I Talk Sports Picks- NFL, NCAAF

2-8 to start the season sucks but we have to tread on.  Late adds again helped us out but we can only document what we put on this page.  Eventually it all turns around and this week could be the week.

NFL

Buffalo Bills at Minnesota Vikings -17

17 points is a huge margin in the NFL.  Let’s look at the facts, LeSean McCoy has busted ribs, Rookie QB Josh Allen making his second start, Bills defense has players retiring in the first half.  This has beat down written all over it.

Minnesota was not happy with their performance in week two versus an injured Aaron Rodgers, they will come out hungry to make a statement at home.  We could see a few more Bills players retiring at halftime in this one.  While 17 points may be a lot, in this case that may be to low.

PicksVikings -17

Chicago Bears -6 at Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals have been the definition of awful through the first two games of the 2018-19 season. Scoring just 6 points over their first two games they now get a matchup with a stingy Chicago Bears defense.

Sam Bradford’s QB rating sits at a league worst 55.6 with his longest pass play so far being 15 yards to Larry Fitzgerald.  Star runningback David Johnson has been limited to 14 touches in their week two matchup which will never lead to a victory.  While the Bears don’t yet feature a top level offense with the still developing Mitchell Trubisky at the helm, they have begun to progress with a new go to receiver in Allen Robinson.  Look for the bears to establish Jordan Howard early and Khalil Mack to potentially injure Sam Bradford.  Opening up the door for Josh Rosen…a door that should be at the least unlocked.

PicksBears -6

New England Patriots -6.5 at Detroit Lions

Let’s start with the obvious.  Since 2000, New England is 21-6 against the spread following a double digit loss.  Tom Brady does not take losing well and Bll Belichick will not allow his former coordinator to look good against him. For what it’s worth, Belichick has faced former assistants who went on to be head coaches on 18 occasions and has posted a 12-6 SU and 11-7 ATS record.

Even without the pickup of Josh Gordon I would think this is a huge advantage for the New England Patriots.  Gronk, White, Michel, Hogan and company should all have big days.  This should be a blow out.

PicksPatriots -6.5

NCAAF

Nebraska Cornhuskers at Michigan Wolverines -17.5

Nebraska took a humbling loss last Saturday to Sun Belt for Troy, the first time since 1957 that the Huskers have lost their first two games of a season. Many will look at these first two home losses and say the Huskers will be on a mission this weekend in Ann Arbor.  I see it a different way.

Nebraskas first two losses of the season came at home to lesser competition then the Wolverines.  It is Michigan that has something to prove in this game.  They are still look to make a statement on the national scene.  If Michigan can avoid turnovers while finally establishing the run they can dominate the game and take this home easily.  I may wait and see if the money begins to come in on Nebraska as I expect it will.

PicksMichigan -17.5

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Maryland Terrapins -1.5

I watched this line move from 3 to 1.5 over the last week. With two key injuries for the Golden Gophers, RB Rodney Smith and QB Zack Annexstad the offense should be partially neutralized.

The Terps are coming off a disaster of a game losing to Temple 35-14.  They return home to face a Minnesota team that has yet to face a real power five team.  Maryland’s offense has been rough early in the season but with the homefield advantage and a litany of injuries Maryland should be able to pull this one out.

PicksMaryland -1.5

Boston College Eagles -6.5 at Purdue Boilermakers

Purdue beat me last week putting up points against the horrid Mizzou defense sinking what looked like a sure thing. But they still took an L in a game where the momentum was in their favor. Boston College will feature AJ Dillon in the backfield spear heading a dominant running attack that has averaged 296 yards per game over their first 3.

Purdue is no doubt better then their record may show but after a few brutal losses and facing a team with a solid pass rush and runningback that will allow BC to utilize clock management this will be a tall task for Purdue.

PicksBoston College -6.5

 

James “Why Not” Pick of the Week 1-1 .

