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A’s Can Take Shot At Wild Card If 3 Things Happen

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MLB: Oakland Athletics at Kansas City Royals Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

We know the A’s can hit, even if there will be ups and downs from game to game and from series to series. We know the bullpen has held 8th and 9th inning leads better than any team in baseball. We know the team has a baffling level of resiliency and moxie — apparently no one has told them that you’re not supposed to go on a winning spree on the backs of Frankie Montas, Paul Blackburn, Chris Bassitt, and Edwin Jackson.

Do the A’s have enough starting pitching to make a real run, or just to make a “smoke and mirrors” run? I say there is hope, but that in order to seriously compete not one, not two, but three things need to happen. The good news? All three are completely possible and doable.

1. The A’s need Trevor Cahill to come back and stabilize the front of the rotation. I believe Cahill’s success this season has been legitimate, and with the 30 year old throwing again it looks like his projected return comes around the All-Star break. Having Cahill in the rotation after the ASB would be a big lift.

2. The A’s need Edwin Jackson to be a pleasant surprise, as he has been for two starts now, giving them a solid arm at the back of the rotation. Jackson is only 34, still throws mid-90s when he needs to, has stuff that batters find hard to hit, and has learned how to pitch to both sides of the plate, how to add and subtract on his fastball, how to work hitters hard and soft.

Jackson’s control has always been a question mark, something we haven’t yet seen as the right-hander has now thrown 12.2 IP without issuing a walk, but there are signs that perhaps the A’s have lucked into a “hidden gem” who has enough left in the tank to provide a real lift.

The A’s don’t need Jackson to be an ace because their team is built to thrive behind “innings eaters” who can just give the team a chance to win — Oakland can score, and can lock down the late innings from there.

3. The A’s need to make a July trade for a SP — not necessarily a big trade, just one that makes the rotation better and allows the A’s not to lean heavily on Bassitt, Blackburn, Montas going forward.

Tyson Ross would be a solid get, and can probably be had for prospects that will not compromise the basic rebuild going forward. He is one of several possible examples of SP that would help to lift the rotation up for a real wild card push.

If you think the A’s are just on a nice run bound to regress to mediocrity, consider an August and September team led by Sean Manaea, Trevor Cahill, Tyson Ross (or an equivalent), Edwin Jackson, and Daniel Mengden — with Montas, Blackburn, and Bassitt strictly on tap as reinforcements.

In all probability, Cahill will be back in the next 3 weeks. Jackson is throwing well and has plenty of life left in his arm. Several decent starting pitchers will be made available in July, some for a relatively reasonable price. The A’s need to go 3 for 3 here and they might truly be in business.

This stretch may be “smoke and mirrors” but it’s also in the bank and this group doesn’t have to be the team all season. A little health, a little luck, and a little savvy? We might have something here, folks.

Poll

Which response best sums up your response to this post?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    Thing is, Cahill is not actually that great
    (107 votes)
  • 9%
    Jackson had 2 nice starts but won’t help much going forward
    (89 votes)
  • 28%
    The A’s can’t make a useful deadline deal without compromising the rebuild
    (265 votes)
  • 49%
    All 3 of those things can totally happen, look out wild card!
    (453 votes)
914 votes total Vote Now