The Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants always have some interesting interleague games with the two ballparks just about a half hour apart in the Bay Area. So far in their series this time around, we’ve seen the Giants win both games thanks to surprising hero Curt Casali. The series finale is on Sunday afternoon at Oracle Park.
We’ll see Sammy Long for the Giants and Cole Irvin for the A’s, as the host Giants are favored in the -140 range at Bovada Sportsbook with a total of 8.5. Yesterday’s game was high-scoring after a 2-0 result on Friday, so let’s see what this game could end up looking like.
The Athletics are something of a negative regression team and we have seen the market go against them a few times this week. Money came in on the Texas Rangers in all three games of that series and we’ve seen some bettors willing to back the Giants in this weekend set. By Pythagorean Win-Loss, a standings metric derived from run differential, the A’s have overachieved by three games on the season and should be more like 43-36.
By BaseRuns, the A’s are four games better than they should be and look like a 42-37 team. That is a big difference from 46-33. As a result, we’ve seen bettors trying to fade the A’s to see if they fall back to where their numbers are supposed to be. Oakland is a team that has had a bit of a roller coaster ride of a season because they’ve done really well against everybody but the Houston Astros.
The Houston numbers do skew their record a little bit, including that season-opening four-game sweep. Oakland actually started 1-7 and then rattled off 13 wins in a row to take over first place in the AL West, but now the A’s sit second behind the Astros and I’m not sure they’ll get back into the top spot.
Cole Irvin gets the start today for Oakland with a 3.98 ERA and a 3.78 FIP. Irvin could never crack the Phillies rotation for a depth-shy organization on the pitching front, but has been very useful in his 15 starts across 86 innings for the A’s. Irvin is a guy with a low strikeout rate that pitches to a lot of contact, but he has a low walk rate as well, so he’s making guys hit their way on base, which has been a sound strategy most of the last two seasons.
San Francisco Giants
Sammy Long gets the call today for the Giants in his second MLB start and fourth total appearance. After racking up some huge minor league strikeout numbers, Long got the call and has a 4.20 ERA with a 2.48 FIP in his 15 innings at the MLB level. Like Irvin, Long has a really low walk rate, but unlike his counterpart in this game, the Giants southpaw has over a strikeout per inning in his MLB work so far.
Long has been bolstered to this point by an offense that ranks in the top five in a lot of key categories. The Giants have done a lot of special things with the starting rotation to lead a competitive NL West Division and to have such a special season in the 60-game sample last year, but what they’ve done offensively is really the biggest story. Last season, they turned Oracle Park from a handicap into a place where they thrived because road offenses weren’t able to have the same success.
This season, an emphasis on hitting the ball hard and individual batter plans have once again led to an uptick in the numbers across the board. The Giants have been able to get maximum production out of journeymen and non-prospects by tailoring hitting approaches to each player instead of having an overall team approach. The very cerebral approach to maximizing players has resurrected Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria, and has helped guys like Steven Duggar and Mike Yastrzemski turn into legitimate weapons.
The one shortfall for the Giants so far this season has been a below average bullpen, but the starting staff has been so good and the Giants have been one of the best 1st 5 bets in baseball this season.
Athletics vs. Giants Free Pick
This is a bit of a big price for Sammy Long, as we’ve seen him stretched out a few times and he’s pitched well, but he’ll be getting the straight start here against an Oakland lineup that has been strong offensively of late and is one of the better road offenses in baseball.
Cole Irvin pitches to a lot of contact and the Giants make a lot of quality contact, so I’m thinking this looks like an over game with a little bit of afternoon warmth to help the ball carry.
Pick: Over 8.5