The Oakland A’s are holding onto their lead in the AL West despite the drastic offensively slump. With the Los Angeles Angels right on their heels, the Athletics have had to play some authentic green collar baseball to stay ahead. However, there is still a month and a half left of the season, and there are some players who are going to need to step up to help out their team.
1) Jason Hammel
Hammel has been underwhelming since coming to the Oakland A’s in early July. Even though he finally earned his first win with the Athletics on August 5th, he previously had a 0-4 record since arriving in Oakland. Over those four losses, he had a 9.53 ERA. In the first 17 innings in which he pitched for the Athletics, he allowed five homers, 18 earned runs, and 10 walks.
However, it seems as though he has turned a corner. In his last outing against the Minnesota Twins, he only allows four hits and one earned run over 6.1 innings. Due to his poor performances since coming to the Oakland A’s, Hammel is going to have to continue to prove that he can be successful. After all, former starter Jesse Chavez is sitting out there in the bullpen ready to come in for relief – or take his spot back in the starting rotation.
2) Sonny Gray
Gray has been outstanding this season. He recently won AL Pitcher of the Month for July and has a 12-6 winning record. However, behind the bulldog persona, there have been some signs of weakness lately. Could this youngster be cracking under the pressure?
Even though he as a 2.86 ERA for this season, Gray has earned three losses in his last three starts. His start against the Tampa Bay Rays on August 6th was dreadful, and he allowed a career high 10 hits, six earned runs, and four walks over 4.1 innings pitched. He currently has a 4.42 ERA for August.
Something that could be contributing to his shaky performances is the fact that he has never pitched a full MLB season. Last year, Gray only came up to Oakland for the last two months of the regular season. With Gray’s recent inconsistency, it will be interesting to see how he handles the rest of August and September. Since Gray would be a starter in the postseason if the Oakland A’s were to make it, he needs to show that he has the stamina to make it to October.
3) Eric Sogard
Everyone in Oakland loves their “Nerd Power” second baseman. However, his bat was doing nothing for the lineup this season. In May and June, Sogard was batting under .200 with only 15 hits at 89 at-bats.
However, there has been an upward trend. He turned over a new leaf in July, and Sogard batted .257 for that month. For August, he is currently batting .304 with a .962 OPS. Also, he finally earned his first home run of the season on August 6th against the Rays.
Even though Sogard has not been productive for most of the season, this offensive spark combined with his killer defense is just what the Oakland A’s need in a second baseman – a position that has been weak all year. He will need to continue to be successful at the plate in order to help his team get to the postseason especially since many of the Oakland A’s power hitters have been going through some major slumps.
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