Free MLB Pick: Underdog Athletics To Take Series vs. Rays

Doug Upstone

Sunday, May 15, 2016 12:00 PM UTC

Sunday, May. 15, 2016 12:00 PM UTC

The Rays ended their four-game losing streak yesterday behind the complete game by Matt Andriese. Those looking for MLB Picks will have to decide who will win this now tied series.

Andriese threw a gem, allowing only two hits, striking out five and not walking a batter in the 6-0 white-washing.

Tampa Bay is the favorite for MLB picks, being at home, but I thought this series could go either way coming in and there is a lot to digest, so let's get after it.


Pitching Matchup - Gray vs. Moore
Sonny Gray (3-4) is the one starting pitcher Oakland thought they could count on, but he is in the worst stretch of his career. Gray started the year fine at 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA, but he's lost it in three consecutive losses, with a crazy ERA of 12.79, which has taken his season earned run average to 6.00. The issue for Gray is that his command has disappeared in the trio of starts. He's walked seven while striking out only 10 and is leaving everything over the plate, accounting for 18 runs in only 12 2/3 innings. There is no way to know if the right-hander starts to find it, we will just have to see.

Matt Moore (1-3, 4.83) has also been going through some recent struggles, not making it through the fifth inning in two recent starts. The lefthander has also been all over the place with seven free passes and only eight punch-outs in those contests. Moore just keeps falling behind in counts and is allowing too many base-runners. Like Gray, the stuff is there, but he has to find it.


Offensive Overlook
With yesterday's shutout, Oakland falls to 3.7 runs per game. The loss of Jed Lowrie makes an anemic batting order even weaker and thank goodness Josh Reddick (.311 BA, .383. OBP) is off to the best start of his career or the A's would really be in a world of hurt. The fact of the matter is Oakland has a collection of players that are average at best and most below and they are going to struggle to score all season except for brief interludes. The A's are scoring measly 3.2 RPG against lefties.

Six runs on Saturday was an explosion for Tampa Bay, moving them up to 3.6 RPG. With Evan Longoria's (.242 BA) bat much slower from his younger days, be can be overpowered and in attempting to make changes, well, they just have not worked. It does not help the Rays have not raised another true All-Star in the everyday lineup, having a collection of limited offensive players, which places a lot of pressure on the pitchers.


Betting Odds, History and Bullpen Numbers
The MLB odds at Heritage have Tampa Bay at -135 with total at 7.5. With that total, oddsmakers are counting on a return to form for both pitchers against mediocre offenses. Even with the loss, Oakland still holds a slight 5-4 edge in west Florida and the total is 5-2-2 Under since 2014. The Rays also hold the bullpen edge with 3.46 ERA, compared to the Athletics at 4.35.


Game Outcome
This AL contest is loaded with contrary info. Oakland is 16-37 against left-handed starters recently, but have Sonny Gray as a Sunday starter and the A's are imposing 11-0. The past two years, Gray is 11-3 Over on the road when the total is 7 to 8.5, yet when Tampa Bay has come up against right-handed starters, they are 14-5-1 Under.

My original thought on Friday was Gray can win this game and the A's can take the series and I will stick with that.

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Free MLB Pick: Athletics +120
Best Line Offered:  at Heritage

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