Oakland A’s Series Preview: August 26-29

The Yankees are absolutely riding high as they hit their West Coast trip this week, heading out to Oakland on an 11-game winning streak, their longest since 1985.  They are 3 games ahead of Boston for the first wildcard spot, and are chasing Tampa for first place in the East, just four games back.  The Oakland A’s are also in the hunt, a mere 1.5 games behind Boston, so this upcoming three-game set is important to both teams trying to cement their status as postseason contenders.

Their Story So Far

The Athletics are coming into this series on a 4-game losing streak and are 2-8 in their last 10, but overall this season have been formidable.  They bounced back from a 1-7 start at the beginning of April with a 13 game win streak, and have capably rivaled the Astros for much of the season.  Their recent slump has them 4.5 games behind Houston in the West, but even the red-hot Yankees shouldn’t underestimate Bob Melvin’s squad.

The A’s have been unspectacular but above-average on both sides of the ball, with a 109 staff-wide ERA+ and a 103 OPS+.  Their lineup has been bolstered by Matt Olson, who’s having a fantastic year with 32 home runs and a 161 OPS+, and Starling Marte, who has slashed .353/.391/.490 since being traded from the Marlins last month.  The rest of their offensive, while not putting up eye-popping numbers, has been overall solid.

The starting rotation of Cole Irvin, Sean Manaea, Frankie Montas, and James Kaprelian are all pitching to sub-4 ERAs, and prior to his injury Chris Bassitt had a 3.22 ERA and 12 wins, tied for the league lead.  Closer Lou Trivino has 21 saves, despite blowing his last two opportunities, and Yusmeiro Petit, Jake Diekman, and the eternal Sergio Romo have capably held down middle relief.

The A’s are not really a powerhouse by any means this year, but despite their recent slump are fundamentally solid.  They have the third-fewest errors in the majors, and allow the third fewest runs per game in the AL.  The Yankees’ recent success has put them in a good position with regards to the playoffs, but the A’s are right there with them in the standings and should not be an easy matchup.

Injury Report

PLAYERPOSITIONINJURYINJURY STATUS
Cole IrvinSPHipOut until at least late August
Stephen PiscottyRFWristOut until at least early October
Mike FiersSPElbowOut until at least mid-September
Jeff CriswellSPUndisclosedOut until at least August 28
Chris BassittSPFaceOut until at least early October
Parker DunsheeRPCollarboneOut for the season
Trevor RosenthalRPHipOut for the season

Spotlight: Frankie Montas

Frankie Montas, a relatively unheralded 2012 international Red Sox signing out of the Dominican Republic, is having what appears to be a long-awaited breakout season after a career full of ups and downs.  After getting a big league cup of coffee with the White Sox in 2015, he struggled in his first season in Oakland in 2017, pitching to a 7.03 ERA over 32 innings.  In 2019, he looked poised to have a breakout year as a starting pitcher, beginning the season with a 9-2 record and a 2.70 ERA, but took an 80 games suspension for PED use for the rest of the season.  He was back in the A’s rotation in 2020, but struggled, averaging nearly 4 walks per 9 innings pitched and finishing the shortened season with a 5.60 ERA.

Montas has had something of a 2021 resurgence, currently holding a 3.84 ERA over 25 starts.  His strikeout numbers are excellent, at over 10 per 9 innings, and his walks have been cut back significantly, as his walks-per-9 rate has fallen to 2.6.  One of the major shifts in his game has been increasing reliance on his splitter and four seam fastball, which now account for a total of 60% of his pitches, and reduced use of his sinker and slider.  His fastball is pretty elite, averaging 96.4 mph and eliciting a 23.5% whiff rate; his splitter this year has induced a 53% whiff rate.  For a strikeout-heavy team like the Yankees, that’s definitely something to keep an eye on during Saturday’s game.

Montas’ best start this season was arguably last week against the Giants, holders of the best record in baseball, as he went 7 shutout innings and struck out 9.

Projected Lineup

Oakland A’s projected starting lineup via RosterResource.

  1. Mark Canha, RF (.235/.364/.394, 115 OPS+)
  2. Starling Marte, CF (.363/.400/.500, 153 OPS+ in 24 games with Oakland)
  3. Matt Olson, 1B (.278/.373/.560, 160 OPS+)
  4. Jed Lowrie, 2B (.254/.329/.405, 107 OPS+)
  5. Matt Chapman, 3B (.221/.317/.395, 100 OPS+)
  6. Mitch Moreland, DH (.230/.286/.420, 97 OPS+)
  7. Josh Harrison, LF (.255/.328/.364, 96 OPS+ in 16 games with Oakland)
  8. Sean Murphy, C (.224/.318/.420, 107 OPS+)
  9. Elvis Andrus, SS (.230/.277/.309, 66 OPS+)

Pitching Matchups

Thursday, 9:40pm

RHP Jameson Taillon

Jameson Taillon is coming off his two “worst” starts in a while, as in his last two appearances he has gone 5.0 and 5.1 innings respectively and surrendered three earned runs in each start.  Not bad for relative clunkers.  Overall, Taillon has been rock solid since June and currently sits 8-4 with a 3.94 ERA.

