MLB Best Bet: Thursday, August 23

oakland a's stadium

The past two days I did not see much betting value, but there is one game today that I want to wager on.

The last Best Bet we had ended up not happening due to Kevin Gausman being scratched from the game in favor of Bryse Wilson of the Braves. Bryse lived up to his minor league numbers and the Braves completely shut down the Pirates offense.

After finding out about the pitching change I altered the pick to a lean on the Braves +105, so we’ll call that a lucky win.

Gausman ended up pitching the next day and again, the Pirates offense was shut down so we were lucky to avoid a suddenly decent Kevin Gausman.

For tonight’s bet we’re heading to Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota where the Twins and Kohl Stewart face the Oakland Athletics and Trevor Cahill.

Trevor Cahill may not be a household name, but he’s been pitching like a near-ace during the course of the 2018 season. Here are his numbers:

  • 86.2 IP
  • 85 K’s
  • 3.40 K/BB
  • 1.04 WHIP
  • 3.12 ERA
  • 3.10 FIP
  • 3.28 xFIP
  • 3.54 SIERA

While Cahill has slightly outperformed his peripherals, digging deeper into the stats reveals part of the reason why and it only makes him look that much more impressive. Look at how good Cahill is when the opposing team has a run-scoring opportunity compared to when no one is on base:

trevor cahill 2018 splits

In high-leverage situations Cahill’s FIP goes down to an unthinkable 1.06 and his xFIP isn’t too far behind at 1.55.

This is exactly the kind of pitcher you want to bet on, a guy who doesn’t buckle under the pressure, but instead thrives on it.

On the opposing side the starting pitcher for the Twins is Kohl Stewart. Stewart is a former first round pick that went all the way up at fourth overall, but has never managed to strike out enough batters to be projected as anything more than a mid-rotation starter.

Stewart had some decent seasons in the lower minors, but proved to be incredibly hittable this year at Double-A, posting a 4.76 ERA despite a solid 9.40 K/9 to go along with 2.78 BB/9. Those numbers along with an unfortunate .389 BABIP added up to a 3.03 FIP for Stewart, which resulted in a call-up to Triple A. There, Stewart’s K/9 plunged back down to his career norm of  6.64 with a 2.66 BB/9 and a 4.16 FIP in 40 innings pitched.

Stewart has talent, but he seems to be a guy that lives in the strike zone, and the A’s hitters should thrive on this. There are some opposing teams that may fall prey Kohl’s style of pitching, but the A’s are not one of those teams. Up and down the lineup the A’s feature hitters who take walks and can go deep at a moment’s notice. If Kohl tries pounding the strike zone, I believe the A’s will make him pay.

As a team vs RHP’s this year the A’s have a .326 wOBA (for comparison’s sake, the Cubs as a team have a .326 wOBA on the season and that is good for 5th overall in MLB) and the A’s have a wRC+ of 108, meaning 8% above average.

Meanwhile, the Twins against RHP’s this year have a .316 wOBA which is just below average, along with a wRC+ of 97 which is also 3% below average.

Finally, there is the psychological factor to consider. The A’s inexplicably tied the Astros for first place last weekend after being 10 games back on July 10 and currently sit one game back of first. The Twins, on the other hand, sold at the trade deadline and are just playing out the season without any playoff hopes to pursue

The combination of a better offense, a high-quality starting pitcher, and the psychological edge is why I’m happy to bet on the A’s despite the extra juice.

The Pick: Oakland A’s -180 at Minnesota Twins

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s