Weekend Road Warriors
Pitching on the road is one of the most difficult things to do in baseball. The feel of the mound is sometimes difficult to find, the opposing crowd can easily shake your concentration, and not playing in a familiar atmosphere can take you out your groove. It takes a warrior to prevail on the road and with good matchups this Weekend’s Road Warriors are candidates for solid outings.
JEFF SAMARDZIJA @ SEATTLE
Although the 3-5 road record doesn’t say so, the ex-Irish superstar has been studly away from Wrigley this year. Striking out 61 in 56 IP while maintaining a 2.73 ERA and 0.96 WHIP makes the 6’5” righty one of the best on the road. Pitching in a hitters-friendly park and a great matchup against Seattle Pitcher Aaron Harang, who has a 5.29 ERA in 2013, gives Samardzija an upper hand. A third straight win looks probable pitching against a team who is 26th in runs, 27th in BA, 25th in OBP, 23rd in SLG %.
C.J. WILSON @ HOUSTON
Houston is not better than 20th in the league in four major offensive categories- 21st in Runs, 25th in BA, 26th in OBP and 22nd in SLG %. Wilson began June pitching at home against Houston in a loss tossing 7.1 innings allowing three runs on six hits. The lefty did strikeout nine batters and plans to replicate the strikeout performance against a team who strikes out more than any other team in the MLB. The nine-year veteran gets the Astros at home this time around, who have struggled more at the plate at home than on the road (.236 at home, .244 on the road). The Angels are playing better of late and looks for wins in a divisional matchup..
GIO GONZALEZ @ NYM
The Mets are another team who have struggled at the plate striking out the sixth most times in the MLB and are 24th or lower in runs (24th), BA (30th), OBP (27th) and SLG % (28th). Gonzalez matches up with rookie righty Zack Wheeler who will be making his third start of the season, but first at Citi Field. Only two batters, David Wright (.305) and Daniel Murphy (.273), for the Mets are hitting above .270 this season. In Gonzalez’ last 10 starts, he has only allowed more than 2 runs once but only has two wins to show for it. The lefty had a season high 11 K’s in his last start on the road against Philadelphia and should come close to double-digits this time around on the road.
ERIC STULTZ @ MIAMI
Have you noticed the trend in this article yet? Pitchers throwing against teams who are in the lower third of the league in most major offensive categories. The Marlins are a slight exception. Not because they’re not in the bottom third but because the Marlins are LAST in runs, OBP, SLG % and second to last in batting average. On the subject of thirds, out of the 45 home runs hit this year (29th in MLB), Miami has only hit 15 at home. The Padres best pitcher hasn’t allowed more than two runs in his last six starts. He struggles a bit more on the road (3.49 Away ERA, 2.85 Home ERA), but his 1.98 ERA in June puts all questions to rest as a must start.
JUSTIN MASTERSON @ CWS
The only pitcher I am concerned about on the list is Masterson who has a 5.45 ERA in June. His last outing at Baltimore didn’t help his less than stellar 3-5 road record with a 5.54 ERA, but he is 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA lifetime against the Sox. It might be difficult to pull out the win with Chris Sale on the mound for Chicago, but his 3-1 record in games after throwing less than 100 pitches makes me feel a bit more at ease. Masterson threw 97 pitches last game.