It is hard to see where rock bottom might be, but the Oakland Athletics are surely getting close. The A’s suffered their fifth straight loss Monday night in a 10-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs. They will try to pick up the pieces again Tuesday when Ken Waldichuk matches up against Marcus Stroman.
Oakland’s pitching struggles are paramount. They rank dead last with -2.4 fWAR entering play Tuesday. For some added context, the Tigers are 29th at -0.8 fWAR. The rotation has been the biggest culprit posting a 9.39 ERA and a 7.21 FIP through the first 17 games. The bullpen has been overworked, but hasn’t pitched that great either and you need look no further than Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Mets as an example.
Waldichuk has played a big part in those struggles as well although he is coming off of his best start of the season where he allowed five hits and three runs over 6 1/3 innings against the Orioles. That outing lowered his ERA for the season to 10.20. He’s allowed 17 earned runs over just 15 innings across three starts.
Make no mistake, the offense hasn’t been great either. They managed just one run on eight hits Monday, but have often found themselves looking at a five or six run deficit early thanks to the rotation struggles.
One bright spot has been the play of Esteury Ruiz, who had two hits in Monday’s loss and scored Oakland’s only run. Ruiz is riding an eight-game hitting streak and is hitting .321/.406/.393 with a 140 wRC+ through 17 games. He recently moved to the top of the order and is tied for the team lead with seven runs scored.
Ryan Noda hit second Monday and went 1-for-3 at the plate. Noda is hitting just .220 for the season, but has a .385 OBP with a 133 wRC+. The strikeout rate is still too high at 32.7%, but he has a 21.2% walk-rate. Getting Ruiz and Noda at the top of the order could be the first step in jumpstarting the offense.
That offense will have its work cut out for them Tuesday against Stroman, who is off to a good start in 2023. Stroman began the season by throwing 12 straight scoreless innings across his first two outings. He allowed five hits and two runs over six innings in his last start against Seattle. Tuesday will be his first road start of the season.
Game Date/Time: Tuesday, April 18, 6:40 p.m. PDT
Location: Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, California
Radio: A’s Cast, Bloomberg 960 AM / 103.7 HD2, KIQI 1010