As Brett Anderson prepares to return to the Major Leagues for the first time since last season, the A’s have an important but not necessarily bad decision to make. No doubt about it they have a difficult choice, but it is one that has to be made, and soon. Many times over the past couple weeks the speculation has been flying around that the A’s would take the unconventional step of expanding their starting rotation to 6 in order to include Anderson. But even then that wouldn’t be incorporating all of the viable starting candidates the team has in its arsenal.
At the moment the A’s have Bartolo Colon, Brandon McCarthy, Jarrod Parker, Dan Straily, Tommy Milone, and Travis Blackley available right now, with Brett Anderson and A.J. Griffin set to return in the very near future. That doesn’t even account for the presence of Tyson Ross and Graham Godfrey in Sacramento as well, both of whom have made starts for the A’s this year. For those keeping score, that makes 10 potential starters, with 8 of them filed under the viable starter category (Bet you can’t guess which 8).
Ideally the A’s would feature a starting rotation featuring in no particular order Colon, McCarthy, Parker, Anderson, and Straily right now. When the rosters expand in September the A’s can activate A.J. Griffin and expand the rotation to 6 in order to ease the burden on all of the starters, not just the young ones. Conspicuous by his absence is Tommy Milone. His lack of effectiveness recently has made his dominance especially at home seem more like a mirage than a hint of what the soft tossing lefty is capable of long term. Perhaps a brief stint in Sacramento would be in order until September when he can be brought back for depth. Either way it seems Milone has lost his direction and it has come at the most crucial point in the season, and now is not the time to let the kid work out his issues in Oakland.
What appears likely to happen, and as CSN’s Kate Longworth tweeted tonight Anderson is rumored to be penciled in as the starting pitcher for the A’s Tuesday night and Milone or Dan Straily would be the favorites to head back to Sacramento. My gut tells me that Milone will be rewarded for putting in a full season thus far in Oakland with the chance to work out his issues in the A’s rotation and Dan Straily will head back to the minors. Straily demonstrated in his last start against the Kansas City Royals just what he’s capable of in his near gem performance, meanwhile Milone has an ERA of 7.50 in his last 4 starts. But even the Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s are susceptible to making moves motivated by personal feelings, no matter what they might want us to believe.
While I don’t think there is necessarily a wrong move to make in this case, there is definitely a less right move to make. Either way though, the A’s have gotten themselves back in a position to get into the postseason after a brief stumble, and whichever pitchers are called upon to start, they’ll be making some of the most crucial starts Oakland has seen in years.