Today's A's, August 18th

By Jason Wojciechowski on August 18, 2013 at 10:11 AM

Opponent: Cleveland
Starting pitchers: Scott Kazmir vs. Tom Milone
First pitch: 1:05 PT

A's in the West: 1 1/2 games back of Texas
A's in the Wild Card: Leaders for second Wild Card, 1/2 game back of Tampa Bay
Baseball Prospectus playoff odds: 29 percent division, 45 percent Wild Card

I was excited about yesterday's pitching matchup, pitting a Ubaldo Jimenez who was not even close to the pitcher he once was against a Dan Straily who had three straight nice outings in July followed by three straight shitty ones before getting back on track in Toronto. Unfortunately, my optimism got flipped turned upside down right from the start as Nick Swisher homered and then Cleveland put together a mini-rally for another run. Jimenez, meanwhile, while walking five (and hitting Josh Reddick on the shoulder with a scary fastball), also struck out eight A's and gave up just one hit. That was pretty much that, especially when Cleveland knocked around the soft part of the bullpen for three more runs in the ninth.

Today's game was going to be Kazmir against Bartolo Colon before Colon hit the disabled list yesterday with a groin strain. There's a negative way of looking at this and a positive way:

  1. Tom Milone will have to make three starts. That's not good. He was demoted for a reason. Sure, the A's wanted to get Sonny Gray up, but they wouldn't have done that if all the A's starters were pitching well enough to stay in the rotation.

    Could Milone be good while Colon is disabled? Yes. Do I see it as likely? No. Just to pick a number that I'm in no way going to attempt to justify, I'd estimate he's giving the A's something like a 40 or 45 percent chance of winning his starts at this point. Given their overall record, that's not a nice thing for me to say.

    If we're lucky, Brett Anderson will come back and take Milone's spot, creating one of them "good problems to have" when Colon is healthy. (Though the way Straily and, to a certain extent, Griffin are pitching may obviate that.)

  2. Colon's velocity and effectiveness have been down over his past few starts and a groin injury might go a long way toward explaining why. This leaves the hope alive that he'll come back in a few weeks fully rested, his groin feeling good, and be the Barty Baseball we knew and loved. This will be a nice player to have in September and (crossed digits) the playoffs.

Coco Crisp is back and now our watch is ended.

Except not really because despite pinch-hitting last night, it's Chris Young in center for today's game -- Bob Melvin said last night that Crisp wouldn't be starting today and the announced lineup confirms this. The lefty Kazmir starting for Cleveland likely has something to do with this.