Jesse Chavez had never been a regular starter prior to this season. After his performance on Monday night against the Astros, it’s apparent that the increased workload is getting to him. It’s also clear why the A’s dealt for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.
Chavez allowed six runs in 5.1 innings, with all of the runs coming on homers – three dingers to be exact. That is surprising, considering that he had allowed just one home run in his previous eight starts combined. The big fly that hurt the most was a three-run blast the Chris Carter, formerly of the A’s. Carter hammered a high fastball out to center field that put the Astros up 3-2, and it was a harbinger of things to come for Chavez and the A’s.
The sixth inning was truly disastrous. The A’s entered it tied 3-3, and came out of it only after allowing three home runs in a span of four batters. Chavez allowed back-to-back home runs to Jason Castro and Marc Krauss, the latter of which reached the upper deck in right field. Dan Otero replaced Chavez, only to give up a monster blast of his own to Matt Dominguez that nearly reached the window panels out in left field of the Astros’ indoor stadium. Like that, the A’s fell behind 7-3 to the Astros, a position where they probably never envisioned themselves in – ever.
What’s happening to Chavez now is exactly why Billy Beane pulled off that blockbuster deal with the Cubs. Fatigue is clearly getting to Chavez, who is inching toward his career-high in innings with still a couple months of baseball left. He hasn’t completed six innings in any of his last three starts, and that’s especially telling considering that two of those starts came against the Astros. Imagine if the A’s had Chavez starting Game 3 of the ALDS – well, now they don’t have to imagine that because they can plug Samardzija behind Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir.
Perhaps the A’s should call up Tommy Milone, plug him into Chavez’s spot in the rotation, and move Chavez to the bullpen as a long reliever if he continues to struggle.
— Billy Burns was called up by the A’s and lined out to right in his first major league at-bat. That ends the A’s streak of consecutive games to open a season without using a rookie – 104 games, which is the longest since 1971.
— If you were watching the A’s telecast on CSN, you probably noticed that they spent an entire half inning talking about KIPP Public Charter Schools and how it’s their 20th year anniversary, even going as far as reading their mission statement on screen and cutting into commercial break to do an interview with a couple of its directors. So why would they interrupt a major league baseball game to talk about some charter school that literally has nothing to do with either team? Because John Fisher, the majority owner of the A’s, is on its Board of Directors, and damn it, if he wants to break in to his own team’s telecast to give his charter school a five-minute infomercial, he will do it.
— The A’s have held the best record in baseball for the last 39 days, but it may not last for long. The Angels, who have the second best record, are just 1.5 games back, and are just as hot as the A’s. So unless the A’s want to have their season come down to a do-or-die game, they better take advantage of the Astros and win this series.
This is where detractors of adding a second wild card team will have a field day – the A’s and Angels are clearly the two best teams in baseball (they are the only teams with more than 60 wins). So why should one of them be subject to what is essentially a “play-in” game to get to the actual postseason?