Pratt's A's-Tigers ALDS capsule

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Pratt's A's-Tigers ALDS capsule

A'S-TIGERS ALDS CAPSULE

Key facts:
A's: 94-68 (AL West champions)
Tigers: 88-74 (AL Central champions)
Head to head record: Tigers won the series 4-3. (Split four in Oakland in May, lost 2 of 3 in Detroit in September.)
Runs: Detroit 726 (6th in AL) Oakland 713 (8th in AL)
ABHR: Detroit 33.6 (9th in AL) Oakland 28.3 (6th in AL)
Starting Pitchers ERA: Detroit 3.75 (3rd in AL) Oakland 3.48 (2nd in AL)
Bullpen ERA: Detroit 3.76 (2nd in AL) Oakland 3.80 (3rd in AL)
STACKING THEM UP

Starting rotation
The A's rotation has overcome a lot this season. They've lost Brandon McCarthy, Bartolo Colon, and Brett Anderson. The rookies have found a way to step it up and succeed. Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone both tied with a team-leading 13 wins this season which is an Oakland rookie record. The Tigers will be able to throw reigning American League MVP and Cy Young award-winner Justin Verlander in game one. He is 2-0 against the A's. Verlander (239) and Max Scherzer (231) led Major League Baseball in strikeouts. Doug Fister also struck out nine consecutive batters to set an American League record on September 27. EDGE: TIGERSBullpen
The A's bullpen has been the backbone of the team. Now well rested after a few days off, Oakland's arms will be ready to lock down late leads or eat innings. The A's bullpen has been better than Detroit's all season. Furthermore, Oakland's closer Grant Balfour hasn't blown a save since re-taking over ninth inning duties on August 11, and is 1-0, with 17 saves, and a 2.08 ERA in that timeframe. Tigers' closer Jose Valderde finished the season with three saves in as many days but hasn't been as consistent this year. The A's also have an All-Star set up man in Ryan Cook, and up-and-coming rookie Sean Doolittle. EDGE: A'SOutfield
The A's three best offensive players are in the outfield. They also might be the A's three best defensive players. Josh Reddick hit 32 home runs this season and finished second in the American League with 15 outfield assists. Yoenis Cespedes hit 23 home runs which is the third most in Oakland history by a rookie, and has a cannon for a throwing arm in left field. Coco Crisp has great range defensively and ranked fourth in the AL with a .367 average with runners in scoring position. EDGE: A'SInfield
Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder Enough said. EDGE: TIGERS Catchers
The Tigers have Alex Avila and Gerald "G-Money" Laird, while the A's have George Kottaras and Derek Norris in a platoon.The A's young catchers have combined have equalled one productive backstop. With the Tigers' righty heavy rotation expect Kottaras to see most of the time behind the dish. Avila had a very productive season this year but fell off a bit in 2012. The A's hold the edge in the power department at catcher so I am inclined to give them the advantage but not by much. EDGE: A'SOverall defense
The Tigers made 99 errors this season. The A's made 111. The Tigers had a better fielding percentage (.983) than the A's (.982). The A's have been susceptible to making defensive mistakes in big games. The Tigers have subpar defense on the left side of the infield. Baseball Prospectus tracks a stat called Defensive Efficiency Rating that tracks the percentage of balls hit into play that are converted into outs. The A's ranked ranked third with a .723 while the Tigers ranked 27th with .693 percentage. EDGE: A'S Overall offense
The A's lead Major League Baseball in runs scored (394) and home runs (112) in the second half. Detroit scored 726 runs this season to Oakland's 713. The A's hit 32 more home runs, and stole 63 more bases. The Tigers had a higher on-base percentage (.335 .310) and a higher slugging percentage (.422.404) than the A's. With the Tigers' big boppers in the middle of the order, and the solid seasons of Austin Jackson (.300, 16 HR, 66 RBI) and Delmon Young (.267, 18 HR, 74 RBI), the "O" edge goes to the "D."EDGE: TIGERSManagerintangibles
What A's manager Bob Melvin has done with this team is spectacular. He is communicative and exploits the match ups to get the most out of his team. Melvin said Tigers' Manager Jim Leyland was his manager in Instructional League in 1981. I think it isn't necessarily fair to say the student has surpassed the teacher, because Leyland is still holding his own at the highest level. Leyland leads all active MLB managers with 1,676 wins. Leyland has a disadvantage because he has nothing but righties in the rotation. That will give Melvin the ability to start with a lefty heavy lineup and then bring in his key right handed hitters if Leyland goes to a lefty. Melvin is a strong AL Manager of the Year candidate, Leyland is one of the best ever. Too close to call. EDGE: SPLITOverall edge
The A's are considered the underdogs in this series. They have home field advantage but it doesn't feel like it with the first two games of the series taking place in Detroit. Oakland finished strong and never held sole possession of first place until winning the final game of the season. Detroit also finished strong finally taking first place from the White Sox on September 26. Oakland however has been the hottest team in baseball since June 2 with a 71-38 record. They won more games than the Tigers, they have been a hotter team for a sustained period of time, and they should be favored in this series. EDGE: A'S

