The San Francisco Giants, playing at home, will take advantage of a pitching mismatch against the New York Mets on Monday. Like many Giants starters, Madison Bumgarner has been a beast at home: he’s a fantastic 7-1 with a 1.89 ERA. He also boasts a bit of a track record against the Mets. In his only start against New York’s National League representative, Bumgarner went seven innings conceding just three hits and one run to earn a win.
Part of the problem for the Mets is they’re just not as strong against left-handers (like Bumgarner) as they are against righties. They’ve hit .249 with a .380 slugging percentage versus southpaws compared to .265 with a .413 slugging percentage against right-handers. The Mets are expected to counter with fill-in starter Jeremy Hefner, who has only gotten starts because of injuries to other pitchers in the New York rotation. Hefner’s ERA is 5.40. Even if the Mets, who are on at 2.75, can muster a better pitching option, Bumgarner and the Giants (1.45) will capture this contest.
The Tampa Bay Rays’ David Price will continue his stellar season when he pitches against the Oakland A’s. This is a battle between baseball’s hottest team (the A’s started July 16-3) against the game’s hottest pitcher (Price’s 14 wins leads Major League Baseball). I like Price to prevail for two reasons. First, over three career starts, he’s been solid when pitching in Oakland (3.66 ERA in 19 2/3 innings pitched). Second, his pitching opponent, A.J. Griffin is due for a bit of a course correction.
Griffin has been stellar through six starts, posting a 3-0 record and a 2.25 ERA. But his statistic for Batting Average for Balls in Play (BABIP) is .230. This is very low and suggests that he’s had considerable luck. (The rationale being that, on average, more balls that are put in play should be falling in for hits than what’s been occurring when Griffin has pitched.) In Griffin’s minor league career he’s never had a BABIP as good as what he’s put up so far in the Majors. The upshot: He’s due for a bit of bad luck. Go with the Rays at 1.77 rather than the A’s at 2.05.