Series Preview: Oakland Athletics (64-49, T-1st AL West) vs Toronto Blue Jays (53-61, 5th AL East)


Jul 11, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Toronto Blue Jays catcher Josh Thole (30) watches as Cleveland Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera (not pictured) rounds the bases on a solo home run in the first inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Well I think we can deal with 5-5. Aside from a wtf at Los Angeles we did a pretty good job on the road. Taking games from Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma was a coup. The offence was pretty decent overall with shout outs to Brett Lawrie and the ever improving Colby Rasmus. Our issues seemed to stem from the bullpen. They have been pretty average the last little while. Does it have to do with the added workload over the first 100 games? Absolutely it does. Due to the strain we are constantly dipping into the minor league pool and waiver claim rejects trying to keep the important arms fresh. Loup is slowly losing it, Delabar is on the mend and Oliver is seemingly pitching to his age now. We need some serious innings out of our starters and the road trip provided a bit of a glance of how that could be.

The Athletics prove time and again to be able to spot the best pitching available in a given deal. Even when they trade their own star pitchers seemingly in their prime they always have another down the line. Playing in the mausoleum that is the Coliseum (the wha? hahahahaha) is great for a pitcher and their pitching was doing great. They are still near the top of the league in team ERA but lately it seems they are falling off the rails a little bit with the team ERA up a full run from pre to post all-star break (3.62-4.65). Their 8-10 record post all star has them now tied with the Rangers and possibly fading down the stretch. Both teams have comparable pitching but the hitting is the difference. Oakland is near the bottom of the league in hitting whereas the Rangers, while not at the top, are up .20 points in team BA compared to the A’s. Seems like a team ripe for the picking.

Probable Starters

Game 1: Jarrod Parker (7-6, 4.02 ERA) vs Esmil Rogers (3-6, 4.61 ERA)
Game 2: A.J. Griffin (10-8, 3.91 ERA) vs Mark Buehrle (7-7, 4.41 ERA)
Game 3: TBA vs R.A. Dickey (9-11, 4.49 ERA)
Game 4: TBA vs Josh Johnson (2-8, 6.20 ERA)

Parker has done a fine job settling into the Oakland rotation. His 3.09 ERA in his past ten starts has him being arguably the best starter they have currently. If our hitters stay patient they may be able to crack Parker. He has a penchant for giving up the walk (7 in 5 innings 2 starts ago) but seems to battle his way out of it. He has gone 6 or more innings in all but one of his last ten starts and he gives up about a hit an inning. We may have chances against him but will we be able to capitalize?

Rogers had another rough outing last we saw him. He has given up 10 hits in each of his last three starts. he is trending downward rather quickly. I think his arm just wasn’t ready for a full season of starting. With Drew Hutchison moving up to AAA we may see Rogers replaced sooner rather than later (or perhaps Todd Redmond). Either way if he doesn’t get replaced by Hutch and he continues to struggle, there is the other Tommy John poster boy Kyle Drabek waiting for a shot in September.

Griffin seems to have hit a bit of a lull. He has been rather ordinary. Other than a WHIP of 1.10 no other stat seems to stand out as really good or bad. Sounds like an inning eating number 4 starter to me. He has the capabilities of more but one has to wonder if he may be getting a taste of the sophmore slump. He can be good but seems ripe for the picking.

The way Mark Buehrle has turned his season around means this may be the one lock game in the series. He had a bit of a hiccup in Los Angeles but aside from a bad pitch to Mark Trumob for a three run homer he was ok. As we have learned over the course of this season Buehrle can sometimes give up an inopportune homer that spoils an otherwise solid game. Expect 7 innings of 3 run ball here…and a win for the Blue side.

With all the injuries and ineffectiveness in the Oakland starting 5 right now it would appear that they cannot even look two games ahead to know who they are going to close the last two games of the series with. With the apparent pick up of Alex Rios, the Rangers just got stronger and if the pitching holds up they may take the West fully after this series is complete.

R.A. Dickey and Josh Johnson both had strong starts on the road trip. Dickey has pitched very well his last two games actually. So we will wait, again, to see if these two former stud pitchers can fiiiiiinally get on track and give us some hope for next season. I enjoy flashes of brilliance but I am primed for the role of spoiler this September. If we can’t make the playoffs at least we can have a say in who will.

Probable Starting Lineups

Oakland Athletics

1. CF: Coco Crisp
2. RF: Seth Smith
3. SS: Jed Lowrie
4. LF: Yoenis Cespedes
5. 1B: Brandon Moss
6. 3B: Josh Donaldson
7. 2B: Alberto Callaspo
8. DH: Josh Reddick
9. C: Derek Norris

Toronto Blue Jays

1. SS: Jose Reyes
2. LF: Emilio Bonifacio
3. RF: Jose Bautista
4. 1B: Edwin Encarnacion
5. DH: Adam Lind
6. CF: Colby Rasmus
7. 3B: Brett Lawrie
8. 2B: Maicer Izturis
9. C: Josh Thole

Final Word

It is audition time in Blue Jays land. With J.P. Arencibia day to day with knee problems it would appear the Josh Thole has a chance to really show what he can do. Offensively he was killing it in AAA and has had some success in the majors as well. If he can string together some quality games perhaps it will give the powers that be more reason to possibly deal off Arencibia in the off-season. The starters are the other area that may see some big changes for the rest of the season as we give Hutchison and Drabek the chance the do deserve. No one has stepped up to claim their spot in the rotation really, aside from Beuhrle and Dickey (the former for being a steady hand and the latter because of contract that outweighs the poor performances). Perhaps we may see sleeper pick Kevin Pillar get his chance to show off. Just enjoy the game for what it is. Invest nothing except a keen interest towards next year.