Today's A's, August 19th

By Jason Wojciechowski on August 19, 2013 at 8:28 AM

Opponent: Seattle Mariners
Starting pitchers: Aaron Harang vs. Jarrod Parker
First pitch: 7:05 PT

A's in the West: 1/2 game behind Texas for first place
A's in the Wild Card: 1/2 game behind Tampa for first Wild Card; leaders of second Wild Card by three games over Baltimore
Baseball Prospectus playoff odds: 36 percent division; 43 percent Wild Card

Taking two of three from the Clevelands of Cleveland is a nice result, especially given that Bartolo Colon hit the disabled list before he was able to make his scheduled start on Sunday. Tom Milone wound up pitching not-quite-adequately in his stead (three runs in 4 2/3 innings, though two were considered "unearned" because of an Alberto Callaspo error that let Drew Stubbs reach, which does more to highlight how weird the unearned-run rule is than anything else), but the bullpen was boss, throwing the remaining 4 1/3 while allowing no runs on three hits.

How about Dan Otero? After last night's action, he's thrown 25 1/3 innings and given up no homers and two walks while whiffing 17. For pitchers with a minimum of 20 innings, he has the seventh best FIP in the league, using FanGraphs's version (which last I checked did not include HBP, which would make Otero's number even more impressive because he hasn't hit anyone either):

  1. Greg Holland, 1.22
  2. Jesse Crain, 1.51
  3. Jason Grilli, 1.62
  4. Danny Farquhar, 1.83
  5. Mark Melancon, 1.85
  6. Kenley Jansen, 1.87
  7. Dan Otero, 1.94
  8. Craig Kimbrel, 1.95

That's a who's who of excellent closers and front-line relievers, plus Danny Farquhar and Dan Otero. Mamas name your kids Daniel if you want them to grow up to be as good as Craig Kimbrel.

Otero was a control guy in the minors, but his 2.1 percent walk rate this year is lower than every minor-league season he's had, outside of 2007, when he walked literally zero of the 80 batters he faced in Low-A. In High-A in 2010, he walked just one of 50, but he also walked one of 33 in Rookie ball, so the sum of the year winds up a bit above this season's 2.1 percent.

No home runs is probably unsustainable, but he is a ground-ball pitcher, with Baseball Info Solutions data showing him at 58 percent his year. That figure doesn't blow you away quite as much as a 1.94 FIP, but it's still the 29th best ground-ball rate out of the 440 pitchers with at least 20 innings, so it's up there. The PITCHf/x data backs this up: Otero's sinker has the 16th sinkiest vertical movement of the 119 relievers who have thrown at least 100 sinkers this year. This is very helpful if you're someone who only averages 90 mph on either if your fastballs.

I don't know whether Otero can sustain this. Given that it took him until he was 28 to break through to the majors, I suspect that batters will figure out his stuff at some point. He does not appear, from heat maps created by TruMedia, that Otero is keeping the ball any more down or any more away than the league does overall, though I suppose if he keeps pounding the strike zone, all things are possible.

Aaron Harang is a juicy matchup tonight, what with his 1.7 homers per nine and his inability to strike anyone out. I don't want to count my chickens, and Harang has somehow thrown not one but two shutouts this season, but he does have a 5.77 ERA and he is a 35-year-old fly-ball pitcher with a 90 mph fastball, so you'll forgive my excitement.

If you want to read about where I was last night, then Michael Clair has you covered. Spoiler: I was in Rancho. If you want proof, I almost got eaten.

Did you know that Yoenis Cespedes is real good at throwin' baseballs?

Prediction: A's win.