With the season beginning for the defending AL West champion Oakland A’s, Manager Bob Melvin had some tough roster decisions to make. One of these roster decisions may not have to be made immediately but it will certainly be an interesting thing to watch play out. The decision Melvin has to make in this case is the battle for the fifth rotation spot between Dan Straily and Bartolo Colon. Straily stepped into the rotation late last season due to the suspension of Colon along with Brett Anderson’s injury. Colon still has five games left on the suspension as carry over from last season.
Straily quickly moved through the A’s minor league ranks last season after developing an above average changeup that led to consistent strikeouts. His object this season is to limit hits and walks. That sounds like common sense, but there is much more to it than that. Straily pitched exceptionally well last season in his first big league go around. In his final spring start Straily pitched well enough to still be considered for the fifth starter’s job.
Colon, as previously mentioned, still has five games remaining on his suspension from last season. After failing a drug test for performance enhancing drugs Colon was suspended for fifty games. He was the work horse of the pitching staff for the better part of the year until the suspension occurred. Now fans are wondering whether or not he can still perform at the same level now that he is more than likely off the performance enhancing drugs. Colon looked good at times this spring but has also had lapses such as the home run he gave up to Guillermo Quiroz in the seventh inning of the rubber match of the preseason Bay Bridge Series.
Straily started that game and was dominant. In fact he was so dominant he had to throw more pitches in the bullpen after he was replaced because he didn’t throw enough during the game. Managers usually want their starting pitchers to throw around 100 pitches in their final spring start to stretch them out and prepare them for the grind of the season.
Melvin has stated that he will make a decision on what to do about this situation once Colon comes back from his suspension. Assistant GM David Forst mentioned in the radio broadcast of the game on Saturday that they could potentially go to a six man rotation. This would lessen the work load on the young pitchers as well as apply depth to the rotation.