1. Could Sean Manaea start Opening Day for the Oakland Athletics?
The current ace of Oakland’s rotation, this lanky lefty started the AL Wild Card game for the A’s last October, a game they would ultimately lose to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Though it wasn’t Sean Manaea‘s best performance by any stretch (2.0 innings, four earned runs but no walks and five strikeouts), expectations should have been tempered by the fact that he was coming off rotator cuff and side injuries that derailed him for nearly a year.
As a result of those ailments, he made just five regular-season starts in 2019.
Manaea performed well in that span, however, putting up a 1.21 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 29.2 innings pitched with a 3.42 FIP and 0.77 WHIP.
Considering his 3.77 career ERA and the team’s trust in him as a big-game pitcher, Manaea seems to be the likeliest candidate to toe the rubber for Oakland on July 24.
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2. Could Jesus Luzardo start Opening Day for the Oakland Athletics?
A dynamic young talent acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Sean Doolittle/Ryan Madson trade deadline swap back in 2017, A’s lefty Jesus Luzardo possesses incredible upside within the team’s rotation.
Though he only appeared in six games last season, all in relief, the stats paint a very rosy picture for the young southpaw.
In a microscopic 12 innings pitched, he allowed just two earned runs while walking three and striking out 16 batters, good for a 1.50 ERA and a 0.67 (!) WHIP.
His 2.63 FIP in those games suggests that his high level of performance could have been sustainable had he received more opportunities to pitch in 2019.
Did I mention Luzardo also has wicked movement on his fastball?
Yeah, that’ll work in anyone’s rotation.
In the interest of preserving his arm talent, the A’s may decide to limit his innings output even in the shortened 2020 season. That won’t stop us from dreaming of the possibility it could be Luzardo on the mound for the team on Opening Day.