The A's didn't announce their starting pitcher for Wednesday's American League Wild Card Game against the Yankees until the day before, and reliever/opener extraordinaire Liam Hendriks will get the ball. He likely will be followed by a cavalcade of relief pitchers out of Oakland's deep bullpen in New York.
Here's an inning-by-inning breakdown of what that could look like.
Hendriks has proven to be a reliable opener, pitching eight consecutive scoreless first innings. This will be his most difficult challenge, though, facing the top of a stacked Yankees lineup.
Hendriks figures to see Andrew McCutchen, Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks, with Giancarlo Stanton and Luke Voit lingering in the four and five spots.
Second and third innings
If Hendriks pitches well in the first, A's manager Bob Melvin very well could stick with him for a second inning of work. If not, Lou Trivino would be a solid option for innings two and three.
After struggling for much of September, Trivino got back on track with two 1-2-3 outings against the Angels over the weekend.
Fourth and fifth innings
The second trip through the Yankees' order might go to right-handers Shawn Kelley and J.B. Wendelken. Kelley has been tremendous since joining the A's from the Nationals, allowing four runs in 16 2/3 innings for an ERA of 2.16. Wendelken has been one of the biggest surprises in all of baseball, surrendering just one run in 16 2/3 innings for a 0.54 ERA.
Sixth and seventh innings
Jeurys Familia and Fernando Rodney should handle some of the later innings, with a possible appearance from left-hander Ryan Buchter if a matchup calls for it. Melvin probably has more faith in Familia than Rodney at this point, though both are capable of pitching two full innings.
Familia did struggle a bit in September, but he looked good in his two most recent appearances, tossing two perfect innings in Seattle and Anaheim. Rodney, on the other hand, allowed runs in his last two outings and posted an 8.38 ERA in September.
Eighth and ninth innings
This obviously is Blake Treinen time.
The A's closer put together one of the greatest regular seasons by a reliever in baseball history, going 9-2 with 38 saves and an MLB-leading 0.78 ERA. Treinen also has proven more than capable of pitching multiple innings. In fact, don't be surprised if he pitches the seventh, eighth and ninth if the A's are tied or have a lead.
Extra innings (if necessary)
In this scenario, the A's still would have Yusmeiro Petit and Cory Gearrin available in the bullpen, along with whichever starter they put on the roster -- likely either Mike Fiers or Edwin Jackson. That group could provide several innings of relief if the game went really long.
Rodney also might be available if Melvin elects not to use him in the sixth, seventh or eighth. It then would be up to the offense to provide some runs and send the A's to Boston for the ALDS.
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