MLB Picks: Baltimore Starting With Tillman vs. Oakland No-Name Pitcher Leads Us To Back Orioles

Chris Tillman

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, August 11, 2016 1:48 PM GMT

The Baltimore Orioles and Oakland A's meet for the final time this season in a getaway day game in northern California on Thursday to conclude a four-game series. The Orioles are -135 on MLB odds with a total of 8.5. 

Baltimore Orioles vs Oakland Athletics   
I think you could see a few Baltimore regulars take a seat here. Why? The O's might be gassed and they start a big series across the bay in San Francisco -- a potential World Series preview -- on Friday night. The Orioles haven't had a day off since Aug. 1 and this is Game No. 7 of a 10-game trip. It's Baltimore's longest trip of the second half of the season. Plus there's the whole early start Thursday after a night game. A few Orioles are really struggling of late offensively, especially outfielder Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis. The Birds totaled just three runs in losing the first two games of this series.

With the AL Cy Young race wide open, could Orioles lefty reliever Zach Britton actually win it? No reliever has won the Cy Young since the Dodgers' Eric Gagne in 2003. No American League reliever has since Dennis Eckersley in 1992. But Britton is having a fabulous season. He is 34-for-34 in save opportunities (even got a save in the All-Star Game) with a ridiculous 0.58 ERA and 0.75 WHIP entering Wednesday. He last allowed an earned run on April 30 vs. the White Sox, which happens to be his only loss of the year. The record for lowest ERA ever by a reliever with at least 50 innings pitched is 0.60 by Fernando Rodney in 2012 with Tampa Bay when he had 48 saves and a WAR of 3.7. Rodney finished fifth in the Cy Young that year, with former teammate David Price winning it.  Britton's current 2.8 WAR leads AL relievers but also is only 18th among all AL starters.

"For a reliever to win (the Cy Young), they'd have to do something pretty much off the charts to get it," Britton said to ESPN. Yeah, he's right.

As for Oakland, it waived the white flag on the season at the Aug. 1 trade deadline in sending its best player, outfielder Josh  Reddick, and best pitcher (at least this season) in Rich Hill to the Los Angeles Dodgers. At this point, losing is better for the franchise to get a better draft pick and finish with one of MLB's 10 worst records as then the A's wouldn't lose a compensation first-round draft pick if they sign a top free agent. The Oakland rotation is a jumble of no-names right now with Hill gone and both ace Sonny Gray and Jesse Hahn injured. Gray is having forearm trouble and we may not see him again in 2016. But at least there is no structural damage and no plans for surgery. Second baseman Jed Lowrie also recently landed on the AL and his season might be over too.

As of Wednesday, the Orioles are 49-60-3 'over/under' on MLB odds. The A's are 53-55-5 O/U.

 

Probable Pitchers
While I don't see Britton winning the Cy Young, it's not inconceivable that Orioles ace Chris Tillman (14-4, 3.50) could if he can get to 20 victories at least and lower that ERA to around 3.00 overall. However, Tillman has dropped two of his past three outings. He pitched at the White Sox on Saturday and allowed three runs and seven hits over six innings. But his WAR of 3.9 is fourth among AL pitchers. The Orioles are 13-3 on MLB picks in Tillman's past 16 starts on four days of rest.

Tillman beat visiting Oakland on May 8, allowing three runs and six hits over 6.1 innings with seven strikeouts and four walks. All three runs came in the first inning. Billy Butler has faced him more than any Oakland batter, going 2-for-17 with a double, homer and two RBIs. Khris Davis is 2-for-2 with a homer off him. Danny Valencia is 5-for-13 with a homer and four RBIs. Stephen Vogt is 0-for-9.

Oakland goes with one of those no-name guys in 27-year-old rookie Andrew Triggs (0-0, 5.35). He has done something this year no other Oakland players has done before: had eight stints with the big-league team. Yep, he must feel like a yo-yo for how many times he has been sent to the minors and then recalled. Triggs has made 19 appearances with the A's this year, last on Sunday vs. the Cubs when he didn't record an official out in giving up a run, hit and walk in two batters faced. He did start a game on June 18 vs. the Angels but lasted only three innings and allowed a run and three hits. You aren't likely to see him throw more than 60 pitches here so the bullpen will be heavily used. Triggs threw a scoreless inning vs. Baltimore on May 7, striking out Pedro Alvarez, Jonathan Schoop and Ryan Flaherty.

 

Final Analysis
The Orioles better score at least four runs because they are 12-34 when scoring three runs or fewer. I think they will. Go Orioles and 'under.' Baltimore is 4-1 in Tillman's past five on the road. The A's are 1-7 in their past eight in Game 4 of a series. The 'under' is 7-0 in Tillman's past seven starts.  

 

MLB Free Picks: Orioles -135 & under 8.5 +105 
Best Line Offered: Orioles -135 at Bet365 & under 8.5 +105 at Heritage​

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