The first month and a half of the season haven’t been ideal for the Oakland Athletics; this is obvious. There’s been inconsistencies on offense as well as some disastrous starting and bullpen efforts. There are some tough waves ahead as the A’s try to right the ship, so the question is: Who can help ease the pains of the first month?
With the return of Coco Crisp, the expectation is his veteran leadership will be able to bring some cohesion to the A’s lineup, but so far in his first couple games, Covelli hasn’t been able to find a rhythm at the plate. He’s 0 for 9 and has only reached base once in the three games he’s played since returning from his elbow injury.
The A’s have the third most runs in the league, but in their last four games they’ve averaged just 2.5 runs per-game. Ben Zobrist should also be returning in the near future after injuring his leg and he could be a boost to the lineup.
The hitting has been an off and on battle, but that’s the lesser of the two evils the team is facing.
Their pitching struggles haven’t taken the turn for the better that fans hoped would happen. Instead, the A’s have given up more than six runs per-game in their last five games (four of those losses). It hasn’t been all the bullpen’s fault, while they have received the majority of the blame, but rather the fault of the starters and pen.
Sonny Gray has been as dominant as he possibly can be, with a 1.65 ERA in seven starts to go with a 1.00 WHIP. Jesse Chavez has also held his own, making the jump (once again) from the bullpen to the rotation and has had three strong starts. He has a 1.80 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP as well.
And while Scott Kazmir has also pitched well, his last outing was a tough one for him as he allowed six runs in six innings, it was his first loss of the season. That’s pretty much where the A’s rotation loses steam. Newcomer Jesse Hahn hasn’t had much luck, posting a 1.15 WHIP but a 4.33 ERA and Drew Pomeranz has struggled himself with a 1-3 record allowing a 5.12 ERA.
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With the struggles of Pomeranz and Hahn, as well as Kendall Gravemen who was sent to AAA Nashville after four starts, the bullpen has been relied upon more frequently than fans would like to see.
The return of Sean Doolittle could bring some solidarity to the back end of the rotation, leaving Tyler Clippard to pitch in the eighth and then situational pitchers in the seventh most likely. Fernando Rodriguez has been a boost for the pen in the last two games, pitching 3.2 innings of one-hit ball. He could potentially be a breakout player this season.
It’s still early in the year and the A’s haven’t been at full health this season yet, so there could be a drastic change in play by June or July if the injury bug can stop hampering A’s players. All it takes is a winning streak to get the team on track, but sadly the A’s have only been able to muster up back-to-back wins once this season. That has to change.