The Baltimore Orioles will ride a hot pitcher to a home win against the Seattle Mariners on Sunday. Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen was throwing well until an injury sidelined him in mid-May. But since coming back on 10 July, he’s been incredibly reliable. He’s thrown five straight quality starts (six innings or more pitched; three runs or less allowed) and has won three consecutive decisions. Seattle did get the better of him earlier in the season (four innings pitched, five runs allowed), but that was a road game. At home, Chen is 3-0 with a 2.36 ERA and should compete much better in this match-up.
The fact that Chen is a left-hander should also augur well for him. The Mariners lineup owns a paltry .228 batting average against lefties, which is far lower than their performance against righties (.251). As for the Mariner’s pitching choice, Joe Saunders is suffering through his worst season in terms of ERA since 2006. He has a 4.65 ERA to date and that number sky-rockets to 5.53 when he’s on the road. Go with the Orioles to prevail at 1.50.
As long as the San Francisco Giants insist on pitching Barry Zito on the road, I’m going to bet against him. In this contest, the beneficiary will be the Tampa Bay Rays. Quite simply, Barry Zito is currently one of baseball’s worst road pitchers. While he can twirl gems at AT&T Park (4-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 11 starts), he has been consistently crushed in road matches (0-7 with a 9.50 ERA in ten starts). He won’t be helped by the fact that the Rays have killed left-handed pitching this year (Zito is a lefty). Against left-handers, the team has a .286 batting average and a .431 slugging percentage.
Rays pitcher Roberto Hernandez hasn’t been stellar overall (4.71), but he is rounding into form. He’s thrown a quality start (six innings or more pitched; three runs or fewer allowed) in five of his last six starts. Still, even if he isn’t his sharpest, the fact that Rays’ hitters get Zito will be the difference maker. Choose the Rays (1.45) for the win.