Home run (Safe bet)
Pick the Toronto Blue Jays (1.57) to win at home against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Momentum will play a big role in determining the winner in this Saturday contest. The Blue Jays have been one of baseball’s hottest teams coming into this weekend series. No team has won more contests over their past twenty (17-3) or thirty (23-7) games. In contrast, the Cardinals are currently suffering through a dip – they’re 3-7 in their last ten games compared to Toronto. These two teams’ comparative records in interleague is also notable. The Blue Jays came into this series 5-2 in games against National League teams, while the Cardinals were 2-5 in clashes versus American League teams.
This specific pitching matchup also favors the Blue Jays. The club’s ace, Mark Buerhle, gets the assignment. The left-hander has been so sharp this year, posting a 10-1 record with a 2.10 ERA. In his past two outings, he’s 2-0 with a 1.84 ERA. Not only must St. Louis hitters contend with a pitcher on form, but they have the added misfortune that he’s a lefty. This year they have a far worse batting average (.227), on base percentage (.303) and slugging percentage (.331) against left-handers compared to righties (.260/.325/.373 against right-handers in those respective categories).
On the other hand, the Cardinals’ Shelby Miller has not been sharp. For the season, he owns a 4.06 ERA, but his fielding independent pitching (which is considered a better indicator of performance) is 5.06. So, in other words, he’s due for what little luck he’s had this year to run out. In addition, he’s been shaky of late – he’s 0-2 with an 8.25 ERA in his past two outings.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
In San Diego, look for the Padres and the Washington Nationals to combine for fewer than 6.5 runs; consider it at 2.05.
This game features two little-known pitchers who have both delivered this year. San Diego’s Andrew Cashner may have a 2-5 record but his 2.35 ERA is sparkling. At home, he’s even harder to score runs off of. In five starts at Petco Park, he has a 1.67 ERA.
His opponent Blake Treinen has been every bit the solid performer. He possesses a 1.40 ERA overall and in his two starts this year has given up just two runs in 10 2/3 innings pitched. The big key will be the bullpen for the Nationals. Treinen has primarily been a reliever this season and hasn’t pitched more than 5 2/3 innings in any game. As a result, Washington’s relief corps will be vital. That shouldn’t be a problem as the Nationals’ relievers rank a solid fourth out of fifteen NL teams in terms of fewest runs allowed per game.