Dave’s Free Plays, Tuesday 7/21/15

  • July 21, 2015

The handwriting is on the wall. The long run of serious playoff contention for the Detroit Tigers is in serious jeopardy, and with the farm system pretty much barren, the time has come for change in Motown. The buzz on Monday was that David Price and Yoenis Cespedes, each headed for off-season free agency, are going to made available as the trade deadline nears.

The Tigers are clearly still in the mix to make the post-season this year. But with Miguel Cabrera on the DL and the pitching being what it is, I think it’s fair to say this team isn’t a favorite to playing baseball come October. This is a franchise that is not bashful about spending money and would therefore have a legit chance to ink either Price or Cespedes, maybe even both.

But the wise move is to sell now to the highest bidder and start the rebuilding process before the Tigers turn into the Phillies. This is an organization that has to get some prospects as there’s almost nothing on the farm. That lack of organizational depth has become clear, and needs to be addressed.

It’s also apparent that the Tigers are not about to get better if they stay the current course. The bats are there but that Detroit staff is a mess. Price is a stud. But Anibal Sanchez has had some struggles, Alfredo Simon is basically a back end guy and then there’s Justin Verlander.

I really feel as though the state of Verlander is the catalyst for the Tigers going into sell mode. He can no longer be counted on to be an ace and in fact there’s some concern he can even be a middle of the rotation contributor. Personally, I think there’s still something wrong physically and I’m almost willing to bet Verlander will not finish the season on the active roster. In any event, if the Tigers are indeed about to auction off some stars, it’s to me a very clear indication management is not confident about Verlander returning to anything close to his former self.

Fortunately for Tiger fans, the front office is not going to take the Phillies path to self destruction, which means holding on to what they have and hoping to get lucky, which is that team’s case has led to them becoming the worst team in the game. The Tigers might sink in the standing for a year or two, but getting the overhaul going now looks to be the right decision.

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Just one play on the Monday service slate and the Rockies survived despite blowing a 7-0 lead. Tuesday’s card looks significantly deeper.

My early signup rates for football are now in effect and there’s plenty of baseball still to be played. Get the goods on what I’m offering for either or both by emailing me directly at cokin@cox.net.

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The Giants fell to the suddenly streaking Padres on Monday, ending a modest three-game win streak on the daily free plays. I’m going the underdog route with the Tuesday comp.

RED SOX (Johnson) @ ASTROS (Velasquez)

Take: RED SOX +110 (Don Best consensus line at publication time)

I can state with virtual certainty that the Red Sox won’t be getting much public support at the betting windows today. They’re off an ugly sweep at the hands of the Angels. The Halos outscored Boston 22-4 in the four-game series and whatever faint hope Red Sox Nation was still maintaining as far as a down the stretch rally goes has probably been dashed at this point.

Nevertheless, this might be a good spot to take a shot with the Sawx. Brian Johnson has been recalled from Pawtucket to make his big league debut and I think he’s got a good chance to do well as he faces the Astros. Johnson is not a huge stuff guy. But he’s earning a rep as a smart young lefty who’s not going to beat himself and in the process, he’s passed some more touted arms on the Boston organizational chart. Johnson will be facing hitters who’ve never seen him tonight, and I’m admittedly a fan of backing unseen southpaws in their first trips around the loop.

Vincent Velasquez will throw for the Astros tonight, and he probably has a higher ceiling than Johnson. But Velasquez, in spite of having a big arm, has yet to master the ability to command all his pitches. As a result, he’s had some pitch count issues. As lousy as the Red Sox have been, one thing they’re good at is exploiting pitchers who can get a little wild. The Red Sox are a patient bunch for the most part and while they might not light up Velasquez, I expect the Bosox to inflate his pitch count early and that could mean an early entrance for the shaky Houston bullpen.

I see some value with the Red Sox tonight as this line is going to get shaded a little higher than it perhaps ought to be. That’s not hard to fathom as Boston stunk it up on Monday, and the thought process that Houston is rested off a win while the Bosox are off the double dip and traveling makes some sense. But the oddsmakers know that as well and they’ve adjusted the line accordingly to compensate for what so many bettors are going to believe. Thus, a game that probably should be in the pick ’em range is instead one where the Astros are already 6/5 favorites.

If this number drops, it’s sharp money that will be doing the talking. The public is going to be on the Houston side in overwhelming fashion as far as ticket count goes. I’m going to try and get the best plus price I can and I’ll make the Red Sox my free play tonight.

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FanDuel Value Play, Tuesday 7/21

Andrew Heaney was an easy choice on Monday and paid off handsomely. I think there’s an equally attractive option on the mound tonight and at a tremendous bargain price.

JOE ROSS, P, $5000

As soon as I glanced at the Tuesday starting pitchers, I circled Ross as a go with as far as DFS is concerned. Ross looked very good in his first three starts as a big leaguer, and now he’s back up with the Nats, and facing the ultra-feeble Mets offense to boot.

I don’t need to write anything about the Mets attack. It stinks and everyone knows it. So Ross should have an excellent chance to put up more good numbers tonight. Yet he’s the fourth cheapest pitcher on the FanDuel board, which to me is a gift. Ross will be my pitcher on any entries I have today.