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2020 Series Preview: Oakland Athletics @ Houston Astros

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The Astros (17-14, 2nd in AL West) have an opportunity to make up some divisional ground with three games against the Athletics (22-10, 1st in AL West)

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

A’s Quick Notes

The A’s head into town riding high as one of the best teams in the league. They’re led by a young core of players that have begun to come into their own and have reignited the hopes of Oakland baseball fans.

The formula in 2020 has been a combination of power and patience as Oakland his mashed 45 home runs this season to go with 138 walks, a mark that’s good for second in the league. They’re also in the top five for triples in 2020, but funnily enough they drop off rather suddenly in other offensive categories after that. They don’t really figure into the top ten in almost any other traditional stat.

Still, it’s all been good enough to add up to second in all of MLB so far as record is concerned. While the offense hasn’t been too explosive beyond the home runs, the A’s have a penchant for clutch hitting and have already completed a number of come from behind victories this season.

Matt Chapman is generally agreed upon to be one of the faces of the Athletics and has all-star potential written all over him on both sides of the plate. He’s having an excellent season so far at the mid-point, but certainly hasn’t been the best player on the A’s with a .240/.289/.560 slash line. His calling card has been power with 20 of his 30 hits going for extra bases this year.

But old friend Robbie Grossman is actually having a little bit of a better season if you can believe it. Grossman has played in only 26 games as opposed to the team-high 32, but he leads the team in OPS with a .977 mark. He also leads the team with 4 steals and is tied with Chapman at 2 triples.

Mark Canha, Stephen Piscotty (who leads the team with 26 RBI), and Matt Olson have all been steady at the plate as well in 2020. Canha is sporting a .404 OBP so expect him to be on the paths this series. Probably the biggest stand-out after that is Ramon Laureano, who gets on base often enough but has come down off of a hot start to begin the season.

The Oakland bullpen has been a strength this season and leads the league with a 1.88 ERA. They also have a top three BAA at .195 and WHIP at 1.04. Liam Hendriks remains the closer after assuming the role full time for Oakland in 2019. Hendriks has already successfully converted 10 of 11 save opportunities this season and has looked good doing it. He has a 1.10 ERA in 16.1 innings this year.

Joakim Soria and Jake Diekman have been playing high leverage roles as well and both have been ridiculously difficult to hit in 2020. Diekman has yet to give up a run in 12 innings of work this year while Soria has a 1.23 ERA in 14.2. They’re hardly the only ones off to a good start though, especially considering TJ McFarland’s 0.71 ERA. Seven relievers in Oakland’s pen have a sub-300 ERA.

One story out of Oakland’s pen has been Burch Smith, who has been a journeyman in his last few seasons. Smith has been mostly terrible in that time but started this year going more than 10 innings before finally giving up a run. He did give up three in his last outing though so his numbers may be on their way to correcting.

The A’s have only announced the starter for game 1 of the series, who will be right handed pitcher Chris Bassit. Bassit is 2-1 so far in 2020 and has a 2.97 ERA in 6 games. Bassit has been steady for the A’s rotation since last season and is off to one the best starts of his career. He looked particularly good in his one start against the Astros this season, striking out three and allowing just one earned run across seven innings.

With the A’s having voted to cancel last night’s game it’s not clear if the rotation will be the same going forward. If so then Frankie Montas could appear in this slot. Montas was much hyped thanks to an electric fastball, but he has yet to find sustained success at the major league level. His only truly dominant start this season did come against Houston though, with 7 innings of shutout ball. He’s laid a couple of eggs since then, giving up 13 earned runs in 6.1 innings across his last two starts.

Jesus Lazardo is next up if the rotation holds true, and he will provide a nice bookend for the A’s this series. Luzardo has been mostly solid for Oakland while starting but has had one clunker. That came after his lone start against Houston where he tossed 5.2 innings of 2-run ball.

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Friday, August 28th @ 8:10 pm CDT
Listen: Athletics - A’s Cast, Bloomberg 960 AM / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 101.7 FM/850 AM
Watch: Athletics - NBCSCA / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 2: Saturday, August 29th @ 6:10 pm CDT
Listen: Athletics - A’s Cast, Bloomberg 960 AM / Astros - KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2,La Ranchera 101.7 FM/850 AM
Watch: Athletics - NBCSCA / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 3: Sunday, August 30th @ 1:10 pm CDT
Listen: Athletics - A’s Cast, Bloomberg 960 AM / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 101.7 FM/850 AM
Watch: Athletics - NBCSCA / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Astros Sweep 3-0
    (18 votes)
  • 36%
    Astros win 2-1
    (43 votes)
  • 38%
    Athletics Win 2-1
    (45 votes)
  • 10%
    Athletics Sweep 3-0
    (12 votes)
118 votes total Vote Now