Home run (Safe bet)
Pick the Los Angeles Dodgers, on at 1.32, to win on the road against the Chicago Cubs.
Home-field advantage on Friday isn’t going to help Chicago overcome the beast that is Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers’ starter should ease his way into his twentieth win of the season in this game – and further propel his status as a viable Most Valuable Player candidate. No matter where he throws, Kershaw is the game’s best pitcher. In road contests, he’s 10-1 with a 1.64 ERA, which is actually better than his amazing 9-2 record and 1.75 ERA at Dodger Stadium. While Cubs hitters have relatively little experience against Kershaw, what opportunities they’ve had against the ace has been a pure nightmare. In 39 career plate appearances, Chicago batters have a .135 batting average, .179 on base percentage and a .135 slugging percentage. That means not a single Cubs batter has registered an extra base hit versus Kershaw in his career.
Perhaps, if the Cubs were pitching Jake Arrieta or Kyle Hendricks in this game, they might have a shot at stealing this game (those two Chicago pitchers have been sharp this year). But, instead, they have Edwin Jackson, who has suffered through a miserable campaign. Jackson’s 6.09 ERA in 139 innings pitched is about as bad as it gets.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
Take the Chicago White Sox at 2.15 to win on the road versus the Tampa Bay Rays.
Tampa Bay sports the better overall win-loss record this season, but neither team is killing it as of late (both clubs have bad losing records in their past thirty contests). So the separator here is one starting pitcher is in form while the other is not.
Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson missed a large swath of the 2014 season due to injury. When he came back in July he looked good, but he’s tailed off as the season has reached its final month. In September, Hellickson is 0-1 with a 5.52 ERA in three starts. Pitching at home has not been an advantage for the right-hander. In six appearances at Tropicana Field, he’s 0-3 with a 4.94 ERA (in away games, he’s 1-0 with a 2.43 ERA).
In contrast, the White Sox’s pitcher of choice here, Jose Quintana, is cruising to the season’s finish line. The Colombian native is 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in his two September starts. He’s also a road warrior. In sixteen away outings, he owns a 3.14 ERA (in fourteen games at home, that number rises to 3.47).