Did anybody know the Oakland A’s were 46-43, and a half game out of the second wild card spot coming into Tuesday’s game against Texas? I sure didn’t. The A’s haven’t been relevant in baseball since the players in “Moneyball” were actually on the team.
With any Oakland A’s team in the 21st century, their current nucleolus revolves around starting pitching and youth. The movie failed to mention the real reason Oakland made the playoffs in 2002, which was Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito. Billy Beane has stayed true to his form and rebuilt that pitching staff with young arms that have given the A’s quality innings.
Oakland has three starters that are in their first full year in the Major Leagues. Tommy Malone leads the team with 9 wins, despite a 3.54 era and the 27th ranked offense for support. Malone came over from Washington in the trade for Gio Gonzalez. Jarrod Parker made four starts in the minors before being called up in April. The 23-year-old is 6-4 with a 3.16 era in 15 starts.
Brandon McCarthy was the ace of the staff until he went on the DL in late June. He was 6-3 with a 2.54 era before he was injured. In his place, the 24-year-old A.J. Griffin has one win in four starts, and supports a 2.63 era. Travis Blackley and Bartolo Colon have held the fort on the back-end of the rotation.
The A’s have been able to count on one player for anything close to consistent offense, and that’s Josh Reddick. He has 20 home runs on a team that gives him no protection in the lineup. But that could be changing. Chris Carter, no not that Chris Carter, Vernon Christopher Carter from Redwood City, California has five home runs in only nine games, since being called up June 29. Carter has shown tremendous power in his short stint with Oakland this year. If he gives the A’s production the rest of the year, Carter and Reddick could both have a huge second half of the season.
Centerfielder Yoenis Caspedes also could help the A’s offense. He’s hitting .283 and has 11 home runs in only 57 games this season. Caspedes is another young player that is growing up before us in Oakland this year.
This is also a team that has changed closers three times. Grant Balfour, Brian Fuentes and currently Ryan Cook have all seen time finishing games.
By the end of this week, we’ll know how good Oakland's starting pitching is, and if the A’s are a real playoff contender. They welcome the Rangers to the Oakland Coliseum for two games, before hosting the Yankees in a four-game set.