The A’s are less than 72 hours from the Wild Card game, and yet the roster for said game is still in flux. Welcome to baseball in 2018, where the A’s likely playoff starter was DFA’d just a few months back.
We have a good idea of how the pitching staff will look, with the A’s ready to pitch a bullpen game.
The A's pitching staff for the Wild Card Game will likely include Hendriks, Treinen, Familia, Rodney, Trivino, Buchter, Kelley, Petit, Pagan and Wendelken, plus one starter, for a total of 11.— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) September 30, 2018
It’s unclear who the starter is, though it is not Daniel Mengden, he of a fabulous September in which he looked strong as a bridge pitcher.
Daniel Mengden says he is among those going to Arizona.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) September 30, 2018
It’s probably not Brett Anderson either, who struggled late in the year and was also just nailed by a line drive. Trevor Cahill did have a nice outing this weekend, but struggled before that and seems too erratic to have earned a roster spot. That leaves two options: Edwin Jackson and Mike Fiers. Fiers was a good pitcher this year especially in the second half, but Yankee Stadium’s tight dimensions won’t pair well with Fiers’ flyball tendencies. Edwin Jackson isn’t a sure thing but has been a solid pitcher all year in addition to being one of the A’s best stories.
How Melvin will manage the pitchers is still TBD and can change as the game unfolds, but it sounds like a bullpen game through and through with the chosen starter likely an option should the game go to extras. Who the starter is is undetermined, but they’ll likely be a fallback option at the end of the game.
Hot take: A bullpen game is clearly the right move, with all ten relievers being excellent options.
It’s hard to second guess the move but I am a little surprised to see Mengden off the roster. He’s been solid lately as the bridge guy and could be even better in a shorter stint. Then again, it’s a one game playoff. You leave it all on the field with your best guys and barring a long extra inning game, the A’s will push the arms they have to carry them to the next round.
That leaves 14 spots for positions players. Let’s start with the obvious locks to start.
Catcher: Jonathan Lucroy - old, wise, and smoking hot
First: Matt Olson - salivating over the short porch
Second: Jed Lowrie
Short: Marcus Semien
Third: Matt Chapman - duh
Right: Stephen Piscotty
Center: Ramon Laureano
DH: Khris Davis
The one question mark
Left: Okay, probably not that much of a question, with Mark Canha the starter from the regular season against lefties likely to get the nod presuming J.A. Happ takes the hill. Other options are Nick Martini (particularly if the Yankees go with Luis Severino or another righty as the starter) or Chad Pinder (also a good option against lefties).
Unlike the last A’s playoff team whom we shall discuss no more, this team doesn’t platoon with any sort of frequency but left field has been determined by opposing pitcher handedness, and that’ll be the same Wednesday.
That leaves five bench spots. Pinder’s versatility makes him an obvious fit, as does Martini’s left handed ways. Three left.
Obviously we need another catcher. That spot will go to Josh Phegley in spite of Beau Taylor’s grace and delightfulness. Two left.
Looks like Dustin Fowler is also off the postseason roster; he’s also going to Arizona he says. That means Barreto is on the roster as expected.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) September 30, 2018
Barreto is in and could be an important role player. He’s still a strong prospect and he still looks like he needs some seasoning making his most likely role that of a pinch runner type. In theory he could do so for anyone late in the game, though the most obvious candidate to be pinch run for is Jonathan Lucroy. Barreto is certainly faster than Olson and Khrush as well, but is an unlikely option to replace either player. Olson’s defense is too valuable and Khrush is Khrush, and also isn’t that slow.
The last spot?
The obvious choice is Matt Joyce, pinch hitter extraordinaire. He could pinch hit for Mark Canha or Jonathan Lucroy in an important spot against a tough righty leaving Martini or Phegley could take over defensively.
What are your Wild Card roster predictions? What would you do differently than the A’s have projected?