The Atlanta Braves will follow new acquisition Paul Maholm to victory on the road against the New York Mets on Friday. Maholm, who was signed from the Chicago Cubs, is currently pitching some of the best baseball of his life: in his first outing with the Braves he was solid, giving up three runs in seven innings while striking out eight. But even that performance was subpar and perhaps showed some jitters if you consider what he’d done in his final seven starts with the Cubs - he was 5-0 with a 1.00 ERA. The left-handed Maholm will also benefit from the fact that the Mets are hitting twelve points worse (.250 versus .262) and have a slugging percentage twenty points worse (.314 against .334) against lefty pitchers compared to righties.
The Mets send rookie Matt Harvey out to start. Harvey has considerable talent, as evidenced by his Major League debut against the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 26: in that game he went 5 1/3 innings and struck out 11. But in his two starts since he’s been far more human. In particular, the weak hitting San Diego Padres scorched him for five runs in five innings his last time out. Go with Maholm and the Braves at 1.77 as Harvey’s inconsistency makes the Mets at 2.05 a questionable pick.
Follow the starting pitchers’ home-away spilts when choosing between San Diego Padres and Pittsburgh Pirates. San Diego’s Edinson Volquez has done well at home in 2012, posting a 3.24 ERA. On the road he’s not as steady, with a 4.40 ERA. The Pirates’ James McDonald shows an even more severe split depending on where he’s pitching: at PNC Park he has a 2.15 ERA and everywhere else he’s registered a 4.99.
Both starters have struggled in the second half so far. Volquez has a 4.55 and in his past two starts has allowed nine runs in 6 2/3 innings. McDonald has a 7.76 ERA since the All Star Game. That said, the latter is coming off a decent performance against the Cincinnati Reds’ potent lineup in which he yielded three earned runs in six innings. Between the confidence built on his last start and the fact he’s at home, McDonald is a better bounce-back candidate in this one. Take the Pirates at 1.70 not the Padres at 2.15.