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Series Preview #14: Diamondbacks @ Athletics

Maybe the last time the Diamondbacks will play in Oakland?

Cincinnati Reds v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

All or nothing.

When I was a young boy, my father took me into the city to see a marching band. He said: “Son, when you grow up, will you be the saviour of the broken, the beaten and the damned?”

While my dad didn’t say those words to me, he did take me to see marching bands, although these were at the world music concours in The Netherlands, where each 4 years they have all kinds of music band contests, among them show- and marching bands. One year, I was still a small kid, the Hornsby Golden Kangaroos participated. I was already nuts about everything anglosaxon so I was excited to see these (amateur) Australians, but on top of that they showed up in white, yellow and green. The Australians and their yellow-gold and green made an everlasting impression on me, so there is a kind of fondness I have for the Oakland A’s because of that.

But other than their uniforms, there isn’t much for the Athletics to impress us these days. Well, yes, they have intrigued us with their ongoing feud with Oakland and the negotiations for a new stadium. Those seem to have halted for the moment with the A’s now possibly moving to Las Vegas in 2027 although whether Nevada and/or Las Vegas are prepared to pour somewhere between $350-500MM of public funding into the bottomless pit of a new baseball stadium remains to be seen.

With ownership concentrating on financial and relocation issues, where does that leave the competitive ambitions of the Oakland A’s?

You might think otherwise, but the A’s are a rather competitive franchise. True, their last World Series win is from 34 years ago, but since 2012 Oakland has made 6 post-season appearances and in 7 seasons had a winning percentage over .500. But in those other seasons where they didn’t have a winning percentage they were bad.

So, it is fair to say, the A’s are all or nothing. And this year it is absolutely nothing.

Something smelly.

Oakland is the worst team in the entire MLB with a .214 winning percentage, and they haven’t reached 10 wins yet. They are on pace to set a new record low in wins, which currently stands at 43 (Detroit Tigers in 2003). It’s no surprise that Oakland is this bad, because their payroll is the lowest in the entire MLB, although that doesn’t necessarily say anything: the Orioles and Tampa Bay are slightly above the A’s.

But what is remarkable is that almost half of the A’s payroll is on the Injured List. Apart from that mismanagement something smells rotten in Oakland and it isn’t the fish or the Coliseum.

The batting smells bad, but Oakland isn’t exactly the worst hitting squad in the MLB. Their batting average, for example, is better than the Dodgers’. Their OPS still beats that of several other teams, amongst them the Marlins and Astros. They have taken their share of walks, are third in the league in stealing bases and have hit more homeruns than the Diamondbacks. Especially 1B Ryan Noda and outfielder Brent Rooker have been performing well for Oakland this year, especially the latter’s bat has been scorching hot this season. A big alert though is the huge strikeout rate, where Oakland leads the entire MLB.

What really smells rotten is the pitching. I tried to make a case on here for Trevor May and Shintaro Fujinami, but thank heavens I am just an (amateur) writer and not a FO guy, because those two are among the worst relievers in the entire MLB, with May even hitting the IL due to anxiety issues. Oakland gives up a ton of runs and ranks last in ERA, hits allowed, walks, homeruns allowed while they rank last in striking out guys as well. The only pitcher that has had some moderate success is reliever Zach Jackson but a 1.56 WHIP isn’t exactly palatable. Oakland hasn’t been able to shut a team down this season and on average has allowed 7-8 runs per game.

In May Oakland has been a bit better than in April although it is hard to see progress in a .231 winning percentage this month. They did win their first series this season in May, against the Kansas City Royals, a team the Diamondbacks struggled against. That means that they are 3-7 in their last 10 games, although they needed a win against Texas a couple of days ago to snap a 5 game losing streak.

I think it is quite clear: if we wrote that we shouldn’t accept less than a sweep against the Royals, then the Athletics will have to be swept yes or yes.

The Matchups.

