We have successfully snapped ourselves out of a nasty funk, last night brought us our second winner in a row. Friday night brings us a full slate of MLB betting opportunities, but a lot of these lines are surprisingly tight. Others are just way too obvious, as Rich Hill and the Dodgers (-320 at Bovada) might be the safest play of the night.
Our attention shifts to Oakland, where the Athletics hope to take down the Baltimore Orioles. Baltimore did just that to the A’s last night, as Trey Mancini homered twice in an easy 7-2 win. Last night’s game was propped up by a fun 9.5 Total and it just missed getting there. I think there’s a great chance tonight’s rematch tops that number.
The pitching is shaky tonight and there is a ton of power on both sides of the showdown. I know this park is not great for the long ball, but we saw last night that it might not matter. Should we take the Over or find another betting angle in this spot? Let’s break this matchup down to find out:
Baltimore Orioles (-110) @ Oakland Athletics (-110) Total: 9.5
Ubaldo Jimenez (5-7, 6.31 ERA) vs. Paul Blackburn (3-1, 2.60 ERA)
As you can see, we get no value by picking a side in what Vegas clearly labels a pick’em. I agree with that sentiment. This is not an easy game to pick, so I really don’t want to pick it. Instead, we’re building a case to get these two teams to get that extra run they couldn’t find last night to get us to 10+ tonight.
I don’t think it’s being too demanding, either. Jimenez has been solid lately on paper (4 runs allowed over his last three starts), but he’s an incredibly volatile pitcher. Truth be told, he’s just not good. He gets a positive park shift and his recent form has been solid at first glance, but the A’s sport the 4th highest fly ball rate in baseball and Jimenez has arguably been getting a little lucky.
In his last start, Ubaldo coughed up 9 hits, 10 fly balls and walked 3 batters, yet somehow only gave up one run against a powerful Tigers lineup. The game before that, he allowed 5 hits and got away with 14 fly balls. Things don’t look to necessarily be trending in the best direction for him and with the Athletics sporting plenty of power, I think it’s quite fair to assume he’ll revert to his poor form sooner rather than later.
The splits only aid us here, too. Oakland is 4th in the majors in home runs against right-handed pitching and even with their park limitations, they rank 4th in MLB in power at home. Needless to say, I’m not that concened that Ubaldo Jimenez is going to come in and A) pitch another lucky gem or B) that the Athletics can’t take him yard a few times.
The only real caveat to this argument is Paul Blackburn, who has admittedly been a bit stingy on the year. The sample size has been small, though. Blackburn has only made 7 starts in the majors (all this year) and he’s actually gotten slapped around (5+ hits, 3+ runs allowed) three different times. He’s shown nice control at times and can induce soft contact, but there is no actual stability here.
Nothing here says “yeah, we can trust this guy”. Blackburn has pitched a few strong games, but he also got blasted for 5 runs against the Giants in this park. His ERA looks shiny, but he’s giving up a ton of contact and it’s fair to wonder if that could translate into a few more long balls for the O’s tonight. That certainly was the case last night, while the Orioles in general have been a tough offense to tame since the All-Star Break. Over the second half of the year, nobody has hit more home runs (44).
One other little tidbit? The Orioles crush righties. Baltimore has posted the 7th most long balls against right-handed hurlers in 2017 and on the year they also have the 7th best batting average against righties. I get not trusting the Orioles or Athletics specifically to win, but there is a beautiful combination of shaky pitching and powerful bats to put the Over very much in play tonight.