The Oakland A’s are in the postseason. They clinched a Wild Card game for the second year in a row, and after Saturday’s nailbiter, they secured home-field for Wednesday’s game against the Rays.
Nothing better than embracing the champagne burn!— Brett Anderson (@_BAnderson30_) September 28, 2019
The only thing yet to be decided is, who will the A’s have on the mound next week? Last season, we were wondering the same thing, but sung to a different tune. Last season, we were so riddled with injuries and question marks, the A’s decided it would be best to take on the single game the same way they’d been filling their rotation holes through September: a bullpen game. In theory, not the worst idea. However, there were many pieces crumbling before the A’s fingers in 2018, and how they would survive the postseason after that one game was fuzzy.
Fast forward to now, and the A’s are still making it on a Wild Card berth, but they’re doing it with a stronger team this year. A team so strong and so sure of itself, it has the skills, the power and the experience to take down whatever is in its path.
And, should they be this good? After losing hot players to injuries over and over, after Blake Treinen and Lou Trivino turned invisible this season and Khrush stopped being really Khrushy, the A’s did not have their path paved from the start. They had to overcome, fill gaps and fight even when things weren’t going great. They had to encourage guys like Liam Hendriks, Mike Fiers, Mark Canha and Marcus Semien to the seasons they could only dream of. They had to put pressure on young guys like Sean Murphy, AJ Puk, Jesus Luzardo and the rest of the farm system who came up and performed admirably.
They shouldn’t be this good, but they are. The A’s are stronger this year than last. You can’t predict how the games will play out, but this team is good enough to make it all the way.
Canha, Davis, and Stephen Piscotty are all healthy, happy and ready for action once again. Canha and Davis returned already, and Piscotty got back in the lineup for the season finale on Sunday, though he went 0-for-4.
Mike Fiers was the obvious choice to start a potential Wild Card game, until Sean Manaea returned from shoulder surgery. How Manaea would perform once back on an MLB mound was a mystery. You don’t expect a guy to jump back from a year off straight into a lights-out performance. You can’t. There has to be some kind of kinks to shake out.
Sean Manaea said poo-poo to that.
Upon his return, Sean Manea jumped in with five innings of one-hit, five-K ball against the Yankees in New York. Overall the lefty has given up exactly four runs total in his five appearances. With 30 K’s and a .775 WHIP, it’s safe to say Manaea is a formidable force once again.
On top of his insane numbers, Manaea has the advantage of playing fresh. The only downside is ... there isn’t one, just the thought that something has to give, and the fact that it hasn’t happened yet is exciting and scary at the same time.
For Mike Fiers, that something gave at the beginning of the season. The only blip he’s had since his no-no were two games, which could be chalked up to an arm injury, which he’s proved is in the past. While Manaea sports better digits than Fiers, Fiers has proved over a whole season what kind of shape he’s in and what he can consistently put up. Fiers is insane at home. While his K and BB rate are neck and neck, his ERA at the Coliseum is 2.54 while away it rockets up to 5.14.
Neither option is bad, however perhaps giving the younger, fresh Manaea the ball for the Wild Card Game and saving Fiers for the — fingers crossed — next round would be a wise move. Manaea goes in hot, Fiers gets to rest a little more before taking on postseason action.
The A’s clinched on Friday prematurely, which gave the clubhouse crew time to get the champagne on ice after the Indians loss locked the A’s in officially. The game looked like it was going to be just as exciting, when Matt Olson smacked a go-ahead two-run dinger, but in a bizarre twist of fate, Liam Hendriks faltered in the bottom of the ninth and the Mariners won in a walk-off.
Immediately, the loss was forgotten. You always want to celebrate after a win of your own, but oh well. There was plenty of fun to be had regardless, because THE A’S MADE THE POSTSEASON! For the second year in a row! Loss be darned, it’s party time!
This will be the A’s 28th postseason appearance, their second in a row and fifth in nine years of Bob Melvin Ball. Their last streak was 2012-’14, when they made the postseason three times in a row and went on to win the AL West crown in ‘12 and ‘13. Mike Fiers has one World Series ring. It’s time to get him another.
Who do YOU think should start the Wild Card game on Wednesday?
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