Athletics

Orioles vs. A's lineups: Stephen Piscotty starting after melanoma scare

Orioles vs. A's lineups: Stephen Piscotty starting after melanoma scare

On Friday, A's right fielder Stephen Piscotty had surgery to remove a melanoma from his right ear. Three days later, he's back in the starting lineup as Oakland opens a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles at the Coliseum Monday night.

The A's lost two of the three games Piscotty missed, so his return will be a welcome sight for the club.

[RELATED: Piscotty addresses melanoma surgery]

With Piscotty back in the lineup, Mark Canha is on the bench.

Mike Fiers will get the start for the A's. In his last start against Tampa Bay, the veteran right-hander allowed three hits and two earned runs over six innings.

Baltimore Orioles (21-50):
1. Jonathan Villar (S) SS
2. Anthony Santander (S) LF
3. Trey Mancini (R) RF
4. Chance Sisco (L) C
5. Pedro Severino (R) DH
6. Rio Ruiz (L) 3B
7. Hanser Alberto (R) 2B
8. Chris Davis (L) 1B
9. Stevie Wilkerson (S) CF

RHP -- Andrew Cashner (6-2, 4.73 ERA)

Oakland A's (36-36):
1. Marcus Semien (R) SS
2. Matt Chapman (R) 3B
3. Matt Olson (L) 1B
4. Khris Davis (R) DH
5. Ramon Laureano (R) CF
6. Robbie Grossman (S) LF
7. Stephen Piscotty (R) RF
8. Jurickson Profar (S) 2B
9. Josh Phegley (R) C

RHP -- Mike Fiers (6-3, 4.63 ERA)

A's legend Mark McGwire has enjoyed watching power surge in baseball

mcgwireusa.jpg
USATSI

A's legend Mark McGwire has enjoyed watching power surge in baseball

OAKLAND -- Much has been made of the massive home run totals across Major League Baseball this year, with several teams -- including the A's -- setting franchise for most homers in a season.

In fact, the league itself set a record earlier this month, with nearly three weeks still remaining in the season.

Former A's star Mark McGwire, who hit more than a few home runs in his day, weighed in on this year's power surge across baseball.

"It's awesome," he said. "Obviously, there's a difference (with the baseballs), but I don't think that's the only thing. Guys are throwing harder and guys are getting used to hitting velo(city). Guys are getting bigger and the way they're generating bat speed, the ball's coming in and when it hits it goes. There are a lot of factors. Maybe the ball has something to do with it. Some of these games I watch, I feel like I want to put a uniform on and go out there and play."

McGwire is far from the only person who has speculated about the baseballs. Astros ace Justin Verlander has been one of the louder voices in that discussion.

While it seems clear that something is going on with the balls, the increase in power numbers also can be explained by the approach hitters are taking. Terms like "launch angle" and "exit velocity" have become commonplace in the baseball lexicon, as power hitters try to get balls in the air as often as possible.

[RELATED: Why Rangers manager likes A's chances to win World Series]

Of course, McGwire had a similar approach at the plate, although the terms themselves had no meaning yet.

"We didn't know what that was," he laughed. "We just hit. ... You're going to create launch angle by squaring up the baseball and trying to hit it as hard as you can. That's it. I mean, I would've loved to see what mine was because that's all I did was hit fly balls. ... That was just my swing. I think a lot of people get caught up in the launch angle stuff, but the bottom line is you still have to hit the ball hard."

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.