Athletics

Homer Bailey dominates Giants, making case to keep A's rotation spot

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AP

Homer Bailey dominates Giants, making case to keep A's rotation spot

SAN FRANCISCO -- There must be something about the Bay Area for Homer Bailey.

Since joining the A's last month, the veteran right-hander has been terrific in Northern California and, well, awful everywhere else. That trend continued Wednesday afternoon as Bailey spun seven innings of shutout ball against the Giants, allowing just two hits and a walk with seven strikeouts, leading Oakland to a 9-5 win at Oracle Park.

"I think it was his best stuff of the year," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "He had a great split, located his fastball really well, but really could throw his split in any count. He got some swings and misses with it, just enough side-to-side with his breaking ball. That's the best we've seen him."

In his four starts in either Oakland or San Francisco, Bailey is now 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA. In two starts outside of the Bay Area, the 33-year-old is 0-2 with a 21.60 ERA. Bailey still hasn't been able to determine the reason for his Jekyll and Hyde performances.

"Just pitching," he said. "Make good pitches, have a good game plan going into it and then try to execute it."

Unfortunately, Bailey hasn't been able to do that consistently this year. Even after Wednesday's gem, his ERA for the season is 5.22. Melvin believes the key lies in Bailey's split-finger fastball, arguably his best pitch.

"From what we've seen, it looks like when his split is on, he's a tough customer to deal with because he can throw it for a strike, he can throw it for chase, and it keeps guys off his fastball," Melvin explained.

Bailey agreed with that assessment.

"I think it's any pitcher in general," he said. "When you're able to use more than one pitch, and you can use it to get ahead or to get outs with, more times than not, you're going to have success."

Bailey's strong outing Wednesday certainly came at the perfect time -- his last start against the Cubs saw him allow seven earned runs in 4 2/3 innings. And with Sean Manaea getting close to returning from the injured list, Bailey's spot in the rotation is far from guaranteed, especially considering how well Oakland's other starters have pitched recently.

Mike Fiers has been the ace all season and is locked into that role. The newly-acquired Tanner Roark has pitched well in his first two A's outings and is also secure in the rotation.

Brett Anderson has been reliable all year and has recorded quality starts in seven of his last eight outings. Chris Bassitt has pitched brilliantly over the last month, going 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA in his last six starts.

[RELATED: A's DFA Taylor to make room for Corban Joseph]

That would seem to make Bailey the odd man out, at least heading into Wednesday's masterful performance. The key for him now is consistency. The A's need to know they can rely on him each and every start -- not necessarily to be great, but just to keep them in the game.

Bailey will face a stiff test his next time out, as he is lined up to face the American League-leading New York Yankees next week. We'll just have to wait and see which Bailey shows up.

Source: Free agent second baseman Eric Sogard interested in A's return

Source: Free agent second baseman Eric Sogard interested in A's return

Having a lefty bat at the second base position continues to be one of the A's main focuses this offseason

That could mean reuniting with Eric Sogard. A source tells NBC Sports California the 34-year-old is open to returning to Oakland.

Sogard, currently a free agent, had an exceptional campaign in 2019 slashing .290/.353/.457 with 13 homers across 110 games with the Blue Jays and the Rays. He was part of the Tampa Bay squad that came to the AL Wild-Card Game in Oakland and celebrated in the visitors' clubhouse.

A's fans remember the outcome of that. 

The second baseman spent six seasons with the A's from 2010-15 where he accumulated a .239 average with eight home runs and 105 RBI. 

The A's traded second baseman Jurickson Profar to the Padres on Dec. 2, so they have a need at the position.

Despite picking up a talented second baseman during Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, the team will still seek a more prominent starter at the position. 

[RELATED: A's are focused on keeping young stars]

The A's reportedly are interested in bringing current Mets second baseman Jed Lowrie back for the third time -- but there are 10 million reasons as to why the Mets wouldn't make a trade.

Did we mention Sogard bats left-handed yet?

2019 MLB Rule 5 Draft: A's lose Mark Payton, acquire minor leaguers

2019 MLB Rule 5 Draft: A's lose Mark Payton, acquire minor leaguers

As teams headed down south to the Winter Meetings in San Diego, the two main goals for the A's appeared to be finding a left-handed bat at second base, as well as continuing conversations with relief pitchers.

While the A's didn't make any huge acquisitions during the meetings, the 2019 Rule 5 Draft came and went as it does every year. With that, Oakland selected three players in the minor-league phase of the draft and had a couple more transactions as well.

Second baseman Vimael Machin was acquired from the Phillies for cash considerations. He will be competing for a roster spot.

The 26-year-old slashed .295/.390/.412 with seven home runs and 65 RBI across the Double and Triple-A teams in the Chicago Cubs organization last season. 

Jason Krizan was selected from the Mets during the Triple-A phase. The 30-year-old outfielder hit .275 across two teams last season. 

The Athletic's prospect writer Emily Waldon says he's going to be a solid addition to the A's organization.

"His walk rate has always been impressive," Waldon told NBC Sports California. "He doesn't have a ton of swing and misses, with some raw power, with eight to ten home run seasons. He's also a dependable defender with a good veteran presence." Waldon also joked Krizan has "80-grade sarcasm."

The A's also selected catcher Jose Colina, who put up some massive numbers with the Arizona League Indians Blue after signing with Cleveland as a minor-league free agent in June. The 21-year-old slashed .372/.443/.744 with eight homers and 20 RBI.

Right-handed pitcher Deivy Mendez rounds the group out. In 25 appearances across Single-A and Short-A last season with the Padres organization, he went 2-1 with six saves and a 4.20 ERA, striking out 33. 

[RELATED: A's interested in acquiring Lowrie for third time]

The Cincinnati Reds selected outfielder Mark Payton, who was claimed off waivers by the A's in December of 2018. Payton was selected during the major league phase of the draft which, according to Waldon, has the A's losing some muscle at the plate.

However, scouts reportedly didn't see the 28-year-old "doing a great deal outside of filling some needs." That power is what has gotten the most talk around Payton. 

Payton took advantage of the PCL last season with Triple-A Las Vegas and slashed .334/.400/.653 with 30 home runs and 97 RBI in 118 games.