Ten games down for the Oakland Athletics, and no team in the AL West has a winning record. From what I can tell, I don't think there is a single fanbase in the division happy with the way its team has played so far. The A's win a blow out and get blown out. The Astros muddle through. The Angels got swept by the Royals. The Rangers are broken. The Mariners are in last place and their star second baseman can't keep track of how many men are on base.
|Standings through April 15|
|Steamer/ZiPS projection from Fangraphs. PECOTA from Baseball Prospectus.|
Obviously, the pythagenpat extrapolation is just a silly thing right now, since there's too much noise in the first few games. Here's your AL West roundup, good until Oakland's next off day on April 27.
1. Oakland A's (5-5)
The Athletics lead the AL West after 10 games, which is better than not leading the AL West after 10 games.
Cody Ross's signing adds much needed outfield depth, as after Billy Burns and Tyler Ladendorf on the minor league outfield depth chart are Jason Pridie, Kent Matthes, and Josh Whitaker. If you've been on Athletics Nation long enough to know who Jason Pridie is, you have a Pridieprism, and you should seek medical attention.
We were wondering at the beginning of the season where all the runs were going to come from without the home runs that came from Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, and Yoenis Cespedes. After ten games in 2014, the team had nine home runs and 19 extra-base hits. This year? Just six home runs but 30 extra-base hits, including an MLB-leading three triples for Sam Fuld, tied with the Royals' Paulo Orlando.
Mark Canha is off to a nice start for Oakland, starting his career with a six-game hitting streak, and riding an eight-game on base streak. He has started every game since the third game of the season, jumping over Craig Gentry and Eric Sogard in the lineup against right-handed pitchers, with Canha now playing left field while Ben Zobrist plays at second base.
Billy Butler is also off to a fantastic start for his Oakland career. His 10-game hitting streak is the best ever for an Oakland player to start his time with the A's, passing Alfredo Griffin's nine-game hitting streak in 1985, and matches his 2014 high. Butler is the only player in the American League with a 10-game hitting streak. He's been on base so often that we're already seeing complaints about him clogging up the base paths (he's been left at third base with the bases loaded three times already). Any non-out is good news.
A's pitching has been excellent and quirky by the numbers. The A's pitched four shutouts in their first nine games, which hasn't been done since the 1910 White Sox. Kendall Graveman tossed the only stinker of a start on April 10 against the Texas Rangers, giving up seven earned runs in 3⅓ innings.
A's relievers have given up 11 runs (10 earned) in 31⅓ innings for a 2.87 ERA. Curiously, all of the relief runs allowed have been via the long ball (five solo home runs, two three-run). The A's bullpen has allowed the most home runs in MLB, their seven leads Boston and Cincinnati by two.
|A's results since Opening Day|
|Date||Opponent||Result||A's rec.||Streak||A's starter||Opp. Starter|
|6-Apr||vs. Rangers||W 8-0||1-0||W1||Sonny Gray||Yovani Gallardo|
|7-Apr||vs. Rangers||L 1-3||1-1||L1||Jesse Hahn||Colby Lewis|
|8-Apr||vs. Rangers||W 10-0||2-1||W1||Scott Kazmir||Ross Detwiler|
|9-Apr||vs. Rangers||L 1-10||2-2||L1||Kendall Graveman||Nick Martinez|
|10-Apr||vs. Mariners||W 12-0||3-2||W1||Drew Pomeranz||Taijuan Walker|
|11-Apr||vs. Mariners||L 4-5 (11)||3-3||L1||Sonny Gray||J.A. Happ|
|12-Apr||vs. Mariners||L 7-8 (10)||3-4||L2||Jesse Hahn||Felix Hernandez|
|13-Apr||at Astros||W 8-1||4-4||W1||Scott Kazmir||Scott Feldman|
|14-Apr||at Astros||W 4-0||5-4||W2||Kendall Graveman||Brad Peacock|
|15-Apr||at Astros||L 1-6||5-5||L1||Drew Pomeranz||Collin McHugh|
T-2. Houston Astros (4-5)
Far less frequently are we presented the LOLAstros these days, and I think the good version of the Astros is coming soon. Oakland saw the good version Thursday when Collin McHugh reminded us that yes, he does have a 2.65 ERA since 2014 and finished fourth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting ahead of better known names like Masahiro Tanaka and Yordano Ventura.
Indeed, these Astros seem to be getting their pitching woes in order. Oakland's 8-1 blowout against Scott Feldman on April 13 was their biggest margin of defeat this year, and their 3.53 starters ERA ranks third in the American League. Their bullpen has been even better, putting up a 1.59 ERA in 34 innings, second in the American League only to the Royals' perfect mark in 19⅓ innings through Wednesday.
