Heading into their game on Saturday night, the Oakland Athletics held a 55-43 record and sat 4.0 games behind the Seattle Mariners and 9.0 games back from the Houston Astros in the stacked American League West Division.
The three divisional leaders (Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians and Astros) in the American League look like locks to make the postseason. The New York Yankees are also on pace to win over 100 games, which will likely leave one Wild Card play-in spot up for grabs.
The A’s seem to believe they can capture it.
Since the only other American League team with an above-.500 record was the Mariners (as of Saturday), the race between the two division foes will most likely get heated down the stretch.
With the lone exception of Sean Manaea, Oakland’s starting rotation has been (and remains) a gigantic area of concern. However, general manager David Forst and his staff have set their sights on bolstering an already-productive group of relievers.
In fact, as of Saturday, the A’s were 38-0 this season while leading after seven innings and 46-0 leading after eight. Setup man Lou Trivino is having a breakout year, holding a 7-1 record and 1.22 ERA while giving up just 23 hits in 44.1 innings, punching out 50 in the process. All-Star closer Blake Treinen has also been sensational, posting 24 saves along with a sparkling 0.94 ERA while allowing just 31 hits over 48.0 innings while striking out 61.
Lefty-specialist Ryan Buchter (2-0, 1.83 ERA) has also been very effective in relief for the A’s.
But, another talented arm just joined the bullpen.
On Saturday, the Athletics acquired New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia in exchange for Triple-A reliever Bobby Wahl and infield prospect Will Toffey along with $1 million in international bonus pool money, per Jane Lee of MLB.com.
The impact of the addition
In 40 appearances with the Mets this season, Familia (4-4, 2.88 ERA) recorded 17 saves (4 blown) and allowed 36 hits in 40.2 innings pitched while punching out 43. While simultaneously depleting an already-abysmal Mets bullpen, his addition could completely transform Oakland’s strategic approach when it comes to the expectations for their starting pitchers.
If the A’s can get six strong innings from their starter and their offense can put up some runs (like they've done all season), closing games out with Familia-Trivino-Treinen in the final three innings could be extremely dangerous.
"For already having a good bullpen, to be able to bring in an arm like this, man, it's pretty significant," A's manager Bob Melvin said on Saturday. "We'll figure out how we're going to go with it. I'll certainly talk to him before I say how this is going to be deployed as far as what innings for who. But this is a real significant pickup for us. You can't ask for much more."
Look for the A’s to make another move or two before the upcoming July 31 trade deadline, as they’re within striking distance of their first layoff appearance since 2014.