The A’s may not be favored to win the American League West this season, but if the team manages to stay relatively healthy they could end up surprising a few people.
If guys like veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon, whom the A’s signed this past offseason, the Athletics may end up playing competitive baseball. That’s not saying they’ll capture the division crown, but rather that they’ll take home third place in respectable fashion.
Over the last few years, though, the organization as a whole has been hit hard by injuries. The A’s are without two of their starting pitchers to open the season with both Dallas Braden and Brett Anderson serving time on the disabled-list. Braden is working his way back from surgery, but Anderson is expected to be out for much of the year after undergoing Tommy John Surgery last year.
Without these two talented pitchers, guys like Colon become even more valuable than ever. At 38 years old, Colon’s status as Oakland’s No.2 says a lot about the team’s current rotation depth, but also speaks volumes about Colon’s resiliency. The Athletics need Brandon McCarthy and Colon to anchor their largely inexperienced pitching staff, but they also need their No.1 and No.2 starters to stay healthy, too.
Both McCarthy and Colon pitched well during their respective starts in Tokyo, but Colon was a tiny bit better than McCarthy. For starters, the A’s were able to score a few runs for Colon, who notched his first win of 2012. Secondly, Colon pretty much had his way with the Mariners’ offense. He struck out six Mariners, with five of those hitters going down looking.
Colon relied heavily on his fastball during game two of the two-game set in Japan. Of Colon’s 86 pitches (in 8 innings, efficient, huh?) 78 of those were fastballs. Yes, 78 or a little over 90% of his pitches were fastballs. But hey, Colon’s reliance on his fastball obviously worked. He did, after all, record his first win of 2012 with 8 innings of dominance over Oakland’s biggest competitor for third-place in the AL West.
The prognosis so far, then, is looking rather good for Oakland’s newest “dynamic” duo. Health remains the only question with both McCarthy and Colon. If the two pitchers can remain healthy, the A’s just might win a few games in 2012.