Home run (Safe bet)
Take the Los Angeles Dodgers, on at 2.00, to win on the road versus the Cincinnati Reds.
The big problem for Cincinnati in this game is they have Tony Cingrani pitching. The left-hander was great last season, posting a 2.92 ERA but has scuffled this year. His 4.09 ERA is a bit misleading as his fielding independent pitching, which is considered a better indicator of performance, is a far worse 5.02. (This suggests he’s due for a correction in the wrong direction.) The fact that he struggles to deliver quality starts is also troubling. He hasn’t gone at least six innings into a game and given up three runs or less since April 24. Not surprisingly, in all those five outings after that last quality start, his club has lost.
Facing the Dodgers doesn’t make his task any easier. Los Angeles’ 19-12 record through their first 31 road games is very strong. Dan Haren gets the nod for Los Angeles. He’s put his team in a position to win far more often than Cingrani. In his last nine games pitched, he’s tallied seven quality starts.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
In Pittsburgh, look for the Pirates and Chicago Cubs to combine for more than 7.5 runs; take it at 1.95.
The Cubs and the Pirates may be scuffling this season (both have winning percentages under .500), but this will be a contest where they both have success at the plate. The Pirates, who have been slightly above average in run production, do possess one of the better offence-producing venues in Major League Baseball, according to ESPN’s MLB Park Factors. PNC Park ranks third in all of baseball in terms of run scoring.
With a Cubs team that is showing offensive improvement (they are currently just below the National League average in scoring), both lineups should be well-positioned for success, considering the pitchers they’ll face. The Pirates’ Charlie Morton has a respectable 3.31 ERA this year, but it’s his historical work against Chicago that’s troubling. In 142 lifetime plate appearances, Cubs hitters own a robust line of .290 (batting average), .340 (on base percentage) and .412 (slugging percentage). Though it was early in the season, in Morton’s last start against Chicago on April 8, he allowed five runs on eight hits in six innings of work.
Chicago has Edwin Jackson pitching. A very talented player, Jackson lacks consistency as evidenced by his 4.59 ERA. His last tilt against the Pirates happened to be against Morton on April 8 – and the results were not good. He allowed nine hits and six runs in 4 2/3 innings. In addition, the road has not been kind to Jackson. In six away starts, he’s 1-4 with a 6.12 ERA (in six home appearances, he’s a much more palatable 3-1 with a 3.22 ERA).