I was very skeptical of Tampa Bay Rays rookie Brendan McKay last night. McKay was called up in a pinch to make two spot starts for a badly depleted Rays pitching staff. The plan was that he would make two starts and get sent back to the minors for further development. He is as blue as blue chip prospects come, having been taken fourth overall in the 2017 MLB draft, and had been absolutely killing it in the minors this season.
That being said, when I saw that the kid was a -188 favorite against a red-hot Texas Rangers team that had won six straight games and had the third-highest scoring offense in the majors, I couldn’t help but think it was a bad number. Mowing through guys in double-A and triple-A, where McKay had spent his entire career thus far, is quite a bit different than being able to pitch on a big-league level. So, I looked to fade McKay and his Rays and backed the Rangers getting all kinds of dog money.
And it turns out, I was wrong. I don’t have to say that very often, but yesterday I just missed. This kid had unbelievable stuff and took a perfect game into the sixth inning. McKay ended his day with six innings pitched, allowing no runs, on just one hit. He could have easily stayed in the game longer as he threw just eighty-one pitches. With as great as he looked last night, you have to wonder if the Rays will reconsider sending him back to the minors as they can certainly use another quality arm in the rotation.
Tyler Glasnow was recently shut down, and the Rays are now hoping for a late August return, and they have been struggling without him on the mound. Could McKay be the missing piece for Tampa to get them right back in the AL East Division race? If he continues to look anything like he did last night, then the answer is yes. For today’ pick, we will head to Los Angeles where the Angels host the Athletics.
The Oakland Athletics are in LA Sunday for game four of a four-game series with the Angels. The A’s have taken two out of the first three games and are looking for the series win tonight in game four. The A’s have won nine out of their last twelve games and find themselves very much in the mix in the American League wild-card race as they are just a game and a back of the Texas Rangers for the final playoff spot in the league.
For the Angels, they are hoping to get a split in this series tonight and stay on the right side of .500. The Angels have been more or less treading water as of late as they are 5-5 in their last ten games. Both of these teams are on the fringe of contention, and it will be interesting to see if they are buyers or sellers at the trade deadline.
Starting for the Angels is Andrew Heaney (1-1 4.99 ERA), and for the A’s it is Chris Bassitt (4-3 3.86 ERA). The game total over-under is set at ten and a half runs. The Angels are -134 home favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 1:07 PM PST from Angel Stadium in Anaheim.
The AL West has been steaming hot recently. The Astros are clearly the class of the division, but with recent surges from the Rangers and Athletics, and the Angels hanging around as well, this is the most competitive division in the American League. Hell, even the last place Seattle Mariners have a winning record in the last two weeks. The West is the only division in the AL that has four teams at .500 or better. That makes these division games even more important as no team can afford to lose any ground.
The A’s will look to stay hot with Chris Bassitt on the mound tonight in the series finale. Bassitt has had an up and down season, struggling to stay consistent while showing some flashes of greatness. When I glance at his splits, it makes me think that today just might be one of those times he pitches better than normal.
Bassitt loves to pitch on the road. His road ERA is over half a run better than when he is at home. And he also likes to pitch in the sunlight as his daytime ERA is a run and a half better than when he pitches under the lights. In his six daytime starts, opposing batters are hitting just .196 against Bassitt, and he has an ERA of just 3.20. Bassitt has one start against the Angels this year, and he wasn’t great as he lasted just five innings and gave up five runs, all earned. But he got plenty of run support in that one and picked up the win despite his struggles.
The Angels will turn to Andrew Heaney today to try and even up the series. Heaney joined the rotation in late May and has been very inconsistent. He has pitched fewer than six innings in all but one of his six starts this season. He has allowed eight home runs and walked fourteen batters in just thirty and two-thirds of an inning pitched.
This is a coin flip game in my book. I see no reason at all to have the Angels as fairly significant favorites in this one. The starting pitching matchup is a wash at best, and you could make a case that Bassitt is the better of the two. And when you look at the overall strength of these teams, the A’s have been better all season long, and have been the hotter team as of late.
The A’s have taken two out of the first three in this series, and I think they find a way to make it three out of four today. A double-digit game total tells me that runs are going to be easy to come by, and if that ends up being the case, this game could go either way. So, I will flip a coin, and make sure to be on the side getting all the juice when I do it. Give me the Oakland Athletics as road underdogs today in game four from LA!