First, get your offense going by getting Kendall suspended. No, that's not where I'm going with this, just had to throw it out there (on one hop, of course), because I just got back from Boston, where I stayed near a neighborhood called Kendall Square, and I can't get over the fact that there's a square named after the guy...although if you look at Jason's "hitting spray chart" it is kind of a square...Anyway, the A's were 4-0 while I was in Boston, so feel free to fly me there anytime you're feeling superstitious...But I digress...How to survive (and maybe even thrive) in May...
You often hear theories about various ways teams can, ultimately, win enough games to take their division. They can play around .500 against the league's best clubs but really beat up on the lousy teams. Or, they can muck around against losing teams, but can step up against their elite rivals. Or they can pull a White Sox and make up for lost time at the coasts by dominating within the division. In other words, there are many means to the same end, and many ways to divide the season into a dichotomy of games in the schedule.
The A's are, I believe, about to enter one of these dichotomies, but it has little to do with the opponent, and much to do with the rotation. Thanks to off-days, the A's can probably get about 2/3 of their May games pitched by Zito, Haren, and Blanton--and folks, the A's are going to need to kick a** in those games. Because about 1/3 of May's games will be piloted by some combination of Halsey, Saarloos, Gaudin, Kiesler, and I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Ryan-Glynn. Last May, the A's simply got eradicated in these spot starts; this year they are now 1-0, but don't hold your breath. There's a reason these guys haven't cracked rotations for keeps. They may have some talent, they may have some credentials, they may offer some hope, but even if they are not baad they are not exactly gaud.
And they don't have to be. If the A's can win 2/3 of Zito's, Haren's, and Blanton's starts in May, and can win just 1/3 of the May starts from the 4-5 spots in the rotation, the A's can finish May around 16-13, which would be fine, fine, fine with me. It comes down to Zito, Haren, and Blanton stepping up enough to allow the 4-5 fill-ins to be icing on the cake, to be gravy--ok, now I wouldn't eat that cake but you get the point.
Last May, a young Haren was having trouble getting out of the 4th inning, a young Blanton was having trouble getting out of the 1st inning, and Zito was having May troubles that seemed a whole lot like his April troubles. There is hope in 2006. Since Harden went down, Haren has pitched the A's to a win. Check. Blanton has pitched the A's to a win. Check. Zito has pitched the A's to a win. Check. Keep a close eye, because offense, defense, spot starters and relievers be damned, the month of May depends heavily on these three guys to step up, .667 style, and keep the A's above water.
Final reminder: Noon PDT today (Wednesday) is the deadline to pay for your AN Day 3 tickets and reserve a spot for this awesome shindig. If you need info, see baseballgirl's thread below for the link.