Home run (Safe bet)
Take the Seattle Mariners at 1.51 to win at home over the Baltimore Orioles.
The Orioles may be a top contender in the American League East, but this Friday contest has them outmanned on the pitcher’s mound. Anytime Seattle gives Felix Hernandez the starting pitching assignment, the club has to be the favorites. King Felix leads the American League with a 2.02 ERA and has just particularly impressive as of late. In his past four starts he’s 2-0 with a 1.16 ERA. While some Orioles hitters like Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and Nelson Cruze, have good track records against Hernandez over their career, they haven’t faced him this year. With this season being perhaps Hernadez’s best, Baltimore hitters may be caught flat-footed by just how dominating the pitcher is right now.
As for the Orioles starting pitcher, Kevin Gausman is currently swooning. He started the season strong, but has a 5.59 ERA in his past four outings. In fact, in his most recent starter he was tagged by the Oakland A’s for nine hits and five runs in four innings of work.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
Go with the Washington Nationals, on at 1.87, to win on the road at the Cincinnati Reds.
I continue to see a second half swoon for Cincinnati All Star Alfredo Simon. The Reds’ starting pitcher in this game has over-performed this year. His ERA of 2.74 is far better than his fielding independent pitching (FIP), which is 4.36. This disparity generally suggests regression to the mean or, in other words, a bit of struggling in the pitcher’s future. We saw that in his first start of the second half when he allowed four runs in just five innings of work against the New York Yankees. He’ll face a tough Nationals lineup that’s been in a recent groove. In Washington’s last week of games, the lineup has posted a .318 batting average, .361 on base percentage and .444 slugging percentage. Those are robust numbers.
Further improving the Nationals’ chances is their starting pitcher. Tanner Roark has been excellent all season. He’s 9-6 with a 2.91 ERA. But in his past two appearances he’s ratcheted up his performance. Over those two games he’s 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA. He’ll square off against a Reds’ lineup that’s missing two of its biggest stars – Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips. The void left by those two has been obvious as of late. In Cincinnati’s past seven games, they’ll put up a .183 batting average, .229 on base percentage and .319 slugging percentage.