The A’s are going to go as far as their young pitching takes them. That statement rang true in the early goings of spring training, but it hasn’t held up very well in the first month of the season. The A’s are set to finish over .500 in April, but not thanks to a lights-out rotation.
The offense in Oakland has been the one constant, or so it seems, that has kept the A’s above .500 for the month of April. During their nine-game winning streak earlier this month, the A’s pounded the ball with such authority that you easily forgot about the likes of Brett Anderson, Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, and all the other talented arms in the rotation.
Oakland currently leads the majors in runs (148), and currently sits in the top five in both OBP (.342) and OPS (.758). The A’s have already dipped into their bag of magic, pulling off three walk-off wins this year, the latest coming last night in a game against the Angels that lasted 19 innings.
Jed Lowrie, an offseason acquisition made by Billy Beane, has proved to be valuable this year as he currently leads A’s players in batting average (.333), and OBP (.409). Coco Crisp (5 HR) and Josh Donaldson (20 RBI) along with the help of Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Moss, Seth Smith, and the rest of the A’s offense has helped the team stay afloat amidst poor starting pitching.
For as good as the offense has proved to be in the early goings, however, the A’s cannot contend with the performances they have been getting recently from their starting rotation. It has become a serious problem lately, with Parker (0-4, 8.10 ERA) being one of the biggest disappointments in the young season. His teammates haven’t proved much better, as Anderson (1-4, 6.21 ERA), and A.J. Griffin (2-2, 4.65 ERA) have struggled so far this year.
Milone and veteran Bartolo Colon have been consistent for the most part this year, but the A’s will need much more consistency from their pitching as a whole if they want to contend in the AL West. The A’s came into the year boasting one of the better pitching staffs in baseball, on paper, anyway, but now find themselves with a rotation with a few question marks.
Parker, for example, could find himself out of the rotation if he’s unable to fix whatever problems he’s experiencing out there on the mound. Starter Dan Straily was brought up to pitch last night in place of Anderson, but thanks to a thrilling 19-inning game, Anderson found himself in the game anyway.
Straily’s future in the rotation remains in question, but should Parker continue to struggle, it wouldn’t be entirely shocking to see the A’s go with someone else on the mound for a bit while Parker works on his mechanics.
The A’s rank 25th in ERA with a 4.28 mark and are allowing their opponents to hit .261 against them (22nd in majors). The starting rotation hasn’t been a sharp and crisp as it was projected to be going into this month, but it’s a long season. Things, as the A’s have come to find out, change.