Free Baseball Pick - Tampa Bay vs Oakland - Saturday August 21st 9:05 PM EST
by Jason Sharpe - 8/21/2010
Two of baseball’s best young left-handers take the mound in game 3 of this 4 game series between the Tampa Bay Rays (74-47 overall; 35-23 away) and the Oakland Athletics (60-60; 37-25 at home). The Rays come in a -125 favorite with a game total lined at a very low ‘under’ 7 -130.
24 year old David Price (15-5; 2.84 ERA) has been sensational in just his 2nd full season in the major leagues. The Rays have gone 16-7 (+4.91 units) in the 23 games Price has started this year. 18 of those 23 starts have been quality starts for the talented lefty. Price has only allowed 4 or more runs in just 2 of his 23 starts this season. He has been able to avoid the big inning by keeping the ball inside the ballpark, as he has allowed just 10 home runs in over 150 innings of work this season and none in his last 4 starts.
The A’s counter with 22 year old Brett Anderson. In what has been an injury plagued season for Anderson, he is still showing why he is considered one of the top young arms in the game. In just his 2nd year in the big leagues the big lefty has posted an ERA of 2.89 and a WHIP of 1.09 this year. The A’s haven’t given Anderson much run support as they have only managed to go 4-6 (-3.97 units) in his 10 starts this season. Though still very good, Anderson’s numbers may not be as great when you take a little closer look at things. Of the 84 AL pitchers with 55 or more innings pitched this year, Anderson has gone up against batters hitting just .244 overall as a group. This is the lowest combined batting average of any pitcher who qualifies in the AL and means Anderson had faced the easiest group of hitters in the American League so far this year.
Runs have been hard to come by for both teams this season as the A’s have played the 2nd most ‘unders’ in the American League while the Rays rank 5th in the AL in games finishing below the posted total. Much of this has to do with the fact that these two teams have the 2 best bullpens in the AL. Oakland comes in leading the AL with a 3.56 bullpen ERA while the Rays are a close 2nd with a 3.62 bullpen ERA on the year.
The Rays continue to play solid all around baseball this year as they battle the New York Yankees for not only the top spot in the AL East but also the best record in baseball. Through 121 games played on the year, the Rays have earned their backers close to 6 units of profit along the way this season. The Rays are even more dominant when going up against left-handers as they have gone 24-9 in the past 33 starts when facing an opposing lefty. Lately the Rays have been red hot as they come into this game averaging over 5 runs per game their last 10 games while hitting .314 during that span against left-handers and .282 overall as a team, which ranks them 2nd in team batting average in the AL for the past 10 games..
Oakland has been struggling all year at the plate as they rank just 12th out of 14 teams in the American League in runs scored (4.03 runs per game) for the year. Things have actually gotten worse for the A’s of late as they have hit under .220 and average less then 3 runs per game in their last 10 games, which puts them worst in the AL in both categories. The A’s just don’t have the firepower to keep up with the hot hitting Rays, who average over a run more per game this season.
With only a ¼ of the season left to play, every game is important for the Rays as they continue their late season push to the playoffs. At only 24 years old, David Price started this year’s All-Star game for the American League and is slowly developing into a big game pitcher. The Rays know that they can expect a well pitched ball game from the always reliable Price. Anderson on the other hand shows only 2 starts this year against possible playoff teams (Chicago and Boston). Those 2 games were Anderson’s 2 worst starts of the year as he allowed 7 runs in just 7 innings. Though a very good young pitcher, Anderson is still not yet at the level of David Price. With one of the hottest hitting teams in the league behind Price and going up against the punch less Oakland A’s, the Rays look to be the play in this one. Take Tampa Bay -125.
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