Home run (Safe bet)
Go with the Los Angeles Dodgers at home - 1.53 - to win versus the Philadelphia Phillies.
The key to this Wednesday pick is the Dodgers’ starting pitcher Zack Greinke. There are few pitchers in baseball who differ so greatly between results at home and performance on the road. Regardless who he’s played for (he’s been a member of three different teams), he’s consistently been a winner at his home ballpark. In fact, he’s won 67% of his decisions at home (64-32) compared to a 47% win rate (45-50) elsewhere.
While he was a winner last year at both Dodger Stadium and on the road (8-2 and 7-2 respectively), he did throw much better at home, posting at 2.11 ERA in games there – 1.11 points better than when he was forced to travel. His lifetime work at Dodger Stadium is a sparkling 10-2 with a 2.10 over 17 starts.
The Phillies will be glad to have Cole Hamels on the pitchers’ mound. This will be the longtime ace’s first start of 2014 as he’s been rehabilitating from injury. First starts back are always a wild card – and can often be worse than a pitcher’s normal results as he shakes off rust. In this case Hamels is facing a lineup who has done well against him even when he’s been healthy (the Dodgers have a career.283 batting average and .475 slugging percentage against the left-hander).
In addition, even if Hamels is strong, his bullpen will likely let him down. Phillies relievers currently rank as the second worst in the National League in giving up runs.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
Pick the Houston Astros, on at 2.30, to capture a surprise win in Seattle against the Mariners.
Here is a rare chance for the Astros to capitalize on a favourable match up and pull out a victory. They play a team that’s almost been as woeful as them – the Mariners – and they have a pitcher in Jarred Cosart, who has the ability to shut down Seattle’s line up.
The gamble here is that Cosart is terribly inconsistent. He’s had two good starts this season, giving up a combined three runs in 13 innings combined versus the New Yankees and the Texas Rangers. On the other hand, he’s coughed up 12 runs in the 6 1/3 innings he’s thrown in his other two outings against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Oakland A’s.
Why expect the better version of Cosart to emerge? Because he’s facing the worst lineup he’s come across this year. Seattle is currently ranked third-to-last in run production in the American League.
Of course, the Astros are dead last in offence. But they get a very hittable Chris Young, who allowed four runs and seven hits in three innings last time out to the Miami Marlins.