St. Louis and Oakland both received a rare Friday off before squaring off in a two-game weekend series at the Oakland Coliseum.
Both teams are making their move toward the playoffs. The Cardinals have won 14 of their last 19 and Oakland has taken four out of its last five after slowing down in the second half of July, which began splendidly. St. Louis enters Saturday on top of the NL Central, while Oakland trails Tampa Bay by a single win (even in the loss column) for the final American League Wild Card spot.
Oakland commands a -135 price tag in a battle of Mike Fiers against Dakota Hudson.
Oakland may be 4–1 in its last five but the four wins have come by a combined five runs. The A’s have been pitching better, partially because of the recent acquisitions (Homer Bailey, Jake Diekman) but more so because the arms that have been there all season are starting to throw a little better.
Blake Treinen was one of the best pitchers in baseball last season, not just limited to guys coming out of the bullpen. His ERA peaked to 4.66 on July 16 and he hasn’t allowed a run in seven appearances since. Neither Joakim Soria nor Lou Trivino have straightened themselves out yet but with Liam Hendriks, Yusmeiro Petit, and a more confident Treinen to back them up, perhaps they’ll start letting it go a little easier too.
Fiers, meanwhile, has been Oakland’s best starting pitcher all season. He leads the staff in innings pitched, ERA+, and wins. He’ll gun for double-digit W’s on Saturday night.
The Cardinals’ bullpen was in dire straights before Jordan Hicks went down, which, for some, signaled the end of the season. Instead, St. Louis, ever crafty, filled Hicks’ role and more with a mix of youth and experience. Giovanny Gallegos from Mexico has given up two earned runs in 23 appearances over the last two months. Nine of John Brebbia’s 11 July appearances were goose eggs. And now Carlos Martinez is closing out games with confidence, looking healthy for the first time in two years.
Dakota Hudson did not have the finest July. He gave up multiple runs in all five of his starts and only went more than five innings twice. He’s a battler, though, and I believe in him. It’s a new month and it’s a chance to wipe the slate clean. Oakland’s offense is tough but he’s a contact pitcher in that big ballpark and I’m keen to back him on Saturday.
I’ve got this total at 8.0. Both lineups are hitting the ball well right now but pitching will prevail in what will be an intense atmosphere between two proud franchises in the heat of a playoff chase.
Play: Under 9.0 (-110)