After another series loss, the Oakland A’s will remain at home and play host to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a three-game series. We’ll preview tonight’s game before going over why I’ll be targeting a first-five bet in this one.
One of the best ways to respond and bounce back from a three-game losing streak is to turn around and win three straight games, which is exactly what the Arizona Diamondbacks did this past weekend. Arizona dropped the first game of the series to the Giants, but they responded by ultimately winning the series. After scoring 14 runs in games two and three, the D-Backs closed the series by winning a 2-1 pitching duel ending with a Lourdes Gurriel Jr. walk-off double.
Looking for another strong pitching performance, Arizona will hand the ball to Merril Kelly to make his ninth start of the year. In 45.3 innings, Kelly has pitched to a 3.18 ERA with 46 strikeouts and 20 walks. The righties last start ended with a no-decision as he went six innings with six strikeouts but left the game with four earned runs on the board.
Kelly will face an Athletics team and lineup that is currently 6th in strikeout percentage and was held scoreless in two out of the four games they just played against the Rangers. Oakland fell 11-3 yesterday, with the highlight of the game for them coming from Shea Lanagliers hitting his 7th home run of the season. With the loss, the A’s hard-hit percentage is now down to 33%, the second lowest in the league.
Anyone consistently following baseball knows the A’s struggles cannot all be blamed on their offense, as the team's starting pitchers currently have a 7.47 ERA and 5.46 expected FIP. Drew Rucinski will be on the mound for Oakland tonight to make his fourth start. In 14.3 innings, the righty has an 8.16 ERA with six strikeouts and nine walks.
The Diamondbacks F5 run line of (-.5) is currently priced at (-135), and I’ll be backing them for my play in this one. Arizona has a solid advantage on the mound and is also hitting .272 against right-handed pitching this season, so I think they can come out and put some runs on the board while Merril Kelly continues to be effective this season.
Kelly is in the 56th percentile in barrel percentage, 65th percentile in strikeout percentage, and has a 1.15 ERA in 15.2 innings on the road. The right-hander doesn’t have an inning through the first five where his ERA is higher than 3.52, and between Oakland being a pitcher-friendly ballpark and Kelly’s 49.1% groundball percentage, I think he’s in for a solid outing.
Outside of allowing no runs in the first inning of his three starts, Drew Rucinski has struggled in innings two through five. The righty has a 9.00 ERA or higher in each of those innings, and his 6.59 expected ERA is in the bottom 8% of the league. Rucinski does not have strong stuff, which is evident since his expected WOBA is also in the bottom 8% of the league. Arizona can score runs in bunches, and I expect one of those performances early tonight.
Arizona Diamondbacks F5 (-.5)(-135)