Home run (Safe bet)
Look for the Seattle Mariners, on at 1.57, to win at home against the Tampa Bay Rays.
On a tough Monday slate of games, this is about as good as it gets. The reason: Felix Hernandez is pitching for the Mariners. Hernandez has been his usual consistent self thus far in 2014. He’s thrown a quality start (six innings or more pitched; three earned runs or less allowed) in all but one of his eight starts. His excellent history against the Tampa Bay Rays hitters also helps his cause here. In 153 plate appearances, Tampa Bay hitters own a .200 batting average and a paltry .259 slugging percentage.
Seattle should also be aided by the fact that the left-hander Cesar Ramos is throwing for Tampa Bay. The Mariners haven’t been particularly good offensively this year, but they’ve seen an uptick against left-handed starters (Ramos is left-handed). The Mariners have posted a better batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage against lefty starters than righties. Moreover, Ramos is a converted reliever and hasn’t thrown more than five innings in any game this year. As a result, the bullpen will likely be important for the Rays in this contest, which isn’t great news. This year, Tampa Bay’s relief corps is below-average in run prevention in the American league.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
Pick the Washington Nationals (1.81) to pick up a road victory at the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Normally, the home team has the advantage, but don’t look for that here. Clearly, the Nationals are the better team, but what steps out in this contest is how bad the Diamondbacks have played at home. They are a terrible 3-15 in their first 18 home games.
Washington has Jordan Zimmerman pitching. He’s been great this year. In seven starts, he has a 2.92 ERA. He’s been particularly good on the road, where he’s 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in two starts (at home, he’s 0-1 with a 3.80 ERA). Arizona pitcher Josh Collmenter has a decent overall ERA (3.44), but he hasn’t been great in a starting role (he began the season in the bullpen). In five starting appearances, he’s yet to deliver a quality start.