The A’s are currently on pace to win right around 108 games.
That’s an impressive number, but especially when you consider that they were on pace to win zero games not that long ago.
Well, 11 games ago, anyway. Oakland won again in extra innings against the Twins, and they have now won 11 consecutive contests. This comes after an 0-6 start where Oakland looked non-competitive against the Astros and Angels to begin the season.
One of the reasons the A’s have been so much better -- that seems like an understatement, really -- is the play of Matt Olson. Olson homered twice on Wednesday in the 13-12 win, and that gives the left-handed slugger six on the 2021 campaign. The power has (almost) always been there, but in the early offerings thus far, he’s also hit .316 with a .394 on-base percentage to go with the .694 slugging mark.
But Olson isn’t the only one hitting. Jed Lowrie doubled twice on Wednesday and he’s now slashing .323/.400/.516 over his 17 games with the Athletics. He’d be the early favorite for Comeback Player of the Year if not for Trey Mancini. Seth Brown was a surprise omission from the Opening Day roster for Oakland, but after a 3-for-4 game against the Twins that included a homer, he’s hitting .300 with a 1.016 OPS and three homers in just 10 games. Mark Canha continues to show his impressive on-base skills with a .414 clip, and those players have made up for the slow starts of players like Matt Chapman, Sean Murphy and Elvis Andrus.
There’s not a glutton of stars on this roster, but the A’s have a plethora of quality offensive players, and while you shouldn’t expect many more 11-game winning streaks, this is a team with quality fantasy options that should compete for an AL West title.
Buxton bounces back with big game
It came in a loss -- you know that if you read the section above -- but Byron Buxton had another huge effort on Wednesday against the Athletics. He went 3-for-6, and his two-run homer on Wednesday in the 10th inning gave Minnesota a 12-10 lead in extras. That’s already the sixth homer of the season for Buxton, and he doubled for this sixth time, as well. Strong numbers, but even more impressive when you remember that the former second-overall pick has done this in just 13 games. He’s slashing .432/.479.977 in those contests. You have to be wary of an injury or two, but Buxton is one of the most talented players in the sport, and he’s shown as much in these first three weeks of the campaign.
Starting Pitchers with an EDGE
Tyler Mahle -- 6 2/3 IP, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 SO against Arizona.
Mahle looked like he was going to pick up a win for this effort, but the Diamondbacks were able to hit a three-run homer in the ninth (more on that later) to give him a hard-luck no-decision. Mahle has been strong in his first four starts of the year -- not allowing more than two earned runs in an outing this year -- and he’s struck out 31 hitters with a 1.74 ERA in his first 20 2/3 innings. That’ll work.
Ian Anderson -- 6 2/3 IP, 0 ER, 4 BB, 4 SO against New York.
After two disappointing efforts from Anderson that saw him give up a total of seven runs over 10 innings, Anderson was back to impressing on Wednesday while shutting out the struggling -- but talented -- New York offense. He struggled a bit with command, but he was able to make enough key pitches to keep the Yankees off the board. There’s even more long-term success coming from Anderson, but with swing-and-miss stuff and quality command -- if not always quality control -- he’s going to be helpful more often than not in 2021.
Max Scherzer -- 6 IP, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 SO against St. Louis
This was a heck of a pitcher’s duel on Wednesday, with Carlos Martinez getting the short end of the stick despite allowing just a run over his six innings. Scherzer was outstanding against the Cardinals’ offense, allowing just four hits and throwing 71-of-109 pitches for strikes. The three-time Cy Young winner lowers his ERA to 1.80 on the season, and while he’s not the same dominant ace he once was, this version is pretty darn good, too.
Editor’s Note: Drafting is only half the battle! Get an edge on your competition with our MLB Season Tools -- available in our EDGE+ Roto tier for $3.99/mo. (annually) or $9.99/mo. (monthly)-- that are packed with rankings, projections, a trade evaluator, start/sit tools and much more. And don't forget to use promo code WELCOME10 to get 10% off. Click here to learn more!
Hitters with an EDGE
Nelson Cruz -- 2-for-5, 2 HR, 4 RBI against Oakland.
Nelson Cruz is going to hit forever. You just need to accept it. Embrace it. There are very few things you can count on in this world. Right now you can count on Nelson Cruz to hit forever. There are more than a few very smart people who continue to be wary of Cruz each season because of his age and skill set. It would make sense if Nelson Cruz wasn’t going to hit forever, but the thing is? Nelson Cruz is going to hit forever.
