Friday, June 5, 2009

O's-A's, Can't Dig Out Of Early Hole

After losing two of three in Seattle, the O's continue their West coast swing with a stop in Oakland. The A's were a popular pick for the AL West crown once the injuries beset the Angels before the season, but I was still a little hesitant (projecting 82 wins) because of the pitching staff. Well the A's (who are still one of my favorite teams in baseball) are sitting at 22-30 and in last place, and the young pitching staff hasn't worked out exactly as planned.

A's top starters:
Dalles Braden (age 25) - 3.63 ERA, 4.06 tRA
Dana Eveland (age 25) - 7.40 ERA, 5.01 tRA
Josh Outman (age 24) - 3.02 ERA, 5.15 tRA
Trevor Cahill (age 21) - 4.33 ERA, 6.54 tRA
Brett Anderson (age 21) - 4.97 ERA, 4.92 tRA
Total - 4.30 ERA, 5.13 tRA

O's current starters (+ Koji):
Jeremy Guthrie (age 30) - 4.86 ERA, 5.68 tRA
Koji Uehara (age 34) - 4.09 ERA, 3.36 tRA
Rich Hill (age 29) - 4.15 ERA, 3.21 tRA
Brad Bergesen (age 23) - 4.64 ERA, 5.92 tRA
David Hernandez (age 24) - 4.91 ERA, 4.17 tRA
Jason Berken (age 25) - 2.25 ERA, 4.81 tRA
Total - 4.41 ERA, 4.83 tRA

There are some smaller sample sizes in there (really of them, but some more than others) but that explains a lot of the A's struggles. The continued lack of offense doesn't help either though. Despite reworking the line-up by bringing in Matt Holliday, Jason Giambi, and Orlando Cabrera, the A's team wOBA has actually gone down from .313 to .311. And even taking into account the pitcher's park in which they play, their adjusted wOBA this year is still .318.

The O's offense has been far more impressive, though still with only a wOBA of .340 (which is about average). The A's counter that advantage with a better pen (3.75 tRA to the O's 4.86 tRA) and a better defense (+6.0 UZR to the O's -13.0). It's because of those kinds of things (though not directly) the two teams having pretty much the same records according to third order wins from Baseball Prospectus (.438 winning percentage for the A's and .435 for the Birds).

Tonight it'll be the teams' respective "aces" - Dallas Braden (who actually beat the O's in his major league debut) and Jeremy Guthrie - on the mound.

I was going to blog through the game, but by the time I turned it on it was already 6-0 Oakland and Guthrie had been knocked out of the game. Mark Hendrickson came in and pitched a few innings, giving up a three-run homer to Matt Holliday. Matt Albers pitches a couple scoreless innings. Alberto Castillo - called up to take the place of the recently released Jamie Walker - pitched a perfect seventh (with a K), and Brian Bass finished it off with a perfect eighth. Unfortunately, Luke Scott hit his 13th HR of the year (and his 8th in the last nine games) - a solo shot - and that's all the offense that O's got on the night. They lose the first game of the series 9-1.

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