Back in April, this final homestand for the A’s seemed like it would be a crucial one for them.
It appeared that maybe, just maybe, a three-game series with the Texas Rangers and a three-gamer against the Giants might factor into the A’s chase for a fourth consecutive postseason berth.
Then the reality of the regular season played out. The A’s are stuck with the American League’s worst record at 64-86, and with the Giants’ postseason hopes looking very remote, next weekend’s Bay Bridge Series will be strictly for bragging rights.
So why should you remain invested in the A’s over their final dozen games? Here’s a few reasons as they sprint to the regular-season finish line:
--Can the A’s impact the postseason hopes of their division rivals?
The Rangers will arrive at the Coliseum on Tuesday looking to strengthen their grip on the AL West lead. They overtook the Astros for first place last week and enter Monday with a one and a half game lead over Houston and a four-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels.
The A’s will visit Anaheim a week from Monday for a three-game set, and that could have huge implications on the Angels’ quest for a Wild Card spot. They are two and a half games back of the Astros for the second Wild Card berth entering Monday’s play.
--Does Chris Bassitt make a return to the mound?
Manager Bob Melvin has said that Bassitt could make a start on this homestand. The rookie right-hander hasn’t pitched since Aug. 26 due to shoulder soreness, but the A’s have said all along the plan is for Bassitt to return before season’s end. They’ve yet to announce a starter for Thursday’s game against the Rangers, so there’s the possibility for Bassitt to slide in there. He’s shown the potential to be in next year’s five-man rotation, but the A’s likely want to see where Bassitt stands health-wise heading into the offseason.
--How does Barry Zito’s final chapter play out?
The 37-year-old lefty threw an inning of relief Sunday, his first big league appearance in nearly two years. By now, the talk of a Zito vs. Tim Hudson matchup Saturday is so loud that it’ll be a letdown if it doesn’t happen. But keep in mind the A’s have never openly said they plan to start Zito against the Giants. Regardless, he’ll surely face somebody – in some role – on the upcoming homestand. And that sets up as an emotional goodbye to the Coliseum fans.
--Do individual milestones get reached?
Josh Reddick leads the A’s with 19 home runs and Stephen Vogt is right behind him at 18. Can both reach the 20-homer mark? That number may not seem all that significant. But not since 2011 have the A’s failed to have at least two hitters reach 20 homers. And while we’re on the topic, Billy Burns’ batting average sits at .297, and finishing above .300 would be a great way to end a stellar rookie season.