Opposite dugout: Multiple problems have A's bringing up rear in AL West

A's-Logo.jpgManager: Bob Melvin (7th year)

Record: 23-30

Last 10 games: 3-7

Who to watch: 2B Jed Lowrie (.290/.360/.404, 16 2B), 1B Yonder Alonso (.285/.384/.642, 31 RBIs), LF Khris Davis (.219/.308/.503, 16 HR), RHP Sonny Gray (2-2, 4.72 ERA, 1.252 WHIP) RHP Santiago Casilla (4.66 ERA, 8 saves)

Season series vs. Nationals: First meeting (3-0 in 2014)

Pitching probables:
June 2: RHP Stephen Strasburg vs. RHP Andrew Triggs, 10:05 p.m., MASN2.
June 3: RHP Joe Ross vs. RHP Daniel Mengden, 4:05 p.m., MASN
June 4: RHP Tanner Roark vs. RHP Sonny Gray, 4:05 p.m., MASN2

Inside the Athletics:

The Athletics have trouble scoring, big problems in the field and a pitching staff hobbled by injuries. Two of the starting rotation with which Oakland began the season now languish on the disabled list. The A's rank 14th out of the 15 teams in the American League in runs scored, They're also the AL's worst defensive team, owning the bottom rank for both errors and fielding percentage. Oakland holds the No. 12 position for ERA and are in 13th place for for runs allowed. Little wonder then that the once-swingin' A's are bringing up the rear in the American League West.

Switch-hitting veteran Jed Lowrie provides the A's with one of their few bright spots. His consistency at the plate and solid glove work at second (.985 fielding percentage, 3 errors) have led some in Bay Area media to speculate that contending teams might try to work a trade with the A's. Rajai Davis has returned to Oakland after three seasons each with Toronto and Detroit, and last year with Cleveland. The 36-year-old center fielder can still motor (six steals), but the career .264 hitter now has an average of .200. Left fielder Khris Davis notched 15 homers before the end of May, but nine of them came with the bases empty. First baseman Yonder Alonso was hovering around .300 mid-May, but has cooled off a bit the past couple of weeks.

Don't be surprised if you see Nationals batters jumping on the first pitch in their at-bats when facing Friday's starter, Andrew Triggs (5-4, 2.64 ERA, 1.135 WHIP). Hitters putting balls in play on Triggs' first pitch average .419, the highest average against of any count. Batters who come to the plate with runners in scoring position hit .173. Triggs has failed to complete at least five innings in only one of his 10 starts. He's gone six innings in five of them and seven in his April 29 win at Houston.

With starters Jesse Hahn and Kendall Graveman on the disabled list, Oakland has summoned right-handers Jharel Cotton and Daniel Mengden from Triple-A Nashville. Mengden, who starts Saturday, himself began this season on the DL. He went 2-9 in 14 starts for the A's last year. His 2017 big league debut came in a Memorial Day start at Cleveland, in which he went just 3 1/3 innings and gave up seven hits and five runs in a loss at Cleveland. Sunday starter Sonny Gray, who began the 2017 season on the disabled list with a strained lat, is working to rebound from a disappointing and injury-plagued 2016, when he went 5-11 after posting two straight 14-win seasons. His prospects had been looking considerably brighter until May 30, when the Indians lit him up for seven earned runs on nine hits. Prior to that, Gray had turned in three straight quality starts, including a May 24 outing against Miami, in which he gave up just three hits and one run over seven innings while striking out 11.

Closer Santiago Casilla came to Oakland this season after spending the past seven across San Francisco Bay with the Giants, for whom he recorded a career-high 38 saves in 2015. This season Casilla has a couple of blown saves to go with his eight conversions. Left-handed batters average .276 against Casilla, while right-handers hit just .175.

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