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Game #37: Athletics at Rangers

A's look to avoid sweep after consecutive bullpen implosions

Kendall Graveman goes for his first win since April 8
Kendall Graveman goes for his first win since April 8
Kenny Karst-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Athletics (16-20, 9GB) will look to bounce back today and avoid a sweep in Arlington as they face the Texas Rangers (18-20, 8GB) who are winners of five straight.

As the A's bullpen has spoiled solid starts by both Jesse Hahn and Sonny Gray in the first two contests, starting pitcher Kendall Graveman (2-2, 3.67 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) may have to go the distance if the A's hope to avoid the sweep.

According to some basic ESPN reporting, Graveman is 0-2 with a 5.51 ERA in his three starts since returning from a strained shoulder injury. In two of those three starts, however, he's allowed just 4 runs in 13 innings while striking out 10 and issuing just 1 walk.

Graveman's applicable splits for today's game could give you reason to believe in an A's win or a reason for pessimism depending on which you choose: he has a lifetime 2-2 record with a 5.16 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 5 career starts (29.2IP) against the Rangers. Both of Graveman's wins, however, have come at Globe Life Park in Arlington where he has pitched to a 2-0 record with a 3.26 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 3 of those starts. That being said, his 4.69 ERA and 1.42 WHIP in 109 1/3 innings of work in day games are comparably worse than his 3.73 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in evening affairs.

The A's will face former-Oakland starter, A.J. Griffin, who has won 4 straight for Texas and has a 2.35 ERA in 5 starts.

In his most recent start, Griffin threw his first complete game shutout since June 26, 2013 as a member of the A's.

The Rangers are 5-0 this year in games that Griffin has started, and during the aforementioned 4-game win streak, he has a 1.38 ERA and 0.73 WHIP while Oakland hitters are slashing .167/.198/.287.

According to Susan Slusser, Griffin has made a significant change to his diet following issues with gout, and has also made changes to his delivery, both of which may be contributing to the hot start, although early season productivity has always been a part of Grffin's game: his April through June ERA of 3.11 ERA, 1.03 WHIP compare favorably to his 4.56 ERA and 1.28 WHIP between July through September.

This is Griffin's first season facing the A's; in two starts, he's 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA and 0.86 WHIP in 9 1/3 innings while Oakland hitters are slashing .156/.250/.375.

Offensively, the A's will sit Khris Davis, who is 1-for-20 over his previous 5 games. Yonder Alonso will hit cleanup in his place while Mark Canha, who is 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI in his previous two games, will play left field and bat 8th

Stephen Vogt (1-for his previous 15 ABs) will get the start ahead of Bruce Maxwell.

Game time is set for 12:05 PST.

Today's Lineups

Rajai Davis - CF Delino DeShields Jr. - LF
Matt Joyce - RF Elvis Andrus - SS
Jed Lowrie - 2B Nomar Mazara - RF
Yonder Alonso - 1B Jonathan Lucroy - C
Ryon Healy - DH Rougned Odor - 2B
Trevor Plouffe - 3B Mike Napoli - DH
Stephen Vogt - C Carlos Gomez - CF
Mark Canha - LF Joey Gallo - 3B
Adam Rosales - SS Ryan Rua - 1B
Kendall Graveman - RHP A.J. Griffin - RHP