MLB Regular Season

Matchup: Minnesota Twins at Oakland Athletics

Date/Time: July 18, 9:07 p.m. ET

Pitching Matchup: Phil Hughes (8-6, 4.32) vs. Scott Kazmir (5-5, 2.49)

MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook

Moneyline: Oakland -150

Total: 7

Scott Kazmir is going to be one of the hottest trade chips on the market over the next couple of weeks, but that’s only if the Oakland Athletics are going to be a seller. The Minnesota Twins are hoping to push the A’s one step closer to being one of those teams trading players to contenders. Phil Hughes takes the mound for the Twins, looking to bounce back from a difficult first half. In looking at these two teams and their performance so far this season, many would have expected them to be in opposite situations, but that is hardly the case.

Under rookie skipper Paul Molitor, the Twins are much better than anybody expected. They are in sole possession of second place in the AL Central, even with Ervin Santana’s 80-game suspension to start the season and a massive regression from Phil Hughes. Top prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano were both called up to the bigs, but Buxton is on the disabled list with another bad luck injury.

The Athletics have had mostly good luck on the injury front, save for injuries to Ben Zobrist and Coco Crisp. Their record, however, signals that they have had next to no luck on the field. The A’s are just 8-22 in one-run games, by far the lowest mark in the league. Oftentimes, teams are around .500 in one-run games, so the A’s have gotten extremely unfortunate in those. They are also just 1-6 in extra innings. Pythagorean Win-Loss is a formula that determines what a team’s record should be based on run differential. WIth Friday’s loss, the A’s dropped to 41-51. Their Pyth W-L is 50-42. A nine-game swing is by far the biggest in baseball.

After getting an excellent start from Ervin Santana on Friday, the Twins turn to Phil Hughes on Saturday. Hughes had a historic season in 2014 with one of the best walk rates in the history of baseball. His impeccable control is still around, but his command is nowhere to be found. Hughes had a major home run problem with the Yankees, which is part of the reason why the team let him go. Last season, he had the best command of his career, allowing 16 home runs in a career-high 209.2 innings. This season, Hughes has already given up 22 home runs in just 116.2 innings. As a result, his 3.52 ERA has ballooned to 4.32 and his advanced metrics have climbed as well.

Scott Kazmir left his last start with the same triceps soreness that has plagued him over the last two seasons. He left after three innings, with alarm bells going off in the heads of general managers on teams in need of pitching. Kazmir’s velocity was down significantly in that start, so that will be a point of emphasis on Saturday. The southpaw is having another fine season with a 2.49 ERA, 3.18 FIP, and a 3.50 xFIP. An increased strikeout rate and better sequencing have allowed Kazmir to lower his ERA from last season, while keeping his advanced metrics around the same.

MLB Prediction: Oakland Athletics

This also looks like a decent spot to bet the under. People will point out the Twins’ quality record against left-handed starters this season, but their wOBA against lefties ranks in the bottom of the American League and is nothing more than a random occurrence. The A’s don’t rely as heavily on walks to generate offense as they have in past seasons, so they should take advantage of some mistakes from Hughes.