Home run (Safe bet)
Take the Milwaukee Brewers, on at 1.53, to win at home against the Colorado Rockies.
A number of factors line up nicely for Brewers starter Matt Garza in this Saturday game. The first is he’s pitching with momentum. In his past five starts, he has a 2.38 ERA, which marks his best stretch this season. Second, he’s throwing at home where he owns a 3.00 ERA (much better than his 5.49 ERA on the road). Finally he’s facing a Rockies club that is dismal in away games. Coming into this weekend they were 15-25 anywhere but Denver.
In contrast, Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin is struggling. Overall, he’s 1-6 with a 4.84 ERA this season. He’s scarcely improved as the season has progressed (he’s 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in his past five outings). Also, despite Coors Field being a tough place to pitch, Chacin has actually been worse on the road (0-3 with a 5.14 ERA) than at home (1-3 with a 4.55 ERA). Not helping matter is the fact that the Brewers are a top home team. Coming into this series, they’re sporting a 22-17 home record.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
In Los Angeles, look for the Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals to combine for fewer than 6.5 runs; take it at 2.05.
The math is pretty straightforward in this one: two excellent starting pitchers plus two lineups not completely on form plus a below-average scoring venue equal a low-scoring game.
St. Louis pitcher Lance Lynn has been consistently good as of late. In his past five starts he owns a 2.37 ERA (in his last two he’s been even better at 1.29). He’s also shown himself to be a serious road warrior. In eight away starts he has a 2.57 ERA (at home that number jumps to 3.22). The Dodgers Zack Greinke has been a bit shakier in his recent outing, but he is historically a strong home pitcher and his 2.96 ERA at Dodger Stadium supports that assertion.
Both lineups have been below par in recent stretches. In the last month, the Cardinals have slumped to a .237 batting average, .305 on base percentage and .363 slugging percentage. All those stats are lower than their overall numbers for 2014. The Dodgers’ woes have been more immediate. During the last week, they’ve put up a .230 batting average, .295 on base percentage and .316 slugging percentage. Moreover, a key cog in their offence Hanley Ramirez has been nursing a shoulder injury, which diminishes their chance for run-scoring success.
As for Dodger Stadium, it currently ranks below average as a run scoring ballpark, according to ESPN’s MLB Park Factors.