Home run (Safe bet)
Go with Los Angeles Dodgers, on at 1.59, at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Consider this Friday contest the Zack Greinke show. All the statistics work in his favor. He’s been throwing well recently (2.77 ERA over his past four games). He’s pitching at home where he’s 7-2 with a 2.60 ERA and he’s facing a Diamondbacks team against which he’s 2-0 with a 0.93 ERA in 19 1/3 innings pitched in 2014. Beyond Greinke, there’s also the Dodgers’ general dominance over Arizona this season. In sixteen match-ups, Los Angeles holds a dominating 12-4 record.
On the other side of the field, Arizona will rely on pitcher Chase Anderson. The rookie hasn’t been bad this season (8-6 with a 3.75 ERA). But there is reason for concern. Anderson’s fielding independent pitching (FIP), which is scaled like ERA but is considered a better reflection of performance, is 4.30. Translation: he’s had quite a bit of luck this season, which will typically even out – perhaps in this game. Final point: Anderson has faced the Dodgers twice and has a 6.10 ERA against them in 10 1/3 innings pitched.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
In Atlanta, look for the hometown Braves to score first against the Miami Marlins; take it at 1.77.
This pick is based on the two starting pitchers comparative success early in games – as well as the two teams’ early scoring history. The Braves’ Alex Wood is an expert at starting a contest on the right foot. In the first inning of his twenty starts, he has a solid 2.70 ERA; over the 20 innings he’s thrown in the second inning, he’s delivered an even better 1.80 ERA.
That should keep Marlins hitters at bay. The Marlins’ lineup ranks nineteenth out of thirty teams in scoring in the first inning, and twenty-second in second inning scoring. In contrast, the Braves rank a more respectable fifteenth and twelfth, respectively. That’s likely strong enough to put runs on the board when you consider that Miami starter Nate Eovaldi has a history of struggling in the first inning. In twenty-eight first inning appearances this year, he owns a weak 5.46 ERA. He’s better in the second inning (3.21), but still not as good as his opposing pitching – and, considering, he’s facing a team better at early run production, Eovaldi is in the tougher position.