Home run (Safe bet)
Pick the St. Louis Cardinals - on at 1.59 - to win at home versus the San Diego Padres.
Cardinals’ starter John Lackey is coming off a really poor performance versus the Baltimore Orioles, but there’s good reason to expect him to shine in this Thursday contest. Quite simply, Lackey is a world-beater against bad teams this year. When he squares up against clubs that have a winning percentage under .500, Lackey has gone 4-1 with a 1.41 ERA (against good teams, he falters – 8-7 with a 5.31 ERA).
The Padres are certainly in the “bad team” category, hovering on the wrong side of the win-loss columns most of the season. The team’s problems have been particularly acute when they’ve been forced to go on the road. The team currently ranks thirteenth out of fifteen National League clubs when it comes to winning away games. The club’s starter in this one, Eric Stults, is particularly afflicted by this “road-itis.” In thirteen away appearances, he’s a woeful 1-9 with a 5.37 ERA (in contrast, he’s 4-4 with a 3.98 ERA in ten Petco Park appearances).
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
Go with the Colorado Rockies – on at 1.81 - to win at home against the Cincinnati Reds.
Home field advantage will propel the generally weaker Rockies to victory in this game. As bad as Colorado has been this year – they currently have the worst record in the National League – the Rockies’ starter in this one has found a way to thrive – and win – at Coors Field. Jorge De La Rosa has an impressive 7-2 record and a 3.23 ERA in the usually pitcher-crushing environs of Denver. In general, as bad as the Rockies have been, they nearly have a .500 winning percentage at home.
The Reds remain in the Wild Card race, but their starter in this game, Alfredo Simon, is beginning to fall off badly. Although he has an overall 12-7 record and a 3.08 ERA, he’s 0-4 with a 4.78 ERA in his past five starts. Though the sample size is small, Colorado hitters have a good track record against Simon. In 32 plate appearances, Rockies’ batters own an impressive .355 batting average and a robust .710 slugging percentage.
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