A's spring training Day 37: Triggs strengthens his bid for rotation spot

A's spring training Day 37: Triggs strengthens his bid for rotation spot

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Last year Andrew Triggs was one of an assembly line of starting pitchers the A’s ran out to the mound after injuries took their toll.

This spring, Triggs looks ready to assume a more instrumental role. On Wednesday, he stepped up with his best effort of the spring in Oakland’s 5-3 victory over the White Sox at Camelback Ranch.

He fared well against a Chicago lineup saturated with left-handed hitters. He commanded his fastball. His curve had bite to it. And with his cutter lacking, Triggs kept hitters off-balance with his changeup and threw five innings of three-hit ball. He gave up two runs, struck out four and didn’t issue a walk.

In short, it was everything manager Bob Melvin needed to see as he evaluates whether this late-blooming right-hander is ready for the starting rotation.

“This was his best outing so far,” Melvin said. “His best command, sharpest breaking ball. He had good movement on his fastball. Once you’re getting out there to 75-80 pitches, you’ve got a chance to not only evaluate performance, there’s endurance involved. Everything.”

Triggs, 28, had surrendered six runs in just 3 2/3 innings his last time out against Cleveland. He was much more efficient Wednesday.

“I felt like I had a pretty good feel for most everything in the arsenal,” he said.

Most of Triggs’ major league work last season, in his first taste of the bigs, came in relief. If he’s to pitch every fifth day in 2017, he needs to show he can retire lefties consistently, and remain effective two and three times through a batting order.

Catcher Stephen Vogt believes Triggs has the repertoire to do that.

“The nice part about a four-pitch mix is very rarely are you gonna have all four on any given night. So if two go away, you've got two more to back it up,” Vogt said. “Today his cutter, usually one of his better pitches, wasn’t that great. He needed to rely more on the changeup and he did.

“Then he gets those swings and misses with the big breaking ball. It’s fun to make the crowd kind of ‘woo.’ It’s always a good sign.”

STOCK RISING: Another pitcher who helped his cause Wednesday was Frankie Montas, who struck out four over two scoreless innings to seal the victory.

“He continues to do what he continues to do,” Melvin said. “He’s throwing more and more breaking balls too.”

In Montas’ four outings, he’s allowed just one earned run over eight innings for a 1.13 ERA. He’s struck out nine and walked one. In light of Melvin saying his bullpen could use a reliever that can handle multiple innings, Montas has positioned himself squarely in the conversation for a 25-man roster spot.

NOTEWORTHY: The A’s have collected 10 doubles over their last two games, and Wednesday they jumped ahead with big offense early once again. Ryon Healy went 2-for-3 with an RBI and is hitting .359. Vogt is also swinging it well. He doubled home two runs in the first and is batting .324.

FAMILIAR FACE: : Tyler Ladendorf, who spent the previous seven-plus seasons in the A’s organization, entered mid-game at shortstop for the Sox and struck out in his only at-bat. Ladendorf signed with Chicago on a minor league deal earlier this spring.

