The Oakland Athletics are a real-life fantasy baseball team: built with low-cost, bang-for-your-buck players that can catch fire at a moment’s notice. Here I will take a look at some A’s players primed for a big week ahead.
Pitcher: Liam Hendriks
Lou Trivino is in a rut, Joakim Soria is vastly underplaying his $15 million contract and Blake Treinen just went to the IL with a shoulder strain.
With a dumpster-fire bullpen, Liam Hendriks is poised to break out as the new A’s closer.
The 30-year-old is having by far his best MLB season: Hendriks is 3-0 with a 1.49 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 42.1 innings pitched this season and recorded his first save on Saturday afternoon.
He will be called upon to anchor the bullpen for the time being and will be a key piece for the Green and Gold moving forward. We know from last year’s AL Wild Card Game that Bob Melvin has immense faith in Hendriks (who opened the contest), even though he allowed a two-run home run to Aaron Judge to put Oakland in an early 2-0 hole.
He will have a tough assignment, facing off against the Angels (top-12 in the league in batting average, runs and home runs) in a four-game set in Anaheim starting on Thursday, June 27.
Hitter: Ramon Laureano
Matt Chapman is the best player on the A’s, one of the three best third basemen in baseball and has exploded offensively in the past few weeks.
But the word is out on Chappy; he is a hot commodity.
A more under-the-radar option is Ramon Laureano, the big-armed baserunning equalizer roaming center. Laureano is in the midst of a hot streak of his own: in his last 30 games, Laureano is hitting .305 with seven home runs, 22 RBIs,16 runs and six stolen bases.
Much like Chapman, Ramon is known for his defensive prowess but is beginning to find his groove in the batter’s box and on the base paths, a rare combination of talents that are coming together at the right time. This is no aberration; this is a sign of the future for the 24-year-old outfielder.