No team in baseball has been hotter as of late than the Oakland Athletics, who entered Tuesday’s action on a 10-game winning streak.
Prior to this current run, the A’s were 19-25 and simply trying to avoid the AL West basement, but have since vaulted into second place while building a decent cushion on the competition behind them.
This weekend in Oakland, they’ll hook up with the club they’re chasing, the Houston Astros, for the third time this season. This should put Oakland’s recent dominance to the test, as they dropped four of five meetings with Houston in April.
The Astros and Athletics were both playoff teams a season ago, sporting very similar rosters to what they have now. When the two division rivals were matched up in 2018, the results were also similar to what has transpired thus far in the current campaign, with Houston victorious in 12 of 19 games.
Let’s take a look now at this latest encounter between the two AL West residents and try to pan it all out.
Brad Peacock vs. Mike Fiers (Friday): It’s always an intriguing storyline whenever Fiers takes on his old team. Remember, when the Astros won their first-ever world championship in franchise history two years ago, Fiers was left off the postseason roster despite serving as a regular member of the rotation.
In the present day, Fiers has manufactured inconsistent results after inking a contract with the A’s this past offseason. He’s 4-3 with a 5.00 ERA, but the most troubling thing is that he’s recording a career-low strikeout rate of just 6.29 K/9.
Peacock was also on that aforementioned World Series winner in 2017, except unlike his counterpart for this series opener, he was active during those playoffs. Inhabiting Fiers’ old spot on the pitching staff, Peacock has also been active in Houston’s success, stringing together a 5-2 record to go with a 3.19 ERA and 1.02 WHIP.
He’s been amazing lately, allowing a total of just one run combined over his last four starts. But that only adds to the theory that Peacock is due to regress. OVER
Justin Verlander vs. Brett Anderson (Saturday): Even at age 36, Verlander has still looked like a leading AL Cy Young candidate. The craziest part is that he’s arguably never been as dominant as he is right now.
That’s evident in the fact that opponents are hitting a microscopic .151 off Verlander this year — the lowest BAA in all of baseball — and his incredible 0.74 WHIP is also first in the Majors.
He’ll be taking on Anderson in the middle affair of this series, which should have you thinking about the under. Anderson has actually been solid in his return to the A’s, carrying a 6-3 record and 3.86 ERA into this assignment.
The key, however, will be that Anderson gets to work from home in this one, something that can make a difference for the 11-year veteran. In his career, Anderson is 17-13 with a 3.48 ERA in 42 career starts (and seven relief appearances) at the pitcher-friendly Oakland Coliseum. On the road lifetime, meanwhile, he’s 29-30 with a 3.93 ERA. UNDER
Gerrit Cole vs. Chris Bassitt (Sunday): It won’t get any easier for the A’s in the series finale considering they’ll have to deal with Cole. The former Pittsburgh Pirate is coming off a sensational outing against the Chicago Cubs, when he struck out 12 in six sharp innings his last time out.
After arriving in Houston last year, Cole fared well in his meetings with Oakland, going 3-0 in five starts while limiting them to a .207 batting average across 30.2 innings.
Keeping up with Cole is generally tough for most. But Bassitt is capable of being up for the task. In his first full season since Tommy John surgery, the 30-year-old has been a revelation, entering June with a cool 3.27 ERA. He’s also impressively held opponents to a .200 batting average in seven career starts. Bassitt is legit. UNDER
Last Week: 2-1
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