Typically on Monday mornings, we like to discuss the previous week, and see what’s coming up for the Oakland Athletics. This past week was not favorable to the Athletics, and next week will be challenging as well. Let’s spend this Monday morning looking back at the entire month of April, and see if there is room for optimism in Oakland.
We all know that the A’s bullpen has lost an inordinate number of games. The trio of Jim Johnson, Sean Doolittle and Luke Gregerson have all had difficult times closing out games, often resulting in A’s losses. There doesn’t seem to be a simple fix here either. The Athletics acquired Johnson to be their closer, plain and simple. Before long, he will be given another chance to claim the 9th due to his recent performance.
One of these three arms needs to claim the 9th, because there aren’t any other options. There are no closers on the trading market. There are no young arms in the minors itching for a chance in the bigs. This is what the Athletics have, and they have to find a way to make it work. Once the 9th is locked down, the rest of the bullpen will improve because they will have set roles, day in and day out.
Let’s look at some positives: Josh Donaldson isn’t regressing. In fact, he is putting up huge numbers early in the season with 7 HR and 20 RBI while batting .278. He could be in the MVP race again if he keeps this up. The offense has also been putting up big run totals thus far as well, averaging nearly 5 runs per game.
Another positive has been the starting rotation, especially the top-3 of Sonny Gray (3-1, 2.25 ERA), Scott Kazmir (3-0, 1.62)and Jesse Chavez (1-0, 2.32). Chavez only has only win thus far, but the team has 5 wins in his starts which is more important than personal statistics. Each of these three pitchers is keeping the team in games. The total number of runs scored against the Athletics this season is 85, or 3.4 runs allowed per game. With these stats, it should come as no surprise that the A’s run differential is the best in the majors at a +38.
One final positive is that the Oakland Athletics, your Oakland Athletics, are still in first place AND their record is tied for best in the AL. Their 15-10 mark also ranks among the best in the majors. Yes, we like to act as though the sky is falling, but every baseball season has its ups and downs. The A’s have already secured a winning month, no matter what happens in the Rangers series. The one advantage the A’s have heading into this series with Texas, opposed to last week’s is that the starting rotation is lined up with the A’s top 3 starters getting the call. The A’s will be fired up for the rematch in Arlington, and Monday’s Gray vs. Darvish matchup should be very entertaining.
Lastly, here is why there should be reason for optimism in Oakland: If the A’s can play as poorly as they have, both on defense and in closing out games and STILL be among the best in baseball, then once they put all of the pieces together this team will be dangerous. Only time will tell what this season holds for our Oakland Athletics, but there is still plenty of room for optimism amid the debris.