Dave’s Free Plays, Wednesday 6/23/15

  • June 24, 2015

I’m approaching senior citizenship, and it’s said that people in that 65+ age group are the most resistant to change. Fortunately, I’m not much on tradition, especially when it comes to sports, so I’m all about new wrinkles if they figure to make a game better.

When the NHL decided to get rid of the endless ties by instituting shootouts following any scoreless overtimes in regular season games, I loved the idea. I figured anything is better than a tie, so let’s go for it.

But the novelty of the shootouts has worn off and apparently I’m not the only one feeling that way. So kudos are in order for the NHL as they’ve decided to try and end as many games as they can prior to the shootout by going the three-on-three route for the five minute overtime sessions.

My thought was that the league would adapt the AHL experimental rule utilized this past season. That setup was four minutes of four-on-four, then three minutes of three-on-three, and then the shootout if the game was still tied. It worked out well, as not many games made it to the shootout.

The NHL can’t go that road because the NHLPA doesn’t want additional minutes, which I suppose I can understand even though it seems rather trivial. So be it, and the five minutes with three skaters for each side is going to be wide open and highly entertaining. It should also decide a larger percentage of games prior to any shootouts, and that’s the best news.

More than 14% of all games have gone to shootout over the last two seasons. That’s basically 14% too many for my liking. I’d actually almost rather have the ties to be honest. But if three-on-three knocks down that percentage by a few pegs, mission accomplished.

So hats off to the NHL and here’s hoping the NBA will follow suit with something being done about the incessant intentional fouling at the end of games. It’s boring as hell and needs to end. Now.

Change is good!

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I went 2-2 on Tuesday, showing a net loss of -0.17. Winners with my one total and a side play on Oakland. I lost my Angels play by a whole lot, and watched my F5 Reds bet go down the tubes when the Pirates rallied from a 4-0 fourth inning deficit with seven runs, the last three of which were unearned following a terrible error by the Cincinnati shortstop.

The June month to date numbers are big, the season to date MLB results are rock solid and I expect to continue on the positive path. If you’d like to join me by getting all my plays, including the late stuff that is not available online, email me at cokin@cox.net for all the info on my guaranteed monthly special.

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No chance with the Halos as the Tuesday free play. The bad CJ Wilson showed up and the Astros didn’t miss any of the mistakes en route to an easy win. I’m 1-1 in that series so far, and I’ll try and capture the rubber match  in today’s getaway day game.

ASTROS (McCullers)  @  ANGELS (Shoemaker)

Take: ASTROS +105 (Don Best Consensus Line at publication time)

If you haven’t seen Lance McCullers in action yet, you’ve missed out on catching one of the best young arms in the game. McCullers is not yet a finished product, but this is a kid with a legit chance to be a true ace.

McCullers still has occasional issues with his control. That’s something he figures to iron out as he gains experience. But even with the occasional bouts with command, this guy can make opposing hitters look awful at times and he has shown some real flashes of dominance.

The McCullers that showed up last outing at Seattle needs to skip this afternoon’s game. The McCullers from the second start back threw no-hit ball for five innings. But because he ran up a huge pitch count and handed out too many walks, his day ended before he even got a chance to lose the no-hitter. But prior to those two starts, McCullers had done most everything right, and I’ll hope that’s the version I get today.

But this more about going against Matt Shoemaker than it is about backing McCcullers. Shoemaker has taken a substantial step backward this season. Shoemaker is still doing some things well and his 5.20 ERA is a bit misleading. He’s maintaining an enviable BB/K ratio and his xFIP and SIERA numbers are okay.

But there have been some problems for Shoemaker and they’re right there to see in black and white. Velocity is down a tick and the fly ball percentage has gone up. Unfortunately for Shoemaker, so have the home runs surrendered. That’s the data speaking. In terms of what I’ve seen, Shoemaker has simply been leaving more pitches up in the zone this year. When his splitter doesn’t sink, it becomes a very hittable fastball and too many of those mistakes are leaving the yard.

The key bullpen pieces for each team should be fresh enough today and I’ll give the Halos the edge in that category. But I like the Houston offense in this spot and I will give McCullers the advantage over Shoemaker. I made the Angels -109 here so it’s not like there’s big value on the visitors. But there’s enough to side with the Astros as long as they’re dogs, so Houston is the Wednesday comp.

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FanDuel Value Play, Wednesday 6/23

Yikes. My Tuesday choice was CJ Wilson and I think it’s safe to assume that if you followed my lead on that call, you didn’t cash out. Let’s hope for something better with today’s pick.

IAN KENNEDY, SP, $7300

I have to admit to being surprised to see Ian Kennedy as far down the pitching salary as he is today at FanDuel. There are 12 pitchers commanding bigger prices than Kennedy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting the San Diego righty belongs in the Chris Sale or Gerrit Cole price range. But Kennedy has gotten on track after a poor start that was fueled by injury. His last few starts have been very good, and he’s facing a Giants team that can’t seem to generate much offense at home. It doesn’t hurt that Kennedy has good numbers in this ballpark as well as some of the SF hitters he’ll be facing tonight. No argument against starting Sale or Cole, but either of those two will leave the budget short for offense. I think I’ll save some bucks with Kennedy and spend more on the hitters