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Series preview: Cleveland Indians at Oakland Athletics

West Coast, we meet again.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

If you are one who usually opts to skip West Coast games and their ridiculous 10:05 p.m. start times, I normally would not blame you. Baseball is great, but who wants to stay up until one or two in the morning to watch it? Well, considering how the Cleveland Indians have been playing lately, and their penchant for walk-off wins, you may want to ruin your sleep schedule to stay up and watch this series against the Oakland Athletics.

The last West Coast trip was a mixed bag for the Tribe. They were coming off a sweep of the Kansas City Royals in early June, then went 4-3 against the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels, combined. The last time the Indians faced the A's, specifically, they had an easy three-game sweep, outscoring their opponent, 19-6. Unfortunately, after that is when the wheels really came off the pitching staff in early August.

The two teams will go at it again over the next three days, with two nights games and a mid-afternoon start. Weather in Oakland should be downright pleasant compared to the rainy, muggy mess the Tribe have playing in at Progressive Field. Temperatures are not expected to get higher than 65 and no rain is in sight.

Pitching matchups

Monday, 10:05 p.m. ET: Carlos Carrasco (RHP) vs. Andrew Triggs (RHP)

Andrew Tiggs is a 27-year-old rookie who will be making his fourth career start against this afternoon. The right-hander has a 4.98 ERA and a 3.54 over 43.1 innings this season. Over his last two starts, Tiggs combined to throw 9.2 innings and allowed four runs off of seven hits.

The Indians will send Carlos Carrasco to the mound. He has still not been himself since mid-July, having allowed at least three earned runs in each of his last five starts. His last outing was a weird one, including 11 strikeouts and zero walks, but five runs crossing the plate.

Tuesday, 10:05 p.m. ET: Danny Salazar (RHP) vs. Sean Manaea (LHP)

Sean Manaea is another rookie on the A's young staff, and the 24-year-old has pitched well for a back-of-the-rotation starter in his first 18 starts. He carries a 4.73 ERA and a 4.44 FIP while walking six percent of the batters he faces and striking out just a shade under 20 percent. He has given up quite a few home runs this season (1.47 HR/9), so if those come down to a more realistic level his ERA could drop as well.

I am not even sure what to say about Danny Salazar anymore. The one-time Cy Young contender has had lingering elbow troubles for the better part of a month and nothing seems to be working. He had a short stint on the disabled list, but was quickly brought back after missing just two starts.

Salazar looked awful in his last outing, throwing just one inning and allowing three earned runs off of a hit and three walks. In six starts since July 1, Salazar has an 8.64 ERA and a 5.95 FIP, even though he is striking out almost 10 batters per nine innings with a 48.8 percent ground ball. His walks are just killing him right now.

Wednesday, 3:35 p.m. ET: Trevor Bauer (RHP) vs. Kendall Graveman (RHP)

Twenty-five-year-old Kendall Graveman will take the mound for the A's in the series finale. The right-hander has 24 starts under his belt this season and he carries a 4.09 ERA and a 4.48 FIP. He is not a pitcher that will strike out a lot batters, but he has a 51.6 percent career ground ball rate.

Trevor Bauer has been pretty up-and-down all season, but he appears to be on an upswing right now. His last start was brilliant: An eight-inning effort in which he struck out 13 and walked just two Toronto Blue Jays batters. That was Bauer's third double-digit strikeout game of the season, but his first since June 22.

Upcoming schedule

Thankfully, this West Coast road trip is short, and also the last of the season. After this, the Indians have a four-game set against the Texas Rangers, a series that has no interesting storylines whatsoever. Then, they will return home to face the Minnesota Twins.

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Team in a box

Oakland Athletics


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This offense is... ugly. There are a lot of ugly things about this year's Athletics, but the offense stands out as particularly bad. As you may expect, they are also one of the worst teams in terms scoring runs, ranked 14th with 495. Curiously enough, they are also good at not striking out, ranked 13th in strikeout rate in the American League at 18.5 percent. However, once they actually make contact, they do not do a whole lot with it. Their BABIP is an AL-worst .282 and they are also 12th in the AL with a 91 wRC+.

Oakland Athletics roster

Position players

  • C: Stephen Vogt
  • 1B: Yonder Alonso
  • 2B: Max Muncy
  • SS: Marcus Semien
  • 3B: Ryon Healy
  • LF: Khris Davis
  • CF: Jake Smolinski
  • RF: Danny Valencia
  • DH: Billy Butler


  • C: Bruce Maxwell
  • IF: Chad Pinder
  • OF: Brett Eibner
  • OF: Coco Crisp

LGFT Coco Crisp is in the twilight years of his career, serving as a backup in the A's outfield. In 416 plate appearances this season Crisp is slashing .235/.302/.405 for a wRC+ of 91.

Khris Davis has been the team's best hitter, even if he is not the most well-rounded bat in the world. The outfielder has a .299 on-base percentage (and a 4.3% walk rate), which is pretty awful. However, he also has 32 home runs and a .525 slugging percentage, putting his wRC+ at a team-leading 120.

This roster may change between now and first pitch, as Danny Valencia and Billy Butler reportedly got into an altercation yesterday, resulting in Butler being injured. As of this writing, it's still not clear if Butler will miss time due to his injury, or if Valencia will due to a suspension of some kind.

Starting pitchers

  • RHP: Kendall Graveman
  • LHP: Sean Manaea
  • RHP: Zach Neal
  • LHP: Ross Detwiler
  • RHP: Andrew Triggs


  • RHP: John Axford
  • LHP: Daniel Coulombe
  • RHP: Dyan Dull
  • RHP: Liam Hendriks
  • RHP: Liam Hendricks
  • RHP: Ryan Madson
  • LHP: Marc Rzepabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwyz
  • RHP: Chris Smith

The A's had a pretty great pitcher in Rich Hill before his injury and subsequent trade, and without him, their staff is pretty bad. Kendall Graveman is the "best" pitcher with a 1.2 fWAR. Sonny Gray is usually another bright spot for this rotation, but had an awful season before hitting the disabled list. It is believed that the 26-year-old will return sometime this season, but that will be well after this series is over.


  • So many it doesn't even properly fit on their depth chart.