Through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom of God, and the M's probably have to go through much tribulation to enter the playoffs. The two are not really comparable, but hey, it is illustrative. In either case, endurance is required.
1. The A's UPCOMING FUNK. Very shortly they're going to fold over a handrail like a skater not watching where he's going. They've won 21 of their last 27, and if they were to keep that up they would beat not only us easily, but Houston and the Golden State Warriors.
Their best offensive player is Jed Lowrie, not to be confused with Nelson Cruz or Mitch Haniger or Jean Segura. Their number two starter is Sean Manea, and their closer is Blake Treinan, also not to be confused with Sugar Diaz.
Not only will the A's hit a patch in which they go less than 21-6, they will also hit a patch in which they go 3-10.
2. THE RETURN OF ROBBY CANO. For quite a while Dr. D liked the sleek defensive unit that the Mariners were fielding, but lately the problem has been grounders to second. The M's will replace Guillermo Heredia -- .215/.271/.262 the last 30 days, not too different from having an NL pitcher in the lineup -- with Cano's .290/.390/.440 production.
Cano can't help in the Wild Card game; that's on James Paxton, the Closer, and the Mega-Closer. But he can help get us there.
3. THE ROTATION'S DEMISE HAS BEEN GREATLY EXAGGERATED.
We all want a 6th starter. But it’s a funny thing when your big complaint is that your starters have NOT been missing games. Marco Gonzales holds the ball at his CG to take the sign, drops and drives, and keeps the pressure off his arm. Wade LeBlanc is not so different. And when is the last time Mike Leake missed a month of his career? Answer: he's thrown 170+ innings every year since he was 23.
These guys all have grace, balance, and butter-smooth motions. IP increases are one factor to look at, but since when do SSI users look at only one factor.
4. A STEADY LINEUP. It's all too easy to forget the games missed in the first half - by Boomstick, Zunino, Healy and others. The simple return of Mike Zunino will go a long ways towards getting the M's offensive shoulders and arms jacked.
Boomstick alone sports a 998 OPS the last month. And it ain't like Dee Gordon, Ryon Healy, Ben Gamel, and Zuumball are nothing, outside the MOTO. Reminds Dr. D of the old White Sox and Paul Konerko.
5. REINFORCEMENTS. Two words: Jerry Dipoto.
6. SUGAR DIAZ. Were you aware the M's are 39/39 in his appearances? He coughed up 3 leads, but the M's won those games anyway. The man is sitting on a 14.8 / 2.4 / 0.4 slash line and he's got to be the best closer in franchise history, right?
And you're telling me we have a 40-save man handing him the ball?
7. WE HAVE THE LEAD. Three games ain't ten - but neither is it "down by four."
The, um, White Sox (33-62 !) are up next and James Paxton is firmly scheduled to start the Giants (50-48) opener against a 3-6 Andrew Suarez.
PS if you enjoyed this article, please consider the post at my 2nd site, D-O-V.
Happy LeBlanc Day,
From an article on the official site:
Dipoto said payroll isn't an issue as the club looks to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2001.
"We're not going out there determining or judging the best upgrade for us on a paycheck," he said. "It could be a player making $1 million or a player making $10 million. I don't know the answer to that question, but I do know we have the resources to do it. Whether we have the prospect capital to do that, I can't promise. But I know we have the financial capital."