Who’s Hot & Who’s Not?
With 61 games in the books, let’s take a look at some notable contributors to the Oakland Athletics lineup & rotation
Last year, Major League Baseball had an unusual 60-game shortened season due to the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
For many players, a 60-game sample size isn’t even enough to get into a groove.
Of course, over the span of a 162 game season, there are many ups and downs, highs and lows and triumphs and tribulations. Thankfully, the shortened season is a thing of the past.
61 games have been played this season with 101 still on the docket for the Oakland Athletics (35-26), who will enjoy an off-day on Monday while in possession of first-place in the American League West.
Oakland has now played in more games this year than they did during the shortened 2020 season, meaning that it’s time to take a look at who is hot and who is not as the 2021 season heads into the crucial summer monthts.
Since May 31st, Matty-O has been on an offensive tear to help lead Oakland to a 4-2 record in those contests.
Over his last six games, Olson is batting .458 with two home runs, eight RBI and only three strikeouts in 28 plate appearances.
Olson has cut down on his strike outs and instead raised his on base percentage up to .365 (career-high) on the season. The 27-year-old is enjoying an All-Star caliber season, as he currently holds a .278 batting average (career-high) to go along with a team-high 15 home runs and 40 RBI in 55 appearances.
For reference, Olson hit .195 with 14 home runs and 42 RBI during the 60-game season in 2020.
Things were looking bleak for Manaea after a rough outing on May 13th in Boston.
The lefty had just surrendered seven runs on 10 hits over two innings in an 8-1 loss to the Red Sox, a stinker of a performance that raised the veteran’s ERA to 4.40 on the season.
Since then, Manaea has completely turned the page.
Over his last four starts, the 29-year-old holds a 1.69 ERA with 25 strikeouts over 26.2 innings. Manaea is 1-0 in those four games with three no decisions, although the A’s are 3-1 in those contests.
The most impressive outing for Manaea this season was his latest: a complete-game, four-hit, eight-strikeout shutout against the Seattle Mariners on June 2nd.
Originally out of the starting lineup at the beginning of the season, Kemp has made it clear that he has no intentions of surrendering his starting spot as an everyday player.
Over his last 15 games dating back to May 20th, Kemp has raised his batting average from .208 to .287 after batting .390 with 16 hits, two home runs and 10 RBI over 51 plate appearances. Kemp has been an on-base machine, holding a .429 on base percentage while also doubling four times and tripling twice to raise his slugging percentage to .457 on the year.
While his bat has provided a solid boost to the Oakland lineup, Kemp’s presence as a utility man brings even more value to the table as the 29-year-old has logged time at second base and left field this season.
Not many people would have imagined Lou Trivino as the closer for this year’s Athletics team, especially with free-agent prized signing Trevor Rosenthal originally slated to be the go-to option in the ninth.
With Rosenthal still working his way back from thoracic outlet syndrom, Trivino has been more than reliable in the role of closer.
Since starting the season with a 4.15 EREA, the righty has not allowed a single earned run to score over his last nine appearances dating back to May 8th. Over those nine games, opponents are only batting .161 with a .289 on base percentage.
Trivino’s strikeout numbers have been down during those appearances (six over 9.1 innings pitched) but he has been more than reliable in the end of games for the first-place A’s.
The concern surrounding Matt Chapman’s play is beginning to grow by the day.
Chapman has yet to find a rhythm on the offensive end, as the 2019 All-Star is currently batting .205 with five home runs and 23 RBI over 60 games. The 28-year-old’s .641 OPS is well below his .816 average for his career.
Over his last eight games dating back to May 29th, Chapman is hitting .148 with no home runs, two RBI and 12 strikeouts over 33 plate appearances.
Dating back to the 2020 season, the slick-fielding third baseman holds a .216/.298/.415 slash-line.
In order for the A’s offense to really get clicking, they will need their young star to get his bat going.
Piscotty has only driven in one run since May 15th, as the veteran outfielder is currently batting .217 on the season with four home runs, 11 RBI and a .288 on base percentage.
After a very strong 2018 season in which he hit 27 home runs and drove in 88 RBI, Piscotty has since struggled at the dish. Since the beginning of the 2019 season, the 30-year-old holds a .237 batting average with 22 home runs, 84 RBI and 168 strikeouts over 636 at bats.
Although Montas holds a 6-5 record on the season, his 4.52 ERA and 1.4 WHIP need improvement if the A’s are to regain their confidence in the talented righty.
Montas has yet to lower his ERA under the 4.00 mark, although he has pitched better as of late (3.60 ERA over his last eight starts). The 28-year-old possesses the talent to be a front-line starter like he was in 2019 when he went 9-2 with a 2.88 ERA.
As has been the case every year that I can remember, the A’s will likely be in the market for starting pitching help come the trade deadline. Having Montas regain his form to compliment Chris Bassitt and a potential trade acquisition could create a formidable rotation for the potential playoff series.