Dave’s Free Plays, Monday 6/29/16
Most of us are probably in agreement that the annual Monday before the All-Star game Home Run Derby has had a tendency to run a little long. Okay, I probably should just edit the word “little” out of that previous sentence.
So I guess congrats are in order for MLB as they’ve taken steps to shorten the event and they’ve converted it to a bracket format. That’s not bad, as MLB knows he fans do love our brackets. Somehow, I don’t think this one will quite rival the NCAA basketball tournament, and I’m virtually positive Joe Lunardi won’t have a Home Run Derby Bracketology page set up at espn.com. But I still like the idea.
Of course, nothing is ever simple when it comes to changes being made. That is, in fact, quite the understatement as far as the new HR Derby format goes. Here’s the new setup, courtesy of mlb.com and if you can figure this out minus a slide rule, go to the head of the class.
“Instead of a set number of “outs” per round, each player this year will have five minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. A running clock will begin counting down upon release of the first pitch, though it will stop for any home run hit during the final minute. The clock will stop immediately after those home run balls land and will not begin again until a non-home run ball lands or the batter swings and misses.
Hitters will also be awarded bonus time for showcasing some extra pop. Contestants will receive an additional minute of swings if they hit two home runs projected to land 420 feet during a single turn, as well as another 30 seconds if they hit a blast of at least 475 feet. All distances will be measured using Statcast™.”
Huh, what? I get the idea of shortening the event, as it was indeed too long. I like the idea of the brackets, probably because I like head to head competition. But why such a contrived formula? How about just chop the field from 10 to 8, as they’re doing, seed the players based on their current HR totals, and that’s it. Piece o’cake.
Nah, that makes too much sense.
2-1 here on Sunday, as the Diamondbacks and Mets won and I lost with the Yankees. Good way to start the new week, following a very bad seven-day run. Here’s hoping the small Sunday win jump starts a new heater.
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The Yankees were a miss as the Sunday free play. I’m siding with some home chalk for the Monday comp.
INDIANS (Anderson) @ RAYS (Karns)
Take: RAYS -130 (Don Best Consensus Line at publication time)
Cody Anderson makes his second big league start for the Indians, and Cleveland fans are hoping he can duplicate his very impressive debut. That’s certainly possible, but a couple of factors have me believing it’s not likely and that tonight’s result won’t be as pleasant.
I’m a believer in routines for pitchers, mostly because they seem to be. There is all kinds of data that refutes the belief that a team needs to put pitchers in roles. That’s the essence of the stathead argument against the need for predetermined closers. You won’t get any argument from me on the numbers, as they don’t lie. But there’s also not much doubt that if an entire group believes something to be true, then it is for them, even if it really isn’t. Big league bullpen denizens, the guys who actually do the pitching, are en masse firm believers that they require defined roles to succeed. Thus, contrary to actual evidence, it become a truism of sorts as the players themselves are simply convinced that this is the way it has to be.
Starting pitchers are also creatures of habit, and we have a situation tonight that could be an issue for rookie Cody Anderson. Great first game to be sure, but he hasn’t worked since and that means he’s now out of his routine with eight days between appearances. Don’t ask me why this is such a big deal. I’m not a major league pitcher. But the pitchers themselves hate it, and my opinion, for what it’s worth, is that this could mentally screw with a kid just called up more than a grizzled veteran.
I think it’s also worth noting that Anderson’s sensational debut was against these same Rays. Second time around often much tougher for rookies as the opposition now has a look and a book. Advantage Tampa Bay.
There’s a less complex issue here as well. That’s the Indians offense, which arrives at the Slop in stone cold form. Cleveland scored zero runs in two games on Sunday. Maybe they can break out against Rays starter Nate Karns tonight. But Karns has been pitching decent ball for Tampa Bay and he’s turning out to be a solid middle of the rotation guy for the Rays.
The Rays figure to be a popular betting choice tonight and while they might have been undervalued earlier this season, I don’t think that’s the case currently. In other words, no real bargain to be had here in terms of the price. But I think it’s a favorable situation for the hosts, and I believe Anderson is a bounce candidate this evening. I’ll recommend the Rays as tonight’s free play.
FanDuel Value Play, Monday 6/29
I’ll say that Steven Matz was my best call of the season to date. The debuting Mets lefty put up strong numbers and earned a really nice profit as the lowest salaried pitcher on the FanDuel Sunday board.
LANCE MCCULLERS, P, $6700
The Astros are sure getting their money’s worth out of their rookie phonemes, and McCullers has been terrific, especially from a DFS standpoint. He’s producing 12.3 points per outing, and that’s the best per game average of any starting pitcher on tonight’s board. But McCullers is just the sixth highest salary tonight, so I’ll make a case that he has a little value tonight.
It’s also worth noting that the Royals will be a bit shorthanded tonight. Eric Hosmer is likely out and Alcides Escobar might be as well. That’s a potential loss of two quality sticks and all that ought to do is make the task a little easier for McCullers. It’s definitely not an “ace” night as far as the pitching goes and I like McCullers to have a chance to earn the most points of any hurler this evening.