Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:00 AM EST.
4:05 PM EST. A.J. Griffin has scuffled since his return to the Rangers rotation. Griffin went on the DL in late May and returned four starts ago to face the Twinkies in Minnesota. Over his last four starts covering a mere 21 innings, Griffin has walked nine and struck out 14. His first-pitch strike rate is down to 52% and was 46% in his last start. Griffin is made of glass. He needed a Rust-Oleum break for May shoulder stiffness last year too, otherwise pitched creakily in the rotation all season. Recent repairs (2104 TJS, 2015 shoulder, 2016 shoulder and elbow, 2017 left intercostal muscle strain) and poor results keep his run times short with an average of five innings pitched per start when he does manage to get in there. Griffin’s velocity is down to 87.6 MPH and his xERA since returning is 5.47. His struggles since returning (line-drive% jump, 38% hard-hit balls, more walks) warn that his recovery is still in progress and he’ll now face an Athletics squad that has scored 5.2 runs per game on an .803 OPS over their last 24 games and Oakland is night-and-day better against right-handed pitching.
With a 7.71 ERA at home this season to go along with a 2-6 home record, Jharel Cotton does not look in any way appealing here but there could be some hidden value. You see, Cotton has the stuff to dominate and the signs are there that suggest he’s close to putting it all together. His line-drive rate is just 17% so batters are having a difficult time squaring up on him. His first-pitch strike rate of 61% over his last five starts and 60% on the year strongly suggest that there is positive regression coming in the number of walks he’s issuing. Dude has walked 45 in 82 innings and 13 over his last 15 innings. The first-pitch strike rate says that does not make sense. Remember, this is a starter that was called up late last and went 2-0 with a 2.15 ERA over 29 frames. This change-up specialist was dynamite after his trade from L.A. last season, both at Triple-A (2.82 ERA at Nashville) and in his late-season audition at this level. Cotton is coming off a six-inning, four-hit, two run outing at Houston in his last start, which is a good sign for his skills and confidence moving forward. There is no question that his ERA at home is also in line for positive regression. Oakland has owned the first two games of this series and we see nothing changing here.
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OAKLAND -106 (Risking 2.12 units - To Win: 2.00)