For the entire first half of the 2011 season, the Oakland Athletics battled through various injuries and a lack of offensive production. The one thing going for the green-and-gold was their pitching, namely their starting rotation.
The A’s, prior to the All-Star break, led the American League in ERA (3.13). Led by youngsters Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill, the Athletics rotation was a bright spot in rather dark and depressing first half of the season. Gonzalez, 25, was even named to his first All-Star appearance this season, furthering the notion that all the A’s had going for them this season was their young pitching.
Oakland’s offense was nonexistent during the first-half, putting together a team .233/.299/.337 line while ranking 28th in baseball in home runs (50). The offense had a difficult time supporting the starting pitching during the first half, and the lack of offensive production early in the season is one reason why the team sits out of contention.
But if you were to take a look at the second-half numbers for the A’s, you’ll see a very different story. In fact, the A’s have reinvented themselves in a way. The strong starting pitching is now nowhere to be found, while the formerly nonexistent offense has suddenly found its identity.
Entering Sunday, the Athletics pitching ranks 7th overall in baseball in ERA (3.42) and 9th in quality starts (62). But by taking a closer look at the numbers post the All-Star break, one would see that the A’s pitching staff has struggled mightily in the second-half. Since the break, the A’s rank 28th in ERA (5.37) and opponents are hitting .270 off Oakland pitchers.
Meanwhile, the offense is quietly putting together a very strong start to the second-half. So far, they’ve managed to put together a team .312/.384/.478 line, and have scored 85 runs in the second half.
This recent change has been a very frustrating one to say the least, as the A’s find themselves 12.5 games out of first place behind the division leading Rangers. Seeing that first-half dominance that the pitching staff had over opposing offenses just vanish at a time when the offense is firing on all cylinders makes you scratch your head. It’s frustrating. Just like this season.
Where’d the starting pitching go? Heck, where did the season go?