Home run (Safe bet)
Plan on the Oakland A’s, on at 1.95, capturing an away win against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
This game is a tale of two teams going opposite directions – both offensively and on the pitcher’s mound. The Angels’ lineup has had some good moments early in the season, but they recently lost Josh Hamilton, who has been the key cog, to injury. Hamilton had been batting a hearty .444 before being sidelined with a thumb injury. Now, the lineup features five regulars who are hitting at or below .200. Match that with a starting pitcher – Hector Santiago – who is 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA – and you have a team poorly positioned to win.
In contrast, the A’s offence is beginning to pick things up. In its first five games, the club was averaging less than three runs a game; in its next six contests the team has put up nearly six runs per contest. In addition, starting pitcher Jesse Chavez has been spectacular this season, owning a 1.38 ERA in two starts.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
Take the New York Mets (2.08) to win on the road against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
With two weak teams, the call is to usually go with home field advantage in picking a winner. But, in this case, there are enough factors to go the other way. Let’s start with Mets starter Zack Wheeler. The right-hander is off to a bit of a shaky start this season, posting a 0-2 record and a 5.73 ERA in two starts. But the promising young pitcher, who boasted a 7-5 record and a 3.42 ERA in 2013, has some factors going for him.
First, he’s been surprisingly strong on the road in his nascent career (5-2 with a 2.73 ERA in away games versus 2-5 with a 4.70 ERA at home). Second, he should have particular confidence at Chase Field. In his only start there he went 6 1/3 innings and allowed just six hits and one run.
Moreover, based on performance this year, Arizona shouldn’t be its best offensively in this contest. While they are averaging right between four and five runs a game on the road, they’ve put up about a run less per contest at home. They’re also hitting twenty-seven points lower in batting average when they play in Phoenix. If The D-Backs are looking for pitching help in this one, they’ll probably be out of luck as well.
Pitcher Josh Collmenter will be making a spot start (he is usually in the bullpen). That means he isn’t stretched out (i.e. hasn’t thrown enough innings in a game to be expected to throw deep into this contest). As a consequence, Arizona will have to lean on its bullpen, which is bad news. Diamondbacks’ relievers currently rank as the worst in National League (in terms of runs conceded per game).