Why A's should start surging Sean Manaea in AL Wild Card Game vs. Rays

Why A's should start surging Sean Manaea in AL Wild Card Game vs. Rays

We now know the A's will face the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Wild Card Game on Wednesday night. We also know that Tampa Bay will start right-hander Charlie Morton, who made his second straight All-Star Game this season.

What we don't know is which pitcher the A's will choose as their starter. Oakland has two good options -- right-hander Mike Fiers and lefty Sean Manaea. However, what once seemed like a difficult decision is now much more clear. Manaea is the right choice.

After missing the first five months of the season recovering from shoulder surgery, Manaea has been nearly unhittable in September. In five starts, he has gone 4-0 with a 1.21 ERA and 0.78 WHIP, with 30 strikeouts compared to seven walks.

Meanwhile, Fiers has struggled in his five September starts, going 1-1 with a 7.84 ERA. Sure, much of that damage took place in Houston, where he allowed nine earned runs in just one inning. But even in his four other starts, Fiers' ERA was 4.12.

Fiers had an incredible run in the middle of the season, winning 12 straight decisions. Unfortunately, he has really only been sharp in one of his last five starts. Manaea, on the other hand, has been a model of consistency, even going back to his rehab starts in Triple-A.

You could argue that Oakland should save Manaea for Game 1 of the ALDS in Houston, a place that has given Fiers nightmares this season. It's certainly a logical argument, but the Rays are playing too well to look past them in the Wild Card Game.

Tampa Bay has won seven of its last eight games and 15 of its last 20. Morton, in particular, has owned the A's this season, allowing just one run in 13 1/3 innings. The A's don't have the luxury of looking ahead to the ALDS.

If you're thinking about the Rays' lefty-righty splits, they're nearly identical. Tampa Bay has a .255/.326/.422 slash line against southpaws, compared to .254/.326/.437 against righties. Not much help there.

[RELATED: A's forget about loss to Mariners celebrating second straight playoff berth]

Fiers did fare well against the Rays in two starts this season, going 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA, but last season he was 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA. Plus, Tampa Bay hasn't seen Manaea this year, which could be an even greater advantage for Oakland.

Wherever the AL Wild Card Game is played, the A's have to go with their absolute best option on the mound. Right now, that's Sean Manaea.

A's top pick Logan Davidson among spring training non-roster invitees

A's top pick Logan Davidson among spring training non-roster invitees

The A's aren't playing it safe with 2019 first-round draft pick Logan Davidson.

The No. 29 overall pick is among 10 non-roster players the A's invited to spring training Friday.

Davidson, a shortstop, isn't on the A's 40-man roster, but the invite will give him a chance to compete in big league camp. Barring an incredible showing in the Cactus League, the A's No. 7 prospect won't break camp with the A's. But this opportunity allows him to try to impress A's coaches.

In 54 games with the short-season Vermont Lake Monsters, Davidson slashed .239/.345/.332 with seven doubles, four homers and 12 RBI.

[RELATED: A's compare Davidson to Corey Seager]

The other invitee to keep an eye on in camp is A's No. 6 prospect Nick Allen. While small in stature, the middle infielder is an incredible defensive player and could find himself playing for the A's at some point in 2020. While Marcus Semien is blocking Allen's path at shortstop, the 21-year-old could get a look at second base if none of the other in-house options pan out for Oakland.

Three other top-30 prospects were invited to spring training: Outfielder Greg Deichmann (No. 17), right-handed pitcher Brian Howard (No. 22) and right-handed pitcher Parker Dunshee (No. 24).

MLB rumors: A's 'showing interest' in free-agent reliever Sergio Romo


MLB rumors: A's 'showing interest' in free-agent reliever Sergio Romo

Sergio Romo might be headed back to the Bay Area -- just to the opposite side.

The former Giants relief pitcher is a free agent, and according to MLB Network's Jon Morosi, the A's reportedly are interested in acquiring his services.

Romo, 36, is a 12-year veteran who spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Giants, playing a major role in helping San Francisco win three World Series titles in a span of five years. Over 60 1/3 combined innings with the Marlins and Twins last season, he posted a 3.43 ERA and 1.11 WHIP with 60 strikeouts and 20 saves.

[RELATED: How Forst thinks state of free-agent market will impact A's]

Liam Hendricks has Oakland's closer spot locked down, but with Blake Treinen being non-tendered, there could be one or more openings in the A's bullpen. Given that Romo has filled just about every possible role within a major league bullpen over the course of his career, he could be an ideal fit if the price is right.