7/19-7/22 Series Preview: Oakland Athletics

Freddy Garcia, David Phelps, and the 5th Starter
Scouting The Trade Market: Nate Schierholtz
The Oakland Oaks? (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

It all started with the trip out to Oakland. The Yankees were in fourth place with a 23-21 record when they arrived at the Coliseum in late-May, but they swept that series and have since won 34 of 47 games to vault into first place in the division. This weekend they’ll be in the East Bay for a four-game set.

What Have They Done Lately?

The A’s are on fire. They walked off with a win over the Rangers yesterday and have won four of five since the All-Star break. If you back to the first of the month, they’ve won ten of their last 12. At 47-44 with a +13 run differential, Oakland is in third place in the AL West and is right in the mix for one of the two Wild Card spots.


(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)

Although they average just 3.8 runs per game, the A’s have scored 51 runs during this 12-game hot streak (4.3 per game). Their best hitter all season has been Josh Reddick (140 wRC+), who leads the club in every meaningful offensive statistic. Big money signing Yoenis Cespedes was out with a hand injury the last time these two clubs met, but he’s healthy now and brings 134 wRC+ to the cleanup spot. It’s been a while since they’ve had a middle of the order that powerful; you probably have to go back to the Milton Bradley/Frank Thomas/Nick Swisher trio in 2006.

Recent call-ups Brandon Moss (159 wRC+ in 104 PA) and Chris Carter (243 wRC+ in 36 PA) have hit the snot out of the ball lately, adding some depth to the lineup. Seth Smith (128 wRC+ vs. RHP) and Jonny Gomes (146 wRC+ vs. LHP) form a mean DH platoon while Coco Crisp (80 wRC+) is flanked by Reddick and Cespedes in the outfield. Infielders Jemile Weeks (75 wRC+), Brandon Inge (68 wRC+), and Cliff Pennington (53 wRC+) haven’t done much of anything, ditto backstops Kurt Suzuki (40 wRC+) and Derek Norris (56 wRC+). Spare infielder Brandon Hicks (49 wRC+ in limited time) hit the walk-off dinger yesterday.

Pitching Matchups

Thursday: RHP Freddy Garcia vs. RHP A.J. Griffin
A former college reliever turned starter, Griffin will be making his fifth career big league start tonight. He’s pitched to a shiny 2.63 ERA (4.65 FIP) in his first four starts (24 IP) with less than stellar rate stats: 6.00 K/9 (17.2 K%), 2.25 BB/9 (16.5 BB%), 1.50 HR/9, and 39.4% grounders. My expert analysis says his .194 BABIP will correct at some point. The 24-year-old sits right around 90 with his four-seamer fastball, but his upper-60s (!) curveball is his bread-and-butter. Here, check it out. Griffin also throws low-80s sliders and changeups.

(Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Friday: RHP Ivan Nova vs. LHP Tommy Milone
The Yankees didn’t do anything to debunk the whole “can’t hit soft-tossing lefties they’ve never seen before” narrative by scoring just two runs off Milone in 6.2 innings back in April. Part of the Gio Gonzalez trade, Milone owns a 3.54 ERA (4.29 FIP) in 18 starts this season, relying on control (2.05 BB/9 and 5.5 BB%) more than anything else. He doesn’t strike guys out (5.98 K/9 and 16.2 K%), doesn’t limit homers (1.26 HR/9), and doesn’t get ground balls (39.4%). A mid-to-upper-80s fastball sets up a wide array of offspeed pitches, including a changeup right around 80, a mid-70s curve, and a mid-80s cutter. The changeup is his top secondary pitch and he has a reverse split because of it, so stacking the lineup with righties only helps him out.

