A's & Mariners Lineups Will Tire Out Scoreboard Operator on Thursday

Wednesday, August 29, 2018 3:41 PM UTC

Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018 3:41 PM UTC

Oakland hosts Seattle on Thursday night in an AL West matchup with potential playoff implications. Don’t worry about the late start time. The "over“ shouldn’t take too long to hit.

Seattle at OaklandThursday, 10:05 p.m. ET (ESPN+)Free MLB Pick: OverBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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Oakland’s Frankie Montas (5-3, 3.75) has been recalled from the minors to start for the injured Sean Manaea. The 25-year-old righty has yet to find consistency on the professional level and he’s been very hit-or-miss. His last two outings, though, were "misses." He allowed a homer and three earned runs in each of them, despite not making it past the fifth inning. While those two starts were on the road in hitters-friendly ballparks, his home venue hasn’t been kind to him, either. He’s allowed eight runs combined in his last two home starts.

Montas relies primarily on his sinker, which he utilizes 54 percent of the time and relies on most in all scenarios except with two strikes against left-handed batters. He features his velocity with both his fastball and sinker averaging 96 mph. But velocity isn’t helpful to a pitcher who can’t control it. Besides two outings where he’s shown a glimpse of himself at his very best, in seven outings he showed worrisome issues with walks by accruing at least a rate of three walks per nine innings in each of them. His struggle with command is also evident in his poor location, his tendency to leave pitches in vulnerable areas within the strike zone. For example, he leaves his pitches with 7.51 percent frequency in the quadrant directly below the heart of the plate, where opponents slug .700 against his stuff. Opponents do best against his sinker, although it’s his favorite pitch. They’re slugging .575 against it. Despite its strong movement and velocity, opponents are able to easily put it in play, doing so with 26 percent frequency. A high-velocity pitcher’s worst nightmare is to yield a high contact rate because a batter only needs to put a barrel on a high-velo pitch in order to use the pitcher’s velocity against him and launch it in the other direction.

Based on the metric xSLG-SLG, which compares what a team’s slugging rate is with what it should be based on quality of contact, Seattle is still massively underachieving against Montas’ pitches from righties. But, week by week they’ve been showing strong statistical progression. In the past week, they’re 30-for-52 (.576) against his pitches, ranking fifth in slugging. Watch out for Jean Segura, who’s slugging .444 in Oakland. Mitch Haniger is slugging .440 against lefties, .536 at night, and .783 in his past seven days. The "over" is hitting in 54 percent of Seattle’s games against righties.

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Seattle’s Wade LeBlanc (7-3, 3.92 ERA) has had difficulty keeping the ball inside the ballpark, even though that’s his chief aim as a fly ball-inducing pitcher. He’s conceded four homers in his past two games.

LeBlanc relies on a sinker-cutter-change-up combo. The three pitches make up 73 percent of his arsenal. His velocity is notoriously soft, but he enhances his perceived velocity by aggressively pitching inside both to righties and to lefties. His sinker, despite its strong vertical and horizontal movement, has been his biggest weakness even though it’s one of his favorite pitches. Its movement runs toward right-handed batters, who are easily able to adjust to its location and take advantage with high slugging rates against his inside stuff.

Oakland matches up well with LeBlanc, ranking fifth in slugging against his three pitches from lefties and still underachieving metrically. The A’s are in a good spot, having won their last three home openers and producing an average of nearly seven runs in them. Watch for Matt Chapman, who is slugging .900 in his past seven days and .553 at home. Jed Lowrie is slugging .680 in his past seven days and .511 at night.

Lowrie and Chapman are just two reasons why an MLB pick on the "over" should catch your eye while you scan the MLB odds board.

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