Cokin’s Corner, Wednesday 3/22/17
It’s time to get back to the baseball previews, and I’ll do that today with a look at the NL Central Division. I don’t think there’s any question about the team that will win this division. That’s the easiest pick on the board this season.
The Chicago Cubs are far and away the best team in this division. The Cubs are just plain loaded. In fact, the greatest challenge for manager Joe Maddon will probably be having to figure out how to get everyone a fair share of at bats. I suppose one can make a case the Cubs might be a shade below average in center field, but that’s a stretch. The rotation is strong, and if Wade Davis is healthy, the bullpen will be lockdown material. I don’t think the Cubs will win 103 games this season as everyone will be fired up to face them, but this divisional race looks like a complete runaway.
I’m seeing some doom and gloom predictions for the Cardinals, most notably the always controversial Baseball Prospectus Pecota projections. They have the Cardinals winning just 78 games and battling the Brewers for third place. I’ll respectfully disagree. I don’t have St. Louis as a playoff team but I also don’t have them missing by much. The rotation is solid enough, I think the Redbirds will get by with their bullpen and the defense simply can’t be as bad as it was in 2016. The Dexter Fowler pickup is a very nice plus. I’ll tab the Cardinals for second place in the division and I suspect they’ll be in the wild card chase right till the end.
I am a bit down on the Pirates, not on paper but at the management level. I’m concerned the attitude of the front office that was displayed at the trade deadline last season could impact what happens this season on the field. I can see the Andrew McCutchen trade talk, which is almost a given considering the organization’s track record, becoming a distraction. My other concern with this team is a bullpen I simply do not trust at all. The outfield is potentially sensational and the infield appears serviceable. Cole and Taillon need to be strong at the top of the rotation. Problems with either of those two and this team could dip in a hurry. No play on the O/U win prop yet, but I’m considering Under 83.
The Brewers probably won’t do much this season, but I do like the direction of the organization. I have the farm system as upper tier and while there’s never any guarantees with prospects, Milwaukee fans should be enthused about what’s on the way. As for what’s there right now, well, that’s not so good. Ryan Braun is still the main guy and he’ll put up good numbers as long as he can stay on the field. But it’s a bad lineup and I’m not wild about the pitching either. I think the O/U is about right at roughly 70.
The Reds are the Brewers minus the abundance of serious prospects. Cincinnati has a true superstar in Joey Votto. Billy Hamilton is wildly entertaining. Adam Duvall will hit plenty of bombs, Jose Peraza could be fun to watch. As for the pitching, Scott Feldman is the opening day starter for the Reds. That’s right, Scott Feldman. Brandon Finnegan will probably end up as the staff ace, as Anthony DeSclafani has been shut down with elbow issues. I have the Reds at the bottom of the division, and even at the very low number, I would have to lean Under on the win prop.
I ended up playing one baseball game and one NBA side on Tuesday and missed with both. The latter was just a half unit play so it wasn’t a disastrous day, but it also wasn’t good. But the month to date numbers are still attractive and I like my chances of garnering a profit with the one tournament play I have this evening.
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I’m currently on just one side for Wednesday and that’s one of the college tournament hookups. Today’s free play is in the NBA, but note this is NOT on my personal service card as of now. Consider it an added opinion.
759 76ERS at 760 THUNDER
Take: 76ERS +11
I really wonder how interested the Thunder will be in this game. They really tossed in a clunker on Monday against Golden State, and that was a game they were absolutely interested in. Now they face a nonentity and I suspect it’s going to show with a somewhat unfocused effort.
So the main deal tonight might well be getting Russell Westbrook his nightly triple double. That should not be a problem as it’s not like Philly is real adept at stopping anything. For that matter, neither are the Thunder and I would guess we will see a pretty high scoring game this evening.
An interesting trend has developed with the 76ers. Basically, no one gets fired up to face this team, and for pretty obvious reasons. That’s actually led to the Sixers turning into major money makers against the better teams in the NBA. The rationale is simple enough. The better teams do just enough to win but that doesn’t translate to covering what are usually big spreads.
Consequently, Philly is covering like crazy against winning teams. Go through their season ledger and see how many this team has now covered in succession when matched up a +.500 team. You might be kind of shocked when you see how lengthy this streak is. I’ll look for the trend to be maintained tonight with Philadelphia on the receiving end of a double digit line. 76ers plus the points.