The Oakland Athletics could benefit from recent injuries to Justin Verlander and Corey Kluber.
The most unique MLB season in recent memory seems to be moving at lightning speed. Not only has the shortened 60-game season created a mad dash toward the revised postseason, but general news seems to be breaking at an accelerated rate.
Some of this news directly impacts the Oakland Athletics and Bay Area baseball.
The ongoing pandemic has already caused a few star players to miss portions of the season. While disappointing, this can hardly be classified as a surprise. However, what is surprising is the slew of injuries to elite pitchers so early in the year.
The Athletics, who were already projected to be serious contenders in the AL West, may have seen their window increase exponentially due to a pair of unfortunate injuries suffered by division rivals.
While Verlander and skipper Dusty Baker have both publicly denied the severity of the injury, it seems likely that he will miss a significant chunk of the abbreviated season.
Additionally, the rival Texas Rangers lost newly-acquired star Corey Kluber to an injury just one inning into his debut with the franchise. While the extent of the injury is still unknown, even an absence of a few starts is a proportionately huge loss.
The Impact on the Oakland Athletics
To be clear, there is still a chance that both injuries are less severe than assumed. Analysts have less access to the players due to COVID-19 restrictions, so it’s certainly possible reports have been over-dramatized.
It’s also important to state that the A’s are more than capable of contending without the benefit of injuries. The purpose of this article is absolutely not to celebrate a player getting hurt.
If given the option, it would be much more satisfactory to win the division against the best version of each team.
However, the injuries have happened. And it has a big effect on the Bay Area. The Athletics have an offense that can compete with anyone in the sport.
Their only tangible weakness is their lack of a legitimate ace. While they have a slew of promising young arms, they lack a proven star.
If both Verlander and Kluber miss significant time, the playing field will be much more even. The Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels also appear to be without star pitchers as well.
If the AL West is decided based on overall pitching depth and offensive fireworks, the A’s should be the clear favorite to win their first pennant since 2013.
At the end of the day, we wish Verlander and Kluber good health and a speedy recovery. With any luck, both will be back on the field as quickly as possible. I personally like the A’s chances to win the division regardless of what happens around them.
It is also likely that the team will face their own injury/illness concerns as the season progresses. It would feel like an upset if the team is able to avoid health issues completely.
If the team is able to capitalize on their window of opportunity and build a lead during the early portion of the season, it could mean great things for the 2020 Oakland team.