Saturday’s MLB Over/Under: Will Manaea Be Able to Match Sale in Oakland?

Saturday’s MLB Over/Under: Will Manaea Be Able to Match Sale in Oakland? article feature image

Last night’s bet was certainly a bumpy ride but hopefully you were able to wait out the market and get the number at 8 as I suggested, otherwise that was a tough extra-inning beat if you held a 7.5 ticket. It happens.  Either way, we’re back at it on Saturday night as we look to continue our strong start.

Zylbert’s 2018 MLB Over/Under Betting Record: 14-4-2, +9.7 units

Yesterday’s Result: Mets-Braves Under 8, Syndergaard vs. Newcomb (Push)

*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit

Boston Red Sox @ Oakland Athletics | O/U: 7.5
9:05 p.m. ET (MLB Network)
Probable Pitchers: Chris Sale (1-0, 1.23 ERA) vs. Sean Manaea (2-2, 1.63 ERA)

There’s a matchup of surging southpaws in the Bay Area tonight, when annual AL Cy Young Award candidate Chris Sale takes on emerging 26-year-old Sean Manaea in the second meeting of a three-game set.

Obviously, everyone knows about Sale and his greatness. We just leaned on him for an under victory last Sunday, as he pitched through the coldest conditions at Fenway Park since 2003, toughing it out to record five effective innings, yielding only one run in the process.

For the season, Sale now owns a sparkling 1.23 ERA and 0.95 WHIP to go with a remarkable 31/5 K/BB ratio in just 22 total innings, which is basically just par for the course for this nine-year vet. Throughout his career, Sale typically gets out to strong starts — he owns a ridiculous 36-9 record in the season’s first two months with a 2.68 ERA and 454 strikeouts across 402.2 innings during that span.

In addition, he also apparently enjoys facing this particular opponent. Sale has pitched in 13 games (eight starts) versus the A’s in his career, registering a 5-2 record along with a 2.60 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and .206 batting average against in those outings. His ERA is even lower (2.45) when he’s pitching at the Oakland Coliseum, which is where he’ll be tonight.

Considering that the A’s are free-swingers — they rank in ninth with 187 punchouts this season — there’s a solid chance that Sale could hit 10 or more K’s tonight. He’ll also be in a position of neutralizing Oakland’s best hitter, Khris Davis, who is 2-for-11 lifetime opposite the 6-foot-6 hurler.

Of course, the most challenging part of this under wager will have to do with the other starting pitcher in this equation. After all, he’ll be tasked with facing the Red Sox, the team that leads all of baseball in batting average (.293) and runs scored (123). Is Manaea’s incredible beginning a mirage or is it legit?

Well, first of all, this Oakland southpaw was actually one of my top sleepers going into his second season a year ago, so I’m actually a big believer in his talents despite a bit of an underwhelming first full campaign in 2017. He’s looked tremendous in the early going, surrendering two runs or fewer in all four of his outings, while impressively going at least seven innings in each of them.

No, this is not a fluke, as Manaea has had the potential of turning into a frontline starter even before the A’s acquired him from the Royals in the Ben Zobrist deal. His stuff is really, really good, which makes it not so surprising that opponents have mustered just a .168 batting average off Manaea up to this point. Interestingly, his strikeouts are down, but that’s something that should ultimately improve.

Despite the difficult assignment on tap for this evening, Manaea is still in a good spot, believe it or not. One, he’ll be working this evening from the Oakland Coliseum, where he’s been considerably better early on in his career, sporting a career 12-7 record and 3.33 ERA at home. That easily bests his 9-14 record and 4.52 ERA on the road.

Furthermore, as intimidating as this Red Sox lineup can be, they’re not as tough on left-handers, at least based on their early splits. In fact, of their 26 home runs this season, only three have come with a lefty on the hill. It’s a decent sample size, too, as the Sox have recorded 130 at-bats against southpaws this year. That could be huge in regards to this bet, as Manaea’s only real blemish in his first four starts is that he’s served up four homers. Hopefully, Boston’s relative lack of power against southpaws can continue.

The line being 7.5, there may be some room to work with in case Manaea isn’t as sharp as he has been thus far, with Sale always having the potential for a dominant showing any time he toes the rubber. If he’s on his usual game, that could be enough to pace this under play.

Play: UNDER 7.5 (-120)

Photo: Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale. Credit: Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports