The A’s made an incredible run last season to make the playoffs and shock the baseball world. They did it with pitching and clutch hits. They’ve gotten the clutch hits this season for the most part, but the pitching, mainly the starting pitching, has been mediocre at best outside of a few starts here and there. The main concern has to be Jarrod Parker.
I mentioned in the offseason that Parker along with his fellow young arms could see a backlash from throwing more innings last season than they ever have in their careers. So far that prediction has unfortunately for the A’s proven true.
Parker’s struggles have not only cost the A’s wins on the days he has pitched but also cost the A’s relievers by taxing them and making them unavailable for the next night. The taxing on the bullpen more times than not proves harmless. However, the A’s need all the wins they can get especially early on in the season.
Parker’s struggles stem from the location of his pitches, especially his fastball. Parker has allowed 13 free passes in just over 23 innings pitched. His WHIP (walks plus hits divided by innings pitched) is 2.14. This number should be around 1.5 or lower for reference. His fastball is being destroyed because it is being left up and over the plate and hitters are not missing it. This is evident from the .402 BABIP (or batting average of balls in play). The good news in this case is that the number is higher than normal and thus you can expect it to drop down sooner or later.
Parker will have to figure out a way to lower his fastball. His velocity has not dropped off and therefore is not a concern. Parker’s changeup is his out pitch. If his fastball struggles though so too does the changeup because it is set up and based off of his fastball.
His confidence is noticeably dwindling, but with a good start against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Tuesday night maybe he can right the ship. The A’s need Jarrod Parker to turn things around quickly. He was a major cog in the machine that was the 2012 AL West Champion Oakland Athletics. Right now he looks more like a man who could be headed for Sacramento sooner rather than later. This solution is probably coming quicker than Parker thinks with the way Dan Straily has pitched in Sacramento (minus his start Monday night).