Athletics Split Series with Rays

Hogan Harris 06162023
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

The Oakland Athletics (19–52) split their four game series with the Tampa Bay Rays (50–22) on Thursday. The series got off to a hot start with the A’s taking the first two games, along with the fans’ run reverse boycott. The pitching continues to make strides and find consistency as the bats stayed hot. The hottest team entering this series, the A’s had a seven-game win streak snapped on Thursday night. This series marks three straight that the A’s haven’t lost. Although all eyes have been on the events surrounding the Athletics off the field as of late, they continue to improve. They are no longer being dominated in games, but even now in loses, they are very competitive.

This last stretch of ten games has pushed this team passed the “worst team in MLB history” threshold. They’re new expected record has improved to 43-119. Not exactly what you would have expected at the beginning of the season. Their over/under in sports books was 59 1/2 to start the year. It is enough however to not mark themselves as the worst team ever assembled. The A’s will look to continue to play well as the Philadelphia Phillies come into town for a three-game series.

Bullpen Making Strides

The biggest story of the last ten games has been the consistency from the bullpen. What had been a role-less hodgepodge, has started to find its’ shape and structure. Although the strategy is questionable, opting to use the “opener” has benefited the young pitching staff. Most notably affected has been the young starter Hogan Harris. Harris had possibly the worst debut of any pitcher in the history of baseball. On April 14, Harris came into the game out of the bullpen to face the New York Mets. He pitched 1/3 of an inning, giving up six walks, one hit, and six earned runs. Since that outing, Hogan has pitched 22 innings, allowed 14 hits, four walks, and six earned runs.

Hogan pitched in the reverse boycott game on Tuesday night following the opener Shintaro Fujinami. He was absolutely dominate coming in, and pitching seven strong innings. Allowing four hits, and one earned run. He didn’t surrender any walks in this outing either. In his four starts since his horrible debut, Hogan has pitched to the tune of a 2.45 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP. Clearly, he got all his nerves out in that first outing. Harris delivers by throwing strikes. and forcing weak contact. He currently sits in the top 20% of the league in barrel %, xBA, and xSLG.

May’s Return

The return of Trevor May has also made a large impact on the bullpen. Coming in and owning the closer role has helped the rest of the bullpen fall in line, and find their roles. Over his last five appearances, May has thrown 4 1/3 innings, allowed three earned runs on two this and five walks. In those five appearances he also has two saves. His command still remains an issue, but the confidence that he is showing on the mound is as strong as ever.

Offensive Play Makers

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Someone who has quietly been having a good year for the Athletics is Shea Langeliers. He was the hero in the first game of the series against the Rays when he hit a huge three run double in the fifth inning off Zach Eflin. On the season, Langeliers is slashing .211/.286/.430 with nine doubles, eight home runs, and 29 RBI. His biggest skill has been throwing out runners at second base. He made two huge plays with his arms late in games one and two of the series. He currently leads all catchers in runners thrown out at second with 13 on the season.

JJ Bleday has been taking advantage of his innings this season as well. He was part of the trade which sent A’s starter turned reliever A.J Puk to the Miami Marlins. Since being traded to Oakland, Bleday is slashing .214/.319/.398 in 33 games. He has six doubles, four home runs, and eight RBI on the season. Similar to Langelier’s, his biggest impact has been on the defensive side of the ball. His plus arm which ranks in the top 20% of outfielders along with his versatility played all three positions has given manager Mark Kotsay room to fit him into many different lineups.

Following Run Differential

We have mentioned before the Athletics historic pace towards the worst run differential in baseball history. At one point this season they were expected to have a -561 differential. Over the last four series, the A’s have gotten that number way down with some consistent play. Going into the series with the Rays, their pace for run differential was -458. After the conclusion of this four game series, they currently sit at -447. They still would be the worst in history. At this pace they should end the season near the top, but not the worst.

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Andrew Gray

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