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Athletics Nation - All Posts

An SB Nation blog for Oakland Athletics fans

Updated: 2017-08-20T18:14:14-07:00


WC2: A Bunch Of Aceless Chaps



It’s hard to find an AL team that isn’t in the “mix for mediocrity” that is the second wild card hunt, but trust me to find one to root for! If the A’s were at .500 they would be all of 2 games out, but they aren’t so they aren’t and that’s just the way it goes.

Hovering around .500, though, vying for that one-game opportunity to probably travel to New York and take on the Yankees, are a slew of teams. Yankee hater that I am, I started pondering which team I should root for to secure that second wild card spot. I wasn’t looking for the best team, because they are all defined by their mediocrity, but I was looking for the team with the best ace who might be able to go toe to toe in a one-game showdown.

You know, like Jon Lester did for the A’— yeah, too soon. Way too soon.

That’s when I realized how aceless these chaps are. Perhaps the Yankees are currently one cut above the rest precisely because Luis Severino has pitched like an ace in 2017. The division leaders, Houston, Cleveland, and Boston, have aces in Dallas Keuchel, Corey Kluber, and Chris Sale. The teams trying to join the party? Wow, slim pickins.

One way you know a team is lacking a legitimate #1 SP is when you have difficulty figuring out who would even be selected for a one-game showdown. The Minnesota Twins come closest with A’s-killer turned most-teams-killer-this-season Ervin Santana, though his 5.46 ERA in June and July combined reflect a pitcher who came out of the gate like gang busters (0.77 ERA in 5 April starts) and has come crashing back to earth.

Would the Angels turn to Tyler Skaggs or J.C. Ramirez? Would the Mariners, down Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, and James Paxton, turn to the amazing Yovani Gallardo? Are the Kansas City Royals hoping to sneak in so they can pin their hopes on Jason Vargas (7.23 ERA in 4 July starts, 7.08 ERA in 4 August starts, 6.62 ERA since the All-Star break)? Or do the Royals prefer Ian Kennedy and his 5.06 ERA? Hey, the Rangers are still hanging in there and they have Yu Darvish. Oh wait, they gave up and traded him, so...Cole Hamels is kind of legit, I suppose, though he’s having a down year and has allowed 4 ER or more in 4 of his last 6 starts. Still more savory than Martin Perez and his 5.26 ERA.

Is it that there are fewer legitimate #1 SPs in the league right now or are they just all bundled on the few good teams? (The Indians could make a case for Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Danny Salazar, and Trevor Bauer is a 12-game winner with more than a strikeout per inning.)

The kicker is this: the race for the second wild card is so tight — and figures to stay that way since all the teams tend to win and lose about half the time — that it’s entirely possible a team will need to pitch its “ace” on the season’s final day just to earn the wild card spot. In that scenario, you’re looking at...even worse options. Heaven forbid the regular season end the way the standings look now, with a tie for the second wild card (currently the Twins and Angels), and possibly the need to win game 162, and a one-game showdown, before going towards the BACK of the rotation for the wild card game.

Then again, last year the last pitch in the wild card game was thrown by Ubaldo Jimenez, so I suppose the bar is pretty low.

Game #124: Astros Implode, A’s Win 3-2.



***Check Out Today’s Game Thread***

If you turned on the TV or settled into your seat even just a little after Sunday’s first pitch, chances are you missed most of the game’s excitement.

Boog Powell led off the game with a single. The next batter, Marcus Semien, hit a ground ball in between the third baseman and shortstop. Alex Bregman ranged to his right and fielded it cleanly, but had trouble getting the ball out of his glove and his throw sailed into right field. I could describe what happened next, but I think the video captures it so much better...

