Hisashi Iwakuma at home against a weak Milwaukee Brewers should spell victory for the Seattle Mariners on Saturday. Two key statistics will drive this game. The first is that Iwakuma is stellar at Safeco Field. He’s 5-2 with a 2.48 ERA there this season (plus his peripheral stats like strike-out and walk rates are better there than on the road). The second factor is that the right-hander really bears down against sub-standard teams. Versus clubs with a winning percentage below .500, Iwakuma has a 6-2 record and an excellent 1.82 ERA (against good teams he drops to 4-3 with a 3.80 ERA).
The Brewers, who lost star Ryan Braun to a drug suspension, have seen their offence completely implode as of late. The club has scored three or fewer runs in six of their previous eight games coming into this series. Adding to that problem is the fact that Brewers don’t have an ace who can turn this contest into a pitchers’ duel. Tom Gorzelanny is penciled in as the starter. He’s a solid pitcher, but he’s dealing with an injury so he won’t be 100%. If he doesn’t get the call, Milwaukee will have to dig deep into an already thin pitching roster. Pick the Mariners to win at 1.54.
The Los Angeles Dodgers will also make the most of home field advantage when they host the Tampa Bay Rays. I’m a big believer in Zack Greinke when he pitches at home: this year he’s 5-1 with a 2.56 ERA at Dodger Stadium (compared to 4-2 with a 4.35 ERA on the road). What’s notable about Greinke is that he’s pitched for four different teams, but the one constant has been his knack for domination at his home ball park. In 127 home starts, he has an impressive 60-31 record with a 3.36 ERA. In away games, he drops to 40-50 with a 4.16 ERA.
Even if he wasn’t such an ace in Los Angeles, Greinke would surely benefit from throwing for one of baseball’s hottest teams. Coming into this series, since the start of July, the team has tallied a commanding 26-7 record.
They are facing another in-form side (during that same stretch, the Rays are 23-8), but Tampa Bay have started August a bit slowly (2-3) and aren’t sending one of their best to the pitcher’s mound. The Rays’ Roberto Hernandez has been quite erratic this season. He’s 6-11 with a 4.75 ERA. Moreover, he’s coming off a shaky start (4 2/3 innings; three runs allowed) against a poor hitting San Francisco Giants team. Opt for the Dodgers at 1.62.