BTS leader chasing prize, nearing 40 games

Lindor, Diaz keep streak alive; $5.6 million still in play

BTS leader chasing prize, nearing 40 games

Two Beat the Streak participants entered play Friday with streaks of at least 37 games. Only one kept it alive for another day.

"Manincharge623" aka Mick Ciallela, is the new BTS leader with 39 after Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor and Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz both recorded hits on Friday.

Play Beat the Streak, win $5.6 million

That means Ciallela is ever closer to 57 consecutive correct picks -- one more than Joe DiMaggio's famed hitting streak in 1941 -- and therefore the grand prize. No participant in the 15 previous seasons of BTS has reached that reward, which is now worth $5.6 million.

Knowing he still has 18 consecutive correct picks to go, Ciallela isn't getting overly excited about his place on the leaderboard just yet.

"It's nice to look at, but honestly doesn't mean too much at this point," he said. "It's such a long season and there are so many people right on my heels."

In Ciallela's case, his current streak represents a personal best for a player who said he has been involved with BTS for "several years." The 38-year-old resident of New London, Conn., has surpassed his previous high, a 35-game streak in 2013.

Ciallela was able to advance his streak by two games on Friday by using the "Double Down" strategy, whereby a BTS participant selects two players on the same day. If both get a hit, the streak advances by two. If either goes hitless, the streak ends.

The latter scenario is exactly what happened to "Colterreid," the BTS leader heading into Friday with 38 straight correct picks. Colterreid started off the night well when John Jaso singled to lead off the bottom of the first inning for the Pirates. But Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera went 0-for-3 with a walk, forcing Colterreid to start over in the quest to best Joe D.

Herrera nearly had a hit in his final at-bat of the night, but he was retired when Braves left fielder Ender Inciarte made a nice running grab on a sinking line drive.

So Colterreid cedes the top spot on the leaderboard to Ciallela, who has used the Double Down strategy often to add to a streak that began on April 23 -- when he picked Dodgers teammates Chase Utley and Corey Seager.

During the streak of 39 consecutive correct picks, Ciallela has most often used Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (four times). Friday was the first time he used either Lindor or Diaz.

Diaz's RBI single

Ciallela said he doesn't stick with one specific strategy. Sometimes he thinks about his picks more in terms of the opposing pitcher than the hitter, and he also considers batter-pitcher matchup history, splits and more.

He said he picked Lindor and Diaz on Friday because he liked their matchups vs. the respective starting pitchers of the Red Sox (Clay Buchholz) and the D-backs (Patrick Corbin). As it turns out, both players got their first hits against relievers.

"Sometimes, you just have to get lucky," Ciallela said. "As last night proves, logic doesn't always pan out. But as long as the reasoning is sound, you can live with the results."

In order to extend his streak all the way to 57, Ciallela knows he will have to have his share of luck. But if he gets there, he hopes to use his grand prize to pay for a new house, a wedding and a trip to Las Vegas.

If nobody wins the grand prize this season, the player with the longest streak still gets a $10,000 consolation prize, and 2 million other prizes also were given out last year, for streaks as small as five. But winning BTS is also easier than ever now, thanks to features such as the Double Down and the "Mulligan," which is a one-time streak savior that can be used specifically on runs that are between 10 and 15 picks long. Players also can take as many days off as they want during a streak if the matchups aren't attractive, as long as they reach 57 by season's end.

Having a BTS player topple the marvelous mark of 56 would be particularly fitting this season -- the 75th anniversary of DiMaggio's hitting streak, which began on May 15, 1941, and is being honored with daily recaps on MLB.com and @TheStreak on Twitter.

Thomas Harrigan is a fantasy editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.