(Mike Fiers photo courtesy Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)
Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.
When and Where: Friday, June 12, Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland, Calif., 10:10 p.m. EDT.
He may not have started the season as the staff ace for the Oakland Athletics, but Mike Fiers spent the last two months pitching like one.
The linchpin of Oakland’s rotation, Fiers looks to extend his personal winning streak to seven games Friday night when the Athletics open a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox.
Nova out to build on positive last outing for ChiSox
Ivan Nova (4-7, 5.58 ERA) has shown only flashes of brilliance this season, but one came in his last start before the All-Star break. The right-hander stifled the Cubs over 5 2-3 shutout innings Sunday, scattering five hits and one walk in a 3-1 victory over the White Sox.
Even with the impressive performance, Nova ranks third-worst in earned run average among all qualifying starters — better than only Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez and teammate Reynaldo Lopez.
Nova is 2-0 with a 3.68 ERA in four career starts against Oakland but has not faced the A’s since 2016 while pitching for the New York Yankees. Both of his victories came in Oakland, where he has a 2.75 ERA in three starts.
One White Sox player who probably did not want to see the All-Star break was third baseman Yoan Moncada, who has the longest active hitting streak in the majors at 13 games. Moncada was 20 for 52 (.385) with four homers and a 1.191 OPS in that stretch, lifting his average 16 points to .308.
“He’s an All-Star-quality player,” Sox manager Rick Renteria told the Chicago Tribune about Moncada. “I pull for these guys every day, but I think he’s shown everybody. If you compare his numbers to many, they’re quite comparable. He’s on pace to have a pretty good season.”
Moncada is one homer shy of matching his career high of 17 set last year in 149 games. He is 9 for 23 with a pair of homers and four multihit games in his last five contests in Oakland.
Fiers expected to get ball for A’s in series opener
The Athletics (50-41) start the second half of the season just 1 1/2 games behind Cleveland for the second AL wild-card spot and are likely going to hunt out a starter that can help fill the void created by Frankie Montas‘ 80-game suspension for violating the league’s PED policy.
One pitcher already picking up the slack is Fiers (8-3, 3.87), who is expected to get the ball for the series opener. The right-hander’s current six-game unbeaten run started with his second career no-hitter May 7 versus Cincinnati.
Fiers is 6-0 with a 2.30 ERA in his last 11 starts, allowing more than two runs on just three occasions. What may be more impressive, though, is opposing hitters are batting just .187 on balls put in play since he has only 42 strikeouts in 70 innings during that stretch.
Oakland’s bullpen cost the righty a shot at a win July 3 after he limited Minnesota to two runs — one earned — in six innings of the A’s eventual 4-3, 12-inning loss. Fiers is 5-2 with a 2.91 ERA at home this season, including 3-0 with a 1.79 ERA in the last six.
He has also been effective versus the White Sox, going 2-0 with a 2.21 ERA in six career starts. Fiers had a 3.71 ERA in three starts against them last year, winning one of them.
The Athletics are:
- 7-2 in their last nine games vs. the White Sox.
- 40-11 in their last 51 games vs. AL Central teams.
- 8-2 in their last 10 games vs. starters with a plus-1.30 WHIP.
The White Sox are:
- 4-11 in their last 15 games vs. AL West teams.
- 1-4 in their last five road games.
- 25-65 in their last 90 road games vs. above-.500 teams.
Athletics -0.5 runs first 5 innings (-131)
Fiers has trailed after five innings just once in his 11-start unbeaten run, with the Athletics posting an 8-1-2 mark in those contests. Oakland is also 8-1 at the five-inning mark in Fiers’ last nine starts at the Coliseum, while the White Sox own a 3-5-2 record at the five-inning mark in Nova’s 10 road starts overall.
Athletics -1.5 runs (Even)
There’s a lot to like about Fiers’ current run of quality pitching, but the one that puts it over the top for this contest has been his work in Oakland. The righty has allowed two or fewer runs there in his last four outings and in five of his last six at the Coliseum.
The A’s have also been tough on the AL Central thus far, winning 10 of 12 games in addition to a suspended game they currently lead. While Nova looked good in his last start before the break, he has had two subpar starts in three against AL West opponents.
UNDER 5.5 runs first 5 innings (-136)
The hook is the key to this pick, which would be fare more challenging if it dropped to five. The five-inning under has posted a 5-1-1 mark in Fiers’ last seven starts, and the A’s righty has conceded just one run in the first five innings of his last three.
The five-inning under is also on a solid run with Nova, delivering in seven of his last eight stars in addition to a 7-3 mark on the road.
UNDER 9.5 runs (-115)
This is a confidence pick in Fiers and his home form coupled with the fact the under is 6-1 in his last seven starts overall. Though the over has dominated the head-to-head matchup between the teams of late, hitting in the last six in Oakland and 11 of 12 overall, the under has also been solidly trending with Nova of late, going 4-1 in his last five starts overall and his last five against teams with winning records.
White Sox UNDER 3.5 runs (+105)
This is another confidence pick in Fiers and also trusting Oakland’s bullpen. Opponents have scored more than three runs four times during his 11-start unbeaten run, which includes Oakland’s suspended game in which it leads Detroit 5-3.
Fiers’ form at home, which includes the Athletics recording three of their six shutouts this year when he pitches, makes this a solid pick at plus-money.
UNDER 3 runs first 3 innings (-125)
While there is confidence in Fiers, this pick offers a slightly larger margin of error than taking the White Sox over/under of one run in the first three frames at the same -125 spread. When removing his outing in Japan, Fiers has a 2.26 ERA in nine starts in Oakland, and he has yielded only five runs combined over the first three innings in those outings.
Nova has also held opponents to one or no runs in the first three innings in five of his last six starts, and with taking the five-inning under, the logical play is to also take the three-inning one.