for their first ever trip to the Stanley Cup finals. It’s an exciting time for this franchise and its loyal fan base and if the Sharks can maintain their present level of play, I think they’re in great shape to hoist the Cup.

I’m sure none of the players on the team are going to comment one way or the other as to which team they’d rather tangle with in the championship series. Of course, logic dictates that they privately would prefer to duel the Tampa Bay Lightning. I don’t see any way they’d want the more potent and star studded Pittsburgh Penguins.

Yet I can’t help but feel that the Sharks might actually be better off going against the Penguins. I know that doesn’t make much sense. But if San Jose lines up against the Lightning, they’re going to be the favorite, and they’ll be facing a team that has the experience of being in last season’s Cup Finals on their side.

If the Sharks instead match up against the Penguins, they will be underdogs for the third time in this post-season, and the pressure therefore might not be as great. Maybe it’s convoluted logic, but I think I like this team better when the expectations are not quite as high.

Of course, this is all mere conjecture and should not be taken especially seriously. I won’t chisel it in granite, but chances are I’ll look to play the Sharks as chalk if they end up taking Tampa Bay and the price is reasonable. Against the Penguins, chances are I’ll take a seat on the series sidelines and will only look for individual game plays, and there might not be many of those.

Pretty good Wednesday, as the Sharks series play got home as did a rockin’ chair winner on the Cavaliers. I split the bases for a small profit, with the obligatory come from ahead one-run loser on the Diamondbacks killing the sweep.

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The Diamondbacks jumped out to a nice early lead, with a big assist from Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle. He inexplicably let Jeff Locke pitch to Yasmany Tomas in a situation that screamed for the intentional walk, and Tomas hit a two-run bomb. But Rubby De La Rosa lost his fastball command all at once in the fifth inning, and that was that. Two other free plays posted previously won as the Cavaliers mauled the Raptors, plus that Sharks series play got to the winner’s circle. Here’s the Thursday comp, and it’s a very rare (for me) runs line shot.

WHITE SOX (Gonzalez) at ROYALS (Duffy)

Take: ROYALS -1.5 +130

This is what is known as a square bet. Laying the runs line in baseball looks like easy money, as it’s basically always the better team with the better pitcher and all they have to do is win by two or more runs to produce a healthy profit.

Obviously, it’s not easy money, and if it really was, you wouldn’t be able to get those sometimes juicy dogs prices with the supposedly cinch winner.

Let’s just say I rarely take the bait on these types of wagers. But I’m going to take the plunge tonight as the White Sox and Royals open a weekend series in Kansas City.

The basis for my play here is the starting pitchers and what I’m pretty sure is the setup for the Royals as far as the game plan is concerned. Danny Duffy will be on the mound for KC, and while the White Sox have a pretty impressive stat line against lefties, I really like the way Duffy is throwing the baseball. Duffy will not go deep in this game, but he already knows that. He was lifted after 63 pitches in his most recent outing, and I would figure he’s on a roughly 75-80 max count here.

That’s not a bad thing. Duffy can let ‘er rip for perhaps five innings and then turn things over to the power arms in the Kansas City bullpen. Of course, I’ve got to bank on Duffy doing his thing for however long he’s in there. But again, I do like what I’m seeing from the southpaw and feel he has a good chance to limit the Pale Hose.

Miguel Gonzalez is off a terrific effort, and it was against these very same Royals. But if I’m bullish on Duffy, I’m pretty much just the opposite on Gonzalez. He’s a gritty guy who has maxed out on his marginal stuff over the past few years. But it’s my opinion that shutting down the same team in back to back starts is a bit much to ask from the limited Gonzalez.

I also like the way the Royals are swinging the bats. They’re actually a little shorthanded right now, but the bottom line is that the healthy KC hitters are mashing and I feel confident they can maintain the recent surge tonight.

The safer option here would be to create a -1 line, which can be accomplished by splitting the wager, half on the money line and half on the runs line. But I’m going to go ahead and push the envelope this one time, and I’ll go for the price with the Royals -1.5 this evening.