Home run (Safest bat)
Pick the Washington Nationals at 1.49 to win at home over the San Francisco Giants.
I expect the real Stephen Strasburg to show up for this Sunday clash. There are a number of reasons for this. First, he’s currently in a groove. In his past two games, he’s 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA (over fifteen innings). Second, he’s at home where he is dominant. In fourteen home starts, he’s 8-2 with a 2.30 ERA (compared to 2-8 with a 4.77 ERA in thirteen road games). Finally, he’s already manhandled the Giants once this season. Early in the year, Strasburg threw six innings for four-hit, one-run baseball against San Francisco.
On the other side of the diamond, Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong has the misfortune of facing a Nationals lineup that came into this weekend winners of ten straight. After an iffy start to 2014 of his own, Vogelsong has righted the ship, but so much of his good work has come at AT&T Park, where he has a 3.22 ERA. When forced to take his game on the road, matters are not as impressive. In twelve away games he owns a 4.38 ERA.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
In Colorado, go with the Rockies and Marlins to combine for more than 10.5 runs; take it at 1.87.
Even casual baseball fans know that Coors Field is the most potent run-scoring venue in baseball. So when the Rockies are at home and both Colorado and their opponent sends subpar pitchers to the mound, it’s an over proposition worth seriously considering.
This game certainly has two weak pitchers getting starts. The Marlins’ Brad Hand is 2-5 with a 4.52 ERA. In his past three games, the left-hander is 0-2 with a 7.11 ERA. He faces a Colorado team that is without stars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez thanks to injury, but possesses enough offensive depth to overcome that problem. Despite the losses, Colorado has a sparkling .333 batting average, .401 on base percentage and .574 slugging percentage over the past week. In other words, they haven’t skipped a beat at the plate.
As for the Rockies’ starter Christian Bergman, it’s unclear whether he’s ready to regularly work at the pitching crucible that is Coors Field. In two Major League starts at home this year, he has a 9.00 ERA in nine innings of work. He also gave up fifteen hits in that stretch, suggesting he needs to make some adjustments or he’ll continue to concede high run counts.