Saturday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Jarrod Parker
Everyone’s talking about Mike Trout and rightfully so, but Parker is having himself one helluva rookie campaign as well. The 23-year-old right-hander came over from the Diamondbacks in the Trevor Cahill trade and has pitched to a 3.16 ERA (3.49 FIP) in 91 innings across 15 starts. His strikeout rate is solid (7.02 K/9 and 18.9 K%) and he limits homers (0.40 HR/9), but he will walk guys (4.05 BB/9 and 10.9 BB%) and give up fly balls (39.3% grounders). Parker works off his two low-to-mid-90s fastballs (two and four-seamer) and mixes in low-80s changeups and sliders. The Yankees have never seen him and he’s had some really good starts against good teams — like this one, this one, and this one — so this will be an interesting one.

Sunday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Bartolo Colon
The Yankees tagged their former teammate for six runs in six innings back in May, but otherwise Colon has provided the A’s with a 3.88 ERA (3.99 FIP) in 111.1 innings this year. His strikeouts (5.50 K/9 and 14.6 K%) are way down from last year, though his ground ball (47.7%) and walk (1.46 BB/9 and 3.9 BB%) rates have improved to help mitigate the damage. Bartolo remains a fastball-only pitcher, though he’s mostly low-90s with a four-seamer and upper-80s with the two-seamer now. Those 95s and 96s of last year are a thing of the past. Colon will break out a low-90s slider and low-80s changeup but very rarely. Handful of times per start, if that.

(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Bullpen Status
Manager Bob Melvin ran through half his bullpen yesterday, including closer Ryan Cook (2.77 FIP), right-handed setup man Grant Balfour (3.63 FIP), and left-handed setup man Sean Doolittle (0.76 FIP in limited time). The recently recalled Evan Scribner (2.37 FIP) has pitched his way into higher leveraged work despite only making seven appearances. Lefty Jordan Norberto (4.15 FIP) is more of a multi-inning guy than a specialist while Jerry Blevins (3.89 FIP) is that one batter matchup southpaw. Right-hander Jim Miller (4.47 FIP) rounds out the seven-man bullpen. Oakland had Monday off and none of their relievers have pitched in even two straight games, so the bullpen is fresh.

The Yankees’ relief corps got a much needed break yesterday thanks to Hiroki Kuroda‘s rain-shortened complete game. The late-game guys, particularly Rafael Soriano, had been worked pretty hard since the All-Star break. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for exact reliever usage and both Athletics Nation and Beaneball for the latest and greatest on the Athletics.

Freddy Garcia, David Phelps, and the 5th Starter
Scouting The Trade Market: Nate Schierholtz
  • AC

    Yanks should pick up Ankiel who was just DFA by Nats. He’s an upgrade over Wise and maybe Long can help fix his swing. These are moves Cash lives to make without surrendering much to get him.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Someone suggested Chris Coghlan before (which I actually do agree with, but not for “Long can fix him” reasons.) This is beginning to resemble the mid/late 80’s logic around .500 starting pitchers. Andy Hawkins?! He’ll do great in pinstripes!

      • MattG

        Chris Coghlan was DFAd? How could that be?

    • Mike M

      How is he an upgrade over Wise?

      • vin

        Or Dickerson for that matter.

    • pat

      .228/.282/.411 with a stolen base. No freaking thanks.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Part of me is scared of this being a trap series, but who I am kidding? The Yankees snack on danger and dine on death, and dead men aren’t in first place by ten game. Tell em, Hawk!

  • YanksFanInBeantown

    So is Blevins a OBMS?

  • Eddard

    We just need to hold serve with what we have until Andy and Gardner return. If Brett doesn’t come back by October then we’ll do just fine with Wise, Ibanez, and Jones. They have a good thing going now and there’s no reason to mess with that. The Darnell McDonald pick up is an example of how these additions don’t always work out. The starters should be able to pitch well these next two series and give the pen a break.

    • stuckey

      Hold serve?

      They’re winning sets 6-2.

  • jjyank

    I picked up Parker and Cook for my fantasy team a week or two ago. Hope I don’t regret starting them.

  • Brian S.

    Oakland is a fun team to watch.