Oakland A’s prospect watch: New sleepers in the lower minors


Here at Athletics Nation we follow the Oakland A’s farm system quite closely. Foremost, we’ve got our own crowdsourced Top 30 list. Beyond that, there’s a whole other set of fringe guys we keep an eye on. And then there’s the rest of the org filler, who aren’t on the radar but occasionally do something interesting. This post is about the limbo between those last two groups, the no-names aspiring to climb into the fringes of relevancy. We already talk a lot about the upper minors, between Triple-A Nashville and Double-A Midland, so today we’re sticking in the lower minors — that is, the various levels of A-ball. As a matter of coincidence, each of the players highlighted is a pitcher. High-A Stockton: Andrew Tomasovich, LHP 2017 A+ stats: 3.96 ERA, 25 ip, 32 Ks, 11 BB, 2 HR, 25 hits, 3.80 FIP Drafted in the 21st round in 2015, the lefty has carved out a bullpen role. He’s dealt with some minor injuries along the way, but he’s striking out over 11 batters per nine innings over the last two years (combined Beloit and Stockton). His walk rate is a bit high but he makes up for some of it by keeping the hits and homers low. Tomasovich’s numbers are mediocre compared to the others on this list, but one thing they don’t show us is this: src="" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> That’s a sidewinding lefty reliever, which at the very least is one of the most aesthetically pleasing things to watch in baseball. It’s also a great look for a LOOGY, if that’s the direction his role goes, since it adds deception against lefty hitters who were already at a platoon disadvantage to begin with. Lefties have actually hit him better than righties this year, but it’s been entirely BABIP; the isolated slugging numbers are the same, and his K/BB rate (a far better platoon indicator than small-sample OPS) is better against lefties (as it was last year too). Stockton also has a righty sidearmer in closer Nolan Blackwood (17-of-18 saves), and personally I think it’s a little extra fun to root for these guys. (Blackwood video link) Honorable mention: I thought about choosing LHP Brandon Marsonek as Stockton’s sleeper, but I’m going to wait until he’s played a bit more. The 23-year-old went undrafted this summer as a senior out of a weak college conference before signing with the A’s. His numbers are nothing special yet (13⅔ ip, 11 Ks, 7 BB), but just the fact that he’s in High-A is impressive while the rest of the 2017 draft class is still in Low-A Vermont at best — the assignment was meant to be temporary fill-in duty but he’s held his own so far (via Melissa Lockard of Oakland Clubhouse). Meanwhile, 23-year-old RHP Angel Duno continues to put up huge K/BB numbers (4.8 this year, just like last year in Beloit). He’s also upped his strikeouts overall, with his K/9 rate going from the 6ish range in past seasons up to 8.3 today. He’s proving he can hit the zone reliably, but there’s still work to be done — when hitters do make contact, they’re torching him. Single-A Beloit: John Gorman, RHP 2017 A stats: 1.00 ERA, 18 ip, 24 Ks, 1 BB, 1 HR, 8 hits, 1.71 FIP Once again we draw on the 2015 draft, this time with Gorman in the 31st round. That’s nearly Ryan Dull territory, in terms of draft position. If it seems like he should have made it further up the ladder than this by now, there’s a good reason: He missed the entire 2016 season after surgery for a torn rotator cuff, and didn’t even return this year until the end of June. His entire professional career has pretty much been a handful of games in Low-A in his draft year, and then this current performance in Beloit. Of course, we shouldn’t get too excited about a 25-year-old mowing down the hitters who weren’t good enough to get midseason promotions to High-A. But he’s certainly getting back on the horse in style with his low-90s fastbal[...]

Game #122: A’s Fall Flat in Opener



Joyce Homers for A’s Lone Run

So, that was a less-than-interesting opening to the weekend, TBH. I mean, for anyone who roots for the green and gold. There is a really exciting AL Wild Card race going on, but sadly, it hasn’t sunk to the .434 winning percentage level. I’m sorry kids, looks like you have to be a .500 team to vie for contention, which believe it or not, applies to the entire rest of the AL West; the Angels, Rangers, and Seattle. While Houston has had the AL West crown sewn up since practically April, everyone else in the league minus the A’s has sneakily held a .500 record and all are in play right now.

*** Click here to revisit tonight’s Game Thread!! ***

The standings change daily, but right now, Minnesota has the first Wild Card; the Angels the second, with virtually the same record. On their heels, we find the Royals (.5 back), Seattle (.5 back) and Texas (1.5 back). Three other teams are within 3, making this stretch run fun for almost everyone. Well, except the A’s. And, you know, the White Sox. We’re not the White Sox.

Oh, I’m sorry, did you (collectively all six of you?) come to read about tonight’s game? I went out drinking. Because August A’s baseball. For all the talk of the injury and the dead arm, Sean Manaea did not pitch badly; although he struck out only two batters (coincidentally the same number of solo home runs he allowed), he spread out his two home runs and RBI single over six innings and six scattered hits. It was nothing to write home about, but it could have earned him a win.

See: baseball, August, A’s.

The A’s managed three hits of Houston starter Dallas Keuchel in his seven innings. Matt Joyce hit a home run in the eighth for the A’s lone run, and it wasn’t enough to erase Manaea’s deficit.

Someone called Hatcher pitched the seventh and eighth for the A’s, allowing no runs. Houston played great defense. Also, when I was listening on the radio, I couldn’t tell the difference between Brugman and Bregman, so I never knew who had the ball. Also, wine.

And that’s the game. I wish I had more to tell you. I hope you like one of the Wild Card teams.

We’ll see you back tomorrow for more exciting fun. I think it’s at 4PM our time. We’ll see Graveman on the mound. Remember when he had an exciting start to the season, and we’re like YES! We have ace pitching? Me either.

Hope you all have a great weekend! /baseballgirlout

Game Thread #122: Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros



In a weird, weird baseball season, in which the Los Angeles Angels have a chance at the playoffs with their barely-.500 record, the Houston Astros have stood out early and often in the West; boasting the second-best records in the Major Leagues—second only to the record-setting Los Angeles Dodgers.

It’s these Astros that the A’s will see today in Houston, as Sean Manaea will face off against Dallas Keuchel, who is fresh off a win in the battle-for-Texas series last week.

Here are your lineups for tonight’s contest:

Today's Lineups

Rajai Davis - CF George Springer - RF
Marcus Semien - SS Alex Bregman - 3B
Jed Lowrie - 2B Jose Altuve - 2B
Khris Davis - DH Yulieski Gurriel - 1B
Ryon Healy - 1B Marwin Gonzalez - SS
Chad Pinder - RF Josh Reddick - LF
Matt Chapman - 3B Carlos Beltran - DH
Matt Joyce - LF Max Stassi - C
Dustin Garneau - C Jake Marisnick - CF
Sean Manaea - LHP Dallas Keuchel - LHP