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Oakland A's vs. Texas Rangers series preview: The Southpaw Showdown (+ Jesse Hahn)

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The Oakland Athletics (16-22) host the Texas Rangers (22-16) for three games at the Coliseum, and with five left-handers starting.

Ian Desmond hits the go-ahead three-run home run for the Texas Rangers in their 7-6 win against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday.
Ian Desmond hits the go-ahead three-run home run for the Texas Rangers in their 7-6 win against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Texas Rangers arrive to face the Athletics in Oakland after a rambunctious finale to the Rangers' series against Toronto. How will they handle coming down from the intensity of that series and how will the A's handle facing a club that still has to be emotionally affected from Sunday's events? We shall see.

Texas owns the 10th best wRC+ in the AL at 95 with a .260/.320/.414 batting line, two spots ahead of the A's on 90 (.246/.297/.388). What keeps the Rangers from doing better is their 7.4% walk rate that ranks 13th in the AL, though they have the fourth-lowest strikeout rate (18.9%).

Five left-handers are scheduled to head to the mound for the three contests, with the A's substituting Jesse Hahn for Eric Surkamp on Tuesday. On facing left-handers, the Rangers have an advantage, owning a 102 wRC+ (.290/.332/429) against Oakland's 87 (.245/.279/.398). Oakland only has six starts against left-handers, however, and two of them (Chris Sale and Jose Quintana) could be competing for the AL Cy Young this year. Texas has had 10 starts against lefties, one against Jose Quintana.

One thing that will hurt the A's is they'll be without right-handed batting Josh Phegley for at least Monday's contest. Matt McBride will take the catching duties in Game 1.

The Texas Rangers so far against left-handers (min. 10 PA):

Texas Rangers vs. LHP
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO wRC+
Ian Desmond 41 7.3% 22.0% .351 .415 .676 1.090 .324 193
Ryan Rua 23 0.0% 21.7% .409 .435 .545 .980 .136 173
Adrian Beltre 43 11.6% 9.3% .342 .419 .526 .945 .184 151
Elvis Andrus 25 4.0% 12.0% .333 .360 .542 .902 .208 140
Rougned Odor 50 4.0% 16.0% .333 .360 .458 .818 .125 122
Bryan Holaday 23 8.7% 21.7% .286 .348 .429 .776 .143 112
Nomar Mazara 41 2.4% 24.4% .289 .317 .316 .633 .026 68
Mitch Moreland 29 3.4% 24.1% .214 .241 .357 .599 .143 53
Prince Fielder 42 4.8% 21.4% .184 .214 .289 .504 .105 23
Delino DeShields 30 10.0% 23.3% .154 .241 .154 .395 .000 6
Hanser Alberto 15 0.0% 40.0% .143 .143 .143 .286 .000 -42

and the A's:

Oakland A's vs. LHP
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO wRC+
Danny Valencia 20 10.0% 5.0% .389 .450 .944 1.394 .556 285
Marcus Semien 27 11.1% 7.4% .292 .370 .667 1.037 .375 188
Coco Crisp 17 5.9% 17.6% .375 .412 .563 .974 .188 178
Billy Butler 26 0.0% 11.5% .308 .308 .462 .769 .154 112
Billy Burns 30 3.3% 10.0% .286 .333 .357 .690 .071 96
Josh Phegley 14 0.0% 21.4% .286 .286 .357 .643 .071 76
Jed Lowrie 25 4.0% 12.0% .304 .320 .304 .624 .000 73
Mark Canha 19 0.0% 42.1% .158 .158 .474 .632 .316 65
Stephen Vogt 18 0.0% 22.2% .222 .222 .333 .556 .111 47
Khris Davis 28 0.0% 32.1% .148 .179 .296 .475 .148 25
Josh Reddick 28 3.6% 21.4% .185 .214 .185 .399 .000 7
Yonder Alonso 16 6.3% 25.0% .133 .188 .133 .321 .000 -13
Chris Coghlan 13 7.7% 23.1% .083 .154 .083 .237 .000 -37

Probable matchups and broadcast schedule

Two night games on CSN California will be followed by a day game on MLB Network simulcasting the visiting broadcast:

Time (PT) TV Texas Oakland Coliseum promotions
Mon. 7:05 PM CSNCA LHP Derek Holland (3-2, 6.09) LHP Sean Manaea (0-1, 11.37)
Tue. 7:05 PM CSNCA LHP Cole Hamels (4-0, 2.95)

LHP Eric Surkamp (0-3, 6.55)
RHP Jesse Hahn (1-1, 3.00)

Free parking Tuesday
Korean Heritage Night (special ticket)
Wed. 12:35 PM MLBN LHP Martin Perez (1-3 3.23) LHP Rich Hill (5-3, 2.68)

All left-handed starting pitchers in this series. Very strange.

