Home run (Safe bet)
Go with the Los Angeles Dodgers, on at 1.51, to win at home versus the Chicago Cubs.
Putting aside for a moment any of the details specific to this Sunday game, these two teams just have very different motivations.
The Cubs have traded away large pockets of their team and are clearly in a rebuilding mode. This matchup will also mark game seven of a ten-game Western road trip for the Chicago team. Both these factors suggests a lot of low morale in the Cubs dugout for this one. On the other hand, the Dodgers have everything to play for. They’re currently leading the National League West – but not by so much they can be complacent. And, they’re playing at home, where coming into this weekend with a 15-5 record in their past twenty games at Dodger Stadium.
Now the specifics: Josh Beckett has faltered a bit coming into the second half, but you must respect his 2.74 ERA. Even if he isn’t at his best, the Cubs Edwin Jackson has been somewhat of a hot mess this year. The veteran right-hander has given up the most earned runs of any pitcher in the National League (77) and owns a woeful 5.79 ERA.
As for run-scoring, the Dodgers rank third in the fifteen-team NL, while the Cubs are far back in the pack, placing eleventh.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
In Arizona, expect the Pittsburgh Pirates to score first against the Diamondbacks; take a punt at 1.50.
In truth, the odds are not fantastic here on what is often a difficult bet. But the key here are the horrible beginnings Arizona pitcher Trevor Cahill has delivered in his starts this year. In the first inning of games, Cahill has a 5.14 ERA; in the second inning it’s 5.14; and in the third it balloons to 11.57. He’s not particularly on form right now – he has a 5.40 ERA in his past three starts – so he’s just so ripe to be hit around by a Pirates lineup that is well above average in run-scoring in the NL.
Cahill’s pitching opponent, Francisco Liriano, has had some hiccups in the first inning. He has a 5.00 ERA in that frame. But if he can soldier through unscathed in his first time on the pitcher’s mound, he’ll be golden. He owns a 2.00 ERA in inning two and a 1.06 ERA in the third innings. Considering Liriano has been on his game lately – He has a 1.96 ERA in his past four starts – he should be a safe bet.