Home run (Safe bet)
Go with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, on at 1.57, to win on the road versus the Texas Rangers.
This Thursday game is simply a mismatch. The Rangers recently lost their manager, Ron Washington, who unexpectedly quit, and have endured so many injuries that the team’s league-worst record comes as only a mild surprise.
Rangers’ pitcher Nick Martinez isn’t the type of starter who will be able to take his teammates on his shoulder and single-handedly pitch the team to a low-scoring victory. He’s 3-10 this season with a 5.03 ERA. In fact, he’s actually thrown a bit worse than that terrible statistic. His fielding independent pitching (FIP), which is scaled like ERA but is a better indicator of performance, is 5.25. Considering he’s facing an Angel team that he’s yet to beat in three appearances and who leads the American League in runs scored per game, success looks unlikely for Martinez.
Like Texas, the Angels having dealt with injuries of their own – particularly to the club’s starting pitching rotation. An unexpected outcome has been pitcher Cory Rasmus’ entry into a starting role. Overall, he’s gone 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA. But he’s only thrown 4 2/3 innings in two starting opportunities (3.86 ERA in those outings). But fear not, Los Angeles has a great bullpen and with the team their facing that should be enough to assure victory.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
Take the Chicago White Sox at 1.69 to win at home against the Oakland A’s.
Oakland is in a playoff hunt and is a better team than the Chicago White Sox, who are merely battling not to finish last in the American League Central. But on this evening, it’s the weaker team that is the more likely winner.
Despite the A’s overall performance in 2014, they are currently on a downward trajectory. Both the offence and the starting pitcher for this game, Scott Kazmir, are struggling. Oakland hitters have batted .228 with a .284 on-base percentage and a .310 slugging percentage over the past two weeks. Unsurprisingly, they are scoring just a little bit more than three runs a game, which is lackluster. Adding to concern here is how poorly Kazmir has been throwing. The left-hander revived his career this season, having pitched his way to fourteen victories. But lately, he’s looking like the player who was almost out of baseball a few years ago because of ineffectiveness. In his past four starts, Kazmir has posted a 9.18 ERA – a stat that does not engender confidence.
Chicago’s hitters haven’t been much better than their counterparts from Oakland (although the White Sox have hit for more power). Still, there is a separator here and his name is Chris Sale. The lefty currently leads the American league with a 2.09 ERA and has been far sharper than Kazmir in his past four games, delivering a 2.52 ERA. Look for Kazmir to struggle and Sale to be his normal terrific self.