Dave’s Free Play, Friday 6/27/14
Props to the NBA on its best draft ever. I’m not referring to the quality of the players, as their contributions to the league are still to be determined. But the NBA’s ceremonial drafting of Isaiah Austin was truly a great moment. Isaiah’s playing career is finished due to the discovery he is afflicted with Marfan Syndrome, an ailment I had honestly never heard of until his diagnosis was made public earlier this week. Bringing him to the draft and calling his name was simply awesome.
As for Austin, he’s got plenty of heart and his mind is in the right place as well. Just two days after his playing career was abruptly cut short, he was on the basketball court coaching up some young kids. I have no idea how I’d have reacted if I had gotten so close to fulfilling a dream and then having it blow up, with the revelation that I’ve got this disease to boot. For Austin to simply get right back on the hardwood and begin helping to make dreams perhaps come true for a bunch of kids, wow, that’s pretty impressive.
Heres’s hoping some new dreams are on the horizon for Isaiah Austin, and this time he’s got Lady Luck on his side. He rates it, that’s for sure.
I didn’t like much on the limited Thursday slate, and opted for a two-teamer that split, so it was a -1.0 day. Look for a plus sign on today’s agenda, which looks more than a little promising. This has been a productive month overall, and I have what I think is a pretty good feel presently.
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Mike Leake was off the hook for the Reds in a dominating win against the Giants, so a good result for the free play. I’ll focus on one of the big surprise pitchers of 2014 for tonight’s comp.
06/27 05:10 PM MLB (925) LOS ANGELES ANGELS at (926) KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Take: (925) LOS ANGELES ANGELS -105
There’s no way in the world I saw this coming. Matt Shoemaker emerging as a quality big league starter was absolutely never a consideration I thought remotely likely. There simply wasn’t anything in the Shoemaker resume to expect what has taken place. In fact, I thought it was a cool deal last season when the Halos brought Shoemaker up for what I assumed was just a cameo for a solid organizational guy with a limited ceiling.
The key to Shoemaker’s breakout appears to be a terrific split-changeup that is really messing with the hitters. That, and the fact he’s literally throwing seven different pitch types with a velocity range from 76.6 to 91.3. Shoemakers will never blow hitters away with his stuff. But he’s once again proof that changing speeds and locating what’s thrown is what pitching is all about, and right now he’s one of the best stories of the season.
As long as Shoemaker keeps this up, the buy sign stays in place. He very well might not be a fluke who’s due for an unpleasant correction. This surge is not about getting lucky. The numbers Shoemakers is posting are legit, and he’s not a guy I have any desire to try and beat right now.
Jason Vargas is no pushover. Vargas is a quality start machine right now. I do think there could be some regression coming for the lefty, but nothing spectacular. However, when playing the comparison game vs. Shoemaker, the Halos hurler is simply the better pitcher right at the moment.
Team aspects also favor the road team tonight. The Royals had the red hot run and moved past the Tigers in the AL Central, and then the alarm clock rang and that dream ended. KC is back in the offensive cooler, and what is supposed to be one of the more dominate pens in the game has been anything but that lately. The Angels are hitting it pretty hard these days, and I don’t have a real problem with their bullpen assuming Mike Sciocsia stops handing the baseball to struggling Ernesto Frieri. I feel safe in stating that yesterday’s bad outing by Frieri that resulted in Joe Smith having to save what looked like an easy win means we won’t be seeing the ex-Angels closer in any meaningful situation for the foreseeable future.
This is all about jumping on a pitcher with a roll intact and a hot team that is playing some really good baseball right now. That’s sure not the Royals, as they’ve regressed since the surprising surge. I like the Angels to maintain the momentum with a series opening win tonight.