Thank you for visiting Oskeim Sports’ Blog, where Jeff provides both free daily sports picks and premium daily sports picks. Oskeim previews Thursday’s game between the Kansas City Royals and Oakland Athletics and recommends taking the home favorite as one of his daily sports picks for June 7.
Oakland right-hander Paul Blackburn was scratched from his planned rehab start at High-A Stockton and instead will be making his 2018 Major League debut Thursday night against the Royals. Blackburn was selected in the first round of the 2012 Amateur Draft by the Cubs and has been in Oakland’s minor league system since 2017.
The 24-year-old started last season in Triple-A Nashville where he posted a 3.05 ERA, 1.19 WHIP in fifteen appearances (14 starts). Those results prompted Oakland to promote the young hurler in July and Blackburn did not disappoint with a 3.22 ERA and 1.26 WHIP over ten starts (58.0 IP).
Blackburn pitches to contact (3.38 K/9), excels at keeping the ball on the ground (56.3% GB%) and does not give up a lot of long balls (0.77 HR/9). He now faces a scuffling Kansas City lineup that is averaging 4.0 runs per game in 2018 (.686 OPS), including 3.9 runs per game against right-handed starters (.685 OPS) and 3.7 runs over their previous seven games.
Blackburn is supported by a very good Oakland bullpen that owns a 3.62 ERA and 1.34 WHIP this season, including posting a 2.73 ERA and 1.27 WHIP at home. In contrast, the Royals’ relief staff is one of the worst units in the league. Specifically, Kansas City’s bullpen arrives with a 5.60 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in 210.6 innings this season.
The same relief unit owns a 5.65 ERA and 1.54 WHIP on the road, a 5.56 ERA and 1.49 WHIP at night and an 8.88 ERA and 1.78 WHIP in its last seven games. These numbers are bad news for Kansas City right-hander Jason Hammel, who takes the mound with a 5.17 ERA, 4.25 FIP and 4.90 xFIP in twelve starts.
Hammel’s strikeout numbers have plummeted (5.80 K/9 vs. 7.24 K/9 in 2017) while his hard contact rate has spiked (44.1% Hard% vs. 31.6% in 2017). Let’s also note that the veteran hurler is 2-2 with a 5.18 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in six career starts against the Athletics, including allowing a combined 11 earned runs on 22 hits and four home runs in his last three outings against Oakland 16 2/3 total innings).
From a technical standpoint, Kansas City is a money-burning 16-35 in its last 51 games versus a right-handed starter, 8-20 in its previous road affairs versus right-handed starters, 2-7 in Hammel’s last nine outings against American League West foes, 2-8 in Hammel’s previous ten outings following a Quality Start and 0-4 in his last four road starts.
In contrast, the Athletics are a profitable 10-2 in their last twelve games versus .399 or worse opposition (4-0 L/4 at home), 20-6 in their last 26 games against American League Central opponents, 12-5 in their previous seventeen home games versus right-handed starters and 17-6 in their last 23 clashes with a starting pitcher with a WHIP of 1.31 or greater.
With Oakland standing at 11-4 in the last fifteen meetings in this series, take the Athletics as one of Oskeim Sports’ daily sports picks for Thursday, June 7.
Oskeim’s Daily Sports Picks for Thursday, June 7:
- Oakland Athletics (-150) over Kansas City Royals
- Detroit Tigers (+153) over Boston Red Sox