Pinder returns to give manager Bob Melvin flexibility in terms of his in-game substitutions. Pinder can play all over the field, including third base where the A’s are without star Matt Chapman. Jake Lamb figures to continue to get the majority of playing time at the hot corner, but Pinder should serve an important role on the roster. He could be used as a defensive replacement at third, but he could also see some starting time, specifically against southpaws. Vimael Machín and Tommy La Stella have also seen some time at third since Chapman went down. La Stella starts most days at designated hitter or second base, however. Machín doesn’t bring much power to the table, but he puts the ball in play, with a tendency to go the other way and hit the ball on the ground. The 26-year-old rookie is the least likely of the collective to see significant playing time in the postseason.
Pinder should see an at-bat in today’s season finale, but he won’t play the field. Still, Melvin expects Pinder to be able to start in the postseason against left-handers, per Martín Gallegos of MLB.com (via Twitter). Oakland will enter the playoffs as either the #2 or #3 seed after winning the AL West. They’ll need to win today and see the Twins lose in order to jump into the #2 spot. A loss or a Twins win will result in the #3 seed for the A’s. If they finish as the #3 seed, they’ll get the Astros in the first round. In that scenario, Pinder could start a potential game two or three if the Astros go to Framber Valdez to start one of those games.
As the #2 seed, their most-likely opponent would be the Cleveland Indians, who don’t have a left-handed starter set to go in the first round. The Chicago White Sox could also fall to the #7 seed if they lose and the Indians win. Both the White Sox and Indians have some big-time lefties working out of the bullpen, so even if Pinder doesn’t get his name in the starting lineup, he still will have the potential to make an impact, regardless of their first-round opponent.
Kaprielian made just two appearances for the A’s this season. The 26-year-old allowed 3 earned runs in 3 2/3 innings, his first taste of big-league action. The former Yankee farmhand came to Oakland as part of the Sonny Gray deal at the deadline in 2017.