Home Run (Safest bet)
Take the Oakland A’s, on at 1.45, to win at home against the Houston Astros.
The odds aren’t great here, but that’s for good reason – the A’s are a very strong proposition in this Friday contest. Houston started the season well, but they are regressing back to the mean. In other words, their true not-so-pretty colors are coming through. They are a very weak offensive team. Amazingly, seven regulars are hitting below .210. In fact, only one hitter – Jose Altuve – has a batting average over .250. After a stellar debut to his pitching season, Astros’ starter Jarred Cosart has been less than impressive. In his past two games, he’s given up eight runs in 13 innings and allowed a troubling six walks.
Oakland, on the other hand, has been cruising. They lead the American League East standings and have been above-average in run production in the AL. Their biggest asset in this clash is their starter, Sonny Gray. The right-hander has been fantastic so far this season, posting a 2-0 record and a 0.95 ERA through three starts. He’s also averaging a strikeout per inning, which shows a particular level of dominance. The fact he’s pitching at home is a bonus in this game. In his young career, he’s 4-1 with a 1.71 ERA at the O.co Coliseum (compared to 3-2 with a 3.26 ERA anywhere else).
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
Pick the home team Miami Marlins (1.82) to upset the Seattle Mariners.
Seattle has been better than Miami as a whole thus far in 2014, but Miami will take this contest. Though they currently sit in last place in the National League East, the Marlins have been a different team at home compared to playing on the road. At Marlins Park, they’ve put together a 6-4 record; on the road, they’re a woeful 0-6. Their starting pitcher, Nathan Eovaldi is also due for some good luck. Eovaldi’s 4.19 ERA appears pretty mediocre until you dig below the surface. When you check an advanced statistic, fielding independent pitching, his ERA should be 2.07. In addition, his track record against the Mariners is quite good. The sample size is small (37 plate appearances), but Eovaldi has held them to a .061 batting average.
Seattle enters this game in the midst of a grueling seven-game road trip. Their pitcher Chris Young is a bit of a wild card. A former All-Star, Young didn’t pitch in the Major Leagues in 2013 and has battled numerous injuries. He was sharp in his first start this year at the Oakland A’s (six innings; zero runs allowed), but he’ll now pitch in a more offensive-oriented ball park (Marlins Park is twelfth in the Majors in run production compared to O.co, which is twenty-fifth). Add the fact that Miami batters have a .316 average versus Young (admittedly in just 41 plate appearance) and he’s definitely an uncertain proposition.