Yesterday I was writing about Craig David and George Michael being on the A’s UK playlist. Today, well it’s got to be Yazz and D-Ream.
Yes, an 0-4 thumping at the hands of the Houston Astros means that “The Only Way Is Up” and “Things Can Only Get Better”.
Although bearing in mind we are now immediately going into a series against the reigning World Series champions, there may be a bit more punishment coming our way first.
Taking a beating in more ways than one
The potential issue we have is that it’s not just the scoreboard that got a pounding during this series.
Sean Murphy had to sit out the final two games after getting hit in the hand by a pitch, Ramón Laureano was also on the bench in those games after hurting his hand diving into first base and then Chad Pinder – one of the few A’s players who had a good series – hurt his knee early on in Sunday’s game.
MLB is back to using 26-man rosters this season and the A’s are fairly typical in starting out with a 13/13 split of position players and pitchers.
With three position players banged-up, that only leaves one bench player for Bob Melvin to turn to. If Murphy and Laureano are good to go today then that would give us some wiggle room for Pinder to rest up for a few days if his MRI scan offers some much-needed good news. Otherwise, someone would need to go on the Injured List anyway so that a healthy player could be added, rather than continue to play short-handed.
As for the pitching staff, it’s normal for starting pitchers to build up their workload over the first couple of starts of the season. The split of innings pitched between our four starting pitchers in the series (19.1) and the bullpen (16.2) isn’t a concern on its own; however a continued reliance on the bullpen picking up four innings per game will quickly become a problem as it makes it harder for the relievers to do their job well.
Consequently I wouldn’t be surprised if Reymin Guduan gets replaced today. Guduan was a surprise inclusion on the Opening Day roster and he’s had a baptism of fire by getting hit around in his two appearances. You can’t write him off based on those performances, and I hope he comes back and pitches well for us soon enough, yet in the circumstances adding another pitcher would make sense and Guduan would be the obvious choice to make way.
DJ on the way?
If that does happen, my pick to replace him would be Daulton Jefferies.
Clearly the A’s see him as a starter, so it’s not a like-for-like replacement (Guduan being a lefty too), yet right now having him around temporarily in a long-relief role would make a lot of sense. If a starting pitcher gets knocked out early over the next six days, before that odd-but-now-blessed Sunday off, Jefferies could come in and go 3-4 innings. That would be a life-saver for the bullpen.
Making that move today might make the most sense of any option. Frankie Montas is the scheduled starter against the Dodgers on Monday and he’s been dealing with a cuticle tear on his right middle finger over the past two weeks. If the problem flares up again early on, or if he’s just not sharp based on his preparation having been impacted, then Jefferies would be the ideal person to come into the game.
Of course, the alternative would be to just use Ka’ai Tom!
The Rule 5 pick looks the type of player who could go one of two ways with the A’s: either he falls off the roster and gets forgotten about quickly or he becomes a fan favourite. Tom provided some light relief in more ways than one by finishing off the Astros series on the mound. Whilst the Stadium scoreboard may have been tagging his offerings as off-speed pitches, MLB.com’s Baseball Savant website was kinder to him:
Bob Melvin described the series as “embarrassing” and that’s precisely the way proud professionals should respond to being totally outplayed across four games. They need to use that embarrassment to light a fire and get on track this week.
Yet Tom’s pitching cameo was exactly what I needed to take something from the weekend. Even though it was an immensely frustrating series to watch as an A’s fan, as the past year has shown, life is far too short to waste away being angry about sport.
There are 158 regular season A’s games to come and I’m going to find reasons to enjoy them all come what may.
Player Of The Series
One of my new ideas for 2021 is to crowdsource A’s fans thoughts after the final game of a series to then determine the winner of our Player Of the Series award; however I decided that an 0-4 series wasn’t the best way to launch it to a favourable audience!
So I’ve chosen the winner myself this time around and gone for Chad Pinder. Here are his highlights from the series (minus the great catch he made yesterday as it seems a bit harsh to include it when he got injured on the play!).