The Indians have a chance to play spoiler this week as they kick off a four-game series with the surprisingly good Oakland Athletics tonight at Progressive Field. So I talked to David Fung, writer for Athletics Nation (and my colleague at Beyond the Box Score) about Oakland’s playoff run, the possibility of the A’s moving, and what Tribe fans can expect to see this week.
- It’s the end of August and right now the A’s are tied for the second wild card spot. How did they go from written off to right in the thick of it?
As a fan, I can’t say “I told you so” because most of us thought the A’s were looking at about 70 wins. Frankly, being over .500 for such a large part of the season I think is a huge step for the team, and doing so with the such lineup is certainly surprising. If it wasn’t for some of the key acquisitions from this offseason, may it be Josh Reddick (4.1 WAR), Yoenis Cespedes (1.7 WAR), or even the offense contributions from Jonny Gomes (1.4 WAR), Seth Smith (1.3 WAR), and Brandon Inge (1.8 WAR, highest since his 2.1 WAR season in 2010) we might not be here right now. This time last year, the A’s were 60-72. Today, they’re 69-57.
We tend to get a little jaded because the lineup from year-to-year has changed so much in the past, even from game to game at times, but currently, without including Jemile Weeks, there’s only 2 position players from the current roster that was playing on the team a year ago today.
- Billy Beane famously said “My s*** doesn’t work in the playoffs.” What are Oakland’s odds of making the postseason, and are they built to succeed while there?
I think right now, with the 2nd Wild Card, the chances are good that they’ll get to play in the one-game playoff (crossing my fingers. It is good to note that coming off the Rays 2-1 series win over the weekend, they have to play both the Rangers and and Angels twice, along with the Yankees, and fellow possible Wild Card contenders, the Tigers and O’s. This will be a fun stretch of September baseball!
- How has the Athletics’ surprising season affected the team’s chances of moving out of Oakland?
I personally don’t think it affects Lew Wolff’s decision to leave Oakland. The attendance is still currently 29th, with 20,351 per game. The Indians are right above them at 21,104 per game. It is good to note, that last season, the A’s were last with only 18,232 per game.
- Should we expect the A’s to make any trades before the August 31 deadline?
I don’t think so. The SS position was the only one I had questions about, but that was solved with the Stephen Drew acquisition.
- Give us a quick scouting report on the pitchers the Indians will see this week.
Jarrod Parker (from Trevor Cahill trade): also won his last 2 starts, including a 7 SO in 6.0 IP his last start vs the Rays. Leads starters in FIP, 3.45. He also leads the league amongst starters with over 100 IP with a HR/FB rate of 5.9%.
Brandon McCarthy, held the Rays to 2 ER, in his 7 SO in 7 IP vs the Rays last week.
- What’s your prediction for the series?
Obviously, I’m gonna favor the A’s. I think they’ll likely split the series.