When Bob Melvin wakes up in the morning, he doesn’t ask himself “Do I want to fail today?” He asked himself “How do I want to fail today?” Such is the nature of managing a bullpen that has,, if you squint, 3 reliable arms. Remember those 3 include Jake Diekman, who in 32 innings has walked 17 and given up 6 home runs. With friends like that, who needs enemies?
In his quest to diversify, Melvin has tried everything but the kitchen sink. With the so-called “Big 3” already used, last Saturday he called on Burch Smith in the 10th inning and watched a one-run lead turn into a one-run loss. So on Sunday BoMel asked Deolis Guerra to protect a six-run lead for all of an inning, and wound up having to ask Lou Trivino to close it out. Last night, it was Domingo Acevedo turn In a game the A’s trailed by one, and he served up a two-run homer that proved costly when the A’s rallied for two of their own in the bottom of the ninth.
So in the span of just 4 days the A’s skipper has given three different relievers the chance to step up and has presided over 3 epic fails. If your answer is that only Yusmeiro Petit, Jake Diekman, and Lou Trivino should get near the mound if the A’s lead, are tied, or are even close, remember that as is Petit has already appeared in 38 games (on pace for 76) and in order to compete long-term the A’s are going to have to identify a couple more relievers they can count on for more than garbage time. Melvin is trying desperately to do this and so far so bad.
A couple other thoughts for this lazy Wednesday morning…
Wild Card Musings
Make no mistake about it, the A’s are pushing for the division but to hear it from PTSD’ed A’s fans the wild-card game would be an automatic loss. Here’s what we know: if the aliens were to settle for the wild-card game, there is about a 99.3% chance it will be against an AL East team.
If it’s the Red Sox, you are looking at Chris Bassitt against maybe Eduardo Rodriguez or Nate Eovaldi. I don’t mind the A’s chances in such a showdown. With the Rays, you are probably looking at somewhat of a bullpen game started by who? Rich Hill, currently lobbing 83 MPH fastballs and giving up dingers like they’re going out of style? Ryan Yarbrough? Keep Yandy Diaz in the park and you might have something. The Yankees offer a one-game ace in Gerrit Cole, but in June suddenly Cole’s spin rate is way down and his ERA is way up (4.65). Hmm….
All I am saying is push for the division, but don’t give up on the wild-card game if that’s what it comes to. Remember: elimination game demons were exorcised in 2020 when the A’s won WC game 3.
Just something to keep an eye on going forward... Overall, James Kaprielian has done a great job in his 9 major league starts but in the early going he shows some significant splits worth monitoring in upcoming starts.
Right-handed batters have done literally next to nothing against Kaprielian, hitting all of .140/.202/.270. That is true and utter dominance. However, left-handed batters are having their way to the tune of .272/.372/.531. No esta bien.
Small sample caveats certainly apply, but those are some significant splits. My first eyeball suggestion is that Kaprielian needs to bust left-handed batters in more with his fastball because they are extending their arms freely on both his fastball, and on his off-speed pitches. He should also dump the slow curve to LH batters in favor of throwing exclusively hard sliders along with his changeup.
Whatever the solution, today we mostly note the problem along with celebrating his complete dominance so far to right-handed batters.
See you at 6:40pm tonight for Chris “7th in the league in ERA” Bassitt against Kolby Allard. Last night the Rangers beat the A’s and the Orioles crushed the Astros. Ain’t baseball grand?