The Athletics season kicked off in underwhelming fashion earlier this week. The A’s found themselves on the losing end of a 2 game sweep to the Seattle Mariners in Japan. If you’re an A’s fan, you probably didn’t enjoy waking up, or staying awake until 2:30 AM, on back to back days, and witnessing back to back losses. Nonetheless, the most important thing about this is that baseball is back, and the hype going into this season couldn’t be stronger.
How did the A’s look in the 2019 Opening Series in Japan?
As most know, the MLB season officially opened with the two game series between the A’s and Mariners in Japan, played on Wednesday, March 20th and Thursday the 21st. The A’s big downfall in this opening series was something I touched upon a few times throughout this offseason, their starting pitching. We knew it wasn’t something to be desired going in, but whether they can carry this team to a second straight postseason appearance is a huge question mark. Mike Fiers got the Opening Day nod for Oakland, and didn’t make it out of the fourth serving up 5 runs on 4 hits while striking out 2 and walking 1. He got hit around, and hard, and it was easy to see the weakness of this Athletics roster. Game 2 saw the Mariners jump out to an early 3-0 lead on A’s starter Marco Estrada (3 ER, 5 H, 1 K), and it didn’t get much better from there. The A’s lost 5-4 in 12 innings. Just like that, the A’s were 0-2, and currently sit at 0-2 as we await the start of the season for the other 28 teams in the league.
With the exception of the pitching, the A’s didn’t look too bad. They got production up and down the lineup on both nights. Chris Davis, Matt Chapman and Stephen Piscotty all homered in Game 1, where the A’s put up 7 runs on Seattle’s Marco Gonzales and Nick Rumbelow.
It wasn’t the start to the season the Athletics had hoped for, but luckily there’s 160 more games to play. The season is a long and grueling process with more ups and downs than a roller coaster, and the A’s know full well about all that. Things are headed in the right direction and this team has the willingness to fight day in and day out, and thats exactly what you need in a young underdog team. Today I’ll preview the 2019 season, as well as give a few predictions along the way.
As I stated, the Athletics sit at 0-2 as this is being written, following their tough opening series in Japan. We went into the season knowing pitching would be the cause for concern with this club, and it showed on Wednesday and Thursday. A rotation of Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada, Brett Anderson Frankie Montas (?) and Chris Bassit (?) isn’t one to write home about. It’s bottom 5 in baseball and is a true hazard when it comes to how the 2019 season will play out for Oakland. I’m trying to do my best to not bash it, or be pessimistic, but it’s diffucult. Their young ace Sean Manaea had shoulder surgery following the 2018 campaign, and will open the season on the 60 day DL- doh, IL. The A’s will be relying on this staff to help them win some ball games. Luckily, their offense showed enough firepower last year to warrant optimism in the rotation not having to put each game on their backs.
The Swingin’ A’s are Back
It’s no secret that the A’s lineup has the potential to be deadly. It doesn’t compete on it’s own with the likes of the Yankees, Red Sox or Astros, but it can certainly produce on any given night. For the second straight season, I would bet on it being their strong suit. In my opinion it’s the most balanced lineup in the AL. Even with the departure of Jed Lowrie in free agency, it has the perfect mix of speed, contact and power. Semien and Laureano are your speed and contact guys, while Davis, Chapman, Olson are the bash bros in the lineup. Chapman can get it done in more ways than one with the bat, while Olson will mostly be the righty splitting power in the middle of the lineup. It has all kinds of potential, and can be better than last years with a full season of Ramon Laureano and development of Chad Pinder and the progression of Marcus Semien and Stephen Piscotty. The 2018 A’s hit 227 home runs and crossed the plate 813 times, a pretty impressive offensive output, but the 2019 team has the capability to be better than that, it’s their rotation and bullpen, sans Blake Treinen, that will be their issue.
I wanted to take a bit of time to give my 2019 Athletics season predictions. This goes for overall team, how they fare, and individual players.
Team MVP: 3B Matt Chapman
Chapman crust onto the scene in 2018, with both his bat and his glove. He handles the hot corner extremely well and his bat is only going to get better. He’s my pick for team MVP and will make his way into the league MVP conversation come awards time.
Team CY Young: CL Blake Treinen
Treinen, nicknamed “The Witch”, showed off some extremely nasty stuff in 2018, and pitched his heart out as well. In what ended up being an underwhleming rotation and bullpen, Treinen stood out, and I see him continuing his dominance in 2019.
While we’re on the topic of nastiness, enjoy this filth fro Blake Treinen, courtesy of @PitchingNinja on Twitter:
Absolute filth from the Athletics closer. I look forward to many more of these back breaking sliders and turbo sinkers in 2019, the man is truly a Witch.
2019 Team Rookie of the Year: SP AJ Puk
Yea, this is a hot take if anything. Put had surgery during the offseason, and even though he was present in camp with the big league club this spring, most likely won’t make a return until mid-summer at the earliest. Puk has been chomping at the bit to get out and contribute at the ML level, and I believe once he is healed, he will come up due to the need for SP depth, and rock out. He’s a lengthy lefty with great stuff that is just waiting to be unleashed at the big league level.
The 2019 Athletics have a ton of potential to succeed, but at the same time, it can all come crumbling down due to the rotation and depth. I still see this team as a sneaky underdog, which is unusual after a 97 win season, but Vegas currently has their O/U at 83.5 wins, which I believe they’ll go over by a good 5 or 6 games at worst. It’s a second straight season that starts with little recognition, but just like last year this team can really test the odds. I look forward to coming back to this and these predictions come seasons end, hopefully the rotation can exceed expectations, if they can, look out American League.
Featured Photo: Deadpin