Young Guns – Dillon Overton

By Totals 4 U

Hello, Sports Fans! Welcome to a special weekend edition of your Young Guns series where we take a look at promising young pitchers making their leap to the Major Leagues. Today we check in on Dillon Overton, making his first start for the Oakland Athletics tonight at Angels Stadium…

Following his junior year at the University of Oklahoma, Overton was selected in the second round of the 2013 Major League Draft by the Athletics, a steal in their minds despite some whispers of injury. The whispers got it right this time and – after an adjustment to his signing bonus – it was off to Tommy John surgery and more than a year of rehab. Not exactly the way a youngster dreams of starting his pro career!

The 6’2″ 175 pound lefty proved tough-minded, though, and got his chance at the lower minors in 2014 with some changes in approach. From his 93-MPH college fastball, Dillon was now working in the low to mid-80s. Time to re-learn how to pitch and again he rose to the occasion, reaching high-A Stockton and AA-Midland in 2015. Combined he posted a 3.43 ERA with 106 strikeouts vs 127 hits and 27 walks over 126 innings…and the arm was getting a little stronger.

Come 2016, Overton’s finesse game of breakers and off-speed stuff has been reinforced with a fastball now reaching the high 80’s and he was tapped by the club for a promotion to AAA-Nashville. Overall, his numbers with the Sounds have been good with a 3.01 ERA over 83 2/3 innings but the last 6 weeks he has been simply dominating.

Over his last 7 starts Dillon has swept the table at 7-0 with a 1.40 ERA without allowing a single homer. The cutter the 24-year-old has added this season is paying off and he’s currently riding a 25 1/3 inning streak without allowing a run. Combine that with the starting pitcher injury issues in Oakland and he gets the call to join Manaea, Neal, Mengden, and Triggs as the 5th arm this season to make his starting debut for the Athletics!

But don’t get too excited. Dillon Overton is a very sharp reader of batters, something that may not translate in his first trip to The Bigs. This is likely to be a short trip up because both higher-rated Sean Manaea and Rich Hill are progressing in their rehab with the Stockton Ports but it’s going to fun tonight (10:05 EST start) to see if the kid can maintain his control (231 K vs 53 BB in the minors) against top bats.

Pick up Today’s Free Selection at the Totals 4 You HOMEPAGE

– TD at Totals 4 You

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Young Guns – Cody Reed

By Totals 4 U

Hello, Sports Fans! We’re back with another edition of your Young Guns series where we take a look at prospect pitchers getting their calls to the Major Leagues. To follow our piece on Jameson Taillon (great start, kid!), today we take a look at Cody Reed who will be making his Big League debut Saturday afternoon for the Reds at Minute Maid Park in Houston…

The 6’5″ 225 pound lefty was drafted 46th overall in the 2013 Major League Draft by the Kansas City Royals, following a successful prep at Northwest Mississippi Community College (6 draft selections in the last 4 years). Reed moved up quickly but the Royals parted with him (plus Brandon Finnegan and John Lamb) to grab Johnny Cueto for their run to last season’s World Series.

The Reds saw immediate dividends in 2015 when Reed piled up a 6-2 mark and a 2.17 ERA over 8 post-trade starts with their AA-Pensacola Blue Wahoos. This spring training in Arizona he matched that with another 2.17 ERA over 15 2/3 innings, pairing 16 strikeouts with 6 walks. This season, Cody was promoted to AAA-Louisville and he’s hung in pretty well by posting a 3.20 ERA over the 64 2/3 innings of 11 starts.

A Big Guy with Big Stuff. Rare for lefties, this kid’s fastball hangs in the mid-90s with strong control to both sides of the plate (63K and 17 BB at Louisville) paired with a dynamic slider, almost as equally devastating to both right and left-handed sticks. In our opinion the very best slider in the minors. On the down-side, his off-speed attempts are yet to reach Major League caliber.

