The Oakland A's season is over, and the only game going on Tuesday is the AL Wild Card Game. We saw last season how exciting that game can be, so even though our team isn't in it this time it's still totally worth watching.
The matchup is excellent. The upstart Houston Astros, finally reaching the end of the tunnel after one of the worst three-year stretches in MLB history, face the undead New York Yankees, whose high-priced veterans were good enough to get them back into October for the first time since 2012. The last time the Yankees had missed the playoffs in back-to-back years was 1993-94.
To make things a bit more interesting, there is a former Athletic in each starting lineup, and five former players overall. Here's a quick word on each:
Chris Young, OF: He was terrible for the A's in 2013, but he posted a 111 OPS+ and 1.1 bWAR for New York this season. He's batting second in the Yankees lineup against the lefty Dallas Keuchel, and remember that the Astros are the team he used to crush as an Athletic.
Chris Carter, 1B: Trogdor! He is what he is at this point, an all-or-nothing slugger who does little else. He hit 37 homers in 2014, but that number dropped to 24 this year as his playing time decreased due to the rising quality of this teammates. His average dipped to .199, but he still walks a lot and he can still hit it a mile -- all told, his OPS+ was exactly 100. He's batting eighth for Houston, and this will be his first postseason appearance since the A's didn't use him a single time in the 2012 ALDS.
Jed Lowrie, SS: With Carlos Correa and Luis Valbuena pounding the ball at SS and 3B, there's nowhere for Meowrie to start. Also, he didn't hit at all after he returned from his thumb injury. He's on the roster for the game, though, so we could see him in some capacity in the late innings.
Luke Gregerson, RP: The set-up man who more or less blew the 2014 Wild Card Game is now the Astros closer for the 2015 edition. He bounced back this year, and in 37 save situations he finished with 31 saves, 5 blown saves, and a win.
Pat Neshek, RP: He pitched in the 2012 ALDS with the A's, and made it to the 2014 NLCS with the Cardinals in an All-Star season. His 112 ERA+ is good-not-great, but in 32 save sits he finished with 28 holds, 1 win, and only three blown saves. He also allowed only 4-of-27 inherited runners to score, and he struck out more than 4 batters per walk. He had a better year than his surface numbers suggest, though he was a bit prone to homers -- not good in a park that favors lefty sluggers.
(Note: Scott Kazmir is not on the Astros roster for this game since they only need one starting pitcher.)
In conclusion, if you're not rooting for the Astros in this game then I don't know what to say to you.
|HOUSTON ASTROS||NEW YORK YANKEES|
|Jose Altuve - 2B||Brett Gardner - CF|
|George Springer - RF||Chris Young - LF|
|Carlos Correa - SS||Carlos Beltran - RF|
|Colby Rasmus - LF||Alex Rodriguez - DH|
|Evan Gattis - DH||Brian McCann - C|
|Carlos Gomez - CF||Chase Headley - 3B|
|Luis Valbuena - 3B||Greg Bird - 1B|
|Chris Carter - 1B||Rob Refsnyder - 2B|
|Jason Castro - C||Didi Gregorius - SS|
|Dallas Keuchel - LHP||Masahiro Tanaka - RHP|