As the A’s set forth on their first meaningful September in 6 years, it seemed appropriate that the 4 writers for Swingin’ A’s looked into the future and enlighten everyone as to what they can expect for the month. The A’s are poised to make a return to the postseason, but can they finish the season strong?
The 4 burning questions/statements went as follows:
- The A’s will make the playoffs if they… stay out of their own way. In the past this team has oftentimes shot themselves in the foot with disastrous defensive miscues and blunders on the base paths. This team has displayed that they have all the talent they need to beat anyone at any time. The road through September will indeed be a rough one, but they are strong enough to emerge victorious.
- If they don’t make the playoffs it will be because of… the physical toll taken on the young pitchers becomes too much for them to handle. Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, Dan Straily, and A.J. Griffin will probably log more innings this year than they have ever in their lives. The return of Brett Anderson, and the continued health of Brandon McCarthy will prove critical to keeping these guys strong. The much talked about 6 man rotation may very well be put to use in the month of September.
- Which under the radar Athletic will play the biggest role? Tyson Ross. Yeah that Tyson Ross. After what may have been his final audition as a starting pitcher the tall right hander has been used out of the bullpen in Sacramento, and he may be in for a prominent role in the A’s bullpen very soon. I’m not saying he’ll leapfrog the likes of Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle, but his ability to get hitters out in the first few innings of his starts shows that he has talent, teams just seem to be able to figure him out after seeing him a couple times. Not to mention the fact that if he’s limited to just a couple innings at a time, he can really let his fastball fly and simply blow hitters away.
- When the season ends on October 3rd, what will be the outcome? This team has done enough to make me believe they really are as good as they appear. I expect the A’s to have a game on Friday October 5th in Oakland, meaning they will win the 1st wildcard spot and host the 1 game playoff to reach the ALDS. It’s a crapshoot as to who they might face between the Rays and the Orioles. A 92-70 season might get them within a few games of the Rangers in the AL West, but it won’t be good enough. Good thing the wildcard is there.
- The A’s will make the playoffs if they… hold their ground against the Rangers and Angels. While it may be too much to expect them to continue to win at a nearly .700 clip against top tier teams, they should be able to win at least 8 or 9 of the 14 combined contests remaining against both teams. The A’s have continually answered the call and rose to the occasion against tough competition, and there is no reason to stop now.
- If they don’t make the playoffs it will be because of… a combination of a complete and utter pitching collapse and the offense being plagued by late inning futility. If Brandon McCarthy’s shoulder decides to flame out for a third time this season the A’s are in trouble. Without Bartolo Colon, the A’s would have to lean on the arms of a recovering Brett Anderson and the rookie trio Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, and A.J. Griffin. Without a veteran stalwart to lead, there is no telling if they could survive as a rotation in crunch time. Until recently, the A’s have had difficulty adding on late in games and in the heat of September it will be essential they continue to attack teams in all portions of the game to secure a victory. If they fail to hit, all bets are off against the tougher teams. Of course this all may be a moot point if the Rays,Tigers, and Angels continue to struggle with obvious weaknesses.
- Which under the radar Athletic will play the biggest role? Pat Neshek will become a necessary and valued piece of the A’s bullpen during the final month. As the ultimate under the radar pickup, the sidewinder will be used extensively to rescue tiring starters such as Milone and Parker in the middle innings. Thus allowing the A’s to stay in close and vital games before launching into comeback mode, and pulling multiple key victories from the clutches of defeat during the final weeks.
- When the season ends on October 3rd, what will be the outcome? It will be close and difficult due to one last push by the Angels but the A’s will squeeze into the second Wild Card position, with a final record of 92-70.
Kevin Mendez, Staff Writer
- The A’s will make the playoffs if they… dig up offensive production from their middle infield positions. The pitching staff as a whole has been very good and the offense has managed to produce enough runs to allow the A’s to win games. But the middle infield positions have been the weakest part of the A’s lineup thus far. Cliff Pennington is hitting .198 in 333 plate appearances, Adam Rosales is hitting .231 in 65 at bats, and Stephen Drew is hitting .219 in his 9 games since being traded to the A’s from the Diamondbacks. Jemile Weeks, who was sent down to triple-a when the A’s acquired Drew and has played most of the games at second base this year, was only hitting .220 in 437 at bats before being sent down.
- If they don’t make the playoffs it will be because of… the back of the Athletics bullpen unravels and cannot shutdown their opponents in close games, the A’s will not make the playoffs. The A’s have gone through quite a few closers so far this season. Athletics closers have combined to blow 12 saves this year. The Athletics cannot afford to blow any saves as they make their push to make the playoff.
- Which under the radar Athletic will play the biggest role? Chris Carter will play the biggest role in helping the A’s make the playoffs. The Athletics have lived and died by the long ball and as the playoff race gets closer to the end, teams will try to avoid pitching to Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick. This is exactly why Chris Carter will play such a big role, he has flown under the radar although he supplies just as much power as Cespedes and Reddick.
- When the season ends on October 3rd, what will be the outcome? I think the Athletics can and will win the American League West. With that being said, the A’s will need to continue to put together winning streaks throughout September. The Athletics will play the Rangers seven more times before seasons end with the last three ending the season, which I think will be the series that pushes the A’s into first place. I believe the A’s will end the season with a 95-67 record.
Andrew Brown, Staff Writer
- The A’s will make the playoffs if they… continue to add on to leads late and play solid defense. The A’s have a tendency to relinquish leads late in games so holding onto leads will be crucial to their success in September and possibly farther. The pitching will always be there, and the offense continually does enough to put us ahead.
- If they don’t make the playoffs it will be because of… the bullpen implodes. They have been pretty consistent all season. Cook will need to return to form and Blevins and Doolittle need to continue to be reliable.
- Which under the radar Athletic will play the biggest role? Jemile Weeks. Since being demoted to AAA he has been raking. If he does get the call up September 1st he will be a key component to the A’s success, possibly platooning with Cliff Pennington.
- When the season ends on October 3rd, what will be the outcome? Wild Card spot. The way they have been playing even a tough September schedule won’t be able to stop them. Final record: 93-69
This will be an exciting time in Oakland. I see the A’s hosting the wild card playoff against the Orioles and winning.