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Mariners vs. Athletics Odds, Preview, Prediction: Back the Bats in Key AL West Matchup (Monday, August 23)

Mariners vs. Athletics Odds, Preview, Prediction: Back the Bats in Key AL West Matchup (Monday, August 23) article feature image

Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images. Pictured: Matt Chapman.

  • Seattle and Oakland begin a crucial two-games series Monday night.
  • Both teams are in wild-card contention but are sending bottom of the rotation pitchers to the mound to start.
  • Anthony Dabbundo explains how he's betting the game below.

Mariners vs. Athletics Odds

Mariners Odds-105
Athletics Odds-115
Time9:40 p.m. ET
Odds as of Sunday and via DraftKings.

The race for the AL wild card is heating up as Seattle travels to Oakland for a critical two-game series. The Mariners are three games behind the Athletics for the second wild-card spot, and both teams are sending out unproven starters on Monday night.

Seattle is turning to lefty Marco Gonzales, who despite recent successful outings, is prone to bad starts and plenty of hard contact. Oakland counters with righty Paul Blackburn, who has made one start in 2021 and struggled with few strikeouts and too many walks at the minor-league level.

Both offenses' batted ball data suggests they should be doing better than they currently are this season, and the over is undervalued as both AL West foes should jump on the starters early and score some runs.

Mariners Offense is Underrated

In many ways, Seattle is overrated as a team this season. The Mariners are 26-14 in one-run games, 11-4 in extra innings and have a run differential that suggests they should be well below .500.

But in other ways, the Mariners' offense is actually quite underrated. They have the second worst BABIP in the league, behind only Texas, despite not being in the bottom five in medium or hard hit rate. Seattle is second in fly ball rate and in the bottom 10 in HR/FB rate. All of this suggests that their offense probably should be better than it currently is.

Seattle does have strikeout issues but is unlikely to strike out a lot against Blackburn on Monday night, given how low his strikeout rate is.

The Mariners counter with Gonzales, who is one of the worst regular starters in all of MLB. He ranks in the bottom 10th percentile in xSLG, xwOBA and xERA. He sits in the high 80s with his fastball and strikes out very few batters. Gonzales has allowed two or fewer runs in six consecutive starts, but he's been more lucky than good.

His xERA of 5.78 says all you need to know about Gonzales as a pitcher and a good run of form doesn't change who he is as a pitcher.

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Blackburn Could Struggle for Athletics

Oakland ranks in the bottom five against left-handed pitching in BABIP. The A's have a wRC+ in the top eight against southpaws and are top five in medium-hit rate and top half of the league in hard-hit rate when facing lefties. They haven't done particularly well against Gonzales this season with three total runs scored in two starts, but I don't tend to read much into a starting pitcher history against a team because the sample size is so small. Oakland has hit well against lefties all season and is perhaps underrated offensively as a unit.

I have major questions about A's righty Paul Blackburn, as well. The Athletics are turning to him for a spot start, but he hasn't shown he can be successful at the major-league level. He sits in the low 90s with his fastball and didn't generate many strikeouts in the minor leagues.

He allowed a 50% hard hit rate in his last start against the White Sox, and while his xERA suggests he was a little unlucky in that start, his sample size isn't big enough to draw a meaningful conclusion from it. His K/BB rate in his scattered time in the majors throughout the last few seasons has only once exceeded two. He's had a few good stretches in the majors back in 2016 and 2017, but has been consistently below average in rolling wOBA allowed otherwise.

Mariners-Athletics Pick

Both offenses have underlying metrics that suggest they've run a bit unfortunate, especially of late. The Athletics have had much more success against left-handed pitching this year and have already seen Gonzales twice in 2021. Both starting pitchers are questionable and for that reason, there should be runs on the board in this game. Anything -110 or better at 8.5 is worth a play.

Pick: Over 8.5 runs (-110)

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