The Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners will battle it out once again on Friday night. These two teams look like playoff contenders, but only one of them truly is. That team is the one that is a short road favorite on Friday night.
The A’s have a profile that certainly supports playoff contention. They are trying to chase down Houston for the division title, but have a pretty firm grasp on the second Wild Card spot as a backup plan. I realize that the Mariners are providing some kind of opposition, and really the only opposition in the AL, but that team is a farce.
I’m sorry to do this to Mariners fans, but I have no earthly idea how this team is in the playoff hunt and over .500. I mean, I do, I just don’t see how any of it can continue. This Mariners team has been such a bad offense throughout the season, but has gotten remarkably fortunate in high-leverage plate appearances by being a top-10 offense all year long with men in scoring position.
The Mariners were even in the top five for a while and it just doesn’t make any sense, especially when you consider that they are the worst home offense in baseball. And they’re the worst home offense in margin by a really large margin as well.
I sound like a broken record with the Mariners. It isn’t because I have a vendetta against them or anything like that. It’s just that they’ve been badly outscored on the season and have far and away the league’s best record in one-run games. I’ll admit that their bullpen has been far better than I expected coming into the season, but the true talent level of that unit is not what we have seen to this point.
The Mariners are the luckiest team in baseball by Pythagorean Win-Loss. They’re one of the luckiest teams by BaseRuns and 3rd Order Win%. There are a lot of reasons to fade this team right now and I will be fading them today.
Frankie Montas gets the call for the A’s. He has a 4.33 ERA with a 3.73 FIP in his 106 innings of work this season. The biggest issue for Montas has been the home run ball, but he has only allowed three home runs in his last nine starts. In that span, even with a 63.1% LOB%, Montas has a 3.74 ERA with a 2.75 FIP. He’s struck out 56 and walked 13. He’s been pitching really well of late, including seven runs allowed on 18 hits in his last 23.1 innings of work. He’s faced the Giants, Red Sox, Astros, and Indians in that span, so some good offenses and then the Indians.
Not only are the Mariners the worst home offense in baseball, they’re also basically a bottom-five offense against right-handed pitching.
There is something wrong with Seattle starter Yusei Kikuchi. He was put on the COVID-19 IL briefly, but that’s not it. His fastball velocity for the season is 95.6 mph. From April 29 to July 1, Kikuchi’s average FB velocity bottomed out at 95.3 mph, but it topped out at 96.8 mph on July 1.
His last two starts, Kikuchi’s fastball has clocked in at 94.1 and 94.9 mph. All season long he has allowed hard contact, but the last two starts have had average exit velocities of 94.5 mph and 95 mph. He’s allowed 12 runs on 17 hits in those two starts. Something is amiss here.
I’ll be on the A’s here. I’ll take a lot of prices in this range to fade the Mariners the rest of the way if the matchup looks solid. This matchup looks solid.