MLB Betting Preview: OAK Athletics @ SEA Mariners (7/31/20)

In their first battle of the year, the Athletics and Mariners square off in Seattle. For Oakland, lefty Sean Manaea will take the mound after a disappointing 4.2-inning, 4-run start against the Angels. Meanwhile, 27-year-old Taijuan Walker will toe the rubber for Seattle after a forgettable start of his own in Houston. 

Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners

T-Mobile Park, Seattle, Washington – 9:45 PM EST

Game Info/Starting Pitchers:

OAK: Sean Manaea – L (Last Season: 1.21 ERA, 3.42 FIP, 0.8 WAR, 29.2 IP)
SEA: Taijuan Walker – R (2017 Season: 3.49 ERA, 4.04 FIP, 2.5 WAR, 157.1 IP)

Odds & Betting lines (via DraftKings)

Total: 9 | Over: -118 | Under: -103
OAK | Moneyline: -195 | Run Line (-1.5): -120
SEA | Moneyline: +165 | Run Line (-1.5): +102

Injury List

SEA: OF Mitch Haniger, C Tom Murphy, RP Austin Adams, RP Gerson Bautista, RP Brandon Brennan, RP Yoshihisa Hirano

Interesting Stats

Doctor, Doctor?

You may have noticed that I listed Walker’s 2017 stats. That may seem odd, but ‘17 was indeed his last season with more than 15 IP! In April of 2018, Walker suffered a partial tear in his UCL which required Tommy John surgery. He returned in time to pitch only one inning in 2019. Manaea, his Friday opponent, hasn’t benefited from a clean bill of health, either. After late-2018 shoulder surgery, Manaea could only manage 29.2 September innings last season. 

It will be interesting to see if the two can bounce back. In their few innings post-surgery, both hurlers have lost 1-2 mph off their fastball.

Hiring From Within

Although the two squads are in different stages of competing, their approach to roster construction appears similar. While they have called up a few prospects, neither team has more than one ‘outside hire’ on their roster. For Seattle, it’s OF Jose Marmolejos (filling in for the injured Mitch Haniger). Meanwhile, Oakland acquired 2B Tony Kemp to replace Jurickson Profar. Otherwise, look for the offenses to produce similarly as they did in 2019. 

Betting Picks

SEA +1.5 (+102)

As I’ve mentioned in previous previews, this season profiles as good one for mediocre underdogs vs mediocre winners. The Mariners aren’t especially talented, but playing at home and against a rehabilitating pitcher should help keep things close. In recent history, 28% of MLB games have been decided by one run. Essentially, Seattle would have to lose more than 70% of the time before they didn’t beat the +102 to cover (as they’d still cover in 28% of losses). Betting on underdogs isn’t sexy, but neither is overpaying for the favorite.

SEA ML +165

As I just mentioned, betting on the Mariners is nobody’s idea of a good time (unless you’re their biggest fan). In the betting world, however, making a profit beats getting every pick right. At home and against a struggling starting pitcher doesn’t scream ‘guaranteed loss’ to me; in fact, I’d expect it to be a coin flip more than anything. +165 assumes a 37% win, but a pitcher’s park and depressed run environment narrow the gaps in skill. This may not win every time, but even a win rate of 45% returns considerable value. 

Rich Torres
Rich Torres Sportswriter at US-Odds