Aces are apparently on sale on the 4th of July in Oakland, as Seattle's Felix Hernandez finds himself not giving up as much chalk as is customary. Our MLB handicapper looks at why this could be the case and gives his MLB pick.
It’s the 4th of July, hamburgers are on the menu in Costa Rica, and the Mariners and A’s meet again on Saturday afternoon at 1:05 PM PST with Felix Hernandez matching up against rookie starter Kendall Graveman. The line on this game has opened at -120 on the money line in favor of King Felix on the road at Pinnacle. The O/U total has opened at 6.5 at the same book at time of writing. The line is moving towards Seattle early, with a shift to -131 on the MLB odds in the first three hours that the line has been open at Pinnacle. I’m dumbfounded as to why Felix isn’t favored by more than this actually, and had been prepared to write a decision to take the A’s +1.5 on the run line at even money or so. That is obviously not the case here so let’s hash this out and see why the line is so out of whack with my initial expectations.
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Felix Hernandez is unquestionably the best pitcher in this matchup, but he has been unsteady over the last six games, going back and forth between wins and losses. Still, his season numbers are fantastic and he carries a 10-4 record, 3.05 ERA, 100/31 K/BB ratio, and 1.03 WHIP. Felix has been great against Oakland as well in his career. Including a win this year, Felix is 20-7 with a 2.63 ERA and 1.12 WHIP against the Athletics. No smoking gun on why the line isn’t heavily favored on his side here.
So the question is, does Oakland’s fifth starter stand a chance at keeping it close? Rookie starter Kendall Graveman was acquired in the Josh Donaldson trade in the offseason and promptly won a job in the starting rotation out of spring training. His 0.36 ERA in the spring was the best in the majors by far for a starter so it wasn’t much of a decision. After his first four starts; however, Graveman was sent back to the minors as his ERA had ballooned to 8.27. Graveman wasn’t striking batters out and wasn’t pitching past the fifth inning – not a recipe for success. When Graveman is going good he actually won’t punch a lot of batters out, as he induces weak contact with his cutter and splitter. By some turn of events, Graveman found himself back in the A’s starting rotation on May 23rd and has been on quite a run. He has lowered his ERA in each of his last 8 starts and it now stands at a respectable 3.47. Maybe he just needed some time with the Oakland minor league pitching instructors.
MLB Pick: Getting the Seattle ace here at only -131 is a gift, regardless of the opponent. Yes, I know that the Seattle offense has been struggling in the first half of the season, but when Felix is pitching 2 or 3 runs should be all it takes to get a win. Add to that his career numbers versus Oakland, and Graveman’s lack of experience versus Seattle, and we have a great value bet here for our Saturday MLB pick. Stay safe and sane everyone and enjoy the 4th.