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7 A's

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CONTENDERS

SCOUT'S TAKE

KEY QUESTION

Do they have the rotation to compete? All you need to know is that Mike Fiers is their Opening Day starter. Marco Estrada is a great fit—he'll thrive in that thick air and spacious field. But the pitching depth scares me.

ON THE CUSP

Defensively Matt Chapman was the baddest dude out there—call me crazy, but I think he's better than Nolan Arenado. He also showed promise with the bat by going to all fields really well and not falling into the launch-angle approach of lifting everything.

UNDERRATED

You can't find five people who thought that Marcus Semien would be an everyday shortstop in the majors for the last six years. Now he's Gold Glove--caliber. He gives all the credit to [third base coach] Ron Washington, and his work ethic is second to none.

LAST LICKS

With Joakim Soria the bullpen, which was really good last year, will be even better.... There were whispers that the Yankees wanted Bob Melvin last year and the A's wouldn't give him permission. That tells you enough, doesn't it? ... This team has pride and is well-prepared. They expect to be as good as they were last year.

THE PAYOFF PITCH

OAKLAND WENT 97--65 last season with a rotation held together by chewing gum and children's wishes. Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson and Edwin Jackson weren't on the A's last March 15, but by year's end they had combined for 54 starts, 2821/3 innings and a 3.83 ERA. Only Anderson returns, which is fine, because Oakland is set to unleash a monster on the mound. Jesus Luzardo, picked up two years ago from the Nats for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson, is the game's top lefty pitching prospect, and he's ready to shed the last word of that descriptor. The 21-year-old has a mid-90s fastball and a plus changeup, and in 2018 he had an excellent ratio of 129 K's to 30 walks at three minor league levels. The A's may keep the 6-foot, 209-pound Luzardo on an innings limit—he's just three years past Tommy John surgery—but he'll be a vital part of their attempt to get back to the postseason.

OVER UNDER

83.5

The bullpen and lineup are strong, but the front office's ability to piece together a starting rotation is what could push the club back into the playoffs.

LINEUP

2B Jurickson Profar

.254/20 HR/10 SB

3B Matt Chapman

.278/24 HR/.508 SLG

1B Matt Olson

.247/29 HR/.335 OBP

DH Khris Davis

.247/48 HR/123 RBI

RF Stephen Piscotty

.267/27 HR/88 RBI

LF Robbie Grossman

.273/5 HR/.367 OBP

SS Marcus Semien

.255/15 HR/14 SB

CF Ramón Laureano

.288/5 HR/7 SB

C Josh Phegley

.204/.344 SLG/.599 OPS

BENCH

1B/OF Mark Canha

.249/17 HR/.449 SLG

IF/OF Chad Pinder

.258/13 HR/.436 SLG

FANTASY BREAKOUT

Once a top prospect with Texas, JURICKSON PROFAR, 26, set career highs in home runs and RBIs, and qualifies at three positions.

ROTATION

RH Mike Fiers

12 W/3.56 ERA/1.18 WHP

RH Marco Estrada

7 W/5.64 ERA/1.43 WHP

LH Brett Anderson

4 W/4.48 ERA/1.28 WHP

RH Daniel Mengden

7 W/4.05 ERA/1.11 WHP

BULLPEN

CL Blake Treinen

38 S/0.78 ERA/11.2 K9

RH Yusmeiro Petit

3.00 ERA/1.01 WHP/7.4 K9

RH Joakim Soria

3.12 ERA/1.14 WHP/11.1 K9

MANAGER

Bob Melvin