Cincinnati Bengals at Carolina Panthers

Last week I road the Tannehill train to victory over the Jets.  The Dolphins being an underdog in that game never really made much sense but I will take the victory.  This week is a little tougher.  I wanted to go with a college game but none of them seemed to stand out.  So I went with a team that is hot.

The Cincinnati Bengals have started the season 2-0 with a couple of impressive victories, they head into Carolina to take on a beat up Panthers squad.  The Panthers will need to rely on their defense, forcing a turnover will be huge especially from Andy Dalton. When Dalton throws one interception in a game, the Bengals are 21-13-1 straight up and 17-14-4 against the spread. However, should Dalton throw two picks, that record dips to 10-16-1 SU and 8-16-3 ATS.  I don’t think the loss of Joe Mixon will play a huge factor as Gio Bernard is a veteran that knows the role he must play.

PicksBengals +3

What I learned from week 2

Texans may not be very good.

Division matchups are always tough.  The Houston Texans were suppose to be the clear favorites of the AFC South due to the return of DeShaun Watson but things don’t work out how they should in the NFL.  Heading into Tennessee Houston’s dominant defensive line had to be licking the chops at the chance to go against the backup Blaine Gabbert and an injury riddled Titans offensive line.

This was a chance for Houston to make a statement in the division….but they lost.  The undermanned Titans were able to use trickery and game management to pull off the win.  Houston had its bright spots with the return of Will Fuller to the lineup going for 117 yards and a touchdown.  But in the end the Texans went to 0-2.  This will be a lose that can make a huge impact later on in the year.

The Browns will never change.

The Cleveland Browns were suppose to be on their way out of the cellar of the NFL.  An emerging defense, signing veterans Jarvis Landry, Carlos Hyde and Tyrod Taylor to go along with young stars like David Njoku and Antonio Callaway.  A coaching staff that consisted of Todd Haley and Greg Williams to mask the issues of Hue Jackson.

They had a chance to pull off two victories against New Orleans and Pittsburgh but the football gods refuse to allow them to take the next step in their development.  This team has improved but they have to get over the stigma of being losers.

I may be wrong about Patrick Mahomes.

Patrick Mahomes has been the talk of the NFL over the first two weeks.  Throwing for 10 touchdowns, defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Chargers. Two teams that most believed would be playoff bound coming into the season.  Mahomes has utilized the assets around him better then previous QB Alex Smith could have ever done.

Mahomes arm strength has allowed players like Sammy Watkins and Tyreke Hill to have freedom going down the field.  It has opened up the middle for Travis Kelce making this team a dangerous offensive force.

I believed that Mahomes was not ready to make an immediate impact, I figured that he would take some time to adjust to the speed of the NFL.  I was wrong.

The Jags are the real deal.

If I told you the Jaguars would bet the New England Patriots last season you would have to assume that it was the defense that controlled the game.  While they were good it was the play of Blake Bortles that carried the Jaguars to their first regular season win versus the big boys of the AFC the New England Patriots.

It’s time to stop looking at the Jaguars as an emerging team and realize that they are the class of the AFC.  They are no longer looking to just reach the playoffs, they are expected the reach the playoffs.

 

 

MLB DFS Lineup- Sept 18

Haven’t posted a DFS Lineup in awhile, but I like a few matchups tonight that I think can be exploited.  May make a few changes once official Lineups come out.  All prices are based off of Draftkings.

P: Jake Odorizzi vs Detroit  ($8,000)

P: Joey Lucchessi vs San Francisco ($7,600)

C: Danny Jansen, Toronto Blue Jays ($3,600)

1B: Ji-Man Choi, Tampa Bay Rays ($4,500)

2B: Joey Wendle, Tampa Bay Rays ($4,200)

3B: Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati Reds ($4,400)

SS: Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians ($5,500)

OF: Lorenzo Cain, Milwaukee Brewers ($4,500)

OF: Kiki Hernandez, Los Angeles Dodgers ($3,900)

OF: Billy Mckinney, Toronto Blue Jays ($3,700)

I like the matchup of Lucchessi vs a depleted Giants lineup.  He has had success against them along with some serious strikeout potential.  Teaming him up with Jake Odorizzi could be great low level cost pitchers allowing you to grab some bigger bats.

