Home run (Safe bet)
Go with the Texas Rangers, on at 1.57, to win on the road against the Houston Astros.
Both teams in this Saturday clash are struggling. The Rangers, who are last in the American League West, are a pitiful 8-22 in their last thirty coming into this series, while the Astros are an only marginally better at 11-19.
The differentiator here is Yu Darvish. Admittedly, Darvish was knocked around the last time these two clubs played (six innings pitched; six runs allowed). But I see that outing as an aberration. If you take the long view, Darvish has been masterful against Astros hitters. In 121 at bats, Houston batters own a .193 batting average, .231 on base percentage and .368 slugging percentage against Darvish. All of which, reflect Darvish’s overall domination against his opponent.
As for Houston’s Scott Feldman, he gave up ten hits and five runs in five innings the last time he squared off against the Rangers. I see that performance as a bit more indicative of what to expect from Feldman, who owns a 4.13 ERA (compared to Darvish’s 2.82). Still, Feldman has been sharp lately (two runs allowed in his last 16 innings). Unfortunately for him, even if he delivers a top-shelf performance, his team’s offence remains a liability. They rank thirteenth out of fifteen American League clubs in run-scoring (appreciably worse than the Rangers who are ninth).
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
Look for the Philadelphia Phillies to score first at home versus the New York Mets; take it at 1.90.
This wager is based on the current dominating ways of Cole Hamels. The left-hander is riding an 18-inning scoreless streak and has only allowed two runs in his past four starts. He’s conceded just one run during the first three innings of any of his past seven starts. All this suggests, he should be able to keep the Mets, who rank eleventh in run-scoring in the fifteen-team National League circuit, at bay.
The Phillies are only a slightly better hitting team (ranked tenth in run production in the NL), but they have a much less impressive opponent in the Mets’ Dillon Gee. The right-handed pitcher is 0-3 with a 6.85 ERA in his past three starts. One of those games came against the Phillies where he was tagged for five runs in 6 2/3 innings. Notably, Gee has also given up at least one run in one of the first three innings in each of his past four starts.