RHP James Kaprielian

Yankees draftee James Kaprielian is having a nice rookie year, going 7-4 with a 3.25 ERA over 16 starts.  He’s given up more than three earned runs in only two starts all season, and in his last outing he gave up one run over five innings in a win against the Giants.

Friday, 9:40pm

RHP Gerrit Cole

Gerrit Cole has been back to his best self since coming off the COVID IL earlier this month, throwing a combined 11.2 innings over two starts, surrendering only one run, and striking out 15.  He leads the league in WHIP, strikeouts, and wins.

LHP Sean Manaea

Sean Manaea, usually reliable, has hit a rough patch lately – the last time he completed 6 or more innings in a start was late July, and the only August start in which he completed 5 innings was also one in which he surrendered 7 earned runs.  Last week in San Francisco he surrendered 2 runs in 4.2 innings and struck out 3.

Saturday, 4:07pm

LHP Nestor Cortes Jr.

Nasty Nestor, after spending most of the beginning of the season as a reliever and an “extended opener” rarely throwing more than 4 innings, has now gone at least 5 in each of his last five starts, throwing a season-high 7 innings and 104 pitches last week in a win against Minnesota. In his last start, he struck out seven and surrendered only two runs.

RHP Frankie Montas

Frankie Montas’ last start against San Francisco was excellent, as he pitched 7 shutout innings with 9 strikeouts despite getting a no-decision and the team taking a loss.  Montas has a 10.1 K-per-9 rate this year and induces a lot of swings and misses, something to watch for with a high-strikeout Yankees team.

Sunday, 7:08pm

LHP Jordan Montgomery

Jordan Montgomery joined Cole on the COVID IL for the first half of August, but has been solid in two starts since his return.  His stuff in his last start against the Braves was not his best, as he walked four batters and struck out only two over five innings, but he limited damage to one run and picked up the win in a 5-1 Yankees victory.

RHP Paul Blackburn

Paul Blackburn has only started two games and thrown 11 innings this year, as he steps into the rotation to replace the injured Chris Bassitt. This is the fifth consecutive season in which Blackburn has made an appearance in the Majors, but in none of those seasons has he pitched in more than 10 games.

Bullpen Status

Player WednesdayTuesday Monday
Lou Trivino24
Jake Diekman
Sergio Romo18
Yusmeiro Petit5
Andrew Chafin22
A.J. Puk35
Deolis Guerra484
Burch Smith13

Both teams are coming off of off-days coming into this series.

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9 Comments

  1. Frankie Ho-Tep

    No mention about what a house of horrors Oakland is for the Yankees?

    They’re 7-17 at Oakland since the 2013 season, and they only have that win total thanks to an uncharacteristic four-game sweep in 2016. The Yankees simply don’t win there.

    The winning streak has to end sometime, and it most certainly will in Oakland. I’d sign up for a split right this second and not think twice about it.

  2. Alemadgt

    Who do you think should play shortstop they rest of the season?

    • Anthony Rizzeddardo

      It’s got to got to got to be Velazquez, Alemadgt. He’s a 5 tool player and we’ve only won 11 in a row with him as our SS so he has to be doing something right. Gleyber is not a major league SS and having him on the field is a liability defensively and he doesn’t add enough pop to the lineup to make it worth playing him. Cash should look to trade Gleyber for an arm this offseason or move him to 2nd and trade DJ. And maybe Nevin could get a bag of balls and start hitting them at Voit in the middle infield. He couldn’t be any worse than Gleyber.

      • Alemadgt

        I also think that Velasquez should be, Eddard.

      • Frankie Ho-Tep

        I usually don’t engage with Eddard, for so many reasons, but I can’t help this one. Only in “Eddard’s World” is Velazquez, a 27 year old journeyman, a “5 tool player” lmao!!

        Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, Velazquez has been passed around by five organizations in nine professional seasons, owns a CAREER MINOR LEAGUE batting line of .271/.336/.403, and has never even sniffed a top 100 list.

        That’s next-level lunacy, even from someone as uhhh…special… as Eddard. Must be nice to live in “Eddard’s World” where down is up, the sky is green and the grass is blue.

        Not trying to knock Velazquez, I love the kid. Just doing my part to stop the spread of misinformation 🙂

        • DZB

          I agree 100%. Velazquez is a great story and seems like a lovely home grown guy, but sadly he is not a great player and will be a roster casualty eventually. I hope he continues to have a nice run, but he’ll eventually end up back in the minors or in another organization, or both.

        • Disco

          You’re missing the point….it’s called hyperbole & it’s quite entertaining if you allow it to be.

  3. Anthony Rizzeddardo

    Must split, Ana. A’s are 5 back so we don’t need to win the series for the WC. For the division it is probably required to take 3/4 given the Rays are playing the hapless Orioles who acted like they won the World Series last night. We do have our 4 best starters pitching in the series but have historically not had success in Oakland. I’d like to see us push the winning streak up to 20+ games but eventually we have to lose a ballgame. And do we want to lose to the A’s to hurt the Sox? Either way it’s a win win.

    • sevrox

      Hey Eddard! Good to ‘see’ you again. Always enjoy your banter and off-the-cuff baseball knowledge.

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