Dave’s Free Play, Tuesday 7/29/14

  • July 29, 2014

Update: Looks like the only Inspector Clouseau here is me. I misread the score in the Nationals game, It was not 6-2 going into the ninth inning, but rather 6-3. Apologies to all, including Matt Williams. My mistake all the way.

It happened again on Monday night. The dreaded bring the closer in with a big lead for a non-save in the ninth inning ploy. By the way, that phrase should be verbalized with a bad French accent, a la Inspector Clouseau (only the Peter Sellers version, of course). That’s because if Clouseau were to be on a case masquerading as a major league manager, it’s undoubtedly a move he would make.

I understand there are times when a manager needs to get his closer some work and thus he is forced too use him for an inning in a non-save situation. Obviously, I’m not including ninth inning appearances in tie games, which while not technically a save situation, is one in reality. I’m only referring to games where the lead is more than three runs, and is therefore not a save situation in any way, shape or form. Again, if the closer hasn’t worked in a few days, no problem, as no manager wants his save specialist getting rusty just sitting around.

But Rafael Soriano wasn’t being used to prevent rust last night as the Nationals took on the Marlins. He’d worked two of the three previous three games, so in fact not having to use him with a 6-2 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth was the preferred outcome. Or at least it should have been. I get that with a four-run lead he might need to be ready if there’s a rally, and skippers aren’t crazy about warming up closers if they’re not going to use them. Nevertheless, I’d have to say that perhaps not having to use the closer for a third time in four games is better.

Unfortunately for the Nationals, manager Matt Williams opted to bring in Soriano with the 6-2 lead. As so often happens in this type of situation, the shutdown mentality that exists in an actual save situation wasn’t there for Soriano. Closers get used to coming in with the game on the line. They have a tendency to lose their edge when appearing in what amounts to a lopsided game. That’s precisely what took place here, and when the dust settled the Marlins had a monster rally and a thrilling 7-6 win.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling this the worst managerial move of the century. Ultimately, the blame falls on Soriano, who made some bad pitches and ended up blowing the game. But it’s nevertheless a maneuver that to me, sets the closer up to fail, and in this case that’s what happened. Hopefully, Williams learns from this experience and perhaps doesn’t make this move the next time it arises. But if he does, it might be time for him to exchange that Nationals uniform for a Clouseau model trench coat.

——————

1-1 for me on Monday, but a nice profit thanks the Pirates connecting as a generously priced dog. Just missed on the other play as the Brewers dropped a tough 2-1 decision to the red hot Rays. No complaints with gaining nearly a half unit on a 50/50 night though!

Just three more days left to cash in on the two months for one special. It’s every play from now through the end of September, and that’s all sports, not just baseball. So plenty of action, an expectation of some nice profits and a solid savings off the regular rate. Subscribe by utilizing the “buy now” feature that’s on this page, or shoot an email to me directly at cokin@cox.net for more info or with any questions.

—————

The Brewers missed as the free play and my guess is that the Milwaukee players might feel home plate ump Balkin’ Bob Davidson had plenty to do with the result. Let’s just say his strike zone perspective is unique, and it sure looked like he squeezed Kyle Lohse badly in what turned out to be the pivotal sixth inning. But at the same time, the Brewers did nothing on offense in this game, so it can’t really qualify as a tough beat, just a close one.

07/29 04:10 PM  MLB  (903) WASHINGTON NATIONALS at  (904) MIAMI MARLINS

Take: (904) MIAMI MARLINS +130

Say what you want about the Marlins as an organization, it’s sure tough to find fault with the desire this team’s players have displayed all season long. Even if I might be a little dubious about Mike Redmond’s strategy at times (he sac bunts way too frequently and has in the process taken the bat out of his best hitter’s hands more than a couple of times) it’s clear Redmond is getting max effort from his guys. The Marlins never seem to think they’re out of a game, and they’ve fashioned some dramatic rallies this season.

These Marlins have also proven extremely tough to beat when Henderson Alvarez is pitching at home. Alvarez has made believers out of more than a few skeptics along the way. He was thought of mostly as a back end of the rotation type, but he’s simply better than that. For whatever reason, Alvarez doesn’t seem to have caught on that much as far as the TV talking heads are concerned, but he’s legit and has proven to be a terrific buy for bettors along the way.

As for Stephen Strasburg, tonight’s Nationals starter, he’s not exactly pitching with a four-leaf clover attached to his body. Strasburg has some dominating peripherals to be sure. But he’s had some rough luck, particularly on the road, for much of the season. Most recently, I think it’s fair to say Strasburg has been at less than his best, so it appears as though the Marlins are catching him at the right time.

Certainly the situation is favorable for Miami. They’re off a great win last night and that’s key as this is probably the most important series the Marlins have played all season. Stealing a win in a game in which they appeared doomed is huge. There’s also at least the possibility that red hot Jayson Werth could be missing in action tonight, as he twisted an ankle last night and as I’m writing this, his status for Tuesday night is unknown. It didn’t look bad, so maybe he’s right back in the lineup tonight. But if by chance he can’t go, that’s a very big stick out of the mix for the Nats.

I see this number being a little higher than it ought to be. I make the Nats the favorite, but I see this being closer to -120 than where it is as I’m posting this. It’s a game where I’m going to want to see lineup info before firing, but given the scenario off Monday night, as well as the home/road splits for the starting pitchers, the Marlins look like then right side to me.