The Oakland Athletics (16-10) will meet the Baltimore Orioles (11-14) to begin a three-game weekend series at RingCentral Stadium in Southern California.
The Athletics will be flying back home after salvaging the last game of a three-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays, while the Orioles will be flying West after splitting a four game set with the New York Yankees.
My Pick: Oakland Athletics (-135)
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Fade John Means’ Fortunate Results
Starting this game for the Orioles will be Left-Handed Pitcher John Means, who holds the fifth best Earned Run Average in all of baseball with a 1.50 ERA (2.96 xERA courtesy of StatCast). That’s certainly nothing to scoff at, but it’s likely not sustainable. Means’ Expected Fielding Independent Pitching ERA sits at 4.21, a far cry from the 1.50 ERA he currently holds.
So, while Means’ results have been good, we can assume he’s been getting rather lucky on the field. After all, his BABIP is .205 (where .300 is average), and it’s not like he is a big strikeout guy. He’s in the 56th Percentile in K% in the MLB.
To add on to all this, the Athletics have hit lefties better than righties this season. They hold a .737 OPS against lefties whereas it sits at .663 against righties.
Orioles in Unfamiliar Territory
Typically, I like to fade teams that are unfamiliar in a certain setting or are coming off an emotional series. The Orioles fit both of those criteria.
On Thursday, the Orioles defeated the Yankees in extra innings to salvage a split in a four-game series against their division rivals, an emotional win no doubt. In fact, it was the most emotion I had seen the Orioles play with in a long time.
To do that and then hop directly on a plane to the West Coast with the same energy is not an easy task, especially considering it’s something the Orioles (nor any team in baseball) has done in over a year. If you remember, coast to coast trips were non-existent last season.
On the flip side, the Athletics will be happy to come home from the East Coast off a big win to avoid a sweep.
Pitching for the Athletics will be Mike Fiers, who is making his first appearance of the 2021 campaign after dealing with some hip inflammation. Fiers had a 4.58 ERA in 2020 as a pitcher that tries to find success by forcing soft contact and allowing hitters to put the ball in play.
Fiers will likely not pitch more than three or so innings if I had to guess. We might be seeing a good amount of the Athletics’ serviceable bullpen in this one.
Despite the unknowns with Fiers, I still like the price we are getting on the Athletics. They are coming home off an East Coast Trip and Matt Chapman is starting to heat up at the plate. If you can find the Athletics at -140 or better, take a stab.