Oakland's Fifth Starter Race Continues...

Opening Night is right around the corner, and the Oakland Athletics are nearing a very tough decision pertaining to the team’s vacant No.5 rotation spot.

Josh Outman, Brandon McCarthy, Tyson Ross, and Bobby Cramer are all qualified candidates for the job, but that does not mean Bob Geren’s decision will be any easier. The Athletics are built around their starting pitching, and choosing the right guy for the No.5 spot is a very important decision for Geren to make.

Outman, who was figured to be a favorite to land the job, has been struggling for most of spring training. He’s 0-1 with a 11.74 ERA in four appearances this spring (7.2 innings). He’s allowed 10 runs on 18 hits, and has walked a total of 7 batters. Spring training stats are somewhat meaningless in the long haul, but are the A’s going to overlook these stats and just hand the job to Outman simply because he was part of the rotation back in 2009?

Guys like McCarthy, Ross, and Cramer have played too well this spring for that to be the case.

McCarthy, who is seemingly healthy for the first time in a long time, has had himself a solid spring thus far. He’s appeared in four games (one of those was a start), and has posted a 3.29 ERA in 13.2 innings.

Ross has been equally as good. He has yet to allow a single run in his 9.2 innings this spring. Ross did not play well last season, but Oakland might be looking to give him another chance to prove his worth this season. Perhaps in the rotation?

Cramer—shockingly no one is talking much about him—meanwhile is having himself a nice little spring as well. In 9.0 innings so far, he’s compiled a 3.00 ERA. He performed well last season for Oakland, going 2-1 with a 3.04 ERA in four appearances.

Right now, I’d say the job goes to McCarthy, just because of his track record. He’s a qualified No.5 starter, and he’s pitched fairly well this spring. The job is still wide open, but with Opening Night just right around the corner, Geren and the A’s will have to narrow down their options and name their No.5 starter.

Who do you think the A’s should name to be their No.5 starter? Hit the comments below!

Tags: Bobby Cramer Brandon McCarthy Josh Outman Oakland Athletics Spring Training Starting Rotation Team Preview 2011 Tyson Ross

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