Oakland Athletics Sweep San Francisco Giants

Zack Nick 08062023
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

The Oakland Athletics (32-80) swept the San Francisco Giants (61-51) in a two game set. The two teams split their season series 2-2, both sweeping at their home fields. The Bay Bridge series between the two is one of the most historic rival series in all of baseball and now comes with a trophy awarded to the winner at the end of the series. After losing out on the Tom Pellack Memorial Trophy two years in a row, the Athletics finally brought it home again for the third time since its inception in 2018. The Athletics also won the trophy in 2018 and 2020. With almost nothing left to play for, the Athletics had an opportunity to play spoiler and make the Giants’ road to the playoffs a bit more difficult.

This marks the second series sweep for the Athletics in 2023. The first came back in June, when they swept the Milwaukee Brewers in three games. It also marks the ninth series win for the Athletics in 2023. The Kansas City Royals are the only teams in the league to have swept fewer teams than the A’s. The Athletics welcome the Texas Rangers into Oakland for a three-game set starting on Monday. They are currently 2–5 in seven games against the Rangers this season.

Young Bats Lead the Way

Zack Gelof

Since being called up to the majors, Zack Gelof has been the best offense player on the Athletics roster. He continues to show an outstanding eye at the plate while being aggressive to balls in the strike zone. His 30.3% chase rate is 2.1 percentage points higher than the league average of 28.4%. This is a very mature eye for a player who has 73 career at-bats. He became the first player in baseball history to have five home runs and five stolen bases in his first 17 career games. He has an incredibly diverse skill set, which could see him being one of the elite second baseman in baseball in years to come.

Since being called up, Gelof is slashing .232/.303/.536. Giving him a .839 OPS and a 135 OPS+. To go along with that he has four doubles, one triple, five home runs, eight RBI, and five stolen bases. In a season that has been very depressing for Athletics fans, Gelof continues to be one of the bright sides to a miserable year. In this series, he went 3-7 with a BB and two runs scored.

Nick Allen

An up and down season for Nick Allen, he finally had a good series at the plate. One of the best defensive shortstops in all of baseball, if he could figure out his bat, he could be an everyday player for the Athletics. Especially with the continued struggles of veteran Aledmys Diaz who the Athletics signed in the off season. According to Baseball Savant, Allen ranks in the top 15% of all short stops in Outs Above Average. Unfortunately he also ranks in the bottom 20% in all offensive categories. There is little doubt that his glove belongs in the big leagues, but his bat has really struggled to keep pace. Both his 21% hard hit rate and 81.3 mph average exit velocity need to improve if he is going to stick around on the big league roster.

In the second game of the series, Nick had his first two-homer game of his career. The first came in the bottom of the second inning, when he turned on a 95 MPH sinker from Alex Cobb and deposited the ball over the left field wall. It went 395 feet and was 100 mph off the bat. The second came in the bottom of the fifth inning on a hanging 83 MPH curveball at the top of the zone, again off of Cobb. His second home run went 355 feet and was 95 mph off the bat.

Starting Pitching Continues to Struggle

Paul Blackburn

Saturday was Paul Blackburn‘s best start of the 2023 season. In the second Reverse Boycott game of the Athletics season, life-long Athletics fan Paul Blackburn threw six innings, allowing two hits on seven strikeouts and two walks. Unfortunately, he received a no-decision for his efforts on the day. Despite his rough start statistically, he ranks well against the rest of starting pitchers in some statistical categories. He ranks in the top 10% of pitchers in Average Exit Velocity and Hard Hit%. He ranks in the top 15% of the league in Barrel% and Chase Rate as well. All the more impressive is that he is in the bottom 15% of pitchers in fastball velocity, averaging 91 MPH.

On the season, Blackburn has thrown 60 innings. He has a 2-2 record with a 4.35 ERA, a 1.500 WHIP, and a 94 ERA+. His 9.5 K/9 are a career high for Paul and his 3.2 BB/9 leads all Athletics pitchers. His 28% Hard Hit Pct. is also a career low for him, leading to a .288 Batting Average Against on the season. As Blackburn continues to throw more innings coming off his injury, his numbers should continue to improve as he continues to fund the strike zone and force weak contact.

Luis Medina

Luis Medina has the most electric arm in the Athletics pitching staff. His fastball averages 96 MPH and can touch 100. This ranks him in the top 15% of all pitchers in baseball. Mixing in a slider, curveball, and change-up, when all his pitches are on, he can be un-hittable at times. His biggest struggle has been missing barrels, ranking in the bottom 30% of the league in Exit Velocity Against and Hard Hit %.

In 11 starts on the year, Medina has thrown 75 2/3 innings. He has the most wins of any Athletics pitcher with three. To go along with a 5.35 ERA, a 1.467 WHIP, and a 76 ERA+. By all metrics he has had an underwhelming season, but his arm talent continues to give you hope that he can become an ace in this league.

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