The Oakland Athletics are welcoming back one of their biggest stars on Saturday, as slugger Khris Davis was activated from the 10-day injured list.
Davis was out due to a hip/oblique contusion that he suffered on May 5 while playing left field in an interleague game at the Pittsburgh Pirates’ NL stadium. He tried to play through it for a couple weeks, but eventually went on the IL on May 24, retroactive to May 22.
The A’s offense did an admirable job in the absence of their designated hitter and top power threat. They scored 47 runs in eight games since he last played, and only twice in that span did they put up fewer than six in a game. They also won five of those eight contests.
In particular, Mark Canha was excellent while filling in at the DH spot. Since pinch-hitting for an ailing Davis on May 21, Canha went 10-for-32 with four homers and two doubles.
Even still, getting back Davis would be a boon to any lineup. He hit a dozen homers this year before going on the IL, and he’s blasted at least 40 in each of the last three seasons. Nobody in the majors has hit more homers than Davis’ 145 since the start of the 2016 campaign.
With Davis’ return, the odd man out is outfielder Skye Bolt. The rookie only made it into one game during his latest stint in Oakland, starting last Sunday against the Seattle Mariners and going 0-for-3 with a walk, but that marked his first major league start after making his debut off the bench earlier in May. He’ll return to Triple-A for now, where he’s batting .311 with a .950 OPS.
There will be no easing back into the lineup for Davis, whose first assignment will be to face former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros. The right-hander is having another elite season at age 36, with a 2.38 ERA through 12 starts and sparkling numbers across the board. However, the matchup might not be as daunting for Davis, who is 6-for-11 with four homers in his career against Verlander — and indeed, Verlander’s one weakness this year has been his 13 homers allowed in just under 80 innings.
Oakland will look to even their series against the Astros on Saturday, after dropping Friday’s opener 3-2 in disappointing fashion thanks to the bullpen’s AL-leading 11th blown save. Brett Anderson will start for the A’s against a Houston lineup missing All-Stars Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer. The A’s enter the day, and the month of June, at 29-28 and tied for the second American League Wild Card with the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers.