Home run (Safe bet)
Expect the Colorado Rockies and the New York Mets to combine for more than 9.5 runs at Coors Field; take it at 1.92
Coors Field, with its spacious outfield and thin air, is always a tinderbox waiting for offensive explosion. This Thursday clash offers a perfect opportunity for such a conflagration.
The Mets have Zack Wheeler on the pitcher’s mound. He has never thrown in Colorado so he hasn’t had the opportunity to make the necessary adjustments required to pitch there (because of the altitude, pitches tend to flatten out; guys on the mound must often alter their game plan).
Wheeler has thrown pretty well this year (3.99 ERA), but he’s done it in far more pitcher friendly environments. He’s had three starts at Citi Field, which ranks twenty-first (out of thirty teams) in run production and then in Arizona which is sixteenth. The one pretty good offensive stadium he’s thrown at – Turner Field in Atlanta (eleventh) – he had his worst outing of the season, allowing eight hits and four runs in five innings. Coors Field is ranked second in run production so look for him to struggle.
As for Rockies’ pitcher Juan Nicasio, he is not thrown well anywhere as evidenced by his 5.27 ERA. In his two most recent starts (one in Denver and the other at Los Angeles against the Dodgers), he’s given up 15 hits and 10 runs in 9 ½ innings pitched. That doesn’t suggest good things for the right-hander when he faces an above-average Mets lineup.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
The Miami Marlins, on at 2.15, will win at home against the Atlanta Braves
This is a longshot for a couple of reasons. The Braves are in first place in the National League East, while the Marlins are in last. The Braves also give Ervin Santana the pitching assignment. He’s been fantastic in 2014, going 3-0 with a 1.95 ERA in four starts.
Yet an upset is very possible for a few reasons. The first is that Miami has been excellent at home. In their first 14 games at Marlins Park this year, they have a 10-4 record (all their failure has come on the road where they’re 2-10). Second, they have Henderson Alvarez pitching. While not as heralded as Jose Fernandez, Alvarez has been excellent this year, posting a 2.73 ERA in five starts. Not surprisingly, he’s done his best work at home where he has a 2.25 ERA in two starts.
The final reason for a Marlins win is the concept of regression to the mean. Santana is a good pitcher – but his performance so far this year is well beyond what he normally produces (his lifetime ERA is 4.16). At some point, he’ll have to inch closer to what he typically performs, and this is as good as any match up for it to occur.