The Athletics Biggest Playoff Competition is….

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4.) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Aug 10, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout hits a solo home run against the Chicago Cubs in the 8th inning during the game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Angels have been nipping on the A’s heels for the past two months. There is still a chance that they catch the A’s for the divisional crown with ten games left to play between these two, but with the A’s holding a 6-3 record against the team down South already, I see them more as a Wild Card.

While the Angels have the second-best record in baseball, they just don’t match up well with the A’s. Sure, they have an explosive offense, and tons of former Athletics (current A kryptonite), but outside of Garrett Richards their starting staff isn’t terribly intimidating. If the Angels don’t grab the division, Richards is being used in the Wild Card game, which pushes back when the Athletics would have to face him.

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This would mean the A’s would face a rotation of (presumably) Jered Weaver, Matt Shoemaker and C.J. Wilson before getting the pleasure of facing mister Richards. Although, with the way that the wheels have come off the crazy train that is C.J. Wilson, Hector Santiago may get the nod as the fourth starter. Wilson hasn’t pitched more than 5-2/3 innings since his start on June 19th. Since then, Wilson’s starts have been a cavalcade of suck, giving up at least three runs in each outing. For those of you scoring at home, that’s six outings without a quality start under his belt.

The Angel bullpen has been much improved, but the loss of Joe Thatcher will hurt them moving forward, especially if their starting rotation starts putting more of a workload on the ‘pen.

Overall, the Angels aren’t a threat in a 5-game series with their best pitcher gone until game 4. Even if the A’s have to play the Wild Card game and use Lester, they have enough depth to compensate for the inconvenience.