MLB Regular Season
Matchup: Cleveland Indians at Oakland Athletics
Date/Time: August 2, 4:05 p.m. ET
Pitching Matchup: Trevor Bauer (8-8, 4.13) vs. Sonny Gray (11-4, 2.16)
MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook
Moneyline: Oakland -145
The Oakland Athletics officially threw in the towel on what supposed to be a strong season. The Cleveland Indians have severely underachieved as well, but they don’t seem ready to bow out of the race just yet. Sunday’s afternoon matchup will wrap up the four-game series between the two teams. Trevor Bauer will take the mound for the Indians against Athletics ace Sonny Gray, who is looking for his 12th win of the season and second over the Indians.
The Indians made some minor moves at the deadline that would give the appearance of selling, but it was more of an exercise in clearing dead weight with escalating salaries off of the roster. The Indians traded impending free agent (with a club option) David Murphy and arbitration-eligible players Brandon Moss and Marc Rzepczynski. With in-house options to replace that trio, the Indians had no issue moving on. The Athletics also made some moves with impending free agents, sending Ben Zobrist to the Kansas City Royals and Scott Kazmir to the Houston Astros. One of the players acquired in the Astros deal, Aaron Brooks, made his A’s debut on Saturday night.
Trevor Bauer has been hit or miss lately, but this start should be a hit. The fly ball pitcher will adore the dimensions and pitching conditions at O.co Coliseum. With expansive foul territory and not a ton of carry, this is exactly the type of park that Bauer should thrive in. He’s had some ups and downs this season, but he is coming off of arguably his best start of the season. Bauer threw a complete game against the Kansas City Royals, but lost on Eric Hosmer’s solo home run in the ninth that gave the Royals a 2-1 win.
The cerebral right-hander is constantly tinkering and toying, sometimes to his detriment. This season, Bauer is 8-8 with a 4.13 ERA, a 4.23 FIP, and a 3.99 xFIP. His first three starts were dominant out of the gate and then a bout of food poisoning pushed back Bauer’s fourth start and also caused him to lose significant weight. The strikeouts are still there, as are the control problems, but it’s the home run rate that is particularly concerning. Bauer has allowed 18 home runs in 124.1 innings of work, including two grand slams. One big change for Bauer this season is that hitters are chasing less, but are swinging and missing a lot more when they do chase.
Like Bauer, Gray is likely coming off of his best start of the season. The A’s ace fired a complete game shutout against the Los Angeles Dodgers with nine strikeouts and one walk the last time he took the mound. Gray’s only other complete game shutout this season came against the Indians right before the All-Star Break. Gray has a 2.16 ERA with a 2.88 FIP and a 3.33 xFIP in his 21 outings this season. Surprisingly, with a great home park for pitchers, Gray has actually been better on the road, posting a 1.64 ERA over 82.1 innings. At home, Gray has a 2.84 ERA.
Not a whole lot has changed statistically for Gray this season, but his maturation process as a pitcher is evident in his numbers. With an increase in pop ups and a decrease in home runs, we can infer that his sequencing has improved and that hitters are guessing more and taking more off-balance swings. He has one of the league’s lowest line drive rates among qualified pitchers and has lowered his walk rate by nearly two percent. In his second full season, Gray is emerging as one of the American League’s elites.
MLB Prediction: Cleveland Indians
Sonny Gray has been excellent, there’s no denying that. But, Trevor Bauer is in a park that is tailored for success and it’s a park that he should have success in. That gives the Indians a little bit of value here, since the A’s haven’t done much offensively of late. Gray’s first start against the Indians came on the last day of the first half and that was an ugly offensive game for both teams. In a pitcher’s duel, one has to like the Indians bullpen a bit more, especially with Tyler Clippard gone for the A’s.