Oakland A’s: Postponed season a missed opportunity
By David Hill
The Houston Astros could be healthy when the 2020 season begins. If so, it could be a missed opportunity for the Oakland A’s.
Whether or not we want to admit it, the Houston Astros remain the Oakland A’s biggest obstacle to winning the American League West in 2020. They may be down, having lost Gerrit Cole to the Yankees and having AstroGate lead to the suspension and firing of the manager and general manager, but they are not out.
Had the season begun on time, the Astros may have been in serious trouble. While the lineup remained intact, staff ace Justin Verlander was expected to miss at least the first month recovering from groin surgery. With rehab outings and getting him back to form, Verlander may not have been back until sometime around the middle of May.
Until that point, the rotation would have been Zack Greinke and a cast of unknowns. The bullpen, which had been a strength, has also taken several hits. Roberto Osuna remains a solid closer, and Ryan Pressly has been excellent, but the rest of the bullpen is loaded with question marks. The Astros, much like the Ukraine in Risk, were weak.
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But now, with an uncertain Opening Day, the Astros are getting stronger. Verlander is throwing once again, his first baseball related activity since the surgery. Chances are, he will be fully ready once the season gets underway. While the rotation will still have question marks, having their two aces back will be a boost for Houston.
At the same time, it puts a damper on the A’s quest to dethrone the Astros. A hot start, coupled with Houston’s questionable rotation, could have given Oakland an insurmountable lead come the middle of May. Add in the improvements around the division, and the Astros quest to return to the postseason would have been that much more difficult.
Instead, this could become another “what could have been” moment. The A’s had the break they needed, only to have it taken away by one of the most unforeseen situations in Major League Baseball history. This should still be an excellent year in Oakland, with one of the more exciting pitching prospects in recent memory being unleashed, but nothing is a given. The A’s could use every advantage that had been given to them.
One such advantage was the Houston Astros injury woes. Instead, the paused season has left the Oakland A’s with a missed opportunity.