Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 7:00 PM
It’s been an unbelievable 2014 season thus far for the Oakland A’s. Few are surprised they’re good. They were supposed to be competitive…and you know management is always looking for a new wrinkle to exploit. But, they weren’t supposed to CRUSH all of Major League Baseball in their wake! When you adjust for context, you could make a case that the A’s have the best offense and pitching staff in baseball. They’re certainly elite in both categories.
But, off the field…some issues may begin to take their toll. Oakland begins a three-game series Friday Night in Miami that represents their NINTH series in the Eastern Time zone since the beginning of May. It’s their FOURTH separate road trip involving an Eastern game. In that time period.
May 2-3-4: at Boston
May 16-17-18: at Cleveland
May 20-21-22: at Tampa Bay
May 23-24-25: at Toronto
June 3-4-5: at NY Yankees
June 6-7-8: at Baltimore
June 24-25: at NY Mets
This weekend: at Miami
June 30-July 1-2: at Detroit
The good news for Oakland is that they will stay on the West Coast until the All-Star Break after that Detroit series ends.
Handicappers should keep an eye on A’s results over the next several days to see if there are any suggestions of accumulated fatigue. They’ve been playing a very high level thus far. Sustaining excellence through such an extreme travel challenge could take a toll.
Here are some numbers to help you evaluate the chances of that toll being taken this weekend…
Oakland: 5.10 runs per game, .335 on-base, .408 slugging
Miami: 4.32 runs per game, .320 on-base, .389 slugging
Oakland plays its home games in a great pitcher’s park, so those are astounding numbers for the A’s. Just a fantastic collection of productive offensive talent on a low budget. Miami usually has a pitcher batting in its lineup, so they may not be quite as far away as those numbers make it look. Edge to Oakland…but the potential for some runs to be scored this weekend.
Jesse Chavez: 2.71 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 7.9 K-Rate
Anthony DeSclafani: 7.59 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 6.3 K-Rate
Early on, Chavez was having trouble going deep into games. But, he’s now made it to at least six full innings five times in a row. Good sign for the second half of the season. His counterpart has only made four starts this season, and DeSclafafini looked overmatched vs. the Mets, Cubs, and Phillies. That’s very bad news if you’re about to face the A’s! Huge edge on the mound, and in the math for the A’s in this series opener if the team isn’t too jet-lagged.
Sonny Gray: 2.91 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 7.8 K-Rate
Nathan Eovaldi: 3.52 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 6.9 K-Rate
Gray may be rusty after taking 10 days off to rest. The A’s want to protect their young star and get the most pennant race impact out of his innings, so they just skipped his last two starts. Eovaldi has been inconsistent this season, and that ERA isn’t very good in a poor hitting division in a “year of the pitcher.” But, being in a weak division means you can get away with having a guy like Eovaldi in your rotation.
Tommy Milone: 3.89 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 5.6 K-Rate
Andrew Heaney: 4.91 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 6.5 K-Rate
Milone struggled in his last outing vs. Boston, but had been trending favorably before then after a horrible start. He had knocked well over two runs off his ERA in prior eight starts before that Boston game. Heaney is only making his third start. Will he be able to deal with Oakland’s potent offense after only facing the Mets and Phillies? Maybe he’ll catch a break on a getaway day for the visitors.
Oakland/Miami may be featured at least once on the NETWORK slate this weekend. JIM HURLEY is also closely studying matchups like St. Louis/LA Dodgers (previewed yesterday in the NOTEBOOK), Boston/NY Yankees (we’ll look at the Sunday Night game for you on these pages), LA Angels at Kansas City, Cincinnati at San Francisco, and a few others for big play possibilities. You can always purchase the final word for each betting day right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call us during regular business hours at 1-888-777-4155.
Back with you tomorrow and Sunday for big game MLB previews. July will bring our annual gauntlet of college football conference previews. The summer schedule is ideal because you can build your bankroll through June, July, and August while you’re preparing for Fall football. Don’t leave any money on the table! Grab all the cash with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!