Austin Riley -- 2-for-2, HR, 2 RBI against Miami.
It didn’t have much to do with the score of the game, but Riley finally has his first homer of the 2021 season. It took 18 games and 52 at-bats, but it’s on the board. Considering that the former top prospect had 26 homers in his first 131 MLB games, it’s safe to assume that more roundtrippers are coming for the 24-year-old. In the meantime, he’s shown a pretty nice approach at the plate as seen in his .375 on-base percentage, although that number is skewed a bit by the fact that he’s already been hit four times.
Omar Narvaez -- Available in 68 percent of Yahoo fantasy baseball leagues
Narváez had another big day at the plate on Wednesday in the Brewers’ win over the Padres; going 2-for-4 with a homer in the 4-2 victory. That’s the third blast of the season for the left-handed hitting backstop, and he’s slashing .396/.455/.604 with 10 RBI in his first 16 appearances of the season. While this is not a large sample, it’s not as if Narváez hasn’t had success in his past. In 2019 he registered an .813 OPS for the Mariners with 22 homers, and in 2018 he slashed .2755/.366/.429. He was awful in 2020 with a .176 average and .562 OPS, but that was over a total of 40 games. Narváez is nearly halfway to that total number of games and already has more homers and as many RBI as he did in the truncated campaign. He deserves to be rostered in more formats.
Amir Garrett came into the season with a lot of hype and for good reason, but he’s really struggling right now. He gave up that three-run homer mentioned earlier to Josh VanMeter that prevented Mahle -- and the Reds -- from the victory, and he’s allowed runs in four of his six appearances with an ugly 4/7 K/BB ratio. It’s early, but right now, Garrett is in the running for most disappointing reliever for 2021.
It wasn’t particularly pretty, but Brad Hand was able to get the job done on Wednesday to preserve the 1-0 victory for the Nationals. That’s the third save of the season for the left-hander, and he did it despite issuing a walk and throwing more balls (8) than strikes (7) in the contest. Still, this is yet another scoreless outing -- Hand has yet to allow a run while a member of the Nationals -- and while you can’t help but feel he’s due for an implosion, he just gets the job done.
Editor’s Note: Don’t forget to download the NBC Sports EDGE app to receive real-time player news and updates. Plus, it allows you to easily track your favorite players. Get it here!
Thursday’s Matchup of the Day
It’s a repeat, but it’s a good one. Buehler and Weather squared off against each other on Friday, with Buehler allowing just two runs over six innings, and Weathers firing 3 2/3 scoreless in his first ever MLB start. Even if Weathers doesn’t go deep, he still has the arsenal to be successful, and that’s obviously true about Buehler as well. Could be a good one.
American League Quick Hits: Astros signed C Martin Maldonado to a one-year, $5 million contract extension with a vesting option for 2023 … Gio Urshela left Wednesday's game against the Braves with back tightness. He’s considered day-to-day … Josh Donaldson went 4-for-6 with a homer and three runs scored Wednesday versus the A's … Justin Upton was removed from Wednesday's game against the Rangers with cramps … Astros optioned RHP Peter Solomon to their alternate training site. It’s to make room for Cristian Javier, who will be called up to start on Thursday … Kent Emanuel (suspension) could join the Astros' bullpen in the coming days … Angels manager Joe Maddon noted Wednesday that Anthony Rendon (groin) is "getting really, really close" to returning from the injured list … Twins placed INF/OF JT Riddle on the COVID-19 injured list.
National League Quick Hits: Dinelson Lamet left his first start of the 2021 season with right forearm tightness. He’s considered day-to-day, and will undergo an MRI … Diamondbacks designated RHP Anthony Swarzak for assignment and placed OF Tim Locastro on the 10-day injured list with a dislocated finger … Javier Baez went 1-for-4 with a grand slam and three runs scored in a lopsided 16-4 win over the Mets on Wednesday … Brewers manager Craig Counsell told reporters that Luis Urias (calf) is "definitely improving." … Bryce Harper went 2-for-4 with a homer and a walk Wednesday as the Phillies defeated the Giants 6-5 … Giants manager Gabe Kapler told reporters that Donovan Solano will "miss some time" with a right calf strain … Ronald Acuna (abdomen) hit off a tee and did some other baseball activities Wednesday … Braves manager Brian Snitker said Wednesday that Max Fried (hamstring) remains day-to-day Adbert Alzolay will be called up to start for the Cubs on Saturday against the Brewers.