Oakland is looking increasingly likely to be the worst team of the 21st century. After a “beautiful week” of seven straight wins in mid-June, the A’s have since fallen back into a lethargic slump.
As of the 25th, Oakland is 20-59 (.253), the worst record in the majors. Of course, the Athletics’ struggles were predictable. With the thinnest wallet of the 30 major league clubs, the A’s have been forced to trade away good players every year and rely on prospects and “bargain basement” signings to get by. A 100-loss season was a possibility this year, and now the A’s will be lucky to get to 100.
Oakland’s weaknesses are systemic, to say the least, but it all started with a dizzying mound that couldn’t hold up. It’s been a tough season for the A’s, and it’s only gotten tougher with injuries. Oakland has given up a whopping 492 runs in its first 79 games of the year. That’s because there’s nothing holding them together from the starters to the bullpen.메이저놀이터
While the mound performance has stabilized somewhat as of late, it’s still not as good as it was at the beginning of the season in absolute terms. In particular, the starting rotation, the most important part of the 162-game race, is falling apart. A healthy starting rotation can minimize losing streaks and create momentum to climb back up, and right now, Oakland has none.
Oakland has a team ERA of 6.01 this season. Oakland is the only team in the majors with a sub-6 ERA. That’s the worst ERA out of 30 teams. Their most important starters have a 6.41 ERA in 79 games. That’s second only to Colorado (6.48), and you have to consider that Colorado starters call Coors Field home, which is notoriously bad for pitchers. Oakland is actually last.
The rotation isn’t even working. It’s been shattered by injuries since before the season even began. Oakland has used a total of 13 starting pitchers this year. Only J.P. Sears (15 starts) has been a steady presence in the rotation for more than 12 games, or from start to finish. So many players have been in and out of the rotation, symbolizing the poor state of the team’s starting pitching.
Luchinski’s one-year option is now up in the air.
Paul Blackburn, who was expected to be the ace, didn’t return to the rotation until June due to injury.
Worse, they only have six starts. That’s a serious number. That’s a whopping 28 fewer wins than Tampa Bay (34), the team with the most starts this season. Even Kansas City, which has the second-fewest starts after Oakland, has 11. There are 26 starting pitchers in the majors with more wins than the entire Oakland team this year. Tampa Bay’s Shane McClanahan has 11 wins, Zach Eflin has nine, and Merrill Kelly and Clayton Kershaw each have nine.
The weakness in the starting rotation is somewhat expected. Oakland recently traded away two of its top starters, Chris Bassitt and Frankie Montas, in the last year or two. They didn’t have the money to pay them anyway. Instead, they filled their spots with prospects coming out of the minor leagues or cheap starting pitching. Oakland’s eyes weren’t necessarily on the major league team. They also looked to Korea and Japan, as seen with Drew Ruchinski and Shintaro Fujinami.
Oakland signed Luchinski to a one-year, $8 million max deal ahead of this season. Of course, Luchinski, now in his mid-30s, wasn’t expected to be an ace, but he was expected to anchor the rotation for 140-plus innings. But the former KBO ace hung his head in shame. Injuries and poor performances have made even the option year an unknown.
After a slow start due to injury, Luchinski started four games this season and lost all of them, going 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA. He pitched so poorly that he had a .346 batting average and a 2.28 walks per inning (WHIP). His velocity had dropped significantly from his KBO days, and it was clear that he hadn’t adjusted to the pitch clock. He has since been placed on the 60-day disabled list with a knee injury and there is no timetable for his return.
Shintaro Fujinami also had a disappointing start to the season and is now a bullpen arm utilized for openers and late-inning situations. In 25 games (7 starts) this season, he has a whopping 10.57 ERA. Oakland’s wise man’s guide to the East is failing them. If the starters are this weak, the A’s could be on their way to a historic losing record.