Home run (Safe bet)
Go with the Oakland A’s, on at 1.55, at home against the Boston Red Sox. This Thursday contest is the perfect set up for the A’s. Before we get into the on-field details of this match, consider the logistical nature of the game. Boston played Wednesday at home and then got on a plane and flew some 3,000 miles to get to Oakland for this game. Baseball players are attuned to travel, but this is a big trek even by the sport’s standard, and it will surely leave the Red Sox weary. (It’s also worth noting, that even under less trying conditions Boston are bad on the road; coming into this series they were tied for last in away wins with 14.)
Getting into the details of the match-up, Oakland hand Scott Kazmir the starting assignment in this game. Kazmir has shined all season with an 8-2 record and a 2.05 ERA. That said he’s been in a particular groove as of late. In his past five outings he’s 3-1 with a 1.53 ERA. Pitching at home is also a plus: in six games at O.Co Coliseum he has a 1.45 ERA (on the road it’s at 2.62).
In contrast, Jake Peavy is suffering through a disappointing campaign. He’s 1-4 with a 4.53 ERA. While his last outing was respectable – he pitched six innings allowing one run against the Indians – that game was at home and this one is on the road. More important, overall, he’s struggled lately. In his past five appearances, he’s 0-2 with a 4.86 ERA.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
Take the Milwaukee Brewers (1.77) on the road to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks. Admittedly, the Brewers are the better team here, but road wins are always hard to come by and, as a result, the odds are pretty decent here.
The key to this game is Brewers’ pitcher Yovani Gallardo. A bit of an enigma, in that he has great talent but can be somewhat inconsistent, Gallardo is currently in a groove. In his past two starts, he’s gone 14 innings and allowed just ten hits, three walks and one run, while striking out 16. Here he faces a group of Arizona hitters who have just a .218 batting average (and .257 slugging percentage) in 112 lifetime plate appearances against him.
He squares off against Chase Anderson, who on the surface has some impressive numbers. The rookie is 5-1 with a 3.21 ERA. But Anderson’s fielding independent pitching (FIP), a statistic that tends to be a better indicator of performance than ERA, is 4.93. As the two stats – ERA and FIP – are scaled (in other words, they are comparable numbers), Anderson’s FIP suggests he’s been lucky this year and that a comeuppance is due.
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