    • rek4gehrig

      ..especially at midnight :-)

      • Cris Pengiucci

        Night games start around 8PM here. Just set your clock to Mountain Time and you’ll be fine. :-)

    • Kosmo

      they just need an entire infield.

    • Tcmiller30

      Yore ranking your fantasy success over the Yankees success on your priority list?!?

      GET OUT!! Haha

      • jjyank

        I’m assuming that was a reply to me. And of course not, but I’m losing in the IP category this week, so I need to start them. Hoping for a 1-0 Yankee win :P

        • Robinson Tilapia

          This is one of the reasons I did fantasy sports for exactly one year post-high-school (did roto baseball a lot then.) I’d find myself watching Redkins games rooting for the QB to throw it to whoever the fuck their TE was – not Davis. At that point, I realized it wasn’t for me.

          Not knocking anyone who does it, but it’s just not for me.

    • MattG

      Only on television.



    i was just sitting here watching the Nats/Mets game, and i watched Brye Harper K looking, and i think about his numbers, which are OK, but nothing special, and it just bewilders me that he was in the AS game..lol He litteraly got put in the AS game because hes a bigtime phenom.. We gonna put in every phenom now??Lol 277ba 8hr 26 right now.. Very solid, indeed, but nowhere in the realm of AS worthy..

    I just feel bad that guys get robbed from the expierence of being a AS(i’m sure alittle money is involved for some of em), because we get all excited about a guys future, even before hes earned anywhere near the consideration..

    I’m sorry for the wierd rant, i just was thinking about it, and didn’t feel like going back to yesterdays open thread..lol

    • MattG

      In ten years, it will not look silly at all that Bryce Harper was part of the all-star game. He wasn’t in the all-star game because he was a phenom. He was in the all-star game, and he is a phenom, because he has undeniable, can’t be ignored talent, and people want to see him play.

      I didn’t pay enough attention to know who was next inline for Harper’s roster spot, but I’m going to venture wildly that I’d much rather see Harper play.

      • Braun

        I’m gonna laugh my ass off when Harper has a JD Drew-esque career. Get off his nuts.

        • G

          The tools are just way too good for him to end up like JD Drew. Keep in mind this kid isn’t even spend a full 2seasons in the minors (despite being young for the draft), and he’s already formidable.

          Wanting to see a phenom play doesn’t mean you’re on their nuts, just that you like to see young, exciting players.

          • G

            Didn’t* thank you iPhone, I’m glad you take pleasure in making me look like an idiot

      • Anthony

        Don’t get me wrong, these numbers are very impressive coming from a rookie, but how do you know that he will sustain them? I’m more of a Mike Trout fan.

        • G

          Maybe because he’s 19…. And teenage years tend to not be the peak of an athlete’s career. Scouts liked Harper more than Trout when they were in the minors, and I’m going to value their opinion a lot more highly than yours. Keep in mind that Trout’s older than Harper. Still young, but not a teenager. Even A-Rod struggled when he was in the league at 19, but Harper has managed to be an above average player. Sustaining this success isn’t even a question if you can comprehend basic logic. Trout is the one unlikely to sustain his current performance. Phenomenal tools are sustainable, a .400+ BABIP is not. Both are great players but Harper is expected to be the better one when they hit their primes. How do you know Trout will sustain his numbers? That’s a clown question, bro.

    • NYYROC

      That’s a clown comment bro. :) j/k!

  • I’m the one who knocks

    Sean Doolittle –
    Drafted in 2007 and was a 1B/OF through 2009 with a .803 OPS.
    Then no stats until 2011 where he comes back as a left handed reliever.

    50 Ks in 26 minor league innings.
    26 Ks in 17 ML innings this year.

    Gotta be a story in there somewhere.

    • I’m the one who knocks

      “Doolittle had a promising career as a hitter derailed by knee and wrist injuries, only making the move to the mound last season.”

      h/t interwebs