Oakland Athletics Regular Season: Week 1

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Weekly Wednesday Wrap Up

Frankie Montas pitching against the Phillies on Opening Day (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

It’s finally underway! With the lockout past and Spring Training finished, the MLB regular season has officially begun. But, before we get into the results from this past week, let’s look at the news outside of on the field play.

Yet again, it seems like the Athletics are looking to trade away another solid piece of their roster. In the past few days trade rumors surrounding Frankie Montas have begun. While an official deal has not been made, the most likely trade partner seems to be the Chicago White Sox, who Montas made his debut with in 2015. The main sticking point seems to be the return for Montas, since the A’s want former 3rd overall pick Andrew Vaughn and the White Sox are a bit unwilling to let him go. The team control combined with the potential to be another star in the outfield makes this quite the promising trade.

In another continuation of prior events, it seems that the potential move to Las Vegas has received a serious roadblock. As is the case with all franchise relocations, public funding is heavily desired and potentially needed in order for the relocation to be completed. However, there is some uncertainty as to whether Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak is willing to provide the public funds expected for relocation. While Sisolak has said that he is willing to provide public funds, he has also said that he doesn’t support a new tax to help acquire this funding. If this roadblock is too much to overcome, we could see the Athletics look for another city to relocate to.

On a lighter note, feral cats have started to make a home out of Oakland Coliseum. With COVID-19 causing an increase in feral cats, many have begun to make their home in the Coliseum. This has apparently caused a decrease in the rats infesting the stadium, but has also caused a nuisance with how they use the stadium’s turf. Animals invading MLB stadiums are not uncommon, but this is yet another way in which the Coliseum is showing its poor quality.

Now, on to the results of this past week. The Athletics started off the season with a series against the Philadelphia Phillies in Philadelphia. Opening Day went quite poorly for the A’s pitching staff, allowing 9 runs in only 8 innings. Frankie Montas was particularly disappointing, allowing 5 earned runs as the theoretical best pitcher in the rotation.

The bullpen didn’t do much better, as the combination of Jacob Lemoine, Domingo Acevedo, and Kirby Snead allowed 4 earned in only 3 innings pitched. Even with this poor pitching performance, there were a few positives, as the batters scored a solid 5 runs, including the first hit being a home run from Chad Pinder, and the pitching had a solid 9.0 K/9 ratio for the game.

The second game of the series was a bit of an improvement, as the Athletics only lost 2-4. Though it was a slight improvement in pitching, Cole Irvin, the starter, still allowed 4 earned runs in 5.1 innings pitched for an ERA of 6.75. This isn’t too horrible, but it pales in comparison to the Phillies starter, Kyle Gibson, who threw 7 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts. The bats were much quieter in this game for the Athletics, with a particularly poor performance from game 1 standout Chad Pinder, who struck out all of his 4 at-bats. The biggest positive from this game comes from the 2.2 shutout innings from the bullpen.

The first win of the season comes in the final game of the series, with the Athletics winning 4-1. While the bats did come more alive in this, with a particularly standout performance from Christian Pache in the 9th spot in the lineup, the real star of the show was the pitching. Dalton Jeffries started off the game with 5 scoreless innings and only allowed 2 hits. The bullpen was equally impressive, throwing another 3 scoreless innings before allowing only a solo home run in the 9th. This game was also a bit of redemption for Kirby Snead and Domingo Acevedo who were a part of that scoreless relief streak.

The 4th game of the season took place in Tampa Bay to start the second series of the season against the Rays. This was a fantastic performance for the Athletics across the board, as they won 13-2. On the hitting side there were a few standouts, with Elvis Andrus, Seth Brown, and Chad Pinder having multiple RBIs for the game and a home run for each of them.

The biggest surprise from the game goes to Sheldon Neuse, a waiver pick-up in March, who went 3-5 with a grand slam in the 9th while making his first start of the year over currently hitless Kevin Smith. The pitching was also quite impressive, with starter, Paul Blackburn, throwing 5 scoreless with 7 strikeouts and the relief pitching 4 innings allowing 2 earned, but striking out 6.

The 5th and final game played by the Athletics this week was the second game against the Rays. The Rays were able to come away with the victory in this game winning 9-8 in extra innings. This was Adam Oller’s first start of the season and it was probably the worst debut of any starter so far. In only 1.1 innings pitched Oller allowed 5 hits, walked 3 batters, and allowed 5 earned runs. He even committed an error when he tried to pick off Zunino at 2B, which eventually led to a score. However, out of the 4 outs he got, he was able to get strikeouts for 3 of them.

Other than blowing a 3-run 1st inning lead, the Athletics saw a somewhat good performance from their relief and good hitting from Seth Brown who made it on base in 4/5 of his plate appearances. However, the hitting of Wander Franco, Ji-Man Choi, and Brandon Lowe were too much to overcome in this game.

Overall, this start to this season was somewhat impressive with some people probably expecting the Athletics to lose every game this season with the moves they made. While some of the starters underperformed in their 2022 debut (Montas, Irvin, Smith, and Oller), there was a surprising amount of depth at position that seemed to be weak going into the season (Neuse, Blackburn, Irvin, and Brown). While expectations are still quite low for this season, this first week shows the potential for the Athletics to make another unexpected playoff run.

All statistical data from Baseball Reference

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Micah Dahlvig

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