Monday’s MLB card is quite small, as a good number of teams will enjoy a day off from the grind. We do have a doubleheader in Queens, as the Braves play two for the second consecutive day, this time against the Mets.

Our focus, however, will be on the AL West battle in Arlington between the Oakland Athletics and the Texas Rangers. We’ll see Frankie Montas and Kyle Gibson in this one, as the A’s look to draw first blood in the series as a small favorite in the -125 to -130 range at Bookmaker Sportsbook with a total of 8.5.

Oakland Athletics

The road trip started in promising fashion for the A’s, as they won the series opener in the Bronx against the Yankees, but then dropped consecutive close games to finish out the series. The Friday night in was the seventh in a row for Oakland, but it was not a big surprise to see the series loss to New York, even with the win in the first game. Oakland lost on a game-ending triple play on Sunday.

That’s because the A’s have really feasted on a bad schedule lately. They did sweep the Angels at home prior to hitting the road, but Los Angeles was a team that was in like for some regression after navigating some very calm seas against bad teams. Prior to the Yankees series, Oakland played the Angels, Mariners, Angels again, Mariners again, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Royals, and Angels again. Not a single winning record in the bunch.

So, it stands to reason that stepping up in class would result in a few difficulties.

The A’s are a much better offense on the road than at home. We didn’t see it on Sunday with one run, but Oakland has a .311 wOBA at home and entered Sunday’s game with a .332 wOBA on the road. They’ve actually done what the Rays have done with their home/road splits in the sense that they’ve been more patient at home in hopes of creating more run-scoring situations via the walk and have been more aggressive on the road.

We’ll have to see what kind of run support Frankie Montas will end up with. Montas has a 4.21 ERA with a 3.71 FIP in his 77 innings of work across 14 starts. He’s got some solid peripherals with over a strikeout per inning and one of the best walk rates of his career. He’s also gone four straight starts without allowing a home run after giving up 11 in his first 10 starts.

Texas Rangers

The Rangers represent another step down in class for Oakland. This will actually be the first time that these division rivals have met this season, so the A’s will have 19 chances to try and beat up on the last-place Rangers. Texas was actually 18-18 after 36 games, but heads into this matchup with a record of 25-46, so it has not gone well of late. Losing 28 of 35 is not easy to do.

While the A’s have feasted on a weak schedule, the Rangers have played a tough one lately, as they were swept at home by the underachieving Twins over the weekend and previously played Houston, the Dodgers, San Francisco, and Tampa Bay. The problem is that the Rangers were also swept by Colorado, Seattle, and the Angels over a nine-game road trip prior to the meatier part of the schedule.

This is just a bad offensive ballclub. The Rangers are decent defensively, but they don’t score many runs and also have a pretty poor pitching staff. Texas now actually ranks below Seattle in home wOBA this season and is threatening to be the worst in the league down with Milwaukee. The Rangers are also threatening with being the worst offense in baseball as a whole with a low walk rate and minimal power.

If Kyle Gibson can keep up what he has done to this point, at least the Rangers will have a decent chance to win every fifth day. Gibson has a 2.09 ERA with a 3.37 FIP in his 77.2 innings of work. The concern, though, is that Gibson has a .244 BABIP against with a lot of balls in play and a lot of ground balls specifically. He also has an 84% LOB% that is ripe for regression.

Gibson’s HR/FB% has not been lower than 14.5% since 2016. He’s at 7.6% this season, so he’s really been able to limit the long ball to an impressive degree. At home, Gibson has allowed just a .232 wOBA and has a 0.96 ERA. Not bad considering he has faced the Orioles, Red Sox, Astros, Giants, Rays, and Blue Jays at home and five of those six are legit offensive teams.

Athletics vs. Rangers Free Pick

Even though Gibson has pitched extremely well this season, the A’s are the play here. The offensive baseline for the Rangers is very low. The A’s have more offensive upside, even with the season that Gibson is having. If the game is close in the late innings, the A’s have a bullpen advantage, albeit not quite as big of one as you would expect. Oakland feasts on lesser teams and the Rangers are definitely a lesser team. Gibson is also looking at some clear regression signs.

Pick: Oakland Athletics