It will be a pitchers day in Anaheim on Saturday when the Pittsburgh Pirates visit the Los Angeles Angels.
Coming into 2013, it was hard to believe in Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano. Sure, he’s a former All-Star, but he hadn’t registered an ERA below 5.00 since 2010. But he’s making a believer out of me. Liriano’s walk rate is down at its lowest level since 2010 and his strikeout rate is near a career high.
He’s been consistent with only two appearances (out of eight total) in which he hasn’t thrown a quality start (six plus innings thrown; three or fewer runs allowed). Finally, he has great numbers against two of the Angels most important hitters.
Albert Pujols has a lifetime .077 batting average against Liriano in 13 at bats, and Josh Hamilton has a .167 average in 12 at bats. Angels’ pitcher Jason Vargas has thrown very effectively at home. He’s 5-1 with a 3.13 ERA there. Like Liriano, it’s rare that Vargas has an off day. He’s notched seven quality starts in his last nine appearances.
Plus, the Pirates have been woeful swinging the bats on the road. Through 35 games, they have an anemic .229 away batting average and a .296 on base percentage. That’s weak sauce. Look for the run total to be below 7.5 and take the under at 1.97.
The math is pretty simple when the Boston Red Sox visit the Detroit Tigers: One ace (Tigers) plus a green rookie (Red Sox) will equal a Detroit win. Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer is a fabulous 10-0 this season and, if it’s possible, has been especially good as of late.
Over the past month, he’s 4-0 with a 2.12 ERA. In his last three starts at home, he’s been spectacular, having allowed just three runs in 19 innings.
During that stretch he also struck out 25 batters. Allen Webster, who is Boston’s choice to pitch, is a high-end prospect, but he clearly needs more seasoning. In two starts at the big league level , he owns an astronomical 11.74 ERA. What’s particularly troubling (as if the ERA wasn’t worry enough) is that he’s allowed four home runs in just 7 2/3 innings. With Tigers sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, Webster will have his hands full.
Best bet: Go with the Tigers at 1.50