Don’t look now, but the Oakland A’s have rattled off five straight wins all on the road. As they prepare to play tonight at home, they will start a series against the team no organization wants to face amid a winning streak, the Tampa Bay Rays. We’ll preview the first game of the series before going over my best prop play for the action.
The Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers series was arguably the most intriguing matchup heading into the weekend, but the Rays proved they are still the best team in the AL by winning two out of three. Tampa Bay closed out the series with a 7-3 win yesterday afternoon, which gave them 19 runs scored across the three games. Yesterday they were led by a Wander Franco three-run home run and a strong start from Shane McClanahan, who went seven innings with five strikeouts.
Getting the ball for the Rays tonight as they start their road stand will be right-hander Zach Eflin. The offseason acquisition has been another example of the Rays' ability to get the best out of their pitchers. Across 11 starts and 66.7 innings, Eflin has pitched to a 2.97 ERA with 66 strikeouts and nine walks. In his most recent outing against the Twins, the righty threw 6 ⅔ shutout innings with nine punchouts.
Eflin and the Rays will face an Oakland offense that will enter this week fresh off their strongest five-game stretch of the season. The A’s were outhit in yesterday’s win over the Brewers, but they still managed to secure an 8-6 victory for the sweep. Out of the six hits the A’s recorded yesterday, three left the yard as Seth Brown, Brent Rooker, and Kevin Smith came up big to keep the win streak alive.
Not only has the offense performed well over the win streak, but the Oakland pitching staff has allowed two or fewer runs in three of their last five games. As they look to get another quality start tonight, they will send James Kaprielian to the mound for his ninth start. The right-hander picked up his first win of the season in his last outing by allowing two runs (one earned) across six innings.
For my prop play in this one, I’ll be targeting Zach Eflin to go over his strikeout total of 5.5, which is currently priced at (-125). As nice as it is to see the A’s be competitive, they still have the 6th highest strikeout percentage over the last month when facing a right-handed pitcher at home. In 292 plate appearances, Oakland’s 25.3% strikeout percentage sets up an ideal matchup for Eflin, who is averaging six strikeouts per game.
Over his last ten starts, Eflin has gone over five strikeouts in five of them, putting him in the 65th percentile for strikeout percentage. The strong punch-out numbers have come from him being in the 88th percentile in chase rate and having a 34.1% whiff rate on his curveball this season.
Eflin has a K/9 of 9.00 when pitching on the road this season which boils down to him averaging one strikeout per inning. That bodes well for his backers since he has averaged 18.5 outs recorded per game over his last ten starts, meaning he’ll at least be throwing six innings. Eflin has gotten stronger throughout games, which is why he’s averaging 6+ innings an outing, as he has a 27.3% strikeout percentage the first time through the order and a 27.6% percentage the third time through.
Zach Eflin Over 5.5 K’s (-125)