By Jack O’Keefe
Two of the hottest teams in the west square off this week in a split four game series, the first two in Arizona followed by the second two in Oakland. The Arizona Diamondbacks will enter Monday’s contest fresh off their sweet of the highly talented San Diego Padres. The Oakland Athletics are also coming off a sweep of their own from this weekend with the San Francisco Giants. In the three-game series, the Diamondbacks averaged 5.67 runs per game while the Oakland Athletics put up a gaudy 10 runs per game average themselves. All signs point to slamming the over and not thinking twice about it. Before you pull the trigger, let us take a deep dive into the preview and find out if starting pitchers Zac Gallen and Chris Bassitt have anything to say about that first.
Money Line: OAK -120, ARI EVEN
Run Line: OAK -1.5 (+135), ARI +1.5 (-155),
Total: 9.0 (O -105, U -115)
First Pitch: 8:40 CST, Chase Field, Phoenix, AZ
Oakland Athletics (16-6)
Atop the AL West by 4.5 games, owners of the best record in the MLB and swept the Giants over the weekend… Life is good in The Town these days. We took the over 9.5 runs today, and the A’s themselves almost covered that in one half inning. Yes, the A’s put up a nine spot on the Giants yesterday in the fifth inning. Wow. The 15-3 drubbing of the Giants Sunday certainly lacked the excitement the first two games of the series provided. Honestly though, I am totally okay with that and seeing the A’s put up massive amounts of runs on the board is a great thing to see. Stephen Piscotty hit a homerun a picked up five RBIs on the day and Mark Canha had two-run triple in the game. Mark Canha has quietly been heating up in the Oakland lineup, hitting .462 during the three-game stint at Oracle Park. Finally! Mike Fiers looked more accustomed to what we expect to see from him yesterday. The veteran went six innings only allowing two runs. His ERA is still at 5.96, but yesterday was a promising sign for what we can expect to see on a more frequent basis from Fiers. The one-time New York Yankee prospect, James Kaprielian, made his MLB debut yesterday, going two innings along one run. Nothing spectacular, but I am sure he is relieved to get the first appearance under his belt. The A’s were without Ramon Laureano in the Giants series, as he has been serving his four-game suspension as a result from the brawl with the Astros a week earlier. Expect Laureano to be penciled into the lineup when eligible to do so during the Diamondback series on Tuesday evening. Chris Bassitt will get the start for the A’s Monday night in the desert. Bassitt is 2-0 with a 2.42 ERA this season, but he is coming off his worst outing allowing four runs on 5.2 innings against the Angels. If Bassitt can limit the Diamondbacks to 2-3 runs over the course of five or so innings, A’s fans will take that.
Arizona Diamondbacks (11-11)
Winners of four straight, the Arizona Diamondbacks are heating up with desert air in which they play in at Chase Field. Fresh off a sweep of San Diego and winning two out of three in Colorado, the Diamondbacks have a little pep in their step these days. As they should, the Padres and Rockies are extremely talented clubs. After starting the season out 3-8, the Diamondbacks have quickly turned things around to keep themselves in contention for a 2020 expanded playoff position. Much like the Giants, the Diamondbacks have had trouble with pitching this season, but man oh man, they can hit with the best of them out there. The Diamondbacks are 11th in runs scored this season and 7th in batting average. If your idea of beating these guys would be outslugging them, well you could find yourself in for a long night. The pitching though, leaves little to be desired at this point in the shortened season. The team ERA for the Diamondbacks sits at 5.51, which is surprising with the likes of Madison Bumgarner and Robbie Ray in the rotation. Ironically enough, the two biggest names in their rotation also own extremely high ERAs (9.35 and 8.59, respectively). The one-time starting pitcher, Archie Bradley, now serves as the team’s closer. He has converted six out of seven save opportunities this season, with an average 4.00 ERA under his belt. The former Milwaukee Brewer, Junior Guerra, has now found a home in the Diamondbacks bullpen, and prior to yesterday’s game, Guerra has been lights out for the Diamondbacks (2.00 ERA over nine innings of work). So, if Mad Bum and Robbie Ray are not getting it done, just exactly who has been their dynamic duo? Answer: Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly. Both pitchers are set to pitch this series, so we will look closer at each one on days in which they get the ball to start. Why not talk about the bats they have in this lineup, since all they do is rake after all. Starling Marte (.351 batting average), Ketel Marte (.337 batting average), David Peralta (.321 batting average) and Christian Walker (.291 batting average) are the cogs in the machine that make this offensive force tick. Kole Calhoun is the big bopper in the lineup, 6 homeruns and 17 RBIs to show for on the season. It is not brute force or the long ball that the Diamondbacks rely on, rather getting on base and keeping the line moving is what seems to have worked for them. Zac Gallen gets the nod Monday night, facing an Oakland squad he has never pitched against professionally. Gallen is 0-0 with a 2.74 ERA this season. In his last outing, the New Jersey native limited the Rockies to just two runs over seven innings of work.
Analysis and Prediction:
As I have said for the last two previews, it feels like this game will have a lot of runs being scored. Oakland has seen the over hit in six out of their last seven contests and Arizona has seen the over hit in five out of their last seven contests. I have backed the over in two straight games… Do I continue with taking the over trend or will the bats finally cool off? I think the ride stops Monday night, and we will actually have a close game and fairly low scoring. I am going to back the U9.0 runs (-115).
Jack’s 2020 MLB picks: (9-4; all picks are one unit) A $100 bettor has a profit of $309.