Tampa Bay Rays vs Oakland Athletics

Charlie Morton (16-6, 3.05 ERA) vs Sean Manaea (4-0, 1.21 ERA)

Oakland Coliseum

OAK – 130; O/U - 7

Regular Season Series: Tied 3-3

 

MLB playoffs got kicked off in exciting fashion on Tuesday night as the Nationals came back to win over the Brewers after taking the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning. It’s now the American League’s turn as they pit the Tampa Bay Rays against the Oakland Athletics for the chance to head into the ALDS. Tampa and Oakland split their season series against one another at three games a piece and overall this year Oakland finished one game above the Rays in the season standings to earn home field in this contest. The Rays are sending Charlie Morton to the mound while Oakland is sending young lefty Sean Manaea to the bump in this win or go home contest. Let’s take a deeper dive into the match up.

 

Pitching

Both teams are sending out their de-fact-o “Aces” and with Charlie Morton and Sean Manaea taking the bump. Morton finished his first season in Tampa going 16-6 with a 3.05 ERA and an impressive 240 strikeouts over 194 innings. He faced the A’s twice this season and dominated them, allowing just one run over 13.1 innings while striking out 13. Of course Morton has had plenty of experience against this squad having spent his previous two seasons with the Houston Astros who play within the same division as Oakland.

For the A’s they are sending lefty Sean Manaea to the mound. Manaea missed most of the season as he worked his way back from Tommy John but since returning, he has dominated opposing teams, going 4-0 with a 1.21 ERA while striking out 30 over 29.2 innings. Manaea did have the fortune of having some soft match ups over his five starts, having pitching against the Tigers, Rangers x2 and the Mariners to account for four of his five outings. One thing Manaea may have going for him tonight is that the Rays have the second highest strikeout rate against LHP this season at 25.7-percent.

I’m not expecting too much offense in this one to be honest and if I was putting my money on a starter to get the job done tonight I would peg Morton purely because of his tremendous strikeout upside to be the more dominant starter here tonight.

 

Batters

Unlike last night’s contest where the Brewers and Nationals have some exciting bats to roster the A’s and Rays don’t quite have that level of star power. I am expecting this one to be a very pitching dominated effort between the two clubs, especially given how Tampa has built their staff to essentially be ready for playoff baseball with a bunch of max effort one-to-two innings pitchers that they often deploy as “Openers”.

It looking at the top hitters on the A’s tonight to go up against Charlie Morton then from a BvP standpoint you may target Matt Olson who is 4-for-12 with a double and home run off Morton in his career. Olson finished 2018 hitting .267 with 36 home runs and 91 RBI after missing the beginning of the season due to injury. Olson enjoyed a very strong post All-Star break campaign which saw him hit .281 with an OPS of .898. Breakout short stop Marcus Semien also has a solid BvP off Morton, hitting .357 (5-for-14) with two doubles in his career off the Rays righty. Semien smashed a career best 33 home runs this season while driving in 92 RBI and hitting .285. In the year of the home run ball the A’s also had another 30-homer bat in their lineup this season with third basemen Matt Chapman hitting .249 with 36 home runs and 91 RBI. If stacking against Morton tonight those are the bats to use given their home run upside and success against him.

From the Ray’s perspective you need to take a look at Tommy Pham who hit .340 this season with an OPS of .945 and a wOBA of .407 off left-handed pitching this season. Another solid bat to target tonight is Yandy Díaz who is hitting leadoff for Tampa this evening. Diaz hit .311 with an OPS of .976 against LHP this season. The final hitter I’d take note of for the Ray’s tonight is Austin Meadows . I know this would be a lefty-on-lefty match up but Meadows has actually handled the stick well against southpaws this season, hitting .275 with an OPS of .837 off lefties.

Again, I will stress that I think pitching is the way to go tonight but those are that bats that will likely do the damage when the runs are eventually scored tonight.

We aren’t going to put together lineup’s for tonight’s showdown slate, but here are my top suggestions for the Captain/MVP plays. Good Luck everybody!

Captain/MVP Plays

Charlie Morton

Sean Manaea

Tommy Pham

Matt Olson

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