Home run (Safe bet)
Go with the Los Angeles Dodgers, on at 1.40, to prevail at home versus the Colorado Rockies. I hate going to the same matchup twice in the same series (I picked the Dodgers earlier in this one), but this Wednesday game tilts too greatly in the Dodgers’ favor. The reason: Clayton Kershaw. The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner has been solid this year with a 6-2 record and a 2.93 ERA. But, in reality, he’s pitched even better than that. His fielding independent pitching (FIP), which generally offers better insight into true performance than ERA, is 1.89.
The differential between Kershaw’s ERA and FIP suggest that he’s had some bad luck and, as is the nature of baseball, that usually turns. Throw in the facts that Kershaw has been particularly sharp lately (4-1 with a 1.91 ERA in his past five starts) and that he’s throwing at home where throughout his career he’s 44-24 (.647 winning percentage) with a 2.23 ERA and he’s as good a lock as any to pitch really well.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Colorado pitcher Jorge De La Rosa, but he’s only won one game in five decisions in his career at Dodger Stadium and Los Angeles’ hitters have a solid track record against the Rockies’ pitcher. In 174 plate appearances, Dodger batters own a .277 batting average, .341 on base percentage and a hefty .510 slugging percentage.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
Take the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (1.85) to win on the road against the Cleveland Indians. As noted in this column before, with Indians starter Justin Masterson you can never be too sure if he’s going to be an ace or a hot mess. I’m afraid you should expect the latter in this contest.
Masterson has some of the most complicated pitching mechanics in baseball. When he is able to put it all together he is deceptive and incredibly hard to hit. When he can’t, he walks a lot of batters and struggles mightily. What you’ve typically seen this year with him is he’ll go a few games pitching badly and then a few games where he’s good. He’ll then continue to ping pong between the two states.
For example, in three starts between May 13 and May 22, Masterson totaled a whopping seventeen runs in 16 1/3 innings pitched. Then all of a sudden, over his next three games, he allowed just three runs in 15 2/3 innings. Now in his most recent outing, he was shelled for five runs in two innings of work (he walked four in that game). As a result, the expectation is that he’s currently entering one of his down periods.
As for the Angels, their starter C.J. Wilson is far more reliable. He’s thrown a quality start (six innings or more pitched; three runs or fewer allowed) in seven of his last ten outings.
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