Now that the A’s have secured a spot in the postseason as American League West champions, the priority shifts to ensuring they enter the Wild Card Series with fresh bodies.
After Ramón Laureano received a day of rest in Tuesday’s 7-2 loss to the Dodgers, Wednesday was Matt Olson’s turn for an off-day, though he entered the A's 6-4 win in the eighth as a defensive replacement. He'd been left out of Wednesday’s lineup, with his spot filled by Mark Canha, who received his first start of the season at first base.
A breather could do Olson some good. The slugger entered Wednesday just 4-for-31 with one home run and 18 strikeouts over his last nine games. But Olson is not the only hitter in the A’s lineup currently going through struggles.
Including Tuesday’s loss, the A’s offense has batted .182 over its past six games, collecting six hits or fewer in each contest. This isn’t the first time the A’s have gone through a bad stretch at the plate, though manager Bob Melvin pointed out that there is still time for the bats to get on a roll before the postseason begins next Tuesday.
“I think if you look overall, we’ve been spotty all year,” Melvin said. "We’ve had periods where we’ve swung the bat well and periods where we haven’t. We haven’t here recently. It’s just something we have to deal with and hope it picks up along the way.
“I’m not going to liken it to Spring Training before Opening Day, but we’ve had our issues offensively at times all year and still found ways to win games.”
Postseason rotation still undecided
When it comes to who starts the first game of the Wild Card Series -- or the second and possible third game -- the A’s continue to weigh their options.
Part of the decision-making process will come once it's determined who they will face in the first round -- which, as of Wednesday, would be the Astros, who hold the No. 6 seed. Performances by starters in the final few days of the regular season could also be considered. One thing is certain: to keep their options open, the A’s will keep an eye on the workloads of their starters in the coming days.
“It just depends. We’re not sure what we’re going to do yet,” Melvin said. “We’ll probably try to create some scenarios to keep our options open, but I’m not going to overwork the starters at this point.”
Based on how the A’s rotation currently lines up, Sean Manaea could be the front-runner to start the first game of the Wild Card Series. The left-hander entered Wednesday night’s start at Dodger Stadium with a 2.25 ERA over his last five starts, and he would be on five days' rest for the postseason opener. Chris Bassitt, who is arguably Oakland's top starter this year, could line up to start the second game of the playoffs, as the right-hander is scheduled to start Friday against the Mariners at the Coliseum.