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Thursday’s Free Sports Pick from Oskeim Sports – June 6, 2013

Oakland Athletics (-125) over Chicago White Sox

Investment Advice: Please list both Daniel Straily and Jose Quintana

Analysis: The situation strongly favors Oakland tonight as the White Sox are coming off a 5 1/2-hour marathon at Seattle (16 innings) where the team needed eight pitchers to end their eight-game losing streak.  “We’re all too exhausted right now to relish it,” Chicago second baseman Gordon Beckham said.  Chicago arrives back home with an anemic offense that is batting just .237 with a .288 on base percentage this season (3.5 runs per game), including hitting .223 with a .284 on base percentage at home (3.3 runs per game), .236 with a .286 on base percentage at night (3.4 runs per game) and .220 with a .272 on base percentage over its last seven games.  Now, Chicago has to face a red-hot hurler in Daniel Straily, who is 2-0 with a 0.95 ERA and 0.68 WHIP over his last three starts.

Oakland’s expectations of Straily could not be higher based upon his pedigree and the fact that he led the minors in strikeouts in 2012.  And, while his 4.60 ERA this season is not great, Straily has been victimized by negative variance and remains a prime “buy low” candidate for fantasy sports owners and sports investors alike.  Specifically, Straily owns a strand rate of 58%, which is well below his career average of 70% during his Minor League career.  In fact, Straily’s strand rate of 58% is one of the lowest among all starters with at least 20 innings pitched this season.  Strailey has also demonstrated outstanding command and control as evidenced by his 26/5 K/BB ratio in 23.3 innings pitched at night and a 14/1 K/BB ratio over his last three starts.

I also like the fact that Straily is supported by an outstanding Oakland bullpen that owns a 2.89 ERA and 1.17 WHIP this season, including a 2.84 ERA and 1.19 WHIP on the road and a 2.60 ERA and 1.10 WHIP at night.  In contrast, Chicago enters tonight’s game with an exhausted bullpen that owns a pedestrian 4.04 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 2013.  What I find most mind-boggling is the fact that no one is talking about the Athletics, who have now won 16 of their last 19 games.  Oakland’s resurgence has been predicated upon excellent pitching as its starters are 12-2 with a 2.44 ERA in 125 2/3-innings of work during that stretch. The Athletics’ starting rotation combined to limit Chicago to one run on 13 hits over 21 1/3-innings last weekend in Oakland, and are coming off a series win in Milwaukee wherein they held the Brewers to three runs over 21 innings.  Meanwhile, Chicago starter Jose Quintana is 2-2 with a 4.28 ERA at home this season and has allowed three or more runs in three of his last four starts.  In his last start against Oakland, Quintana yielded three earned runs on ten hits and three walks in 5.3 innings of work.

From a technical standpoint, Oakland is a profitable 20-7 (+13.3 units) versus teams with a losing record, 17-5 (+12.2 units) versus teams averaging less than 4.3 runs per game, 24-11 (+14.5 units) following a win, 58-29 (+21.0 units) as favorites and 25-13 (+13.3 units) at night. Finally, while some bettors will look to the revenge angle after Chicago was swept by Oakland earlier this month, that knee-jerk reaction is a mistake in that the White Sox are a money-burning 19-35 (-25.1 units) at home revenging a three-game sweep.  Take Oakland and invest with confidence.

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