Dave’s Free Play, Thursday 6/20/13

  • June 20, 2013

Break even Wednesday for me, with a 0.0 result overall. In other words, some exciting action, and while there was no profit, there was also no damage.

The free play fell short as the Pirates let a lead get away in the bottom of the ninth and the Bucs eventually lost in 13 at Cincinnati. That was the first blown save all season for Jason Grilli, so naturally this result has to qualify as a disappointment.

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In yesterday’s piece, I offered the opinion that Mike Scioscia needed to get Josh Hamilton out of the two-hole in the Angels lineup, and that he would be better off hitting seventh. Evidently the skipper of the Halos was thinking along the same lines as Hamilton was in that #7 spot Wednesday night. Hamilton had another bad game, whiffing twice en route an 0/3. But there was far less damage done by Hamilton hitting much lower in the lineup.

The question now is whether Hamilton stays there or not. Seattle threw lefty Joe Saunders at the Angels last night. Tonight, it’s Felix Hernandez, so I’m wondering if Hamilton gets moved back up facing a righty. Considering Hamilton is 8/51 lifetime against King Felix, doing so would make little sense.

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I’ll have at least two plays on the Thursday slate, possibly one or two more. Get my daily package or try one week by utilizing the “buy now” tab, or find out about my monthly and season rates by emailing me directly at cokin@cox.net.

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06/20 11:10 AM  MLB   (923) MILWAUKEE BREWERS (924) HOUSTON ASTROS

Take: (923) MILWAUKEE BREWERS

When a pitcher makes a change in what he’s throwing, there’s often going to be an adjustment period. Yovani Gallardo is a strong example of this tendency, as his 2013 campaign hasn’t exactly been his best.

Prior to this season, Gallardo has always been a four-seam dominant pitcher. But the Brewers righty is no longer that, as he’s now mixing in nearly as many two-seam fastballs. This change was likely tied in with his diminished velocity on the four-seamer. Gallardo used to throw mid-90’s, and he evidently can’t do that anymore. Losing 2-3 MPH on the heater is going to have an impact, so the decision was made to start featuring more two-seam pitches. The early results were a bit discouraging.

The good news is that Gallardo now appears to be figuring things out. He’s off what are clearly his two best starts of the season. It’s no coincidence that Gallardo’s ground ball rate going way up. That’s really the indicator that tells me he’s finally locating that sinking fastball where he needs to, and as a result, good things are now happening for the Milwaukee veteran.

Lucas Harrell throws for Houston today, and the Astros righty has also been coming on. Harrell is off an interesting start, as his two-seamer hit a career-high velocity last time out, and his K rate spiked in the process. The key for Harrell is control. When he avoids free passes, he’s a good pitcher. When he has trouble locating the strike zone, bad things happen Harrell.

My take here is that Gallardo is a buy right now. He’s off two sensational starts, and if he’s sharp again, there won’t be much a limited Houston attack will be able to do about it. Also, Gallardo loves to face the Astros. He’s 13-3 lifetime against this entry, including 5-2 at the Maid. I’m never making a play just based on career records, but when they add on to other positives, it makes for a more confident opinion. I’ll take the Brewers to finish off this series with a win.