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Fan confidence soars for Oakland A’s rotation

Approval rating doubled from a month ago

Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Welcome to SB Nation FanPulse, a survey of fans across MLB. Each week, we send 30 polls to plugged in fans from each team. A’s fans, click HERE to learn more and join FanPulse.

A’s fans were asked last week if they have confidence in the team’s starting rotation, and the result was a stark contrast to the last few months. It’s the fifth time we’ve asked about the starters this year, and this time 69% of fans answered Yes to the question, “Are you confident that the A’s can contend with their current starting rotation?”

Back in late April, only 5% of fans answered Yes to the same query. Then in mid-May the approval rating rose to 33% of fans, but it dropped back down to 21% in mid-June, even before ace Frankie Montas was suspended for PEDs. It rebounded to 33% in mid-July, but this latest result is more than double the previous season-high.

Fans are warming up to this rotation, and it’s not hard to see why. Mike Fiers has done his best impression of an ace, Brett Anderson has consistently cranked out quality starts, and Chris Bassitt has quietly posted a 2.45 ERA over his last eight outings. Meanwhile, July trade additions Homer Bailey and Tanner Roark have exceeded all expectations, delivering seven quality efforts and eight team wins in 11 tries.

Since the All-Star break, the A’s rotation ranks seventh in MLB in ERA (3.67), 11th in FIP (4.43), and second in innings-per-game (5.9, behind only the Mets).

And things could get even better. Sean Manaea is dominating in his Triple-A rehab and could return to Oakland soon, if there’s even room for him among the other five successful incumbents. Top prospect Jesus Luzardo is getting close too, and there are two more hot arms in Las Vegas in backup Paul Blackburn (2.28 ERA last nine games) and scrap-heap addition Matt Harvey (first two starts: 10 ip, 2 runs, 11 Ks, 0 BB). At the very least, that quality depth should provide strong insurance for any late-season injuries that might come up.

The bullpen continues to struggle and just re-took sole possession of the AL lead in blown saves, but at least something is going right on the A’s pitching staff. This rotation is getting the job done, and that’s now reflected in the fans’ confidence.

Note: Last week, fans gave a 48% confidence rating for the A’s bullpen.

Team confidence

As for the normal weekly questions about the A’s, here are the latest results.

  • Confidence in direction of team: 93% (up from 88%)
  • Confidence in manager: 95% (same as last week)

This survey was taken last Monday, just after the A’s had taken three of four games from the division-leading Astros. It’s no wonder to see the confidence rise after such an impressive showing, and this result doesn’t even reflect the ensuing sweep of the Yankees. Only three teams got higher approval from their fans last week: the Astros (98%), Braves (95%), and Rays (94%), though the Indians tied Oakland’s 93% mark. At the other end of the spectrum, the Pirates were blanked at 0% for the third straight week, followed by the Rockies (12%) and Red Sox (13%). Out of 30 teams, 18 finished below the 80% threshold, and 12 finished below the 70% mark.

Regarding manager Bob Melvin, we still love him. Next topic.

As for the national question, it once again asked about juiced balls. Last time we learned that 68% of fans think that MLB juiced the ball intentionally, but regardless of how it happened, 74% of fans think it’s bad for the game.