Sunday, October 28, 2018

Roto Pope Podcast: Have Mercy on Clayton Kershaw and Those Facing Todd Gurley

Sean Burch (@seanb44) and Aaron Sauceda (@RotoPope) briefly touch on baseball and then dive deeper into the halfway point of the NFL season for the latest episode of the Roto Pope Podcast:

• BS Segment: Don't get Sean started on college basketball

• Clayton Kershaw's divisive playoff resume:

• Don't get overly cute with playoff schedules

• Amari Cooper one last gasp, not this year though

• Hold Corey Davis

• Mitch Trubisky isn't sexy, but rushing QBs are

• Don't go HAM on Jets, but don't forget about Trenton Cannon (or Elijah McGuire)

• Load up on Josh Gordon wherever you can

• Other rapid fire takes on Zach Ertz, Tyreek Hill, Jarvis Landry, Tarik Cohen, Stefon Diggs and Keenan Allen

• Todd Gurley isn't fair

• Eli is trash but Sean is still buying Odell Beckham everywhere

• Top 10 Curb Your Enthusiasm countdown! Our #8 episodes
Aaron Sauceda Web Developer

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

GUEST POST: Clayton Kershaw Chokes ... Again

A familiar October sight (via @LOLKNBR on Twitter) 

There probably isn’t a God. At least, not the one with a fluffy beard that holds odd grudges and wipes out entire tribes in The Bible. There really isn’t much evidence for it.

 But let me present you with Exhibit A in my case against God’s existence: Clayton Kershaw.

The longtime Dodgers ace had another ugly playoff performance in Game 1 of the World Series last night. Four innings pitched, 5 earned runs. It was the latest postseason faceplant in a career unfortunately full of them for Kersh.

Never mind that Kershaw’s defense did him no favors in the first inning. (David Freese looked like he was failing a field sobriety test as he tried to track down Mookie Betts’ foul ball.) Or that the bullpen later allowed two runs to score on his dime. Or that the offense let several opportunities slip by. Or that Alex Wood essentially sealed the Dodgers’ fate, allowing a late 3-run blast. The Dodgers needed Kershaw to come through. They needed him to pitch like the best pitcher of his generation. And he didn’t. Again.

The latest implosion marked the sixth time in 23 postseason starts he’s been charged with 5 earned runs or more. That’s one out of every four games he gets absolutely rocked. And that’s not even counting several other flops — like the 4 runs he allowed in three innings a few weeks ago against the Brewers in Game 1 of the NLCS.

For comparison purposes, he’s had 18 games total out of 316 career starts with 5 earned runs or more in the regular season. In short, he’s four-times more likely to self-combust in the playoffs.

Of course, some of this is understandable. He’s playing against better competition, for one. And a few of his early career meltdowns can be chocked up to Don Mattingly leaving him in the game too damn long. Many Dodgers fans love to point to the bullpen routinely giving up inherited runs on Kershaw’s behalf — pumping his postseason ERA even higher. His 3.58 postseason FIP suggests he hasn’t been as bad as his 4.28 ERA would lead you to believe. And how can he be a choker? He’s thrown plenty of playoff gems, including two this year alone.

I get it. But this is who he is in the playoffs — an enigma. Years of mounting injuries certainly aren’t helping. And crying “small sample” offers no refuge. He's pitched 145 postseason innings at this point — the ninth most in MLB history. By postseason standards — where everything is a small sample — this is anything but a small sample. He walks more guys, allows more hits, and allows twice as many home runs in the playoffs as he does in the regular season.

Even factoring in bad luck, he isn't the same generational talent once the playoffs start. Blowing a four run lead and a three run lead in Game 5 of last year's World Series should've crystallized that once and for all. Any Dodgers fan telling you they feel confident about Kershaw heading into a big game is either lying or delusional.

Which brings me all the way back to my initial claim. Sports are pretty dumb. Jerry Seinfeld famously joked we’re just cheering for laundry. But Kersh is one of those guys that transcends the laundry. You enjoy cheering for him. He seems like a nice dude, even though we really don’t know these guys at all, obviously. His family is adorable. He’s good at ping-pong. He’s got that cool Texas drawl. He’s on the God Squad. He’s dedicated to his craft.

