Home run (Safe bet)
Take the St. Louis Cardinals, on at 1.67, at home versus the Miami Marlins.
This Saturday contest is a bet on momentum. The Cardinals have been a solid 12-8 over its past twenty games coming into this weekend, while Miami has posted a dispiriting 7-13 record through the same period of time.
Then there’s the pitching matchup. Despite some struggles this year from Shelby Miller (he has a 4.10 ERA), I believe in the Cardinals starter’s talent. Against a good Toronto Blue Jays line up, he threw a three-hit complete game shutout on June 3. His last two outings have not been good, but they’ve been on the road. I believe a return to Busch Stadium will get him back on the right track.
Marlins pitcher Andrew Heaney has long been given the prospect label. But in his first Major League stint he’s showing serious growing pains. He’s lost all three of his big league starts and his last two have been particularly rough, giving up nine runs in 11 innings of work.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest bet)
In Detroit, look for the Tigers and the Tampa Bay Rays to combine for fewer than 8 runs; go for it at 1.77.
I really like both of the starting pitchers in this contest. Tigers’ starter Anibal Sanchez is arguably one of the best pitchers currently in the American League. After putting up a league-leading 2.57 ERA last year, he has a 2.63 ERA this season. In 73 plate appearances, Rays hitters don’t have a fantastic record against the right-hander (.254 batting average; .292 on base percentage). But what’s notable is key cogs like Evan Longoria (.222 average), Desmond Jennings (no hits in six at bats) and Ben Zobrist (.231 batting average) have all struggled against Sanchez. (Not to mention a spate of injuries, including a recent shelving of starting shortstop Yunel Escobar has Tampa Bays’ lineup heavily depleted.)
Rays pitcher Chris Archer isn’t as heralded as his pitching opponent, but he’s been quite good this year. His overall ERA is 3.24 and he’s tallied a quality start (six innings or more pitched; three runs or less allowed) in six of his last eight starts. Not surprisingly, his ERA in six June starts was been a nifty 1.95.
The primary concern here is the Tigers strong lineup (they rank third out of fifteen AL team in run production). But, even if they get a few on the board. The weak Rays offence (fourteenth in run scoring per game) will suppress the overall total.