Home run (Safe bet)
Choose the San Francisco Giants (1.68) to win on the road versus the San Diego Padres.
The starting pitcher histories against their respective offensive opponents are a big reason for this Saturday pick. Padres pitcher Eric Stults has been shaky this year, posting a 5.52 ERA (advanced metrics suggest he’s thrown even worse than that). But his work against Giants’ hitters given primary reason for pause. In a robust 154 plate appearances, San Francisco players have batted .326 with a .569 slugging percentage versus the left-hander. In particular, Buster Posey (.467 batting average) and Pablo Sandoval (.545) have owned Stults.
Giants’ starter Tim Hudson has a completely opposite trajectory and track record than Stults. The 16-year veteran is 2-0 with a 2.35 ERA in three starts. Historically, Padres’ hitters have been befuddled by the sinkerball pitcher. In 98 plate appearances, San Diego’s cumulative batting average is a paltry .172.
Broadening the inquiry, the overall hitting from these two teams are quite different. The Padres rank dead last in the National League in runs scored per game. The Giants are currently in fifth among the fifteen NL clubs in the same category.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
The Los Angeles Dodgers will score first at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks; take it at 1.75.
This proposition is always difficult and choosing the home team, which bats second, adds increased uncertainty. Still, there’s good reason to go this direction.
Dodgers’ starter Dan Haren appears to be back on track after two shaky years due to injuries. He has a 2.04 ERA and a 2-0 record in three appearances. But even if you factor in his bad years, he’s always typically thrown his best in the first three innings. Throughout his career, he’s conceded lower batting averages and slugging percentages in his first three innings work compared to anything he’s done over the next three.
That should give the Dodgers enough time to get to Diamondbacks’ pitcher Michael Bolsinger. This game will be Bolsinger’s first Major League start so expect there to be nerves early on – a great opening for Dodger hitters, who have been above average in runs scored, to pounce.