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Showdown In Houston: Think Like A Melvin

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Cleveland Indians
If at first you have a lead, Treinen, Treinen again.
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Note that “Think Like A Melvin” is the Bangles song you’ve never heard of because it wasn’t popular enough in parts of the country where they don’t realize Jed Lowrie is clearly an All-Star. However, with the A’s traveling to Houston to begin a 4-game series it’s time to suggest how the A’s manager should approach this series with regard to his pitching staff.

Today’s game is brought to you by the number 8. That’s how many games in a row the Astros have won, and coincidentally it’s also the number of games in a row they have won head-to-head against the A’s. Oakland won the first showdown this season and has not prevailed since.

In a world where arms were made of titanium you would love to get 4 innings from Lou Trivino and Blake Treinen all the time, as the A’s did on Saturday to steal an 11-inning win from the Indians, but you can’t do that. However Trivino and Treinen, both rested on Sunday, can still be leveraged strategically to lock down a couple available wins that may surface over the next 4 days.

I would gauge that tonight, if the matchup of Montas-Cole yields the A’s a lead after 6 innings — perhaps not the expected outcome but always a possibility — Melvin can lean on the Trivino-Treinen duo to get 9 outs in some combination. He can probably do that twice in the series not on consecutive days (1 and 3, 1 and 4, 2 and 4) if the chance presents itself.

If I were Melvin that’s how I would looking at it: you have to make sure to get that first win in the series when you can, even if it means making your best relievers unavailable, or less available, the rest of the series. So while I wouldn’t push those guys to go 2 IP each tonight, or multiple times, I think splitting up the last 3 IP is a realistic scenario if the A’s can navigate the first 6 IP, in two of the games, and present a lead to the dynamic duo.

With this blueprint in mind, leaning on Buchter, Petit, and Pagan (all of whom worked Sunday) to bridge what the starting pitchers cannot provide, Melvin has to be ready to punt on a game that isn’t worth pursuing. And by “punt” I mean going to the dreaded three-headed monster that is Hatcher-Casilla-Lucas.

For example tonight, with Buchter, Petit, and Pagan all having pitched Sunday and Trivino-Treinen only one day removed from pitching 2 IP a piece, if the A’s trail by a couple runs into the 6th I have no problem with rolling the dice and asking Hatcher or Casilla to try to keep the game close, knowing the could get out of hand and that the A’s have been the “comeback kids”. Melvin has to use the guys he has and down a couple runs in the 6th is low leverage.

Basically, Melvin needs to be ready to pounce on a couple opportunities to stretch, but not break, his plus relievers to lock down a couple wins in which his starting pitcher doesn’t go especially deep into the game. In a perfect world, you also get another win from a SP (probably Manaea) going 7-8 IP and/or could enjoy a traditional 8-2 win on a day when your hitters are on and their pitcher isn’t. (These guys Cole, Verlander, McCullers, Morton — they any good?)

So Newbob, in sum: be ready to punt a game that just isn’t meant to be, go “all in” to secure that first win in the series, stretch but don’t break your killer “T’s” asking for up to 9 combined outs when you need them, and keep reminding your team, “It’s a 10-game road trip. We’re really good at those.”

Poll

What do you think of this approach to the Astros series?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Perfect.
    (87 votes)
  • 5%
    Asks too much of Trivino and Treinen.
    (17 votes)
  • 1%
    Doesn’t utilize Trivino and Treinen enough.
    (5 votes)
  • 10%
    Why would you use Hatcher, Casilla, or Lucas down just 2 runs in the 6th?
    (36 votes)
  • 17%
    You think we’re going to have leads to protect in this series? LOL.
    (57 votes)
  • 39%
    I don’t know. Ask an All-Star. Like Gleyber f***ing Torres.
    (133 votes)
335 votes total Vote Now