Game #1 Mon 05/15 6:40 PM MST, Drew Rucinski (OAK) vs Merrill Kelly (ARI)

  • Drew Rucinski. 3 GS, 14.1 IP, 0 W-3 L, 8.16 ERA, 7.27 FIP, 2.09 WHIP, 0.67 K/BB.
  • Merrill Kelly. 8 GS, 45.1 IP, 3 W-3 L, 3.18 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 1.15 WHIP, 2.30 K/BB.

Rucinski is pitching for the first time in the major leagues since 2018 after spending 4 seasons in the KBO. Don’t feel ashamed if you don’t know him, for he has just 68.1 major league innings under his belt of which a bit over 14 for Oakland this season. With a .339 BA, .973 OPS and 3 homeruns against, batters have feasted on him, so it seems like a lock the Diamondbacks will have a party in the first game. It’s a rough homecoming for Rucinski who did rather well for the NC Dinos the past four seasons, but not all can be Merrill Kelly. On the other hand, he was on the IL until late April so it could be that better performance lies ahead.

Kelly coughed up 4 runs in his latest outing against the Marlins and got a no-decision and will look to get back on track in Oakland to where he was before.

Game #2 Tue 05/16 6:40 PM MST, Kyle Muller (OAK) vs Tommy Henry (ARI)

  • Kyle Muller. 8 GS, 38.0 IP, 1 W-3 L, 7.34 ERA, 5.75 FIP, 1.95 WHIP, 1.29 K/BB.
  • Tommy Henry. 4 GS, 25.1 IP, 1 W-1 L, 4.43 ERA, 5.00 FIP, 1.39 WHIP, 1.00 K/BB.

Maybe if Tommy Henry were on the Athletics his stats would be similar to those of Kyle Muller. But where Henry has been able to take a confidence drink against the Nationals and continue to take some more against the Giants, Muller hasn’t been able to do the same after allowing just 1 run against the Reds, and has allowed 11 runs in his latest two outings against the Royals and Yankees. Muller was a low top 100 prospect going into this season and joined Oakland from the Braves in the Sean Murphy trade. He was Oakland’s Opening Day starter, but is seen as a possible back-of-the-rotation pitcher and hasn’t been able to adapt to the major leagues just yet. This season he has been extremely hittable, allowing more than a homerun per game.

Henry, on the other hand, comes of a positive outing against the San Francisco Giants and he should be able to repeat that success against a similar but worse hitting squad and be in line for his second win this season.

Game #3 Wed 05/17 12:37 PM MST, Luis Medina (OAK) vs Ryne Nelson (ARI)

  • Luis Medina. 2 GS, 11.0 IP, 0 W-2 L, 8.18 ERA, 6.03 FIP, 1.46 WHIP, 3.00 K/BB.
  • Ryne Nelson. 8 GS, 40.2 IP, 1 W-2 L, 6.20 ERA, 5.07 FIP, 1.55 WHIP, 2.36 K/BB.

Medina wasn’t exactly showing a promising performance for the Aviators in the PCL this season, walking 10.1 batters per 9 innings, but with the disaster that is Oakland’s pitching corps he was called up to the majors again a couple of days ago. After allowing 8 runs in his major league debut on April 26 against the Angels, his second start was better, but he still took the loss against Texas, allowing 3 runs over 6 innings. Medina can be a flame thrower and looks to be a bullpen guy in the long run, but Oakland prefers to deploy him for now in a starting role. He has a career 6.4 BB/9 in the minors, so it is clear what his problem is.

Since getting a win in his first start of the season against the Dodgers, Nelson hasn’t been able to add any more victories to his total and has completed just once 6 innings. It would be nice if Nelson could complete at least 5 innings and keep it close, possibly setting up the Diamondbacks for a series sweep in the final innings of the game.


We expect nothing less than sweeping the A’s in Oakland.

This poll is closed

  • 75%
    (51 votes)
  • 25%
    No, we aren’t that good, a victory would already be nice.
    (17 votes)
68 votes total Vote Now