Oakland Athletics Fantasy: Should You Add LHP Sean Manaea?

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Nov 7, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics pitcher Sean Manaea during the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars game at Salt River Fields. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 7, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics pitcher Sean Manaea during the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars game at Salt River Fields. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Sean Manaea opens the Oakland Athletics’ homestand tonight. Should you pick him up in your fantasy league?

Welcome to the end of April. The fantasy season is now in full swing. The Oakland Athletics have 11 wins as of April 28, the same number of wins as their rival Los Angeles Angels and the Seattle Mariners. Fantasy teams have been drafted, and everyone is hoping they have one or two sleeper picks not named Trevor Story to break through their league.

(Seriously, how many of us fans dropped the ball on him, thinking he would just be good for one week? He’s hit a major-league rookie record for home runs in April! Still, fans ought to be wary of his immensely-high strikeout rate.) Nevertheless, since this article and this blog are both about the Oakland A’s, let’s take a look into what Sean Manaea can offer your fantasy team.

Sean Manaea is well-known as the number-one pitching prospect in the A’s system. He is to be called up tonight against the Houston Astros.

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Katrina Putnam laid out the benefits for Oakland to use Manaea in a post earlier this week: Manaea has an ERA of 1.50 with Triple-A Nashville, as well as two wins and a strikeout rate of 28.8 percent. The big left-hander has had 257 total strikeouts in 42 starts over his minor league career. He has had some injuries even as recently as this year, but if he is healthy he can truly overwhelm batters, as he has maintained a K/9 rate of over 10 throughout his career.

Here’s the problem:

Tonight, he will face the Houston Astros. The Astros have hit .279/.364/.459 collectively against left-handed pitching this year. This seems a cause for concern. Especially troublesome is when they stack right-handed thumping batters like George Springer, Jose Altuve, and Carlos Correa against lefties. In total, right-handed batters on the Astros hit .323/.390/.538 against lefties.

But let me remind you why the Astros are 7-15 and in dead last place in the AL West. For one, though they play well against lefties in general, they do tend to face left-handed starters with less success, hitting only .230/.313/.451 against them. In addition, they have a .201 average with runners in scoring position. Their strikeout-to-walk ratio is 2.91, ranked 23rd in the majors. In fact, they strikeout at a higher percentage than anyone in the majors: 27.1 percent. With a guy like Sean Manaea and his high strikeout rate, he may be able to manufacture many K’s vs. the Astros.

Should Manaea be kept after the Astros game?

Given that Bob Melvin said Manaea should be with the A’s to “stay here for a while,” he is certainly worth a look in fantasy leagues. He would next face the Mariners, then he would likely skip the series against the Orioles before pitching against the Red Sox. Then, depending on days off, he might face the Rangers and the Yankees. These teams in general stink against lefties; most of these teams hit under .235 against them. The only team of these that can even hold their own against lefties is the Rangers, who are batting .266/.309/.404 against southpaws.

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With Manaea, if he offers a strong performance and a quality start against the Astros tonight, he would be worth a spot in your rotation going forward, especially if you have a dynasty league.

Otherwise, feel free to drop him after tonight and pick him up when he plays the Mariners and then the Red Sox.

What do you think: should you pick up Sean Manaea now and keep him? Or, should fans wait until he plays in May? Write your comments below.

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