Athletics

A's need to maintain momentum following three-game sweep of Orioles

A's need to maintain momentum following three-game sweep of Orioles

OAKLAND -- After losing two of three to the last-place Mariners, the A's desperately needed to get back on track. Lucky for them, the Baltimore Orioles were coming to town.

Oakland finished off a three-game sweep of the league-worst Orioles with an 8-3 win Wednesday afternoon. For the series, the A's outscored the O's 27-7.

The question now is whether Oakland can build off this momentum and go on an extended run.

"We'd like to be able to sustain it," said manager Bob Melvin. "We had the one 10-game winning streak where everything was hitting on all cylinders and we were playing really well, and then we couldn't follow it up. We lost five in a row after that. So we have to sustain it."

To this point, it has been a roller coaster of a season for the Green and Gold. Every time the A's seem poised to push well past the .500 mark, they have stumbled.

"We're a team of runs so far this year, which is kind of weird," said Wednesday's starting pitcher Chris Bassitt. "I feel like we lose a couple and then win a whole bunch. We've just got to maintain this and maintain consistent work every single day -- don't really go to the extremes of pressing. We're a great team."

The A's have failed to climb more than four games over .500 all season, achieving that mark on May 27 with a record of 29-25. Now at 39-36, they'll have a chance to push past that hurdle with the Tampa Bay Rays visiting the Coliseum for a four-game weekend series.

"Just keep playing our game," said catcher Josh Phegley. "I think we put pressure on ourselves to do well sometimes and I felt like we just were comfortable this series and kind of trusted that our offense was going to be there. Our pitchers kept us in the game. They gave us some good starts. I feel like that's just kind of a confidence-builder."

Designated hitter Khris Davis agreed with Phegley's assessment.

"Absolutely. It gives us momentum and we want to hold onto that."

[RELATED: Chapman remains open to talk about long-term A's deal]

Of course, last season the A's went on a remarkable run right around this time, finishing the season 63-29 after starting 34-36. While that type of stretch will be difficult to repeat, the team knows it has that capability.

"We've been on some runs before with this group of guys, so I know they're looking forward to getting as many games over .500 as we can," Melvin said. "We have a really tough team coming in, and we've got them for four, so we're going to have to play well."

Why A's should either trade or non-tender All-Star Blake Treinen

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Why A's should either trade or non-tender All-Star Blake Treinen

Editor's note: Over the next two weeks, we will examine 10 A's players who may or may not return to Oakland next season. For each player, we will provide reasons why the A's should bring him back and reasons why they should not, followed by a final determination.

Blake Treinen, RHP

Contract: Final year of arbitration (projected to get $7.8 million after earning $6.4 million this season)

Reasons to bring him back

In 2018, Blake Treinen enjoyed one of the greatest seasons in MLB history. The right-hander went 9-2 with 38 saves and a 0.78 ERA, notching 100 strikeouts in 80 1/3 innings.

Unfortunately, Treinen followed that up with the worst season of his career, going 6-5 with a 4.91 ERA in 2019, ultimately losing the closer job to Liam Hendriks. Still, Treinen's stuff looked dominant at times and he could certainly bounce back in 2020.

Treinen is still just 31 years old and should have some productive years ahead of him. His fastball averaged 97 mph this season with explosive movement. If he can improve his command, Treinen could still be a productive reliever moving forward.

Reasons to let him go

Treinen is coming off an incredibly disappointing season. He entered the year as one of the top closers in baseball, but quickly lost his closer job due to injury and poor performance.

Treinen's 4.91 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, and 5.14 FIP were all career worsts, as were his 37 walks in just 58 2/3 innings. He saw his season come to a premature end when an MRI revealed a stress reaction in his back. And pitchers and back injuries don't mix well (see: Marco Estrada). Tendering Treinen a contract would be a major risk.

Final verdict

Treinen could very well return to being an effective relief pitcher, but the A's can't afford to take that chance for nearly $8 million. That money would be better spent on multiple relievers to help shore up the team's shaky bullpen.

[RELATED: A's stay or go candidate for 2020 season: Jake Diekman]

Between Treinen's on-field struggles and the injury concerns, Oakland would be better off seeking an offseason trade of its former All-Star closer. If the A's can't get a deal done, look for a non-tender.

Why Jake Diekman's command issues could mean A's move on in offseason

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Why Jake Diekman's command issues could mean A's move on in offseason

Editor's note: Over the next two weeks, we will examine 10 A's players who might or might not return to Oakland next season. For each player, we will provide reasons why the A's should bring him back and reasons why they should not, followed by a final determination.

Jake Diekman, LHP

Contract: $5.75 million mutual option for 2020 ($500,000 buyout)

Reasons to bring him back

Diekman's stuff is undeniable. The 32-year-old left-hander boasts a 96-mph fastball along with a wicked slider, making him a tricky at-bat for right-handed and left-handed hitters alike.

Despite a 1-7 record and 4.65 ERA this season, Diekman notched 84 strikeouts in just 62 innings. For his career, he has averaged 11.2 punchouts per nine innings.

Another reason to keep Diekman is Oakland's lack of left-handed relievers. Jesús Luzardo and A.J. Puk both figure to move to the starting rotation next year and Ryan Buchter's return is far from certain. As a result, Diekman could be the only southpaw in the A's bullpen.

Reasons to let him go

While Diekman's strikeout numbers were highly impressive, his lack of command became a major issue down the stretch. He walked 39 batters this season, including 16 in 20 1/3 innings with the A's.

That contributed significantly to Diekman's disappointing 1.42 WHIP and 4.65 ERA. For $5.75 million, you'd have to think the A's would want someone more consistent and reliable in the late innings.

[RELATED: A's 3B coach Williams will manage in Korea next season]

Final verdict

Oakland is unlikely to bring Diekman back next season for a couple of reasons. Far too often, he just doesn't know where his pitches are going. Throughout his career, Diekman has averaged five walks per nine innings. That's a serious problem for a setup man.

The other factor is Diekman's $5.75 million price tag. That is a high figure for any non-closer, but particularly worrisome for a setup man who has proven to be inconsistent.

The A's would probably be wise to spend that money elsewhere.