Dave’s Free Play, Saturday 4/26/14

  • April 26, 2014

I don’t know if Bud Black shoots pool or not. But he sure manages the Padres with the acumen of a great pocket billiards player. That is, he’s always thinking about not just the next shot, but he’s setting up higher percentage opportunities down the road.

A great example of Black’s managerial mastery was on display Thursday night as the Padres won a thriller over the Nationals in extra innings. One move in particular was worth noting, as I can declare with total confidence that very few managers would have done what Black did.

Bottom of the 11th, and suddenly Padres star pitcher Andrew Cashner is playing left field. My immediate reaction was huh???  Seth Smith had gotten hurt in the prior inning, but Tommy Medica was still on the bench, and I could therefore not figure out what Cashner was doing in left field. Was Medica unavailable? Was nature calling at a really bad time? I honestly had no clue as to what was happening here. But the explanation came moments later.

Black wanted to leave Tim Stauffer in to face one National hitter. Stauffer retired his man, and Black immediately left the dugout and headed straight to the umpire. That’s when it dawned on me what Black was doing. He was double switching, bringing lefty Alex Torres into the game. But since Torres would be occupying a spot due up next inning if the game continued,  Black decided to hold off bringing him in to start the inning. He played the probabilities and in the process, got the first out with Stauffer and then made his move, which then also moved Medica into the offense for the top of the 12th. That also meant that if he needed to get an extra inning or more from Torres, he could do so without sweating the pitcher having to bat for himself.

The move worked like a charm, as Torres retired both Nationals hitters. Then, following a Jedd Gyorko single to start the 12th, Medica struck out. But on that third strike, Gyorko took off for second, Jose Lobaton threw the ball into the outfield, and Xavier Nady then singled home Gyorko for the game winner. So even though Medica didn’t hit the ball, his presence at the plate allowed Black to send Gyorko and we had a case of a good decision paving the way to a great result.

If you watch as much baseball as I do, it’s really not that difficult to analyze the sharp skippers as opposed to those who are totally predictable, do everything “by the book” and in the process, manage to cost their teams a few wins here or there over the course of a full season. Considering that MLB teams play 162 games, that might seem like a trivial number to some. It’s most definitely not, as just a small number of W/L swings can sometimes determine whether a team is playing baseball in October or heading to winter vacation earlier than desired.

I don’t guess there’s a way to quantify the better managers with a statistic such as WAR, but maybe someday someone will create a true metric to determine managerial value. In the meantime, I’ll stick with my opinions as to the plus or minus difference makers. And there will likely always be a spot toward the top for Bud Black.

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Just a 2-2 MLB split for me on Friday, but nevertheless a profit for the night as I was on underdogs this time. That puts the season to date ledger back above 20 net units. There are still a handful of days left this month to take advantage of the current special. That’s 30 days of all my baseball selections, including a guaranteed profit of at least five net units. Subscribe now by utilizing the “buy now” feature on this page, and then selecting “April Baseball Special” from the menu. For all the info on the guarantee plus how I get my plays to everyone, make sure to email me at cokin@cox.net.

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The Phillies were the Friday free play, and they sure made it interesting late, but ended up on the short end of a 5-4 decision to the Diamondbacks. I’ll stay in the NL for tonight’s comp and hopefully with a better result.

04/26 06:10  MLB  (913) COLORADO ROCKIES  (914) LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Take: (913) COLORADO ROCKIES +115

Clayton Kershaw is getting close to being ready to get back in action for the Dodgers. That’s good news for them, not such good news for baseball bettors who have been fattening the bankroll taking shots against Paul Maholm. The veteran southpaw figures to be the odd man out of the LA rotation once Kershaw returns.

But in the meantime, there’s at least one more fade Maholm opportunity, and that’s tonight as the Rockies try to make it two straight at Chavez Ravine. Colorado pulled out an extra inning nail biter on Friday night, which by the way, turned out to be a horrible beat for anyone who happened to play that game Under the 7.5 posted total.

Juan Nicasio will throw for the Rockies tonight. Nicasio has pitched a little better than his ordinarily looking 4.30 ERA. Actually, he’s got some fairly impressive peripherals and the numbers I focus on are positive for Nicasio. It’s a relatively small sample to be sure but Nicasio also has enjoyed success at Dodger Stadium.

Maholm, on the other hand, has been mostly terrible. There’s nothing phony about his base numbers, and as long as that BB rate remains too high and the K rate remains too low, he’s a very vulnerable pitcher. Maholm also will have to try and negotiate his way through a Colorado lineup that has been productive against lefties so far this season, and that’s both at home and on the road.

The Dodgers are not a sharp team right now, so this is the right time to be trying to beat them. I’m not going to be at all surprised if this team goes on a major run sometime soon, but for the present, LA is playing some pretty ordinary baseball. Maholm definitely would not qualify as stopper material. I see a nice edge on the mound with Nicasio, the Rockies are playing a good brand of baseball to start the season, and they’re getting a little plus money tonight. I was on Colorado last night and grabbed the win, so I’m looking at coming right back with the Rockies tonight.