Dave’s Free Plays, Thursday 7/23/15

  • July 23, 2015

I don’t know if Charlie Strong will ever take the Texas Longhorns back to the very top of the college football food chain. That’s something that remains to be seen as Strong tries to rebuild a program that had, by Texas standards, fallen upon hard times prior to his arrival.

But regardless of what the W/L ledger looks like this season and down the road, Strong has already moved right to the top of the college football coaching rankings on one count. Strong has maintained a very stern stance from day one as far as discipline is concerned. It’s pretty simple, really. Break the rules and you’re gone.

The lack of spine among college coaches on this count has been troubling for some time, but it was pretty much being swept under the rug with little more than shoulder shrugs and raised eyebrows from media and fans. That is no longer the case as these matters are now becoming very public.

The response from most coaches has been football first and everything else second. Strong is not traveling down that path and he deserves praise for the stance he’s taking. In an interview with ESPN, Strong made it crystal clear that he’s had enough with the excuses, particularly on the domestic violence front. I’d advise reading the interview to get a true sense of how serious this is for Strong, and how much he believes the coaches are almost condoning bad behavior by refusing to penalize offenders.

The trouble is not going to go away overnight. I get that the coaches are most concerned with wins and losses with the jobs being on the line. But I can’t help but hope Strong will be the big winner here. He’s determined to field a true high character team in Austin and that’s the type of team I want to see playing for championships.


0-2 on Wednesday with the Brewers and Orioles. Rough sledding on the diamond the last two days. I’m sure hoping things bounce back to normal with the Thursday slate. The season to date bottom line is still okay, but it has definitely stalled considering where it was a while back. Time for a hot run to get things back to where I prefer them.

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Kevin Gausman struggled early and the Orioles could never claw all the way back as the Wednesday free play went down. I’m going back to the same well today, though, as I see value at a price that appears a bit inflated to me.

ORIOLES (Jimenez) @ YANKEES (Tanaka)

Take: ORIOLES +140

There’s no question the Yankees rate the chalk role in this series finale. But beating baseball is an exercise in garnering value, which often means being willing to take an underdog even when you don’t think they’re even 50/50 to win the game. This clash is a good example of what I mean.

I make the Yankees roughly -130 to win today’s game. They’re clearly in better form and while it’s close, I would have to give Tanaka and edge over Jimenez on the starting pitcher front. But the line is considerably higher than that, which immediately had me considering the underdog Orioles today.

Aside from what I believe to be an inflated number, there are a couple other aspects here that I’ll add to the mix. The Yankees could be a bit short in the bullpen today. With Andrew Miller recently off the DL and having pitched both Tuesday and Wednesday, it’s doubtful Joe Girardi will use him today. Delia Betances is also off back to back appearances, although his pitch count on Wednesday was very minimal, so he’s probably available. Nevertheless, the fact the O’Day/Britton combo is fresh as a daisy, so if this is close late I see an advantage for Baltimore.

The Orioles should also be treating this as their biggest game of the season to date. They’re on the verge of getting blown out of the AL East race and a wring way sweep here would be devastating to their hopes of a second straight divisional crown. It’s hard to call a game in late July a must win, but this one is pretty to close to being exactly that for the Birds.

One other variable is that Ubaldo Jimenez will be my highest rated underdog pitcher on Thursday. That’s really a simple angle, but it’s also not the worst blind follow in the world. I have a rating for each starting pitcher and among all the underdogs on the slate today, Jimenez wins the award as the top dog.

All that said, it’s still a tough play as again, the Yankees definitely merit being favored here. But taking +140 is garnering me roughly 20 cents value based on the number I came up with, so I’ll tab the Orioles for today’s free play.


FanDuel Value Play, Thursday 7/23


It’s a homecoming for Milwaukee OF Gerardo Parra. He returns to his old stomping grounds and will likely be hitting atop the Brewers order tonight. Parra is having a terrific campaign for the Brew Crew and he’s apparently on the wish list for several teams as we wind toward the non-waiver trade deadline.

Parra has a chance to do some damage tonight. The Diamondbacks are basically stuck with having to throw an emergency starter as Zack Godley has been recalled after just three AA starts to two for the Diamondbacks tonight. I like taking leadoff hitters simply because of the extra plate appearances that can generate more points. The fact that Parra is hitting very well and facing a rookie who could be in over his head is enticing. I’ll be happy to spend a reasonable price on Parra this evening.