Oakland Athletics: Why the A’s can win the AL West

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 27: Sean Manaea #55 of the Oakland Athletics pours beer into his mouth as he celebrates clinching a wild card spot after the game against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park on September 27, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 27: Sean Manaea #55 of the Oakland Athletics pours beer into his mouth as he celebrates clinching a wild card spot after the game against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park on September 27, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Adam Glanzman/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Adam Glanzman/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

Oakland Athletics: Why the A’s can win the AL West

Rotation 4 and 5 and closer

Fiers is Oakland’s No. 4 starter. He’s a 35-year-old veteran coming off possibly his two best seasons, including 15-4 with the Athletics in 2019. He is also reliable, having made 33 starts and covered 185 innings. As the triggerman in the sign-stealing scandal, he will be in a spotlight in 2020, but other than in Houston it will largely be a favorable one.

The Astros’ No. 4 may be their No. 1 by season’s end, 2019 find Jose Urquidy.  Debuting in July, he made nine starts and went 2-1 with a 3.95 ERA. He did, however, record 40 strikeouts in 41 innings. Urquidy will get regular work in 2020, and the Astros need him to come up big.

On both teams, the fifth starter role will be a scramble. In Houston, first dibs goes to Brad Peacock, a veteran who produced fifth-man level performance in 2019. Peacock went 7-6 with a 4.12 ERA in 15 starts.

The A’s will give a first shot to A.J. Puk, a 24-year-old rookie who looked good in 10 relief appearances in 2019. If he falters, they have a backup, namely Chris Bassitt and Daniel Mengden. Bassitt was 10-2 with a  3.81 ERA in 25 starts in 2019; Mengden pitched in 13 games, nine as a starter.

Both teams return veteran closers, Roberto Osuna and Liam Hendricks.