Seriously, how can this guy be the face of postseason failure? I say it with tongue firmly in cheek — because why would god care about sports? — but it seems cruel for a loving deity to routinely punish someone like Kershaw.

Every time a Fox camera catches him sighing in disgust in the dugout — an annual sign Halloween is right around the corner for Dodgers fans — my heart hurts, like I'm watching a family member fail on the biggest stage. If this sounds a little too emotional — approaching Bill Simmons on Roger Clemens territory — well, it probably is. But quotes like this don't help:

"Maybe one of these days I won't fail, we won't fail, and we'll win one of these things," Kershaw told USA Today, after the Dodgers lost Game 7 to the Astros last year. "It's hard. You go through this much effort to win that many games against this many good teams and it's, I mean, I hope to get to this point again."

Well, he's at this point again, but after his first night in Boston, it doesn't look like it's going to go any better.

So God, how about this: instead of striking me down with a bolt of lightening to prove a point, help Kersh get to the mountain top. Just once in his career. And I’ll take that as a sign I need to head back to church. Sadly, I'm doubting that'll ever be the case, though.
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Sunday, October 7, 2018

GUEST POST: NFL Week 5 Picks: Crashing and Burning

Ohhh the humanity. After three weeks of gambling bliss -- reaching 31-16-1 against the spread on the season, after a sparking 12-4 showing during Week 3 --  it all came crashing back to reality. It had to, really. I couldn't possibly go through life with a permanent Cheat Carroll-chewing-gum-and-shamelessly-strutting-like-a-smug-prick look on my face. (Yes, I just wanted to share that gif for the 10,000th time.)

And yet, that's how it felt until last week's ungodly 3-10-2 performance ATS. But that's what I get for thinking Ryan Tannehill was poised to go into Foxboro and potentially strike a death blow to the Patriots dynasty -- and run to 4-0 in the process. Or trusting the Chargers and their cardboard cutout of a coach to cover a double digit spread. Or not realizing Mitch Trubisky was on the verge of greatness and set to throw 6 touchdowns against the high school-level Tampa Bay defense.

Look, I'm not going to sit here and dissect it with ya. It was ugly. I've spent the last few days researching, soul-searching, and training, a la Rocky running on the beach with Apollo to get his groove back in Rocky III.

That's the good stuff. I'm feeling reborn. Let's see if we can return to the halcyon gambling days this week.

The Picks: 

Indianapolis Colts (+10) at New England Patriots

Not off to a great start

Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns (+3) 

Jacksonville Jaguars (+3) at KC Chiefs

Tennessee Titans at Buffalo Bills (+6)

New York Giants (+6.5) at Carolina Panthers

Denver Broncos at NY Jets (+1)

Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5)

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions (-1.5) 

Miami Dolphins (+6) at Cincinnati Bengals

Oakland Raiders (+5.5) at LA Chargers

Arizona Cardinals (+3.5) at SF 49ers

Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5) 

LA Rams (-7.5) at Seattle Seahawks

Dallas Cowboys (+3.5) at Houston Texans

Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints (-6) 

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Roto Pope Podcast, Quarter-Season Takeaways: Hide Your Rams

Aaron Sauceda (@RotoPope) is joined by special guest Nick Firestone (@Nick_Firestone) as they deep dive into the NFL season:
  • Early season takeaways: Passing production is at an all-time high and good luck if you don't own any Rams
  • Drop Chris Hogan for Keke Coutee and Taywan Taylor
  • TE is a death trap, but Ricky Seals-Jones, CJ Uzomah and Cameron Brate could be frisky (and stash OJ Howard if you can)
  • Buying the Titans: Marcus Mariota is back, buy low window on Corey Davis is slammed shut
  • Jared Goff is a stud, hide your Rams
  • Early-season reflections -- biggest tilts: Not getting enough exposure to explosive offenses, namely Rams and Falcons
  • Alvin Kamara is not human, but Mark Ingram remains a strong hold
  • Rookie RBs: Sell league-winner Sony Michel and Royce Freeman? Buy Kerryon Johnson and Ronald Jones?
  • Buy boring WRs Devin Funchess, Jarvis Landry and Quincy Enunwa; Buy or hold Tyler Boyd
  • Fade Antonio Brown at your own risk
Aaron Sauceda Web Developer

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