Athletics

Yankees will start Luis Severino vs. A's in AL Wild Card Game

Yankees will start Luis Severino vs. A's in AL Wild Card Game

Up until Tuesday, the A's and Yankees had been coy about who would be their starting pitchers in the AL Wild Card Game.

But the secret had to come out of the bag during the mandatory press conference at Yankee Stadium.

New York manager Aaron Boone went first and announced that ace Luis Severino will start against Oakland on Wednesday night.

“I think he's equipped in so many ways to handle this," Boone said. "Perhaps most importantly he's equipped with amazing stuff and the ability to dominate big league hitters because he's such a talented pitcher. I can't wait to see him go do it.”

“It means a lot knowing they trust me," Severino said. "They know I can be better (than last year's Wild Card Game)."

In 32 starts this season, Severino went 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA and 220 strikeouts in 191.1 innings. He made two starts against the A's this season and didn't fare well, allowing 11 hits and six earned runs in 8.2 innings over two starts.

“I think they have a good lineup," he said. "They have a lineup that can hit everywhere. They can go to right field or left field. I'm looking forward to commanding my fastball. If I can get my fastball inside and my slider is sharp, I think I can get through the lineup.”

Severino also didn't fare well in last year's AL Wild Card Game against the Twins, allowing three runs on four hits in just one-third of an inning.

“I believe when he's pitching at his best, he'll be the best pitcher on the field tomorrow," Boone said. "I feel like he's ready for this opportunity and I think he's very much looking forward to it.”

A's manager Bob Melvin is expected to announce his starter later Tuesday morning.

A's could have more difficulty finding diamonds in the rough this offseason

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A's could have more difficulty finding diamonds in the rough this offseason

The 2018 Winter Meetings were mostly uneventful, with just a handful of significant trades and free agent signings. But the players who did agree to contracts earned big money, signifying a hotter market than last year.

Outfielder Andrew McCutchen inked a three-year, $50 million deal with the Phillies despite a modest 20 home runs and 65 RBI last season. Relievers Jeurys Familia and Joe Kelly each got three-year contracts worth $30 million and $25 million, respectively.

The starting pitcher market, where the A's are most interested, appears to be especially strong. Patrick Corbin got a six-year contract worth a staggering $140 million from the Nationals. Nathan Eovaldi received four years and $67.5 million from the Red Sox, despite posting similar numbers to Trevor Cahill.

Even Tyson Ross earned $5.75 million from the Tigers following a season in which he recorded a 4.15 ERA and 1.30 WHIP, both significantly worse than Cahill and Edwin Jackson.

So what does all of that mean? Essentially, it suggests the A's will have to spend more money than they would like in order to be competitive in free agency.

Of course, in previous years, Billy Beane and David Forst have been successful finding diamonds in the rough for more affordable price tags. They say they will stick to their plan.

"We don't really get to keep up with the Joneses, so to speak," Forst said. "We kind of set our price. We know what we can do within the confines of our payroll and try to stay on that."

That might be a little more difficult this year, based on the early contract numbers in free agency. While the A's try not to let other teams' deals affect their negotiations, it's hard not to take notice.

"Any time a player comes off the market, whether it's a free agent or a trade, that's one fewer guy that you can put in place," Forst said. "So you kind of have to take that into account. We're not playing in a certain stratosphere with the starting pitcher market, so those don't really affect us, but you do have to keep it in mind. There are only so many guys out there." 

The A's typically prefer to wait until late in the offseason to find free agents who fit their price range. That tactic worked well last year with Cahill, Brett Anderson, and Jonathan Lucroy. 

"We have sort of targeted conversations, free agents, and trades, and kind of go at our own pace," Forst said. "I don't know that any external forces are going to change that."

Oakland will have to hope a few quality free agents slip through the cracks again.

A's Matt Chapman undergoes shoulder surgery, will swing again in six weeks

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A's Matt Chapman undergoes shoulder surgery, will swing again in six weeks

Matt Chapman had his second surgery of the offseason on Friday and underwent a successful procedure on his left shoulder, the A's announced. 

The Gold Glove-winning third baseman will begin physical therapy next week, and is expected to be able to swing a bat in six weeks, according to Dr. William Workman, who performed the surgery. Six weeks from the surgery is Jan. 25, 2019, or about two weeks before the start of spring training. 

Chapman recently felt discomfort in his shoulder during off-season workouts, according to the A's. In October, Chapman underwent surgery on his left thumb, and was expected to make a full recovery. 

Chapman emerged as one of the most important A's last season, and arguably the best defender in baseball. He led all of MLB with 29 defensive runs saved, and was voted the winner of the AL Platinum Glove. 

The A's need his glove -- and his bat -- healthy for spring training, no matter how the rest of the offseason shakes out.