The bigger bats I went with wer Francisco Lindor, Lorenzo Cain and Ji Man Choi.  Choi has been crushing the ball especially vs righties this season.  The Rays should be a popular stack playing in Texas and facing the explodable Yovanni Gallardo.

Good luck!

I Talk Sports- Picks ATS (NFL, NCAAF

I will be the first to admit that a 1-4 start to my season was not ideal.  Meltdowns from the Steelers, Florida Atlantic and Arkansas were a grocery list of bad beats.  Oh and the Saints forgot how to play defense.  Luckily late adds like Penn State and the Rams kept me in good graces.  Let’s get into this weeks picks.

Houston Texans -2 at Tennessee Titans

Following the longest game in NFL history the hobbled Tennessee Titans return home to take on division foe Houston. Both teams will be looking to avoid an 0-2 start to the regular season.

Let’s start with the obvious, the Texans have dominated the Titans winning 9 of the last 12 meetings.  They are also 11-3 ATS in their last 14 games against the Titans.  Houston’s defense will look to bring the heat on a Marcus Mariota whom is likely to start despite an elbow injury that caused him to leave their week 1 game.  All signs point to Mariota playing on Sunday but with some injuries to the offensive line the Titans could be looking at a long day trying to stop powerhouses JJ Watt and Jadaveon Clowney.

The Texans have lost 8 straight games on the road but this matchup with a healthy DeShaun Watson and and a returning Will Fuller will be to much for the Titans to handle.

PicksTexans -2

 Indianapolis Colts at Washington Redskins -5.5

The Washington Redskins have been flying under the radar during the preseason.  The addition of Alex Smith was not a sexy one but could pay dividends during the season.  His first game was as success full as you would think completing 21 of 30 for 255 yards and 2 touchdowns against an above average Cardinals secondary.  Veteran Adrian Peterson showed he’s still got it by rushing for 96 yards and a touchdown on 26 touches. He also caught two passes for 70 yards.

The veteran Redskins will now have a chance to feast on a Colts defense that has been its achillies heel for an eternity. Statistically, they finished in the middle of the pack in total yards allowed this past Sunday. However, Andy Dalton averaged 8.7 yards per attempt, sixth-highest in Week 1, and Cincinnati gained 5.1 yards per rush as a team, second-most in Week 1. Alex Smith will have homefield advantage and the weapons necessary to pick a part the secondary.  Luck will keep the Colts in the game but the Redskins are to solid on offense to let this game slip away.  I would love this line to get to three but that won’t happen I’ll settle for where it is.

Picks Redskins -5.5

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons -6

The Carolina Panthers play a gritty style of football.  The Falcons don’t like to score in the red zone.  This game has tightly contested written all over it.  The Panthers come into Atlanta as 6 point dogs most likely due to a litany of injuries including long time tight end Greg Olsen.  Cam Newton’s go to receiver broke his foot, he will likely be out for at least three weeks.

The Falcons are dealing with their own injuries as well. The loss of Keanu Neal for the season is a huge blow to the defense, linebacker Deion Jones has also been missing practice due to a foot injury.  Other injuries for the Falcons includes mental injuries, offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian tends to forget that he has arguably the best wide receiver in football on his team in the red zone.  Matt Ryan has forgotten how to throw a pass with any velocity as well.  This game is a tough one to pick.  So I am going to go a different direction.  I am looking under for this one and leaning towards the Panthers covering.

PicksPanthers +6 and under 44.5

Ohio Bobcats at Virginia Cavaliers -3.5

Virginia fell to Indiana in week two of the college football season but they intrigued me with their ability to keep it close.  Virginia Quarterback Bryce Perkins has been good for the Cavaliers, dealing with tough weather conditions last week, he will have a favorable matchup against an Ohio secondary that was picked a part by Howard Quarterback Caylin Newton.

