Dave’s Free Play, Sunday 4/21/13

  • April 21, 2013

Nice job by a first-time starter on Saturday’s free play, as Hiram Burgos and the Brewers got the win over the Cubs. I’m pretty big on following prospects as much as I’m able to, as it’s one of those areas where I feel as though I can derive an edge for at least a few starts when these pitchers arrive in the big leagues.

Speaking of debuts, Anthony Rendon will take the field for the first time today as the Nationals finish up their series with the Mets. Rendon is a major prospect, and for those of you who own injured Ryan Zimmerman or have a 3B opening in your fantasy league, this guy is worth grabbing. Rendon has no speed at all, and his power might be only big league average, but make no mistake, he’s a hitter. Rendon has had injury issues, but if can stay healthy, he’ll be a batting title contender down the road. Great eye, and Rendon should be a doubles machine in the bigs. He’s blocked at 3B by Zimmerman, but Rendon has experience at 2B as well, and it’s not inconceivable he could be manning the keystone for the Nats given the lack of offensive growth by incumbent Danny Espinosa.

I’m staying with the debut theme for today’s free play. As for the ones you have to pay for, which would be my personal plays, rates and info are available simply by firing off an email to me at cokin@cox.net.

Take: (932) BOSTON RED SOX

Here’s your Hollywood screenplay playing out in real life. Allen Webster makes his big league debut today in front of what will be a sellout crowd at Fenway Park. Not bad for a guy who was primarily a shortstop in high school. Webster happened to be pitching on a day where a big league scout was in town to scout someone else. Scout liked what he saw, Dodgers took an 18th round stab at him in the ’08 draft, and five years later, he’s pitching on the big stage.

As far as what you’ll see when Webster takes the mound, he’s going to throw low heat with plenty of movement. Webster will get his share of K’s but his best game will be generating ground balls with natural sink, and what should be some ugly swings with a very tough changeup. The slider is a work in progress but if that pitch continues to develop, the Webster ceiling gets pretty high. His control can be shaky at times, as he gets so much late movement on his offerings that he can get a bit wild at times. That’s the downside for the righty, as he gets hit when behind in the count, and as big league hitters get accustomed to seeing him, their patience will be something Webster will have to adjust to. But against batters who have never seen him, I see Webster having an advantage at the outset.

Jeremy Guthrie will go in this game for the Royals, and he’s on a roll. Guthrie has surrendered just 28 ER in about 100 IP going back to last season, and he’s off a terrific outing at Atlanta, albeit one on which he got no decision. As for that 28 ER/100 IP line, it’s actually even better if you remove one disastrous start where he got torched. But that one start was, you guessed it, right here at Fenway Park. Guthrie has had a miserable time in this ballpark, and I’ll expect Red Sox skipper John Farrell to load the lineup with guys who have blown up Guthrie in the past. Scanning the Boston roster, Farrell will get to select from among hitters who are a collective 59/169 with nine HR against Guthrie.

You’ll have to lay a price here with the Red Sox. But the team is on a red hot roll right now and it’s rare that first time starters are huge chalk. I’ll be on the Boston side in this contest.