Crystal Ball: What Will Oakland's 2012 Rotation Look Like?

Oakland's 2012 Rotation: Who's In and Who's Out?

Every Friday, Swingin’ A’s will make a prediction about the A’s 2012 season with the help of our “crystal ball.” The series, appropriately titled “Crystal Ball Fridays,” will continue through the week before Opening Night. Enjoy. 

Crystal Ball, what does Oakland’s 2012 starting rotation look like?

The A’s will likely enter the spring with a few questions surrounding the state of its starting rotation. With Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez both out of Oakland, the Athletics will need a few of their young arms to step up this spring and help fill the voids left by Cahill and Gonzalez.

It won’t be easy, but the A’s should enter spring training with more than a few viable options. The A’s did, after all, score a few good pitching prospects in both the Cahill and Gonzalez trades.

Tom Milone, Jarrod Parker, and Brad Peacock are all viable candidates to join the starting rotation this season. Oakland also has Dallas Braden, Brandon McCarthy, Guillermo Moscoso, and Josh Outman as other starting candidates this year, too.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to add Graham Godfrey and Tyson Ross to the mix as well. So, if it hasn’t become apparent already, the A’s will have plenty of help this year to fill the voids left behind Cahill and Gonzalez.

The A’s might not have the best offense around, but the team seems to always have plenty of pitching depth. This year, like last season, should have plenty of strong pitching performances. It’ll be interesting to see how McCarthy and Moscoso perform this year after stepping up big time last year. 

The early battles this spring, though, should be the most entertaining. The A’s have ten or so qualifying candidates vying for a spot in Bob Melvin’s starting rotation, so spring training should be highly competitive this year. Billy Beane has replenished his team’s pitching depth, so brace yourself, A’s fans, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

The Crystal Ball, though, seems to be pointing to a rotation that includes (in no particular order) Dallas Braden, Brandon McCarthy, Guillermo Moscoso, Josh Outman, and Tom Milone. Below is a closer look at the five starters mentioned above by our crystal ball.

  • Dallas Braden: Get off his mound or you’ll find yourself in a world of hurt. Braden, 28, was signed this offseason to a one-year deal worth $3.35 million and should continue to be a strong presence in the team’s clubhouse in 2012. He should also be ready by the start of the season after undergoing surgery on his left-shoulder back in May of last year. If he’s healthy, you can count on him being in the starting rotation. He made just three starts last season, going 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA over 18.0 innings. The year before that, though, Braden went 11-14 with a 3.50 ERA over 192.2 innings. Braden may not be the flashiest guy out there, but he definitely knows how to pitch. Bill James has Braden going 8-8 with a 3.56 ERA over 149.0 innings this year.
  • Brandon McCarthy: McCarthy was perhaps the biggest surprise for A’s fans last year. Not only did he win the 5th spot in Oakland’s rotation last spring, he proved to be quite the ace as well. McCarthy, 28, didn’t get too much help from the A’s offense, but still managed to go 8-8 with a 3.32 ERA. He also threw five complete games last year, too. McCarthy’s 2011 performance obviously makes him a candidate to open the season as the team’s top starter, but that’s assuming he avoids any injury setbacks this spring.
  • Guillermo Moscoso: Like McCarthy, Moscoso was another surprise player. Oakland was hit hard by injuries last year, with both Braden and Brett Anderson missing time due to injuries, but guys like McCarthy and Moscoso stepped up big time for the A’s in ’11. Moscoso, 28, went 8-10 with a 3.38 ERA over 128.0 innings and 21 starts. This year, Moscoso should have earned himself a spot in the starting rotation. He wasn’t in the picture this time last year, but this time around, expect to see Moscoso on the mound in Oakland.
  • Josh Outman: After undergoing Tommy John surgery in ’09, Outman finally appeared in a few games last season for the A’s. He made 17 starts with the River Cats last year, while trying to figure out his control issues that hindered him in Oakland. He performed well before the surgery in ’09, going 4-1 with a 3.48 ERA over 67.1 innings. Last year, though, his command problems resulted in a 3-5 record with a 3.70 ERA over 13 appearances (9 starts) and 58.1 innings. If he proves to be effective this spring, a starting job could be in the cards for Outman.
  • Tom Milone: Milone was acquired in the Gio Gonzalez deal, and while Jarrod Parker and Brad Peacock project as better prospects, Milone remains the best big-league option at the moment. Parker and Peacock figure to be a part of the team’s rotation in the future, but Milone, 24, could make an impact this year. He pitched 26.0 innings this year with the Nationals, going 1-0 with a 3.81 ERA in five starts for the Nationals. He enjoyed success on the minor league level last year, too. He posted a 3.22 ERA along with a 9.2 K/9 rate in Triple-A last year. He’s a solid option this year. Watch for Milone.
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Tags: A's American League Brad Peacock Brandon McCarthy Brett Anderson Dallas Braden ERA Gio Gonzalez Graham Godfrey Guillermo Moscoso Innings Pitched IP Jarrod Parker Josh Outman Oakland A's Oakland Athletics Pitchers Pitching Starting Rotation Strike Outs Strikeout Rate Tom Milone Trevor Cahill Tyson Ross Walks Wins

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