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Game Thread #19: A’s at Rangers (POSTPONED)

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MLB: Boston Red Sox at Oakland Athletics Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Update on Estrada: The team opted to skip his start and push it back to their next home again against the Astros. This was likely a ballpark-based decision, according to Susan Slusser.

Update to the update: POSTPONED. Doubleheader scheduled for June 8th.

Anderson will get the ball tomorrow. TBD when Estrada gets his next start.

Update: Folks, we have a rain delay.

Original: Has Marco Estrada been as bad as he seems? In preparation for tonight’s game, I took a deep dive into his underlying numbers and found some interesting results.

According to xFIP, Fangraph’s HR/FB-adjusted ERA measure, Marco Estrada has not only been bad, he’s definitively been the A’s worst starter so far in the season:

  1. Frankie Montas - 3.91
  2. Brett Anderson - 4.85
  3. Aaron Brooks - 5.37
  4. Mike Fiers - 5.83
  5. March Estrada - 7.34

That number is shockingly high, and it aligns with everything we’ve seen so far. Estrada is allowing more flyballs than ever, striking out less batters than ever, and, most worrying, throwing softer than ever. With an average fastball velocity of just 87 mph, it’s not hard to see why guys are teeing off on the 35-year-old veteran.

However, just as shocking, Estrada has the starting staff’s best xwOBA:

  1. Marco Estrada - 0.298 (vs. 0.333 wOBA)
  2. Brett Anderson - 0.307
  3. Frankie Montas - 0.317
  4. Aaron Brooks - 0.323
  5. Mike Fiers - 0.328

This essentially means he’s been the best at preventing hard, high-angle contact. How can this be given that he leads the rotation in home runs allowed? Moreover, does this mean Marco Estrada has actually been good?

To the first question, his career-low 27.5% hard-hit rate points to a large portion of his at-bats ending in softer contact, even if hitters keep knocking his mistakes way out of the park. Now, whether or not this means he’s pitched well, it’s unclear. But with Bassitt and Mengden performing well, and now Jackson waiting in the wings, somebody’s going to have to be bumped and Estrada will have to start proving he’s worth his paycheck very soon.

Tonight’s his chance. He won’t be pitching in a venue that’s friendly to his skill set, but he should be able to keep any hitter not named Joey inside the ballpark.

On the positive side, the A’s love hitting in this park. Even if Estrada puts the team down a bunch, Khrush Davis will assuredly power their way back to victory, as he’s done repeatedly over the past year.

The Rangers’ starter, Adrian Sampson, shouldn’t get in the way. This is only his sixth major league start and he doesn’t have a very strong track record. He’s generally a low-strikeout, high-groundball pitcher (let’s call him an Aaron Brooks type) and the A’s should get through him with relative ease.

Here are tonight’s lineups:

Some notable choices:

  • Phegley, one of the team’s hottest hitters, is getting a day off. Let’s hope Hundley fights hard to keep his share of the PAs.
  • BoMel seems to like Chapman in the 3rd spot, at least until Olson comes back. Personally, if Morales continues to hit homers, I’d move everyone back to their original spots and bump him up to 3rd.
  • Semien has hit his way up to the 2-spot, and his underlying numbers back up his performance. Are we experiencing a Marcus Semien breakout?

Let’s make it 5 in a row!