Home run (Safe bet)
Choose the Milwaukee Brewers, on at 1.45, to prevail at home over the Colorado Rockies. Two teams on opposite ends of the success spectrum make for a good Thursday pick. The Brewers have been one of the great surprise packages in 2014. They had a sturdy 18-12 record in their past thirty games coming into this series and have played well against teams from the National League West like the Rockies (9-4 record). On the other hand, Colorado has been scuffling mightily, they’re 9-21 in their past thirty contests and are a poor 2-6 versus National League Central clubs (such as the Brewers).
Pitcher Wily Peralta’s strong 2014 campaign thus far is one of the reasons why the Brewers have enjoyed success. Penciled in as the team’s fifth and final starter, he’s throw much better than that as proven by his 3.02 ERA. As of late he’s really had a knack for picking up victories. In his past five outings, he’s posted a 4-1 record.
For Colorado, Christian Friedrich will be making just his second Major League start the season. But if his work in 2012 is any indication of what to expect (that was the last time he saw action at baseball’s highest level), the Rockies are in for a bumpy ride. Over his seventeen-game big league career he’s registered an awful 6.15 ERA. In fact, even if you dig into his minor league resume this year, it’s terrible. In thirteen starts at the Triple-A level this year, he’s 1-8 with a 7.89 ERA.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
Take the Toronto Blue Jays to win the first innings at 3.25 in their home contest versus the Chicago White Sox. This is a high-risk, high-reward option. Much of this wager is based on White Sox starter Scott Carroll, who has suffered through tremendous difficulties early in games. While the sample size is relatively small (just five starts), the fact that in the first three innings of those games he’s given up eleven runs and twenty hits in 15 innings of work is a strong indicator he can be hit hard early in games. (In the first frame in particular, Carroll has yielded five earned runs in five innings.)
With the Jays currently ranked third in the American League in run production, they’ll be primed to score early. This is especially true when you consider they’re playing at home – a place where they scored thirteen more runs in one less game than their work on the road.
As for the Blue Jays, the big concern is how the team’s starting pitcher, J.A. Happ, has struggled in the first inning. His ERA in the opening frame in 5.08. But if he can get past that, he tends to cruise over the next few innings, posting solid ERAs of 4.17, 3.03, 4.02 and 4.38 over the next four innings, respectively.
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