The Reds have a 5.64 team ERA so this call-up is a legitimate shot at a regular spot in the rotation according to Manager Bryan Price. As tough as this season has been, Reds fans should be very excited about their pipeline of pitching talent. DeScafani is back, Finnegan and Lamb are up, Iglesias and Lorenzen are soon to return from the DL, while sharp prospects Amir Garrett and Rookie Davis are waiting their turns at AA.

At 23-years-old we can’t rank Cody Reed quite where we did Taillon and no one is rescuing this season for the Reds but he’s a darn exiting piece – among many – in a fine long-term plan coming together for Cincinnati.

Pick up Today’s Free Selection at the Totals 4 You HOMEPAGE

– TD at Totals 4 You

Young Guns – Jameson Taillon

Hello, Sports Fans! Through the heart of the Major League season we will be seeing a bunch of young pitchers getting their first call to the Big Leagues and their promotions can provide some great opportunities. First up in our “Young Guns” series for 2016 is the much-anticipated call-up of RHP Jameson Taillon, starting for the Pirates Wednesday evening…

The 24-year-old Tailison caught the attention of scouts very early and an 8-1 High School Senior Year that included a 19-strikeout shutout performance convinced the Pirates to use the 2010 Major League Draft’s 2nd-overall pick on him, ahead of such talent as Matt Harvey and Chris Sale. Productive early years in the Minor Leagues earned accolades like an invite to the 2012 All-Star Futures Game plus a spot on Team Canada’s (dual citizenship) squad for the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

In April 2014 came the setback of Tommy John Surgery for ligament damage in his throwing elbow. That rehab plus a hernia cost Jameson all of the 2014 and 2015 seasons. His return this season to Indianapolis of the AAA International League has been nothing short of stellar. In 61 2/3 innings over 10 starts Taillon has allowed just 44 hits and 2 homers, yielding a skimpy 2.04 ERA. Best of all, the kid matched 61 punch-outs with just 6 walks. SIX WALKS!

The rightie certainly looks the part of a Strasburg-like prospect at 6’5″ and 240 pounds and he brings the stuff to match. A 4-seam fastball clocked up to 99 MPH, and a 2-seamer in the 93-96 range to grab some ground ball outs. A sharp power-curve and a circle change-up – all of which he can throw for strikes.

Flatly, the kid’s got the goods but, according to Manager Clint Hurdle, even if he shuts down the Big League bats there may not be a slot for him in a pretty good existing rotation (starters 13th at 4.20 ERA). Sounds like managing expectations to me but, either way, we won’t miss a pitch of Jameson Taillon’s debut against the Mets Wednesday night at PNC Park, first pitch 7:05 EST.

Pick up Tonight’s Free Selection at the Totals 4 You HOMEPAGE

– TD at Totals 4 You

Who’s Going to Win?

Hello, Sports Fans! Some 4 1/2 months of college basketball in the books and we’ve reached the doorstep of the 2nd week of your 2016 NCAA Tournament. Plenty has been learned about the skill and character of the remaining squads with one question still remaining: who’s going to win at all?

With all four 1-seeds plus a pair each of 2-, 3-, and 4-seeds left standing as we head into the Sweet-16, a clear favorite seems yet elusive. Since mathematics play a significant role in our work on the Over/Unders, we have undertaken an analysis combining our system of power ratings, developed over the last 2 decades, with a algorithmic approach to determine each team’s chances to hoist the Wooden Trophy.

We’ll save you the mathematical detail but to give you an idea of what’s going on here, our power ranking data is used to determine the chance of each squad winning their Round of 16 game, then forward to their next hypothetical opponent – a composite based on the relative power rankings of possible opponents, adjusted for the chance of each of those teams winning their Round of 16 game. And down the line to Houston on April 4th.

