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An SB Nation blog for Oakland Athletics fans

Updated: 2016-09-24T16:07:09-07:00


Game #154: Boring A’s Lose Boring Game


Who knew Darvish was a decent pitcher? Just last week, Raul Alcantara went up against Yu Darvish and won, the former top-pitching prospect slowly and steadily falling out of favor with the organization besting the pitcher with the mega-deal with the best K/9 rate in the history of all of baseball. In that start, Alcantara nearly made it through six innings pitched before running out of gas, and primarily reduced on inducing ground balls and weak contact to get through the game. In this start, one game after the Rangers officially clinched a playoff spot and chose to rest many of their starters who were in the game last time Alcantara pitched, Alcantara became much more aggressive in his approach, with mixed results. After an inauspicious start in which Marcus Semien flubbed a ground ball off the bat of the leadoff batter, Alcantara would showcase the stuff that made him a top pitching prospect in the first place, forcing a pop up followed by two strikeouts, courtesy of high mid-90’s fastballs, to get out of the inning without any threat of a run scoring. Alcantara would get a third consecutive strikeout to begin the second inning using the same strategy, but then the Rangers appeared to expect the high fastball and took advantage of any mistakes in location, as Jared Hoying, Elvis Andrus, and Robinson Chirinos would hit three consecutive extra base hits in the order of double-home run-double, to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead. Alcantara would settle back in after that, however, and pitched with relatively little stress through the fifth inning. The sixth inning appeared to be relatively breezy for Alcantara as well, as he started the inning with his sixth strikeout of the game, this one on a curveball to Joey Gallo, before allowing a single and a flyout to put a runner on first base with two outs. Elvis Andrus strode up to the plate again, notably not powerful or that good at hitting in general. Andrus smoked a second pitch changeup high and deep down the left field line, over the top of the foul pole for his second home run of the game and his first multi-home run game of his career to make it 4-0 Rangers. Alcantara’s final line on the afternoon would be six innings, seven hits, six strikeouts, and four runs all coming via Andrus home run. A Stephen Vogt single in the first inning quenched any fears of the A’s no no-hit streak being threatened yet again, but that just took all drama and fun out of the game. The offense was bad again. Worse yet, it was boring. The A’s had two hits through seven innings, one being an accidental against-the-shift bunt swing from Alonso. In the eighth inning, the A’s loaded the bases against the Texas bullpen via two singles and a walk, but after a long (and actually exciting and interesting) at bat from Stephen Vogt a harmless fly ball to center field would end the inning and the threat. Rangers would rally in the ninth inning off of Liam Hendriks to draw the game out for some reason, fortunately, in the bottom of the ninth inning the A’s figured out how to go quietly and put the game out of misery. It should be noted that Khris Davis earned himself another outfield assist in the fifth inning, tossing out the lead runner in Jurickson Profar trying to tag up from first base to second base on a relatively deep fly ball into left field. Davis uncorked his throw to Semien quickly, who himself got the ball to Wendle at second as soon as he could, unfortunately just a moment too late. However, as Profar was doing the pop-up half of his pop-up slide, Joey Wendle totally nudged him off the bag/tagged him with authority, and Profar was ruled out without a challenge. Congrats to Khris Davis on his second biggest accomplishment after his home run total. In a game between a division champion and a division loser, the winner was the division champion and the loser was everyone who spent their hard-earned Saturday afternoon watching a nap-aid. [...]

Game #154: Athletics versus Rangers



After a strong campaign, the Rangers clinched a playoff spot on the A's home turf during last night's affair, and so today the A's look to bounce back and, at the very least, spoil the Rangers' bid for the best record in the American League. Despite the loss last night, the A's continued to play a brand of baseball that would inspire hope for next season, especially behind Graveman's mostly perfect performance on the mound.

Raul Alcantara has been improving with each and every start he's made thus far, and looks to continue that positive trend as he takes on the Rangers in his second consecutive start. Opposing Alcantara is Yu Darvish, who still has yet to solve his A's problem.

