The Oakland Athletics have done it. Meaningful baseball is being played at Rickey Henderson Field in September.
By now, we all know the story. The Oakland Athletics crashed the party. They weren’t supposed to be here. In a season where fans expected to watch their team languish in the basement of the AL West, they’ve been given the improbable gift of a playoff run.
Now it’s time to make it count. The A’s have scaled a mountain of doubts over the summer months and now find themselves eyeing a postseason appearance for the first time since a Wild Card matchup against the Kansas City Royals in 2014.
What was once the season of dreams has morphed into the season of probabilities. Currently, the Athletics have an 83.2% chance of securing a Wild Card spot and an 88.4% chance of making the playoffs. With a postseason berth a near certainty, it’s time for the A’s to focus on positioning.
WARNING: Words and phrases like critical, drama, high stakes, and must-win are to follow. Additionally, each game from here to the finish line will be placed under a microscope as the aspirations of every A’s fan hinges on the remaining twenty-five games.
Now, I recognize the following take may be an exercise in futility should the A’s overcome the Astros for the AL West crown, but this is what fans do. We play out each postseason scenario in our minds in an effort to better steer our team down the stretch, as if somehow, our strongest desires translate into control.
So please, indulge this crazed fan who lies awake at night contemplating the outcomes this season may bring. Let’s get dramatic, together.
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The most critical series left in the regular season is upon us as the New York Yankees arrive in Oakland for a three game stretch. Eat it up A’s fans. This is what we’ve been waiting for. The marathon of the regular season has turned into a sprint for the finish line.
This matchup is a preview of what awaits our team once the calendar turns to October and we are greeted with a single elimination Wild Card game. The only difference is, unless we surpass the Yankees regular season record, we’ll be playing in Yankee Stadium.
The Athletics currently sit four and a half games behind the Yankees for the top Wild Card position. It’s a sizable deficit and one that would normally seem insurmountable if not for the three game series starting this afternoon.
If we want the opportunity to play the Wild Card game in Oakland, we don’t just need a series win, but a series sweep. A three-game sweep would bring the A’s to within one and a half games of the Yankees record and gives us an outside shot at facing Luis Severino on our field, in front of our fans for the right to move on to the American League Divisional Series.
How important is it that the Oakland Athletics face Severino outside of Yankee Stadium? Severino is a true staff ace but his home/road splits give us some cause for optimism should the game be played at the Coliseum.
Severino-home 2018: 9-2 W/L, 2.86 ERA, .217 BAA
Severino-away 2018: 8-4 W/L, 3.77 ERA, .256 BAA
Additionally, Sevy has been struggling after the All-Star break.
Severino-before A/S: 14-2 W/L, 2.31 ERA, .209 BAA
Severino- after A/S: 3-4 W/L, 6.33 ERA, .309 BAA
Severino has looked better of late but it has come against the likes of Toronto, Baltimore, and Detroit (last three starts), hardly a true measure of how Severino is throwing the ball considering those three offenses are ranked in the bottom half of the league.
Simply put, if we have to take on the Yankees and Luis Severino, the top Wild Card position is a must. Severino has put together some very shaky performances after the break and I’d rather not face him in Yankee Stadium where he clearly has a comfort level.
Severino has demonstrated he can be hit of late. If any self-doubt has crept in for him over the last month, I’d prefer he not have the fans of New York behind him to rely on for confidence.
25 to go
It’s difficult not to look ahead to Wednesday evening. Mike Fiers will battle Luis Severino in what very well could be the pitching matchup for the Wild Card game.
If the Oakland Athletics can hit Severino hard and often, it will be the first thing on Severino’s mind when he takes the mound against the green and gold on October 3rd.
The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Let’s lay the groundwork for postseason success starting Wednesday night by giving Severino something to remember us by.