Home run (Safe bet)
Choose the New York Yankees, on at 1.45, to win at home against the Chicago Cubs
While both teams throw solid pitchers, the venue and relative talent of the respective lineups make this contest on Wednesday a mismatch. The Cubs go with Travis Wood, who has been one of the club’s most dependable pitchers. But the Yankees have definite home field advantage in this game. New York has hit 12 home runs at home (compared with just one on the road) and own a hefty slugging percentage of .509 (which is .176 points higher than in away games). As a result, they’re averaging just about a run more per game when they play at Yankee Stadium.
New York starts Michael Pineda. Before being sidelined last year with an arm injury, Pineda was poised to be one of the top young pitchers in the American League. Now, healthy he isn’t disappointing. In two starts, he has a 1.50 ERA with 12 strikeouts (against two walks) in 12 innings pitched. If you throw in his for appearances in spring training (1.20 ERA; 16 strikeouts and 1 walk in 15 innings) and you start to get an excellent picture of his considerable skills. He faces a lineup that ranks twelfth out of fifteen National League teams in runs scored per game.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
The St. Louis Cardinals will outscore the Milwaukee Brewers through the first five innings; take it at 1.90
In one of the season’s early surprises, the Brewers, who are currently in first in the National League Central, have out-played the division’s second-place St. Louis Cardinals. Milwaukee may very well win this contest, but for at least the first five innings expect Cardinals’ starter Joe Kelly to outpitch his Brewers’ counterpart Wily Peralta.
Both pitchers have thrown very well this year. Through two starts, it’s been nearly impossible for teams to score runs against Kelly. He’s allowed just one earned run in 11 1/3 innings pitched. Peralta has also been very effective, yielding just three earned runs in 12 innings of work.
The difference here is the comparative success against the opposing lineup. Kelly has kept Brewers hitters off base, with Milwaukee batters owning a combined .284 on base percentage in 97 lifetime plate appearances. In direct contrast, Peralta has been banged around to the tune of a .343 batting average, .421 on base percentage and .448 slugging percentage in 76 plate appearances by the Cardinals.