First of all, I need to tell you that right now, I’m sitting in my brother’s kitchen in Philadelphia listening to a parrot sing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” as only a parrot can interpret it. Imagine dropping acid and then renting The Wizard of Oz and you’re most of the way there. This is a family that gets a turkey every Thanksgiving, names it and lets it wander around the house for a week, and then eats ham.
In other news, I think I hate parrots.
They say “90% of success is just showing up” and in some regards, the Houston Astros and Oakland A’s are proof. No doubt the Astros are a great team, as they proved in 2017, but can you believe that so far this season they have used exactly 5 starting pitchers?
Now, Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Lance McCullers Jr., and Charlie Morton are all so good that if in the A’s rotation they would immediately be either Oakland’s #1 or #2 SP, but still...Think about how it would have impacted them had 4 of those 5 missed significant time throughout the first half and the Astros had been forced to go 12 deep into their depth chart.
They wouldn’t have missed much of a beat the first two times, with Collin McHugh and Brad Peacock in the wings, but you get down to your 10th, 11th, 12th SP and would Houston have an 8 game lead over the A’s? Probably more like 2-3 and you’re looking at a legitimate AL West race.
All this being said, for all the talk about how the A’s need their starting pitchers to get deeper into games in the second half — and there’s no doubt that this is true — if Oakland just has a little luck, finally, in the health department, I’m not sure they will have difficulty getting the necessary innings out of the current group.
Manaea has been so efficient with his pitch counts that he has been able to go 6-7 IP often, sometimes 8. In Cahill and Jackson, you have veterans whose arms you don’t have to baby and who are fully capable of giving you 6+ IP. Prior to his injury, Mengden was averaging 6 IP per start, and surprisingly so far Montas has been adept at giving the A’s quantity as well as quality.
So it may be that in order to get sufficient work from their SPs, all the A’s really need is the one thing they haven’t had at any point this season: stability. Give me starts from those 5 the rest of the way and I’ll take my chances on getting 6+ IP/start out of the rotation. And boy would it help.
Oh thank god, the parrot stopped.
If you didn’t notice, by the way, at the end of the Giants series, beginning in the bottom of the 4th on Saturday the A’s bullpen threw 7.1 hitless innings with 13 Ks. We won’t mention the walks because they don’t fit our narrative.
To those who felt the A’s 8 game wild card deficit was daunting, note that going into the break Oakland gained 5 games in 11 days without any head-to-head matchups. The A’s are now so close (3 games) that they could split the 10 remaining games with Seattle and still win the wild card just by happening to gain a handful of games along the way. That being said, I still recommend a 10-0 sweep of the remaining games.
Now, a list of things I find more interesting than the Homerun Derby:
- Icelandic Middle School Curling
- Watching the opponents stretch before a chess match
- Everything else
Congratulations to the A’s for a truly incredible and inspiring first half. Rest up and then keep it going!