Good morning from Detroit, where the weather is supposed to be about 50 degrees for first pitch of the A’s-Tigers A.L.D.S. opener and then drop into the 40’s from there. I wouldn’t want to take a fastball on the hands from Jarrod Parker or Justin Verlander tonight. …
A quick note on the A’s 25-man roster for the Divisional Series: Pat Neshek, carrying a heavy heart after the death of his newborn son, was included on the roster, and reliever Jim Miller was left off. That bullpen decision was the only real one the A’s had to make. They brought 26 healthy players to Detroit.
Neshek’s son, Gehrig, died Wednesday of unknown causes just 23 hours after being born. It was unclear if Neshek would be with the team for this best-of-five series against the Tigers, but when the A’s arrived at Comerica Park for Friday’s workout, Neshek was with them.
“If nothing else, we kind of wanted to do it in my son’s honor to come back,” he said of the decision by him and his wife, Stephanee.
The A’s roster consists of pitchers Brett Anderson, Grant Balfour, Travis Blackley, Jerry Blevins, Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle, Pedro Figueroa, A.J. Griffin, Tommy Milone, Neshek, Game 1 starter Jarrod Parker and Evan Scribner.
The position players are catchers George Kottaras and Derek Norris; infielders Chris Carter, Josh Donaldson, Stephen Drew, Brandon Moss, Cliff Pennington and Adam Rosales.; and outfielders Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Jonny Gomes, Josh Reddick and Seth Smith.
–Here’s a few names that pop into my head as being key for the A’s in this series, some more obvious than others:
*Coco Crisp — We’ve seen his importance to the A’s all season, and if he can ignite things from the leadoff spot in these first two games, it will help keep the Tigers crowd quiet. The speedy center fielder has missed large chunks of time this season for bizarre reasons — an inner ear infection, pinkeye — but his impact is undeniable. Crisp’s regular-season stats — .259, 11 HRs, 46 RBIs — don’t tell the full story.
*Josh Donaldson — Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes have put up big numbers. Brandon Moss and Chris Carter have contributed power. But notice how many clutch hits Donaldson delivered at important times for the A’s in the second half? He needs to produce down toward the bottom of the lineup to give Detroit’s pitching staff more to worry about than Crisp and the big boppers. Donaldson, a converted catcher, also must continue to play the sharp defense he’s displayed at third base.
*Pedro Figueroa/Evan Scribner — We saw Scribner shine Wednesday out of the bullpen against Texas. He and Figueroa, a lefty, will serve the same role as middle relievers who can be called upon early if Oakland’s starters get into trouble. That’s not out of the question given the inexperience in the rotation and the liklihood that manager Bob Melvin will have a quick hook if they struggle. Scribner and Figueroa could help steady the ship if that happens. Figueroa has electric stuff, and the A’s have floated the idea of making him a starter in the future, but he’s needed for different reasons right now.