Virginia will need to get out to a lead quickly and not look back.  Ohio’s best option will be to play a grind it out style to control the clock.  Keep the bad secondary off the field.  I don’t think Ohio has it in them.

PicksVirginia Cavaliers -3.5

Mizzou Tigers -6.5 at Purdue Boilmakers

The season could not have started in better for the Missouri Tigers.  Two dominate offensive games.  Drew Lock looks like a legit NFL prospect, as a team they have scored 91 points in two games and have covered both weeks spreads…Lock is also averaging 396 passing yards per game over the first two.

Purdue on the other hand has not started the season they way they had envisioned.  A tough loss to Northwestern in game one was followed up last week with a surprising defeat at the hands of Eastern Michigan. A big problem for the Boilermakers has been on the offensive side of the ball. They are averaging only 23 points per game. They have also had an issue with throwing interceptions. Giving a talented offense like Mizzou multiple opportunities will lead to a long night.

PicksMissouri Tigers -6.5

James “Why Not” Pick of the Week 0-1

PicksDolphins +3

My “Why Not” pick of the week fell just short of cashing due to a late interception thrown by DeShaun Watson.  This week I am sticking with the NFL and going with The Miami Dolphins.  The Dolphins will head into the 1-0 New York Jets looking to build on their upset victory over the Tennessee Titans. Sam Darnold looked great outside of his first throw of the game but I still see a rookie QB in a divisional game.  The Dolphins also have a passing attack that can be a problem for any secondary.  Establishing veteran Frank Gore alongside Kenyan Drake will also give the Dolphins a solid run game to back up Ryan Tannehill.  I am not only looking for the Dolphins to cover but I think they win outright.

 

DFS Picks Day Slate

I Talk Sports DFS Lineup (Day Slate) September 12 2018-

P: Carlos Carrasco, Ross Stripling

C: Martin Maldonado, Astros

1B: Edwin Encarnacion, Indians

2B: Brian Dozier, Dodgers

3B: Matt Carpenter, Cardinals

SS: Alex Bregman, Astros

OF: Corey Dickerson, Pirates

OF: Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals

OF: Joc Pederson, Dodgers

Looking at the day slate you have multiple options at pitcher.  Carrasco has the best matchup at a more affordable price.  The Rays can be a tricky to understand at times but they strike out a lot.  Gerrit Cole is an obvious choice vs the Tigers but his cost will leave you will little to know room to stack some potentials stud hitters. Save yourself almost 2K  for some hitters.

For potential lineup stacks the obvious choice is the Astros going against Daniel Norris. The Astros middle of the order can feast of of Norris.  Alex Bregman and red hot Tyler White are potential bats that can bring you some power.  White was a little to pricey so I decided to go with the upside of a cheap Edwin Encarnacion.  I also like the Dodgers in a . must win spot against the pesky Reds and Anthony Desclafani.  Brian Dozier and Joc Pederson were affordable options that have homerun potential in Great American SmallPark.

What I learned from Week 1.

Aaron Rodgers is the GOAT.

If you didn’t already believe Rodgers was the greatest of all time he finds a way to make you discuss it again.  Looking like he was dead in the water to a much improved Bears team, potentially to injured to return.  Aaron Rodgers pulled his best Willis Reed impression Sunday entering the game down 20-0 and inspiring a monumental comeback against hated rival the Chicago Bears. Rodgers threw for 286 YDS and three touchdowns while many questioned his potential return.

Bears coach Matt Nagy was having flashbacks of 2017 playoffs as he watched his team crumble blowing a lead in a early season division showdown . While Nagy can be blamed for playing conservative.  Was their really anything he could do when Rodgers came back into the game.  We watched him enter and we knew what was going to happen.  Hate him or love him Rodgers has cemented himself as the best currently playing the game.  Even the immortal Tom Brady has to see the greatness that is Aaron Rodgers,

The Chargers are the Chargers.

The Los Angeles Chargers have a stigma that may never leave them.  They are always considered the best team in their division pre-season, yet no one really expects them to win said division.  The Kansas City Chiefs continued their recent dominance over Phillip Rivers and the gang defeating them 38- 28.

