Big Ben Friday: Oakland Athletics Making a Push for a Home Wild Card Game

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Inverness, CA: I’m out here in the Bay Area, in West Marin, CA, where sub million dollar houses are a thing of the past. The folk out here generally cheer for the Giants, but quite a few have switched allegiances to slum it and cheer for the green and gold of the Oakland Athletics. The A’s, it might surprise you to hear, are the hottest team in baseball.

After a slow start, they’ve played at a better clip than even the Boston Red Sox, who are already at 90 wins and threatening the single season wins record. A’s fans seem optimistic. They have slowed down a bit of late, but the A’s are a contender.

Short Matt Olson

Meet the Matts?

The formula has been Moneyball again. They’ve made trades to bring in a young core of sluggers in Matt Olson and Matt Chapman. Trades have brought in the team’s de-facto ace in Sean Manaea. After losing key starters to injury, the rest of the rotation is made up of castoffs finding their form like Mike Fiers and Brett Anderson. They thrown in a few wiley free agent signings of ex-Brewers Khris Davis and Jonathan Lucroy. The best closer your never heard of, Blake Treinen, is holding hitters to a .179 average and has a WHIP under one.

Bob Melvin has done a splendid job. The biggest concern seems to be that they don’t really have a clear cut number one. Manaea is probably the closest thing and he had a no hitter against Boston. But he’s inconsistent. One Bay Area pundit described him as not having enough “dog in him.” This would seem more important to me if he were a middle linebacker, but I don’t know if it helps a pitcher too much.

The other concern is the bullpen, outside of the closer. They traded for old friend Jeurys Familia, who was expected to bolster the pen the same way a woodpecker bolsters a picket fence. But he has actually been solid, and so has Shawn Kelley, another ex-NY friend acquired mid-season.

Billy B back on top

What, Me Worry?

The core of the Yankees batting order is now on the DL or playing hurt. The closer has a bulky near and other key relievers are wearing down. Buddy Diaz tells me not to worry, they’re just getting some rest before the playoffs. But I’m worried. The A’s are threatening to flip the Wild Card game to the west coast. And with Luis Severino looking average of late, this is worrisome.

Come back tomorrow for Angry Ward, who loved the A’s before it was cool. Follow us on Twitter at @BenWhit8, @MeetTheMatts, @Matt_McCarthy00, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.

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About the Author ()

Ben Whitney comes from journalistic stock. Aside from his brothers, rumor has that his great-great grandfather was the youngest brother of Eli Whitney and covered the earliest "rounders" games. Big Ben is also another New York Rugby Club player/pal of Different Matt, Short Matt and Junoir Blaber. He likes film noir discussions, has twin girls and took up ice hockey after retiring from rugby.

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