Home run (Safe bet)
Pick the Oakland A’s, on at 1.40, to triumph at home against the Houston Astros.
While it might seem easy to go with whomever is playing the Astros every time, do remember that even the worst Major League teams will win more than one-third of the time. As a result, you still need to pick the right match ups. This contest on Sunday is one of them.
The Astros are giving Brad Peacock his first start of the season here. As a reliever, he hasn’t been to sharp, conceding a woeful 7.45 ERA. While advanced statistics suggest he’s thrown better than that, his track record as a big league starter isn’t good. In 2013, he had 14 starts and delivered a weak 5.00 ERA in those games.
Jesse Chavez will be toeing the pitcher’s rubber for Oakland. He’s due for a victory. In three starts this year, he’s been extremely sharp and very consistent. He hasn’t given up more than one earned run in any of those appearances. His overall ERA so far: a sparkling 1.35. In this game, he’ll be facing the worst offence in the American League.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
Look for total runs to exceed eight when the Los Angeles Dodgers host the Arizona Diamondbacks; take it at 2.05.
While Dodger Stadium has a long reputation as a pitcher friendly environment, right now it’s playing quite the opposite – exploit that anomaly. So far in 2014, the Dodgers’ home field has ranked seventh in the Major Leagues (out of thirty teams) in runs scored. But what is particularly notable has been the home run rate – Dodger Stadium has been the easiest place to smack a homer, according to ESPN’s MLB Park Factors.
Both lineups in this game certainly have their share of home run hitters. Overall, the Dodgers rank sixth and the Diamondbacks sit eighth out of fifteen NL clubs in home runs. Beyond the aggregate, big sluggers exist on both teams. Arizona has Paul Goldschmidt, who led the NL with 36 homers last year, and Mark Trumbo, who smacked 34 home runs last season and already has six this year. The Dodgers currently have five starters in their lineup who registered double digit homers in 2013. Among them is Adrian Gonzalez who already has five home runs this campaign.
With Arizona pitching Josh Collmenter and Los Angeles going with Josh Beckett, neither team is throwing a world beater. While neither pitchers have a considerable recent history of coughing up home runs, Beckett has looked very over-the-hill over the past two season, and Collmenter will only be making his second start of the year. That means he likely won’t go deep into the game (long starts require stamina and Collmenter hasn’t been really stretched out to pitch deep into games). The upshot: The Diamondbacks’ bullpen, which is currently the worst in the National League, will be called on and will likely give up runs.