Athletics

Mike Fiers makes case to start AL wild-card game in A's win vs. Rangers

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AP

Mike Fiers makes case to start AL wild-card game in A's win vs. Rangers

OAKLAND -- I guess it's safe to say that Mike Fiers' hand feels just fine.

After leaving his last start early with numbness in his pitching hand, the right-hander responded with eight scoreless innings Saturday night, allowing just two hits with five strikeouts, as the A's shut out the Rangers, 8-0.

"I felt fine," Fiers confirmed after the game. "Just a sigh of relief that everything was good, so now (I have) peace of mind that I can go back out there and pitch."

Fiers improved to 15-4 on the season, marking the most wins by an A's pitcher since Scott Kazmir won 15 in 2014. He also looked like the Mike Fiers we've seen for most of the year, following three straight disappointing outings where he allowed 16 earned runs in 7 2/3 innings.

"The last three starts haven't been ideal, so I wanted to show these guys I've still got it," Fiers said. "When you have those starts back-to-back-to-back, only going one inning in two of those games, it just looks bad. It's a bad look. Everyone's throwing well, so if I do that, it might set in their mind that, 'Hey, we need to get this guy some more work.' So coming out today, I needed to make a statement and show them I could still pitch and (I'm) still the guy out there fighting."

Fiers, 34, has been especially effective at the Coliseum this season. In 16 home starts, he has gone 9-1 with a 2.54 ERA.

"(He has) a lot of confidence," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "When he takes the mound here, you know he feels good, and the numbers would suggest that. It's a really good ballpark for him. When he's got all his pitches going like he did tonight -- his slider and changeup with his fastball and curveball -- he's a tough guy to deal with."

"I like pitching here. I feel comfortable," Fiers said. "The weather's great. It's not humid. It just feels like home and I love pitching here. I think the confidence is just a little bit higher. I love it here."

[RELATED: Beane vows to enjoy playoff run]

That certainly makes Fiers an intriguing option to start the AL Wild Card Game, especially if it's in Oakland. While the A's lead the Rays and Indians by just two games in that race, Fiers admits to looking forward to that opportunity.

"Everyone wants to make it tough on Bob (Melvin) to choose who it's going to be or what plan we're going to go with," Fiers said. "But it's all about winning that game today."

Why A's shortstop Marcus Semien could be MVP candidate again in 2020

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USATSI

Why A's shortstop Marcus Semien could be MVP candidate again in 2020

Marcus Semien fell short of winning the AL MVP Award, but his third-place finish might be just the beginning.

At 29 years old, the A's shortstop still is very much in his prime and has significantly improved in each of his five seasons with Oakland.

When Semien first joined the A's at the age of 24, he was a decent hitter but looked completely lost in the field. In 2015, he committed a league-high 35 errors, prompting many to believe that he could never develop into a major-league shortstop.

But with the help of Ron Washington, Semien went to work. He spent hours upon hours working on his footwork, glovework, and consistency. Fast forward to 2019 and Semien has transformed into a back-to-back Gold Glove Award finalist.

Semien's offensive development has been just as impressive. This past season, the Bay Area native slashed .285/.369/.522 with 33 home runs, 43 doubles, 92 RBI, and 123 runs scored. He notched career-highs in just about every offensive stat imaginable, ranking near the top of the majors in all of the important categories.

Most impressive, Semien's 8.1 WAR (wins above replacement) was fourth-best in baseball, behind only Mike Trout, Alex Bregman, and Cody Bellinger. Semien started all 162 games at shortstop, batting in the leadoff spot for 145 of those contests. And the scariest part for the rest of the league is that he continues to get better.

"He becomes a better hitter every year," A's manager Bob Melvin said earlier this year. "Nobody works harder than Marcus Semien. He knows what he needs to work on."

After the All-Star break, Semien arguably was the most productive hitter in baseball. In 70 games, he slashed .304/.396/.621 with 19 homers, 22 doubles, five triples, 44 RBI, and 62 runs.

If Semien continues at that rate next season, it would translate to 44 home runs, 51 doubles, 12 triples, 102 RBI, and 143 runs over the course of 162 games. That certainly is MVP-caliber.

Of course, the A's have a major decision to make -- Semien is set to become a free agent after the 2020 season and figures to see some big-money offers. Will Oakland sign its star shortstop to an expensive extension or instead turn the reigns over to young prospect Jorge Mateo?

[RELATED: A's Luzardo an intriguing case for 2020 Rookie of the Year]

Semien is entering his final year of arbitration, where he is projected to get $13.5 million. After that, the A's could choose to make a qualifying offer to Semien for 2021, but there is no guarantee he would accept.

If 2020 does end up being Semien's last year in Oakland, it figures to be another special one. This year he was an MVP finalist. Perhaps next year he'll just be the MVP.

A's gain hope as City of Oakland drops lawsuit against Alameda County

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AP

A's gain hope as City of Oakland drops lawsuit against Alameda County

There's still a long way to go, but the A's are one step closer to getting a new stadium built in Oakland.

On Wednesday, the Oakland City Council directed the City Attorney to immediately drop Oakland's lawsuit against Alameda County, paving the way for the sale of the Coliseum.

"We are pleased that the Oakland City Council has directed the City Attorney to immediately drop this lawsuit," A's President Dave Kaval said in a team statement. "We are committed to the long-term success of East Oakland and the Coliseum site. We look forward to finalizing our agreement with Alameda County, and creating a mutually beneficial partnership with the City of Oakland."

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred previously had warned Oakland officials in October to drop the lawsuit for fear of losing the team to relocation.

With the lawsuit dropped, the City of Oakland and the A's can move forward on the sale of the Coliseum land, on which the A's intend to develop housing, shops, restaurants and a park that will help fund the Howard Terminal site.