Two very good pitchers will square off in Miami as the Marlins host the San Diego Padres on Saturday.
Of course, as is the nature of baseball, only one will win. In this case, it’ll be San Diego’s Eric Stults.
The left-hander comes into this game with a lot of momentum going his way. In his past five starts, he’s been masterful, posting a 1.98 ERA (the key: his pinpoint control – he’s only walked three batters in his last 36 1/3 innings pitched).
Miami have the worst line up in the National League in terms of runs scored per game and what’s key in this game is just how bad they’ve hit against lefties this year. While their .237 average against right-handers is poor, their .218 against left-handers is plain sorry.
The Marlin do have a budding ace getting the assignment here in Jacob Turner. In five starters this season he has a 1.97 ERA. But it’s worth noting that in his last home outing he was touched for four runs in seven innings against a Milwaukee Brewers team that isn’t quite as good offensively as the Padres.
With Miami’s below-league-average bullpen, even if Turner keeps it close, it likely won’t be enough. The choice here is the Padres at 1.87.
The Kansas City Royals and the Twins will put on an offensive show in Minnesota.
Both pitchers have big question marks coming into this game. The Royals start Wade Davis, who has been shaky all season. He has a t.tk ERA and doesn’t have a good history with the Twins hitters.
While Minnesota batters have a solid (but unspectacular .278 batting average), they have a very strong .391 on base percentage and .444 slugging percentage in 64 plate appearances.
As for the Twins’ pitching choice, Kyle Gibson, who will be making his Major League debut. Gibson is certainly a promising player (MLB.com ranked him the 49th best prospect in the minor leagues before this season), but making you’re first big league start is always daunting.
Moreover, while some other pitching debutants reached the Majors with sparkling minor league statistics, Gibson has been merely good at the lower levels (21-21 with a 3.54 ERA).
In other words, this will be a big step up for the 25-year-old right-hander. Expect more than 9 runs to be scored and take the over at 1.95.
Best Bet: Back over 9 runs between the Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals
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