The Oakland Athletics have a long way to go before they reach .500, but at least they're beating the baseball odds again. Let's see if the New York Yankees can stop them.
Jason's 2015 record as of July 6: 30-24, plus-6.36 units ML; 0-3, minus-3.30 units Total
The last time we checked in on the Oakland Athletics back in late May, things were beginning to look up. They had to be, because the A's were in the American League basement at 17-30 (–18.05 betting units). But Oakland had also started winning games again, and Ben Zobrist had just come off the disabled list. Would our Moneyball heroes get back on the good foot?
Yup. The Athletics are 21-17 since our last visit, improving to 38-47 overall, although that was only enough to cut their deficit to –17.75 units. Can the A's continue this turnaround Tuesday night (7:05 p.m. ET) when they visit the New York Yankees? The MLB odds are very slightly in Oakland's favor, with Sonny Gray (2.67 FIP) scheduled to take the mound for the A's versus Nathan Eovaldi (3.76 FIP) in a battle of two promising 25-year-old righties.
Sam 'n' Ella's Coffee Shop
Right off the bat, we have to put a red flag on Gray. He missed last week's start after coming down with salmonella and going to the hospital. Gray was meant to pitch in Oakland's last game on Sunday, but that start got pushed back, too. We're not comfortable speculating about the current state of Gray's GI tract, but even if he's back to 100 percent, his routine has been disrupted.
Otherwise, Gray has been fantastic for Oakland. Profitable, not so much: The A's are still down 0.92 units behind Gray on a team record of 9-7. But they've also won five of his last seven starts, six of those with Zobrist back in the lineup, so let's not get too bogged down over those last few drops of red ink. By the way, at 3.0 WAR, Gray has almost matched last year's total of 3.1 WAR. He'd be in the All-Star Game if Oakland hadn't sucked so hard in April and May.
While the A's have been clawing their way forward, the Yankees (44-38, –1.38 units) are still on top of the AL East, but they've flattened out lately at 11-13 over the past month. Carlos Beltran (.739 OPS) is out until the All-Star break with a strained left oblique, but that's not what's been bugging the Yankees lately – it's the pitching, which has fallen to No. 20 in the majors at 2.2 WAR over the past 30 days.
Eovaldi has been excellent, though. The Bombers have won six of his last eight starts to improve to 10-6, good enough for 4.14 units of profit. Eovaldi regularly throws a 95-mph fastball that tops out at 99 on the radar gun, but it's his new split-fingered change that's got batters a bit puzzled. Now, if that .352 BABIP goes down, maybe Eovaldi's profit margin will rise. We'd also like to see him pitch a little deeper into games, although that shouldn't be much a concern on Tuesday with a fresh bullpen.
If things look aligned for a Yankees win, one caveat: current Oakland batters have a combined 1.028 OPS against Eovaldi, while Gray has allowed a combined .485 OPS versus New York's hitters. Perhaps now would be a good time to add some A's to your lineup. If you're not too worried about whether 1B Ike Davis (.745 OPS) will get the start or not, he's 5-for-13 lifetime against Eovaldi with two homers and a 1.471 OPS. All this, and only 1% owned at Yahoo leagues as we go to press. We'll take some of that Oakland magic for our MLB picks, too, and may the sphere be with you.
Free MLB Pick: Take the A's –109 at Marathon