The final few weeks of the 2022 A’s season will feel like a homecoming.
Virtually every team that will visit Oakland for the rest of the year will feature some familiar faces, starting with this week’s Miami Marlins series. Southpaw Jesús Luzardo is set to make his first career start against the A’s and Cole Irvin Wednesday, after they shipped him to Miami in the Starling Marte trade last year.
Here’s a look at all the notable former A’s coming to Oakland:
Dates: 8/22 to 8/24
Former A’s: LHP Jesús Luzardo
The A’s pushed their chips in last year when they acquired Starling Marte near the deadline, and Marte was absolutely electric. Oakland knew it was taking a risk when it got Marte, who was just a short-term rental. With his hitting prowess, proficiency stealing bases and stellar defense, there was no way the A’s would be able to retain him in free agency.
So they gambled and shipped away Luzardo, who was just 23 at the time. The A’s aggressive deadline strategy didn’t work out, as the bullpen collapsed down the stretch and Oakland cleaned house in the offseason.
Despite his immense struggles in 2021, there’s no denying Luzardo’s upside and talent. A left forearm strain in May landed Luzardo on the 60-day Injured List, so he’s only made 10 starts with the Marlins this year but posted a 3.44 ERA. He’s got a 65-to-21 K-to-BB ratio in 52.1 innings pitched while lowering his HR/9 rate to 0.9. Giving up dingers became his biggest bugaboo with the A’s before he got traded, but it looks like Luzardo is blossoming into the southpaw Oakland envisioned.
New York Yankees
Dates: 8/25 to 8/28
Former A’s: RHP Frankie Montas, RHP Lou Trivino, 3B Josh Donaldson
It was no surprise to see Frankie Montas get shipped at the trade deadline a few weeks ago, but I’d argue that the A’s also did some addition by the subtraction of Trivino, who was wholly inconsistent since his stellar 2018 rookie season.
What’s funny is Trivino has been pretty lights out for the Yankees so far while Montas has struggled. Trivino tossed 2.1 scoreless innings Sunday to earn the ‘W’ in an extra-inning victory for the Yanks. Though he’s been used in mostly losing situations, and coughed up a game to the Red Sox earlier this month, Trivino has a 1.00 ERA in 11 appearances so far (9 IP).
Montas, meanwhile, has been getting outperformed by JP Sears through their respective first three starts with their new teams.
Sears’ first 3 starts with A’s:
15.1 IP, 13 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 1.76 ERA, 1.11 WHIP
Montas’ first 3 starts with Yankees:
14 IP, 18 H, 14 ER, 6 BB, 8 K, 9.00 ERA, 1.71 WHIP
Montas is on track to face Mets ace Jacob deGrom Tuesday in the Yankees’ final game before heading to the West Coast, so there’s a chance the A’s will miss facing Montas despite it being a four-game series. If the Yankees elect to skip a starter with Wednesday’s rest day, there’s a chance we could see Frankie on the mound at the Coliseum for Sunday’s finale.
Another wrinkle? Sears, who was a stud in the Yankees’ minor league system, is on track to face New York’s $36 million man Gerrit Cole Friday night. That could be a juicy David vs. Goliath type of deal.
My only ask is that the Yankees put Trivino in a high-leverage, late-game situation where he’s trying to protect a slim lead against the A’s. That would be theater.
Dates: 9/6 to 9/7
Former A’s: 1B Matt Olson, OF Robbie Grossman
You gotta feel good with how the Matt Olson situation played out. He got to go home and join his hometown Braves, who immediately locked him up to an eight-year, $168 million contract extension upon his arrival.
Entering play Monday, Olson leads MLB with 123 games played and 540 plate appearances. His 125 OPS+ is still impressive, though its down a bit from his monster 153 OPS+ campaign in 2021.
Oly has been a doubles machine (37) while slashing .251/.335/.493 with 26 homers, 83 RBIs, 59 walks and 130 strikeouts. He has been coming up clutch (according to random tweets I’ve seen throughout the season) and you have to assume he’s still playing Gold Glove-caliber defense. The A’s, meanwhile, have cycled through 11 different players at first base this season, which is absurd.
Olson should get a standing ovation from the Coliseum crowd a la Matt Chapman earlier this season. Maybe not so much for Grossman, who didn’t have the most memorable A’s tenure and was acquired by the Braves from the Detroit Tigers at the deadline.
Chicago White Sox
Dates: 9/8 to 9/11
Former A’s: SS Elvis Andrus, RHP Liam Hendriks, 2B Josh Harrison, LHP Jake Diekman, RHP Kendall Graveman, manager Tony LaRussa
It didn’t take long for Elvis Andrus to find work after the A’s released him last week. Less than 24 hours later, Andrus agreed to join the White Sox, who need help at shortstop with Tim Anderson recovering from wrist surgery. There’s a chance Anderson could miss the rest of the season, though a return in September is possible.
So, Elvis has found himself thrust into the AL Wild Card race after toiling in the cellar for four-and-a-half months with the A’s. The White Sox enter play Monday 3.5 games back of the third Wild Card spot, though LaRussa’s managing style has been critiqued all season long, especially with his recent decisions to intentionally walk batters in the middle of two-strike counts.
Andrus was a casualty of the A’s youth movement, as they want to see how Nick Allen can handle the everyday shortstop role without impediments. His $15 million 2023 player option that would have guaranteed with 550 plate appearances was becoming a factor, too. Elvis has appeared in two games with the White Sox so far, going 1-for-8 (.125) with a single and a stolen base so far.
New York Mets
Dates: 9/23 to 9/25
Former A’s: RHP Chris Bassitt, OF Mark Canha, OF Starling Marte
Don’t worry, guys. Mark Canha hasn’t changed one bit.
This past weekend, Canha busted out an epic bat flip in Philly after cranking out his second home run of the game.
This bat flip from Mark Canha 😍 pic.twitter.com/x1D9Tn6J8U
— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) August 21, 2022
Bat Flippin’ Season is bi-coastal.
Canha is putting together a solid season with the Mets, batting a career-high .275 with .374 OBP, .410 SLG, 124 OPS+, 10 homers, 47 RBI, 40 walks and 71 strikeouts through 103 games.
Bassitt is part of arguably the most stacked rotation in the Majors alongside Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom. He’s been able to maintain his 2021 success, posting a 3.26 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 138/36 K/BB ratio in 141 innings across 23 starts this year. He’s making $8.8 million this season and has a $19 million mutual option agreed upon in 2023, so Bassitt is about to get a well-deserved fat raise in his final year before free agency.
Marte made his second career All-Star team this year and remains one of the most dynamic players in the game. He is slashing .296/.348/.468 with 14 homers, 55 RBIs and 17 stolen bases.
The A’s had some great players come through Oakland over the years. If there’s any consolation, fans probably still have these players’ jerseys hanging in their closets. To wrap up the year, the A’s will host the Los Angeles Angels, so we’ll get one last look at ol’ Kurt Suzuki and Jesse Chavez before closing the door on 2022.