During the past two offseasons, one of Oakland Athletics’ front brass’ main priorities, albeit not publicly, was to gear their team to again face the Detriot Tigers rotation in the postseason. The Athletics know that their path to the World Series this season will more than likely lead them to a third face-off against the Tigers, and this year more than any other, Oakland will be ready.
To start, Oakland has a better and deeper pitching staff than any previous year, after adding Jon Lester at the trade deadline, in addition to Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. Even with the Tigers adding David Price, which is no small acquisition by any stretch, the A’s rotation, with the decline of Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander who has around a 5.00 ERA, seems to be not only more talented but also much deeper with the emergence of young talent such as Sonny Gray and Jarrod Parker.
In addition to a stellar rotation, the A’s also have a stellar bullpen anchored by Sean Doolittle, who has a 2.49 ERA over 50.2 innings pitched, already surpassing that of last year. Overall, the A’s bullpen, according to ESPN, has a 2.81 ERA in 2014, which is good for fourth in the MLB.
The Tigers’ bullpen’s ERA is 4.48, which is good for 28th in the MLB. A good bullpen is an absolute need to go far into the playoffs, and the Tigers so far have not shown they are capable of competing when the starters leave the game.
The last reason the A’s are primed to make it past the Tigers this year to advance in the playoffs is that the Swingin’ A’s have finally lived up to their nickname and have been by far the best offense in baseball statistically. Even with the loss of Yoenis Cespedes to the Boston Red Soxs at the trade deadline, the A’s should still have enough offensive firepower to make it past the Tigers if they can manage to score three or four runs a game and hand over the game to the bullpen.
The A’s over the course of the season have defined what it means to play team baseball and redefined what team chemistry really means. This coupled with their hunger to win a World Series and all of the reasons mentioned above, the A’s seem finally ready to take that next step and tame the Tigers.