Athletics

Sean Manaea leaves huge hole in A's rotation in the present and future

Sean Manaea leaves huge hole in A's rotation in the present and future

The news just kept getting worse for the A's Tuesday. First, the team announced that left-handed pitcher Sean Manaea will undergo shoulder surgery September 19, ending his season. Then, manager Bob Melvin told reporters in Baltimore that Manaea will likely miss all of next season as well.

Manaea, 26, will be the fifth A's starting pitcher to undergo season-ending surgery in 2018, joining Jharel Cotton, A.J. Puk, Daniel Gossett, and Kendall Graveman. Through it all, Oakland has somehow managed to put together an 88-57 record.

With Manaea officially done for 2018, Melvin faces an interesting challenge down the stretch, and into the postseason. The A's are down to just three healthy starters on the active roster in Mike Fiers, Edwin Jackson, and Trevor Cahill. Brett Anderson is expected to return from a forearm injury this week, which would make four. Daniel Mengden and Frankie Montas could also make spot starts if necessary, though they have been inconsistent.

Clearly, Fiers has emerged as the new ace of the staff. Since joining the A's, he is 5-0 with a 2.72 ERA , allowing two runs or fewer in six of his seven starts. The 33-year-old has playoff experience from his time in Houston and would likely start Oakland's first playoff game.

Jackson has to be considered the number two starter heading into the postseason. He has allowed three runs or fewer in 11 of his 14 starts this year, going 5-3 with a 3.26 ERA. At the age of 35, he also has immeasurable experience and poise on the mound.

After that it gets tricky. Cahill has been phenomenal at home, but absolutely terrible on the road. It would be almost impossible to start him away from the Coliseum in the playoffs. Luckily for the A's, managers can usually manipulate their rotation to set up favorable matchups in the postseason, thanks to extra days off for travel.

Anderson had been pitching well before going on the disabled list. If he can return to form, he would figure to round out the A's postseason rotation.

Of course, there's also the unique strategy of "bullpenning," which the A's have tried out a few times this month. Liam Hendriks has pitched three straight scoreless first innings, and he could be an option to "open" in the playoffs, backed up by Oakland's lock-down bullpen.

The A's will obviously also feel the loss of Manaea next season. Out of the four healthy members of their current starting rotation, only Fiers is under team control for next year. Cotton and Puk will both be coming off Tommy John surgery and ideally would join the rotation early in the season. Top prospect Jesus Luzardo, 20, could certainly get a shot after a tremendous season in the minors. Montas and Mengden will also have opportunities to earn spots in the rotation.

So far the A's have found a way to overcome every obstacle they've faced this season. There's no reason to believe they can't do it one more time.

Former A's pitcher Bartolo Colon throws to kids in Dominican Republic

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Former A's pitcher Bartolo Colon throws to kids in Dominican Republic

Sorry Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds and Mike Trout.

But Bartolo Colon is the greatest baseball player ever.

Colon is an absolute legend. He pitched last season with the Texas Rangers at the age of 45, and he probably wanted to keep pitching this season, but no team signed him.

So what better way to scratch the pitching itch than to crash some kids' pick-up baseball game and throw heat by the overmatched youngsters.

That's exactly what the former A's pitcher did this week, and he posted videos on his Instagram feed.

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Spending time in Los Rincones de Guananico

A post shared by Bartolo Colon (@bcolon40) on

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Los rincones de Guananico

A post shared by Bartolo Colon (@bcolon40) on

But Big Sexy wasn't done. The very next day, Colon crashed another pick-up game.

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Eso es en los caño de maimon

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[RELATED: What are A's playoff chances?]

Can a major league team please sign Bartolo? He's a national treasure, and we deserve to watch him pitch for another 15 years.

AL wild-card race reset: Breaking down A's chances of making playoffs

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AL wild-card race reset: Breaking down A's chances of making playoffs

OAKLAND -- With just nine games left in the regular season, the A's are in a great position to lock up a playoff berth for the second consecutive year.

Oakland sits atop the AL wild-card standings at 92-61, two games ahead of Tampa Bay and 2 1/2 games in front of Cleveland. The A's also have the easiest remaining schedule of the three clubs.

Here's a breakdown of each team's final three series and their odds to make the playoffs:

A's: 92-61 (9 games remaining)

3 vs. Rangers (74-79)
2 at Angels (69-83)
4 at Mariners (64-88)

Oakland will play its final nine games of the regular season against sub-.500 AL West opponents. With a magic number of eight to clinch the top-wild card position, the A's likely only need to win five of the nine games. A 6-3 record would just about guarantee them the top spot.

According to FanGraphs, the A's have a 96.3 percent chance of making the playoffs.

Rays: 90-63 (9 games remaining)

4 vs. Red Sox (79-72)
2 vs. Yankees (99-54)
3 at Blue Jays (61-91)

The Rays have the most difficult remaining schedule of the three wild-card contenders, with six games against the Red Sox and Yankees. New York still has something to play for as they try to beat out Houston for home-field advantage, while Boston's lineup is always dangerous.

FanGraphs gives Tampa Bay a 59.9 percent chance of making the playoffs.

Indians: 89-63 (10 games remaining)

1 vs. Tigers (45-106)
3 vs. Phillies (78-72)
3 at White Sox (66-86)
3 at Nationals (83-68)

The Indians have two tough series remaining as they battle the Phillies and Nationals from the NL East. Washington currently leads the NL wild-card race, while Philadelphia is three games out of the second spot.

According to FanGraphs, Cleveland has a 44.0 percent chance of making the playoffs.

Tiebreakers

The A's own tiebreakers against both the Rays and Indians, having won the season series against each club. That means, in the case of a two-team tie between the A's and either Tampa Bay or Cleveland, Oakland would still host the Wild Card Game.

[RELATED: Red-hot A's have work to do to attract fans]

It gets more complicated if all three teams tie for the two wild-card positions. The A's still own the tiebreaker, so they would host the Rays, with the winner earning the top wild-card spot. The Indians would then host the loser, with the winner of that game claiming the second wild-card position.

Of course, if the A's handle their business, it won't come down to tiebreakers.