Oskeim Sports’ MLB Underdog Best Bet: Oakland at Cleveland

May 31, 2017

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Sean Manaea was traded to Oakland from Kansas City at the MLB trade deadline in 2015 and enjoyed a solid rookie campaign in 2016.  The talented southpaw finished with a 3.86 ERA and 3.84 SIERA across 144.2 innings of work.

Manaea posted a 7.71 K/9 rate and improved throughout the second half of the season (increased strikeout to walk ratio from 2.75 to 4.06; reduced home run rate and WHIP).  Manaea garnered a 2.67 ERA and a 8.0 K/9 rate in the second half of 2016.

While the 25-year-old toes the rubber with a 4.35 ERA through his first 8 starts this season, Manaea’s peripherals are solid: 3.39 FIP, 9.80 K/9, 0.65 HR/9 and a 53.8% ground ball rate.

Manaea ranks within the top 10 in MLB in both ground ball rate and swinging strike rate (minimum 20 innings pitched).  His slider currently ranks in the 99th percentile in MLB in swinging strikes and in the 93rd percentile in inducing ground balls.

The sophomore hurler should improve upon his solid start against a scuffling Cleveland lineup that is averaging just 3.9 runs per game versus left-handed starters (.317 OBP; .688 OPS) and 4.2 runs per game at night (.307 OBP; .696 OPS).   Manaea also takes the mound in excellent form with a 3.18 ERA and 1.00 WHIP over his last three starts.

Meanwhile, Cleveland right-hander Mike Clevinger enters tonight’s game with a 6.75 ERA and 1.82 WHIP at home.  The 26-year-old’s 2.86 ERA across four starts is grossly misleading in light of his unsustainable .240 BABIP and 81.9% strand rate.  Clevinger’s true skill set is evidenced by his 3.56 FIP and 3.78 xFIP, both of which are still very good.

Clevinger posted a .288 BABIP and a 1.36 HR/9 rate in 53 innings last season so regression is likely in the near future.  He continues to struggle with his command and control at the MLB level as evidenced by his 4.84 BB/9 rate across 22.1 innings of work.  Scouts have indicated that Clevinger’s “jerky windup” and follow through “are a mess.”

From a technical standpoint, the Indians are 0-4 in Clevinger’s last four starts on four days of rest and 2-6 in their last eight games versus left-handed starters.  Take the Oakland Athletics at plus-money as Oskeim Sports’ MLB Underdog Best Bet for Wednesday, May 31.

Oskeim Sports’ Free MLB Best Bet: Oakland Athletics (+134)