AL Wild Card Game- Rays win with depth.

Charlie Morton (Tampa Bay Rays) at Sean Manaea (Oakland Athletics)

Starting Pitcher: Advantage…..

Every part of me wants to say the Rays have the advantage with veteran Charlie Morton on the mound. Morton has the most experience of any pitcher on either staff, spending the last two seasons with the Houston Astros, most notably his performance in the 2017 World Series.  Morton came out of the bullpen, dominating his 10+ innings. Morton has found success in his curveball even more in 2019, throwing it as a much higher rate.  Opposing batter are hitting just .151 against old Uncle Charlie. 

Sean Manaea has returned from injury, immediately regaining his form has the A’s frontline starter(1.21 ERA with with a 30-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio). Manaea lack of experience is a big deal under the pressure of what the Wild Card game brings.  He has a great future ahead of him.  This game will be what allows us to find out what and who he is.

Bullpen: Advantage Rays

The Athletics have a premier closer in Liam Hendricks as well as a “secret weapon” Jesus Luzardo. The Athletics don’t have the depth of the Rays, but they do have two guys that can be impactful if the they get the lead.  

The Rays finished first in the MLB with a 3.71 bullpen ERA and in September the ERA was a staggering 2.87. Tampa Bay has multiple assets that can be called upon at any moment.  Chaz Roe, Emilio Pagan, Oliver Drake and Diego Castillo could all be called upon as soon as the first sign of trouble comes. In a one game scenario the matchups will be the difference.

Lineup + Bench: Advantage Rays

Tampa Bay doesn’t have the premier big bats that Oakland brings to the table.  They don’t have a Matt Olson, Marcus Semien or Matt Chapman. The Rays will utilize their matchups Tommy Pham, Travis d’Arnaud, Avi Garcia and the returning Yandy Diaz all have great numbers versus lefties on the season.

Oakland will need the middle of the order to step up and make things happen. Marcus Semien and Matt Olson bring the power and name recognition that the Rays don’t have.  The bottom of their order doesn’t have the same pop.  The Rays will carry more depth into this matchup. Whi

Prediction

I want to go with the Athletics.  Every part of me says they are going to utilize their power.  I have a tough time backing Sean Manaea in this situation.  While his ERA is very appealing there seems to be a regression on the way for the Oakland lefty.  Of his five starts only one was against a winning team.  Charlie Morton’s experience and Kevin Cash’s ability to play the matchup game will be too much for the Athletics. I am rolling with the Rays.

Draftkings Lineup June 8 (Early Slate

Going to keep this one pretty quick as the targets seem pretty obvious on the offensive end.  favorable matchups that can be exploited today.  Good Luck.

P: Kyle Gibson, Minnesota Twins, $9,700

Targeting a starter versus the Detroit Tigers is an obvious choice.  The Tigers have a number of career at bats against the Twins hurler but a combined .200 average as well as an OPS barely above .600 makes him an easy target for your number 1 pitcher option.

P: Framber Valdez, Houston Astros, $7,400

Framber Valdez will make his first start of 2019, building off of a great four innings of relief against the Seattle Mariners.  There is some risk to starting a lefty versus the right handed power of Baltimore but Valdez has strikeout upside and high probability to get four points for the W.

C: Grayson Greiner, Detroit Tigers, $2,300

1B: CJ Cron, Minnesota Twins, $4,400

Cron crushes lefties.  Gregory Soto has not been impressive to start the season for Detroit.  Looking at a mini stack of the Twins, starting with Gibson pitching and power right -handed bats.

2B: Jonathon Schoop, Minnesota Twins, $4,200

Twins stack continues with a potential power bat in Schoop.  Schoop can provide a little speed as well.

3B: Matt Chapman, Oakland Athletics, $5,100

A’s Stack

SS: Marcus Semien, Oakland Athletics, $4,200

A’s stack

OF: Stephen Piscotty, Oakland Athletics, $4,300

A’s Stack

OF: Nelson Cruz, Minnesota Twins, $4,200

Nelson Cruz will homer today if he gets four at-bats

OF: Khris Davis, Oakland Athletics, $4,200

A’s Stack

Stackable teams:

Houston Astros, Oakland A’s, Minnesota Twins

AL Wildcard Preview

The definition of David versus Goliath takes places in the AL Wild Card Game.  The mighty New York Yankees full of high priced talent vs Money Ball 2.0.  Let’s break it down.

Starter- Advantage Yankees

The Yankees had three solid options going into the Wild Card game, Masahiro Tanaka, JA Happ an Luis Severino.  Boone choose the young fireballer Luis Severino to match up with a powerful A’s lineup.  The choice was clear due to the power pithing ability of Severino, the hardest thrower of the bunch.  Against fastballs thrown 97 mph or harder, the A’s xwOBA was a feeble .260, the third-worst mark of any team, ahead of only the Giants (.225) and Rays (.245). Severino has an average fastball velocity of 97-mph.  Unlike Tanaka and Happ, Severino has the ability to miss bats within the strike zone.  The A’s are a team that’s success was based on not chasing out of the zone.  Severino will look to attack their hitters with hard 4-seamers in the zone.

The Athletics decided to take a different approach, relying on their biggest strength which is their bullpen depth. They have chosen to go with an “opener” with veteran Liam Hendricks. Hendriks will be the fourth pitcher to start a postseason game after a winless season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Virgil Trucks started twice for Detroit in the 1945 World Series after returning from World War II.  Don’t expect Hendricks to be in the game long.  Bob Melvin will look to use all of his bullpen assets to matchup with the power Yankees lineup.  With a right handed heavy Yankees lineup this matchup may be ideal for the As bullpen.

Lineup- Advantage Yankees

The Yankees are very right handed heavy with two projected lefties in the lineup, Did Gregorious and switch hitter Aaron Hicks.  Despite being right handed heavy they still have one of the top lineups in all of baseball.  They broke the record for homeruns in a season so… yea they have a little pop up and down the lineup.  The key to the game will be jumping on the A’s early.  McCutchen and Hicks will have to be table setters for Giancarlo Stanton and red hot Luke Voit.

The A’s lineup is no joke.  Khris Davis had a career year and veteran Jed Lowrie has good career numbers vs Severino.  The key to the lineup will be projected lead off man Nick Martini, Martini had an on-base percentage of .397 during the regular season and has performed extremely well in the leadoff spot. If the A’s are going to pull off the upset they will need Martini on base as much as possible disrupting Severino’s flow and forcing projected starting catcher Gary Sanchez to lose focus.  The A’s have the power to put up runs but it will be important to give Davis and Matt Olson a chance to drive in runs with more then just a solo shot.

Bullpen- Advantage A’s?….Maybe

The A’s have enough trust in their bullpen to not name a traditional starter.  We saw in the NL Wildcard game the impact a good starter can have with great performances from both Kyle Freeland and Jon Lester.  But in the end it was the bullpens that may have been most impressive on both sides.

The Yankees have the names at the end, Aroldis Chapman, Zach Britton and Dellin Betances can end the game in the 7th if they have a lead.  But it may be the A’s that truly have this season best reliever in Blake Treinen whom I fully expected to be in the game as soon as Bob Melvin can realistically make the move.  The A’s can match the big priced arms.

I see this game playing out similarly to last years AL Wild Card game.  The A’s may jump out to a lead early but the depth and power of the Yankees lineup will be to much.

Reluctantly I have the Goliath changing the historic fable on this night.

Yankees win 6-4.