It's the offensive side of the ledger where the Astros need the most work, based on the first week. The team has scored only 23 runs, second-worst in the American League. The club hasn't been helped by Evan Gattis starting his Astros career 0-for-his-first-23.
|Astros results since Opening Day|
|Date||Opponent||Result||Astros rec.||Streak||Astros starter||Opp. starter|
|6-Apr||vs. Indians||W 2-0||1-0||W1||Dallas Keuchel||Corey Kluber|
|8-Apr||vs. Indians||L 0-2||1-1||L1||Scott Feldman||Carlos Carrasco|
|9-Apr||vs. Indians||L 1-5||1-2||L2||Asher Wojciechowski||Trevor Bauer|
|10-Apr||at Rangers||W 5-1||2-2||W1||Collin McHugh||Derek Holland|
|11-Apr||at Rangers||L 2-6||2-3||L1||Roberto Hernandez||Yovani Gallardo|
|12-Apr||at Rangers||W 6-4 (14)||3-3||W1||Dallas Keuchel||Colby Lewis|
|13-Apr||vs. A's||L 1-8||3-4||L1||Scott Feldman||Scott Kazmir|
|14-Apr||vs. A's||L 0-4||3-5||L2||Brad Peacock||Kendall Graveman|
|15-Apr||vs. A's||W 6-1||4-5||W1||Collin McHugh||Drew Pomeranz|
T-2. Los Angeles Angels (4-5)
National headlines have focused on the Josh Hamilton saga and Arte Moreno's tone deaf comments on whether or not the Angels will pay Josh Hamilton his contract or attempt to find an escape clause that does not run afoul of the Basic Agreement. On the field, the Angels have played more games dependent on their pitching than they have not, being held to four runs or fewer in six games out of the nine they've played, going 1-5 in those games. The Angels have won two series, but their sweep at the hand of the Royals puts them just below .500 to start the campaign.
Starting pitcher Garrett Richards may return Sunday, though he "gave up five runs on seven hits and four walks in five innings" pitching for the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees on Tuesday, according to MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. If it is Sunday, the A's will miss Richards for their Monday to Thursday visit to Anaheim.
The Angels avoided using their number five starter's slot thanks to the April 9 off day, and then started Drew Rucinski on April 14. It was Rucinski's first MLB start, though he has been a starter in the Angels system since they picked him up in 2013. He only managed 2⅔ innings and gave up four earned runs, six hits, and four walks while striking out none on the way to a 2-8 loss. On April 15, the Angels optioned him to Triple-A Salt Lake.
Rucinski, like Matt Shoemaker, was not drafted out of college and was actually signed by the Cleveland Indians initially before they released him. Rucinski played for the Rockford (Ill.) RiverHawks of the independent Frontier League earning $600 a month in 2012 and 2013 before the Angels signed him, according to the L.A. Times' Mike Digiovanna. Rucinski was optioned to Triple-A on April 15.
Left-handed pitcher Adam Wilk was called up to replace Rucinski, and is perhaps a just in case option if Garrett Richards does not pitch for the Angels on Sunday. Wilk has been a starter in the Tigers and Angels organizations, and started for the NC Dinos in the Korean Baseball Organization in 2013. He pitched two innings for the Angels on the 15th, giving up two hits, including a solo home run, in two innings.
On the injury front, Cory Rasmus is expected to be out until at least May with a core injury sustained during spring training. Josh Hamilton, if Arte Moreno will have him back, could be out until anywhere from late April to late May, according to Digiovanna.
Otherwise, there aren't any crazy surprises. Mike Trout it still Mike Trout, batting .438/.500/.594 in the first week with two stolen bases. Johnny Giavotella has gotten the bulk of playing time at second base, with Rule 5 draftee Taylor Featherston making occasional appearances, now that Howie Kendrick has taken his talents to Chavez Ravine. Kole Calhoun is dealing with a calf injury but should be back Friday. Albert Pujols moved to 18th place on the all-time home run list, his 522nd passed Willie McCovey, Frank Thomas, and Ted Williams.
|Angels results since Opening Day|
|Date||Opponent||Result||Angels rec.||Streak||Angels starter||Opp. Starter|
|6-Apr||at Mariners||L 1-4||0-1||L1||Jered Weaver||Felix Hernandez|
|7-Apr||at Mariners||W 2-0||1-1||W1||C.J. Wilson||James Paxton|
|8-Apr||at Mariners||W 5-3||2-1||W2||Matt Shoemaker||Hisashi Iwakuma|
|10-Apr||vs. Royals||L 2-4||2-2||L1||Hector Santiago||Jason Vargas|
|11-Apr||vs. Royals||L 4-6||2-3||L2||Jered Weaver||Jeremy Guthrie|
|12-Apr||vs. Royals||L 2-9||2-4||L3||C.J. Wilson||Yordano Ventura|
|13-Apr||at Rangers||W 6-3||3-4||W1||Matt Shoemaker||Ross Detwiler|
|14-Apr||at Rangers||L 2-8||3-5||L1||Drew Rucinski||Nick Martinez|
|15-Apr||at Rangers||W 10-2||4-5||W1||Hector Santiago||Anthony Ranaudo|
4. Texas Rangers (4-6)
I don't know what deity the Texas Rangers angered this year, or if the same deity is angry about something from last year, but this was the cover of Lone Star Ball at one point on April 10:
OHNOOHNOOHNO pic.twitter.com/A2nQBoqW0r— Jeremy F. Koo (@jfkooAN) April 11, 2015
So on top of Yu Darvish and Jurickson Profar falling into the spring training black hole (which in turn is on top of all the other starting pitcher injuries), the Rangers are now down Derek Holland for at least his time on the 60-day disabled list that began on April 11 and Ryan Rua will be out at least a month (per the Dallas Morning News' Evan Grant). Shin-Soo Choo only ended up missing two games due to back spasms.
