I’ve mentioned before the traffic differentials depending on what I talk about, and how smart marketing people would focus on what their audience wants, hone that, and keep it going as to not get them to tune out.
But it’s Opening Week and y’all are going to have to deal with baseball talk from me.
A few weeks ago I was on the Baseball by Dummies podcast talking about the A’s season. I was more optimistic than most about our hometown heroes in Oakland, citing that the pitching depth might just carry their blaze offense and terrible defense through to a mediocre season. Fangraphs writer and Effectively Wild podcaster, Jeff Sullivan, has said similar a few times, going so far as to say that the A’s might be a contender for the wild card.
So far, Sonny Gray’s been hurt, the bullpen has continued its trend from the last couple years and blown a game, and Jharel Cotton, A’s #4 starter turned #3 starter, delivered a less than stellar outing. Now, to be fair to Cotton, his pitches looked pretty solid (especially dat change up!) for the most part, and we’re talking about a few mistakes and a few bloop hits that were out of his control being the big differential, and he received zero, and I mean ZERO, run support, which is never good for a pitcher. But I’m already seeing articles “he doesn’t look like the pitcher we saw last September.”
The problem is the expectation of September. In September, you bring up minor league players to play also against minor league players. Many of these players shouldn’t be in the MLB, and Cotton is now facing a lineup of real competition for the first time. It’s to be expected. That his actual mechanics seem to be good for the most part. His fastball comes in hard, he just needs to gain that full control through a start that is tough to do when you have to face the Mike Trouts of the world. Incidentally, Trout didn’t fare all that great against Cotton last evening. A bonus for the A’s young pitcher.
It’s still a learning curve phase for him. He needs a good 3-4 more real major league starts, not in September, for us to be able to make conclusions about whether he can hang here, and whether he is the pitcher we saw in late 2016 against sub-part talent. I’m still holding out hope, but I don’t see the A’s as a wild card team, and I’m not even sure my close to 75 win prediction will hold. After all, we’re 1-2, not looking that sharp, and have only faced the hapless Angels (and Mike Trout) so far.