Oakland A’s face tough task in shutting down Shohei Ohtani
Bassitt, Manaea, Montas, Irvin
Exciting rookie James Kaprielian continues to prove that he deserves a spot in this Oakland A’s rotation. This series, however, will feature the four starters that have been consistently making starts all year long. Chris Bassitt has been the most reliable arm of the four, and he is coming off his best start of the year against the Troutless Angels.
The improbable rise of Cole Irvin has slowed down a bit in his past few starts, but he is still sticking to the core tenets of his game: Don’t walk anybody, Don’t give up the long ball, Let the defense do its thing. Ideally, you’d like to see him miss more bats, but I’m still optimistic about his next start.
With Montas and Manaea, it has been feast or famine. In many ways, Manea is pitching some of the best games in his career. He is striking out batters at the highest rate of his career, and he frequently sees the 6th and 7th inning. Even with all of his success this year, Manaea hasn’t been able to avoid the occasional ugly game, the ugliest being his two-inning, ten-run outing in Boston. One thing that I’ve liked seeing from Manaea’s past few outings is his ability to prevent runs without having his sharpest stuff. If Manea can avoid lopsided innings, particularly early in the game, good things should happen.
Montas is one of the most confusing pitchers I’ve seen pitch for the Oakland A’s. He throws an easy 97 MPH fastball, a lethal slider, and yet he hasn’t been able to recapture the magic he had in the 2019 season. Sometimes Montas looks like he could be the best pitcher in the A’s rotation. Sometimes it feels like he should move to the bullpen where his high octane pitching style might play a bit better. Sometimes he looks like a pitcher who can’t find the zone and maybe shouldn’t be pitching for a competitive team.
Even though it’s easy to conjure up memories of the hard-throwing right-hander’s high pitch counts and wild pitches, Montas has been showing a lot of promise this season. He’s kept his walks somewhat in check and notched a career-high 11 strikeouts against the Mariners. Montas took the loss in that Mariners game, but there were exciting things to build off of in future starts.