ODDS AND ENDS: With their 13th victory, the A’s (13-10) eclipsed their win total from all of last spring with 11 games still to go. … Sonny Gray (strained lat muscle) felt good a day after playing catch for the first time in two weeks. He was set to do so again Wednesday. … Rajai Davis (1-for-3) scored two runs and notched his fifth stolen base. … Ryan Madson gave up a run in his one inning of work. His ERA is 7.50 through six outings. He’s allowed 10 hits over six innings. … Santiago Casilla, in his fourth appearance, threw a scoreless inning with one hit and one walk.

Mailbag: How would Raiders' move affect A's ballpark search?

Mailbag: How would Raiders' move affect A's ballpark search?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — With one week to go until the A’s break camp and head north, there are still some roster issues to be cleared up.

The big-picture question regarding this team, obviously, is where it might be building a future ballpark.

With all this in mind, we try to provide some clarity on questions submitted via Twitter:

From @Cjkittrell: If the Raiders move to Vegas, does the Coliseum site jump to the top of the list of possible ballpark sites by default?

That’s not necessarily the case. You have to remember what the A’s crave more than anything in a ballpark location: A thriving surrounding area — with restaurants, bars, shops, etc. — that will make the ballpark an attraction beyond the baseball game itself. Team president Dave Kaval has talked of wanting a “ballpark village” around a new venue. A downside of the Coliseum is that there is nothing around the area right now that would attract fans besides the baseball. Other sites, including Howard Terminal, appear to have more potential as far as surrounding attractions.

This doesn’t count out the Coliseum as an option. As Kaval has said, it’s the only site of four being considered that the A’s know is truly viable. There’s comfort in that. And the BART station, freeway access and available parking are big plusses. But something else I’ll mention in regard to the Raiders: Even if they announce a move to Las Vegas, they have lease agreements that would keep them playing football at the Coliseum at least through the 2018 season while their Vegas stadium is under construction. With the Raiders likely to be on the property for that period, it could complicate the A’s own hypothetical construction plans for the Coliseum site.

From @44BWells: With the emergence of Franklin Barrreto and the contract of Jed Lowrie, what's Joey Wendle's present and future?

They appear murky, don’t they? First and foremost, Wendle has to recover from a sore right shoulder that’s kept him out of exhibitions for a while. But the acquisition of utility man Adam Rosales meant Wendle probably wasn’t going to make the club out of spring training anyway. He’s got a fan in manager Bob Melvin, who was impressed with Wendle defensively last September. It was Wendle’s glove that was the question mark when he arrived from the Cleveland Indians. Barreto has the star-caliber upside and the hype. Once the A’s deem him ready, Lowrie becomes a trade possibility. But Wendle’s advantage is that, to a degree, he’s already proven himself in the majors. He’s a known quantity at this level. If a second baseman is needed early in the season, Wendle could get a call-up before Barreto if Barreto gets off to a slow start.

As for Wendle’s future beyond 2017, it would serve him well to be able to handle as many positions as possible. He realizes this. That’s why he volunteered to play winter ball in Mexico this past offseason, where he played lots of shortstop. His role moving forward could be as more of a utility guy, because I see Barreto growing roots at second base.

@ONChristy: Do the A's have the pieces, both in the majors and minors, to make a run in 2018-2020?

Well, it’s definitely tough to look down the road and forecast a three-year block. Here’s a short answer for you: They better! All of the trades of the past couple seasons have been made with an eye toward stockpiling young talent — especially on the pitching side. Contending this year will be a tall order. But by the end of this season, I’d expect Barreto and third baseman Matt Chapman to have gotten their feet wet in the big leagues. There’s a strong chance you’ll also see young pitchers such as Frankie Montas and Daniel Gossett up. There’s a large core of young players who are on the cusp of being major league ready.

Add to that some core veterans such as Khris Davis, Kendall Graveman Marcus Semien and (if he’s not traded) Sonny Gray— who will all be under team control through 2019 at least — and the A’s have a solid foundation for contending in that timeframe you mention. But let’s face it, there’s a lot that can and usually does happen over any three-year span that completely changes what we think we know going in.