MLB Odds, Picks & Predictions: Diamondbacks vs. Athletics (Thursday, Aug. 20)


Abbie Parr/Getty Images. Pictured: Sean Manea

Diamondbacks vs. Athletics Odds

Diamondbacks Odds +125 [BET NOW]
Athletics Odds -150 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 8.5 (-121/+100) [BET NOW]
First Pitch 9:40 p.m. ET

Odds as of 1 p.m. ET on Thursday and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. That’s exactly how I feel about the Arizona Diamondbacks right now.

I was on the wrong side of an Arizona ticket on Wednesday when I backed the Diamondbacks on the road at +147 in the third game of a home-and-home series against the Oakland Athletics. Arizona swept Oakland at home in the first two games, outscoring the A’s 14-4.

You could say it was the plus-price of getting almost 1.5 to 1 on my money that got me, but I felt Arizona also held the pitching edge with Merrill Kelly on the mound. Kelly did not have a good game by any stretch. He lasted only five innings while giving up all four runs in the 4-1 loss.

After reviewing the game, I learned my issue wasn’t with Kelly or the pitching, but more with Arizona’s offense (or lack thereof) when it’s not playing in a hitter’s park.

Let’s apply those lessons to Thursday’s matchup.

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Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona will send Alex Young to the mound on Thursday night. Young was moved from the bullpen into the rotation in place of the injured Madison Bumgarner.

Young’s last start was at home this past Saturday — a 7-6 win over the San Diego Padres. All things considered, Young performed well in that game by giving up just one run while pitching into the fifth inning. He’ll try to replicate that performance on Thursday night, but this time he’ll be on the road, where his ERA (5.40) is almost three runs higher than at home (2.45), and his .91 ground ball to fly ball ratio (GB/FB) is significantly less than his 3.33 GB/FB ratio at home.

The drop-off in Young’s home/away splits are in line with the rest of Arizona’s pitching staff in that as a group, they have a higher ERA (5.78) on the road than at home (4.50). And of Arizona’s 13 games played on the road, I would say that only three of them were played in hitter-friendly parks.

Oakland Athletics

Oakland will counter with left-hander Sean Manea.

The mainstream stats would suggest that Manea has had a rocky start to his season given his 0-2 record with a 7.65 ERA. However, his predictive stats show that he’s pitched in a bit of hard luck when you consider his 4.04 FIP and 3.77 xFIP. Further analysis shows that Manea’s 1.94 GB/FB ratio is almost 70 points higher than his 1.27 career average.

His last start might have been a clue that things may be turning in his favor. Manea went five innings for the first time this season while surrendering his fewest amount of earned runs (2). He didn’t get the decision, but Oakland went on to win the game 7-6 against the Giants.

He’ll hope the stars align on Thursday night against an Arizona team that has had less success against left-handed pitching than against right-handers.  For example, Arizona’s slash line of .244/.311/.335 when facing lefties is worse than its slash line of .258/.329/.408 against right-handers.

Diamondback-A’s Pick

On paper, Arizona looks to be above the league average (100) in weighted runs created (wRC) with a 114 value, but when you adjust for external factors such as the ballparks in which they’ve played in, they’re actually a below-average team with a wRC+ value of 95. As a matter of fact, 94 of Arizona’s 120 runs scored this season occurred either at home or at Coors Field. That amounts to a 6.26 run average in those 15 games.

In the remaining 10 games, they’re averaging only 2.6 runs per game. Furthermore, their home/away splits are starkly different, and it’s clear some of their offensive flaws have been masked by their games in hitter-friendly parks.

Arizona looks like a team that requires optimal hitting conditions to be able to perform. Oakland has to play half its games in a ballpark that has the largest foul territory (40,700 sq. ft) by more than 10,000 sq. ft. in the major leagues, and yet the A’s have a wRC+ rating of 108 — 13 points higher than the Diamondbacks.

Arizona’s road woes from a pitching and hitting perspective puts me squarely on Oakland for this game. DraftKings is offering up Oakland as a -150 favorite, which is within my valuation — I like the A’s up to -155.

I’ll gladly take the home side in this spot with a pitcher who is likely being a bit undervalued by the market at this time.

[Bet now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

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