This entire 2020 season is unusual, and in the American League West, it’s been incredibly unusual. There are four struggling teams and one standout team, but while mostly everyone expected that standout team to be the defending American League champions, that certainly hasn’t been the case. As this season rolls on, it’s clear that we may have a one-horse race in this battle, and we may have a new AL West champion for the first time since 2016.
Here is the weekly roundup from top-to-bottom for the week of Aug. 3 through Aug. 9:
1. Oakland Athletics (12-4), Division Leader
Last week: 7-0
Not often do you see all parts of a team working perfectly together. Last week, the Oakland A’s fired on all cylinders, getting tremendous production from every part of the team. The A’s bullpen allowed only two runs in 26 innings pitched. Three of the A’s starters (Montas, Luzardo, and Bassitt) pitched brilliantly throughout the week. The A’s offense slugged 14 home runs, including nine combined from Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, and Robbie Grossman. Despite some Sunday fireworks against the Astros that resulted in Houston hitting coach Alex Cintron and A’s outfielder Ramon Laureano receiving suspensions, the A’s never slowed down, finishing the week undefeated.
Stud of the Week: Frankie Montas
When you win AL Player of the Week, there’s a good chance you’ll be the Stud of the Week as well. Frankie Montas did just that last week, starting two games, winning both of them, and only allowing one run in 14 innings pitched.
Dud of the Week: Sean Manaea
Unfortunately, not every A’s starter had the same luck as Montas, and Sean Manaea is the perfect example. His only start last week didn’t even go four innings, as he allowed four runs, six hits, one walk, and one home run in 3.1 innings pitched.
On deck for the A’s:
On the next edition of A’s baseball, Oakland looks to continue their success in Anaheim and San Francisco against two last-place squads. They’ll play three, have an off day on Thursday, and then three more against the Giants.
2. Texas Rangers (6-8, 5 GB)
Last week: 3-3
Three of the A’s wins last week came against the Texas Rangers, but the Rangers finished the week on a strong note, sweeping the last-place Angels at Globe Life Field.
While the Rangers offense hasn’t been spectacular all season, the team had some standout performances from Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Todd Frazier, as they both hit over .400 for the week. Lance Lynn continued his hot start with two more quality performances, allowing only three runs in 11.1 innings pitched. The Rangers even found help in the back end of the bullpen from an unexpected source: Rafael Montero, who appeared in two games and recorded saves and scoreless outings in both of them.
Studs of the Week: Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Todd Frazier
As mentioned, the main source of offensive production for Texas last week came from Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Todd Frazier. Kiner-Falefa hit .455, going 10-for-22 with two stolen bases and three runs scored. Frazier hit .435 with a homer and four runs scored.
Dud of the Week: Robinson Chirinos
Robinson Chirinos appeared in five of the Rangers six games last week, and proceeded to go hitless in 16 plate appearances. He did drive in two runs, but also struck out four times and grounded into two double plays.
On deck for the Rangers:
The Rangers start the week at home with a three-game series against Seattle before heading to Colorado to take on the red-hot Rockies.
3. Houston Astros (6-9, 5.5 GB)
Last week: 1-5
After all of the offseason controversy surrounding the Astros, there was concern that this would negatively affect them in 2020. After a 5-4 start to this season, the Astros hit a rough patch last week, going 1-5 in six games against the Diamondbacks and A’s. George Springer missed half the week with wrist issues, Michael Brantley provided minimal production due to quadriceps issues, and Jose Altuve still hasn’t found his old form.
The biggest concern for the Astros is pitching, specifically Lance McCullers Jr. and the bullpen. The Astros bullpen allowed 17 earned runs in 24 innings pitched last week. They allowed 17 walks, surrendered five home runs, and recorded four blown saves. McCullers, in his one start last week, didn’t last four innings and allowed eight earned runs, which pushed his season ERA up to 6.10.
Studs of the Week: Carlos Correa and Zack Greinke
The only bit of normalcy for the Astros last week came from Carlos Correa and Zack Greinke. Correa hit .364 with three runs scored and three walks, while Greinke pitched six innings of shutout ball, striking out five.
Duds of the Week: Lance McCullers Jr. and the Astros Bullpen
Lance McCullers Jr. and the Astros bullpen combined to allow 25 earned runs in 27.2 innings. Definitely dud-worthy.
On deck for the Astros:
Hopefully the Astros can find some normalcy this week, as they’ll take on both the Giants and Mariners at Minute Maid Park.
4. Seattle Mariners (6-11, 6.5 GB)
Last week: 2-5
After the A’s, the Mariners were the only other team in the AL West to play all seven days last week. Unlike the A’s, however, the Mariners struggled, finishing 2-5 for the week. Just like the Astros, the Mariners bullpen was horrific last week and was the main contributor for their struggles. In 30 innings, the Mariners bullpen allowed 22 earned runs, 20 walks, and seven home runs. The Mariners rotation wasn’t much better, as Justin Dunn, Yusei Kikuchi, and Taijuan Walker combined to go 0-3 with a 7.64 ERA.
Studs of the Week: Austin Nola and Dylan Moore
The Mariners have been fortunate to get some solid production out of Austin Nola and Dylan Moore. Last week, Moore hit .300 with two doubles and two home runs. Nola, despite only appearing in four games, hit .400 with five extra-base hits and seven runs batted-in.
Dud of the Week: Evan White
Unfortunately, not much has been going right for the Mariners rookie first baseman Evan White. Last week, he hit an abysmal .048 (1-for-21) with his only hit being a double.
On deck for the Mariners:
The Mariners will take an all-Texas road trip as they face both the Rangers and Astros for three games each.
5. Los Angeles Angels (5-11, 7 GB)
Last week: 2-4
Last week, the Angels looked to rebound from their rough start to the season and make up ground in the AL West race. Unfortunately, after taking two out of three against Seattle, the Angels were then swept by the Rangers in Arlington. Their sweep was highlighted by a key four-base error made by rookie Jo Adell. Hopefully that error doesn’t wind up defining their 2020 season.
The Angels offense had some solid production from Mike Trout (obviously), who hit four home runs. Max Stassi (two) and David Fletcher (two) added some home runs of their own as the Angels put up 23 total runs last week. Unfortunately, Anthony Rendon (0-for-19), and a majority of the Angels pitching staff struggled throughout the week, which contributed to the Angels losing some ground in the division race.
Stud of the Week: Dylan Bundy
Only five pitchers this season have tossed a complete game, and Dylan Bundy is one of them. Last week in his one start, he went the distance, allowed only one run, didn’t walk anyone, and struck out ten batters.
Dud of the Week: Anthony Rendon
From a World Series hero to…what is happening to Anthony Rendon? Last week, he went hitless in 25 plate appearances. He reached base a few times on four walks, but is hitting .143 so far in his first season in Anaheim.
On deck for the Angels:
Unfortunately for the Angels, their schedule doesn’t get much easier this week. They face the A’s and Dodgers in six games.
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images