MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Athletics vs. Rays Betting Preview (April 14)
Julio Aguilar/Getty Images. Pictured: Wander Franco
- The Rays are home favorites on Thursday against the A's.
- The Rays' pitching staff is already shorthanded, so is there value on the road dogs?
- Mike Ianniello breaks down the matchup and shares his best bet below.
Updated Athletics vs. Rays Odds
|Time||1:10 p.m. ET|
The tank is on in Oakland, as only nine players are left from last year’s opening day roster. The A’s traded away their four best players in Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Chris Bassitt and Sean Manaea. Outfielders Mark Canha and Starling Marte both left in free agency. They even lost manager Bob Melvin, who bolted for the San Diego Padres job.
Tampa Bay finished with the best record in the American League last year at 100-62. They have a talented young roster and finished with three players receiving Rookie of the Year votes, including the winner, Randy Arozarena.
Only one team swept its first series of the season, with the Rays taking three over the Orioles. The A’s dropped their first two games but have since won three of the last four.
With a win on Monday and last night, the A’s have a chance to win the series in Tampa Bay on Thursday afternoon, while the Rays fight just to secure the split.
Athletics Looking for Innings From Irvin
Cole Irvin (LHP) was named the International League’s Most Valuable Pitcher in 2018 with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, but the Phillies gave up on him soon after and traded him to Oakland after just 19 games and three starts.
In his first season with the Athletics, Irvin made 32 starts and went 10-15 with a 4.24 ERA. The stat that is most important for Irvin and the A’s is those 32 starts. He will once again need to be a workhorse for the Oakland rotation.
One new thing to watch this season is a cutter that Irvin has added to his repertoire. He learned the new pitch this offseason from watching Corbin Burnes in a video from Pitching Ninja on YouTube. He threw it just once in his season debut, but it did generate a whiff from reigning-MVP Bryce Harper.
Four of Oakland’s top-six WAR leaders last season are all gone, and this new look lineup will most likely finish near the bottom of most offensive statistical categories. Catcher Sean Murphy is probably their best hitter, and he got his first home run of the season last night with a three-run blast in the win over Tampa Bay.
Shorthanded Rays Need an Innings-Eater
The injury bug has struck the Rays pitching staff hard already. With Luis Patino being the latest to go down, Josh Fleming is expected to get a spot-start on Thursday afternoon. Fleming is no stranger to moving between the bullpen and rotation. Last year, he made 26 total appearances, with 11 of them being starts.
In a pitching staff full of flamethrowers, Fleming is a sinker ball throwing lefty who throws an average of just 91 miles per hour. He doesn’t have much strikeout upside, averaging just 5.61 K/9 last year, but his 5.09 ERA was a bit unlucky given his 4.36 xFIP.
Mostly thought of for its pitching staff, Tampa Bay’s offense was one of the best in the league last season, finishing 10th in wOBA and third in wRC+. Only the Astros scored more runs than the Rays.
After signing a $182 million contract extension, Wander Franco is off to a great start in his sophomore campaign, batting .440 with a 1.084 OPS through the first week.
While Oakland’s offense was expected to be near the bottom of the league, it currently ranks second in runs scored. Tampa Bay ranks sixth and has the second-best team batting average through the first week of the season.
With all the injuries to the Rays’ pitching rotation, their bullpen has been taxed already this season. Dusten Knight, Andrew Kittredge, Matt Wisler and J.P. Feyereisen all pitched yesterday. Ralph Garza and Brooks Raley went multiple innings on Tuesday.
It could be a long night for Kevin Cash as he continues to manage his pitchers. Fleming is due for positive regression, but last season he posted a 3.75 ERA as a reliever and struggled to a 6.23 ERA when starting.
Last year, Irvin faced Tampa Bay twice and went 0-2, allowing five earned runs and three home runs. Neither of these pitchers strikes out many batters, and they both are susceptible to giving up long balls. It’s the first game of the day, which means everybody is going to bet it. Take Over 8, and let’s hope we see some afternoon dingers in Tampa Bay.
Pick: Over 8 (-110)