Athletics Drop Series to Blue Jays

Yacksel Rios 062623
(Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)

The Oakland Athletics (20–60) dropped their recent three game series against the Toronto Blue Jays (43–36). In this series, they took the honor of being the first team to reach 60 loses this season. The inequality with how the two organizations are run were on full display in this series. The Athletics were out manned, and out matched all weekend long. It was another series watching players who should be locked down on the A’s, play well and succeed against them. Chris Bassitt, Oakland Athletics ace from 2015-2021, threw for the Blue Jays on Friday to open the series. Matt Chapman, former all star and MVP candidate in Oakland, currently leads all AL third baseman in All-Star game votes. The Blue Jays’ payroll is over $150 million more than the Athletics, and three players combined (George Springer, Kevin Gausman, and Chris Bassitt) make more than the entire Oakland Athletics roster.

Can’t Find the Big Hit

Hitting with runners in scoring position has been a continued struggle for the Athletics in 2023. This is to be expected with such a young and inexperienced roster. Going 3-for-16 over the course of three games is not going to get it done. Especially when you are not a team who can rely on the home run to score runs. They currently sit 23rd in the league with 74 home runs on the season. Over their last three series, the Athletics have gone 13-for-87 (.149).

New Pitchers Can’t Find Form

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On the move to Las Vegas, Rob Manfred was quoted as saying, “John Fisher has made an unprecedented commitment of personal resources to make the A’s more competitive”. In order to prove this point, the Oakland A’s signed Yacksel Rios, in exchange for cash considerations, by the Atlanta Braves. Rios made his debut for the A’s on Sunday. He threw 2/3 of an inning, allowed two earned runs, on one hit and one walk.

Shintaro Fujinami was an international signing from Japan for the Athletics. At one time the best pitcher in Japan, Fujinami has dealt with injury, and control issues for many years predating his tenure in Oakland. This year has been anything but smooth for Fuji. He has been trying to get into a rhythm since the season started. He began the season in the rotation, but moved to the bullpen when control issues stifled his ability to go deep in to outings. In 38 1/3 innings this season, he has a 10.57 ERA, 1.957 WHIP, and a whopping 38 OPS+. According to fangraphs, the only pitcher to have thrown over 30 innings, with a worse BB/9 than Fujinami is Brad Keller. Fujinami’s BB/9 is at 7.02 on the season.

Ken Waldichuk has had a similar trajectory as Shintaro Fujinami. Starting in the rotation in the beginning of the season, Waldichuk was moved to the bullpen with struggles of making it deep into starts. Waldichuk threw 2 1/3 innings in Sunday’s game. He allowed six runs, on six hits and one walk. This brings his season ERA to 7.07, and his WHIP to 1.963.

Diamond in the Rough

With all of the downsides of John Fisher’s frugality when it comes to building a roster. Lucas Erceg has been a very thrifty pick up for the Athletics this season. In 18 1/3 innings this season, Erceg has a 2.45 ERA, 1.225 WHIP, and team leading 165 ERA+. Lucas hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last five outings.

As the bullpen starts to find its’ form with Sam Moll and Lucas Erceg setting up for Trevor May. It looks more and more likely that Erceg will be the closer moving forward. We will see if the front office can find a suitor for Trevor May before the trade deadline. If so, then expect Erceg to fill in that role.

 

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