These past two years have been a rollercoaster ride for the Oakland Athletics. In 2012, they clinched the American League West title on the last day of the season. In 2013, the Athletics used the month of September to regain the lead after a three game deficit. However, both years the Oakland Athletics have gone into the postseason, they have faced the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS and they have lost in five games each time. So what makes the Detroit Tigers a better team than the Oakland Athletics even though the Athletics had a better record than the Tigers both in 2013 and 2012?
One word: Pitching. Both in 2012 and 2013, the Detroit Tigers had a bullpen that just shut the Oakland Athletics’ lineup down. And both times the same Detroit pitchers have faced the Athletics lineup. This would be there ace Justin Verlander, right handed pitchers Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, and Anibal Sanchez. These right handed pitchers were able to strike out one Athletic after another with their unique approaches and alternating pitches. This year, Scherzer even practiced holding the baseball for different increments of time to confuse the first base runner who may be trying to steal second. This pitching rotation definitely frustrated and mystified the Athletics both in the 2012 and in 2013.
In the 2012 ALDS, the Oakland Athletics only were able to score 11 runs in five games while the Tigers scored 17. In 2013, the Oakland Athletics did a little better and scored 15 runs over games while the Tigers scored 21. The Tiger’s pitchers were able to keep the Oakland Athletics power hitters at bay while the Athletics’ pitching were not able to suppress the Tigers lineup.
In 2012, the Oakland Athletics had Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, Brett Anderson, and A.J. Griffin. This year they only had one of the same players as 2012. The Athletics put veteran Bartolo Colon, rookie Sonny Gray, and right handed pitchers Dan Straily and Jarrod Parker on the mound. The Athletics 2013 bullpen was third in the league for WHIP with a 1.22 and seven for ERA with a 3.56. The 2012 season was virtually the same with an overall 3.48 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP.
If the Athletics are going to face the Tigers in the coming years, they need to step up their pitching. If that means making some trades in the offseason, then we might be losing from quality team members for the betterment of the Athletics bullpen. But if they want to make it past the ALDS in 2014, these changes need to be made to their bullpen.