Holland's replacement starter, 25-year-old Anthony Ranaudo, fared horribly in his Texas Rangers debut, leaving after allowing six earned runs in 1⅔ innings to the Angels.
Prince Fielder is hitting well, going 16-for-40 with three walks and two strikeouts, though he only has two doubles as extra base hits. Only five Rangers are hitting over .200 so far, however, and one of them is the injured Ryan Rua (.235).
|Rangers results since Opening Day|
|Date||Opponent||Result||Rangers rec.||Streak||Rangers starter||Opp. starter|
|6-Apr||at A's||L 0-8||0-1||L1||Yovani Gallardo||Sonny Gray|
|7-Apr||at A's||W 3-1||1-1||W1||Colby Lewis||Jesse Hahn|
|8-Apr||at A's||L 0-10||1-2||L1||Ross Detwiler||Scott Kazmir|
|9-Apr||at A's||W 10-1||2-2||W1||Nick Martinez||Kendall Graveman|
|10-Apr||vs. Astros||L 1-5||2-3||L1||Derek Holland||Collin McHugh|
|11-Apr||vs. Astros||W 6-2||3-3||W1||Yovani Gallardo||Roberto Hernandez|
|12-Apr||vs. Astros||L 4-6 (14)||3-4||L1||Colby Lewis||Dallas Keuchel|
|13-Apr||at Angels||L 3-6||3-5||L2||Ross Detwiler||Matt Shoemaker|
|14-Apr||at Angels||W 8-2||4-5||W1||Nick Martinez||Drew Rucinski|
|15-Apr||at Angels||L 2-10||4-6||L1||Anthony Ranaudo||Hector Santiago|
5. Seattle Mariners (3-6)
The Mariners are a popular choice to win the AL West after their offseason maneuvering, and some of their acquisitions are paying off. Nelson Cruz hit a home run in his fifth consecutive game. Seth Smith has two doubles and a triple already, and he leads the Mariners with a .357 batting average, but an early season groin injury has limited him to 14 plate appearances so far.
Rickie Weeks is primarily a platoon bat, but the Mariners have faced a lot of lefties in the last week. Unfortunately, Weeks is just 4-for-23. On the other hand, one of those hits was the pinch hit three-run home run that put the Mariners ahead by four on April 12 against the A's.
But the Mariners are, in fact, 3-6 and in last place. Fernando Rodney has already coughed up two leads, one of them a walkoff loss to the Dodgers. The Fernando Rodney Experience has Scott Weber at Lookout Landing already cautioning fans that it's still early, but also acknowledging that there's a reason the FRE is the FRE, "That little devil that sits on your shoulder screaming 'this dude doesn't know what the hell he's doing' whenever he's on the mound is getter louder. Almost unbearably. It's only April 15th."
On the injury front, the Mariners have to be concerned with Felix Hernandez's health after he left the April 12 game with right quad tightness. He will start Saturday against the Rangers, according to MLB.com's Greg Johns. On April 13, reliever Tom Wilhelmsen was added to the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 11 after hyperextending his right elbow when he slammed his arm into the back of Danny Farquhar while stretching, according to the Seattle Times' Ryan Divish. Dominic Leone takes his place in the bullpen.
|Mariners results since Opening Day|
|Date||Opponent||Result||Mariners rec.||Streak||Mariners starter||Opp. starter|
|6-Apr||vs. Angels||W 4-1||1-0||W1||Felix Hernandez||Jered Weaver|
|7-Apr||vs. Angels||L 0-2||1-1||L1||James Paxton||C.J. Wilson|
|8-Apr||vs. Angels||L 3-5||1-2||L2||Hisashi Iwakuma||Matt Shoemaker|
|10-Apr||at A's||L 0-12||1-3||L3||Taijuan Walker||Drew Pomeranz|
|11-Apr||at A's||W 5-4 (11)||2-3||W1||J.A. Happ||Sonny Gray|
|12-Apr||at A's||W 8-7 (10)||3-3||W2||Felix Hernandez||Jesse Hahn|
|13-Apr||at Dodgers||L 5-6 (10)||3-4||L1||James Paxton||Brandon McCarthy|
|14-Apr||at Dodgers||L 5-6||3-5||L2||Hisashi Iwakuma||David Huff|
|15-Apr||at Dodgers||L 2-5||3-6||L3||Taijuan Walker||Brett Anderson|