The American League West is a wild division thus far in 2020, and Saturday's showdown between the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics is especially significant during this shortened season.
After playing the first seven games on the road, Seattle finally enjoyed some home cooking at T-Mobile Park on Friday, defeating the A's 5-3 to climb back to .500 with a 4-4 record. Oakland dropped to 3-4 on the year in a surprisingly crowded division.
Proceed further to learn more about this marquee MLB matchup, as abe Insights' betting preview provides you with the best odds, along with analysis of potential wagers action and advanced stats designed to bolster your decision-making when you go to bet.
Date: Saturday, August 1
Time: 9:10 p.m. ET
TV: ROOT Sports Northwest; Fox Sports Southwest
Implied Probabilities: Athletics 59%; Mariners 42%
Spread: OAK -1.5 (+105); SEA +1.5 (-120)
Moneyline: OAK -142; SEA +138
The starting pitchers will be Mike Fiers for the A's and southpaw Yusei Kikuchi on the home side. Fiers was a 15-game winner last season, but got tagged in his debut this year for four runs in as many innings against the Angels.
Kikuchi didn't do so hot a year ago, going 6-11 with a 5.46 ERA in 33 starts. He walked four batters and gave up five earned runs in four innings during last Sunday's loss to the Astros. That certainly doesn't bode well, since Oakland has a comparably strong stable of hitters — at least on paper.
15.39 vs. 9.43: These numbers are the total bases per game for the A's from 2019 and this year respectively. It's a tale of two seasons, as Oakland's typically high-octane lineup has gone rather cold.
1.91 vs. 6.48: These dueling stats reflect the bullpen ERA for both clubs through the early part of the season. Oakland's relievers have helped keep contests competitive, while Seattle's lineup has had to try to pick up the slack for its lackluster pen.
.339 vs. .243: A big key to the Mariners being competitive thus far is their MLB-leading batting average on balls in play. The A's are in the bottom-four among all teams, which speaks to the extent of the slump their batting order is battling through.
It's probably not the bullpen the M's are worried about as much as it is Kikuchi. If he can't keep Oakland's explosive bats in check, this could be a long night for the hosts. The circumstances are as ripe as can be for the A's to finally break through. They're averaging a mere 2.5 runs over the last four games.
On the other hand, pressure is mounting amid the heightened stakes of a 60-game season, so in some ways, the clubs with higher expectations have a more difficult mental grind. Seattle and other teams considered among MLB's worst can freewheel, essentially playing with house money.
That's been the case thus far for the M's. Young outfielder Kyle Lewis in particular has been incredible, with a .455/.500/.636 slash line to spearhead Seattle's attack-minded batsmen. Shortstop J.P. Crawford and second baseman Tim Lopes are also part of the Mariners' youth movement, and are playing really well to date.
If Seattle can somehow get its bullpen in order and continue this loose, entertaining brand of baseball, there's a real chance to make some noise in the playoffs. That seems impossible with the AL West being controlled by Houston and Oakland in recent years, but not so much anymore, especially with the playoff field expanding to 16 teams.
Let's not write off Oakland's new-era Big Green Machine just yet. Given that the total runs are still up at 9.5, oddsmakers seem to think the A's will either rise to the occasion and produce to their offensive capabilities, or Seattle's pen will get rocked again. Both might happen, so expect action to go toward the Over.
When it comes to the moneyline and spread, well, either side of the latter is worth a shot, and is frankly too close in terms of payout benefits to endorse as a pre-game wager. Bettors should wait on a live wager to see if the run line moves at all.
If you had to absolutely had to choose before the first pitch, it'd make sense to go with the A's to cover, with a potential hedge on the Mariners' better-paying moneyline.
Note: Odds current as of 3:35 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 1.
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