Home run (Safe bet)
Choose the New York Yankees (1.55) to win on the road against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
At first glance this game on Sunday doesn’t appear to be a certainty. After all, the Yankees are on the road and the Angels’ pitcher, Garrett Richards, has put up good overall numbers (2-0 with a 2.52 ERA). But New York is going with Masahiro Tanaka, and his presence makes the Yankees a good option here.
Tanaka, who is pitching in his first season in the Major Leagues after a successful career in Japan’s professional circuit, has lived up to even the greatest of expectations. He’s 3-0 with a 2.15 ERA. Still, what is the most impressive stat is his walks-to-strikeout ratio. He’s only allowed two free passes, while punching out 35 hitters in 29 1/3 innings. That control combined with the fact that the Angels will be seeing him for the first time, will make him very hard to face.
As for Richards, his statistics in total do look good, but it’s worth mentioning that he has yet to throw well at Angel Stadium of Anaheim this year. In his one outing there, he was shelled for five runs in seven innings of work.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
Look for the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers to combine for less than 7.5 runs at Miller Park; take it at 1.85.
The Brewers may be an above-average offensive unit this season, but this game will be about the pitching.
This is a match-up between two excellent under-the-radar pitchers. The Cubs’ Jason Hammel has put it all together this year. After three years pitching for the Colorado Rockies in the soul-crushing environs of Coors Field and then two more seasons running the gauntlet in the American League East with the Baltimore Orioles, Hammel has found his footing in the National League Central. In four starts he has a 2.60 ERA and has been particularly impressive in allowing just 14 hits in 27 2/3 innings pitched.
The Brewers’ Wily Peralta came into this season expected to be in the back of the team’s rotation. But through four appearances he’s pitched like an ace. He has a 2.19 ERA and has pitched three straight quality starts (six innings or more pitched; three runs or less conceded). Each of those quality performances were at Miller Park, a stadium that currently ranks last in the NL in run production.