Home run (Safest bet)
Take the Detroit Tigers (1.52) to win at home against the Texas Rangers.
No Tigers player will probably be happier to be at Comerica Park on Sunday than Justin Verlander. The Tigers’ usual ace has been somewhat mortal this season. He’s 5-3 with a 3.55 ERA. But despite those overall numbers, his work at home has been stellar. In five games in Detroit, Verlander has a 2.18 ERA (compared to his 4.91 ERA on the road). He happens to be catching the Rangers at a moment where their moral must be low. Earlier this week, their star first basemen Prince Fielder announced he’d be undergoing season-ending surgery. While Fielder had been struggling throughout this early season, the expectation was he’d anchor this lineup.
Colby Lewis is going for the Rangers and he has not looked good in 2014. After missing last season with an elbow injury, he’s been consistently hit hard (he’s given up 54 hits in 36 2/3 innings). His overall ERA is 5.40 and, he’s yet to deliver a quality start (six innings or more pitched; three runs or fewer allowed) in any of his seven appearances.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
Go with the Oakland A’s, on at 1.82, to capture a road victory at the Toronto Blue Jays.
This contest pits two teams leading their division coming into this series. With two frontrunners, this would normally give the edge to the home club. But that’s not the case here. In terms of home-field advantage, the Blue Jays haven’t really had it in 2014. Coming into this weekend, they were 10-11 at the Rogers Centre. In contrast, no team in the American League has been a better road warrior than Oakland. In their first twenty-five away games, they’ve posted a fantastic 18-7 record.
The pitching here further bolsters Oakland’s chances. The A’s Drew Pomeranz is a former first round pick who struggled – like many do – when he was a member of the Colorado Rockies. This year in Oakland, he’s blossomed. He started the year in the bullpen but has received starting assignments in each of his past three outings and has dominated. In that stretch, he’s thrown 15 scoreless innings and allowed just eight hits and four walks while striking out 16.
His pitching opponent, JA Happ does have a nice 3-1 record, but that hasn’t been a proper reflection of his performance. He owns a 4.37 ERA, but more telling is his 6.02 fielding independent pitching, which is a statistic that tends to be a better indicator of performance.