April 6, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics pitching coach Curt Young (second from right) visits the mound with starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy (center) during the third inning against the Seattle Mariners at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE
Losers of 10 out of their last 14 games, the Oakland Athletics will try to right the ship against the Colorado Rockies starting tonight at Coors Field. Despite having a mostly middling offense, they'll get a chance to tee off against some of the worst starters in the game, and it appears to be coming at the perfect time. Since suffering through a nine-game losing streak which saw them score a total of 12 runs, the A's have come alive a bit, scoring 47 runs in their last nine. With the bats coming alive, there really isn't a better place for them to go to keep their offensive momentum trending upward. They also still look stupid in their trademark white cleats.
The A's feature four above-average regulars. Rookie Yoenis Cespedes just returned from the DL a few days ago, and his raw power alone has translated to a 127 OPS+. He only has six homers, but they've probably traveled about as any other set of six homers in the league. Brandon Inge (119 OPS+) has been a nice reclamation project, but he has less than 100 plate appearances, and will likely regress as the sample size increases. Former Rockie Seth Smith is the third regular with an OPS+ greater than 100 (117), as he has used his always-strong on-base skills to offset a low batting average (.259).
#16 / Right Field / Oakland Athletics
Feb 19, 1987
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Reddick has been the best of the bunch for the A's thus far, as his 135 OPS+ leads the team. He also leads the club in homers (14), RBI (30), and a host of other categories. He has certainly been a pleasant surprise since being acquired from the Red Sox during the offseason for Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney.
Jonny Gomes is the biggest threat off the bench for Oakland, as he carries a 109 OPS+ and good on-base ability into the series. Gomes is fourth on the team in walks despite having anywhere from 40 to 100 less plate appearances than the three guys above him (Smith, Reddick, and Jemile Weeks). The A's might want to think about the feasibility of letting one of Smith or Gomes get some reps at first base, as they've already had three guys lose the starting job this season (Brandon Allen, Daric Barton, and Kila Ka'aihue) and are now relying upon Brandon Moss and his career 80 OPS+.
The Athletics' pitching staff is second-to-last in the majors in strikeouts. They've also issued walks at a rate that is higher than the league average, so that isn't exactly a good recipe for success. However, thanks to a cavernous home ballpark, their ERA is just 3.69 as a team. Brandon McCarthy is the best it gets in their rotation, as he has worked around an injury to produce a rotation-best 144 ERA+ (2.79 ERA) in 71 innings of work. Bartolo Colon and Tommy Milone have also enjoyed some success due to keeping the walks down, as they've been slightly above average in terms of ERA+ (102 and 106, respectively). Jarrod Parker, acquired from the D-Backs in the offseason in exchange for Trevor Cahill, has had some thoroughly dominant outings mixed in with some rough ones, and that is evidenced by his rotation-leading 6.5 K/9 and rotation-worst 4.9 BB/9. Tyson Ross and Graham Godfrey have been typical fifth starters, as they've combined for 68 innings of well below average baseball.
The bullpen is somewhat of a strength as well, although they, too, can be prone to walking some batters at times. Ryan Cook has allowed just seven hits and two runs in 26 innings of work, even though he has walked better than five batters per nine innings. He has shown the ability to get a strikeout when needed (25 in those 26 IP), which has been a big part of his game. Brian Fuentes (five saves) and Grant Balfour (seven saves) have shared closing duties to this point, though Fuentes has held the role of late, presumably due to the fact that he allows free passes at about half the rate that Balfour does.
Pitching probables and more after the jump.
Game 1: tonight at 6:40 PM MT (ROOT Sports)
Bartolo Colon (5-6, 3.92 ERA) vs. Jeremy Guthrie (3-4, 6.35 ERA)
Game 2: tomorrow at 6:40 PM MT (ROOT Sports)
Brandon McCarthy (5-3, 2.79) vs. Alex White (2-4, 5.66)
Game 3: Thursday at 1:10 PM MT (no TV)
Tommy Milone (6-5, 3.77) vs. Josh Outman (0-2, 8.18)
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Oakland Athletics Injuries
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60 Day DL / Out for the season
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