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An SB Nation blog for Oakland Athletics fans

Updated: 2017-09-24T15:53:08-07:00


Game 155: A’s Win Seventh Straight, Beat Rangers 8-1



Meanwhile, both Matt Olson and Jharel Cotton left the action early with apparent injuries.

***Check out today’s Game Thread***

Led by a five-run fifth inning, the A’s swept their second consecutive series and enter the season’s final week on a quite a run.

The large asterisk attached to today’s positive write-up is that Matt Olson left today’s action early with what appeared to be a groin or hamstring strain, and Jharel Cotton exited after just 77 pitches and appeared to be holding his right elbow in the dugout.

Khris Davis homered for the second consecutive night.

SP or RP? A’s Have Many Difficult Decisions Ahead


Gone are the days when starting pitchers were starting pitchers and relief pitchers were relief pitchers. Nowadays it seems like every failed SP with good stuff is actually a high leverage RP in the making. Wade Davis, Trevor Cahill, Joe Blanton, and our own Liam Hendriks, are recent examples of pitchers whose inability to get batters out as SPs turned to some short-term, or long-term, dominance out of the pen. So perhaps it’s not surprising that a team like the A’s might have a couple decisions to make as to whether a couple pitchers would be better utilized in the rotation or in the bullpen. But in the A’s case right now, it’s not just a couple pitchers. Oakland has a slew, a veritable plethora, the proverbial truckload of pitchers who have either spent time in both roles, or whom analysts have suggested might be suited to the other role. Which of these pitchers should move forward as SPs and which should move forward as RPs? Here is one Blogfather’s take submitted, for your convenience and pleasure, in alphabetical order… Chris Bassitt In his rookie season, Bassitt suggested more comfort as a RP, which is unusual considering that most pitchers prefer starting if only because it is a more lucrative field. However, prior to his TJS Bassitt was performing well in the rotation. Health willing, I see Bassitt as a SP partly because his upside is significant – perhaps as high as a #3 SP, which is a really valuable piece – and partly because his arsenal of a mid-90s fastball, solid curve and changeup, and ability to attack the strike zone, profile well in the rotation. Unless his body demands shorter stints in order to hold up, I think the A’s should bring Bassitt to camp as a SP in the hopes that he can pick up where he left off in 2015, when his 3.56 ERA and 3.76 FIP suggested he had a lot to offer as a SP. The A’s are flush with back-end SP options but thin in those 1-3 spots right now and Bassitt is among the few candidates to rise to the level of a #3 SP if healthy and able to return to earlier form. Verdict: SP Jharel Cotton I have heard fans suggest Cotton should move to the bullpen, citing fastball/changeup artists such as Trevor Hoffman and Keith Foulke as models. I don’t see it. Hoffman and Foulke could throw the ball through the eye of a needle, while Cotton’s problem is that he needs Siri to direct him to the catcher’s target. Cotton’s issues are fastball command, a lack of effective movement on his fastball, and consistency with his cutter. If these persist, he will not be an effective reliever and if he solves them he can be an effective SP. He has a SP’s arsenal, just not the polish needed to get big league hitters out, and keep them in the park, period. Verdict: SP Daniel Gossett Gossett’s struggles as he turns the lineup over multiple times has caused some to call for him to move to the bullpen. However, Gossett’s stuff doesn’t really profile as much of a useful piece in short relief. With average velocity that relies on precision, not movement, and a varied arsenal (cutter, curve, changeup) of pitches that are good when located and terrible when hung, there is nothing about Gossett that suggests he would thrive in 1-2 inning stints. Certainly with his propensity to give up HRs like they’re going out of style, you would be hesitant to throw him into too many high leverage situations. If he’s locating well enough, he’s a nice back-end SP to have or at least offers you valuable depth. As a reliever I have no reason to believe he will simply perform the way he has the first time through the order as a SP. Verdict: SP Daniel Mengden A lot of the call for Mengden to move to the bullpen comes from his disparate numbers the first time, second time, and third time through the rotation. However, like Cotton I think Mengden’s issues stem not from exposure or stamina but rather from his lack of command. Prior to September, Mengden showed little consistent command of his fastball, his changeup, his curve, his slider – and these past t[...]

MLB broke the home run record, and the A’s played a huge role


Dingers galore. For the past two years, the A’s have felt a little out of the loop. Uninvited to the party, the team was never a part of any relevant conversation, never in contention, never of interest on a national level. On Tuesday, MLB smashed its own record for dingers in a year with 5,694 with a week and change to spare. No other league is close. The record fell at the hands Alex Gordon, he of a 60 wRC+. It was a rather fitting way for the number to broken, as the home run surge has been largely been powered by not the most powerful, but rather the weaker hitters in the league. Here’s some exciting news: the A’s were a huge part of that record with the fifth most dingers hit in the game. With 222, they’re tied with the Yankees and Astros, and three behind the Rangers (225) and Orioles (227, numbers as of Thursday). With a hot final week (or as Matt Olson calls it, a meh week), the A’s could lead the game in dingers in the most dinger-y year of all time. That’s pretty cool! Here’s some better news: the home run jump has been caused by a few factors. The first is baseball collectively figuring out that yes, home runs are good and making a conscious effort to get the ball up in the air and out of the yard. The second is the ball, juiced since the 2015 All Star Break. That has brought offense back from the dead at the hands of some random sluggers. Scooter Gennett? Terrifying lineup presence. Jean Segura? Barry Bonds. The list is long. The powers at be in baseball like to do weird things, and just as fast as they’ve brought offense back with a changed ball, they could rid it with a similar alteration. Ah, but Oakland is far from reliant on a juiced ball; the A’s lineup is full of real, bonafide sluggers. Kris Davis is the home run king, Matt Chapman has crushed at every level, Matt Olson is as big as a mountain, so on and so forth. This is a team of legit sluggers, juiced ball or not and it’s a team that should be atop the home run leaderboard for seasons to come. Other fun facts: -Every team with more dingers than the A’s plays in a home run friendly stadium -This team has the fourth most home runs in Athletics history. The leading team? The 1996 A’s powered by Mark McGwire and Geronimo Berroa -The A’s team with the fewest dingers? The 1915 squad hit a grand total of 16. -The 1910 Oakland squad hit 19 home runs in the midst of a .266/.326/.355 line which was good for a 115 wRC+ omg baseball used to be so boring. The pitchers played a role, too The offense has been a bright spot for much of the year, particularly the second half behind the revamped rookie lineup. The pitching has been a little rough throughout the year, and while the team isn’t that high on the dingers allowed list, it’s been a bit of an issue. Currently, the 2017 A’s have given up 197 long balls. That’s fourth most in the history of the Athletics and by season’s end, it’s entirely possible the A’s will reach the number two spot in franchise history (205 HRs by the 2006 team). Currently, they’ve given up the 12th most in the game, again a number that needs park consideration to fully appreciate. The dinger load has been fairly spread out. Both starters and relievers have given up their share, with Jharel Cotton leading the way with 28. Whereas on the offensive side of the ball there’s encouraging news with regards to who’s hitting the dingers, pitchers young and old are giving up the longball. It’s a fixable issue, but the A’s pitchers will have to make a change in order to have a better 2018. More fun facts: -The A’s have had 28 pitchers this year, and 27 have given up a ding dong. Can you guess the one who didn’t? -The 1910 team gave up a whopping 8 dingers on the year, in 150 full games. Old baseball, probably boring. [...]