After losing their ninth straight elimination game, with 2020 be the year the Oakland Athletics finally get over the hump?
For the second straight year the Athletics won 97 games and clinched a Wild Card spot. And for the second straight year the A’s lost in the Wild Card round. To make matters worse for A’s fans, Oakland has now lost nine straight elimination games. With the Astros losing Gerrit Cole and in the midst of their cheating scandal, the AL West looks to be wide open. While the Astros are returning most of their core, their could be a shakeup this year in the division.
The A’s lost some depth in the off-season but kept their core together. Matt Chapman, Matt Olsen, Marcus Semien, Kris Davis, Sean Manaea, and Liam Hendricks all return for another go at the AL West title. The A’s top prospect Jesus Luzardo should get called up this season and will look to form a one-two punch with ace Manaea.
All eyes will be on Matt Chapman this season. The 26-year-old had another stellar season in 2019, as he posted career highs in homers, RBI’s, runs scored, walks, and strikeouts. He also was voted to his first All Star game and won his second straight gold glove. While he showed an improvement in power, he took a step back in consistently getting on base. His batting average dropped 29 points and he raised his strikeout rate. Last season he finished 54th in BB/SO with a .497. Chapman will need to work on his strikeouts in order to live up to his MVP potential.
Oaklands 2019 record: 97-65
Washington’s record vs. the Athletics: Didn’t play each other in 2019
Oakland signed/re-signed: Tony Kemp,
Nationals to Watch
In 2017, the A’s and Nats were involved in a trade that effected both franchises. The Nationals acquired relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson in return for Blake Treinen and prospect Jesus Luzardo. Doolittle immediately became the Nats closer and played a pivotal role in the franchise winning their first ever World Series. Treinen was arguably the best reliever in the league in 2018 before struggling in 2019. Doolittle helped bring a World Series title to D.C. while Luzardo has the potential to be the new ace in Oakland.
Last season the Nationals had the worst bullpen in the league that was held together by Sean Doolittle. Washington’s bullpen now has some reinforcements but the ninth inning is still behind held down by Doolittle. The former A will be looking to close out games against his old team and make sure the bullpen doesn’t collapse for the second straight year. This will be Doolittle’s first time facing his former team.
2020 Series Prediction
August 10-12 in D.C.
The A’s have a deep offense but have some question marks in the pitching staff and bullpen. The only question mark for the Nationals is at third base. Washington’s pitching staff and revamped bullpen should carry them to a series win.
Prediction: Nats 2-1