Weekend Series Preview: Yankees-Athletics

GM Billy Beane’s odd collection of castoffs, no-name young pitchers, and platoon players has failed to coalesce in the early going, leading to a mediocre club overall. Despite winning their last two series against the Rays and Rangers, they are one of the few teams in the American League who look like just as big of a mess as the Yankees. Hopefully New York can take advantage and pick up a few Ws.

Pitching Matchups

Thursday 10:05 pm EST- Kendall Graveman vs. Ivan Nova

Graveman, a 25-year old sinkerballer who came over to the As in the Josh Donaldson trade, has gotten bombed in the early going in 2016. He’s allowed a whopping 10 long-balls in his first 37 innings, leaving him with an ugly 5.84 ERA through seven starts.

He does have an obscene 25.6% HR/FB ratio for what it’s worth, so if that normalizes he should be roughly where he was in 2015. Of course, that wasn’t very good either. Graveman’s 4.05 ERA looked solid last year, but he had the 15th worst DRA (5.71) among all starters who threw 100 innings last season.

Friday 9:35 pm EST- Sonny Gray vs. CC Sabathia

Just one season removed from making his first All Star Game and finishing third in the AL Cy Young voting, Oakland’s ace has suffered a mystifying collapse. His home run rate has more than doubled to 1.6 per nine, he leads the league with six wild pitches, and is walking batters at the highest rate of his career. A slight dip in velocity is an incomplete explanation at best.

Yes, it has only been eight starts and at 26, he is likely far from his decline years, but there’s been no signs of a turnaround as of yet. Sadly, facing this Yankee lineup may be exactly what he needs to get his confidence back.

Saturday 4:05 pm EST- Sean Manaea vs. Masahiro Tanaka

Manaea, a former Royals first rounder who came over to Oakland in last summer’s Ben Zobrist deal, had three rocky starts to begin his major league career, but showed promise in his latest against the Rangers. On Monday he held Texas to just one earned over 6 ⅔, allowing four hits and striking out three.

The big righty has thrown his 91-94 mph four seamer roughly 60% of the time this year. He also mixes in a slider and change that are considered by most scouts to be average or better MLB offerings. He cruised quickly through the minors, with just 12 starts above A-Ball on his resume. Time will tell whether he will require more seasoning.

Sunday 4:05 pm EST- Jesse Hahn vs. Michael Pineda
Hahn took over the recently demoted Eric Surkamp’s spot in the rotation Tuesday and is lined up for this start as well. Surkamp had a 6.55 ERA in five appearances as Oakland’s fifth starter, earning him a one-way trip to Triple-A Nashville Monday. Hahn himself had been optioned to the minors less than ten days earlier, but an injury to catcher Josh Phegly allowed the team to recall him before the usual limit expired.

The 26-year-old righty has struggled with his control since the spring. Hahn was a surprise omission from the Opening Day roster because of his issues, and was once again demoted after just two starts on April 30 and May 7. On the season he has seven walks and just six strikeouts in 18 ⅔ innings pitched. Although his run prevention has been in line with his career numbers, his 6.00 DRA and 5.60 FIP would seem to indicate that he is a disaster waiting to happen.


Oakland has had one of the better bullpens in baseball by DRA with a 3.78 mark that ranks fifth in MLB.

Role Name Age G IP ERA FIP HR/9 BB/9 K/9
CL Ryan Madson 35 19 18.2 1.93 3.59 0.5 3.4 6.8
SU Sean Dolittle 29 20 16.1 3.31 3.97 1.7 2.8 11
SU John Axford 33 15 17 3.18 3.87 1.1 1.6 5.8
MR Ryan Dull 26 18 20.2 3.48 4.03 1.7 1.7 10.5
MR Fernando Rodriguez 32 15 21.1 1.69 2.69 0.4 3.4 9.7
MR Marc Rzepczynski 30 19 13.1 4.05 4.01 0.7 4.7 7.4
LR Andrew Triggs 27 5 7 3.86 2.68 0 2.6 7.7


Neither Billy Burns (.225 TAv) nor Coco Crisp (.260 TAv) have the on base skills to be effective table-setters at this point, but are regularly penciled into the top two spots in Bob Melvin’s lineup. The 36-year-old Crisp is having a modest bounce-back after an injury plagued 2015 season.

Impending free agent rightfielder Josh Reddick (.301 TAv) has been the rock in the middle of Oakland’s order the past few years and remains a consistent source of left-handed power. Fellow sluggers Stephen Vogt (.243 TAv) and Khris Davis (.268 TAv) have not produced as expected, however, which is a major reason the Athletics rank 23rd in the majors with a .141 ISO through their first 38 contests. Versatile veteran Danny Valencia (.333 TAv), who was claimed off waivers from Toronto last August, has provided a spark in limited time.

Jed Lowrie (.248 TAv) and Marcus Semien (.284 TAv) were a competent, if unexciting, middle infield duo before the former went down with a right shin contusion. Of course, that’s always the risk of expecting Lowrie to play a regular role.

Billy Butler’s (.193 TAv) three year $30 million contract somehow looks infinitely worse than it was signed, despite being one of the most panned deals of the 2014-2015 offseason. With no power, on base skills, speed, or defensive value, he literally has nothing remaining to offer a baseball team. The trade that sent Drew Pomeranz to San Diego for first baseman Yonder Alonso (.217 TAv) is also starting to look like a major blunder for Billy Beane.


The Athletics currently have the most players on the disabled list of any major league club with eleven. Here are the highlights:

– Two A’s starters, Chris Bassitt and Felix Doubront, have undergone TJ surgery thus far. Another, Henderson Alvarez, has been recovering from a 2015 shoulder surgery. He was recently pulled from what was supposed to be his last rehab start and his status is uncertain. A fourth, Jarrod Parker, hasn’t pitched since 2013 because of three separate elbow surgeries.

– Reliever R.J. Alvarez is yet another elbow surgery casualty. He has been on the 60-day DL since March 25. Liam Hendricks rounds out the list of pitchers on the DL with a tricep strain expected to keep him out at least two weeks.

– Outfielder Sam Fuld and first baseman Mark Canha will miss the remainder of the season following shoulder and hip surgery respectively. Infielder Eric Sogard is expected to sit out the first two months with an injured knee. In addition, Jed Lowrie decided to take his annual DL trip on May 10, but hopes to return to the lineup by the end of the month. The most recent ailment is the inflammation in Josh Phegley’s right knee which landed him on the 15-day DL Monday.

Photo Credit: Evan Habeeb / USA TODAY Sports

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