Apr 26, 2011; Anaheim, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics starter Brandon McCarthy (32) pitches against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

How Well Do Oakland's Arms Stack Up In AL West?

Apr 26, 2011; Anaheim, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics starter Brandon McCarthy (32) pitches against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

The A’s may have recently announced that their No.4 starter will Graham Godfrey, but there are still some remaining questions surrounding the team’s starting rotation. Last year, the Athletics opened the season with a starting rotation that included the likes of Dallas Braden, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, and Brandon McCarthy. This year, though, figures to be much, much different.

Braden and Anderson are both on the disabled-list as the two pitchers battle back from various ailments. Gonzalez and Cahill, meanwhile, are both playing in different cities this year. McCarthy, who surprised just about everyone last year with his solid performance, is the only starter from last year’s rotation to be included in this year’s starting five.

After McCarthy, the A’s will go with veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon, who won his first official start with the green-and-gold during their Opening Series in Japan against the Mariners. Compared to the other pitching staffs in the AL West, Oakland’s staff just doesn’t come off as flashy or even as recognizable.

Oakland’s No.3 and No.4 starters, Tom Milone and Graham Godfrey, are virtual unknowns in baseball. Both pitchers, though, performed well enough this spring to earn the praise of their manager, Bob Melvin. The person most people need to watch out for is Milone, who was acquired this past winter in the trade that sent Gonzalez to the Nationals.

Milone has proven himself on pretty much every level he’s pitched in, and the A’s are seemingly confident in the young left-hander to get the job done on the major league level. Last year, Milone went 12-6 in 24 starts for Washington’s Triple-A affiliate. He also posted a 3.22 ERA (2.24 FIP) and a sparkling 9.40 SO/9 rate while walking just 16 batters in 148.1 innings.

The A’s are hopeful that Milone’s control and command of his pitches carry over to the big league level. If they do, the A’s have a talented young lefty on their hands. Think of him as a Dallas Braden, Version 2.0. With Milone, the A’s have a decent trio of starting pitchers in their rotation. McCarthy-Colon-Milone may surprise a few people, if they manage to stay healthy and if the team’s offense can actually score some runs this season.

Compared to the rest of the division’s pitching, though, Oakland’s staff isn’t quite as impressive. The Angels have Jared Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana in their starting rotation. The Rangers will roll out with Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, and Yu Darvish. And the Mariners will have Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas, and Kevin Millwood headlining their starting five.

The A’s will likely find themselves in a dog-fight for third-place this year, with the Mariners being their biggest competition. The Angels and Rangers, meanwhile, will fight for the division’s top spot. Last year, the A’s entered the season with a very promising and highly talented starting rotation, but injuries derailed the team’s contender’s status.

This year, the A’s have a group of five that is largely unknown and unproven. Having Brandon McCarthy as your No.1 starter doesn’t reflect well upon your team’s pitching depth, does it? That’s not taking anything away from McCarthy, who went 9-9 with a 3.32 ERA and a 2.86 FIP in 25 starts last season with Oakland.

But when you look at some of the other talent around the division, it becomes distinctively clear that the A’s pitching staff just doesn’t stack up that well. In a few years, though, when guys like Milone, Jarrod Parker, A.J. Cole, and Sonny Gray are all entering their respective primes, the A’s could own the reputation as having the best arms out West.

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