LEADERS OF THE AL CENTRAL AND AL WEST SQUARE OFF IN THREE-GAME PLAYOFF PREVIEW
Though we still have more than half the season left to play, it’s starting to seem more certain that the Detroit Tigers will win the AL Central, and the Oakland A’s will win the AL West. Even if the A’s don’t win the West because the talented Los Angeles Angels are in the same division…Oakland is a virtual lock for a Wildcard given their extreme clearance from the rest of the field.
This week’s Oakland/Detroit series is a showdown of playoff caliber teams…and is very clearly a showdown of very serious World Championship contenders.
It didn’t seem that way for Detroit a couple of weeks ago! The Tigers received a loud wake-up call when the Kansas City Royals caught them from behind in the AL Central race. Detroit has played great since then, and carried a lead of 4.5 games into Sunday’s action. That’s the same advantage Oakland had over the Angels in the AL West before Sunday’s games were played.
Big series for fans and handicappers…let’s run our standard preview numbers…
Oakland: 5.18 runs per game, .336 on-base, .408 slugging
Detroit: 4.64 runs per game, .329 on-base, .441 slugging
We’ve talked a lot about the A’s in recent days because they keep playing in showcase matchups! No reason to belabor the point that their offense is even better than it looks in the numbers because they play home games in a great pitcher’s park. This is a fantastic offense. Detroit has come on strong too, and has the most potent slugging force in the AL. Edge to Oakland…but either offense will light up vulnerable pitching.
Scott Kazmir: 2.66 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 7.7 K-Rate
Anibal Sanchez: 2.64 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 7.7 K-Rate
The pitcher’s duel of the series, with both guys posting almost identical numbers this season. That’s no surprise for Sanchez, but is an amazing development in the case of Kazmir. Is he FINALLY living up to his early-career expectations? Interestingly, those early-career expectations came when he was pitching in New York with the Mets. He just had a rare horrible start there, allowing seven earned runs in just three innings. Sanchez had a nice run of six straight quality starts prior to his last outing in Texas. Tough to shine there. Detroit won that game anyway 8-6 thanks to their slugging.
Note that this exact pitching matchup was part of the series these teams recently played in Oakland. That game was 1-1 into the ninth. The A’s eventually won 3-1.
Brad Mills: 4.35 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, 7.0 K-Rate
Rick Porcello: 3.41 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 5.7 K-Rate
Mills has only made two starts this season, facing the weak offenses of Boston and the NY Mets. That’s a horrible WHIP given the low quality of those two offenses this year. If you’re not familiar with Mills, he’s a 29-year old lefthander. Normally unheard of guys at age 29 aren’t destined to be stars. But, this is the MONEYBALL Oakland A’s, so you never know!
Porcello enters the game off 15 scoreless innings that included a shutout in Texas! Who does he think he is, Yu Darvish?! The problem for this Tuesday matchup against Oakland…Porcello is coming off a 115-pitch effort in the Texas heat. Could be some lingering effects.
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WEDNESDAY’S PITCHERS (Day Game)
Jesse Chavez: 2.94 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 8.0 K-Rate
Justin Verlander: 4.80 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 6.9 K-Rate
Chavez struggled his last time out in Miami (5 IP, 4 ER) after stringing together some good games. Verlander has settled the ship after a long slump…getting 16 strikeouts in his last 13 innings against Houston and Cleveland. He still allowed five earned runs in those 13 innings though, so he’s nowhere near his old self. Big test here against the A’s. He’ll probably be helped by the day-after-night scenario in a get-away spot for the visiting offense.
JIM HURLEY is likely to have at least one side or total play in this high profile series. You can always purchase NETWORK’S daily BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call the office during normal business hours at 1-800-323-4453. Be sure to check on early-bird football rates when you call.
Here’s the rest of this week’s NOTEBOOK schedule:
Tuesday: St. Louis at San Francisco, potential playoff series preview
Wednesday: College Football: Mountain West “East” Preview
Thursday: College Football: Mountain West “West” Preview
Friday: July 4 Baseball Extravaganza
Saturday: College Football: Conference USA “East” Preview
Sunday: College Football: Conference USA “West: Preview
That’s right…football coverage begins this week! College football conference previews will run on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays through the month of July as we pair up divisions in expanded conferences for two-day showcases. Our annual NFL divisional previews will arrive in early August. MLB Pennant Race series previews will run on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays. See you tomorrow for that huge St. Louis/San Francisco series in the National League.
Keep building your bankrolls all summer long for what’s destined to be another fantastic football season. You’ll always GET THE MONEY at JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!
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