The Oakland A's are well below .500 and running out of warm bodies, while the Minnesota Twins have pounded the baseball odds with eight wins in their past 11 games.
Jason's 2015 record as of May 5: 13-8, plus-4.80 units ML; 0-1, minus-1.05 units Total
Here's to your health. Heading into Tuesday's action, the Minnesota Twins were the healthiest team in the majors, with a total of 46 man-games lost to injury. That's one of the big reasons the Twins are beating the baseball odds this year at 14-13 (plus-3.51 units) after opening the 2015 campaign as 100-1 long shots on the World Series Futures Odds Market.
Compare and contrast to the Oakland Athletics, who are 12-16 in the faltering AL West for a deficit of 6.75 units. The A's have lost 154 man-games to injury, seventh overall in the majors, and they won't have Ben Zobrist available when they face the Twins this Wednesday (8:10 p.m ET) at the Tar-Zhay. Despite this, Oakland is a –125 favorite on the MLB Odds board as we go to press.
That might have something to do with a certain three-time All-Star pitcher named Scott Kazmir (3.22 FIP). Considered washed-up and left for dead just three years ago, Kazmir resurfaced with Cleveland in 2013 with a rebuilt delivery, getting his fastball back up over 92mph and posting a 3.51 FIP. Then the A's picked up Kazmir on a fresh two-year contract, and he pitched even better. His career-best 3.35 FIP translated to 4.50 units in earnings on a team record of 21-11.
Would you believe Kazmir is still improving? He's got a 3.22 FIP after five starts this year, all five of them quality starts to boot. Sadly, Oakland is only 3-2 (plus-0.60 units) in those five games. His last three starts were all no-decisions; the A's bullpen ranked No. 27 going into Tuesday's action at minus-0.1 WAR. And they used closer Tyler Clippard (4.78 FIP) for 1.2 innings in their 2-1 win over the Twins (+103).
This is where we should be telling you about how secretly awesome Minnesota's scheduled pitcher is. But we're feeling just a little antsy about Kyle Gibson (4.81 FIP). He was reliable for the Twins in 2014, posting a 3.80 FIP as a sophomore, but that was only good for 0.66 units in earnings on a team record of 14-17. This year, Gibson has struck out just 2.97 batters per nine innings, while handing out 3.86 free passes.
Fortunately for Gibson, he's also given up a stingy .267 BABIP, and the Twins are 3-2 in his five starts for a profit of 1.49 units. That BABIP probably isn't sustainable, but then again, Gibson has looked much better in his last two appearances, allowing just two earned runs over 15 innings of work. He definitely carries some value into this matchup.
Too bad the Twins rank just No. 24 in hitting at 1.6 WAR. The A's are doing better at No. 12 overall (3.3 WAR), but again, they're missing Zobrist (.704 OPS), who's out until mid-June after getting his knee scoped. Coco Crisp (.699 OPS last year) has yet to play after undergoing elbow surgery last month, and Brett Lawrie (.652 OPS) has been a disappointment at third base after coming over from the Toronto Blue Jays in the Josh Donaldson trade. Disappointing, but not surprising.
Because of this matchup, we're recommending giving Gibson a spot start and hanging onto him in case he continues to pitch well. He's only owned in 3% of Yahoo leagues, but the Twins are winning some games here and there, so give Gibson a chance. As for our MLB picks, we're steering away from the moneyline and heading straight for the totals, where the UNDER looks like a viable choice on a total of eight runs. It's 4-0-1 for Gibson thus far.
Free MLB Pick: Take the UNDER 8 at BookMaker +100