Athletics vs. Twins MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Saturday: Can Oakland Overcome Poor Starting Pitching? (May 15)

Athletics vs. Twins MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Saturday: Can Oakland Overcome Poor Starting Pitching? (May 15) article feature image
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Daniel Shirey/Getty Images. Pictured: Sean Murphy.

  • Minnesota hosts Oakland for a matinee game on national TV on FS1.
  • The Twins have the pitching advantage with José Berríos facing Cole Irvin.
  • Kevin Davis outlines below why he thinks the A's lineup will start performing to expectations.

Athletics vs. Twins Odds

Athletics Odds +115
Twins Odds -140
Over/Under 8.5 (-110/-110)
Time 4:05 p.m. ET
TV FS1
Odds as of Friday evening and via BetMGM.

The Oakland Athletics and the Minnesota Twins are having completely different seasons. Despite starting off the season as a co-favorite to win the AL Central, the Twins have the second worst record in baseball. The Oakland A’s on the other hand, are in first place in the AL West, despite being projected as a borderline playoff team.

On Saturday in a nationally televised game, the Twins are unsurprisingly favored, as they have an edge in the starting pitching matchup. The question for Saturday afternoon’s game is if Oakland has a good enough lineup to overcome Minnesota’s edge in starting pitching.

Athletics Starting Pitcher is Vulnerable

The Oakland A’s biggest vulnerability on Saturday is with their starting pitcher Cole Irvin. Going into the season not much was expected from Irvin as a back-of-the-rotation starter for the Athletics. He had only pitched 45 1/3 career innings with a poor track record. This season Irvin has a 3-4 record with a 3.29 ERA, and a 4.09 xFIP.

However, the major question for Irvin is if he can keep performing well. Seven starts is a small sample size, particularly for a 27-year-old starting pitcher who lacks big-league experience. Going into the season Irvin was projected to have an ERA of 4.56 by FanGraphs. Over the course of a full season, I expect Irvin to regress to the mean, which could possibly be the case on Saturday against a strong Twins lineup.

While Oakland is vulnerable with Irvin on the mound, their lineup is a strength. Just by looking at basic stats, the A’s lineup looks weak. They average only 4.05 runs per game, while the average MLB team averages 4.35 runs per game. However, when looking at the more advanced stats, the Athletics are one of the best hitting teams in the league.

Currently Oakland’s lineup has a wRC+ of 112 for the season which is tied with the Yankees for best in the league. In plain English, Oakland’s wRC+ means that Oakland hitters create 12% more runs than the average lineup. Over a long season, the Athletics should average about 4.87 runs per game.

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Twins Lineup is a Paper Tiger

Unlike the A’s, the Twins lineup is strong on paper but weak when you delve into the numbers. Currently Minnesota averages 4.66 runs per game which is the ninth highest in the league. However, their lineup collectively has a 96 wRC+ meaning they should score 4% fewer runs than the league average of 4.18 runs per game.

There are many reasons why the Twins lineup is not producing at the level that it should be producing at. Many of their best offensive players this season have been hurt like 3B Josh Donaldson. Additionally, OF Alex Kirilloff and OF Byron Buxton remain out of the lineup with injuries.

Even though Buxton and Kiriloff are hurt, there are several Twins position players who are having weak offensive seasons. 1B Miguel Sanó and OF Max Kepler are both underperforming this season.

With a weak lineup, for the Twins to win, their starting pitcher José Berríos must tame a tough Oakland A’s lineup. Berríos is one of the few Twins starting pitchers who has done well as he has a 3.49 ERA and a 3.29 xFIP, both the lowest of his career.

Athletics-Twins Pick

Oakland appears to be the best bet in Saturday’s game, but when I ran my model, I was surprised. As the odds are currently set, neither team has an edge against their moneyline odds. Even though the Athletics are a better team, they are not worthy of a bet as an underdog, due to the Twins having an edge in the starting pitcher matchup.

However, even against Berríos my model likes the Oakland A’s to go over their team run total of 3.5 runs. Berríos is a strong pitcher, but the Athletics lineup is strong. Even though they are averaging only a little more than four runs a game, as the season progresses, they should have one of the leading lineups in the league for run production.

Pick: Oakland Athletics Team Total Over 3.5 Runs (-120) (BetMGM) | Would play up to -130

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