Home run (Safe bet)
Go with the St. Louis Cardinals, on at 1.55, to win on the road against the Chicago Cubs.
The final Monday of the regular season offers us a very straight-forward mismatch. The Cardinals send their ace, Adam Wainwright, to the pitcher’s mound. After a dismal August (2-4 with a 5.17 ERA), Wainwright has very much returned to form this month. In four September starts he’s 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA. Even accounting for his bad August month, Wainwright has been an assassin on the road. In seventeen away games, he owns a 1.82 ERA. While he had some uncharacteristically mediocre outings against the Cubs at the start of the year, Wainwright’s last meeting with the Cubs was a dominating one. On July 27, he went seven innings allowing just five hits and no runs, en route to the win.
While the Cubs do have a couple of pitchers on their staff who could theoretically go toe-to-toe with Wainwright, this game’s starter, Travis Wood, is unlikely one of them. The former All Star is 8-12 with a 4.86 ERA. While he’s been a marginally better pitcher over the past four weeks (4.42 ERA), Cardinal hitters have a long and glorious history against Wood. In 249 career plate appearances, St. Louis batters own a .305 batting average, .361 on base percentage and a .527 slugging percentage against the pitcher.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
In Oakland, expect the A’s and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to score fewer than 7 runs; take it at 1.97.
Two on-form pitchers drives this pick. A’s starter Jeff Samardzija has found his groove with Oakland. Following his trade from the Chicago Cubs in early July, Samardzija has offered up-and-down moments. But in his last two outings, he’s looked like the ace the A’s hoped they’d acquired. In his past two outings he’s thrown 15 scoreless innings, yielding just ten hits while striking out sixteen. He’ll be going up against an Angels’ team against whom he threw expertly on August 30. In that game, he went eight innings, giving up four hits and one earned run. He struck out nine in that contest.
The greater gamble here is on C.J. Wilson. The left-hander has had an overall down season (4.42 ERA), but he’s coming off a seven inning, one-hit, shutout performance against the Seattle Mariners. In addition, he pitched expertly in his one outing in Oakland this season. He posted a 1.42 ERA in 6 1/3 innings of work in that game at the O.co Coliseum. Plus, the strong Angels bullpen show prevent any big scoring after Wilson has departed from the game.
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