OAKLAND -- The A’s are on the cusp of reaching the postseason for a second year in a row, taking a two-game lead in the American League Wild Card race into their final six games of the regular season. As they continue to battle the Rays and Indians to determine who plays in that winner-take-all AL Wild Card Game on Wednesday, Oct. 2, general manager David Forst and his staff have started their work on putting together the best 25 players for a potential AL Division Series, should they make it that far.
“I’m more day-to-day oriented,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Obviously, we have to take a look down the road. Our front office is very good at taking a look down the road, so I’m sure they’re formulating things right now. At some point in time, we’ll speak about it.”
As the postseason picture gains a little more clarity, here is an updated guess at how the A's potential ALDS roster might look:
Phegley and Murphy are both locks. The only question here is which catcher gets the majority of starts. Phegley has been the starter for the most of the year, but Murphy has made quite the impact as a rookie both on defense and offense in his short time in the Majors.
Likely on his way to another AL Gold Glove Award and 30-plus homers, Olson has first base locked down. Profar has had issues on defense, but he’s come up with some big hits in his first season with the A’s. Pinder really is a true utility man, but he could be used at second for defense late in a close game. Neuse provides a right-handed-hitting option at second base. Chapman is the unquestioned leader of Oakland's clubhouse, and he is looking to break out as a postseason star. Should the A’s reach the playoffs, Semien will be a main reason why -- with his outstanding season both at the plate and on defense. You can expect Semien to bat leadoff in every postseason game Oakland plays.
Designated hitter (1): Khris Davis
Davis has shown signs of breaking his season-long slump with some key hits over the past week. Regardless of how his numbers end up, look for him to provide a boost in the middle of the lineup come playoff time.
The A’s like to roll with guys who are on a hot streak, and there might not be a hotter hitter on the club right now than Brown, who went 9-for-18 with runners in scoring position over his first 18 games in the Majors. If the rookie keeps this up, he should get some starts in left field. Laureano has been getting most of his starts in right field as he returns from a right shin injury, while Canha’s breakout campaign has earned him regular playing time in center. Stephen Piscotty has struggled to stay healthy, and at this point, it’s unlikely he recovers in time to make the playoff roster. Grossman provides a valuable left-handed bat off the bench.
Manaea is quickly establishing himself as the favorite to start Game 1 of a potential ALDS, if not the AL Wild Card Game, as he has been dominant since returning from left shoulder surgery. The lefty has allowed just three runs over 23 2/3 innings, most recently allowing two runs in a win over the Rangers Saturday night. Fiers has been the ace of the staff, and he bounced back by facing the minimum over eight scoreless innings against Texas on Friday night. Roark brings postseason experience, and he has pitched well for the A’s since arriving via trade from the Reds on July 31. Brett Anderson and Bailey have been solid for the A’s and are certainly in the mix for a spot, but right now, Bailey’s overall body of work since being traded to Oakland likely gives him the edge.
One of the biggest changes in this week’s postseason roster projection is the absence of Blake Treinen, who is out for the rest of the regular season with a stress reaction in his back. Bassitt has recently moved from the rotation to the bullpen, and his 97-mph fastball should play even better coming into games as a reliever. Luzardo, Oakland’s No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, has lived up to the hype early on in the Majors. The way the lefty is going, he could prove to be a valuable multi-inning weapon out of the bullpen with his electric arm.