First pitch is just after 1:00 PM. Lineups are below.

Today's Lineups

Delino DeShields Jr. - CF Joey Wendle - 2B
Jurickson Profar - 2B Danny Valencia - RF
Nomar Mazara - RF Stephen Vogt - DH
Joey Gallo - DH Khris Davis - LF
Ryan Rua - 1B Ryon Healy - 3B
Jared Hoying - LF Yonder Alonso - 1B
Elvis Andrus - SS Marcus Semien - SS
Robinson Chirinos - C Bruce Maxwell - C
Hanser Alberto - 3B Jake Smolinski - CF
Yu Darvish - RHP Raul Alcantara - RHP

Game #153: Rangers Clinch Division On A's Field



How far we have fallen, amiright? Not that long ago, it was the A's who clinched the West. It was exciting. Everyone was happy, game threads spanned six, seven even on a good day, And now we sit, watching Texas celebrate their October fortune, as we countdown to the end of another dismal A's season. Oh, and the A's were shutout tonight. If you'd like insult to injury, Kendall Graveman nearly threw a perfect game. It was a perfect seven innings. Until it wasn't.

Obligatory congratulations to the Texas Rangers for winning the West. Yay, go Rangers.

So I'm not sure what exactly to say about this game. On one hand, it was actually quite riveting until the seventh inning; Graveman throwing a perfect game and the A's putting runners all over the bases, yet scoring nobody. With the score tied 0-0 in the seventh inning, things fell apart in short order for Graveman.

An infield single to lead off the seventh inning broke up the perfect game, but the single immediately following put runners at first and third with no outs. A ground-out by Beltran broke the scoreless tie, and a two-run home-run by Beltre put the game out of reach for the green and gold.

The A's soundly wasted their seven hits and three walks in this one, as they stranded a Healy single and a Davis walk in the first, and a Nunez single and a Pinder double in the second actually saw Nunez thrown out at the plate. A promising rally in the fourth was ended by a double-play, Chad Pinder had a great game, as he doubled in the fifth, but was thrown out at third with two outs on a fielder's choice.

The A's simply couldn't counter Texas' seventh inning and they lost. And watched as a Division Rival celebrate on their field. May 2016 be the last time we feel this.

The A's and Rangers play tomorrow at 1:05. Raul Alcantara pitches for the A's against Yu Darvish. If anything, that should be a win for the A's.

