Athletics Swept by Phillies

Lucas Erceg 06182023
(Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)

The Oakland Athletics (19–55) were swept by the hot Philadelphia Phillies (38–34) on Sunday afternoon. The Phillies are 8–2 in their last 10 games including series wins over the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks. This sweep marks the 18th series the Athletics have lost this season, and snaps the best stretch of games the team has played this season. They were 6–4 in their last 10 games coming into the weekend series. It might not sound like a great stretch, but this is a team with a .260 winning percentage through 74 games. After winning two straight series and splitting a series with the Tampa Bay Rays, the Athletics have lost five straight games. It seems as though they have down to earth and regressed back to the mean.

Offensive Struggles

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The Athletics look to get back to winning form as they head off to play the Cleveland Guardians. That series begins on Tuesday at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The A’s have struggled all season to score runs. They have scored 272 runs through 74 games, which translates to 3.7/game. The Detroit Tigers have also scored 262 runs, and the Kansas City Royals have scored 267. The inability to score runs combined with possibly the worst pitching staff in MLB history has led the Athletics to a -202 run differential this season. For reference, the team with the second worst run differential is the Royals -109.

This series against the Phillies was no different. The main struggle throughout was the A’s hitting with runners in scoring position. The Athletics were a measly 3-for-34 over the weekend when batting with runners in scoring position. They went 1-for-19 in the game on Saturday afternoon. The biggest offenders this series were Ryan Noda who went 0-for-6 and Shea Langeliers who went 0-for-5.

The Offense

There are two things to note about the offense. First, they are doing a good job of getting runners in scoring position. Yes, it is very frustrating that the team is struggling to get them in once they are in scoring position. But, they are at least doing a good job of getting to that point. The A’s .304 OBP as a team is 26th in the league. They are also eighth in the league in walks with 246.

Second, they are a young team who are still figuring out how to situationally hit in the major leagues. With inexperience in baseball often comes aggressiveness at the plate. Mature veteran hitters will take pitches, work counts, and wait for their pitch. This can be shown in the A’s having a 3.88 pitches per at bat as a team. That’s good enough for 19th overall in baseball this season. With time they should get better at coming through in these situation, but fans must sit and wait through the rough period.

Despite the Sweep, Bullpen Continues to Develop

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Since the return of Trevor May, the bullpen has started to figure out their roles. Ken Waldichuk has been lights out from the bullpen since moving to a long relief role. In his last five appearances from the bullpen, he has thrown 10 innings, and allowed five runs, on 11 hits. One of these appearances was a three inning save against the Rays where he struck out five on no walks and two hits.

Lucas Erceg has been a revelation for the A’s after being called up in May. He has been absolutely lights out in his last five outings. He has thrown 6 1/3 innings, allowed one run on four hits and six strikeouts. His fastball is electric averaging 98 mph, and is in the top 10% of velocity this season. Erceg looks like he could be another diamond in the rough this organization has identified and developed. Sam Moll, Sam Long, and  Trevor May also put in scoreless outings during this series.

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