Guardians vs Athletics Pick, Prediction Today | MLB Odds for Thursday

Guardians vs Athletics Pick, Prediction Today | MLB Odds for Thursday article feature image

Getty Images. Pictured: Shane Bieber and Zack Gelof

Guardians vs. Athletics Odds

Thursday, Mar 28
10:07 p.m. ET
Guardians Odds
-100o / -122u
Athletics Odds
-100o / -122u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

Here's everything you need to know about Guardians vs Athletics on Thursday, March 28 — including odds and a prediction.

Opening Day in the major leagues winds down as we begin the night slate in Oakland, where the A's are playing host to the Guardians in what's sure to be an emotional night as the home team gets set to play its final Opening Day at the Oakland Coliseum.

Can the A's pull off an upset to send the fans home happy an start their season off on a high note?

Let's dig into this matchup a bit deeper and make a Guardians vs A's pick and prediction.

Check out our MLB Betting Hub for more previews from today's slate.

Cleveland Guardians

The Guardians' contact-first approach fell short last season, leading them to a 22nd-ranked wRC+ just a season after producing a slightly above average offense by that metric.

Their numbers were marginally depressed across the board in batting average, on-base and slugging, but in the end the alarming finish in total offensive output was simply due to the fact that the median wOBA in the league was significantly higher than it was in 2022, perhaps painting things in a bit more dire light.

I'd love to say things promise to get a bit better on offense with some turnover in the middle of the order, but in all likelihood this will be an above-average offense at best. Brayan Rocchio has had an adventurous trip up and down prospect lists and it's hard to expect the young group he's part of, including Tyler Freeman and Bo Naylor, to be full-fledged hitters this early in their careers.

Ramon Laureano, who finds himself in a crucial role on this team, is a shell of himself, and while Will Brennan should continue to collect base hits he's probably not going to add anything Amed Rosario wasn't adding to Cleveland's lineup at the start of last season.

Then, there's Thursday's starter, Shane Bieber. I try not to be ageist here and hate on every pitcher who hits the wrong side of 30, but it's scary to think that the former Cy Young award winner is only 28 and already showing signs of declining. His elite strikeout numbers suddenly turned into marginally above-average strikeout numbers in 2022 before tumbling two points below the league norm in 2023.

That, coupled with a an influx of quality contact and some more walks made the perennially trustworthy Bieber a hard man to back on a weekly basis last year, and when it was all said and done he finished in the bottom 8% of the league with a .284 expected batting average and gaudy 4.83 xERA.

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Oakland Athletics

The pitcher on the other side of this matchup is journeyman Alex Wood, who seemed to briefly resurrect his career in San Francisco a couple of seasons ago before totally losing the ability to get hitters out with his slider and also going from average to well-below average in the strikeout department.

He posted the worst season of his career there and another career-worst in walk rate, though there's certainly hope to be found elsewhere with the lefty.

Wood, a sinker-baller, is still at the very least maintaining an average ground ball rate even with a decline in that number since his resurgent 2021 and he did seem to experience a bit of bad luck considering the 25-point difference in his expected batting average against the pitch and the real-life results.

Hitters also generally still haven't been able to make quality contact off of Wood, and he could certainly find his way back to an average pitcher with a bit more control and some strikeouts.

As for the A's offense, which ranked 26th in wRC+ a season ago, it's really anyone's guess how much better this year's lineup will fare. In theory, you'd expect J.D. Davis to provide a boost given his stellar spring and add to what Zack Gelof and Brent Rooker started building last year, but after an injury to Miguel Andujar the A's are left with rookie Lawrence Butler manning the outfield and have no backup plan for the human lottery ticket that is JJ Bleday.

Guardians vs. Athletics

Betting Pick & Prediction

The Guardians may be a team that loves to swing and put the ball in play on the ground, but that doesn't necessarily make a ground-ball pitcher a great matchup here. Cleveland hit just .236 off of these pitchers last season, finding its best results from a run production standpoint against fly ball pitchers.

Similarly, the Guards were significantly worse against left-handers, hitting .232, which was 26 points behind their performance against righties.

Cleveland is expected to have five lefties in its lineup on Opening Day, and even with two right-handed bats on the bench aside from backup catcher Austin Hedges, the talent gap between them and those starting is rather wide. At any rate, however the lineup looks, I think we can expect to see Cleveland's struggles against lefties continue.

On the other side of the coin, the A's do have the goods to at least look competitive against the Guardians in terms of their top-end hitters, and they should have more than enough bats through the heart and bottom of the order to continue perpetuating Bieber's decline.

Keep in mind that the one thing the A's did reasonably well last year was take walks, and the biggest obstacle in their way was strikeouts. Bieber's been trending down in both areas, and I think together with a version of Wood which isn't too far off a competent pitcher, the A's can find a win.

Pick: A's +136

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