We’re officially in the dog days of the Major League Baseball season as fewer teams have something to play for but a few teams have a lot more on the line. The Oakland A’s have done what everyone in the AL West hoped to do when this season started: beat up on the new-coming Houston Astros. Oakland finishes up a three game set in Houston on Wednesday with AJ Griffin dueling Bud Norris. The Athletics open as strong road favorites up to about -170 at select shops with a total hanging on at 8.5.
AJ Griffin has been pretty dang good in just his second MLB season despite high expectations after a rookie year filled with promise. The 25-year-old starter has posted an 8-7 record with a 1.13 WHIP in over 127 innings. Griffin’s style is not particularly overpowering but he struck out a seasson-high seven batters in his last outing against Houston – a start that came in late May. He has consistently kept opponents off-balanced with a good mix of speeds and locations. Good bats hit Griffin on those starts when he isn’t completely on top of his stuff. The Astros aren’t a team he necessarily needs to be on top of his game in order for Griffin to dominate.
On the other side, the home team counters with Bud Norris. Amongst trade winds swirling, Norris takes the hill for Houston against an Oakland lineup that could give him a ton of trouble even at home. Not only has Norris struggled all year with his stuff, he has also struggled to find consistent command lately. Norris has walked at least three batters in three of his last five starts. Oakland has one of the most patient lineups in baseball and could exploit Norris’ lack of command as the season wears on. Lefties also crush Norris to the tune of a .375 on-base percentage on the season. Oakland loves to play their lefty split players such as Brandon Moss and Seth Smith in addition to Jaso, Reddick, Crisp, Lowrie and company. Expect the A’s to stack a lineup filled with lefties and really rough up Norris early and often in front of the home crowd.
This looks like a slam dunk for an Oakland win. The A’s clearly understand the importance of each and every game against inferior opponents and after a few close games to begin the series I look for a route here. Griffin should dazzle a horrible lineup and the A’s will make life tough on Bud Norris in what could be his last start as an Astro.
Free Pick: Oakland -1.5 +100