Home run (Safe bet)
Take the St. Louis Cardinals, on at 1.35, to win at home against the Chicago Cubs.
The only question in this Tuesday clash is which Adam Wainwright will show up. Wainwright’s overall numbers have been stellar this season (6-2 with a 2.02 ERA). Yet, surprisingly, his two worse starts of the year have come against the Cubs – a team that ranks twelfth out of fifteen National League teams in run production in 2014. In two starts against Chicago, Wainwright has given up ten runs in 12 innings of work. So, in part the bet here is that Wainwright – an ace pitcher in nearly every respect – is very unlikely to have three straight bad performances against the Cubs.
Even if he isn’t at his best, the Cardinals should have his back. The team has swung the bat vastly better at Busch Stadium than on the road. They own a better batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage at home than in away games. They’ll face Jake Arrieta, who did twirl 5 1/3 shutout innings against them on May 3. But, again, the expectation is that he won’t be able to turn the feat twice. In parts of five Major League seasons, Arrieta owns a 5.18 ERA.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
In Arizona, the Diamondbacks and the Washington Nationals should combine for fewer than 8 runs; take it at 1.92.
Two pitchers who have been in form as of late – Washington’s Stephen Strasburg and Arizona’s Bronson Arroyo -- should keep to middle-of-the-road offences in check in this contest.
Strasburg has a few hiccups early in the season as evidenced by his 6.00 ERA through his first four starts. But in his four appearances since then he’s found his groove. He’s thrown a quality start (six innings or more pitched; three runs or fewer allowed) in all those games. In fact, he’s yielded just four earned runs in his past 26 1/3 innings pitched.
Arroyo was even worse than Strasburg to begin the season. Through his first four appearances, he had a 9.50 ERA. But the normally solid starter has turned it around in his past three outings. Over those contests, he’s given up just two earned runs in 19 2/3 innings.
Both pitchers will benefit from throwing at Chase Field, which, over the past two years, has played about average in terms of runs scored.