The Oakland A’s activated Stephen Piscotty from the injured list on Thursday, the team announced.
We last saw Piscotty on Aug 24, when he left that day’s game with a high-ankle sprain. This was his second lengthy IL stint of the season, after he also missed all of July to a knee sprain. When healthy he’s found his way into 92 games, with 389 plate appearances.
Piscotty, 2019: .252/.312/.416, 95 wRC+, 13 HR, 7.5% BB, 21.3% Ks
Those numbers are down sharply from last year, when he hit 27 homers with a 126 wRC+, but A’s fans have seen what he’s capable of when he’s on his game. His defense in RF is at least average and arguably a plus.
The return of Piscotty comes right as another key outfielder suffered a new injury. Center fielder Mark Canha exited Wednesday’s game early with a groin strain, and sat out Thursday as well. Canha has arguably been the A’s best hitter this year (148 wRC+), so replacing him in the lineup won’t be easy, but it helps to have another established outfielder back in the fold. Oakland also called up Skye Bolt on Thursday for some extra CF depth.
Fortunately, the early word is that Canha might be just fine after all. He was able to run before Thursday’s game (via Susan Slusser, S.F. Chronicle) and felt so good that he thought he might be available off the bench (via Slusser). It remains to be seen when Canha will actually get back in action, but his optimism is encouraging.
As for Piscotty, he rejoins an outfield that now includes Ramon Laureano, Robbie Grossman, Seth Brown, Chad Pinder, and Bolt, plus Canha if he indeed turns out to be OK. That gives the A’s multiple options at each position. Piscotty hasn’t played in a month and didn’t have an opportunity to go on a minor league rehab assignment, so keep an eye on whether Oakland is able to find him some at-bats during their final few games of the regular season, as a tuneup (or even an audition?) for the potential postseason roster.
Speaking of that postseason roster, Piscotty’s activation theoretically affects things but functionally doesn’t change much. Now that he’s off the IL, he can’t be used to loophole in a player who wasn’t on the 40-man roster by the Aug 31 deadline, such as catcher Sean Murphy and pitcher Jesus Luzardo. However, the A’s still have three candidates for this loophole, between pitchers Daniel Gossett, Blake Treinen, and Lou Trivino, the latter two of whom aren’t officially on the IL yet but have been publicly ruled out of action and can be retroactively put on the IL.
In other words, the A’s lost Piscotty’s loophole spot, but it turns out they won’t need it anyway. They still have three more loophole spots and only two ineligible players who need them, meaning there’s also still a leftover spot just in case they need to make some other unforeseen emergency call-up (like a third catcher to replace an injury in the playoffs, etc.).