Oct 10, 2013, 10:20 AM PST
The Oakland Athletics are investing in their future by choosing Sonny Gray for Game 5 of the American League Division Series against the Detroit Tigers. Could that decision cost them a chance at making history?
Bartolo Colon was an 18-game winner this season. His 2.65 ERA was second-lowest in the American League this year. At 40, he’s a veteran and he’s unflappable in big moments. The guy is a Cy Young Award-winner and has forgotten more about pitching than Gray knows. Heck, he was pitching in High School when Gray was born. He seems like the obvious choice to take the ball in a win-or-go-home game.
Colon could be the safer choice. But is he a much better choice than Gray? That’s debatable.
The A’s were rewarded when they took a huge risk by pitching Gray in Game 2. The rookie shutout the Tigers for eight innings and out-dueled Justin Verlander. Gray had a key advantage on his side, though. No one in the Tigers’ lineup had ever seen him pitch before. They were all trying to figure it out on the fly. The Tigers are more familiar with him now, which could be a concern in Game 5. The A’s don’t necessarily see it that way.
“They also saw him two and three times around the lineup during that game,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s able to make adjustments as well and he has very good stuff on top of it.”
When you look down the line a bit, you can see why the A’s are going this direction.
The A’s front office is exceptionally smart. The coaches and the players take it one game at a time, while general manager Billy Beane and co. are looking toward the future. If Gray can beat the Tigers, and that’s a big if, then Colon will be ready for Game 1 of the American League Championship Series in Boston. Remember, the reason Gray pitched Game 2 of the ALDS, is because they wanted him to start at home. If their plan works, he’d be ready in time for Game 3 at the Oakland Coliseum.
Are the A’s risking too much by mapping out their ALCS rotation before they’ve even won Game 5? Possibly. But Gray gives them reason enough to believe it is a good idea. Colon is 0-1 with a 9.35 ERA in three regular season games against the Tigers over the past three years. He allowed three runs in the first inning of Game 1, but settled down and held the Tigers scoreless for the remainder of his outing. His numbers against the Tigers aren’t stellar, but he has a 2.57 ERA against the Red Sox over the past three seasons.
If Gray can get it done, the A’s may have more than one ace up their sleeve. They trust the 23-year-old with only 11 career starts will get it done.
“He’s a bit of a bulldog,” Melvin said. “He’s scared of nothing.”
He’ll also be a bulldog on a short leash. If anything happens, it will be all hands on deck on the mound.
Besides, all of this thinking could easily be rendered pointless if the A’s can’t score on Verlander. In his three career postseason starts in Oakland, he has a 1.69 ERA over 21 1/3 innings.
The future is now.
Feeling anxious? Here are some links to serve as a distraction.
Field of Links:
— Former Heavyweight Boxing champ Riddick Bowe likes the A’s.
Here he is getting slapped by his girlfriend while naked (SFW)
I’m not sure who committed the more repulsive act. The Raiders fan or the person who shot the video with their phone vertical.
— Maybe that had something to do with why 49ers cornerback Terell Brown is so mad at football fans.
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