Aaron Brooks has hit the road, claimed off of waivers by the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles are deep in the ‘rebuilding’ tomb. They’re striking matches, hoping one will stay lit long enough to guide them out of the darkness. The Orioles are the A’s of years past. It was only a couple years ago we were forced to sell big at the trade deadline, pulling aboard anything we hoped would repair our sinking ship.
No, we’re not out sipping mimosas and eating caviar with little forks on our yachts like the Yankees, Cubs and Dodgers of the world, but hey, our ship is cruising along just fine and dandy.
The wind in our sails this year has been a solid combination of guys. Our pitching staff has stepped up after Frankie Montas’ suspension, which could have swung our momentum negative for the rest of the season. Instead, we got better. With the troops rallied, it’s now time to buy before the deadline and cut off the dead weight to soar into the second half.
However, we still needed another solid, reliable guy in our rotation. Experimenting with our staff is a great way to get young guys some needed experience, but when you’re pennant-huntin, you need a guy you can rely on.
Enter: Homer Bailey.
While the idea of having a pitcher named ‘Homer’ sounds a bit like picking up a quarterback named ‘Fumble’, I can assure you Bailey is just what the A’s needed, and at a bargain bin price.
The Royals signed Bailey to a minor league deal this past offseason, meaning the A’s will only pick up about $250,000 of his contract. Bailey performed well for the Royals, but with his contract up at the end of 2019, the Royals had to choose whether to send Bailey off to better pastures, or hoard him like a preschooler sitting on favorite toys to hide them from the other kids. Bailey gets the chance to compete for a playoff spot, the Royals get prospect infielder Kevin Merrell, and a pleading hope for a better 2020.
Bailey has picked up seven wins on the season, which is fairly significant on a team who has won only 39 games on the season. He has cut down on his allowed homers from last season, giving up only 12 over 90 IP, rather than 23 over 106.1 in 2018. His earned runs allowed have also dropped from 72 to 48, while his K/9 has risen from 6.3 to 8.1. The righty has gotten even hotter in the past few weeks, going 3-0 in his last six starts with a 2.83 ERA.
Having previously spent his entire 12-year career with the Reds, prior to being signed by the Royals for this season, Bailey has tasted the postseason three times already, and is hungry for more. He has no contract after this year, so will also be performing for his own future, wanting to prove that he deserves to be picked up by a team for 2020. Everybody is a winner!
How better to welcome in the second half than to start with Mike Fiers and end it with Liam Hendriks. With a fresh shave and a fresh arm, Fiers tossed 7.2 scoreless, before being swapped out for Petit-Soria-Hendriks to finish the 5-1 win over the White Sox. Laureano, Profar and Canha went yard to welcome the A’s back to town.
There’s nothing like coming back from the break with a win, so why not a sweep of the White Sox?! The A’s destroyed Chicago 13-2 while Chris Bassitt picked up his sixth win on Saturday.
The series was capped off on Sunday by a 3-2 walk-off error, scored by Chad Pinder, who started his mad dash all the way from first base.
Besting a 42-23 post-All-Star-break run from 2018 won’t be easy, but the A’s have the tools to do it again, and will only be getting better from here. Whether the Bailey move is the only significant one, or we have more to come, only time will tell. In the meantime, the A’s will take their momentum to a two-game set against the Seattle Mariners at home, followed by a tough road swing — four games against Minnesota, followed by three in Houston with zero rest.
Today at 7:07PM, Daniel Mengden aims to pick up his fifth win of the season as he takes on the Mariners and Marco Gonzales. Mengden is 4-1 over eight games, posting a solid 4.73 ERA.
We won’t have to wait long to see how Homer performs in his new home, as he takes the mound in the second game of the set against the Mariners Wednesday night.