Home run (Safe bet)
Pick the Oakland A’s, on at 1.35, to prevail at home over the Minnesota Twins.
How good must it feel to be Jon Lester? The ace left-hander was recently traded from the Boston Red Sox – a team floundering in the American League East – to Oakland, which is a club with legitimate World Series prospects. Lester was a bit shaky in his first start with his new team (6 2/3 inning pitched; three runs allowed in a win over the Kansas City Royals), but expect him to be sharp in this Thursday contest. The reason: he has a great history against Twins hitters. In 78 plate appearances, Minnesota batters have a .209 batting average, .312 on-base percentage and .239 slugging percentage. That’s a lot of bad.
The Twins cannot compare when it comes to their starting pitcher. Yohan Pino is a 30-year-old rookie, and there’s usually a reason why a player is that old and finally getting his shot at the Big Leagues. They lack dominant stuff. This is likely the case with Pino who hasn’t been great through eight Major League starts. He’s 1-3 with a 4.57 EVA.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
Go with the Los Angeles Dodgers at 1.97 on the road against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The Angels are a magnificent home team (38-19, which is tops in the American League), but the bet here is on the unsteady nature of their starting pitcher.
There is a lot to be worried about when it comes to the Angels’ C.J. Wilson. He does currently has a 4.74 ERA. But the bigger question is whether he’s even close to 100 percent physically right now. Just before the All Star break Wilson was put on the disabled list after a series of ineffective starts. He came back on August 2 to disastrous results. Against a mediocre Tampa Bay Rays lineup, he allowed six hits and six runs in just 1 1/3 innings pitched. My suspicion is he isn’t himself yet (and may not get to his normal starter status this year). As a result, I’m wagering he’ll have another train wreck here.
Even if Wilson is a bit more solid than what he showed against the Rays, the Dodgers have Hyun-jin Ryu pitching. The South Korean import is currently on a solid run. In his past four games, he’s 4-0 with a 2.42 ERA. While this game isn’t too far from Dodger Stadium (just down the road in Anaheim), it’s worth noting that Ryu is also a road warrior. In 11 road starts, he’s 8-2 with a 2.89 ERA (at home, he’s 4-3 with a 3.94 ERA).
See the whole program of tonight's MLB games here.