Home run (Safest bet)
Pick the Cleveland Indians, on at 1.66, to beat the San Diego Padres at home.
Sample sizes are small in this young 2014 season, but early results nevertheless point to an Indians triumph in this Monday match up. Through the first week of the season, the Indians have been a far better team at bat, averaging a scoring total of more than two runs greater per game than the Padres.
Cleveland will send Corey Kluber to the pitchers’ mound. Kluber was a pleasant surprise last year when he put up solid numbers: 11-5 with a 3.85 ERA. In his career, he’s pitched particularly well at Progressive Field, where he has a 3.54 ERA (versus a 5.47 ERA elsewhere). It’s also worth mentioning that Kluber was originally drafted by the Padres in 2007, but was traded to the Indians in 2010 before he reached the Major Leagues. As a result, he’ll have some personal motivation in this game.
San Diego starter Robbie Erlin has a chance to be a sleeper success this year. He was impressive in spring training, posting a 1.46 ERA in 12 1/3 innings. But we know spring training isn’t the best data set to rely on based on the relatively informal nature of the games. His 4.12 ERA in 11 big league appearances last year is probably better to consider and the fact that he had a 2.18 ERA at home and a 7.06 ERA on the road is enough of a red flag to avoid expecting much from him here.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Houston Astros will combine for less than 8.5 runs; take it at 1.82.
Maybe this isn’t too gutsy of a call – after all the Astros have a terrible run scoring lineup. But with a light Monday schedule and with the Angels’ impressive offence (think Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton), it’s the best option.
Angels starter C.J. Wilson should be particularly well-positioned for a good start. In 67 plate appearances, Astros hitters possess an anemic .209 batting average and .243 on base percentage. In 10 appearances at Minute Maid Park, Wilson has delivered a 2.20 ERA. Odds are very much in his favour for a successful outing.
The Astros pitching corps is very much the wild card here. Jarred Cosart gets the assignment in this game and when he’s on, he can dominate. He threw five shutout innings in his first start of the regular season and had a 1.95 ERA in ten appearances last year. He does have slip ups (he had a 4.50 ERA in spring training), but he’s also a good bet to perform. The bigger question is the Astros bullpen. It was rated one of the worst coming into this season. Still, while it hasn’t been fantastic in this early season, it hasn’t been as bad as anticipated (it’s ranked tenth out of fifteen American League clubs in runs allowed).
It’s a gamble that the pen will hold up. In fact, the Angels bullpen has been even weaker than Houston’s so the late inning might require some breath holding. Still, there is enough good starting pitching here – and weak Astros’ hitting – to take the punt.