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Thursday Pitching: On What A’s Should Do, Probably Will Do

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Oakland Athletics v Los Angeles Dodgers
Unfortunately, Fiers and California are synonymous.
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

A ‘winner take all’ game tomorrow. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG??? It’s for all the wild card marbles on Thursday, and a series of puzzling moves have muddied the waters.

On Sunday, Frankie Montas was left in to throw 113 pitches so if he were to appear on 3 days rest it would not be for too long. And given that his worst inning is often his 1st, it’s unclear how wise it would be to bring him in out of the bullpen for 2-3 IP.

Then today, leading 5-0 with a man on and 0 outs in the 8th, the A’s could have trusted that Jake Diekman, who has given up exactly one run this season, wouldn’t have his worst inning of the year by a lot and saved Liam Hendriks for the 9th figuring he would still have some margin for error when he entered. Or when Hendriks threw 29 pitches in the 8th while watching the lead shrink to 5-2, Diekman or Petit or Soria could have been trusted with the task of “just not completely blowing it.”

Yes you absolutely had to win today, but you have to win just as much tomorrow in order for today’s win to matter. You didn’t want to slightly increase odds of winning today at the expense of lowering by more the chance of winning tomorrow. The White Sox could afford to make that swap, but the A’s, needing to win both, couldn’t.

As it turns out, Hendriks threw 49 pitches over 2 IP and while I do believe he will be available for an inning tomorrow he almost certainly will not be available for more. Meanwhile, who will begin the long road of getting to the 9th? It appears to come down to Mike Fiers or Sean Manaea, probably for a relatively short outing and a parade of the relievers the A’s trust the most.

My guess is that the A’s have decided — rightly or wrongly — that in this series, “LHPs bad, RHPs good,” and will roll with Fiers. Personally, I think Manaea’s deceptive delivery and command of offspeed pitches matches up fine with the White Sox and I would go with him. But I think the A’s will more likely give Fiers the chance they withheld from him in 2018 and 2019.

I don’t, however, see the SP going very long. 4 IP maybe, and then you might see J.B. Wendelken for 2 IP, Soria 1 IP, Diekman 1 IP, Hendriks 1 IP. Perhaps Yusmeiro Petit is on tap to come in and get the final out in an inning or for a possible extra inning affair.

Just note that the possibilities are almost endless, which is fascinating. Montas is probably available to throw a couple innings if you want to roll the dice on his building on Sunday’s dominance. He could even possibly, maybe, start and go 4 IP but I really doubt it — if that were on the table, I have to think the A’s would have pulled him shy of 113 pitches on Sunday.

Also, Jesus Luzardo may or may not be your choice but I imagine he is very much available to pitch a couple innings on what would normally be his day to throw. Luzardo pitched only 3.1 IP Tuesday, following a 3 IP relief stint 5 days prior.

So plenty of options, none perfect and all with the potential to succeed or blow up in your face. How do you think the A’s will play it? And as importantly, how do you think they should play it?

Poll

How Should The A’s Roll With The Pitching Thursday?

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    Fiers, as long as he can go effectively
    (1034 votes)
  • 6%
    Manaea, as long as he can go effectively
    (117 votes)
  • 20%
    FIers for 3-4 IP, string of your best relievers
    (380 votes)
  • 2%
    Manaea for 3-4 IP, string of your best relievers
    (53 votes)
  • 10%
    Fiers, relievers including Luzardo and/or Montas
    (199 votes)
  • 1%
    Manaea, relievers including Luzardo and/or Montas
    (29 votes)
  • 1%
    None of the above (explain in comments)
    (19 votes)
1831 votes total Vote Now