Home run (Safe bet)
Pick the Toronto Blue Jays, on at 1.68, to prevail on the road against the Houston Astros.
These two teams come into this Saturday game moving in very different directions. The Blue Jays were 9-1 in their past ten entering the weekend series, while the Astros were 3-7.
Brett Oberholtzer, who gets the pitching assignment for Houston, doesn’t give much hope that the Astros will change their current direction. While he’s pitched okay as of late (twelve runs allowed in his last 26 1/3), he did not look very good against the Blue Jays when he faced them earlier in the season. In that game he conceded three runs in 5 1/3 innings and took the loss.
In truth, Blue Jays’ pitcher RA Dickey also didn’t do too well in his one start against his opponent here. He allowed five runs in seven innings in his only game against Houston. But Dickey is a knuckleball pitcher and so much depends on how he’s feeling at the time. When he faced Houston back in April, he clearly didn’t have the necessary touch for his signature pitch – his ERA was 5.30 at the time. Since then he’s gotten his mojo back (his ERA is now 3.91) and is coming off his best start of the year – seven innings of one-run, three-hit, ten-strikeout ball against the Boston Red Sox.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
In Cleveland, look for the Indians and the Texas Rangers to combine for more than 9 runs; go with it at 1.87.
Neither of the clubs in this game have winning percentages over .500 and poor pitching is a big reason why. We’ll see that problem in full effect in this contest.
The Rangers’ Miles Mikolas has been a pretty big disaster in his five starts this season. The big right-hander has been tagged for 35 hits in 26 1/3 innings and owns a foul 8.54 ERA. His opponent T.J. House has been better (4.50 ERA), but he rarely provides a quality start (six innings or more pitched; three runs or less allowed). In his past seven appearances, he reached that plateau just twice. In his past two appearances, he’s given up a troubling six runs in 9 2/3 innings pitched.
With that in mind, the fact that both teams can swing the bats pretty well will play very well here. Cleveland ranks an impressive fifth (out of fifteen American League clubs) in runs scored per game. While the Rangers aren’t quite as good (ninth), the fact that they’re almost average should be good enough considering the pitching in this game.