Today's Free Picks for
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Posted at 1:45 PM EST and are subject to change.
Atlanta -2½ +125 over Oakland
7:20 PM EST. One could spot -1½ & -120 juice if one chose but spotting juice is not in our wheelhouse, thus, if we trust the Braves are a steal at -1½ -120, we’re going to suggest that the extra run likely isn’t going to matter. In other words, they are just as likely to win by three or more than two or more and therefore we’ll dig in.
The A’s can’t get out of their own way with five losses in a row and nine losses in 10 games. Offensively, the A’s couldn’t hit a cow’s ass with a shovel and things do not get easier here against Kyle Wright (RHP - ATL). It’s safe to say that Kyle Wright draws a dream matchup against the Athletics who have a terrible .204 BA and .580 OPS versus right-handed pitching. Oakland ranks dead last in every category v right handed batters and Wright with his collection of impressive skills is a stud.
Wright has posted a career-high K% this year and it comes with full support of his swing & miss rate. Four of his five offerings have garnered a swing & miss rate of at least 12%. The curve has been his best pitch (17% swing & miss, 51% grounders) and he has dramatically increased usage of the pitch compared to previous MLB stints, throwing it 34% of the time in 2022. A renewed focus on getting ahead in the count and pounding the strike zone has led to a vastly improved BB%. His xBB% indicates there’s a little more potential upside. Keeping the ball on the ground has been a big plus as well, as it has helped him avoid HR issues and work out of jams. His four-seam fastball had been getting crushed in recent years, but he has located it much better in 2022, peppering the top of the zone to great effect. His velocity is also up a couple of ticks.
It’s important to remember that Wright had just 155 IP at the professional level, including only 29 IP at Triple-A, ahead of his September 2018 MLB debut. Factor in the lack of a minor league season in 2020 and he had a mere 331 professional IP under his belt prior to 2021, so the Braves opted to let him spend nearly the entire 2021 regular season at Triple-A Gwinnett. That allowed him to work on various aspects of his game in a more relaxed environment. Wright refined his mechanics, started throwing his best pitch more often (curve), upgraded his change-up and sinker, and was able to regain his confidence (with help from the team’s mental performance coach Zach Sorenson). All that work has paid off, as Wright now seems poised to deliver on the immense potential that made him the fifth overall pick in the 2017 draft.
Cole Irvin has a 2.96 ERA but his ass is overflowing with horseshoes. He comes in with an xERA of 6.05 and only three road starts so he’s benefited greatly from pitching at home. This command/control soft tosser kept opponents off balance for a half-season last year before things imploded and it is an almost 100% certainty it’s going to blow up again. What happened last year in the second half was the swings and misses went down, the walks went up, the hits got harder, and his HR propensity returned. Same thing is going to happen again, especially in hitter’s parks like this one. Irvin hasn't really handled LHH or RHH all that well over his career, and the xERA string confirms that the first six weeks were all smoke and mirrors. He has 28 K’s in 46 innings with an 83% strand rate. BOOM!
Atlanta -2½ +125 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.50)