Current Series

7/30, 5:05 PST
Oakland (Lucas Harrell) @ Chicago (Brett Anderson)

7/31, 1:10 PST
Oakland (John Danks) @ Chicago (Dallas Braden)

8/1 1:05 PST
Oakland (Gavin Floyd) @ Chicago (Gio Gonzalez)

Previous Series:
Texas 3, Oakland 1
Oakland 3, Texas 1
Texas 7, Oakland 4

Friday, April 30, 2010

Game 23 Recap or What the Buck Happened?

Toronto 6, Oakland 3 (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)

A's Current Record: 12-11
The good news is that if you took away John Buck's offensive contributions the A's would have held the Blue Jays to one run.  Normally, if you do that you win the game.  Unfortunately, Buck had the most surprising three home run game since Jose Reyes did it in 2006.  The bad news is just about everything else.  Justin Duchscherer was ineffective and is now hurt.  Kurt Suzuki is probably going to go on the DL.  The A's offense was bad (and was really, really bad after the third inning).  The bullpen is strained after pitching over twelve innings in the past three days.  At least the Rangers lost...had they won each team in the division would have had 11 losses. 

After Buck's second home run, Adam sent me an angry text, railing on Geren for bringing in Jerry Blevins to face Buck.  I'm not going to defend the move, but I will say that the short outings by Sheets and Braden the previous two nights put Geren in a bit of a tight spot.  When replacing a starter so early he'd probably like to go with Tyson Ross or Chad Gaudin.  Ross, however, had pitched the day before and has yet to appear in games on consecutive days.  Gaudin had pitched an inning in each of the previous two games and was probably not available to pitch more than an inning.

This is an area where I think Geren's bullpen management philosophy is wrong.  Yes, when the starter goes only 3.1 innings you're going to need some pitchers to eat up innings to finish the game.  But there's no rule that says the first pitcher you bring in has to be the one who gets the majority of the remaining innings.  As it turned out, the Blevins-Buck at bat was the turning point of the game.  This is obvious both from a casual perspective and according to Fangraphs' leverage index for the game.  Theoretically, Bailey should have pitched in that situation, but more realistically, Ziegler or Gaudin would have been better options. 

Maybe Geren didn't really expect much from Buck and was more concerned with Travis Snider and Fred Lewis, both lefties, coming up next.  And for that, its hard to blame him; Buck is a career .234/.296/.409 hitter.  If Geren really wanted a lefty, Breslow has had more success against righties in the past, though Buck homered off of him later too.

The real concern for the A's is what the news of the day means for the team going forward.  Maybe Duke isn't hurt that badly (I don't have a good feeling about it, though) and maybe Landon Powell and Jake Fox can be an effective temporary duo behind the plate.  I'd say the only two things to take away from the game itself are this: 1) the most important situation could come at any situation in the game and 2) sometimes the unexpected occurs to beat you and well...that's life.

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