On their current 3-game losing streak, the bullpen has blown a save, the defense has been lackluster and the offense has been struggling. The 2014 Athletics’ offense has seemingly been all or nothing. Either the entire lineup is hitting, leading to blowouts and a great run differential, or nobody is, and the games are much closer. Should we be concerned? It depends on who you ask.
Whenever a player endures a slump, fans take to Twitter and clamor for them to be demoted or traded. Earlier this season, Josh Reddick was gathering the scorn of the Athletics’ faithful with his cold start. Now, with his new walk-up music and improved hitting, he has won over the fans for the time being. Daric Barton on the other hand also drew criticism, and was replaced by recently-acquired Kyle Blanks.
While Blanks hasn’t proven his worth with the Athletics yet, what this move shows is that the A’s management is committed to winning this season. If they feel there is a long-term problem, Billy Beane and Co. will fix it.
The offense has been a little too streaky for my taste, but when they’re hot, they’re unbeatable. This may or may not bode well for them in a potential playoff series.
As the season progresses, their approach at the plate should win-out more times than not. Taking pitches later in the season when a pitcher is already fatigued from their previous workload will work in their favor. Their own pitching has been fantastic, compiling a 2.88 ERA.
The bullpen has been a magnified issue due to the amount of losses on their record (9 of the team’s 19), but the bullpen will only get stronger. Ryan Cook and Eric O’Flaherty are scheduled to be added to the mix before long, and I expect the bullpen to thrive when they do. Having Abad and Johnson first to enter the game, followed by Otero, Cook and O’Flaherty is a very solid lead-up to Gregerson in the 8th and Doolittle to close. Of course, these pitchers can come in at different spots depending on who’s hot.
The upcoming schedule for the A’s could be very telling. Starting Monday, the Athletics’ struggles will either continue, or work themselves out. For the next month, the A’s face divisional foes in Texas and the LA Angels, the beasts from Detroit, and a bevy of AL East competition.
The Athletics’ struggles are just that. Every team goes through ups and downs. The key is to make the highs higher and the lows stop as quickly as possible. Look at it this way: the team that won the World Series last year is currently riding a 9-game losing streak. The A’s will be fine.