Dave’s Free Plays, Saturday 7/25/15

  • July 25, 2015

Sports bettors will generally reserve their managerial or coaching complaints for situations where a bad decision costs them a chance to win a wager. I definitely do my share of bitching when something like this takes place and I watch a play go down the drain.

But I’ll at least try to maintain as much objectivity as I can when ranting about a bad move, and one that took place on Friday night falls into that category. Actually, I loved it as in this instance some very shaky strategy probably won a bet for me.

Here’s the situation. Bottom of the 11th at Fenway Park, with the Tigers and Red Sox knotted at 1-1. Mookie Betts draws a walk to start the frame for Boston, and Brock Holt successfully sacrifice bunts to move Betts to second base. Next up, it’s Xander Bogaerts, who is having yet another solid night with two hits.

I assumed Tigers manager Brad Ausmus would pitch around Bogaerts if not just simply toss him four balls. Bogaerts is the best hitter in the Red Sox lineup these days, and on deck is Pablo Sandoval. Panda has had a rough time of it, and was already 0/4 with a couple of really bad AB’s. I make this an easy decision. Put Bogaerts on and set up a potential DP or at the very least a force play situation. Sandoval has been soft against lefties. He’s maintained a better batting average since eschewing switch hitting and going lefty on lefty. But all but one of his hits in that situation have been singles and Sandoval acts as if walking is a crime.

Imagine my surprise when I see that Ausmus opts to go after Bogaerts. We’ll never know if passing Bogaerts would have preserved the tie, because Xander ripped a rope to center field and Betts beat the throw home.

Managers can’t actually win or lose games for their teams as the results depend on what takes place on the field. But they can certainly put their teams in the best position to win or the most likely scenario to lose based on their decisions. I don’t see any way to defend what Ausmus did here. There’s absolutely zero question in my mind that he put the Tigers in position to lose the game and succeeded.

Brad Ausmus is by all accounts one of the most intelligent people in the game. He was a natural to become a manager following his lengthy career behind the plate. But the one thing he was lacking was actual managerial experience and based on what I’ve seen in his close to two years at the Detroit helm, he either isn’t ready or just isn’t very good. This was a glaringly bad piece of managing in my opinion. I’m just glad it worked out exactly as it did.

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1-1 on Friday with the aforementioned Red Sox win and a narrow loss with the Diamondbacks. Arizona blew two great scoring opportunities early and never got much going after that. This was a really good duel between Jimmy Nelson and Patrick Corbin, and I just ended up on the wrong side of the outcome.

Balance of the season baseball and early football rates are now in effect. To get all the pertinent info on costs and how everything works, email me at cokin@cox.net and I’ll fill in the blanks.

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The Friday free play won pretty easily as the Orioles and Rays stayed well Under the number. Unfortunately, the line on this game dropped in a big way as it went from 7 to 6.5 with the Under still favored and I could not justify making that a personal play with the somewhat immense lost value. Nevertheless, a good result as far as the take on the game was concerned, and I’m going right back to that well again today.

ORIOLES (Gonzalez) @ RAYS (Ramirez)

Take: UNDER 7 -115

Nothing much has changed from a team perspective here. Just as I mentioned in yesterday’s analysis, the Orioles and Rays are not hitting a lick lately. These are the two worst attack in the AL for the month of July, and I can easily see more of the same taking place today.

The pitching matchup isn’t as high level as it was on Friday. Chris Tillman came into that game hot and pitched very well for the Birds, while Chris Archer had the heater working and the All-Star threw another strong game for the Rays.

Miguel Gonzalez and Erasmo Ramirez are a cut below that level overall. But Gonzalez has enjoyed pitching at the Trop for the most part and Ramirez has actually been what I would consider a huge surprise for the Rays. So while neither of these hurlers carries the tag of ace, I expect each guy to do well in this contest.

The catalyst in making this play, however, is clearly the two struggling offenses. Both the Orioles and Rays are having a very tough time scoring runs and until that changes, looking for opportunities to play their games Under is a pretty good strategy.

I don’t foresee this game dropping to 6.5 -125 as Friday’s game did. But the Under is the favorite right now at 7 and I would be surprised to see a shift as far as the juice is concerned. Eventually one would think the Orioles bats wake up but right now they’re stone cold, while the Rays just aren’t a very potent lineup. I’ll come right back with another Under call between the Orioles and Rays.

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FanDuel Value Play, Saturday 7/25

Andrew Cashner worked out nicely as the Friday recommendation. I’ll try another pitcher for Saturday’s value play.

ZACH LEE, P, $4600

There he is, all the way at the very bottom of the FanDuel Saturday salary slate for pitchers. It’s the big league debut for Zach Lee and he gets to face the ultra-anemic New York Mets offense for his first major league appearance.

Lee is probably never going to live up the original hype that accompanied his signing as a first round pick. Lee was an extremely high profile prospect coming out of high school. It was considered to be major coup for the Dodgers when they lured Lee away from a football scholarship to play QB at LSU.

The consensus is that Lee is no longer more than a back of the rotation type as his stuff has never really come together. He doesn’t throw as hard as he did coming out of high school and his delivery seems far more mechanical than it did when he was initially signed.

But it’s still a big moment for Lee that he should be really revved up for and he draws a perfect opponent as the Mets are swinging toothpicks lately. At a dirt cheap $4800, I think Lee is worth a shot in his first major league start.