The Chargers season did not start off very immaculate as Tyreke Hill immediately made an impact on special teams running back a first quarter punt.  The Chargers were playing from behind right away, a position they have all but come accustomed to in their recent history.  The gunslinger Phillip Rivers did his part in throwing for over 400 yards but as we have seen for what seems like an eternity Rivers can be great but come up short as they so often do.

This team still has the talent to win the division and be a contender, but they have to prove it to themselves first.   A history of coming up short is hard to overcome. Ask the Bills.

Jameis Winston is overrated.

Ryan Fitzpatrick showed us the potential that has been talked about with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the last few seasons.  With great offensive talent like Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and OJ Howard the Buccaneers have been a sleeper pick of many to breakout the last few seasons.  On Sunday we saw what this team is capable of as they took down defending NFC South Champions the New Orleans Saints in convincing and dominating fashion.

Jameis Winston has all of the talent a star Quarterback in the league needs.  Mobility, athleticism, arm strength, but I have always questioned his ability to lead.  Talent can win games in sports, sometimes the best athlete is just to much for the opposing team to handle. But leadership wins championships. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see Ryan Fitzpatrick taking this team to the Super Bowl especially in the stacked NFC.  I do see a team that seemed to play inspired football with a QB that they trusted.  I have said it before I think Winston is overrated and needs a change of scenery.  Maybe Sunday’s performance will show Buccaneers management that the time has come for Jameis to be moved.

Maybe the Cowboys are better with Dez?

This question may be a bit premature but the first game of the season did not go the way Jerry Jones had envisioned losing to the Carolina Panthers 16-8.  Dak Prescott was underwhelming to say the least throwing for just 170 YDS and 0 touchdowns.  The Panthers defense is no joke but it seemed as if the Cowboys never could find a rhythm.

I bring up Dez Bryant because this team seems to lack a real threat on the outside that can help to open up the dominate run game of Ezekiel Elliot.  While Bryant was not a star last year statistically, Bryant does bring reputation and prestige to the position.  A defense is forced to keep an I on him and potentially utilize a top defender to him.  Without that threat the Cowboys will have an issue moving the ball in 2018-19.

The Lions are bad.

Matt Patricia is cool.  He is not the cookie cutter mold that most coaches are.  He has his own style on the field.  But his team stinks.  They can’t play defense, they can’t play offense, they got owned on Monday Night at home against a rookie QB that actually threw a pick six on the very first play.

Mathew Stafford is good but he will never be great.  If Patricia is going to be successful he needs to abandon the ways of previous seasons. Take the ball out of Staffords hands, utilize the three runningbacks Bloung, Riddick and rookie Kerryon Johnson.  Establish the run and keep the horrid defense off the field.  This team has 5-11 written all over it.

 

Weekly Picks- NFL, NCAAF

Pittsburgh Steelers -3.5 at Cleveland Browns

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a major problem but the Browns are not that problem.  Despite the absence of LeVeon Bell the Pittsburgh Steelers should be in a great place to cover on Sunday.  The lose of bell has moved the line to 3.5.  The Browns are improved with Tyrod Taylor, Jarvis Landry and a healthy Josh Gordon should allow them to put points on the board but the Steelers still have a dominate offense that will be able to pull this one out by a touchdown.  I think the Browns will win at least 6-7 games this season and surprise a lot of teams, but the Steelers offense feels like they have something to prove on Sunday and the Cleveland defense will not be ready for James Conner and Big Ben.

The Steelers are 13-4 ATS vs Cleveland over their last 17 games.  Cleveland has not one a season opener since 2004.

PicksSteelers -3.5 (Like the over at 44)

Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts -2.5

The return of Andrew Luck makes the Bengals and Colts makes this a much more interesting matchup then it would have been in 2017.  The Colts sitting at a 2.5 point favorite stills surprised us.  The Bengals may not be world beaters but they have veterans all through the offense and a defensive front that features studs Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson.

