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Who gets the ball for the biggest A’s start in years?

A’s force Game 3, now who will get the start?

Both teams have proven to do well when a left-handed pitcher is starting and both have won their games against lefties. The A’s pretty much have two options to start Thursday’s final AL Wild Card matchup: LHP Sean Manaea (4-3, 4.50 ERA) and Mike Fiers (6-3, 4.58 ERA).

Chris Bassitt was very vocal about the whole “lefty” pitchers issue and defended teammate Jesús Luzardo, who lost the game on Tuesday:

People wanna make a big deal about it but you look at [Luzardo’s] outing last night or yesterday afternoon, he gave up an 0-2 home run and he gave up a 2-0 homer that were both middle-middle fastballs. I don’t care if you are a righty or lefty. That is a mistake, so I am pretty sure we are pretty dang confident with anyone we throw against the White Sox.”

Bassitt has been adamant about how regular season stats and numbers don’t matter in postseason. He explained that the White Sox put up good at-bats against him and Liam Hendriks which just goes to show they are just good batters, it doesn’t matter who is pitching. He spoke about the trouble they cause:

“They are good against either side. Again, they gave me troubles all game long. Obviously I threw a good game but I mean it was a dang headache for seven innings so I think righty or lefty it don’t matter, it don’t matter.”

Bob Melvin plans to meet and discuss who they choose to start for tomorrow’s game and explained the process and what goes into their decision making:

“We have a lot of analytics we look at. Based on what happened the other day and who is available and how we look at our bullpen, all of those things will factor in so this will be a discussion here in a little bit.”

Marcus Semien the type of game plan you go out with will be the true test. He spoke about not knowing who would start and how that is or isn’t a challenge:

“We will figure out who we are facing, we kinda have an idea of what guys it may be but either way we have done our research on every guy, we know that these guys have really good stuff. They have a lot of guys who throw hard. They wanna throw a bullpen game, we know that, we have to have a shorter swing for those harder throwers. That’s part of being in the major leagues is adjusting on the fly to whoever it may be especially now days with openers and just the way managers use pitchers now so we will see what happens and maybe get a text later on when they announce it.”

The A’s were confident that the White Sox’ 15-0 record against lefties didn’t mean much and believed the White Sox hadn’t faced as good of a lefty as Luzardo. Fiers is the only A’s starter to not get through seven innings this season but the veteran starting pitcher may have fire in a postseason start after being passed on for two straight games. Manaea may also have an extra oomph if he gets the start in order to redeem his 2019 Wild Card loss.

It is going to be a tough decision for the front office. They will have to wonder is this series really about left-handed pitching or was Game 1 just a loss after two pitches were thrown down the middle. Do you want the guy who wants to prove himself, or the guy who wants to make up for a previous playoff appearance?

We will have to find out tomorrow. Hopefully they don’t do anything too crazy and overthink, but the A’s are known to do weird things in post season. Whether its using an opener before openers were even a thing, or giving a start for the most important game of the season to a guy who missed the entire season but had five great starts at the end. You also have to think about who won’t crack under pressure.

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