Athletics Swept by Astros

James Kaprelian
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The Oakland Athletics (10–45) were swept this weekend for the third time in a row. They have dropped two series against the Houston Astros and a four-game series against the Seattle Mariners. This was their 11th loss in a row and their sixth straight series loss. They continue their pace for the worst record in the history of baseball currently held by the 1962 expansion New York Mets. The Mets finished the 1962 season with a 40–120 record. The A’s are currently on pace to go 29–133. They look to right the ship and end the losing streak against the Atlanta Braves on Monday night.

Chasing History

The A’s are chasing the wrong type of history this year by losing at a record pace. They have officially taken on the motto, “If we’re going to be bad, might as well be the best ever at it”. They are being led there by their pitching staff which has really struggled this season. Their 6.81 team ERA is last in the league with the Kansas City Royals in next to last with a 5.26. They lead the league in Walks (256), On-Base Against (2.85), and WHIP (1.65).  The 1930 Philadelphia Phillies have the worst team ERA in the modern era (since 1900) with a 6.71.

ERA+ is a stat that takes ERA, and measures it against the league average. It is a better way to compare pitchers to each other when looking at the ERA stat. The league average would be a 100 ERA+. When looking at the A’s entire pitching staff, they have three pitchers who are above league average. Richard Lovelady (176), Zach Jackson (165), and Sam Long (117). The starting pitching staff, excluding Mason Miller who is out indefinitely, doesn’t have one league average pitcher. JP Sears has the highest ERA+ of any starter at 85.

Going to an Opener

Because of the historic struggles with their pitching, especially starting pitching, the A’s have turned to using an “opener”. An opener is when they have a relief pitcher throw the first inning, then move to using their starting pitcher as long as he can go. This strategy was popularized by the Tamp Bay Rays in 2018. Athletics manager Mark Kotsay said, “We know where we’re at with wins and losses. We’re gonna make a change to see if we can help these young starters. We’re going to experiment with this right now” when asked about the opener strategy. They have used an opener three times in the last week with mixed results.

The A’s first used this strategy against the Mariners on Wednesday when Austin Pruitt opened the game. He threw one inning, and gave up two hits. Pruitt got out of his inning without giving up a run. He was followed by Ken Waldichuk who gave up five runs on eight hits in two innings.

The second attempt saw more success from the starter, but the opener struggled this time. Saturday, against the Astros, Pruitt opened throwing one inning, giving up two earned runs on three hits. Hogan Harris then came in and threw five scoreless innings giving up one hit in the process.

Today, they turned to former starter Waldichuk who pitched the first inning giving up one earned run and one hit. Luis Medina then followed him with five innings, seven hits, and five runs.

Staying Positive

Embed from Getty Images
With all of the pitching struggles this season, the A’s have had a few bright spots on offense which have helped keep fans sane. The first is Brent Rooker who came out of the gates hot this season. Through 55 games, his slash line is .267/.372/.522 with eight doubles, 11 home runs, and 32 RBI. He would seem to be the obvious choice early for the A’s lone All-Star selection this season.

Esteury Ruiz has also been huge for them this season. His slash line currently sits at .268/.328/.352. He leads the league in stolen bases with 27 through 55 games. Last years stolen bases leader was Jon Berti of the Miami Marlins who had 47 through 162 games. Ruiz could potentially catch him by the All-Star break. He became the youngest player in A’s history to have four stolen bases in a single game when he did it against the Los Angeles Angels on April 26. This is nothing new for the young speedster, last year he stole 85 bases in 114 games in the minor leagues. He looks to be the first player since 2009 to steal 70 bases when Jacoby Ellsbury did it for the Boston Red Sox.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

Share "Athletics Swept by Astros" on social media:
More Oakland Athletics News
Andrew Gray

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *