Diamond in the Rough: Dan Straily

Pitching depth. Something the Tampa Bay Rays know something about. Something the Detroit Tigers know something about. What do these two teams have in common? Recent trips to the World Series. While they may not have won in those trips the fact remains they contend perennially and their pitching depth is the reason why. They both have an offense that can back up that depth as well. The A’s have had pitching depth for a long time, but until recently not much of an offense. The Green and Gold may finally reach that level of perennial contenders now that they have an offense and an extreme wealth of pitching. One of those pitchers that makes the A’s depth enviable is Dan Straily.

May 27, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Dan Straily (67) pitches the ball against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Straily had one good start at the beginning of the season and then was sent down. He was recalled only to struggle through his next four starts. However, Straily has seemingly righted the ship in his last two starts shutting down a strong Rangers lineup before dealing against the Giants today. He has pitched more within the realm of what A’s fans got a taste of at the end of 2012 in which he had a part in helping lead the A’s to the AL West crown.

No one could have foreseen Straily becoming the pitcher he is today mainly because he was drafted in the 24th round out of Western Oregon. That’s not to say players drafted late won’t produce or to put down Western Oregon, but more times than not those types of players do not produce at the level Straily can potentially reach. How did Straily become successful to the point of being a potential main stay in a Major League rotation?

The reason behind Straily’s success and rise through the A’s minor league system all came from his development of one pitch. The change up. Straily always had above average off speed stuff and a plus fastball, but his lack of a change up led scouts to believe Straily would probably end up being a reliever. However at the end of 2011 and into 2012 Straily began working on the change up and it quickly became his out pitch. He led all of the minor leagues in strike outs before being called up to Oakland.

Straily is not the only case of a pitcher in the Oakland system who developed a change up or who was acquired and has a plus change up. Dallas Braden, Jarrod Parker, and Tommy Milone all come to mind. Milone and Braden are very similar in that their pitching styles revolve around location and their change ups. Straily however, has an advantage in that he has a great fastball and above average off speed pitches all which feed off of his change up and vice versa.

Dan Straily has been a resource of unimaginable value. Even though he had a rough patch earlier this season he has beaten the Astros, Rangers, and been involved in a win against the Angels. While he has some losses against division opponents he has rebounded to become a vital part of the A’s recent run of wins. If he continues to pitch well the A’s will potentially have a nice problem with six starting-caliber pitchers. He shut down the Rangers and Giants in back to back starts. Pretty good for a player drafted in the 24th round.

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