Turn the crank and here we go…

Virginia 20%
North Carolina 20%
Kansas 18%
Villanova 10%
Oklahoma 8%
Oregon 7%

Maybe not the Eureka! moment we were looking for but the numbers are the numbers and it does confirm a few things we’ve all suspected. This season we have no clear cut favorite, the oft-cursed Selection Committee did a superb job in balancing the brackets, and one side of a thrown die still holds out a slipper for the 3-seeds and down. It’s going to be one heck of a nail-biting ride!

Pick up Tonight’s Free Selection at the TOTALS 4 YOU HOMEPAGE

– TD at Totals 4 You

Kansas @ Oklahoma, Sat 2/13

By Totals 4 U

We return with a look at another match up of contenders to College Basketball’s National Championship, this week with a couple of top-10 squads tied atop the Big 12. #6 Kansas at #3 Oklahoma, tipoff 2:30 EST on Saturday from the Lloyd Nobel Center in Norman, Oklahoma. ESPN will provide the coverage.

KANSAS (20-4, 8-3 Big 12): Bill Self’s crew is off revenging an earlier loss to West Virginia, never trailing Wednesday night on the way to a 75-65 home victory, beating the Mountaineers’ relentless press by pushing the ball quickly, leading to 56.1% shooting from the field. Six Jayhawks scored 9 points or better, led by 21 from 6’8″ senior F Perry Ellis while 6’10” F Landen Lucas grabbed 16 boards and added 4 blocks.

Lucas and Wooden Award Finalist Ellis (16.9p, 6.5r) are joined in the starting lineup by a trio of guards, 5’11” Frank Mason III (13.1p, 4.8r, 4.6a) running the point, while 6’5″ Wayne Seldon Jr (14.4p) and 6’2″ Devonte Graham (10.7p) are able gunners behind the arc, nailing 95 of 220 this season. From the bench, 3-time National Coach of the Year Self, has a slew of depth at shooting guard and forward, with 6’7 junior Brannen Greene the best marksman.

The Jayhawks have the horses to push the pace all 40 minutes, scoring 83 points a trip, setting up a strong mix of easy points, shooting .490 from the field and .422 from deep while holding opponents to .406 and .330. Extremely athletic, natural play-makers (16.3 assists per game), and coached to play both ends.

OKLAHOMA (20-3, 8-3 Big 12): Lon Krugar’s group had a tougher time last trip, overcoming a 22-31 halftime deficit to Texas, rallied to the 63-60 home win by a tremendous closing performance by Wooden Award Finalist 6’4″ senior G Buddy Hiedl with 12 points in the last 3:11 including a 3-pointer to seal the deal with 1.3 seconds on the clock. 6’4″ Isaiah Cousins added 17 points and 6 boards while 6’8″ F Ryan Spangler posted 8 and 10.

Wooden Award Finalist Hiedl is positive scoring machine, averaging the major conferences’ best 25.7 per game, the only player in the country to shoot better than 50% from the field, better than 50% from three, and better than 90% from the stripe. Hows this for a stat: the Bahamanian native has equaled all the other players in the Big 12 with eight games of 30+ points!

Unlike Kansas, none of the Sooners came in a Blue Chip recruits, but Coach Kruger has started the same five every game, building chemistry that has racked 84.1 points per contest on .473 shooting including a blistering .451 mark behind the arc. Rounding out the starters are 6’0″ G Jordan Woodard (13.3p, 41 steals) and 6’9″ Khadeem Lattin (6.0p, 5.9r, 55 blocks).

FREE SELECTION: What a game! Kansas has a streak of 11 straight Conference Championships on the line, currently in a 3-way tie with the Mountaineers and Sooners, while another 3 teams remain just one game back. Oklahoma is 12-0 at home this season while Kansas took the first meeting 109-105 in triple overtime. These crews are very similar…the Jayhawks just a little more so. There’s no line yet posted and our bag is the Over/Unders but we’ll take our shot with Kansas by 3.

Pick up tonight’s Free Selection at the TOTALS 4 YOU HOMEPAGE

-TD at Totals 4 You