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2021 Series Preview: Oakland Athletics @ Houston Astros

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The Astros (52-33, 1st in AL West) begin the last homestand before the break with three games against the A’s (49-37, 2nd in AL West)

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Quick Notes

The A’s arrive in town hoping to regain the top spot in the AL West after the Astros slipped past them to reclaim the crown. Down 3.5 games they won’t be able to do it during this series, but a series win or sweep by the Astros would make the hole they currently find themselves in that much more difficult to climb out of.

The A’s have not had it easy as of late and have not won a series since sweeping the Angels back on June 16th. In that time they’ve faced off against the Yankees, Giants, Red Sox, and the Rangers, who they have played 7 games against in the last two weeks. They’ll need to turn their fortunes around in a hurry if they don’t want to find themselves lagging even further heading into the All Star Break.

Last 10 Games: 4-6 Record, 3 Series Lost, 0 Run Differential (35 scored, 35 allowed)

W/L Splits: 27-22 at home, 22-15 on the road, 25-27 against teams over .500


Offense

In 2021 the A’s are doing what they seemingly do every year as of late: Staying competitive with a perfectly average offense. The team’s collective slash line of .233/.315/.403 is nothing to write home about and places them firmly in the middle of the pack for most stats.

They don’t really excel in any one traditional stat when compared to the rest of the league. The best they do is 9th for both doubles (139) and triples (13), but after that there’s just not much to crow about.

Honestly, It’s always kind of baffled me that this team is so competitive year after year with such middling offensive production. They do have a knack for the clutch hits when it matters late in games, so maybe it’s a case of being lucky rather than good.

Notable Players:

  • Matt Olson (.283/.372/.552) is the A’s lone All Star this season and deservedly so. His .923 OPS is best on the team, and it makes him one of just three players with an OPS north of .800. He’s also Oakland’s biggest power threat, already having mashed 20 taters and popped 18 doubles.
  • Old Friend Tony Kemp (.261/.385/.418) is having one of his best MLB seasons so far with Oakland. He’s been a steady producer for the A’s and is one of the three player with an OPS over .800.
  • I should mention Mark Canha (.255/.375/.450) here because he’s definitely notable as the A’s second-best offensive player. However, he is currently on the IL with a left hip strain and it looks like Oakland will not have him in the lineup until after the break.

Pitching

The A’s pitching doesn’t really get better in comparison to their offense, trending more towards average rather than elite. As a unit their 3.83 ERA isn’t so bad in and of itself, but their .245 BAA is tied for 19th in the league. Still, there’s nothing intrinsically bad about the A’s pitching, they just don’t really excel in any one category as a group.

When you compare the starters and relievers stats, the bullpen has been the weaker link for the A’s so far in 2021. As a group, relievers own a 4.08 ERA versus 3.69 by the starters. They have also blown 11 saves in 32 opportunities.

Notable Relievers:

  • Closer Lou Trivino (RHP, 2.01 ERA, 40.1 IP, 37 K’s) has been excellent in the 9th inning this season. He’s successfully converted 13 of 15 save opportunities and took home AL Reliever of the Month honors for June. He’s only allowed two runs, one earned, since the beginning of June.
  • Yusmeiro Petit (RHP, 2.09 ERA, 43.2 IP, 23 K’s) has long been a trusted arm and workhorse in the A’s pen. Petit is a bit of a swiss army knife for Melvin and he can go longer than one inning, though he doesn’t do that as often as he used to. He has also snagged himself a couple of saves so far in 2021.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Chris Bassitt (RHP, 9-2, 3.04 ERA, 109 K’s) vs Framber Valdez (LHP, 5-1, 2.18 ERA, 41 K’s)

Bassitt was the A’s Opening Day starter and has definitely put up Ace stuff for Oakland this season. He will regularly go 6 innings in his outings and has given up more than 2 runs just 4 times in 17 starts. Bassitt also has a complete game shutout under his belt. He tossed 7 innings of shutout ball in his last start, which was against the Rangers.

Game 2: Sean Manaea (LHP, 6-5, 3.13 ERA, 102 K’s) vs Luis Garcia (RHP, 6-5, 3.14 ERA, 90 K’s)

Manaea has looked like the ace of the future for the A’s at times and really his season has only been marred by a few clunkers. He did get slapped around a little by the Rangers his last time out, giving up 4 runs in 5 innings, but that was the first time he had surrendered more than 2 runs in a start since May 18th.

Game 3: Frankie Montas (RHP, 7-7, 4.63 ERA, 95 K’s) vs Lance McCullers Jr. (RHP, 6-1, 2.97 ERA, 81 K’s)

Montas has seesawed back and forth between dominance and being a complete disaster this season. He delivered a good outing against the Red Sox his last time out, giving up just two runs across 5.2 innings. He also gave up 8 runs in 5.2 innings during a start against Texas just two turns before that.


For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Tuesday, July 6th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Athletics - Bloomberg 960 AM, A’s Cast / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2
Watch: Athletics - NBCSCA / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 2: Wednesday, July 7th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Athletics - Bloomberg 960 AM, A’s Cast / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2
Watch: Athletics - NBCSCA / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 3: Thursday, July 8th @ 1:10 pm CDT
Listen: Athletics - Bloomberg 960 AM, A’s Cast / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010
Watch: Athletics - NBCSCA / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW


Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Astros Sweep 3-0
    (70 votes)
  • 66%
    Astros Win 2-1
    (185 votes)
  • 3%
    A’s Win 2-1
    (10 votes)
  • 4%
    A’s Sweep 3-0
    (12 votes)
277 votes total Vote Now