The Oakland A’s are heading to the postseason. Now they need to determine who will get the ball for Game One of the playoffs.
The Oakland A’s are in an enviable position. They have clinched a playoff berth, and have the American League West essentially locked up. The next few games can be used to set up their rotation for the playoffs, and to get some at bats for struggling players. Maybe, in the next few games, Khris Davis and Chad Pinder can get back on track.
While the A’s can, in theory, set up their rotation for the playoffs, they have a big question mark ahead of them. The A’s rotation has been good enough for the regular season, but it is difficult to see who should get the ball for Game One of the postseason.
If this is based on regular season statistics this year, the answer is easy. Chris Bassitt has been the A’s best starter, posting a 2.57 ERA and a 1.214 WHiP over his 56 innings, issuing 17 walks with 49 strikeouts. However, Bassitt, as solid as he has been this season, is not exactly overpowering, and would be a major risk in the first game.
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Jesus Luzardo has been the second best starter this year statistically. He has posted a 3.86 ERA and a 1.232 WHiP in his 56 innings, striking out 59 batters with just 14 walks. While he has the most upside of any pitcher in the rotation, he is also a rookie and has bouts of inconsistency. He may not be the best option either.
Instead, the ball may end up going to Sean Manaea. His overall numbers may not be impressive, but that is due to a disastrous four game stint to open the year. In his following 33 innings, he has allowed just 12 runs, nine earned, on 27 hits and three walks while striking out 28 batters. That is the type of production the A’s would want from their frontline starter.
Getting the ball for Game One would also be a chance at redemption. Manaea had started the Wild Card Game last season, but struggled against the Rays. He allowed four runs on four hits, including three homers in his two innings despite striking out five. Maybe, with a potentially weaker opponent, Manaea can get that first playoff victory.
The Oakland A’s need to determine their starting rotation for the postseason. Sean Manaea may be the best option for Game One.