Athletics May Have Starting Pitchers Take Slighty Reduced Roles This Weekend

John Hickey

Beginning with Wednesday night’s game in Dodger Stadium, the Oakland A’s have six games covering five days remaining in the 2020 season and a six-man starting rotation.

You might think putting together a starting rotation to cover those game would be easy.

Not so much.

Manager Bob Melvin, who had Sean Manaea start Wednesday’s game and has Mike Fiers listed as his Thursday starter in the series finale against Los Angeles, isn’t ready to go past Friday’s starter against the Mariners in the Coliseum, Chris Bassitt.

Saturday’s doubleheader and Sunday’s season finale are all up in the air, with left-handers Jesús Luzardo and Mike Minor and right-hander Frankie Montas not yet penciled in. In part it’s because he wants the starters to be fresh for the postseason when it comes around Tuesday.

“We don’t overwork our starters, and we may create some scenarios to keep our options open,” Melvin said, suggesting none of his starters will go as deep in games as they might normally.

He didn’t say so, but it’s likely that Manaea, Fiers and Bassitt will be listed to start in the three-game wildcard series. If so, then the weekend games would be in part a chance to left lefty starters Luzardo and Minor and the right-handed Montas to each get a turn coming out of the bullpen, because that’s what their role would then be in the first round of the playoffs.

Come the second round, should the A’s make it that far, the American League Division Series is five games played on five days, so a full slate of starters still would be needed.

“It just depends,” Melvin said. “I mean we’re not sure what we’re going to do yet. But I’m not going to overwork the starters at this point.”

Melvin did say that a starting pitcher would probably be added to the Oakland roster when a 29th player is needed for Saturday’s doubleheader against the Mariners.

It will be interesting to see if the manager keeps Manaea from throwing too many pitches Wednesday and the same with Fiers Thursday and Bassitt Friday. He wants to keep starters' innings down. 

At the same time, Melvin did say he wanted to get some of his relievers on the mound, men who haven’t worked to excess in recent days like closer Liam Hendriks and setup man Joakim Soria.

“We’ll mix some guys in regardless today,” Melvin said. “Liam hasn’t been out there in a while. There are a couple of other guys who don’t like to go too long without work. So we’ll be cognizant of that not only here, but in the Seattle series.”

NOTES:

--Melvin said utility man Chad Pinder, coming back from a hamstring injury has run the last couple of days and is feeling good. But Melvin isn’t sure when Pinder’s return to active status might be.

--First baseman Matt Olson was given a rare day out of the starting lineup Wednesday. Mark Canha started at first base instead.

--Khris Davis got a start against a right-hander, Joe Kelly, Wednesday, because Kelly was only supposed to go one inning. Julio Uriás, a left-handed starter, is supposed to take over after that.

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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