Athletics Take Series from Red Sox

Luis Medina 07202023
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The Oakland Athletics (27–71) won their series against the scorching hot Boston Red Sox on (51–46). After dropping the first game of the series, the Athletics showed great fight and took the final two. The youth movement is already reaping benefits in Oakland. The young guys look hungry to win, and are showing a lot of fight. It is the kind of fight you would expect to see in players who are playing for their future. Unlike some established veterans like Aledmys Diaz and Jesus Aguilar, this new group of young players do not quit and fight until the final pitch.

The story moving forward this season will be on the success of players like Tyler Soderstrom, Zack Gelof, JJ Bleday, JP Sears, Luis Medina, and Ken Waldichuk. With more weapons developing in the minors, the Athletics finally seem to have a core group of players to start building around. With the trade deadline looming, more opportunities should be opening up for younger players in the organization. The more at-bats we can see from them the better. It’s not like this season can get much worse.

The A’s hope to take this momentum forward as they welcome the Houston Astros to finish the week, and their 10-game homestand. After taking this series, the Athletics move to 2–4 on the homestand. But they lose the season series to the Red Sox 2–4 after being swept in Boston right before the All-Star Break.

Starting Pitching Still Struggles

The Athletics’ starting pitching has struggled all year long. They have nine wins in 98 games, which is good for lowest in the league, and seven wins away from second to last place Kansas City Royals. Their collective 6.29 ERA, 5.44 FIP, and 0.3 fWAR are all second worst in the league ahead of the Colorado Rockies. It is safe to say that this starting pitching staff isn’t putting fear into any lineup in baseball.

Paul Blackbrun

Paul Blackburn continued his up and down return to baseball in the first game of the series. He pitched well, and limited the hot Red Sox lineup to only two runs through five innings. The sixth inning is when he fell apart, and gave up four runs. On the night he allowed six runs on three strike outs and two walks. Blackburn is one of the Athletics top trade candidates and one of the top arms on the market headed to the deadline. The organization hopes he can string together some better starts to raise his stock.

On the season Blackburn has thrown 42 2/3 innings with a 5.48 ERA and a 1.594 WHIP. The Covid-19 2020 season aside, this year is his the worst of his career in BB/9. It is a big concern for a pitcher who mainly focuses on control and finesse. His .305 batting average against and 74 ERA+ are good indications of the struggling command. Getting yourself behind in counts forces you to throw hitters pitches, and hitters aren’t missing them.

Luis Medina

Luis Medina has by far the Athletics’ most electric arm in the starting rotation. With a fastball that averages 96.1 mph and reaches 100 mph. He also throws a sinker which can reach 98 MPH. When his off speed pitches are working, he can be absolutely un-hittable. Medina dealt in the second game, leading the A’s to their second shutout of the year. He just missed a quality start by 1/3 of an innings. Medina had six strike outs and one walk in that game.

Luis has thrown mostly out of the starting rotation, but has gone long out of the bullpen as well. This year he has thrown 65 1/3 innings with a 5.79 ERA and a 1.531 WHIP. The best case scenario for Medina is that he can string together a few good starts and really start boosting his confidence. His 4.5 BB/9 and 9.3 H/9 are strong indications that he is not trusting himself and isn’t trying to work the edges of the strike zone.

Ken Waldichuk

Ken Waldichuk has been the Athletics’ most disappointing pitcher this season. He came over to Oakland from the New York Yankees as a part of the trade for Frankie Montas. A deal which has not exactly worked out for either side. Waldichuk has been demoted from the starting rotation to the bullpen. After a string of good outing from the bullpen, Athletics manager Mark Kotsay said he hopes to work Waldichuk back into the rotation. He got the start in the third game, but left with a no-decision after allowing four runs, striking out five, and walking three in 4 1/3 innings.

This season Waldichuk has thrown 80 innings and has a 6.75 ERA and a 1.838. It is a similar story for Waldichuk as it is for Medina. Confidence is a massive hurdle. Allowing two base runners an inning, Waldichuk’s 11 H/9 and 5.5 BB/9 are issues that are limiting his ability to go long into games. The good news for him is that this rotation is wide open. He should have a lot of opportunities  for innings moving forward.

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