Home run (Safe bet)
Go with the San Francisco Giants at 1.60 to win at home over the San Diego Padres. You should anticipate Giants’ starter Tim Hudson to be in his element in this contest. The reason: he’s pitching at home. In seven starts at AT&T Park Hudson is 5-0 with a 2.16 ERA. He faced the Padres there earlier this season and was dominating, going 8 2/3 innings, while allowing just five hits, no walks and two runs.
The bigger question mark is how the Padres’ starting pitcher Jesse Hahn will throw. He has three Major League starts to his name. Two were good against the New York Mets and the Seattle Mariners, and one wasn’t good against the Pittsburgh Pirates. What’s instructive from that track record is both the Mets and the Mariners are below-par offensive teams. The Pirates, who tagged Hahn for four runs in 3 2/3 innings, are above average. Yet, the Pirates aren’t as good at bat as the Giants so Hahn will be facing his stiffest test to day. If he couldn’t take care of Pittsburgh, expect San Francisco to pounce.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
In Chicago, look for the Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds to score fewer than 8 runs; take it at 1.90. This contest is the perfect combination of languishing offences and good pitching. Both lineups are below average in run production. The Reds rate tenth in the National League (out of fifteen teams) and the Cubs are twelfth. Against all pitchers – both good and bad – neither club averages as many as four runs a contest.
In this game, both sets of batters will be up against a strong pitcher. While Cincinnati’s Homer Bailey doesn’t have a very impressive ERA – 4.68 – he seems due. His fielding independent pitching (FIP), which is scaled like ERA and tends to be a better indicator of performance, is a much more reasonable 4.08. The disparity, at the least, suggests he’s pitched better than his superficial numbers. In addition, Bailey has a good history versus the Cubs. In 164 plate appearances, Chicago hitters own a weak .241 batting average, .311 on base percentage and .349 slugging percentage.
While Jake Arrieta isn’t as prominent as Bailey, he is, perhaps, a better pitcher right now. A longtime top prospect with the Baltimore Orioles, Arrieta appears to have found his stride in Chicago. Last year he had a solid 4-2 record and a 3.66 ERA and this season, he’s been even better with a 3-1 record and a 1.98 ERA. Most relevant to this game is the fact he’s on a tremendous roll. In his past two starts, he owns a 0.64 ERA and has struck out twenty batters in 14 innings pitched.
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