On Daniel Mengden, his windup, and times through the order


Some assorted thoughts on the guy with the best facial hair in the bigs. At the end of the day, Daniel Mengden's 2016 has been a rousing success. He breezed through two levels, finding himself in the bigs just a year after being acquired in the Scott Kazmir trade. While his transition to the big leagues hasn't exactly been seamless, Mengden's mastery of the minors is an objective success. Mengden's big league struggles are fine and mildly expected, especially when the guy we're discussing was pitching in the California League just a year ago. But it still presents some questions, too. Is Mengden just learning the ropes, or should we have long term concern about his viability? Some thoughts. Attempting to gauge the deception in his windup As of now, we can't pinpoint the exact numbers. We can, however, look at his numbers with runners on compared with bases empty as the former should be a proxy for his success from the windup, the latter for from the stretch. Situation PA AB HR SO/W BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip tOPS+ sOPS+ Bases empty 175 165 4 4.5 .255 .297 .388 .685 .328 76 88 Men On 140 111 4 1.14 .288 .420 .477 .898 .337 132 139 Even within these numbers, there's likely to be a bit of noise and some things to keep in mind. For one, most players are worse out of the stretch, so while Mengden's numbers are particularly extreme, it's not a unique problem.  There may be some conflating details as well; on days when you have better stuff, you're more likely to be in the windup and on days where your stuff is missing, more likely to be in the stretch. Finally, this is just a proxy for windup vs. stretch, there's the chance he has thrown some pitches with men on out of the windup, though it's likely negligible. The difference in Mengden's results is stark. With the bases empty, he's pretty darn good. His strikeout to walk ratio is solid and he fills up the zone with ease. Out of the windup, everyone he faces is basically Yonder Alonso. In the stretch, it's been a totally different story. His strikeouts have plummeted, walks have soared, he's allowing home runs at a higher clip, and pretty much everything has been worse. Out of the stretch, hitters are looking like Manny Machado. Again, it's hard to know how much the windup deception really affects his results, though since he's been more than 50% more effective with the bases clear (tOPS+), it's likely a real factor. This will likely be a point of emphasis for Mengden and the A's going forward, but you have to wonder how much of it is a remediable ailment. The only cure may be having a perpetually short leash on Mengden, which ties nicely to the fact that... Mengden has struggled multiple times through the order and later in games Like pitching out of the windup compared to out of the stretch, most pitchers are far superior their first and second times through the order. The third time is when things start to break down, and teams particularly willing to try new things have gone as far as to take pitchers out of the game around the 19th batter, regardless of how things are going. Again, this is a trend that's particularly tough on Mengden. Time through PA HR SO/W BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip tOPS+ sOPS+ 1st 117 1 4.14 .202 .256 .266 .522 .266 36 46 2nd 117 4 1.6 .290 .379 .500 .879 .342 126 133 3rd 79 3 1.89 .348 .449 .576 1.024 .435 164 160 Some of this likely goes hand in hand with windup deception - as he gets later in games, hitters become more familiar with his stuff, finding their way on base. That takes him out of the windup, puts him into the stretch, and hitters get another advantage on top of seeing him for a third time. For my money, this trend is a bit less worrying. It's not unique, especially to guys who profile more at the back-end, and the element of fatigue is probably playing a big part. Mengden has thrown more innings than ever before and the stress of the bigs likely makes those even more exhausting than your run o[...]

Trade Daze Episode 8: I’m All Ears



Athletics' Ryon Healy on some of his biggest assets.

Ryon Healy takes on the toughest questions in a new post-game interview...


Game #152: A's lose 6-5, get swept by Astros


Mengden was good early, bad late, and the A's offense couldn't muster enough to overcome Evan Gattis's powerful bat. The A's were fun last week. The A's are not fun this week. Daniel Mengden dominant early For the first three frames, Daniel Mengden was dominant. He sat down the first 10 he saw, striking out four. Yulieski Gurriel broke up the perfect game with a single past a diving Semien in the fourth, but after some more fine pitching, the A's made it out of that frame unscathed. There have been times, especially later in Mengden's rookie campaign, where he's looked just utterly hittable. There have been times where a swing and miss seems like an impossibility and where you really have to wonder, does he have the stuff? Today, in the early going at least, he looked like a guy who clearly has the stuff to succeed in the majors. A's jump out in front in fourth In the fourth, the A's snagged the first run of the game. Danny Valencia walked, which is nice, cause walking (and not running) is Danny Valencia's favorite thing. A one out single by Marcus Semien would move him to second and with two outs, Valencia would score on a ground rule double by Brett Eibner. Nice to see Eibner get a hit off a tough right handed pitcher, though he probably still profiles as a short side platoon outfielder. Stros get it back in the fifth Without any hits, the Stros tied the game at 1-1 in the fifth. Marwin Gonzalez walked to lead off and moved to second with one out when Jason Castro walked. Those two would move up 90 feet each when Bruce Maxwell was unable to quell a Daniel Mengden slider, and Gonzalez would score on a routine groundball to Marcus Semien as the A's conceded a run for an out. Ugly ugly sixth The sixth marked Mengden's third go around through the order and true to form, Mengden's dominant nature disappeared and the Astros looked incredibly comfortable in the box. With one out, Jose Altuve singled. He'd score on a Carlos Corea double and Evan Gattis would follow with a dinger because of course Evan Gattis followed with a dinger. 4-1, Astros. Maxwell plates run in bottom half In their half of the sixth, the A's snagged a run back to bring the score to 4-2. Danny Valencia led off with an infield hit in which he, the laziest ballplayer in the land, ran hard on an infield hit. I saw it with my own eyes and it was beautiful to see the man put effort into something other than Billy Butler's head. He'd score from first when with two outs, Bruce Maxwell launched a double to the right-center field wall. It wasn't the best defensive day for Maxwell, but his bat is looking more and more for real. Astros get another in seventh cause the A's defense does about a good a job preventing runs as Taco Bell With Zach Neal on the mound, the Astros pushed the lead to three runs again. George Springer hit a one out double to right. He'd move to third on another past ball/wild pitch, again mostly the fault of Bruce Maxwell. Springer would score on a groundball to Marcus Semien. Semien was playing in to prevent the run. He fielded the ball cleanly, gave a courtesy look to third and threw to first. On the throw, Springer darted towards home and being one of the best athletes in the game, was able to score in spite of the drawn in infield. Credit goes first and foremost to George Springer. He's a truly elite athlete, explosive in every regard, and there's little chance the runner at third scores unless it's a Springer or a Dyson or maybe a Billy Burns with a brain. But still, not a good play by Semien whose look to third did nothing to send Springer back. 5-2, Astros. A's score two more In the bottom of the seventh, the A's snagged two back to make the score 5-4. Jake Smolinski walked to lead off. Chad Pinder, pinch hitting for Joey Wendle, crushed a double to center in his first at bat in more than a week, moving Smolinski to third. He'd score on a Vogt groundout and Healy would bring in one more on a [...]