Luck hasn’t played in a year and that Colts line hasn’t gotten much better.  I can’t buy that Luck is ready to step in right away and look like the Pro Bowl player that he was right away.  Look for Luck to make some plays that reminds us of his greatness but he will have some first game jitters.

Picks Bengals -2.5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints -9.5

In two games against the Buccaneers last season, the Saints averaged 30.5 points per game, Drew Brees averaged 254 pass yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, the running back corps averaged 121.5 rushing yards, and receivers caught 44 passes for 505 yards with three touchdowns. The Buccaneers have not made big improvements on the defensive end.  Why would they be able to stop the Saints in 2018??

Jameis Winston will be serving the first game of his 3 game suspension which means veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick will step in to try take down the great Drew Brees.  9.5 is a lot of points for the first game of the year, but when you have a veteran like Brees and dynamic players like Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas the Saints should control the the game on offense and the ball hawking defense should cause plenty of turnovers i

PicksSaints -9.5

Air Force at Florida Atlantic University -9

FAU was embarrassed in their opener versus Kyler Murray and the Oklahoma Sooners in week one.  Air Force is not Oklahoma.  It’s time for people to jump back on the Lane Train in week 2.

Florida Atlantic will come out throwing the ball early, jumping ahead and not looking back.  Air Force dominated a Stoney Brook but Stoney Brook is does not have the talent level of Florida Atlantic.  Being at home and most likely going to be very motivated I like Florida Atlantic to turn the table and blow out Air Force.

PicksFlorida Atlantic -9

Arkansas -14 at Colorado State

The Colorado State defense stinks.  Giving up 45 and 43 to Hawaii and Colorado.  They now are staring at an incoming SEC team in Arkansas.  Arkansas threw for 343 yards in game one against Eastern Illinois.  Colorado State has given up a 373 yards per game in the first two games of the season.

Arkansas will score and they will score and they will score.  That was not a typo.  I see Arkansas putting up a lot of points and silencing any potential home field advantage.  I would take Arkansas by 21 if it went that high.

PicksArkansas -14

James “Why Not” Pick of the Week

PicksHouston Texans +6.5

The Patriots gave up a lot of yards in 2017.  The Texans will have back their second year QB Deshaun Watson who was putting up MVP like numbers before his injury.  Watson is good and his receivers are good.  The Patriots historically have come out of the gates sluggish until Belicheck figures everything out.  Look for a high scoring game where the better defense makes a big play.  Houston has the better defense.  Houston may not only cover but I could see them knocking of the AFC Champs.

 

2018 Nationals: What went wrong?

The 2018 Washington Nationals entered the seasons as clear favorites in the National League East race, potentially favorites for the National League Championship.  They would be at the forefront of the baseball world as they were set to host the 2018 All Star Game. With a rotation that featured Stephen Strasburg Gio Gonzalez and Cy Young winner Max Scherzer that Nationals had a rotation that screamed NL crown.  Impending free agent superstar Bryce Harper was going to lead this team to the next level, potentially convincing him to stay in Washington after rather then hit free agency in 2019.  As it so often happens in sports though projections and hype are tough to live up to.The Nationals currently sit one game under .500 at 69-70 a shocking 7.5 games back of the first place Atlanta Braves and 4.5 games behind the second place Philadelphia Phillies. A team projected to win their division by most sits in third and is showing no signs of progression.  We are left to ask, What went wrong?

There have been multiple players that have underperformed for the Nationals in 2018 but we have to point the finger at the guy looking to cash in over the winter of 2019. After a strong start to the year, he’s all but collapsed. Harper posted a .986 April OPS, followed by an .856 May and a .675 June, one of the worst monthly performances of his career. By Baseball-Reference’s numbers, he’s only barely classified as a productive player for the season, with 0.1 WAR. That puts him below the batting value of two of the team’s pitchers. (Scherzer, with 0.3 offensive wins above replacement, and A.J. Cole, with 0.2.) While Harper struggled the team struggled as the Nationals fell below .500 for the first time in the season on July 4th.

