Home run (Safe bet)
Take the Detroit Tigers at 1.40 to win at home against the Chicago White Sox.
With Chris Sale being put on the disabled list today with an elbow injury, Chicago has been forced to quickly shuffle their pitching rotation and give Charles Leesman just the second big league start of his career. He hasn't pitched in the Majors this year (and had a 7.04 ERA last season in eight appearances). Against a hungry but underachieving Tigers lineup he should struggle - or at least not keep up with Detroit starter Justin Verlander.
Verlander is on form this year as evidenced by his 2.08 ERA in his four starts. In 207 combined lifetime plate appearances, Chicago batters possess a weak .212 batting average (and .260 on base percentage). Historically, Verlander has delivered his best performances at home (3.07 ERA in Detroit; 3.71 ERA elsewhere) so he’s pretty bankable for a strong performance.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
Consider taking the Baltimore Orioles to lead on the road after the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at 4.00
The Blue Jays are ahead of the Orioles in the standings and have home field advantage in this clash. Why opt for Baltimore to at least do well in the early going? What we have here is a bet against the Blue Jays’ starting pitcher R.A. Dickey. The knuckleball pitcher was one of baseball’s best stories in 2012 when he won the Cy Young Award after transforming himself from a mediocre traditional pitcher, into an expert knuckleball specialist.
The problem is that he’s lost his feel for his mercurial signature pitch. Last year, his ERA ballooned to 4.21 – an increase of 1.48 from his great 2012 campaign. This year, he’s been even worse, posting a 6.26 ERA in four starts. When he does have his feel he can still dominate – in his one good start this year he blanked the New York Yankees over 6 2/3 innings. So the gamble here is that he doesn’t produce what is increasingly becoming rare – he’s on his game. Based on his performance this year, odds are against it, so it’s worth the punt.