Saturday, April 27, 2024

Blackburn Notice


I blink and this is suddenly a third place team. I don't know if this says more about the quality of play in the AL West, or just the improved quality of play in Oakland.

Like I said a few days ago, the A's have somehow held onto a 5-man rotation since the beginning of the season, and are still running with Paul Blackburn, J.P. Sears, Alex Wood, Ross Stripling and Joe Boyle. For comparison's sake, y'wanna know how many people started games for them last year? Fifteen, not including openers. That means they were throwing people like Drew Rucinski, Spenser Watkins and Joey Estes out there and hoping for the best, and for the most part things didn't go well. Comparing that to this year, where they haven't even used openers, and have gotten starts out of all 5 consistently...that's night and day.

I mean, say what you will about which ones are pure innings-eaters at this point [Mostly Wood and Stripling], but there's actually an enhanced degree of pitching in this rotation. Joe Boyle has struggled, yes, but his mechanics are there; he's got 24 strikeouts and the highest SO/9 figure of the rotation. J.P. Sears has had several really nice starts, including one against his old team, and has a 3.38 ERA right now. And continuing his unprecedented Oakland success, Paul Blackburn is once again off to an awesome start for the A's, with a 2-1 record, a 2.03 ERA and 23 Ks. He's the perfect rock for this rotation, and his consistency will be a great help going forward, even if there's a nice chance he might be suiting up for a competitor around August. 

And then it must be mentioned that the A's are working with a reliever that no one seems to be able to hit. Mason Miller, who was a starter for a spell last year before being moved to the 'pen, has this 100+ mph nonsense that everybody's been struggling with. In 10 games he has 7 saves and only 2 earned runs, along with 25 Ks. The funny part about those 25 Ks is that Miller has faced 48 batters, meaning he's struck out more than half the hitters he's squared up against, which is pretty insane. I do worry about elbow maintenance, as I do with all pitchers this year, but this guy is something special, and I hope the A's get to celebrate that for as long as they can.

The hitting half is less starry, but there are some nice RBI performers in Brent Rooker and Shea Langeliers, and you do have Esteury Ruiz figuring out the plate in addition to his already excellent base running. A bit too much dead air, but they're figuring out, and they have guys who can just show up every now and then. Not a full team menace, but enough where I can understand why they're in third right now. The key is staying ahead of Houston, which will be tricky but, seeing as the A's actually have pitching, not insurmountable.

Coming Tomorrow- He kinda figured he'd be playing this season in Chicago but I think he'll take the slight upgrade.

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