Friday’s MLB Over/Under: Exploring an Oakland A’s Bullpen Game

Friday’s MLB Over/Under: Exploring an Oakland A’s Bullpen Game article feature image

Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Liam Hendriks (16) throws against the Texas Rangers in the first inning at Oakland Coliseum.

Betting odds: Minnesota Twins at Oakland Athletics

  • First Pitch: 10:05 p.m. ET
  • Over/Under: 8.5
  • Probable Pitchers: Jose Berrios (11-11, 3.81 ERA vs. Liam Hendriks (0-1, 5.30 ERA)

Zylbert’s 2018 MLB Over/Under Betting Record: 96-69-4, +19.85 units

Yesterday’s Result: Rays-Blue Jays Under 8.5, Stanek vs. Gaviglio (loss)

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

Much like their opponents tonight, the Athletics have begun to experiment with the “bullpen game” strategy over the past few weeks. They’ll be rolling with this strategy for tonight’s crucial series opener against the Twins as they try to catch the Astros in the division race.

What does that mean for the over/under?

Well, if you’ve been paying attention to Oakland’s stingy work in relief this season, then you might surmise they could thrive significantly when deploying such a game plan. After all, their bullpen sports a terrific 3.33 ERA, ranking them fourth in the majors.

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Former Twins right-hander Liam Hendriks will serve as the opener tonight, just as he has done in the six previous instances that Oakland opened with their bullpen.

Since giving up two runs in his debut in the role on Sept. 1, Hendriks hasn’t allowed a run over six innings. Additionally, he’s picked up five strikeouts while scattering only three baserunners within that span.

The 29-year-old Australian — a former starter himself — is capable of keeping it going, and the guy’s most likely to take the ball in relief — either Daniel Mengden or Chris Bassitt — are two pitchers I trust in extended work versus a banged-up Minnesota batting order.

Mengden, an underrated starter, has excelled when pitching in long relief. The last three times he was inserted in place of Hendriks, the third-year righty went on to deliver quality work, yielding one run across 13.2 innings.

From there, the solid back-end of Oakland’s great pen can do the rest.

Just as important, I feel good about the opposing starter, All-Star Jose Berrios, who enters this assignment in a groove. He’s registered two quality starts in consecutive outings, which is huge given that last month was his worst of the season by far.

He registered season worsts in ERA (4.74), WHIP (1.66) and opponent batting average (.289) in August, but Berrios is much better than those numbers and his past two assignments lead me to believe he can end the season strong.

While the A’s are scorching at the plate right now, having manufactured a whopping 31 runs in their last two games, Berrios may still find some success.

Not only is the Oakland Coliseum one of the friendliest parks for pitchers, the Puerto Rican native may also benefit from pitching under the stars, as he’s been much better in night games this season.

In 17 nighttime outings, Berrios is 8-4 with a 3.00 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and .202 BAA. Contrast that with his work under blue skies, in which he’s 3-7 with a 4.94 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and .256 BAA, and it appears he’s simply more comfortable in the evening.

Based on the current juice, you’ll want to place this under bet right away, with the possibility looming that it goes down a half-run.

Play: UNDER 8.5 (-125)