Most years Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline comes and goes without much fanfare. This year both the Detroit Tigers and the Oakland A’s made it a day to remember. The Detroit Tigers vs. Oakland A’s matchup would be a playoff dream.
Another one happened on the fourth of July when the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, Billy Beane, had made the 2014 season’s first blockbuster trade by acquiring two of the trade market’s top pitchers, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, from the Chicago Cubs. No one saw that coming.
If no one saw that coming then what transpired on Thursday between approximately 9 am and 4 pm ET, the day of MLB’s non-waiver trade deadline, is nothing short of astonishing.
The Athletics startled everyone, especially a just awakening West Coast, with the news that they had traded their power-hitting left fielder Yoenis Cespedes to the Boston Red Sox along with a draft pick in exchange for their number one starter and Cy Young Award candidate lefty Jon Lester and Northern California native and former Athletic, outfielder Jonny Gomes.
That’s a huge deal all on it’s own. The team with the best record in baseball just made their already stellar starting rotation unimaginably good.
Later, just as the four o’clock hour was rolling around, the Detroit Tigers countered the A’s move by announcing that they too had bettered their starting rotation by acquiring the trade market’s other most coveted pitcher David Price in a three team deal with the Tampa Bay Rays and the Seattle Mariners.
Now, these are both blockbuster trades that were completely unexpected even by baseball insiders. These two teams already had arguably two of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball and were not thought to be on the market for Lester or Price. Two shockingly huge trades on what ended up being one of the craziest trade deadlines in recent memory.
But why? The answer is that because both teams have something to prove. There is quite a bit of history between them. The Tigers have been in the playoffs often in recent years, even made it to the World Series twice only to lose. Each time they’ve reached the World Series in this century the Tigers have had to defeat the A’s first. In 2006 Detroit beat Oakland in the ALCS and in 2012 it was the ALDS. They defeated the A’s for the second straight year in the 2013 ALDS.
The Tigers are out to prove that they can not only get to the World Series but that they can win it. The A’s would like to win their first American League Pennant since 1990. Both teams just made big trades pretty much for the sake of beating the other. Of course there are the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to watch out for. They will be in the mix so there is a slight chance that the two teams will not end up facing each other but if recent history is any indication, they inevitably will.
So, if the A’s and the Tigers were facing off in a seven game series that started today, both fighting for the A.L. pennant, who would win? Let’s look at and grade their starting rotations, starting lineups and bullpens to see if one team has an advantage over the other. In part one of this series let’s breakdown the starting rotations of the Oakland Athletics and the Detroit Tigers.