By Jason Wojciechowski on September 10, 2013 at 7:33 AM
Opponent: Minnesota Twins
Starting pitchers: Jarrod Parker vs. Liam Hendriks
First pitch: 5:10 PT
A's in the West: First place, 2 games ahead of Texas A's in the Wild Card: Texas is also the top Wild Card; Tampa Bay is second, 4 1/2 games behind Oakland Baseball Prospectus playoff odds: 69 percent division, 30 percent Wild Card
The Rangers' 1–0 loss to Pittsburgh, which is such a weird thing to happen even as I know Pittsburgh is now good and the strength of the Rangers is now its pitching, didn't move the A's overall playoff odds at BP all that much: their one-day delta is just 1.6 percent. What it did do is shift eight percentage points from the Wild Card column to the division column. Every day is huge when it's September and there's a two-game difference between the real playoffs and the Two Teams Enter, One Team Goes Golfing Wild Card.
The Rangers will keep playing against the reasonably tough Pirates while the A's get the panda-soft Twins, a .437 team saved from the indignities of last place by sharing a division with the pitiful White Sox. Their best player, Joe Mauer, is still out with a concussion. Their second-best hitter, Justin Morneau (his .267 True Average with the Twins trailed only Mauer), was traded to the Pirates, where one can hope that he will terrorize Texas. Their third-best hitter is Brian Dozier.
The pitching isn't any better: Liam Hendriks, tonight's starter, brings 91 mph cheese from the right side, doesn't strike anyone out, and his ERA, FIP, and FRA all start with a 5. Hendriks has only thrown 30 2/3 innings this year, so I made a FanGraphs leaderboard for lowest strikeout percentage, minimum 30 innings:
Scott Diamond: also a Twin. The Twins' move to a more strikeout-oriented staff, if such move does exist, is not going to happen overnight.
Daric Barton could be tapping into the talent that made him such a great prospect years ago, though I haven't watched his at-bats closely enough to faux-scout him and it's way way too early to do any numbers-based work, even with PITCHf/x and such. He hasn't even seen 150 pitches since his recallup (recall-up? re-callup? re-call-up?), so his possible newfound aggressiveness could just be a quirk of a few of his PAs featuring grooved first-pitch fastballs. Those happen sometimes, and sometimes they're bunched up.
Here's an off-day profile of Brandon Moss that features him using the toilet, him calling it "the potty," Darwin, a lesson in how coaching can backfire, a rude Ruben Amaro quote, and Farhan Zaidi writing a manifesto. It's fun.
Prediction: A's win.