Athletics

A's more than happy to take flier on former All-Star Matt Harvey

A's more than happy to take flier on former All-Star Matt Harvey

OAKLAND -- It was only four years ago that Matt Harvey was one of the best starting pitchers in all of baseball.

The right-hander had just finished his third season with the Mets, recording a sub-three ERA each year while averaging better than a strikeout per inning. From there, it's been a rapid decline, due in part to injuries, but also just poor performance.

The A's decided it was worth taking a chance on the 30-year-old former All-Star, signing him to a minor-league contract and assigning him to Triple-A Las Vegas, where he will pitch Saturday night.

"You look at some of the stuff, it doesn't look too much different than it did last year," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We're just going to give him some starts down in Triple-A and see where we are with that. You can never have too much depth. You never know about injuries and so forth, so we're giving him an opportunity to get some starts under his belt and we'll see where we go with him. We're not sure yet either."

Harvey did show some signs of bouncing back last season, as Melvin referenced. After getting traded from the Mets to the Reds, he went 7-7 with a 4.50 ERA, despite pitching in hitter-friendly Cincinnati.

That earned him a one-year, $11 million deal with the Angels, but he never came close to living up to it. Harvey went 3-5 with a 7.09 ERA and 1.54 WHIP in 12 starts, ultimately getting designated for assignment and then released last month.

Harvey did pitch well in his one start against Oakland this season, allowing just two runs on four hits in six innings on March 29. Melvin came away impressed with what he saw.

"He came out and looked like he was throwing hard, looked like he was elevating like he has in the past, and had a good breaking ball," the A's skipper said. "I was impressed by his stuff, so he's a good guy to take a chance on."

Let's be honest, there was a reason Harvey was available and willing to sign a minor-league deal. He's clearly nowhere near the pitcher he was four years ago. But his velocity still is decent -- his fastball lives at 93 mph -- and he throws four different pitches. Plus, if there's any organization that can get his career back on track, it's the A's.

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Last season, Oakland squeezed quality innings out of down-on-their-luck veterans Edwin Jackson and Trevor Cahill. This year, it's been Brett Anderson and Homer Bailey. Perhaps Harvey can follow in their footsteps.

"I think we are a place that maybe even some of the guys who are free agents look to," Melvin said. "We're not afraid to take a chance on a guy who's been banged up a little bit. So yeah, I think any pitcher in (Harvey's) situation right now, you would probably look to our club and say, 'Can I get an opportunity?' Because we've resurrected quite a few guys in the past."

Tanner Roark pitching his way out of A's potential MLB playoff rotation

Tanner Roark pitching his way out of A's potential MLB playoff rotation

OAKLAND -- Tanner Roark got off to a great start with the A's after coming over from Cincinnati in a July 31 trade. The right-hander went 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA in his first six starts with Oakland.

Unfortunately for Roark, his last three starts have been a completely different story. The 32-year-old has allowed 14 earned runs in 14 1/3 innings for an ERA of 8.79.

Sunday's outing against the Rangers was Roark's worst of the season. He surrendered a career-high four home runs and gave up five earned runs in just three innings, as Texas breezed to an 8-3 win.

"(This loss) is on me," Roark said after the game. "It was a rough outing altogether. (They were) putting good swings on bad pitches. I left the ball over the plate a lot of times and when you do that in this league, they get hit hard and they get hit far."

A's manager Bob Melvin offered insight into what happened to Roark.

"They were just on him early," Melvin said. "A lot of times, when you have a chance (against) a good starter, it's early in the game. They got him before he could get into his rhythm and hit some balls out of the ballpark. ... It doesn't minimize our feeling about Tanner. He's been great for us."

While that may have been true last month, it's not quite the case anymore. In nine starts with the A's, Roark has a 4.50 ERA. At this point, he seems unlikely to be in the starting rotation if Oakland reaches the American League Division Series, especially considering how well the team's other starters have pitched.

Sean Manaea and Mike Fiers have been excellent, while Homer Bailey has looked phenomenal in his last seven starts. That likely leaves Roark, Brett Anderson, and Chris Bassitt battling for the No. 4 job.

[RELATED: How Melvin will utilize bullpen down stretch]

Even if the A's elect to keep Bassitt in the bullpen, Anderson has been far more consistent than Roark, allowing three earned runs or fewer in six straight starts.

The A's still have six games remaining in the regular season, which means Roark might get one more chance to make a better statement. But as of now, he has to be the odd man out.

Why Rangers manager Chris Woodward likes A's chances in MLB playoffs

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USATSI

Why Rangers manager Chris Woodward likes A's chances in MLB playoffs

OAKLAND -- Count Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward among those who believe in the Oakland A's this postseason.

Woodward had plenty of compliments for the Green and Gold ahead of Sunday's series finale, as reported by MLB.com's Martín Gallegos.

It certainly makes sense that Woodward is impressed by the A's. After all, Oakland has won 13 of 18 games against the Rangers this season, including the last seven. Through two games this weekend, the A's have outscored Texas 20-3.

Oakland is also playing its best baseball of the season at the right time. The A's have won 10 of their last 11 games and 15 of their last 18.

[RELATED: How A's will use bullpen down stretch]

Still, Oakland's path to a potential World Series will be treacherous. If they can get past the wild-card round, the A's will likely have to beat the Astros, Yankees, and Dodgers in succession.

But it's nice to know that Chris Woodward has faith.