Blaming Harper is the easiest route especially for those who believe he is a bit overvalued in today’s baseball standards (I am one of those people).  Injuries plagued this team as well.  Injuries that included former #1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg led to a decline in a starting rotation that seemed to be carrying a sluggish offense. Strasburg’s injury seemed to be the final unravelling of a team that was on the brink of falling a part.  The Washington rotation outside of Max Scherzer fell a part to a tune of 5.36 ERA during the time he was absent. Despite the tailspin Nationals management was not giving up on the season, picking up long time Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera to sure up the back end of the bullpen that has been in question for multiple years.  This signified the commitment to try and make one last run for the playoffs that was quickly dwindling away.

The pick up had little effect on a team that seemed to have all but given up.  As the trade deadline approached Washington saw no hope in continuing its efforts.  Announcing that for the right price Bryce Harper would be up for grabs.  There were no takers for the 25 year old soon to be free agent.  Washington was stuck, a season going no where a star that is sure to leave.  It was team to unload what they could.  Daniel Murphy, Matt Adams, Ryan Madson were all sent packing to teams that were truly contending.  The Nationals 2018 season was all but done.

Moving on from Dusty Baker and solidifying the bullpen was suppose to make this team the better. They followed all the prototypes of a contender, deciding not to resign aging veteran Jayson Werth, calling up phenom Juan Soto, returning Adam Eaton to the lineup.  Everything made sense for them.  But there is something that this team has had trouble with since their move to Washington.  Team chemistry has been an issue.  Fights in the dugout and lack of true leadership has always been an issue.  Bryce Harper is a once in a generation talent, but from the start of his career he has been thrust to a position that only mature players can make work.  He is not a leader, he is just a great player.  Losing Jayson Werth, an under appreciated voice of the locker room with experience as long as his grizzly beard was a lose that people did not take into account.  An inexperienced manager that has never had to make big decisions cost them games down the stretch.  Injuries to a bullpen that was suppose to be “fixed” put them in a situation where they currently only have two players that were on the opening day bullpen.

I am a believer in great talent but sometimes you have to have the veterans around them to make it work.  Anthony Rendon, Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Juan Soto are great talents that you can build around, but they are not leaders.  This team still has a bright future even without Harper in 2019.  Victor Robles would most likely assume his role with the team next year and the return of a strong rotation will put them in the race with the Braves and the Phillies.   This team’s 2018 was a bust but they can have a fresh start next year with a huge shadow of Bryce Harper gone.  Nationals fans will miss their superstar but maybe its better that he is gone.

 

Jack Flaherty

Jack Flaherty to was very vocal in his displeasure with starting the 2018 season in Memphis.  The Cardinals decided to go with an ailing veteran Adam Wainwright instead of their top prospect.  Despite his disagreement with the decision Flaherty went down to Memphis an continued his dominance, going 4-1, 2.27ERA over 5 starts. The injury bug hit the Cardinals allowing them to call up the 2014 first round pick, he took no time at all in becoming the proverbial “Ace” of a potential playoff team.

Miles Mikolas has been the surprise of the 2018 season leading the team in wins and ERA.  He took home the only true All-Star birth for the Cardinals (Yadi in after Posey injury) and has established himself as the regular season MVP of the rotation.  As the playoffs get closer Mikolas has not stood out as the dominant force that Flaherty has.  Flaherty has shown the swing and miss stuff that you see from elite level starting pitching.  Only Max Scherzer (12.09) has a higher K/9 then Jack Flaherty (11.24).  Flaherty also through 5 less starts than Miles Mikolas has 32 more strikeouts.  That’s nearly double the K/9 rate as the pitcher most Cardinal fans would assume would be the starting pitcher of a potential Wild Card game.

