The New York Yankees' 2019 season heads to the sewer this week...Oakland Coliseum that is (Lord, forgive me). It is my second worst baseball venue just behind Tropicana Field. The Coliseum is a place that has been outdated since a few years after they opened the place in 1966. The foul ground is famous and ridiculous and seems to cover more area than Rhode Island. The sewers there have been known to back up, of course, and that is the inside joke. But this series is not a joke as once again, the Athletics have put yet another surprise season together and have been playing .600 baseball since June. And, they are very good at home.
You look at the A's roster and you wonder how they do it. Four or five of their regular lineup members have a lower OPS+ than 100. The starting pitchers are a hodge-podge of castoffs from other teams and closer, Blake Treinen, has had a disappointing season compared to last year's amazing one. Treinen has been picked up by Liam Hendriks. Yes, that Liam Hendriks. Out of nowhere, Hendriks is having an incredible season with over twelve strikeouts per nine while walking less than three per. His ERA of 1.54 is backed up by a FIP of only 1.94. He has more than made up for Treinen.
The A's starting rotation has been solid despite not having any big arms or stars. Mike Fiers, the much-traveled 34-year-old has found a good home in Oakland. Since his pickup as a trade deadline deal a year ago, he has gone 16-5 in 35 starts with a solid ERA of 3.53 over that span. His WHIP this season is a solid 1.109. The Yankees will face him Wednesday night.
Brett Anderson has been a solid starter as has Chris Bassitt. Their best starter, Frankie Montas, is serving an 80-game PED suspension and will not return until September 25. The A's went out and looked for bargains in the rotation that could fill the gap and came up with Homer Bailey and Tanner Roark. The latter has been good while the former has not been good. The Yankees will see them both sandwiched around Fiers.
The bullpen is decent. Treinen is still trying to work it out, but Hendriks is getting the bulk of the closing duties. Middle-aged relievers Yusmeiro Petit and Joakim Soria still know how to get people out. The rest of the bullpen does not have flashy arms and have high walk rates. So if the Yankees can crack the bullpen early, they can do well.
As mentioned, the Athletics' lineup is spotty, which rhymes with Piscotty, who should be back for this series from the DL. That is actually good news as he does not hit that well. The catching corps for the A's have been an offensive drag. Josh Phegley is the regular, but no one would consider him a great-hitting catcher.
Second base has also been a disaster for the A's. Jurickson Profar continues to disappoint and the A's have recently experimented with old friend, Corbin Joseph. Joseph has yet to prove he can hit in the Majors.
Elsewhere, Robbie Grossman, Khris Davis and the aforementioned Stephen Piscotty have had disappointing seasons at the plate. It is difficult to forget, though, that Khris Davis kills the Yankees.
The good hitters the A's have are really good. Matt Olson at first, Matt Chapman at third and Marcus Semien at short have all had outstanding seasons. The Yankees are fortunate that center fielder, Ramon Laureano, is out with an injury. He had been mashing the ball as well. Mark Canha has been a major boost to the team and as a fourth outfielder, has played 90 games and has an OPS of .887.
Basically, the Oakland Athletics has a middling offense with some great hitters and a slightly above pitching staff with a lot of duct tape. But here they come again.
If you decide to stay up late this week to watch, here is what to expect. The Yankees have a better than good chance in Game 1 as Domingo German matches up really well against Homer Bailey. In Game 2, I favor Mike Fiers over JA Happ. In the finale, I would give the Yankees a slight edge with Masahiro Tanaka pitching in a big park against Tanner Roark. It will be an interesting series and one we might see again in the playoffs.