Home run (Safe bet)
Pick the Los Angeles Dodgers, on at 1.79, to win at home versus the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
It’s a thin slate of Monday games so there aren’t a ton of great safe bets. In this one, the Angels are a great hitting team and give the ball to one of their top pitchers – Garrett Richards. Nevertheless this is a very winnable contest for the Dodgers.
It’s Dodger pitcher Zack Greinke’s extraordinary run at Dodger Stadium that is the separator here. Greinke has been so consistently good at home this season. Not only does he has a 2.52 ERA and a 6-1 win-loss average in home tilts, but he has also been amazingly consistent there. He’s posted a quality start (six innings or more pitched; three runs or fewer allowed) in eight of his nine home appearances this year. In those outings, he’s allowed as many as three runs just twice. That’s a great track record.
Don’t get me wrong, Garrett Richards is an excellent pitcher. He’s 11-3 with a 2.74 ERA. But his team has lost each of his past three starts and Richards owns a 5.54 ERA over that period. The big concern here is that fatigue may be setting in on the 26-year-old starter. Last year, he set a personal high for Major League innings in a season pitching 145 frames. Already, Richards is at 144 1/3 innings for 2014 with nearly two months left in the campaign. The wear and tear could lead to performance issues.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
Go with the San Francisco Giants at 1.75 to win on the road against the New York Mets.
This pick is based on the relatively favourable odds you get for a road pick along with the current trajectory of the two starting pitchers.
Tim Hudson has pitched very well for San Francisco since the All Star break. In three starts over that period he has a 1.77 ERA. As for the home team, Dillon Gee is in a bit of funk. Since the start of the second half, the right-hander owns a poor 8.10 ERA.
The Mets have faltered this year versus teams from the National League West (10-14), while the Giants have pounced on clubs from the East (17-9). The upshot: The Giants, who have more to gain by a victory here in both their division race and the Wild Card hunt, will play with more confidence and be more motivated to win this contest.