The Oakland Athletics received bad news when they learned that they would be without two integral pieces of their starting rotation. They placed lefty Brett Anderson on the 10-day disabled list with a forearm strain after getting knocked around for five runs in only 2.2 innings pitched against the Houston Astros. That’s not the only bad news, as the team will also be without ace Sean Manaea for an indefinite amount of time due to rotator cuff tendinitis. While the injuries aren’t ideal, the team still poses as a serious contender for the American League pennant.
Starting rotation depth
While the losses on Manaea and Anderson hurt, the team still has a decent starting rotation heading into the postseason. This group consists of Edwin Jackson, Trevor Cahill, Daniel Mengden, and Mike Fiers, who is having a career year. Since joining the team in a trade with the Detroit Tigers, Fiers has compiled a 3-0 record with a 1.50 ERA in four starts while Jackson and Cahill have had strong seasons of their own posting ERAs of 3.03 and 3.44 respectively. Daniel Mengden has been inconsistent all season but has shown that he can dominate hitters after posting strong outings against the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, and Arizona Diamondbacks in May. The Athletics will miss Manaea and Anderson, but they still have a good group of starters that can get the job done to keep the team in contention until both return.
One of the main reasons the Oakland A’s are even contending is their strong batting lineup. The team has a fair share of guys able to get on base, and also power bats to provide an ideal offensive attack. Matt Chapman, known for his stellar work in the field, has put together a strong season after a slow start, turning a .231 batting average in June to slashing a line of .280/.364/.526 with 21 home runs and 52 RBIs. Players like Marcus Semien, Stephen Piscotty, and Jed Lowrie have consistently gotten on base all season long. There’s also Khris Davis, who has somehow snuck his way into the American League MVP talks despite a not-so-stellar average at .252. Davis has mashed the ball all season long, holding the MLB lead in home runs at 39 and he has collected 103 RBIs already, trailing only JD Martinez’s 110. The A’s also have another power hitter in Matt Olson, who has collected 24 home runs with 64 RBIs in his first full season in the majors. The combination of contact and speed in Semien, Lowrie, and Piscotty with the power bats in Davis, Chapman, and Olson provide an offensive attack nearly comparable to the Boston Red Sox. The team ranks fifth in the league average 4.8 runs per game and are second in the league in home runs with 182 total long balls.
A severely underrated bullpen
While the Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Yankees, and Cleveland Indians have a star-studded bullpen, we can’t forget about the bullpen that the Oakland A’s front office has put together this year. The team has a strong bullpen to complement the starting rotation and as we saw in the postseason last year, relief pitching plays a huge role in the long run. The A’s have enjoyed strong seasons from Yusmeiro Petit, Lou Trivino, Ryan Buchter, and Emilio Pagan, who have combined for a 19-5 record and a 3.18 ERA this season. The team also acquired three former closers to help the back end of the bullpen and shorten games for the A’s. Fernando Rodney, Shawn Kelley, and Jeurys Familia have had spectacular campaigns in 2018 and the best part for the Athletics is, none of them is the closer for the team, meaning they got someone even better to finish close ballgames for them.
Blake Treinen has finally blossomed into a top bullpen arm that the Nationals thought they’d get when they traded for him in 2013. However, after a poor 2017 season, the then-contending Nationals sent him back to the A’s in a five player-deal that saw the Oakland ship away Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle. Boy, are the Athletics happy to have him back, as Treinen just earned his 33rd save of the season in 37 opportunities yesterday. Treinen also has a microscopic ERA and WHIP at 0.95 and 0.94 while compiling a 6-2 record in 56 games. He’s really cemented himself into the closer’s role this year and has been the icing on the top of a strong Oakland Athletics bullpen.
Sure, the A’s are without Sean Manaea and Brett Anderson, but this team has battled adversity all season long and I expect them to do the same in this situation. I firmly believe the Athletics will continue to threaten the Houston Astros for the AL West and also for the American League pennant, so don’t sleep on these A’s.
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