Aaron Judge, Josh Donaldson, JD Martinez, Matt Olson. What do these 4 MLB players have in common? These four are among the league leaders in home-runs for the month of September. Olson and Martinez are in fact tied with 11 HR's each this month to lead all of Major League Baseball. Who would have ever guessed that Matthew Kent Olson from Liliburn, Georgia (population: 12,655) would take his place this month as one of the elite power hitters in all of baseball? You have to love September baseball. And if you are an diehard Oakland A's fan (which you must be if you are reading this post in the middle of a Wednesday morning?!), you have to especially love A's 2017 September baseball.
Along with Olson's breakout month, we have also seen the continued brilliance of Matt Chapman's glove, Jed Lowrie's bat (hitting .340 this month), the shutdown performances of relievers, Ryan Dull (1.04 ERA in 9 September games) and Chris Hatcher (0.90 ERA in 10 September games) and the comeback of one right-handed starting pitcher named Daniel Mengden (1-0, 1.20 ERA in 15 September innings), who takes the mound today looking to help the A's complete the 3 game road series sweep against the Tigers.
Mengden's potential is intriguing. He was originally acquired by the A's from the Houston Astros along with Jacob Nottingham (who would later be traded by the A's for Khris Davis) for Scott Kazmir in 2015. On a very random side note, did you know Mengden's younger 3 siblings are all pre-professional dancers at Sarasota Cuban Ballet School in Florida? Anyways, Mengden enjoyed a successful debut with the Green and Gold in June of 2016, starting four June 2016 games and finishing the month with a 2.81 ERA, the highlight of the month being his first recorded big league victory against the hated Giants on June 27, 2016 (7 2/3 innings, 2 runs, 5 K's). Mengden's second full month in the big leagues was not as kind to him as he struggled in 5 July 2016 starts (0-2, 9.00 ERA). His July struggles sent him out of the rotation and back to Triple AAA Nashville, where he pitched until being recalled to the A's starting rotation in September. His second stint with the club in 2016 was rough, as he pitched to a tune of a 1-4 record and 8.10 ERA for the month to close his first major league campaign.
Expectation were mild for Mengden coming into the 2017 season and were lowered even from there as the injury bug bit him in spring training (broken foot). Mengden would endure a grueling spring and early season rehab before rejoining the A's rotation at the end of May 2017. In 2 starts, he was hit hard to put it kindly (8 innings, 13 hits, 9 earned runs) before being optioned back to Nashville. At that point it seemed like a real possibility that we had seen the last of Mengden and his epic mustache and 1880's wind-up in an A's uniform.
But then the glory of September 2017 happened, not only for Olson, Jed, Chapman and others, but also for Daniel Mengden. Against the powerful and pesky bats of his former teammates with the Astros, Mengden shut down Houston with 6 innings of 3 run baseball in a game the A's would eventually win. Then 5 days ago in Philadelphia, Mengden turned in one of the best pitching performances of the A's 2017 season, shutting out the Phillies (9 innings, 2 hits, 7 strikeouts). What will happen today? I predict Mengden will continue his hot streak, shutting down the Tigers on 2 runs in six innings of work, Jed Lowrie will hit another double (or two), Matt Olson will hit a homer for the 6th consecutive game and Ryan Dull, Chris Hatcher and Blake Treinen will pitch scoreless innings to complete the A's sweep!!!!
Before I get too carried away, the game still has to be played.
Here are today's line-ups from Comerica Park in Detroit (76 F, 73% humidty, 15% chance of rain at gametime):
|OAKLAND A'S||DETROIT TIGERS|
|Marcus Semien - SS||Alex Presley - LF|
|Matt Joyce - RF||Jeimer Candelario - 3B|
|Jed Lowrie - DH||Miguel Cabrera - DH|
|Khris Davis - LF||Nick Castellanos - RF|
|Matt Olson - 1B||Efren Navarro - 1B|
|Chad Pinder - CF||Mikie Mahtook - CF|
|Matt Chapman - 3B||John Hicks - C|
|Joey Wendle - 2B||Andrew Romine - 2B|
|Bruce Maxwell - C||Jose Iglesias - SS|
|Daniel Mengden - RHP||Anibal Sanchez - RHP|