Home run (Safe bet)
Pick the San Francisco Giants, who are on at 1.55, to prevail at home against the Colorado Rockies.
This Sunday clash features two of the most potent lineups in baseball thus far in 2014. But if you mine the statistics a bit deeper the Giants are a strong bet here. Consider: Colorado may lead the league in runs scored per game coming into this weekend’s games, but that impressive performance is skewed by its success at their hitter-friendly park, Coors Field. At home, Colorado is hitting an astonishing .354 and are averaging in excess of seven runs per game. Anywhere else, they own a pedestrian .277 batting average and have mustered just four runs a game.
With one of their star hitters, Troy Tuwlowitzki, nursing a leg injury and currently an unsure member of the lineup from day-to-day (and even if is hitting he’s less than 100 percent), the Rockies shouldn’t be an offensive juggernaut at AT&T Park. This is especially true with Tim Hudson throwing for the Giants. Hudson is currently 2-0 with a 1.15 ERA. In his one start in San Francisco this year, he was sharp, holding the Arizona Diamondbacks to two earned runs in eight innings pitched.
Unlike the Rockies, the Giants have swung a surprisingly potent bat at AT&T Park, which is historically a good pitchers environment. The team currently has a better batting average and on base percentage at home compared with their road performance. They’ll face Colorado starter Tyler Chatwood, who will be making his first start of the season after being sidelined with a left hamstring pull. Chatwood was excellent last year (3.15 ERA in 20 starts), but success is always a dicey proposition coming off an injury.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
Look for the Brewers and the Pittsburgh Pirates to combine for more than 8.5 runs in Milwaukee; take it at 1.95.
The risk here is in the fact that the Brewers, despite getting off to a solid start to their 2014 campaign, have a .188 batting average at Miller Park this season. As for the Pirates, they’ve been below average in run scoring per game so far. But, in this case, the specifics of this contest that will lead to more offense than pitching.
The Pirates send Charlie Morton to the mound in what’s a bad match up for the right-hander. In his career, he’s thrown poorly at Miller Park, owning a 5.56 ERA in 22 2/3 innings pitched there. Not surprisingly, a number of key Brewers hitters have destroyed Morton’s pitching. Ryan Braun possesses a .547 batting average, Aramis Ramirez is a .357 hitter versus Morton and Mark Reynolds has a .333 average. (Though he’s had only four at bats Carlos Gomez has two hits against Morton as well.)
Kyle Lohse has been easy prey for Pirates hitters throughout his career as well. In 176 lifetime at bats, Pittsburgh batters have a very healthy .313 batting average (as well as a robust .494 slugging percentage). Lohse has been solid but not phenomenal in two 2014 starts (4.50 ERA) so there’s no reason to expect he’ll dominate hitters who have gotten the better of him in the past.