Monday: LHP Derek Holland vs. LHP Sean Manaea

A pair of struggling lefties takes the mound, the veteran Derek Holland goes against rookie Sean Manaea. Holland has failed to get out of the third inning in each of his last two starts, and he's allowed a combined 16 runs in those two (15 earned). Sean Manaea is a candidate for demotion if he doesn't perform better than his own failure to get out of the third inning in his last start.

Tuesday: LHP Cole Hamels vs. LHP Eric Surkamp RHP Jesse Hahn

Cole Hamels was everything the Rangers were looking for when they acquired him and Jake Diekman at the trade deadline last year for multiple prospects. It is possible to catch him on an off day, but he has at least finished five innings in all of his starts, and already has four quality starts to his credit.

Fly ball pitcher Eric Surkamp will need to take advantage of the night time contest and hope the marine layer rolls in. If Jesse Hahn brings that groundball mojo he brought to his first start, he's a perfect choice for a night predicted to be pretty warm, with game time temperature around 74 degrees.

Wednesday: LHP Martin Perez vs. LHP Rich Hill

His ERA says Martin Perez has improved, but FIP disagrees, and so the question is who is the real Martin Perez? Is it the one that walks one out of every eight batter he faces or is the one who leaves on base 75.7% of the runners he does put on with a .248 BABIP against?

Rich Hill pitches on Wednesday, and I am very excited for that.

Bullpens

The A's can exploit Texas' bullpen, which ranks last in the AL in ERA (5.18) and FIP (5.52). Their closer, Shawn Tolleson, is 11-for-14 in save situations and owns a 7.07 ERA; he is tied for the most blown saves in the AL. Tom Wilhelmsen was demoted after throwing 31 pitches in earning his second blown save on Sunday, while Sam Dyson has one blown save of his own.

They have cycled out poor performers, including Phil Klein, Cesar Ramos (to the rotation), Keone Kela, Anthony Ranaudo, and the aforementioned Wilhelmsen, and what's left could put up some decent performances. The A's can't rely on late-inning heroics like they did against Tampa Bay.

Toronto gave the Rangers bullpen quite a workout this week both on the mound and in making the relievers run out from the outfield bullpens a couple of times:

Rangers bullpen Recent usage (pitch count from www.rosterresource.com)
Player Hand IP ERA FIP 15-May 14-May 13-May 12-May 11-May 10-May
Shawn Tolleson R 14.0 7.07 6.07 28
O
F
F

D
A
Y
16
Sam Dyson R 19.0 1.89 3.65 8 1 12 10
Jake Diekman L 14.1 2.51 3.28 3 14 12
Tony Barnette R 16.1 2.76 3.26 14 8
Alex Claudio L 11.0 3.27 3.17 59
Matt Bush R 2.1 0.00 2.65 25 17 15
Andrew Faulkner L 5.2 6.35 11.72 12 22
Luke Jackson R 0.0 -- -- 25 39
A's bullpen Recent usage (pitch count from www.rosterresource.com)
Player Hand IP ERA FIP 15-May 14-May 13-May 12-May 11-May 10-May
Ryan Madson R 14.2 1.23 2.82 4 21
O
F
F

D
A
Y
25
Sean Doolittle L 13.2 3.95 5.00 12
John Axford R 15.0 3.60 4.03 15
Ryan Dull R 19.1 3.72 4.49 24 31
Fernando Rodriguez R 20.1 1.77 2.55 23
Marc Rzepczynski L 13.0 3.46 3.56 21 7 12
Andrew Triggs R 5.0 3.60 2.30 32 20 28

Dual event advisory

Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder tips at 6:00 PM PT on Monday night. Therefore, parking is up to the dual event price of $40 and officials are recommending patrons of either event to take BART or other transit alternatives.

This article was updated to reflect Monday's news that Jesse Hahn will start Tuesday.