Oakland Athletics look to break streak of ties against Chicago Cubs

The Oakland Athletics face off against the Chicago Cubs this afternoon

Oakland Athletics v Arizona Diamondbacks
Oakland Athletics v Arizona Diamondbacks / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

It's been over a week since the Oakland Athletics last won a spring training game. Their past three outings have resulted in ties, and their last victory came all the way back on Tuesday March 12th against the Mariners.

The Athletics came back to tie the White Sox on Sunday and the Diamondbacks on Monday, but gave up a four run lead yesterday afternoon thanks to a bevy of defensive errors and poor pitching.

They'll look to turn the ship around this afternoon as right hander Paul Blackburn is set to take the mound against Cubs righty Adbert Alzolay.

Blackburn has struggled a bit this spring. He's posted a 6.00 ERA with a 6.89 FIP in his two starts. He's given up 8 hits in 6 innings, though he does have a 5:1 strikeout to walk ratio.

Entering his age 30 season, Blackburn has yet to pitch a full slate of innings in his major league career. He came closest in 2022 and 2023, when he put up 21 and 20 starts, respectively. Throughout the past two years, he's averaged just over 5 innings per start. That figure is a bit lighter than you'd hope for but it's serviceable given today's pitcher usage.

In order for 2024 to be considered a success, Blackburn will need to make it through the year with limited time spent on the IL. If he can make 30+ starts, he has the potential to be an asset for the A's.

He took a step forward last year, putting up a 3.96 FIP while striking out more than a batter per inning. The A's need that guy in the rotation all year. He's not a free agent until after the 2025 season so he has time to try to build up some value pitching in Oakland and try to parlay that into a multi-year contract with what will likely be a different organization.

Shortstop Nick Allen is back in the starting lineup today after Darell Hernaiz struggled with two errors yesterday. Allen's best tool is his glove but he's been a much improved hitter this spring. A .273/.429/.636 slash line with nary a strikeout and a walk rate over 21% will go a long way toward Allen earning a spot on the Opening Day roster.

JD Davis returns to start at third base this afternoon. He's reached base in each of his first two spring appearances with the Athletics and will look to keep that streak going today. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 pm PST.