Angels Not Mean Enough for Visiting Athletics on Friday

Rainman M.

Thursday, August 9, 2018 3:27 PM UTC

Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018 3:27 PM UTC

Los Angeles hosts Oakland in a matchup of AL West rivals. Whether by scoring many runs or not, the A’s have been winning consistently. They’ll carry that momentum into the City of Angels.

Oakland Athletics (68-47) at Los Angeles Angels (58-58)Friday, 10:07 p.m. ETFree MLB Pick: Athletics MLBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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L.A.’s Felix Pena (1-3, 4.97 ERA) has lost three consecutive starts, yielding -4 units. In each of them, he has walked more batters than he has struck out and produced a first-pitch strike rate below his season average.

Pena made two key transitions this season. One, he joined the starting rotation. Two, he cut his fastball usage by 50%. His fastball got slammed last year. Now, he relies on a sinker-slider combo. Both pitches make up 75% of his arsenal. Compared with his fastball, his sinker possesses additional horizontal movement without dropping as much. He does a better job avoiding the middle of the plate with it, instead concentrating it on the periphery of the strike zone with 33% frequency. Pena's change hasn’t helped him. Opponents track his sinker well, consistently putting it into play. They're slugging .535 against it. Pena has one effective pitch, his slider, which opponents slug .184 against. But a pitcher with only one effective pitch makes for a poor starter because opposing lineups eventually figure him out. Pena has endured over 5.1 innings only once this season, against the lousy White Sox, which is bad news for L.A. with its awful bullpen.

Overall, the A’s are slumping, producing three runs or fewer in four of their last five games. But during the same period of time, since August 3, they’re still slugging .483 against the sinker and slider from righties, ranking sixth in the category. Throughout the season, they rank second in the category. Because Pena mainly throws a sinker and slider, they match up well against him. Watch for Khris Davis, who slugs .686 against both pitches from righties. Matt Chapman is slugging over .700 in his last seven days.

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Oakland’s Brett Anderson (2-3, 4.64 ERA) couldn’t be fresher. He’s coming off a strong seven-inning performance against Detroit in which he only threw 74 pitches and he gets six days of rest. In 11 innings in two starts with at least six days’ rest, Anderson has allowed two runs.

The southpaw Anderson relies on five different pitches with between nine and 28% frequency. He tends to rely on his fastball, sinker, and slider the most, which are his three favorite pitches against both left-handed and right-handed batters. His slider is his favorite pitch with two strikes and his sinker in every other scenario. Even with his slider he doesn’t generate many whiffs, but focuses on using good location and movement to induce ground balls. Anderson places his slider with 53% frequency on the bottom row of the zone. He concentrates his sinker low and on the peripheries and also leans on its strong horizontal movement. He places his fastball consistently on all parts of the plate. Anderson, like Pena, struggled with his fastball and moved away from it to emphasize his sinker. But unlike Pena, instead of one great pitch and one terrible one, he has two serviceable pitches that help him last longer — at least six innings innings in his last three starts.

The Angels match up poorly against Anderson, ranking 27th in slugging against his three pitches from lefties and failing to progress in this category. Mike Trout and Andrelton Simmons are combined 1-for-9 against Anderson in their career.

Oakland boasts a bullpen advantage that constitutes a big reason why it has allowed only eight runs in its last 11 games. Oakland's pen ranks 10th in FIP, LA’s 25th. Newly acquired Jeurys Familia hasn’t conceded a run in 10 innings. Lou Trivino boasts a sub-two ERA and has allowed one run in his last 9.2 innings. Oakland has won seven of its last eight games, and its positive team rhythm will secure it another victory for an MLB pick.

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