MLB Regular Season
Matchup: Oakland Athletics at San Francisco Giants
Date/Time: July 26, 4:05 p.m. ET
Pitching Matchup: Kendall Graveman (6-6, 3.78) vs. Tim Hudson (5-8, 4.76)
MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook
Moneyline: San Francisco -135
There’s never a good day to be a worm, but any residing in the infield at AT&T Park will be on high alert on Sunday afternoon. Ground ball specialists Kendall Graveman and Tim Hudson are the scheduled pitchers for Sunday’s series finale between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants. Hudson, who began his career with the A’s way back in 1997, will be facing his old team for just the third time in his career and neither of those previous starts has gone particularly well. Despite that, the Giants are favored for the Sunday matinee by the bay.
The San Francisco Giants are looking around for ways to improve their team. They have been linked to Cole Hamels, who threw a no-hitter against the Chicago Cubs on Saturday, and also Johnny Cueto. It’s interesting to see the Giants, who are generally reserved during the trade deadline, considering a big splash. The Oakland A’s, who aren’t used to being in a position of selling, are doing a lot of scouting and analysis on other teams minor leaguers. They already traded away Scott Kazmir and it’s safe to say that Ben Zobrist and possibly Tyler Clippard are next. The A’s are certainly going to make some moves prior to the July 31 MLB Trade Deadline as they look towards the future and possibly get back to their low payroll ways.
Kendall Graveman has been a pleasant surprise for the Athletics this season. Graveman made five appearances in relief last season and then won a job in the starting rotation out of Spring Training. He lasted all of four starts and posted an 8.27 ERA with a .343/.434/.514 slash against. He worked on some mechanical flaws in the minor leagues and has made 11 starts since his recall on May 23. Over those 11 starts, Graveman has a 2.76 ERA and has held opposing batters to a .251/.306/.384 slash.
Graveman only has a 49 percent ground ball rate this season, which scouts expected to be higher based on his minor league performance with regards to worm burners. His 3.78 ERA is accompanied by a 4.60 FIP and a 4.27 xFIP. A high strand rate and some impressive pitchability have helped him stick around at the Major League level this season. He is predominantly a cutter/sinker pitcher, with over 76 percent of his usage coming from those two offerings. The A’s have not been a great defensive team on the infield this season, which has undoubtedly hurt Graveman.
Tim Hudson decided to stick around for his last season of guaranteed money and it’s pretty clear at this point that the stuff has declined to a point where Hudson is basically useless. The veteran right-hander is posting the worst strikeout rate of his career with his highest home run rate. As a result, Hudson has a 4.76 ERA with a 4.70 FIP and a 3.93 xFIP. Nearly 58 percent of balls in play have been hit on the ground, but anything up in the zone has been punished.
Hudson’s sinker is among the least valuable pitches in baseball this season and lefties are feasting with a .314/.385/.423 slash and a .357 wOBA. Hudson has 16 walks against just 11 strikeouts against lefties this season. Hudson turned 40 earlier this month and it looks like this is going to be his last season. He’s simply not effective anymore and would probably have been replaced in the Giants rotation if they didn’t have a myriad of injuries earlier this year. At this point, the hope is to get five decent innings, turn it over to the bullpen, and hope the offense provides enough support.
MLB Prediction: San Francisco Giants
Which is exactly what should happen on Sunday. The A’s tried to get back in the hunt and failed and the writing is on the wall for their season. Graveman has some signs of regression in his statistical profile, especially with his strand rate, and the Giants are one of the better offensive teams in the league. Bettors should lean to the over as well, since the ball carries a little bit better during the day in San Francisco.