MLB Picks: Pitching & Offense Bring O/U Value To Athletics vs. Mariners

Mark Lathrop

Monday, May 2, 2016 5:00 PM UTC

Monday, May. 2, 2016 5:00 PM UTC

The Oakland Athletics have the worst offense in the American League, and our MLB handicapper believes that places value on the total listed in the MLB Odds versus the Mariners.

The surprising Oakland Athletics host the surging Seattle Mariners on Monday night in Oakland as the A’s continue their home stand against teams of the AL West. With Kendall Graveman starting for the Athletics and Nathan Karns starting for Seattle the Mariners find themselves listed as road favorites, with moneyline MLB odds posted at -116 at sites such as BookMaker. The O/U total has opened at 7.5 across the board and is not shading a direction over or under at any book.

Kendall Graveman got toasted in his last start, a 7-3 loss at Detroit. Even though he was pitching in cavernous Comerica Park, Graveman allowed 3 home runs in route to giving up 6 earned runs and 10 hits. He had been pitching very strong this season up to that point, carrying a 2.04 ERA into the game against the Tigers.

Graveman is not a fireballer, with a fastball he throws about half of the time that sits in the low-90’s. His best pitch is a cutter that he throws in the mid-80’s. What is concerning with Graveman is that he induces hitters to pull the ball off of him, and when those balls get in the air they leave the yard. In 2016, 51.5% of in-play contact against Graveman were balls that were pulled and 30.9% of his contact was hit ‘hard’. When looking at these stats the 25.0% HR/FB rate for Graveman makes a lot more sense. No Mariner has taken him deep yet, but that is only over 10.0 innings pitched in his career.

Speaking of another pitcher who is getting balls pulled off of him, Nate Karns gets the start for Seattle on Monday night. Possessing a great curveball, Karns was traded to the Mariners from the Rays over the offseason. The move makes sense for Seattle, as Karns is a fly ball pitcher that should see a bump in his metrics just by pitching half of his games in Safeco Field. Karns is coming off of his best start of the season, a 7.0 inning masterpiece twirled against the Houston Astros where he gave up just 2 hits while striking out 6. Karns current 3.63 ERA is nearly identical to the 3.67 ERA he posted last year with the Rays, so there is no indication that Karns won’t be able to keep up the good work.

The Mariners are on quite a roll right now, winners of their last five series and 8 of their last 10 games coming into Sunday afternoon’s affair with the Kansas City Royals. Part of that success has been the starting pitching, as the Mariners rank 3rd in the American League in ERA on the year at 3.27. On the other hand, the Athletics are 10th in the American League in starting pitcher ERA at 4.25. The differences in pitching tighten up considerably in regards to the bullpens though, as the Mariners rank 4th in the AL with a reliever ERA of 2.53 and the A’s 5th with a reliever ERA of 2.58.

Karns last faced the Athletics on April 9th, and lost 6-1 while giving up 4 earned runs – 3 of those coming on a home run by Josh Reddick. He gave up seven hits in the start, but also posted a K/BB ratio of 6/1. Without that home run mistake in the 5th inning the result of the game would have been much different.

The Athletics still have the worst offense in the American League though, and a team batting average of .237. The Mariners are ranked 10th and have a team batting average of .227, but make the most of their hits in ranking 2nd in the AL in home runs. This leads me to believe that the Under is the way to go in this game, and I’m making that call and taking Under 7.5 runs at Heritage my Monday night MLB Pick.

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Free MLB Pick:  Under 7½ +100
Best Line Offered:  at Heritage
MLB Record: 12-6-1, +5.60 Units

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