The debate from most fans would be that Mikolas is a different kind of pitcher then Flaherty.  He pitches to contact more, throwing more strikes, going longer then Flaherty.  While those attributes are useful int he regular season it’s Flaherty’s ability to make hitters miss that can be beneficial in the big moments.  Similarly the Houston Astros would rather see Justin Verlander then Dallas Keuchel in a make or break moment of the playoffs.  Verlander brings the ability to get out of a tough situation by missing bats rather then hoping for perfect placement.  Flaherty has that ability along with a bulldog demeanor on the mound.  He has the confidence that he can strikeout any hitter in a lineup in any given situation.

The youth movement in the bullpen and in the field has seen great results in the month of August but it has been Flaherty that has taken on the role of staff leader.  Over his last seven starts he is 4-2 with a 2.45ERA, striking out 57 over 40.1 innings.  He has taken control of teams from the very start.  He has forced himself into the conversation for team ace purely by going out and taking it.

With the injuries to Michael Wacha and aCarlos Martinez and the current placement of the Cardinals at leading the Wild Card the question has come up on who would start the potential Wild Card game.  A young team can be motivated by presence and dominance.  A presence on the mound can be a determining factor for a young team.  Flaherty brings that Cris Carpenter intensity along with a dominant repertoire of pitches. He can be the pitcher that this team has been looking for.  The replacement for the great Adam Wainwright at the top of the rotation.  If the wild card game was tomorrow and you had everyone available to pitch the clear choice should be the pitcher that was an afterthought to begin the season.  The answer to the question of who is the Cardinals “Ace” is Jack Flaherty.

August 24- Affordable 5 MLB DraftKings

I Talk Sports DFS Affordable 5- August 24- Draftkings

Eduardo Escobar, SS/3B, Arizona Diamondbacks ($4,900)

The Arizona Diamondbacks will have a matchup with the struggling Erasmo Ramirez.  Ramirez has been crushed by lefties in his 4 starts in 2018, lefties are crushing .341BA, .795 slugging percentage.  Escobar has 15 of his 18 homers as a left handed batter this season.  This matchup screams extra base hits.  Arizona lefties will be a huge play on today’s slate.  With Escobar you can get great value at $4,900 with multiple position potential.

Dallas Keuchel, P, Houston Astros ($9,200)

Dallas Keuchel was dominate is his last start vs. the Los Angeles Angels, going for 29.5 Draftkings points. Playing lefties vs the Angels is one of my favorite plays all season with a stat line of .226/.296/.373 during the season.  I was hesitant at first when I saw that Mike Trout was returning to the lineup up but, Keuchel sits nearly $600 less than the other starter I was interested in Rich Hill.  Go with Keuchel to save and most likely get the 4 points for a win.

Omar Narvaez, C, Chicago White Sox ($3,400)

Looking for value, Omar Narvaez of the White Sox has been one of my favorite part time plays over the last few weeks.  Narvaez is 5 for 7 in his career vs Tigers starter Michael Fulmer.  Fulmer has also had his trouble with lefties this year giving up a 5.31 ERA against them this year. 10 of 14 homers vs Fulmer this season have come against lefties.

Greg Allen, OF, Cleveland Indians ($3,800)

Greg Allen has emerged from lineup as a force.  Double digit Draftkings points in 3 of 4 games establishing himself in the Cleveland outfield.  Allen won’t bring you the power you may be looking for but his potential for stealing bases and scoring runs will be a huge asset for the Cleveland team with a high implied run total.  Grabbing a player at $3,800 with the potential upside of Allen can put you in the money.

Jake Bauers, 1B/OF, Tampa Bay Rays ($3,600)

Bauers has a .208 ISO vs righties this season.  Coming off a 14 point night he can be a valuable low cost option in the outfield that can give you the opportunity to pay up for some higher priced studs. Bauers also feeds off of the home crowd with higher statistics in every category at Tropicana Field.  With Bauers in the middle of the Tampa Bay lineup he can will also have a higher chance to produce with runners on base.  Give Bauers a look especially sense outside of last night he has had some struggles, which means most likely low ownership.

Potential Team Stacks:

Washington vs. Jason Vargas

Cleveland Indians vs. Brad Keller

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Ryan Borucki