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Eyeball Scout Weighs In After 2 Series

“‘Tis but a flesh wound!” {dies}

The Eyeball Scout is still reeling from 4-digit attendance and a 4-game series seen live by fewer than 40,000 fans. There is nothing like the electric atmosphere of a sold-out crowd at the Oakland Coliseum and there was also nothing a sold-out crowd to see any of the recent games.

You have to spend money to make money, and the A’s appear to be in a rut of slashing payroll because they have fewer fans, then losing because they haven’t spent as much money, then getting fewer fans because they are losing, then slashing payr— Well, you get the idea. However, the Eyeball Scout’s two eyes were very much glued to the action these first 8 games and here are some notes from the Retina Suite...

Kendall Graveman

It seems to me that Graveman’s delivery has been inconsistent these first 2 starts, with varying releases. Sometimes he appears to short-arm it more, other times with more extension, sometimes more over the top and at other times less pronouncedly so.

In 9 IP, Graveman has served up 4 HRs and all 4 were on pitches left up in the zone. My assumption is that a lack of consistency in delivery is leading to the Jekyll and Hyde experience of throwing a perfect pitch only to leave one in the hitter’s wheelhouse, throwing a dominant 1st inning only to get hammered in the 2nd.

“Repeatability” is a huge thing in the pitching world and to my eyes, Graveman has lacked it these first 2 starts. Get it back, though, and he will be probably be fine. And by “fine” I mean he will strike out more than 2 batters every 9 IP. Ouch.

Matt Chapman

I have long said that I thought Chapman would be a star, because he needed to take another big step forward as a hitter but I had a lot of confidence that his baseball acumen would enable him to do so. We may have seen that step forward in the Rangers series.

This series, Chapman brought an important new approach to the table and that was a more controlled right/right-center field swing. Chapman will pull plenty of balls and will pull most of his HRs, but the swing he unleashed several times in this series is the one that can elevate him from “flawed hitter who can run into one” to “no reliable way to get him out”.

Chapman’s single over Odor today was a thing of beauty, stroked with a “contact first” approach but still hit very hard. Earlier in the series, Chapman gave a reminder — both to himself and to the league — that he can hit the ball out to right-center and is not just a singles hitter when he waits longer and controls his swing.

No, Chapman will not bat .400 this year and there is still plenty of swing and miss in his game, as there always will be. But this week I have seen him go from “swinger” to “hitter” and I don’t think he is just the A’s best player; I think he is a bona fide All-Star candidate right now.

Matt Olson

You had to kind of feel for Olson his last at bat, which was a crucial strikeout at the hands of lefty Jake Diekman. With 2 strikes, Olson did a great job of making contact to foul off a tough slider and one could argue he could not have done that had he been geared up for a mid-90s fastball. Indeed, Olson was guarding against that very slider and as a result took a fastball right down the middle for strike 3 with the tying run at 3B and one out.

No doubt, this is a conundrum for a hitter and it would not have pleased A’s fans any more had Olson, not wanting to let a hittable fastball go by, struck out by flailing at a slider in the dirt like his predecessor Khris Davis. That being said, my feeling is that Olson has to punish fastballs like the one that froze him in that 7th inning. If he’s not surprised by that pitch he likely hits it 450 feet and the A’s win, as it was center cut right in Olson’s swing path.

Olson has unusually good pitch recognition and in the future I would advise him, in a situation like that, to look fastball and hope to adjust to the slider by seeing it early enough out of the pitcher’s hand. There’s a homey saying, “Trying to sneak a fastball by him is like trying to sneak a sunrise past a rooster.” That’s you, Oly.

Daniel Mengden

I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen so far from Mengden. He has to watch not leaving too many sliders up, but the curve is similar to A.J. Griffin’s in getting behind the batter’s swing, the fastball has plenty of life, and the changeup is a solid offering to keep hitters honest. And you have to love the “bulldog mentality” that allows a pitcher to writhe in pain one moment, then hobble to his feet and retire the side in order the next 3 innings.

Mengden has certainly pitched far better than his stats, unless you count his throws to 1B on bunt attempts, and as frustrating as the first 8 games have been in aggregate I think you have to point to the trio of Manaea-Mengden-Triggs as offering that glimmer of hope that the season could still be kind to the A’s.

And that’s your Eyeball Scout report for today.

Poll

Which analysis is most astute?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    Kendall Graveman
    (56 votes)
  • 36%
    Matt Chapman
    (190 votes)
  • 9%
    Matt Olson
    (47 votes)
  • 7%
    Daniel Mengden
    (41 votes)
  • 32%
    They’re all "spot on"
    (170 votes)
  • 2%
    They’re all "spot off" (if that’s a thing)
    (13 votes)
517 votes total Vote Now