When you think of the A’s, you think about a small-market club with an exceptional young starting rotation. The A’s will be all about pitching in 2011.
While some are beginning to wonder who will fill the fifth spot in Oakland’s rotation, I’m more interested in seeing how Brett Anderson will bounce back in 2011 after spending a big chunk of 2010 on the disabled-list.
Anderson, 22, received a four-year extension with the Athletics last season in April, and while I was elated to see the team lock him up, I was less enthused to see him land on the DL twice during the season.
In 19 starts last season for the A’s, Anderson went 7-6 with a 2.80 ERA. While those numbers are certainly an improvement over his solid rookie season (11-11, 4.06 ERA), it was not an encouraging sight to see the young lefty land on the DL twice during the season.
Oakland’s rotation will be the team’s biggest strength, and with a revamped bullpen, the team’s pitching in general will be among baseball’s best. Health, however, always comes into play with the A’s.
The health of the staff will probably dictate whether or not the A’s win this season. The team is built around their pitching, and while the team has added depth this season, it’s never a good sign to see a promising young player spend a majority of the season on the disabled-list.
The offense has been retooled to help support the staff, and if the additions of Hideki Matsui, David DeJesus, and Josh Willingham prove successful, the offense could really propel the A’s to the top of the AL West standings this season.
The continued growth and maturity will also come into play this season for Anderson, and the rest of the A’s young team.
The A’s had several players last season who enjoyed breakout-type seasons, including pitchers Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez. Cahill, 22, went 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA in 196.2 innings last season for Oakland. Gonzalez, 25, went 15-9 with a 3.23 ERA in 33 starts.
Heading into the 2010 season, I had predicted that Anderson and Cahill would team up to win 20-25 combined games for the A’s. Anderson won 7 games, and Cahill won 18, so while the two met my expectations, A’s fans should be in store for even more success from them in 2011.
Anderson is a true ace pitcher when healthy, and if he’s healthy in 2011, Oakland’s rotation should be among baseball’s elite staffs. It’s not insane to rank the staff up there with the likes of the Phillies and Giants.