Dave’s Free Play, Monday 8/31/15

  • August 31, 2015

Is it a slider? Or maybe it’s a cutter. The pitcher throwing it says it’s both, so let’s just call it a slutter. Whatever it is, Jake Arrieta has used it to go from a prospect on his way to nowheresville to perhaps being the best pitcher on a team that is going to have a chance to keep playing well into October.

Jon Lester is the big name on the Cubs pitching staff, and if or when they face the Pirates in a one and done showdown following Game 162, the star southpaw will probably get the call to start. I can’t argue with that decision if it’s the one Joe Madden rolls with. Lester has a superb post-season ledger and that playoff experience looms as a major asset in a one-game showdown.

But Jake Arrieta might actually be the best pitcher wearing a Cubs uniform these days. He’s now a part of history following his no-hit shutout win at Chavez Ravine last night. Arrieta had the slutter rising, falling and for the most part missing Dodger bats all night long. There was an error that could have easily been ruled a hit, but that’s nitpicking. The bottom line is this was yet another superb performance by an ace.

When a team gets to the playoffs and they own a pair of #1 starters, they are absolutely a threat to win it all. The Cubs have that pair of #1 starters, so let’s cut out the Cinderella chatter already. The Cubs are not an under the radar good story, and they’re not a little engine that could.

This team is a legit contender and make no mistake, there are more than a few bookmakers in Nevada and elsewhere that are going to be rooting really hard for the Pirates in that likely one-game play-in duel come early October. It wouldn’t be a monster hit to the books like back in the old days when one could score some really big prices on supposed long shots to win it all. But from what I can gather, the Cubs represent the house’s biggest liability should they win the NL pennant or maybe even the whole ball of wax. With that dynamic duo at the top of the rotation, the Cubs have a chance to do exactly that.

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Nice result on Sunday as the Rays were a 1.5x play and the Rangers got there as well. I’ve got at least two plays set for Monday night on the diamond, with a couple of other possibilities. Of course, this is kickoff week in college football and I’ve already sent out seven selections with a couple more likely to be added at some point during the week.

Get the goods on my football program, including all the rates and details, by emailing me directly at cokin@cox.net. You’ll get a reply from me pretty quickly, and there won’t be anything in the way of hype involved.

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Derek Holland’s brilliant complete game shutout came on the same day as Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter. So Holland’s gem kind of went unnoticed, but I sure enjoyed it as the Rangers were the Sunday free play. Monday’s comp is on a game that will mostly only be cared about by fans with some kind of wagering interest in it, be that daily fantasy or straight betting.

DIAMONDBACKS (Ray) at ROCKIES (Bettis)

Take: DIAMONDBACKS -109

The Diamondbacks are hitting the road following what can only be termed a disastrous home stand. One week ago at this time, the Snakes were heading back to their house suddenly in the conversation as to what team would win the NL West. Seven days and six losses later, that’s not really a reality anymore. The D-Backs were swept by the Cardinals and then lost two of three to the lowly A’s, and whatever playoff hopes they held are probably shot at this point.

That said, I like Arizona’s chances of getting back in the win column tonight. I know Robbie Ray is saddled with an ugly 3-10 ledger, but the southpaw has pitched better than that. The key for Ray this evening is that he’s a lefty, and the Rockies have had a very bad time with portsiders all season.

Chad Bettis get the call for the Rockies. This has been yet another down season for what has become kind of a laughable franchise, but I would say that Bettis has been somewhat of a pleasant surprise for Colorado. Bettis returned from a DL stint with a solid six innings at Atlanta. This has been a reasonably nice breakout year for Bettis, who had basically fallen completely off the prospect chart. But thanks to a decent heater and a pretty good change, he’s looking like a guy who will own a spot in the 2016 Rockies rotation.

The keys for me tonight are more on the offensive side of the ball and in the bullpen. The Rockies simply aren’t very good against lefties and that’s illustrated by their per nine inning run production splits. As for the bullpen, while the Colorado relief corps has actually been okay recently, it’s downright awful overall. If this is tight late, it’s advantage Arizona.

Ray has not pitched well recently but I think the line is skewed a bit due to that nasty 3-10 record. So I see a bit of value with the game priced where it is currently. I’ll side with the Diamondbacks to garner a win in tonight’s series opener.