The A’s are going to have to zig or zag. The parallels between both the 2012 and the 2016 iterations of A’s seem to be growing stronger by the day, and it will be up to the twenty five guys on the roster and another dozen or so in the high minors to determine which direction the 2017 team winds up going in. Both teams would kind of, sort of, hang around in the early going in April, even going on a winning streak where the team plays really good baseball, but a mix of injuries and poor fundamental would have the teams wallowing in last place by the end of May. Obviously, the 2012 team figured things out upon calling up and bringing in guys like Brandon Moss and Brandon Inge to have one of the most unlikely months-long pushes into contention and then the playoffs in baseball’s long history. And obviously, the 2016 team’s reinforcements were the likes of Eric Surkamp and Chris Coghlan, and the team had to struggle to reach a not-nice 69 wins by season’s end. Here’s to hoping this team can have a season closer to 2012 than 2016.
After going an unfortunate 2-7 on their last nine game road trip, the A’s are back in Oakland to take on the Detroit Tigers, and will try and zig onto the path to glory (or at least, a path to watchable baseball) and not zag onto the path of badness and sadness.
Current Standings in the AL West:
- Houston: 19-10
- Anaheim: 15-15
- Seattle: 13-16
- Oakland: 12-16
- Texas: 12-17
It appears as though no team in the AL West is poised to challenge the Astros for the division, based on what the first five weeks of the season have revealed. The Astros pitching is finally holding up and, while not exactly elite beyond Dallas Keuchel, appears to be able to help, rather than hurt, Houston in the postseason. Beyond the Astros, however, the rest of the division looks entirely up for grabs. At .500, the Angels appear to be playing over their heads a bit, and with injuries mounting to their already-stretched pitching staff, their path to contention is looking slimmer by the day. Seattle had a miserable start to the season, and is still looking to recover in a year that may be amongst their last competitive ones during their current window. Texas semi-fluked their way into a division win last season via their record in one run games, but the aging roster and lack of rotation depth and a struggling bullpen are all contributors to Texas’ scuffle over the first month.
The AL Central is even more congested as a division than the AL West is, though in a way that is opposite of the AL West- the AL West only has one team above .500, the AL Central only has one team below. This is how the Tigers, coming to Oakland for a three game set, find themselves in fourth place (like the A's) with a 14-13 record, but also just a mere one game out of a tie for first place with Chicago and Cleveland. The fact that the Tigers are competing is a little bit surprising, considering that the Tigers, through April, have had the worst pitching staff in all of baseball. Their team ERA was 5.19, with the bullpen’s ERA specifically sitting at 6.43. Very little is going right on the mound for the Tigers this season, but Michael Fulmer in the rotation and Justin Wilson in the bullpen have been bright spots for the Tigers’ beleaguered staff.
There is a reason that the Tigers are above .500, though- because the team can hit. Despite injuries to key players like J.D Martinez and Miguel Cabrera (who is now back and ready to wreak havoc once again), the Tigers have the third highest team OPS in the American League, at .750, and that number should only improve as more key players are taken off the DL and placed back on the major league roster. But even without the contributions from the aforementioned Cabrera and Martinez, an Alex Avila resurgence, plus Justin Upton playing like he did in Arizona, plus Ian Kinsler, plus Nick Castellanos, and more means that this lineup can pack a punch.
If I were a predictor of things, I would say that this series is likely to yield lots of runs for both teams. Here are the matchups for the upcoming three game series.
Friday, 5/5 at 7:05: Triggs (4-1) vs Fulmer (2-1) on NBCSCA and MLB.tv. The lone bright spot in the Tigers’ starting five will be taking on the brightest spot of the A’s starting five in what could be a surprisingly well-pitched ballgame.
Saturday, 5/6 at 6:05: Hahn (1-2) vs Zimmermann (3-1) on NBCSCA and MLB.tv. Despite his record, Zimmermann hasn’t been all that effective so far this season, and has been a beneficiary of a good deal of run support (his last effort notwithstanding). Hahn, conversely, has pitched better this year than his record would indicate. This game could also wind up being highly competitive.
Sunday, 5/7 at 1:05: Gray (0-1) vs Norris (2-2) on NBCSCA and MLB.tv. Gray looked pretty good in his first start of 2017 when he wasn’t giving up home runs that kissed the stratosphere against the Twins. In his first start at home, Gray will hope to re-endear himself to the home crowd and continue his quest to become the ace of the A’s staff once more.
Link to Bless You Boys