Oakland Athletics Can Play Spoiler Against Division Rivals In September

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No team likes to hear the phrase “playing spoiler” in September, but with the playoffs extremely out of reach for the Oakland Athletics, that’s what role they’ll have throughout the final five weeks of the season.

Beginning with the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday, 24 of the A’s 31 remaining games will be against their AL West foes. While the Astros are currently in first place, the Texas Rangers are only three games back, and the Angels are only six and a half back. Both teams are at the forefront of the American League Wild Card race, as well.

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It’s never fun to be out of the playoffs, but if the Athletics can’t make it to the playoffs, they can at least do their best to keep their division rivals from having a shot at a World Series win. The Angels head to Oakland on Monday after being swept by the Cleveland Indians, and they’ve lost eight of their last 10 games. Meanwhile, the A’s return to the Bay Area with a 5-5 record over their last 10 games, including finishing up the roadtrip with a pair of wins against the Diamondbacks.

September call-ups will happen Tuesday, and the players the A’s bring up could help the team to excel at playing spoiler for the final five weeks of the season. Oakland will also have a chance to block the Giants, who are four games back in the NL West and five games back in the Wild Card contest.

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While there’s no substitute for playing on a contending team, having a purpose will get the team – and the fans – through the rest of the season. It would be nice to end on a positive note, rather than a lengthy losing streak. Plus, the minor leaguers who join the team on September 1st will have the chance to show just what they can do on the major league level.

The break will also give Sonny Gray and Billy Burns a chance to pad their stats as they make their final bids for the AL Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards, respectively. Gray, who has a 12-6 record despite a league-leading 2.13 ERA, hasn’t been able to pick up many wins recently. A strong finish could help him lock down the votes he needs. Similarly, although Burns is batting .296 with 28 stolen bases, his ROY case would be much better if he could show how much he’s capable of helping the team in the final month.

Major League Baseball set up the schedule this way to add the maximum amount of drama to the final month of the season, and it will certainly be dramatic for the other teams who are still in the race. Here in Oakland, the team will have to settle for trying to stop their opponents, while getting a good look at the A’s rookies who will soon join the team.

Next: A's Should Sign Pitcher Justin Masterson

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