Inside Pitch: A’s 1-5 week brings precious few positives
Things couldn’t have gone much worse for the Oakland Athletics, who scuffled their way to five losses, three injuries and two ejections.
Stumbling through a one-win week, the A’s (48-63) must search to find positives upon which to build. After wasting two offensive outbursts in Anaheim, the green and gold returned home where they allowed a pair of terrific pitching performances to go unrewarded.
As a team, the Oakland offense batted .225 while the opposition slugged its way to a much healthier .293 clip. They were out-homered (12 to 8), out-slugged (.280 to .356) and nearly doubled up in runs scored (41 to 21). The product of the A’s struggles is a season-worst 15 games below .500.
Fastball: Making moves for the future
Perhaps the only positive for the organization in an incredibly tough week came with the talent received in the trading of longtime fan favorite Josh Reddick (.296/.368/.449 2016 slash with Oakland).
Coupled with top performing starter Rich Hill (9-3, 2.25 ERA), Reddick’s trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers brought the A’s a trio of young pitchers re-arming a depleted a minor league pitching contingent. One of whom, Jharel Cotton, likely has a major league debut in his near future.
Changeup: Alonso still raking
Not only has Yonder Alonso played nearly flawless defense at first — and even third when it was required — he has also been among the team’s most productive hitters since batting .209 through May.
Alonso (.258/.319/.368) has hit .299 since June 1, and his 21 doubles are tied with Stephen Vogt for second-most on the team (Coco Crisp, 22). Over the past week, he has led the team in hits (7) and total bases (13). The former first-round pick accounted for just four of his team’s 51 strikeouts — the team combined for just 53 hits. He also added a home run (5) and three RBIs (34).
Curveball: 25 DL moves
With Jed Lowrie (.263/.314/.322 Slash), Jesse Hahn (2-4, 6.02 ERA) and Sonny Gray (5-11, 5.74 ERA) each finding their way on to the disabled list, the A’s have now used the DL a total of 25 times this season.
Not only is that equivalent to the number of spots available to them on the major league roster, it ties a franchise record (2008).
Slider: rotation not getting it done
Even with a pair of strong starts on Saturday and Sunday, the Oakland rotation was hammered for 42 hits and 26 earned runs in 27-2/3 innings, with the Cubs’ shelling of rookie Dillon Overton on Friday as the low point.
The bullpen, on the other hand, held the opposition to just four earnies in 25-1/3. Two of those runs did served as the tying and winning runs in a walk-off loss to the Halos on Wednesday, however.
Since the All-Star break, Sean Manaea (3-6, 4.68 ERA) is the sole starter who can brag an ERA below 4.63 (3.16).
Sinker: Valencia slumping
Danny Valencia (.296/.347/.479) has been forced to play the right field position left vacant by the departure of Reddick. While he has done an admirable job in the field, his bat has gone quiet.
The 31 year-old went just 3-for-19 (.158) with one RBI, playing in all six games. The former third baseman had been the one constant in an offense that has lacked it all season — batting .294 or higher in each of the season’s first three months. Since losing his starting job at the hot corner, however, his average has fallen to .259.
During his team’s tough week, he also drew just one walk.
Pitch out: Orioles and Mariners and rotation questions (oh my)
With Gray and Hahn both being sent to the DL, the A’s now have three vacancies in the starting rotation. Daniel Mengden (1-5, 5.73 ERA) has been ruled out for a start in the coming week by manager Bob Melvin, and Overton is unlikely as well, given his own lack of confidence and the team’s lack of it in him.
Red hot reliever Zach Neal (1-1, 5.25 ERA) has been named the starter in Tuesday’s tilt. Beyond that, though, questions are abound.
A probable for filling one of the openings is Cotton (9-5, 4.70 ERA), who leads the Pacific Coast League in strikeouts (124) in just 103-1/3 innings pitched. Recently acquired Ross Detwiler (0-0, 5.79 ERA in seven games with the Cleveland Indians) is a possibility for Thursday’s starting nod.
Whoever it is on the hill, he will be facing the Baltimore Orioles (63-47), who took two of three from the A’s in the two teams’ only previous meeting this season and have won five of their last seven.
Oakland will then end their 10-game home stand with a divisional showdown with the Seattle Mariners (57-53), who have won five of six and all three at the Coliseum.