2016 ALCS Showdown!!

By Totals 4 U

Hello, Sports Fans! The divisional match ups of your American League Playoffs certainly held some exciting moments but 3-0 sweeps don’t exactly make for compelling series. Still looking to punch a ticket to the World Series are the Blue Jays and Indians, opening tonight from Progressive Field in Cleveland, first pitch a few minutes past 8 EST. So will this be a classic or another clunker…

Cleveland comes in as the home team after winning the AL Central and holds a better regular season mark at 94-67 to 89-73 for the Jays, though Toronto did so against a much tougher division with 334 victories by their divisional mates against the 304 of those of Cleveland. DRAW

Offensively, Cleveland was ever so slightly more productive with 4.83 runs per game versus 4.73 for Toronto. The Blue Jays hold the small edge in walks plus hits per contest at 12.30 against 12.18 plus 1.39 homers per game compared to 1.16 for the Tribe. Total bases it’s Cleveland over Toronto at 14.63 to 14.52. DRAW

Defensively, Toronto’s team 3.75 ERA and 1.224 WHIP edges Cleveland’s 3.82 and 1.236. Starters go to Toronto with a 3.64 ERA against 4.08. Relievers go to Cleveland with a 3.45 ERA versus 4.11. How about fielding? 0.53 errors per game compared to 0.54 errors per game. Which is which, you ask? Does it matter?! DRAW

Some days it sure is easier being the “Totals Guy” than picking sides between a pair so evenly matched! You can put the brooms away for the season because this is going to be a whale of an American League Championship Series. Game by game will offer the better options but at the series price we suggest to avoid playing the money-line favorite between teams so square, leaving Cleveland currently at +118. Have a great series!

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

– TD at Totals 4 You

Advertisements

Young Guns – Lucas Giolito

By Totals 4 U

Hello, Sports Fans! Welcome to a fresh edition of your Young Guns series where we give you a heads-up on baseball’s top pitching prospects making their jumps to the Big Leagues. Today we take a look at a very prominent talent, Lucas Giolito, who is currently ranked by many sites as the very Top-Rated Minor League Player and will get his first start for Washington Tuesday night at Nationals Park…

Lucas was projected to go #1 overall in the 2012 Draft but fell to the Nationals at 16th over elbow injury concerns and, after signing the day before his 18th birthday, underwent Tommy John surgery. A strong and timely recovery made way for 11 appearances in 2013, earning a 2014 promotion and a full season with A-Hagerstown where he dazzled with a 2.20 ERA over 20 starts, pairing 100 strikeouts with 28 walks. The South Atlantic League’s pitching MVP Award and an invite to the All-Stars Futures Game were to follow.

The 21-year-old rightie advanced again in 2015 with time at both high-A Potomac and AA-Harrisburg, posting a 3.15 ERA over those 117 innings, allowing 113 hits and just 3 homers. This season at AA-Harrisburg he’s matched those numbers with a 3.17 ERA over 71 innings, allowing 67 hits but control has been more spotty with 34 walks to go with 72 punch-outs. Lucas is coming off maybe the worst start of his pro career with 5 earned and 7 hits over just 4 2/3.

This is a Big Guy with Big Stuff. Giolito is 6’6″ and 255 pounds, bringing a fastball that has touched 100 MPH. According to Statcast this combination of release point and velocity gave hitters at the 2015 Futures Game just .38 seconds from release to plate, competitive with the very best in the Majors. Add a big-breaking 12-6 power curve plus an improving change and it’s no wonder ONLY 13 HOMERS have been hit off this kid through 324 2/3 minor league innings!

Of course the safe path for me when evaluating these youngsters is to down-play expectations but Lucas Giolito is simply the bluest of chips. The stuff is unquestionably dominating and, as a son of a prominent Hollywood family in Studio City, he’s unlikely to be shaken by the big stage. His downsides are holding runners, fielding, and occasional control problems – common to most his age.

With Stephen Strasburg on the 15-day DL again and Gio Gonzales struggling, Giolito has a legitimate shot to hang around in The Bigs but the Nationals are known as very disciplined when it comes to managing the innings of their pitchers. Expect maybe 20 or 25 more than his 117 of last season and 71 are already in this season’s books. I can’t wait for the show tonight in the Nation’s Capitol, first pitch at 7:05 EST.

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

– TD at Totals 4 You

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

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