J.B. Wendelken likely to undergo Tommy John Surgery, per Stiglich



Tough injury news for A's rookie, plus a few injury updates.

As reported by Joe Stiglich, right handed reliever J.B. Wendelken may well be headed for Tommy John Surgery. He'll get a second opinion before undergoing the knife, but the first opinion is not reassuring.

Wendelken was acquired over the winter in exchange for Brett Lawrie along side left handed starter Zach Erwin. In Nashville, Wendelken performed adequately, ending the year with a 4.11 ERA and 65 strikeouts in just 46 innings. The stuff showed itself in the high strikeout totals, but he never found his way in the bigs, putting up an ERA of 9.95 in 12.2 innings.

As noted many a time, the A's are headed for a roster crunch and with Wendelken likely out until 2018, it's unclear how he fits into the A's future plans.

Best wishes for J.B. Wendelken.

Sonny Gray to throw a simulated game

Sonny Gray is scheduled to throw a simulated game on Saturday, and the results of that will dictate whether or not he appears in a big league contest before the season is over.

After the disaster that has been 2016, I'm not exactly sure what the rush is to get Gray in front of big league hitters. That said, I'm not a doctor, I'm a guy who once used an inhaler incorrectly during a childhood asthma attack, so maybe don't worry about my thoughts too much.

Henderson Alvarez underwent shoulder surgery (again)

Righty Henderson Alvarez officially went under the knife for the second time in an effort to fix his right shoulder. As Stiglich notes, it's unclear whether Alvarez will return to pitching at all. Then there's this little nugget:

Tuesday's surgery included a biceps tenodesis, where the biceps tendon is reattached to the humerus bone in the arm.

Woof. Get better, Henderson.

Game #152: A's vs. Astros



The A's try and snag the final game of this three game set behind Daniel Mengden and the A's youngsters.

Bruce Maxwell in the lineup makes my heart warm. Danny Valencia in right makes my heart pause.

Today's Lineups

George Springer - RF Joe Wendle - 2B
Yulieski Gurriel - 3B Stephen Vogt - DH
Jose Altuve - 2B Ryon Healy - 3B
Carlos Correa - SS Danny Valencia - RF
Evan Gattis - DH Yonder Alonso - 1B
Marwin Gonzalez - 1B Marcus Semien - SS
Tony Kemp - LF Bruce Maxwell - C
Jason Castro - C Brett Eibner - CF
Jake Marisnick - CF Jake Smolinski - LF
Collin McHugh - RHP Daniel Mengden - RHP

First pitch is at 12:35 PM. Let's go A's!