Happy Friday, Athletics Nation!
It’s been a surprising season so far for the A’s. With nearly 10 percent of the regular season complete, they’re standing at 8-6 despite having dealt a bevy of stars in the offseason, losing a good number of others to free agency, and starting their 2022 campaign on a tough ten-game road trip.
Sure, the Baltimore Orioles—whom the A’s just took three of four games from to win their first home series—are not exactly World Series contenders. But the O’s did manage to take a series from the Yankees before heading to Oakland, so one could imagine the birds came in with their confidence at a high ebb. Yep, we’re loving this scrappy Oakland squad so far!
The team’s surprising success is built on a number of individual players who are defying expectations, like Paul Blackburn, who is the A’s #4 starter right now, but pitching like their ace. He was DFA’d last year after five years of marginal performance in Oakland with an ERA of 5.74 and barely 5 K/9. He’s looking like a different pitcher now and his stats clearly reflect that:
- Blackburn, 2022: 1.80 ERA 15 ip 8.4 K/9 0.6 BB/9
At a cursory glance, one might think that Daulton Jefferies has been the A’s ace so far. This tweet piqued my curiosity and prompted a deeper dive into the A’s starters’ stats on Fangraphs.
Paul Blackburn’s first 3 starts:— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) April 21, 2022
15 IP, 1.80 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 14 K, 1 BB
Daulton Jefferies first 3 starts:
15.1 IP. 1.17 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 9 K, 3 BB
They’ve both really stepped up and seized their opportunities to begin the year
Both can boast phenomenal ERAs. Jefferies tops Blackburn by a significant margin by this metric—but Paul has significantly more Ks, fewer BBs, and lower WHIP. Plus, looking at Fielding Independent Pitching stats, Blackburn has a clear edge:
- Blackburn, 2022: 1.39 FIP 2.09 xFIP
- Jefferies, 2022: 3.71 FIP 4.40 xFIP
These numbers suggest that Jefferies has benefitted from better defensive play and that his numbers might come down to earth a bit as the season wears on. I’m not ready to bet that Blackburn will win the Cy Young award this year, but these stats evince that he has been a real deal. That’s why Paul Blackburn tops my Starter Report Card right now! And yes, I am saying this in hopes of summoning 2019 Frankie Montas—the version that plays a full season.
So, AN, any predictions on Blackburn’s success going forward? Tell us about it in the comments!
- Hall: Game #14: Full team effort powers A’s past Orioles in series finale
- Nico: 2 Weeks In: Eyeball Scout Notes
- Hall: Sheldon Neuse becoming the hitting machine we once hoped he’d be
- Hall: Heads-up A’s snag extra out against Trey Mancini and Orioles
- Hall: A’s roster moves: Stephen Vogt to injured list, Austin Allen reinstated
- Lockard: New faces, same results as the A’s continue to win despite ever-evolving roster ($)
MLB News & Interest:
- Stark: 10 numbers that will define the 2022 MLB season ($)
- McDonald: Marlins, Joey Wendle Avoid Arbitration
- Franco: Trevor Bauer’s Administrative Leave Extended Through April 29
- Drellich: Yankees lose appeal, meaning ‘Yankees Letter’ will soon be made public ($)
- Rosenthal: Albert Pujols’ impact on Cardinals more than numbers, Joey Bart takes the reins with Giants ($)
- Today in Baseball History
Best of Twitter:
Vogt injury update.
Stephen Vogt has a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his right knee. No timeline for a return right now.— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) April 21, 2022
It was some enchanted evening.
Four years ago today, Sean Manaea of the @Athletics pitched the first no-hitter of the 2018 season, winning 3-0. He struck out 10 while walking two in his first career complete game. pic.twitter.com/nIKcP2kC9Y— Baseball Reference (@baseball_ref) April 21, 2022
Dude is walking the walk, backin’ his talk!
Paul Blackburn: "I understand it's tough. We've had a lot of good players and to see those guys leave, I get it. One thing I'll say, we have a lot of good players in this clubhouse. But to the fans out there, I promise we're gonna fight til the last out.."— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) April 21, 2022
Of Sean Murphy's 13 hits, 9 have gone for extra bases (3 homers, 5 doubles and a triple).— Steve Berman (@BASportsGuy) April 21, 2022
Congrats, Nick! Quite the memorable first hit and run.
Friends coming up together.
Mickey McDonald and Nick Allen— Kim C (@Cu_As) April 21, 2022
Drafted by the #Athletics in 2017; teammates through the minor leagues;
Made their MLB debuts one day apart
Thanks to Nick’s dad for sharing this great photo! pic.twitter.com/mehNQtd0Mu
Meanwhile, on the Howard Terminal front..
Some of the materials for the @sfbcdc meeting are up now. Here's the latest info. First: The new timeline. 6/30 could be a massive day in Oakland A's history. #BindingVoteSZN pic.twitter.com/mX7z8mqTQa— Casey Pratt (@CaseyPrattABC7) April 21, 2022
Really enjoying Mike Selleck’s tidbits lately.
Christian Lopes made his Major League debut yesterday after 937 games in 10 seasons in the minors...the A's game note highlights for April 21: pic.twitter.com/nn5w9BcYEJ— Mike Selleck (@MikeSelleck) April 21, 2022
I’m sorry Susan, but I cannot accept this proposition.
Mark Canha tells me he had some nice conversations with the Giants in free agency, he was impressed with them. Also obviously super impressed with the Mets of course but it sounds as if the Giants were legit in the mix. I always thought he would be a great fit for them.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) April 21, 2022
Damn, that was smooth.