Home run (Safe bet)
Go with the Washington Nationals, on at 1.41, to win at home over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Nearly every statistic indicates Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann will perform well in this Monday contest. Not only has he provided excellent work all season (2.92 ERA), but he also hasn’t faltered as the season has worn on (2.56 ERA in his last five starts; 2.13 ERA in his last two outings). In addition, he’s thrown particularly well at home (2.76 ERA in thirteen starts when in Washington, D.C.). The only concern is Arizona did hit Zimmermann pretty hard the one time they met this season (5 2/3 innings pitched; five runs allowed). But that was back on May 12 and the game happened to occur during a period of struggle for Zimmermann when he saw his ERA balloon from 2.92 to 4.07. If anything, Arizona will be caught flat-footed when they see a much better version of Zimmermann in this game.
As for the Diamondbacks’ starter Vidal Nuno, he’s just so inconsistent. Since moving Arizona from the New York Yankees in early July, he’s started seven games and had a couple of impressive performances. But, overall, he’s delivered just three quality starts (six innings or more pitched; three runs or fewer allowed). Another factor to consider: Nuno really struggles against good teams like the Nationals. In fourteen appearances versus clubs with winning percentages over .500, he has a 5.95 ERA.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
Pick the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at 1.57 to score first on the road against the Boston Red Sox.
Perhaps, this should go in the “safe bet” column as the odds are not overwhelming considering the typical difficulty of picking a first scorer in a game. Still, I wanted to make sure I got in this one, because you have two elements that cut so strongly toward the Angels breaking onto the scoreboard first.
The Red Sox starter Brandon Workman is absolutely abysmal in the first inning of games this year. In ten first frame appearances, Workman has allowed a whopping twelve runs, which gives him a woeful 10.80 ERA. For whatever reason, teams easily get to Workman right at the start.
This is particularly bad news for the Red Sox when you find out which club is the absolute best in the Major Leagues in first inning run scoring. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, it’s the Angels. No other team jumps on the board faster. The combination makes an first-strike Los Angeles tally very likely.