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Series Preview: Cleveland Indians at Oakland Athletics

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Back out west for some more late night baseball

Oakland Athletics v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Would you look at that, another series split. Obviously winning a four-game set against the White Sox would have been ideal, but splitting it was the most realistic outcome and that’s what the Tribe did. After getting demolished in game 1 and getting shut out in game 2, the Tribe took the next two before hopping on a plane out to Oakland. Now they’ll face off against the Oakland Athletics, who currently sit in last place in the AL West. How have they gotten there?

Team in a box

2019 Oakland Athletics

Record 17-22
Record 17-22
Runs Scored 176
Runs Allowed 183
Run Differential -7
Streak L1
AVG .239
OBP .316
SLG .398
OPS .714
wRC+ 95
K/9 7.90
BB/9 3.31

The A’s are middle of the pack in most categories. But that hasn’t helped them all that much in 2019 as they are 6.5 games behind the first place Houston Astros in the West. There are some exciting players in Oakland this season, but it’s going to take a lot for the A’s to make any sort of run at the playoffs (assuming they would need a wild card to get in).

Projected starters

MLB.com seems to have no idea who the starters will be and which games they will start. If we go off of their info, Frankie Montas is starting on Friday and Sunday.

Friday, May 10 9:37 p.m. ET: RHP Frankie Montas (v. Cody Anderson)

Frankie Montas has yet to spend a full year in the rotation for Oakland, but he’s looking to change that in 2019. And so far, he’s off to a terrific start. Across 39.1 innings, Montas has allowed 12 earned runs while walking 10 and striking out 35 (ERA+ 153). He has an incredible sinker (97 mph) that naturally gets a lot of swings and misses in addition to a hard slider (88 mph) that can get ground balls, an upper-90s fourseam (97 mph), and a ground ball-inducing splitter (86 mph). His most recent start came on May 5 against the Pittsburgh Pirates; in that game, Montas went 6.0 innings and allowed 1 run on 5 hits while walking no one and striking out 5.

Saturday, May 11 4:05 p.m. ET: RHP Aaron Brooks (v. Trevor Bauer)

Aaron Brooks was shipped off to Chicago from Oakland in 2016 and made his way back to Oakland last season. Before coming into this season, Brooks had pitched in a grand total of 2.2 innings at the major league level between 2016-2018. He spent all of 2016 and 2017 in the minor leagues, with his 2016 season being ultimately cut short due to a hip contusion. But now he’s healthy and he’s in the rotation for the Athletics. He’s off to a rocky start to 2019, however; in 31.1 innings, Brooks has allowed 20 earned runs while walking 10 and striking out 25 (ERA+ 73). He’s got a sinker (92 mph), a fourseam (93 mph) that can get flyballs, a slider (86 mph) and a curve (79 mph) that both have 12-6 movement, and a change (85 mph) that can generate flyballs. His most recent start came on April 30 against the Boston Red Sox; in that game, Brooks went 4.1 innings and allowed 5 runs (4 earned) on 6 hits while walking 3 and striking out 2.

Sunday, May 12 4:07 p.m. ET: RHP Daniel Mengden (v. Jefry Rodriguez)

Daniel Mengden hasn’t pitched yet for the A’s in 2019. He’s been with their Triple-A club, but FanGraphs seems to think he’ll be the man on Sunday. And since I doubt that Oakland manager Bob Melvin will pitch Frankie Montas twice in one series (as MLB.com suggests), I’m going with Mengden. He pitched well for Oakland in 2018, pitching a total of 115.2 innings and allowing 52 earned runs while walking 26 and striking out 72 (ERA+ 102). He’s got a fairly standard fourseam (93 mph) to pair with his slider (84 mph), sinker (93 mph), change (83 mph) and curve (73 mph).

Lineup highlights

  • 3B Matt Chapman: Chapman played in his first full season as a starter last year and he looked great. He added a lot of thump to the Oakland lineup and that hasn’t stopped in 2019. To start the season, across 165 plate appearances, Chapman is slashing .275/.364/.549 (wRC+ 145). The biggest change for Chapman this year is his strikeout rate; it’s way down. Last season, Chapman was striking out 23.7% of the time; this season, he’s reduced that drastically to 14.5%. With his walk rate staying about the same (10.9% v. 9.8% career), it’s no surprise to see him doing so well to start the year. He’s also second on his team in home runs with 9.
  • SS Marcus Semien: Marcus Semien has struggled his entire career to be even an average hitter (he has a career wRC+ of 97). But maybe he’s found something that works because he looks great so far in 2019. This season, across 174 plate appearances, Semien is slashing .289/.385/.423 (wRC+ 124). His walk rate is up significantly (13.8% v. 8.5% career), while his strikeout rate has plummeted (14.4% v. 21.5% career). Maybe that’s the secret is that Semien is just being more selective at the plate and not chasing as much as he normally would. So far, the results seem to indicate that whatever he’s doing is working.
  • DH Khris Davis: Khris Davis is known for one thing: hitting dingers. Well that and having a career batting average of .247. But it’s mostly the dingers. And he’s still hitting them this year with a team-leading 10 on the season. He’s been doing well overall with a slash line of .227/.306/.477 (wRC+ 108). He’s still striking out over 25% of the time, however, so he definitely has some weaknesses that can be exploited by opposing pitchers. But don’t make a mistake or he’ll send it into orbit.

Oakland Athletics roster

FanGraphs

Poll

How many games will the Indians win against the Athletics?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    3
    (13 votes)
  • 53%
    2
    (74 votes)
  • 29%
    1
    (41 votes)
  • 7%
    0
    (10 votes)
138 votes total Vote Now