Most all of the attention regarding the A’s has to do with individuals who have the potential to bring some franchise-altering talent back to Oakland in due time, but there is actually still a team playing games on the field day-in and day-out, and the team has been pretty decent of late. Not “season is saved” decent, but winning more often than losing since the All Star Break decent. After a few minor moves made in between the team’s blockbuster deal of Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to Washington and today, the current mood surrounding the team has to be described as the calm before the storm.

Or no team will offer up a good enough package for the A’s very best and the team will get to enjoy Sonny Gray, and others, for at least half a season more. Until then, we wait.

  • Houston: 65-33
  • Anaheim: 49-51
  • Seattle: 49-51
  • Texas: 48-50
  • Oakland: 44-54

The A’s are only four games back of the entire non-Houston part of the division. Without Houston in the division, or at the very least without Houston’s extreme domination of the division, it isn’t that inconceivable that each team in the AL West could be above the .500 mark, save for the A’s, who would be pretty danged close to the break-even mark. However, it wasn’t all too long ago that it was Houston that bolstered, not hindered, the rest of the division, and team’s fortunes can shift dramatically from one season to the next. Or even from one half of the season to the second half.

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Few teams know the feeling of being good one moment and bad the next like the A’s, but one team that comes close is the Toronto Blue Jays, who just a year ago had the most knee-knockingly formidable lineup in all of baseball, and now shares the same record as the hapless A’s. A horrendous start and a slew of injuries are a big part of the reason why the Blue Jays haven’t been able to keep up their playoff-level of baseball play, and the team now stands in a bit of an awkward stage where the team has too much expensive and recently-good talent to not dream of making a playoff run, but not enough young and thriving talent to keep up with the Red Sox, Yankees, and Rays within the division.

With the exception of Justin Smoak, who, like Yonder Alonso, Logan Morrison, and many others who are having a late-career renaissance this season, the entire Toronto infield has taken a step back and underperformed this season. Troy Tulowitzki has played like a glove-first specialist at short stop with next to no pop, second base has remained a black hole of offensive production, as it has been for years, and Josh Donaldson has gone from one of the most feared bats in the game to OPS-ing under .800 with only nine home runs on the year.

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Who’s Hot/Not

On the pitching side of things for Toronto, Marcus Stroman has continued his growth into a Canadian Sonny Gray, beating his peripherals with ease as he has an ERA under 3.00 after twenty starts on the year. While his strikeouts haven’t been as high as most would want a staff ace to have, but his WHIP, 1.26, is the lowest of all but one other pitcher on the entire team, a reliever named Danny Barnes.

The rest of the starting pitching for the Blue Jays hasn’t been so hot. Aaron Sanchez has great potential, but is currently on his fourth DL stint and will miss this series with the A’s, due to a blister. Marco Estrada is walking more opposition than ever and has been struggling with the long ball, and Francisco Liriano has failed to make it out of the third inning in two consecutive starts prior to their four game showdown against Oakland.

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The Matchups

Monday, July 24th at 4:07 – Chris Smith vs Francisco Liriano

Tuesday, July 25th at 4:07 – Sonny Gray vs Cesar Valdez

Wednesday, July 26th at 4:07 – Paul Blackburn vs Marco Estrada

Thursday, July 27th at 9:37 AM – Sean Manaea vs TBD

Thursday morning’s game will not be televised by Oakland’s broadcast team. All other games are on NBCSCA and MLB.tv.

How the A’s Win the Series

The A’s always seem to have a couple of offensive outbursts when making the trek up to Toronto, no matter who seems to be on the team on any given year, and this year shouldn’t be any different. The A’s are facing the weakest stretch of a relatively weak starting pitching staff inside of a stadium that has a propensity for allowing home runs to be hit with relative ease, and so as long as the A’s power displays of late don’t stay behind in New York, the team should be poised to win the series with lots of fireworks to boot.

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