The A’s find themselves heading toward the playoff bubble with a little extra incentive holding the AL West title, but they didn’t earn it without a fight.
The 60-game 2020 MLB season on paper might appear to be less intimidating, but the A’s went through their fair share of bumps in the road. Despite the expanded playoffs and plenty of eyes watching various teams, there is only one green and gold squad.
Here is why you should root for the Oakland A’s in the 2020 postseason:
What a story.
During spring training, it was unknown where Chris Bassitt would be in the rotation.
He also proved he could come out of the bullpen last year when former A’s closer Blake Treinen's season ended early due to back injury. Now, Bassitt is the A’s best and most consistent pitcher.
In 11 starts this season, Bassitt boasts a 2.29 ERA with 55 strikeouts and a 1.159 WHIP.
He’s able to shave off so much velocity from his fastball and to throw guys off balance with his long, slow curve, and might even be introducing a new pitch into his repertoire.
Last A’s season for Semien?
A’s shortstop Marcus Semien is poised to be one of the top free agents in 2021. He avoided arbitration and signed a one-year, $13 million contract with the A’s in the offseason, which means his future remains unknown.
Semien has said he wants to stay with the A’s, but it’s been a while since the team has signed a player to a lengthy extension. In 2004, Oakland signed six-time Gold Glover Eric Chávez to a six-year, $66 million contract.
Khris Davis' two-year, $33.5 million contract extension last season could have hinted at similar moves in the future, but for now, that’s not the case.
Semien, a Bay Area native, hasn’t had the season he desired in 2020, slashing .223/.305/.374 with seven home runs and 23 RBI.
He did have a league-leading 747 plate appearances in 2019, starting in all 162 games at shortstop, so hopefully, that remains fresh in the memory of the A’s, or other potential future homes for Semien.
La Stella and Lamb
Infielder Tommy La Stella was acquired by the A’s from the Los Angeles Angels, and it was a match made in heaven -- pun slightly intended.
The 2019 All-Star infielder always makes contact and boasts a 5.5 percent strikeout rate this season and came in at the perfect time with Platinum Glove Award winner Matt Chapman out for the season with a strained right hip.
A’s utility player Chad Pinder could have been the backup for Chapman, but he too sustained an injury. Pinder is dealing with a hamstring injury, and he hopes he can be back before the playoffs.
Third baseman Jake Lamb also has been contributing to help fill the void left by Chapman.
Lamb, who was DFA’d by the Arizona Diamondbacks two weeks ago and was picked up by the A's, looks like the All-Star-caliber player he was in 2017. In 13 games wearing A’s colors, he had 12 hits.
The good news: The A’s won the AL West. The unfortunate news: A wild-card game will still take place. More good news: The A’s will play at least two games in the process. The best-of-three series against the Chicago White Sox begins Tuesday at 12 p.m. PT at the Oakland Coliseum.
The expanded playoffs are weird just as the season has been.
Let’s just hope they don’t get eliminated before the real games begin.
Bullpen's on a roll
Following Sunday's win over the Seattle Mariners, the A’s bullpen collectively had a league-best 2.72 ERA with Liam Hendriks continuing his dominance as the closer.
Take a look at these numbers (via Baseball Savant):
That’s a lot of red.
Hendriks has a 1.78 ERA this season, his velocity has been great, and he’s coming off of an All-Star selection last season.
(these numbers will need to be updated also)
They're just a fun team