In a battle of high flying pitchers, the Detroit Tigers will prevail at home Thursday against the Oakland A’s. Oakland’s Bartolo Colon has delivered a remarkable year for his club. He’s 14-5 with a 2.98 ERA overall. But there are cracks in his work that will be exposed in this match.
The first is that he’s starting to scuffle. In two August starts, he’s 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA. The other big issue with Colon is that he’s really thrown a lot better against weak clubs. When facing teams with winning percentages under .500 he’s 9-2 with a 2.20 ERA.
But against winners (like the Tigers), Colon’s record is a more pedestrian 5-3 with a 3.86 ERA. Finally, Colon’s track record against Detroit hitters is not promising. Tigers’ batters have a cumulative .327 lifetime batting average (and .571 slugging percentage) in 165 plate appearances.
In contrast, Tigers ace Max Scherzer has a lot going for him in this game. He’s on a roll. In his five August starts, he’s 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA. He’s also 11-1 against teams with winning records so Oakland should not intimidate him – and he has a good history against Oakland hitters.
In 79 plate appearances, A’s players have a .217 batting average and a weak .319 slugging percentage. Pick the Tigers to win at 1.48.
Look for a low scorer when the Boston Red Sox host the Baltimore Orioles. Red Sox starter Jon Lester started the season as a disappointment, but has really turned matters around in the second half. In seven starts since the All Star game he’s 4-1 with a 2.31 ERA. Even before working through his troubles, he was strong at Fenway Park in 2013.
In nine starts at his home park, Lester is a flawless 4-0 with a 3.64 ERA (compared to 8-7 with a 4.14 ERA on the road). As a whole Boston is one of baseball’s best home teams. Coming into this series, they had a sterling 40-23 record at Fenway.
The Orioles’ Chris Tillman is a worthy adversary for Lester. He’s 14-4 with a 3.66 ERA. He has a good history pitching on the road in Boston (1.65 ERA in 16 1/3 lifetime innings), and he’s generally owned Boston’s hitters. In 111 plate appearances, Red Sox batters have a lifetime .186 batting average against Tillman. As a result, opt for under 9 runs.
Detroit Tigers to beat Oakland A’s at 1.48.
Under 9 runs in Boston Red Sox vs Baltimore Orioles at 1.78.