MLB: Oakland Athletics vs Texas Rangers Series Preview

Jason HammelThe Oakland Athletics and their best record in baseball travel to Globe Life Park in Arlington to take on  their AL West rivals, the Texas Rangers for a three game series (8.05pm EDT, Friday, July 25).

Just a few years ago, the Texas Rangers were the class of the AL West. They boasted teams with Josh Hamilton, CJ Wilson (both with the LA Angels), Cliff Lee (now with the Philadelphia Phillies) and Nelson Cruz (now with the Baltimore Orioles). All have since departed and the Rangers were left to pick up the pieces, something they have done unsuccessfully thus far.

The Rangers are by far the worst team in the AL West and are the worst team in baseball. Their lone remaining star from the 2010 and 2011 World Series contending teams is rumored to be on the trade block and the young prospects they acquired in some of their bigger trades have yet to really pan out to fruition.

But there are two bright spots for Texas and both of them truly are stars. On the pitching end is Yu Darvish, the hot shot Japanese pitcher who once again is a Cy Young caliber candidate. He has an ERA of 2.92 this season, nine wins and 159 strikeouts. He has had not one but two no hit bids this season that lasted into the eighth inning or later. The bad news for the Rangers is, Darvish is coming off a loss to the New York Yankees and therefore won’t be available to start against Oakland.

Texas’s other big name star does his damage with the bat and not the ball, even if he hasn’t done much of it this season. Prince Fielder formerly of Milwaukee Brewer fame, is in his first season with the Rangers and as it turns out, the worst of his career so far. The big bat has been sidelined on the DL for most of the season and he has only hit three home runs with 16 RBI in the 42 games he has played. Needless to say, this was not at all what the Rangers expected when they pursued Fielder in the offseason.

Oakland Athletics are the Best in the West

23.5 games in front of the last-place Rangers sit the best in baseball, Oakland Athletics. Just a few years ago when the Rangers ruled the West it was the Athletics that struggled behind and continually finished at the bottom of the division. How times have changed.

With a new vision and a collection of talented up and comers like Brandon Moss (.265/ .344/ .519; 23 HR, 71 RBI) and back-to-back HR Derby winner Yoenis Cespedes (.254/ .305/ .460; 16 HR, 61 RBI), the Athletics are one of the best young teams and it shows in the results. The team has great pitching as well bolstered by the acquisition of Jason Hammel (pictured) and Jeff Samardzija from the Chicago Cubs, both of whom will take the mound in this series.

The talent of the Athletics goes beyond just the players on the field. Oakland has one of the smallest budgets in baseball but by far one of the shrewdest managing staff led by Billy Beane, Mr. Moneyball himself. The 30-year-old Moss is a perfect example of a moneyball-esque athlete and the value he has provided this year has made him just one of a handful of guys who aren’t paid the big bucks but are producing the big runs.

Pitching Matchups Game One: (OAK) Jason Hammel vs (TEX) TBD

In what is the Rangers best chance to steal a game in this series, it is uncertain who they will send to the mound. Originally it was supposed to be Nick Tepesch but because of an injury scratch, his start was moved back a day. According to the probable pitchers information on the Rangers website, Jerome Williams is the expected man to get the ball. Primarily a relief pitcher with the Houston Astros, Williams was signed to a minor league contract two weeks ago. He hasn’t started a game this year and had a 6.04 ERA in 26 appearances with the Astros. He has yet to pitch for the Rangers in any capacity.

Meanwhile the A’s will send Hammel to the mound and hope that he can finally correct the issues he has had ever since donning a green and gold uniform. In Chicago, Hammel pitched to an 8-5 record with 104 strikeouts and a 2.98 ERA. In his first two games in Oakland however, Hammel has lasted just seven innings and has given up seven earned runs and three home runs. His ERA is a flat 9.00.

Pitching Matchups Game Two: (OAK) Sonny Gray vs (TEX) Nick Tepesch

The 24-year-old Sonny Gray has been hot as of late and has been one of the better pitchers in the AL all season long. Gray’s season ERA is 2.72 and his WHIP is 1.16. He has won an AL third best 11games and is fourth in the league in winning percentage. He is 4-0 with an 0.95 ERA in July and is riding a five-game winning streak. All that and he is only being paid half a million dollars for the season.

Gray is challenged by the previously mentioned Tepesch. He has had his up and down moments this season but right now is in a bit of a tailspin. Tepesch has lost two of his last three starts and has an ERA of 7.59 over those three games as well. Athletics hitters have had career success against him as well.

Advantage: Gray and the Athletics

Pitching Matchups Game Three: (OAK) Scott Kazmir vs (TEX) Miles Mikolas

There really isn’t much of a competition here. Miles Mikolas is a rookie starter who just got his first major league win and who has a 7.48 ERA in his four starts. Meanwhile Scott Kazimir is an All-Star pitcher with an outside shot at the Cy Young. His wins (11) are tied with his teammate Gray for third mot in the AL and his ERA (2.32) and WHIP (0.99) are also third best. Kazmir is having the best year of his career and his success has paid huge dividends for the A’s.

Advantage: Kazmir and the Athletics

Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers Betting Picks Advice

Oakland has the better offense, has had no problem winning on the road, is going against the team with the worst  record in baseball and has the favorable edge on the pitching side as well. Expect the Athletics to sweep the series starting with Hammel doing enough and baseball’s top offense in runs (496) picking up the rest.

  • We advise backing Oakland -1.5 runs @ -110 betting odds on the run line with BetOnline Sportsbook for a game 1 victory. Athletics are at odds of -170 on the moneyline for a game 1 win with the same bookie if you prefer not to take the run handicap on the spread and they are shorter at -210 to take the series.