This season hasn’t been filled with good news for the Oakland Athletics. It’s been rather disappointing and are trying to finish the season with their heads held high. At 48-61 they’ve eliminated themselves from an opportunity at the postseason. Unless they go on some kind of run for the ages, the A’s are going to be sitting at home. The last few weeks certainly put a bullet in their season. The Athletics have gone 1-6 in their last seven games, and are on the heels of a blowout to the Chicago Cubs, a 7-2 decision.
A big part of the problem, but not all of it, has been the performance of their number 1 pitcher. Sonny Gray has been the workhorse for the A’s over the past few seasons, but something got into him in 2016. And whatever it is, it hasn’t been anything positive. After pitching so well across his first three years as a pro with the A’s, there weren’t any indications to say that Gray was ready to hit a wall. Usually we can ascertain how things are going to go much earlier than that.
So is this just an abnormality for Sonny Gray, or is it a sign of things to come for him in the future? We know he has to put this season in the past and focus on next spring as soon as this season wraps up. Gray and the A’s staff need to figure out what went wrong, because this isn’t the same pitcher from the last three years. Gray will be matched with Jake Arrieta tonight, who hit a rough spot as well this season. However, Gray has been consistently bad, and I think for Arrieta he was just going through a slump.
The World Series’ favorites are 8-1 in their last nine games, adding another win last night on the heels of a three-game sweep of the Miami Marlins. They were on fire to start the season, slumped a bit heading into the All-Star Break, but all is well now for the Cubs. The Cubbies are feeling good with a whopping 9.5 game lead in the National League Central. It doesn’t appear that there is going to be a wild finish in this division. If you want some of that, head out to the American League East.
Chicago Cubs vs. Oakland Athletics
Jake Arrieta (12-5, 2.75 ERA) vs. Sonny Gray (5-10, 5.84 ERA)
Gray opened up the season as a disaster, it hasn’t been one bad stretch for him, it’s been a series of bad starts over the course of the season. I think the popular opinion was that Gray was going to settle down and get his head on straight as the season progressed. Nope, that hasn’t been the case, Gray has continued to regress and show no signs of the pitcher we knew from the first three years of his career. Gray posted a 2.67 ERA his rookie season, a 3.08 ERA in 2014, a 2.73 ERA in 2015, and now a 5.84 ERA. Dropping off from a 2.73 ERA to 5.84 ERA like that indicates there is something wrong there, which he might way to address in the offseason. His recent starts have been atrocious, yielding a 10.67 ERA and 1.81 WHIP in the past three games. He has allowed 7 runs three times in his last six starts.
Things haven’t looked so perfect the past month. Starting on June 27th, Arrieta allowed 4 or more runs in four starts, four of his last six outings. For a pitcher who has been so perfect dating back to a year ago, where he tossed a 1.77 ERA, the recent results have been a bit surprising. Nevertheless, Arrieta is still one of the best pitchers you are going to find in baseball, and his team is rolling at the moment. I expect them to roll right past the A’s again today, adding to the Athletics’ troubles, and adding to the Cubs’ prolific season. Cubs win this, and they win it by at least 2 runs.
PICK: CUBS -1.5 (-110)