Following a second-straight playoff appearance in 2013, the A’s said goodbye to oft-injured starting pitcher Brett Anderson, trading him to Colorado for reliever Drew Pomeranz and minor leaguer Chris Jensen.
Though they didn’t add any of the several big named bats that were available, what they did add, they added by the bunch: left-handed pitching.
The additions of Scott Kazmir, Eric O’Flaherty and Pomeranz gives Bob Melvin five lefties to open the season, with Sean Doolittle and Tommy Milone also projected to make the opening day roster.
The uncommon ability to match pitchers to batters gives Oakland an advantage against divisional rivals and potential playoff foes like the Detroit Tigers, and increases the plausibility of a 100-win season.
Texas’ top hitters are predominantly left-handed — Prince Fielder, Shin Soo-Choo, Mitch Moreland and Leonys Martin — who don’t hit left-handed pitchers particularly well. Same goes for Seattle’s offseason splash acquisition, second baseman Robinson Cano.
While the Astros haven’t been a threat for years, the Angels have been a punching bag for A’s fans over the years. And it’s not just the AL West that might have some ‘splaning to do.
And, should the A’s advance to the World Series, a number of potential NL opponents have offensive cores batting that either switch-hit or swing heavy from the left.
Whether it be Brandon Belt of the Giants or Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers, a number of players who GM’s are hinging their season on are left handed-batters.
A look at the A’s three new lefties:
Scott Kazmir The biggest offseason signing for the A’s and highest paid player on the roster, Kazmir doesn’t quite have the resume that would match up.
A career WHIP of 1.40 and 4.16 ERA, the addition was a head scratcher for many. Though the typical stats don’t compute to a big salary, only 9.4 percent of fly balls hit went for home runs, which partially explains the contract. There’s also the premium for being a lefty.
Eric O’Flaherty Since turning 25, he has been unhittable while posting a 1.45 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. He’s the relative nobody of new Oakland faces, but O’Flaherty is no slouch, based on his improvement in the bigs.
Drew Pomeranz Just after turning 25 in November, Pomeranz was obtained by Oakland for Brett Anderson.
Any pitcher that tosses at Coors field doesn’t usually put up good numbers, and Pomeranz is no exception. In three years for the Rockies, he has a 5.20 career ERA and 1.54 WHIP.
While his numbers are downright terrible, Pomeranz came into the league at 22, and the Rocky Mountain air turns ground balls into a home runs. He may very well shine in the balanced confines of O.Co Coliseum.