Five questions facing the A’s in two thousand-sixteenth

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Source:   —  April 02, 2016, at 5:24 AM

How'll the rotation fare behind Sonny Gray?As of Tuesday, the A’s owned the second-highest starting ERA (7.43) in the Cactus League behind only the Giants.

Five questions facing the A’s in two thousand-sixteenth

one. How'll the rotation fare behind Sonny Gray?

As of Tuesday, the A’s owned the second-highest starting ERA (7.forty-third) in the Cactus League behind only the Giants. Wealthy Hill, expected to be the No. two starter behind Gray, had a 15.twenty-six ERA in his three spring outings. Jesse Hahn, who'd been considered a frontrunner to open the season in the A’s rotation, was instead optioned to Triple A after posting an 11.15 mark. Taking his space is Felix Doubront, whose spring ERA stood at 9.00. Chris Bassitt and Kendall Graveman will circular out a starting five that goes into the season distant from settled.

two. Are Alvarez, Manaea distant behind?

Continuing on the rotation theme, the A’s may eventually have two intriguing options in Henderson Alvarez and Sean Manaea. Alvarez, an All-Star with the Marlins in two thousand-fourteenth, is returning from shoulder surgery and could be prepared to connect the A’s by late May or June. Manaea, Oakland’s top pitching prospect, impressed the A’s this spring but needs more seasoning in the minors, where he hasn’t pitched over Double A. Both could allow in-season reinforcements for the A’s should their Opening Day rotation stumble early – as could Hahn, who was among Oakland’s better starters latest year when healthy.

three. Is the defense any better?

The A’s led the majors in errors in two thousand-fifteenth with one hundred twenty-six. They hoped to enter this season as an improved defensive team, emphasizing field work in spring workouts and early-morning infield sessions. But as of Tuesday, the A’s led the majors in spring training errors with forty-two in twenty-eighth games. Manager Bob Melvin reportedly called his team’s defense “putrid” after one particularly horrible recent showing and told reporters the defensive shortcomings “will be addressed.” Until the mistake rate diminishes, however, it remains an area of concern.

four. Does this lineup have a middle?

Danny Valencia’s numbers hitting cleanup latest season – he slugged .571 in 43 games – came in a tiny sample size but impressed Melvin sufficient that he figures to hit there frequently to start this season. How Melvin fills in the lineup around him should, as usual, depend on the pitcher the A’s are facing that day. Josh Reddick and Stephen Vogt are dependable left-handed middle-of-the-order hitters. The bigger questions may involve the right-handed sluggers: Can Khris Davis’ power – twenty-seven homers latest season with Milwaukee – translate to Oakland? Can Billy Butler make better on his disappointing two thousand fifteen? And can Valencia anchor a lineup for a full season?

five. Can Burns, Canha avert sophomore slumps?

As rookies, Billy Burns and Tag Canha were shining spots for the A’s latest season. Burns emerged as the everyday middle fielder and lead-off hitter. He'd a .294 batting average, a .334 on-base percentage, and a .392 slugging percentage, along with 26 steals, but admits he wore down toward the finish of the season. He's looked rejuvenated this spring, with a team-leading eighteen hits in forty-eighth at-bats through Tuesday, and said he's number plans to modify his custom of attacking the first pitch, on which he batted .479 latest season. Canha hit sixteen residence runs in his first major-league season, but his playing time may require flexibility. Already this spring, Canha has seen time at first base and in both left and center field.

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