Home run (Safe bet)
Go with the Detroit Tigers, on at 1.44, at home versus the Houston Astros.
Home field advantage plus a hot pitcher should be all Detroit needs in this Thursday contest.
The Tigers have been particularly good at Comerica Park this year, posting a 10-5 record through their first fifteen home games. In particular, there hitting has been in a great groove when in Detroit. They have a .285 batting average, .350 on base percentage and a .434 slugging percentage at home. All those numbers are better than what they’ve posted on the road.
As a result, while Houston’s starter Dallas Keuchel has been quite solid in 2014 (3.96 ERA), he will be up against a well-positioned lineup (also, the fact that Keuchel has been tagged for seven runs in his last 12 1/3 innings pitched doesn’t augur well for the lefty).
Along with the offensive strength, the Tigers will also benefit from Drew Smyly drawing the pitching assignment. Smyly started the season in the bullpen and after a rough first start, has looked sharp in his previous two appearances. Over that stretch, he’s allowed just two runs in 13 innings pitched. Considering Houston in the worst run-producing club in the American League, he should have a good day.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
Pick over 7 runs at 2.05 when the San Diego Padres host the Miami Marlins.
I know, Petco Park is where hitters normally go to die. So why am I going with a reasonably high scoring affair? Well, first, the over/under line isn’t too high, but beyond that the starting pitching leaves a lot to be desired in this game.
The Padres’ Ian Kennedy is an anomaly. Nearly every pitcher on San Diego’s staff puts up his best numbers at home. But Kennedy is the one guy who struggles there. In four home starts, he’s 0-4 with a 5.09 ERA (in comparison, he’s 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA on the road).
With hitters like Giancarlo Stanton (.364 lifetime batting average with two home runs in 11 at bats lifetime versus Kennedy) and Garrett Jones (.417 batting average and a home run in 12 at bats against Kennedy) as the only two Marlin hitters with double-digit at bats against the righty, they should do some damage.
As for Miami, they’re going with Jacob Turner. The young right-hander has just not gotten his groove on in 2014. He owns a 9.90 ERA in 10 innings pitched. He has only struck out four batters in that stretch, while giving up seventeen hits and four walks – all bad peripheral signs.