Home run (Safe bet)
Go with the Chicago Cubs to win at home versus the Colorado Rockies at 1.51.
It’s truly a rarity to call a Cubs win a “safe bet,” but this Thursday game features the right opponent and the right pitcher for Chicago. The Rockies season has been a bit of a disaster and with their star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki on the disabled list, the club’s offence has been less than optimal. Even if Tulowitzki were available, the fact that Colorado is on the road is a huge impediment. No team in the National League is worse when forced to travel than the Rockies (16-35 record). This game is particularly dicey for the team as Tyler Matzek is their starting pitcher. Over the past four weeks, he’s delivered an underwhelming 4.56 ERA.
Still, more than anything, this contest tilts in the Cubs’ favor because Jake Arrieta receives the starting assignment for them. The right-hander has been excellent all season, but this match-up plays to two particular strengths. He’s throwing at home – a venue where he owns a fantastic 1.96 ERA in six starts. He’s also facing a team with a below-.500 winning percentage. In six previous opportunities to square off against a losing club, he’s 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
In Los Angeles, go with the Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves to tally fewer than 6 runs; take it at 1.79
With Clayton Kershaw starting for Los Angeles, you can be pretty certain that he will keep up his half of the bargain and depress run scoring in this game. Overall, the man has a 1.76 ERA. But beyond that, he’s been on a very impressive streak. The left-hander hasn’t given up more than three runs in any of his last twelve starts. During that streak, he’s also delivered eight outings in which he’s allow one or zero runs. In other words, if he doesn’t dominate it’ll be an major aberration.
Slightly less certain is whether Braves starter Julio Teheran can do the same. Of course, that’s more of a reflection on Kershaw’s consistency rather than Teheran’s limitations as the All-Star has thrown a quality start (six innings or more pitched; three runs or fewer allowed) in five of his past seven contests. Considering Dodger Stadium ranks twenty-third out of thirty stadiums in terms of run-production in 2014 (according to ESPN’s MLB Park Factors), odds are in his favor that he’ll have one of his stronger performances.